Marginalia/just for fun Printed books Reflections

A Celebration of Women’s History Month

Appreciating diverse female perspectives through memoir, prose, and poems

By Spencer Martin and Dorothy Nguyen, GAs

Every March, as spring awakens and the animals stir, we turn our thoughts to all the women who have come before us, who are here, and who will grow into their power. We’ve been celebrating Women’s History Month as a nation since 1995, and now, as March is drawing to a close, we would like to show some appreciation to the women that we have had the honor of working with at our press. We hope that you enjoy these books, with all their heartache, humor, and healing, as much as we do.

Please Forward: How Blogging Reconnected New Orleans After Katrina ed. Cynthia Joyce

Collecting blog posts from the months and years following Hurricane Katrina, Please Forward reveals the ways survivors tried to connect in the burgeoning digital space of blogs and online correspondence. When trying to find an account for a course she was teaching, editor Cynthia Joyce found that the website had gone dark, and the piece was lost to the digital wastelands. This inspired her to search for accounts of surviving Hurricane Katrina, much of which was unavailable due to aging servers and dying websites. These accounts show “a layer of post-Katrina life that wasn’t typically picked up by traditional media outlets or preserved in any official record. It’s as much a testament to lost memories as it is to memories about what we lost.”

Dear Baba: A Story Through Letters by Maryam Rafiee

When Maryam Rafiee was a teenager, her father, a chemistry professor who has been critical of the hardliners in post-revolution Iran, was arrested and imprisoned for six months. During his imprisonment, Rafiee wrote letters to him about her life—school, home, the family’s struggle to free him—along with news events and how the Iranian media covered his arrest. Fifteen years later, when her father was arrested again for being in favor of talks with NATO allies over nuclear weapons, Rafiee returned to her letters and complied them into a collection to be published. Her letters reveal the suffering undergone by prisoners of conscience and their families.

His Other Life: Searching for My Father, His First Wife, and Tennessee Williams by Melanie McCabe

After her father’s death in 1973, Melanie McCabe learned that he had been married before meeting her mother. Her father’s first wife, Hazel, was the childhood sweetheart of playwright Tennessee Williams. Williams wrote characters based on both of them and their marriage, particularly in his 1975 play The Red Devil Battery Sign. As an adult, McCabe searches for the true story of her father’s life before her mother. Through it, she examines the mysterious death of his first wife, Hazel, who died at thirty-eight in Mexico City. Parsing the truth from fiction with the help of librarians, amateur genealogist, and the writings of Tennessee Williams, McCabe explores the life of Tennessee William’s first love and the complicated life she lived.

Return to Yakni Chitto: Houma Migrations by Monique Verdin

Come explore the lives of the people that live in Terrebonne Parish, where climate change has begun to ravage the local area, where the beauty is tainted by the legacy of slavery, where the rise of the petro-chemical industry would further damage the region. And yet, there is still a rich history that the people born here return to, where the stories of their ancestors are infused with the dream of a brighter future. Through essays, photography, and conversations with several residents and artists of the region, Monique Verdin shows the life of those that live on the bayou in the age of climate catastrophe.

From My Mother’s House of Beauty by Susan Stephanie Henry

In Susan Stephanie Henry’s From My Mother’s House of Beauty, life is a series of transitions, shifting identities, and a careful maneuvering between different worlds, from a childhood on the lush Caribbean coast of Honduras to adulthood in the hustle and bustle of the Seventh Ward. The places and memories that Henry explores through engaging interviews and reflections are rich and full of color. From My Mother’s House of Beauty is part memoir, part ethnography, of life in New Orleans as a black Honduran woman.

What Would the World Be Without Women by Waukesha Jackson

The Ninth Ward is many things, and it is home to incredible people and powerful voices. In What Would the World Be Without Women, Waukesha Jackson paints a brilliant portrait of a life strewn with both hardships and triumphs, and at its center, the steel-spined women who uphold the community as caretakers, bolstering families and neighbors in barrooms, social clubs, churches, and their own homes. Interviews, photographs, and reflections intertwine to celebrate the mothers and daughters in Jackson’s life.

Jewher Ilham: A Uyghur’s Fight to Free Her Father by Jewher Ilham

A father and daughter separated, an abandoned airplane seat, a young woman suddenly alone in a foreign country–in Jewher Ilham: A Uyghur’s Fight to Free Her Father, Jewher recounts the difficulties of beginning a new life apart from her family as her father is sentenced to life in prison on charges of “separatism.” This is a coming-of-age story of a young woman, who navigates a new country as she advocates for the Uyghur people and her homeland in the fight against repression.

Blossoms in Snow: Austrian Refugee Poets In Manhattan, selected and edited by Joshua Parker

In Blossoms in Snow, prose and poetry weave together a tapestry of the twentieth century’s greatest refugee crisis during WWII. Poets like Mimi Grossberg, who was exiled from her home, address issues of asylum and draw parallels between the United States and Austria. A world of perspectives is ever present in this book, and Grossberg, copyist and volunteer air raid warden, offers a poignant reflection on the “inner sanctuaries of strangers” in her poem, “The Listener.”

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