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Saturday, December 6, 2008

Birthed from Scorched Hearts: Edited by MariJo Moore

Binding Information: Paperback
ISBN: 978-1-55591-665-7
Pages: 376
Size: 6" X 9" X .875"
In stock
$16.95 - 26k

Award-winning author MariJo Moore asked women from around the world to consider the devastating nature of conflict—inner wars, outer wars, public battles, and personal losses. Their answers, in the form of poignant poetry and essays, examine war in all its permutations, beginning in 60 CE and continuing into the 21st century, from Ireland to Iraq and everywhere in between. With contributions from both well-known and first-time writers, this moving anthology encompasses a wide range of voices—a Blitz evacuee, an ex-slave, an incarcerated mother, former military personnel, survivors of domestic violence, those who have battled drugs and disease, and many other courageous women willing to share their unique and timeless insight on the realities of war.

(MariJo Moore)

Several months ago MariJo emailed me about an anthology she was putting together, a gathering of women's voices about war. She asked if I had anything to send her. I thought and thought. I had a sequence of sonnets spun off from the still-ongoing battle over displaying the Confederate flag in the deep South and some of my childhood memories of the Civil Rights battles that took place just miles from my home. But that had already been published in "Callaloo." Then I remembered a sequence I had begun in response to Ron Rash's "Shelton Laurel" in a recent ASHEVILLE POETRY REVIEW. In it the speaker addresses his sister about the atrocities he has seen and of which he has been a part during the Civil War massacres in the mountains. I woke up next morning with the sister responding. I sent the sequence to Marijo. She wanted it!

Now I find that it shares company with work by writers Eavan Boland, Linda Hogan, Glenis Redmond, Emöke B’Rácz, Paula Gunn Allen, and an impressive chorus of other women's voices. In addition to Redmond and B’Rácz, North Carolina is also respresented by Laura Hope-Gill, H. Byron Ballard, Ellenburg, Paula Popow Oliver, Margaret Abruzzi, Marjorie Hudson, and Cheryl Dietrich. And of course, MariJo Moore.

(Laura Hope-Gill and Glenis Redmond, from Jeff Davis's Blog, Natures,

Though tempted to reproduce the entire table of contents, I'll list only a sample of the titles included, a hint of the diversity of territory and experience.

This Land Had Seen War Before
Rhiana Yazzie
We tried to return in following months to recognize the place where our people had been massacred. We tried to return to the place that now holds a sacred meaning to us.

Dead All Over the Hills: An Interview with Ex-Slave Mrs. Phoebe Banks
From the WPA Oklahoma Slave Narratives
Edited by T. Lindsay Baker and Julie P. Baker
The Creek Indians and the slaves with them try to fight off them soldiers like they did before, but they get scattered around and separated so’s they lose the battle.

How I Became an Evacuee
Margaret Abruzzi
I put my gas mask in a cardboard box with a string strap so I could slip it over my shoulder. I would carry my doll, Betsy.

Hermine Jungus Komnik’s World Wars I and II Experiences and Results
Paula Popow Oliver
At the Dresden train station, the Americans began bombing the city. We lived three days and three nights at this train station; moving from one track to another and running to the bunkers underground

La Scarlettina
Alexandria Giardino
Later, agents came to interrogate Grace, and they told her that they knew her husband had supported Mussolini and had sent money to Italy for many years.

American Helmets
Bushra Al-Bustani
/ I shake off the blood clots from the bottom of my heart. / The prayers are unsound /

Sufi Dancing with Dad
Marjorie Hudson
Sufi dancers believe they can make peace by twirling to perfection. Why not? It makes more sense to dance for peace than to war for it.

(Marjorie Hudson)


And the miraculous comes so close
to the ruined, dirty houses-
something not known to anyone at all,
but wild in our breast for centuries.
-Anna Akhmatova, 1921

