New York Women's Literary Salon

October-November 1982 Newsletter

Text of the Newsletter:
Sunday Oct. 4 - 2 p.m. Open Reading and Spaghetti Supper to Welcome the new season

Sunday - Oct. 11 - 7 p.m. Valerie Miner reading from "Blood Sisters"

Saturday - Oct. 24 - 7 p.m. Alix Kates Shulman - reading from "On the Stroll", the story of a Shopping Bag Lady and a Teenage Runaway

Saturday - November 21 - 7 p.m. "Feminism and Non-Violence". Readings from a new book forthcoming this spring from New Society Publishers. Followed by an open reading on the subject.

At the home of Erika Duncan:
463 West St. (Westbeth,
between Bank and Bethune Streets) Apt 933 B.

Calligraphy by Gwynne Duncan

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Sunday Oct. 4 - 2 p.m. Open Reading

Welcome to our Seventh Season. To celebrate, our first Salon will be an open reading, followed by our traditional spaghetti supper and a chance to talk and socialize, an opportunity to catch up with people who have been coming over the last few years and to meet new people just joining us. Please come to read, to listen, and participate. Bring prose and poetry and music. Bring fiction, essays and personal explorations.

Because we wish this opening event to be as inclusive as possible, we are only asking for the usual door fee ($3.50 for non-members, members are invited free as usual), however we would very much appreciate additional contributions to defray the cost of the food and to help launch the coming year. We hope that this will also be a time to renew old memberships and to establish new ones. As always, the $15 yearly membership covers free attendance for all Salon events and the bimonthly mailings of our newsletter. This year we are also offering our members a 10% discount on all books sold on our book table. The Salon, since Its inception six years ago, has been supported primarily by membership contributions. Now, as the opportunities for government grants decrease, we count on you to make our continued programming possible. We are enclosing membership forms with this mailing. We hope that you will return them to us, either in person or by mail. If you have joined us very recently, please write to us, and we will send you a new card.

In terms of other Salon news, Valerie Miner, who is coming to us from California to attend the Nation Institute's American Writer Congress and to read at the Salon, has just opened the opportunity for us to have a feminist writer's panel at the congress. I will be moderating the panel, and, as of this writing, will focus upon the political and artistic issues that affect the woman writer "coming of age" during the feminist era. I want to address the issues of art and ideology, how they feed each other and the special problems that their coexistence presents in the attempt to develop both to their ultimate possibility. I also

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want to address such Issues as the use of personal experience in contemporary women's writing, as it both opens up new vistas and new dangers, to discuss specific aspirations and obstacles as they affect the curent generation of feminist writers. The conference will be at the Roosevelt Hotel, during the weekend of October 9th through 12th.

During the summer, the Tuesday fiction and autobiographical writing workshop has been flourishing, with its nine relatively new members all excitedly starting new projects. Five of the students from the original workshop, begun three years ago, are still working with me privately. Others continue their projects on their own. If we receive more calls about the workshop In the fall, we are considering opening a second section to meet on Saturday mornings. Call 691-0539 if you want to join either group.

We look forward to this new season and hope to see you soon.

Sincerely, Erika Duncan

Picture Credits- Our appologies to Freda Leinwand, whose name we omitted from our last newsletter. She took the photograph of Susan Griffin which appeared there, as wall as most of our other Salon photographs throughout the year. Recently she showed many of these photographs at the Radcliffe Library, and continues to receive wonderful recognition for them. The photograph for this current issue is from Ann Marie Rousseau's new book of photographs of Shopping Bag Ladies, with a preface by Alix Kates Shulman. The Pilgrim Press, the publisher has agreed to let us have a blow-up or two for Alix's Salon.

If you want to become a member of our Salon, please mail this subscription form to The Woman's Salon, c/o Erika Duncan, 463 West Street, New York, New York 10014 (Apt. 933B) Name_ New Member
Address Renewal
Additional contribution

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Sunday - Oct. 11 - 7 p.m. Valerie Miner

Valerie Miner writes political fiction. As an activist, she is committed to the development of a strong international women's movement. Her first novel, Blood Sisters (The Women's Press, London, 1981) is about working class Irish women and the IRA. Movement (The Crossing Press, NY, Spring, 1982) considers the political, spiritual and geographical movement of one young feminist. Mirror Images her third novel, to be published in Fall, 1982, describes the climate of sexual harassment and rape on an American campus. Valerie has contributed widely to such journals as Sinister Wisdom, Saturday Review, Ms., The Economist, Spare Rib, The New Statesman, Saturday Night. She teaches fiction and media in the Field Studies Program at UC Berkeley.

