Archives for posts with tag: women writers


Earlier today, we posted several lists of books from Marilyn Monroe’s library. A reader commented that no women appeared on the list — and, to correct that oversight, a list of books from MM’s library by women authors appears below. (I only selected authors whose names today’s readers would recognize.)

The Women by Clare Boothe Luce

Memories of a Catholic Girlhood by Mary McCarthy

Collected Sonnets by Edna St. Vincent Millay

The Collected Short Stories by Dorothy Parker

Selected Poems by Emily Dickinson

Photo: Marilyn Monroe  at home in Los Angeles reading a book by a woman author while dressed in pink.


by Joan Didion

We tell ourselves stories in order to live. The princess is caged in the consulate. The man with the candy will lead the children into the sea…We interpret what we see, select the most workable of multiple choices. We live entirely, especially if we are writers, by the imposition of a narrative line upon disparate images, by the “ideas” with which we have learned to freeze the shifting phantasmagoria which is our actual experience. Or at least we do for a while.…
The White Album (1979), a book of essays by Joan Didion, is available at

“When I’m working on a book, I constantly retype my own sentences. Every day, I go back to page one and just retype what I have. It gets me into a rhythm.” JOAN DIDION

Graphic: “We tell ourselves stories in order to live” is the opening line of Joan Didion‘s essay “The White Album,” featured in her collection of the same name.

Find The White Album (1979), a book of 20 essays by Joan Didion  at


“Novels are like paintings, specifically watercolors. Every stroke you put down you have to go with. Of course, you can rewrite, but the original strokes are still there in the texture of the thing.” JOAN DIDION

PAINTING: “Pink and Green Mountains,” 1915 watercolor by Georgia O’Keeffe

by Julie Cadwallander-Staub

The air vibrated
with the sound of cicadas
on those hot Missouri nights after sundown
when the grown-ups gathered on the wide back lawn,
sank into their slung-back canvas chairs
tall glasses of iced tea beading in the heat
 and we sisters chased fireflies
reaching for them in the dark
admiring their compact black bodies
their orange stripes and seeking antennas
as they crawled to our fingertips
and clicked open into the night air.
In all the days and years that have followed,
I don’t know that I’ve ever experienced
the same utter certainty of the goodness of life
that was as palpable
as the sound of the cicadas on those nights:
my sisters running around with me in the dark,
the murmur of the grown-ups’ voices,
the way reverence mixes with amazement
to see such a small body
emit so much light. 
“Reverence” by Julie Cadwallander-Staub appears in the Silver Birch Press Summer Anthology — a 220-page collection of poetry and prose available in a free Kindle version on Sept. 17 & 18, 2013. Find your free Kindle of the Silver Birch Press Summer Anthology at (If you don’t have a Kindle device, get free kindle reading apps for your computer at this link.)

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Photo: “Fireflies at Night” by Sierra, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Poem by Amy Lowell

All day I have watched the purple vine leaves
Fall into the water.
And now in the moonlight they still fall
But each leaf is fringed with silver.

Illustration: Zelda Richardson, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Poem by Amy Lowell

This afternoon was the color of water falling through sunlight; 
The trees glittered with the tumbling of leaves; 
The sidewalks shone like alleys of dropped maple leaves, 
And the houses ran along them laughing out of square, open windows. 
Under a tree in the park, 
Two little boys, lying flat on their faces, 
Were carefully gathering red berries 
To put in a pasteboard box. 
Some day there will be no war, 
Then I shall take out this afternoon 
And turn it in my fingers, 
And remark the sweet taste of it upon my palate, 
And note the crisp variety of its flights of leaves. 
Today I can only gather it 
And put it into my lunchbox, 
For I have time for nothing 
But the endeavor to balance myself 
Upon a broken world. 

Painting: “Berry Picking Children on a Summer Day” by Gerda Wallander (1905)


We used to drive around at night, we didn’t have anything else to do. We didn’t like to be in our apartment…So we drove around in the dark. We drove down Sunset and slowly through the quiet northern streets in Beverly Hills. Sometimes we parked and beamed the headlights over one lawn. Houses in Beverly Hills still amazed us. After we sat for a while, peering out trying to see movement inside the frames of fuzzy, lighted windows far back on a lawn, my mother would sigh and turn on the ignition. ‘Someday,’ she’d say.”

From Anywhere But Here by MONA SIMPSON

Photo: Soj!!, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Find more work here.

“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.”

GEORGE ELIOT, pen name of Mary Ann Evans (1819-1880), author of Silas Marner

Painting: “Autumn Bird” by ElfShoppe, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Prints available at

BIRDCALL (Excerpt)
by Alicia Suskind Ostriker

Tuwee, calls a bird near the house,
Tuwee, cries another, downhill in the woods.
No wind, early September, beeches and pines,
Sumac aflame, tuwee, tuwee, a question and a faint
But definite response, tuwee, tuwee, as if engaged
In a conversation expected to continue all afternoon,
Where is?—I’m here?—an upward inflection in
Query and in response, a genetic libretto rehearsed
Tens of thousands of years beginning to leave its indelible trace,
Clawprint of language, ritual, dense winged seed,
Or as someone were slowly buttoning a shirt.
I am happy to lie in the grass and listen, as if at the dawn of reason,
To the clear communal command
That is flinging creaturely will into existence,
Designing itself to desire survival,
Liberty, companionship,
Then the bird near me, my bird, stops inquiring, while the other
Off in the woods continues calling faintly, but with that upward
Inflection, I’m here, I’m here,
I’m here, here, the call opens a path through boughs still clothed
By foliage, until it sounds like entreaty, like anxiety, like life…

…

Photo: “Autumn Tree Bird” by Ellen Gee, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Prints available at


ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1937, Alicia Suskin Ostriker received a bachelor’s degree from Brandeis University and an MA and PhD in literature from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Her collections of poetry include The Book of Seventy (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2009); The Volcano Sequence (2002); The Little Space: Poems Selected and New, 1968-1998 (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1998) which was a finalist for the 1999 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize; The Crack in Everything (1996), a National Book Award finalist and winner of the Paterson Poetry Award and the San Francisco State Poetry Center Award; and The Imaginary Lover (1986), winner of the William Carlos Williams Award of the Poetry Society of America. She teaches poetry in New England College’s Low-Residency MFA Program.