Literary Musings

5 Reasons to Love Audre Lorde

Audre Lorde (1934 – 1992) was a self-identified “black lesbian, mother, warrior, poet” who used her talent as a writer to spread ideas about the intersecting oppressions faced by many people. There are many reasons to love her and keep her legacy alive; her are just a few:

1. She was a self-possessed trailblazer from an early age

Born to Caribbean immigrant parents in 1934 and brought up in Harlem, NYC, Audre Lorde wrote her first poem in eighth grade, despite being so nearsighted as a child that she was legally blind.

It was around this time that she dropped the ‘y’ from her birth name, Audrey, explaining in her autobiography Zami: A New Spelling of My Name that she liked the artistic symmetry of Audre Lorde. Read More→

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Flannery O’Connor on the Grotesque in Fiction

Flannery O’Connor’s fiction has frequently been described as “grotesque,” and the author herself considered whether her work fit the description. In fiction of the grotesque, the focus is on the strange and ugly, often as an aspect of the physical body. It can also encompass themes of horror, death, and violence, with abhorrent characters. At the end of the day, O’Connor preferred her work be considered realism, rather than grotesque or gothic. Some of those who have analyzed the stories in her classic short story collection, A Good Man is Hard to Find, have begged to differ, but we’ll let the author herself have the last word. Excerpted from her essay “The Grotesque in Southern Fiction”: Read More→

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Zora Neale Hurston’s “Sweat”: An Ecofeminist Master Class in Dialect and Symbolism

Though “Sweat” by Zora Neale Hurston is only 4743 words long (about 15 pages), the scope of the work reaches farther than most novels. Within this small space, Hurston addresses a number of themes, such as the trials of femininity, which she explores with compelling and efficient symbolism. Though a short work, it is nuanced and eloquently compact as Hurston maximizes each word, object, character, and plot point to create an impassioned and enlightening narrative.

This is woven together with an ecocritical/ecofeminist perspective that links the feminine realm with the natural realm, which is then contrasted with the human realm.  Hurston also proves herself every bit as capable as Mark Twain with regards to representing regional dialects and individual speech patterns, challenging the elitism of prescribed language and grammatical rules by representing an authentic dialect.  Read More→

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Zora Neale Hurston: Books, Publishing, & Publishers

Here are excerpts from Zora Neale Hurston‘s autobiography, Dust Tracks on a Road, describing some of the process behind getting three of her well known books written and published: Jonah’s Gourd Vine; Mules and Men; and her best known, Their Eyes Were Watching God:

Jonah’s Gourd Vine

Jonah's Gourd vine original coverWhile I was in the research field in 1929, the idea of Jonah’s Gourd Vine came to me. I had written a few short stories, but the idea of attempting a book seems so big, that I gazed at it in the quiet of the night, but hid it away from even myself in daylight.

For one thing, it seemed off-key. What I wanted to tell was a story about a man, and from what I had read and heard, Negroes were supposed to write about the Race Problem. I was and am thoroughly sick of the subject. My interest lies in what makes a man or a woman do such and so, regardless of his color. Read More→

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Wish List for Literary Ladies Guide to the Writing Life

The goal of The Literary Ladies’ Guide to the Writing Life is to be the most comprehensive site about classic women authors (mainly in the English language, or who have been translated into English). The authors listed must be deceased, as we would like to focus on our literary foremothers. Fortunately, there are many more women writing today than there were even in the recent past, and to have entries on living writers would be overwhelming.

To help us complete our goal, if you’d like to write a main entry on any of the authors listed below, please let us know by reaching out via our contact form.

Posts should follow this example format: and another good example is:

Please contact us first, though, to make sure no one else has claimed the author you may be interested in writing about. Submissions should be in the form of a word doc, and we will edit and post on our end. If you have a site or blog, we’d of course be glad to link to it, and include your brief bio. Read More→

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