Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Some books I've been reading

September and October are flying by: kids, school, doctor appointments, writing circles, holidays on their way.  All good, but all taking away from my chances to read and write about it. I did bring home a box of books from the Red Cross Book Fair, I still get books from my early reader program, and in my ongoing life with writing, buy books to learn about the art and craft of writing and holding space.  So here, in brief, are a few of my favorite reads from the past month.

Wives often make it possible for men to be successful. I hate it when men step up to the podium to win huge awards for volunteerism, or community activism or heck get ticker tape parades for the first earth orbit, and no one mentions the spouse or partner--it was this woman who stayed home taking care of kids and household and everything that make his success possible. This is the story of just those women. There were first 7 original mercury wives, then came the 9 gemini wives, then 14 apollo wives, then the 19 apollo wives.

The bulk of the story focuses on the first 7-the ones who set the standard and traditions, but it delves also into the 9 who joined them and also into the first 14 apollo wives. The families had an exclusive contract with Life magazine so there is a great photographic record of these women and those times. It is very basic reporting but keep in mind it has to cover lots of time and lots of people. The story of how these women kept their spirits up and the home fires burning on the cusp of changing times is intriguing.

Women in jail seems to be my reading focus. This book was edited by a writing colleague in Burlington, Vermont. She has the women from her prison program submit hundreds of poems and prose pieces.  I took it into my own writing program at the Monroe County Corrections Center and asked women to read and write in response to the pieces in the book.

To learn more about that is another blog post I wrote on the experience.

Because I enjoyed the Netflix series and because I volunteer at the local jail, with the women's block, I checked out this very popular memoir written back in 2010: Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison.  I just want to say, WOW!  Much different than the series, very readable, and very interesting. I highly recommend you read this book. If you aren't on the restorative justice bandwagon and the anti-mandatory minimum drug laws lobby group after reading this, you are nuts.  Our country has gone too far crazy with the punitive drug laws. They aren't serving anyone except the prison industrial complex. I would love to send a note to Piper Kerman to tell her about our little writing program. Her address wasn't apparent from her website (I am guessing she is wildly popular about now.) but if you have it, please send it to me, I would love to write her and let her know how much I loved this.

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