Uncategorized | March 23, 2005

Ellen Bass, a former winner of the the Larry Levis Prize from the Missouri Review, has brought our attention to the plight of The Feminist Press, the influential press founded by Florence Howe in 1970 and the oldest women’s press in the nation. According to Bass, the loss of feminist bookstores and journals, as well as a change in policy from banks in New York (home of The Feminist Press) regarding the extension of credit to non-profit organizations has placed The Feminist Press in difficult economic circumstances, with the need to raise $200,000 over the next several months. Bass, author of five books of poetry, including Mules of Love, and four books of non-fiction, including the The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse, which has sold over a million copies and been translated into ten languages, has pledged to match contributions to The Feminist Press that are sent directly to her by the end of March.

Bass writes, “It may be hard for some of you who are young to comprehend that there was a time when we did not have access to women’s writing, but those of you who are as old as I am will remember it well. Not being able to read women’s writing meant that we didn’t hear what women lived through, felt, thought, suffered or desired. There was little or no mention in literature of experiences that were unique to women, such as the day to day challenges and joys of raising children, our experience of sexual pleasure, child sexual abuse, rape, domestic violence, women’s friendship, and so much more.”

Among the works that The Feminist Press has been responsible for publishing or for rescuing from obscurity are Life In the Iron Mills, by Rebecca Harding; The Yellow Wallpaper, by Charlotte Perkins Gillman; I Love Myself When I Am Laughing…And Then Again When I Am Looking Mean and Impressive, by Zora Neale Hurston, Brown Girl, Brownstones, by Paule Marshall; and The Living Is Easy, by Dorothy West, among many others. In the 1980s, The Feminist Press began to publish anthologies of women writers from around the globe, and this year they’ve published several novels by women from Iraq and Iran, as well as Baghdad Burning, a day-to-day blog of life in the city by an Iraqi journalist in hiding in Baghdad.

All contributions are fully tax-deductible. Checks shoudl be made out to The Feminist Press and sent to Ellen Bass, 226 Younglove Ave., Santa Cruz, CA 95060. At the end of March, Bass will add up all the contributions and will send them along to The Feminist Press with her matching check.