"Valerie Miner writes with precision, taste and the clarity which can come only as a result of devotion to craft," Dorothy Bryant

"Valerie Miner is certainly among the best of the modern contemporary fiction writers." Andrew Salkey

"Valerie Miner's searching work confronts the sexual dilemmas of feminism with honesty and courage, and at the same time reveals an understanding of the ambiguities of art." Charlotte Painter

Valerie writes, "I remember with great fondness participating in The Women's Salon at the National Convention for Women in Houston in 1977 with Olga Broumas, Kate Millett, Erika Duncan and Gloria Orenstein. I appreciate the serious support The Salon has offered feminist writers from all parts of the country. In October I will be reading from my new novel, Blood Sisters, which draws on themes and feelings from the years I worked in London. The book describes three generations of women in an Irish family. I am writing about the tensions between lesbians and heterosexual women; the choice of allegiance between male and female-identified politics; the relationships among mothers and daughters and granddaughters; the struggle for the Irish people to discover and create their own history. I try to raise contradictions in my work rather than provide the bourgeois catharsis of traditional fiction. I want readers to experience the conflicting emotions and political questions and leave the work with a clearer sense of their own power to actively engage in the world. I look forward to joining you in October.

Valerie Miner

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Saturday - Oct. 24 - Alix Kates Shulman

Since I began writing fiction a decade ago, my project has been to portray some of the prototypical women of our time, with all the contradictions and binds created by our amazing late-twentieth-century American society.

MEMOIRS OF AN EX-PROM QUEEN, my 1972 comic novel about coming of age in the Fifties, depicted the impossible fate of Sasha Davis, one white, middle-class, Midwestern girl who grows to womanhood trying to be everything an ideal woman was expected to be before the women's movement--sexy prom queen, beautiful wife, devoted mother. But nothing works out as she expected.

My second novel, BURNING QUESTIONS (1978) was the story of another kind of woman, a self-styled rebel in the old tradition of Emma Goldman, Rosa Luxemburg, and Angelica Balabanoff. Raised in a middle-class culture in the postwar era when rebellion is mainly "personal," Zane Indianna is finally transformed in the late Sixties by the new force of radical feminism. At once a political and a historical novel, spanning the last four decades, including the activist Sixties and the backlash Seventies, BURNING QUESTIONS attempted to portray the important recent changes in women's lives and consciousness through the story of its rebel heroine.

In my new novel ON THE STROLL, I have tried to capture two more prototypes of the ongoing female predicament among the contemporary range of possibilities: the shopping-bag lady, wandering homeless through the streets, and the teenage runaway, prey to all the dangers of the city. Of course homeless girls and women have always walked the streets, as long as there have been cities. But I think, it is only recently that the image of the bag lady--alone, poor, abandoned, yet somehow a survivor--has assumed a special place in our consciousness. At a time when the family is in enormous flux and the traditional supports for women and children are fast disappearing, the ubiquitous bag lady seems to have entered contemporary consciousness as a powerful symbol of what many women fear may lie in store for them. As for runaway children, since the great influx to the cities in the sixties of Flower Children and hippies, the runaway--naive, exploited, often brutalized--has come to symbolize for many the final breakdown of family life.

In my novel, I have tried to explore the reality behind these symbols. Set in the course of a summer in the early Eighties in the feverish streets around Times Square, amid squalor and crime, ON THE STROLL is the story of three people--the bag lady Owl, the teenage runaway Robin, and the small-time pimp Prince-whose stories overlap and whose lives become dramatically joined. By reading to the Women's Salon sections from the stories of each of my three characters, I hope to make their lives as real for you as they became for me while I was writing the book.

Alix Kates Shulman

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Nov. 21 - Feminism and Non-Violence

In celebration of the 2nd Women's Pentagon Action, the November 21st Salon will be devoted to writings about the powerful, yet revolutionary, combination of feminism and nonviolence. The New York area contributors to the forthcoming anthology, Reweaving the Web of Life, who have been invited to read their work on this evening's panel are Grace Paley, Karla Jay, Karen Malpede, Erika Duncan, Connie Salamone, Priscilla Prutzman, Leah Fritz and myself, Pam McAllister. Selections from the 40+ contributors in other parts of the country will also be read, and it is hoped that some out-of-state writers will be able to join us as well.

The evening will end with an open reading of work on this theme as the Salon would like to stimulate and encourage new work on feminism and nonviolence. Interested writers should note that the book's publishers hope to generate a second volume of writings if Revealing the Web of Life in successful.

Reweaving, spinning, mending. These images occur over and over In the work of the women engaged In the dialogue. Some of the contributors to the anthology come most strongly from a feminist perspective; others come more from involvement In the peace movement and are still struggling with the implications of feminism. The writers embrace feminism and nonviolence in a way which transforms both, and their different perspectives only add complexity and value to the pattern they weave.

In the anthology, these feminist advocates of nonviolence explore issues of masculinity and war, women's traditional commitment to peace, patriarchal power and feminist resistance, sexism in the peace movement, feminist distrust of traditional nonviolence theory, and show how feminism and nonviolence apply to specific areas of struggles: tax resistance, anti-war, anti-draft, anti-nuke work, self defense, animal rights, personal relationships, etc.

As editor of this anthology I am amazed at the transforming energy this project has generated in my own life and in the lives of the women who have searched and found the power and skill to spin these new connections. I welcome the opportunity to moderate the November 21st Salon and look forward to meeting a room full of life-loving sisters, spinning new visions, weaving new threads of hope and possibility.

Pam McAllister



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