1. The discussion about gender bias in publishing and the (under)representation of women in the literary arts. You can read about that all over the place, including at the wonderful annual Tournament of Books, which (by coincidence) began yesterday (on International Women's Day).
2. Then I got an invite from the lovely people at the Books for Walls Project, asking me (and others) to celebrate International Women's Day with them, which I scooted over and did.
3. Putting two and two together (or would that be two and three or some other number), I got to thinking about women writers. Two in particular came to mind--both gone now.
First, Grace Paley.
She was a beautiful baby. She blew shining bubbles of sound. She loved motion, loved light, loved color and music and textures. She would lie on the floor in her blue overalls patting the surface so hard in ecstasy her hands and feet would blur. She was a miracle to me, but when she was eight months old I had to leave her daytimes with the woman downstairs to whom she was no miracle at all, for I worked or looked for work and for Emily's father, who "could no longer endure" (he wrote in his goodbye note) "sharing want with us.One reason, some suggest, for the gender bias in literature is that women's writing doesn't have the muscle, or engage the big subjects, that men's literature does. Oh well.
I was nineteen. It was the pre-relief, pre-WPA world of the depression. I would start running as soon as I got off the streetcar, running up the stairs, the place smelling sour, and awake or asleep to startle awake, when she saw me she would break into a clogged weeping that could not be comforted, a weeping I can hear yet.