Tag: women’s realities

Willa Cather’s My Ántonia: An Unusually Beautiful Read

I thoroughly enjoyed my recent reading of Willa Cather’s 1918 novel My Ántonia. There is something soothingly beautiful about it, in part due to the nostalgic quality the narrator, Jim, brings to the story. Jim is thinking back over his childhood, growing up the late 1800s on the Nebraskan plains and in the town of Black Hawk. He tells the story from his perspective, this perspective crafted by Cather, of course. A central figure in Jim’s past is Ántonia, an immigrant from Bohemia, a girl he grows up with and always admires and loves. Well, mostly. There are those...

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Cathy Park Hong (Korean American b.1976): Writing the Language of Change

Cathy Park Hong’s poetry is powerfully unique. In a reading I watched on YouTube, part of The Loft Mentor Series filmed in Minneapolis in 2014, Hong says that she likes to make up worlds and even languages. Her books are often stories of characters who inhabit these worlds with their own language. Her poems beg to be read or spoken aloud. Alive, they jump up off the page. For some it may be an adjustment to adapt to this form: the different language and alternate worlds. As a reader, this was a shift for me. I found I needed...

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Happy 100th Birthday to Betty Friedan!

On February 4, 2021, Betty Friedan would have turned 100 years old. Although she passed away 15 years ago (on her birthday, a 1-in-2,800 chance!), she has not been forgotten, and there are those working in an intentional way to keep her legacy alive. Often called ‘the mother of second wave feminism’ (1960s to 1980s), Betty Friedan had a “passion for the possible,” and persevered in moving the needle toward greater gender equality as much as one woman could. Far from perfect, yet brave, bold, and driven, this “visionary” accomplished more than is often realized. Her book The Feminine...

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Vera (Atkins) Rosenberg: A Romanian Jewish Woman Spy Who Fought the Nazis with Everything She Had (1908-2000)

I was unaware that women were sent behind enemy lines by the Allied powers as spies and “guerrilla” fighters in WWII. But they were. Thirty-nine out of the 400 agents who were sent to German occupied France by Britain in preparation for the D-Day invasion, were women. All 400 were sent there by a woman named Vera Atkins who worked under Lieut.-Col. Maurice Buckmaster.  In 1941 Atkins was recruited by the London office of Britain’s newest secret service: The Special Operations Executive or SOE. “SOE was to develop a secret war: building up, organizing, and arming a resistance army...

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Holding Space for the Past and the Future: Velma Wallis and the Stories of the Gwich’in People of Alaska

Velma Wallis’ books take the reader directly and swiftly into another world, a land of ice and snow, of cold, a world of her people, the Gwich’in, and her ancestors. A world of humans enduring and living their lives north of the Arctic Circle in Alaska and the trauma they endured and survived as their land was taken from them and their ways eroded away.  Her books are a gift in that they preserve the old stories and also bear witness to what has happened to her people in more recent times.  Velma Wallis was born in 1960, in...

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