Female spoken word artists have become the spokeswomen for a new generation. This demanding oral poetry of the early 21st century has defined a vanguard of lithely muscled voices; women who think and act decisively to create their distinctive and desperately earned realities. The combination of the eminent slam movement and the upsurge of bold underground feminism has created a unique pool of women who verbally challenge society on all fronts. Editor Alix Olson brought together a variety of astounding spoken word artists for Word Warriors. Included in this collection are Patricia Smith and Eileen Myles, two of our most formidable and famous spoken-word foremothers, Tony-award winner Sarah Jones, Lynn Breedlove from the infamous dyke-punk band Tribe 8, Palestinian-born and raised Suheir Hummadd, and many more. These women join other amazing artists from many different backgrounds to create Word Warriors, a powerful and comprehensive collection of work from the best and brightest female spoken word artists today.
Women of Color in the US
Hijas Americanas addresses experiences that are uniquely female and Latin, focusing on themes of body image, standards of beauty, ethnic identity, and sexuality.
While growing up in Versailles, an Indiana farm community, Linda Furiya tried to balance the outside world of Midwestern America with the Japanese traditions of her home life. As the only Asian family in a tiny township, Furiya’s life revolved around Japanese food and the extraordinary lengths her parents went to in order to gather the ingredients needed to prepare it. As immigrants, her parents approached the challenges of living in America, and maintaining their Japanese diets, with optimism and gusto. Furiva, meanwhile, was acutely aware of how food set her apart from her peers: She spent her first day of school hiding in the girls’ restroom, examining her rice balls and chopsticks, and longing for a PB&J. Bento Box in the Heartland is an insightful and reflective coming-of-age tale. Beautifully written, each chapter is accompanied by a family recipe of mouth-watering Japanese comfort food.
In Homelands, writers investigate the complexities of how women experience, remember, and imagine journeys to their homelands. Approaching the topic from varying perspectives: exile, longing, belonging, diaspora, idealization, they show that “homeland” isn’t just a physical place. It can also be an imagined community, a part of one’s identity, or simply a wavering memory. It’s a world we create and re-create every day. Among the contributors are Etel Adnan, who describes her life as an exile from Beruit after choosing to leave a city at war. Agate Nesaule, who as a youngster left Latvia under Nazi and Soviet threat, writes of envying a young Latvian girl’s life, rich in place, language, and music. Sarah McCormic echoes the experience of many “American mutts” who can claim so many heritages that they feel a connection to none. The writers in this collection beautifully capture the complicated notion of homeland and reflect the diversity of women’s realities in the world.
Stories from Blue Latitudes gathers the major and emerging women fiction writers from the Caribbean, including Dionne Brand, Michelle Cliff, Merle Collins, Edwidge Danticat, Jamaica Kincaid, Paule Marshall, and Pauline Melville. Similar themes grace their stories of life at home and abroad. In some, the sexual exploitation of Caribbean girls and women becomes a metaphor for neocolonialism, a biting rejoinder to enticing travel brochures that depict the Caribbean as a tropical playground and encourage Americans to “make it your own.” Other tales deal with the sad legacy of colonial history and the ways in which race, skin color, and class complicate relationships between men and women, parents and children. But whether writing about childhood or adulthood, life in the islands or life abroad, the writers express their particular concerns with a passion that comes from lived experience, and with a love of place and a feminist sensibility that are accessible to new readers of Caribbean literature as well as to an academic audience. “What matters is how well we have told our tale, how well we have drawn pictures of the people and places we write about,” Nunez says. And indeed, this anthology makes those pictures come alive.
Waking Up American includes original work by women who are either American-born of at least one foreign-born parent or who immigrated to the United States during childhood. The writers explore what it means to feel caught between two worlds—neither wholly American nor wholly a part of another heritage. Cultures represented include the Philippines, Germany, India, Mexico, China, Iran, Nicaragua, Japan, Russia, and Panama, among others, and are often juxtaposed with a bicultural reality, having been raised by parents who simultaneously embrace and question American values. Essays trace themes of rebellion and conformity, pride and uncertainty, sexuality and sense of self, and a heightened awareness of what it means to be “other.” These narratives examine the part cultural identity plays in creating strong, independent, hyphenated American women whose experiences are part of what makes the United States the intriguing cultural amalgamation that so many diverse peoples are proud to call home.