For Women’s Day, we asked our authors for one book (some chose a poem; some several books :)) by a woman-author that has influenced them heavily, or shaped their thinking. We’ve got some lovely books to read up on:
“Everybody’s Mother” by Liz Lochhead, is a lovely, scathing poem for those (writers particularly?) who consider their mothers with angst alone. Everybody’s mother, ‘Always never/ loved you enough/ or too smothering much’; and ‘Naturally/ she failed to give you/ Positive Feelings’, but still… ‘Nobody’s mother can’t not never do nothing right’. It’s a closing argument that’s stayed with me since I read it, and if it didn’t change my life, it certainly changed my perspective, and may well have contributed to the spirit of mutual tolerance with which my mother and I relate to each other.
Only the Soul Knows How to Sing and Tonight, this Savage Rite — both by Kamala Das. As a teenager, I read these poems and I knew for the first time that the incredible head-rush of feelings, sadnesses, betrayals–literally everything has (and can) actually be captured in words. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy–because, until then, I did not know that prose could be so poetic, that story-telling could be so explosive. Or that a writer could be so strong–Roy did not go on to tell more stories, she started calling out the state for its big dams and nuclear bombs–and I realized how powerful words (and the person who uses them) could be.
A book that has been a huge influence on my thinking in recent times is Susan Vreeland’s biography The Passion of Artemisia, the story of the painter Artemisia Gentileschi who, when raped at 17, painted her most famous artwork, Judith Slaying Holofernes, depicting herself as Judith and her rapist as Holofernes. Artemisia used her art to exact the justice that was denied to her.