Racism’s Rage and Bitter Despair, James Baldwin’s Heart

Photo by Richard Avedon
By Beth U. I am reposting this piece from 2014 as I read about who might be in the US presidential cabinet come January 2017. ______ In these days following the grand jury’s choice not to indict Darren Wilson for killing Mike Brown, between protesting and watching live streams of people on the streets of Ferguson, I read James Baldwin. I read and reread James Baldwin. I put down one book only to pick up another. I need the particular combination of solace and fury that ...
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Marge Piercy, life as work and words

Phyllis Chesler and Marge Piercy in Cape Cod, Summer 1973.
By Beth U. I just put down poet/writer Marge Piercy's memoir Sleeping with Cats. In it, Piercy explains that she had no role models while coming of age in the 1950s. “Resistant to sex roles,” she “wanted something larger and deeper and darker” than the lives of women she knew (67).   So she became her own role model. She cast herself as “odd” and in search of “fringe types”—“others with writing ambitions, left politics—misfits and rebels and intellectuals” (89).   Ye...
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Hit the Road: Musings on Beat Muses

Zora Neale Hurston
By Beth U I’ve been reading bits of Beat memoir here and there.  Recalling her coming-of-age during the Beat-era, writer Janine Pommy Vega describes her virginity as a "hindrance."  At 16, she and a friend staked out the Cedar Bar (the popular Beat hangout in Greenwich Village) to meet Gregory Corso.  A few days later, they visit him and Peter Orlovsky in their shared apartment. As Vega waits to have sex with Orlovsky (a given for a female fan?), Corso takes her friend into a...
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