Briefly noted: ‘Walk Myself Home’

“tear down every poster every newsstand every high-tension wire every bill board every high-rise  every highway sign leading out of town  every aeroplane in the sky  every high and mighty penthouse hotel every bar and grill  tear up every alley where you were hurt  every research paper that described you and got it wrong  every house that trapped you  every letter  every spite  every thought that thought you less  every x and y with too much breath in your face  or too much blade at your throat  every shout  every temper  every gust of grit around your feet  every car parked outside your door  every doorway  every bank every bonnet  every promise  every classroom   every boy with a semi-automatic under his right arm  rushing in  yelling freeze  just before you do” – Excerpt from the book.

As I was blogging about the 1989 École Polytechnique massacre on my Calamities of the Heart blog, I thought of this 2010 anthology that serves in part as a voice for women who have been victims of violence and/or who live in areas where they must live in fear of it daily.

walkyourselfhomeIn the aftermath of Ferguson, some said that a white person cannot possibly understand the daily challenges and fears of African Americans. Likewise, it might be said that men cannot possibly understand that it’s like to live with the challenges and fears of women of all races.

When read carefully, Walk Myself Home edited by Andrea Routley may help men and women understand what’s on the other side of the gender gap.

From the Publisher: “There is an epidemic of violence against women in Canada and the world. For many women physical and sexual assault, or the threat of such violence, is a daily reality. Walk Myself Home is an anthology of poetry, fiction, nonfiction and oral interviews on the subject of violence against women including contributions by Kate Braid, Yasuko Thahn and Susan Musgrave.

“Walk Myself Home began as a small idea: to create a chapbook and sell it at the next LoudSpeaker Festival. The response was overwhelming. This small idea found a chorus of voices, and its sound was too big for a chapbook.”

From Amy Reiswig’s Review in Focus Online: “Be prepared. Many of these short works explicitly discuss or represent assault—at the hands of fathers, teachers, strangers, friends, neighbours. Routley also includes pieces addressing subtler forms of violence: derisive jokes, job discrimination and cultural assumptions around beauty, submission and gender roles. As she writes in the introduction, ‘In order to end violence against women in our society, we must be able to recognize it,’ and this means recognizing not just actions but attitudes.”

Ultimately, the book promotes hope, hope that–as Heidi Greco says her review–will lead to a time when “every woman can say with confidence – no matter the time of night or day – not to worry, that I’ll Walk Myself Home.”

Perhaps some day the book will be available in Kindle/Nook for those who cannot afford the paperback.


Briefly Noted: ‘Border to Border: Historic Quilts and Quiltmakers of Montana’

The quilts featured in this richly illustrated, carefully researched book chronicle 150 years of Montana history. They tell stories about struggles for women’s suffrage, the Great depression, two world wars and Montana’s statehood. You’ll see detailed information about individual quilts and those who made them.

Published by the Montana Historical Society Press last year, Border to Border is available in both hard cover and paperback.

Excerpt from the Book

This lovely Goose in the Pond quilt was possibly the oldest one found by the Montana Historic Quilt Project, and it offered a bit
of a mystery to the documenters. The owners knew the quilt had traveled to Montana with Maxine Otis’s parents, who came to homestead near Hobson in 1916;  ther details about the quilt were sparse. Initially this quilt was thought to be made between 1830 and 1850, but these dates conflicted with family tradition that the quilt had been made in 1812. Upon closer inspection, the documenters discovered that the fabric was older than they originally thought, some of it dating to the late 1700s. A second look at the quilt also revealed a date and name buried in the quilting: 1811, Robert McInnis. Soon, additional hints about the quilt popped out of the fabric. An ink inscription appeared stamped in a corner block with the name Sarah H. Jones and the town Erie, Pennsylvania. Robert McInnis’s name was also inked into the quilt elsewhere, although by now the “c” and “I” in his name had started to fade. Whatever the bond Robert McInnis and Sarah Jones shared, the quilt was clearly a treasured possession. As reliable permanent ink was not available until the 1830s, the ink inscription was probably added after the quilt was made to leave a lasting record of those connected to it.

For more information about Montana quilts, see also the Montana Historic Quilt Project index. According to the site, “The Quilt Index” is a growing research and reference tool designed to provide unprecedented access to information and images about quilts held in private and public hands.”


New fantasy adventure coming soon

Novel focuses on Saudi oppression of women

While reading Homa Pourasgari’s recent novel, The Dawn of Saudi, I found myself stepping away from the well-plotted story of two women, one from Saudi Arabia and one from the U.S., who marry Saudi men and are trapped inside the barbaric hell of fundamentalist sharia law. I had to step away and remind myself that no, I’m not reading historical fiction, I’m reading a contemporary story.

Anger pulled me away: anger at the oppression of women based on an ultra-conservative interpretation of Islam and outmoded cultural views.

I found myself almost equally angry at the stance of the United States. We condemn human rights abuses around the world, yet we are mostly silent when it comes to those within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. I have to agree with Pourasgari that we “remain quiet in the name of oil, greed and politics.” How shameful these reasons are!

The Center for Democracy & Human Rights in Saudi Arabia says that, “as documented by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Freedom House and even the US Department of State, Saudi women are among the most oppressed and marginalized citizens in Arab and Muslim countries.” In an author’s note at the end of her novel, Homa Pourasgari describes the social and legal environment in Saudi Arabia more directly: “Women have no rights and are considered the property of a man.”

Pourasgari’s novel tells a compelling story, but the depressing reality of it is a heavy weight around my neck.

See my review of the book on Writer’s Notebook.