The Feminist Press Holds Literary Event in Easthampton By Dr. Pola Rosen and Jennifer MacGregor
The wide expanse of manicured green lawn replete with tent, cocktails and fine food served as the backdrop for literary women to present their latest works and thoughts. Orchestrated by attorney and Feminist Press Board Chair Rebecca Seawright and hostess Flora Schnall, literary giants who appeared were professor and scholar Blanche Wiesen Cook from John Jay College, artist Audrey Flack and Helene Aylon. B. Smith, the restaurateur and television personality, emceed and has lent her strong support to The Feminist Press.
Smith introduced Flack as an artist and pioneer of photorealism, and said her mission “is to present women not as a sex object gazing up at a general on a horse, but as a strong, intelligent, purposeful individual.”
Flack then read from Zora Neale Hurston’s essay, “How It Feels to Be Colored Me,” which was published by the press, and related it to her personal experiences with racism in her family.
Gloria Jacobs, the executive director of the Feminist Press, talked about what the mission of the press and the rich range of books they publish.
“We publish books that are, on some level, about social justice and gender equality. It’s not drum beating, it’s not moralizing. We’re not hitting you over the head, but we are looking for powerful writing, great stories, nuance and complexity — really, the magic of women’s lives.” She said the press is the “NPR of publishing” because they tell stories that don’t necessarily get told anywhere else.
“I couldn’t be more proud of what we’re doing,” she said.
Aylon, a visual artist, read from her book, “Whatever is Contained Must Be Released.”
She read about the founding moments of her eco-feminism and the evolution her work went through.
“I would link my art to the land, as well. I was not seeking the goddess. I was not interested in substituting a female hierarchy for a male hierarchy. Instead, I left my studio in search of a mystical place that was timeless and female without any hierarchy. The spirit of my ancient foremothers still lived in the land,” she said.
Cook said that she is an activist as well as a journalist and historian, and her choice of reading for the event was affected by the recent pick of Paul Ryan as vice president. She read from Grace Paley’s “Long Walks and Intimate Talks” about a conversation a woman had with her doctor 50 years ago concerning a miscarriage.
“As the world turns it goes into reverse, and everything is challenged and some things are destroyed — unless we regroup and reorganize to stop it,” she said. #