Word: On Being a [woman] Writer, Volume 0

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Jocelyn Burrell
Feminist Press at CUNY, 2004 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 223 pages
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From Barbara Kingsolver to Dorothy Allison, Isabel Allende to Nawal El Saddawi, some of the world's most famous literary voices meditate on what it means to be a woman writer.

Despite their increased visibility, women who write are still thought of as different—sometimes celebrated, sometimes viewed with suspicion and condescension. Here, writers from all over the world explore, defy and embrace “the woman writer”: an indispensable muse to some, a troublesome burden to others; a defiant, even life-threatening identity to others still. Taking nothing as given, these writers explore the varied pleasures and dangers of writing as woman in the contemporary world.

The choice to write is rarely considered free of consequences. For some of the writers in this collection, it has meant prison or exile; for others, it has required a defiance of traditions and expectations and a re-creation of identities and communities. For most, it demands a balancing act among family, practical needs and the undeniable will to create.

In essays that are deeply personal and fiercely political, these writers topple all fixed ideas of “the woman writer,” revealing themselves as utterly individual and powerfully interconnected authors of the written word, of the human heart, of what we dare to imagine as possible.

Contributors include: Diana Abu-Jaber, Isabel Allende, Meena Alexander, Dorothy Allison, Gioconda Bellí, Pat Califia, Judith Ortiz Cofer, Tsitsi Dangarembga, Shashi Deshpande, Assia Djebar, Jessica Hagedorn, Joy Harjo, Barbara Kingsolver, Maxine Hong Kingston, Taslima Nasrin, Erica Jong, Rita Dove, Alia Mamdouh, Toni Morrison, Daphne Patai, Nawal el Saadawi, Patti Smith, Wislawa Szymborska, Yvonne Vera, Alice Walker and Rebecca Walker.

Jocelyn Burrell is an editor at the Feminist Press at CUNY, as well as a writer and performance poet.


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Word. : On Being a [Woman] Writer (On Writing Herself)

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"My way of finding a place in this world is to write one," claims Barbara Kingsolver in her contribution to this collection of over 20 essays in which writers like Sandra Cisneros, Assia Djebar, bell ... Read full review

Selected pages


Culture Censorship and Voice in a Globalised Market
Women Who Write Too Much
Lyric in a Time of Violence
These Cities Dying in Our Arms
On the Line 𝑎𝑛𝑑 The Black Pen
Writing Near the Bone
Word Warrior
The World of Poetry
Writing in the Language of the Other
A PoliticsPoetics of Puerto Rican Consciousness
Writing with the Body
On Writing Poetry
Stealing Apples
The Woman Who Slept with One Eye Open
The Difficult Miracle of Black Poetry in America or Something Like a Sonnet for Phillis Wheatley
The Interval

Finding the Groove
Only Daughter
Why Write?
The Girl Behind the Smile
The Semiotics of Sex
Wo men Like Us
Letter to a Young Woman Poet

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About the author (2004)

Jocelyn Burrell is an editor at the Feminist Press at the City University of New York and managing editor of Women's Studies Quarterly. A writer and performance poet, she also studies painting at the Art Students League of New York. Born in Providence, Rhode Island, she now lives in Brooklyn.

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