What is war? How can we define this horrible word? Children murdered, women raped, cities destroyed, generations of memories taken away with one nuclear blast? What descriptions come to mind when you think of war? Previous and present administrations have tried to desensitize us by commercializing it. We see pictures of women killed in arenas for mere infractions, children torn apart with flies circling their wounds, young men and women returning from battles in wheelchairs or in coffins. Realistic computerized war games, which turn murder into an amusing pastime, are available at the touch of a switch. Constantly we are bombarded with this imagery, so often that many have to go deep into themselves to grasp compassion. After all, it is not happening here, it is not happening to them; therefore they must go on about their business, say a few quick prayers for others, and continue to believe they are not impacted by these horrors. Bu there are still those of us who have not become so insensate that the realities of war are common expectations instead of treacherous realizations.
Looking back over the past two thousand years, I understand that many wars were fought (and continue to be) because of religious and political imperialism: one group believes its ideology to be superior to another's. And of course, greed, racism, and misogyny fuel the fires of imperialism, which offer credence to the fact that women often have different perspectives of war than men. I wanted to know what these opinions could be, so I presented the following question to several women from various areas of thought: If you could converse with a woman, any woman (living or deceased), who suffered from war, any war, whom would it be? What questions would you ask? Their answers, in both poetry and prose, were poignant and deserve to be anthologized.

Some women considered wars more military in nature, while others chose wars of another sort: The ongoing battles with breast cancer, alcoholism, drug addiction, illegal adoption, and spousal abuse; conflict over the right to abortion, stem cell research, and other medical melees; women in prison denied religious rights; and of course the invisible walls many of us try to climb over as we struggle to excel in the workplace.

Comparing histories can be unifying, a spiritual bonding that encourages and renews our commitment to our callings. The contributors to this anthology are exclusively women. Who better to intuit what really exists in a woman's mind and heart? Who better to search their own souls and decide what they would have done in similar circumstances? Who better to compare and contrast their own experiences?

The selections here are presented chronologically from before 60 CE to the twenty-first century. The contributors live across the world, from the United States and Canada, to England, Ireland, Italy, Hungary, Palestine, Kurdistan, Belgium, Latin America, China, Sri Lanka, and Iraq. Writings are by or about women who have lost everything and succumbed to their own demise, women who have gained from their losses and not given up, and women who have not had the opportunity to share their stories. Women who have fought inner wars, outer wars, and who are still engaged in battles. Women who fight, win, lose, fight again, lose again, and yet continue to remain stalwart. Women who remain women, regardless of their environment. Women of the past, women of today. All of this for women of the future, the women who must remain strong in order to hold this planet together.

These are the women I champion; no doubt this anthology will give others the chance to do the same. These writings will go deep into readers' psyches, past the nonverbal consent caused by desensitization, to reawaken and bring to the surface the innate realization that we are all involved in the historical and recent events concerning war; that no one is insulated from these issues; that everyone has experienced the realties of war in some way. These are the blood memories that will remain “wild in our breast for centuries.”

MariJo Moore
PO Box 2493
Candler, NC 28715

And now, here is the poem I woke up to after reading Ron Rash's "Shelton Laurel."

Shelton Laurel Diary

“A branch runs through this cavern, in it trout
whose eyes are blind from years of too much dark.
I envy them for all they haven’t seen,
and maybe with enough time I might too
cease to see these things I tell you of...”

Ron Rash, Shelton Laurel

I dreamed you wrote a letter
to me, grimy-fingered in
the glow of some dream cave, holed
up like wolf or bear. Your nib
scratched over wrinkled paper,
blood-stained, was it? Yes, I saw
it clearly for a moment,
fading though it was, as fading
you were in the light. How did
we come to this? Against each
other. Other side of creek.
Or ridge. Against, against. It tries
my fortitude, this war. Recall
that pair of overalls you
gave me, unbeknownst to our
strict father, saying, now you too
can crawl the laurel hells and
climb the rockface with the rest
of us? I did. I keep them near
to feel the earth they crawled,
the thorns they bore, worn down
to flesh itself through trailing
you. I almost drew them on
to track you into battle,
joining boys out in the front
lines, fight as hard as they. You know
I could. Where are you, Brother?
And why hide from me? I fear
you’ve crawled into some hell
more hellish than our laurel
can be for a stranger who
has lost his way in these parts.
Yes, I dreamed the letter you left
on my pillow, yet I do not
dream I wake. I know I have
awakened. And I know you
wait in darkness, as I see now
dawn begin to creep above
the fog in Shelton Laurel.

Kathryn Stripling Byer


MariJo Moore said...

Thanks so much, Kathryn, for sharing this information concerning this important, timely anthology.

MariJo Moore

Pris said...

What a wonderful post. This book definitely goes onto my 'buy when I can next afford it' list.

Kathryn Stripling Byer said...

Thanks MariJo and Pris! Pris, I hope you come into a fortune soon so that you can buy this book and lots of others---from Indie bookstores, of course!
Have a great holiday. K.