Washington’s Undiscovered Feminists with Mayumi Tsutakawa

On Dec. 5th, the Seattle Public Library presents a virtual program, Washington’s Undiscovered Feminists with Mayumi Tsutakawa, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage. It is about five woman warriors of the Pacific Northwest: pioneering photographer Imogen Cunningham; Black American jazz musician Ruby Bishop; Chinese American artist Priscilla Chong Jue; Leftist journalist Anna Louise Strong; and Native American linguist Vi Hilbert. Here are some books from the library to learn and explore about each warrior or the field where the warriors pioneered.

Imogen Cunningham (1883-1976) specialized in plant photography. Richard Lorenz’s book Imogen Cunningham: Flora presents a selection of her botanical images, from simple flower arrangements to elaborate compositions of ferns and lilies.

The Blue Note by David Keller focused on Seattle’s black American Federation of Musicians’ Local 493. It is an upbeat story of race, jazz, gender, and union culture spanning the years from the 1880’s to the mid-1950’s. Ruby Bishop’s brother was an agent for Local 493, the black musicians’ union.  Jackson Street After Hours by Paul De Barros provides a detailed description of the vibrant Central District music scene that led up to the funk and soul clubs described in the documentary Wheedle’s Groove. Continue reading “Washington’s Undiscovered Feminists with Mayumi Tsutakawa”

Seattle Rep’s A DOLL’S HOUSE, PART 2 – Beyond the Theater

Have you ever wondered what became of a beloved or engaging literary character after the last page turns, or the curtain falls? What happens next? In his award-winning play A Doll’s House, Part 2 – playing at the Seattle Repertory Theater from March 15 to April 28, 2019 – Lucas Hnath applies this curiosity to one of the most startling and provocative endings in all of theater, when Nora Helmer walks out on her husband and family in Henrik Ibsen’s epochal 1879 play A Doll’s House, slamming the door behind her. Continue reading “Seattle Rep’s A DOLL’S HOUSE, PART 2 – Beyond the Theater”

The Feminist and the Axe Murderer

Susan Glaspell was just 24, working her first job out of college as a reporter for the Des Moines Daily News when she was called to the scene of a grisly crime that would shape her artistic destiny. Late on the night of December 1, 1900, John Hossack had been bludgeoned to death with an axe as he lay in bed. Margaret, his wife of 33 years, slept on beside him during the murder, or so she claimed.

Despite her children’s protests, she was arrested and charged with murder. The trial became a sensation, and Glaspell’s reporting on the case and its surprising outcome was eagerly devoured well beyond Iowa. To say that the case became a referendum on domestic abuse would be to rewrite history, but the sympathies aroused by the stoic Margaret Hossack were indicative of a gradual change in the popular understanding of women’s rights and legal status. Continue reading “The Feminist and the Axe Murderer”

Feminist Slam

Some of my favorite slam poetry fixes come from Button Poetry, founded in 2011 by Sam Cook and Sierra DeMulder, who were shortly joined by Rachele Cermak and Heidi Lear. They launched the first Button website and blog.

Sierra DeMulder was the first to pull me in with her poem “Today Means Amen,” from her poetry book with the same title.

Continue reading “Feminist Slam”

Florynce “Flo” Kennedy: Black Radical Feminist

It’s Black History Month, the perfect time to read about social justice trailblazers both celebrated and forgotten. Margo Jefferson’s wonderful memoir, Negroland, about growing up in a wealthy, elite African American family in the 1940s and ’50s, was my first introduction to Florynce “Flo” Kennedy, an outspoken Black feminist who inspired Jefferson and many others. Continue reading “Florynce “Flo” Kennedy: Black Radical Feminist”