Writing Fire

An Anthology Celebrating the Power of Women’s Words

by Jennifer Browdy, Jana Laiz, Sahra Bateson Brubeck, eds.

Writing Fire celebrates the power of women’s words with a wide-ranging exploration into the voices and visions of women of all ages, from many walks of life. From teens to seniors, from new mothers to great-grandmothers, this collection is brimming with the kinds of stories that have always been told around kitchen tables but have not always made their way into print.

Including fiction, poetry, personal narrative, essays and humor, Writing Fire offers an intimate window into the strengths, passions and perspectives of more than 75 inspiring and unforgettable women writers.

These honest, moving stories will spark thoughtful conversations about every stage of a woman’s life journey; from girlhood, relationships, marriage, divorce, illness and grieving, work, play and love.

A glorious feast of inspiring stories that will make you laugh and cry and want to grab your own pen and join the conversation!

Table of Contents

Introduction: Lighting the Sparks, The Editors

Prologue: Woman with a Stubborn Tongue, Lee Schwartz

Part One: Hearts Wide Open

Strange Fancies, Lara Tupper

Variations: Two Poems on Aging, Signe Eklund Schaefer

My Paradox in Port-au-Prince, Jennifer J. Holey

I Fucking Hate the Gender Binary, Eden Chubb

The Earth Is Our Mother, Wendy A. Rabinowitz

The Meadow, Mary-Ellen Beattie

Birthed in the Berkshires, Suzi Banks Baum

Misunderstood, Michele Gara

Winged Victory, Mary Kate Jordan

Blood and Gold, Deirdre McKenna

Fiona, Nellie, Lt. Cable and Me, Nancy Salz

Lenox Girls, Anne Harrison

The Edge of Elsewhere, Susie Kaufman

Einstein and Grace, Jan Hutchinson

Haiku, JoAnne Spies


Part Two: Questions for Our Mothers

Two Poems, Hilde Weisert

A Mother’s Touch, Donna Lefkowitz

Plum Jam, Anni Crofut

London Asks To Be Remembered, Lisken Van Pelt Dus

Butterflies Are Free, Joan Peronto

Cookies Like You’ve Never Tasted, Robin Zeamer

My Mother Died, Heidi Rothberg

How I (Finally) Met My Mother, Judith Nardacci

To My Mother, Barbara Barak

A Second Chance, A.M. Sommers

Mother’s Day, Barbara Newman

I’m Still Mom, Jana Laiz

I of the Beholder, Janet Reich Elsbach


Part Three: Looking for Love

Recipes from a Weekend of Love, Carolyn Fabricant

Aphrodite & Ares, Sahra Bateson Brubeck

Two Poems, Marie-Elizabeth Mali

A Constellation? Help Me Find the Big Dipper, Emma Flowers

The Whooper Swans, Lydia Littlefield

When All Else Fails, Audrey Kalman

Ribs (What’s Taken From You to Give to Me), Brianna Pope

Je t’adore, Teresa Gentile

The Rocky Road to Happiness, Lorin Krouss

Where Is Your Husband? Kuukua Dzigbordi Yomekpe


Part Four: For the Love of Family

Breadcrumbs, Hope Fitzgerald

Kind Thoughts, Rosemary Starace

Of Royal Blood, Hester Velmans

Fading Into Love: For Audrey, Carol Fults

Roots, Stems and Branches: A Recollection, Linda Kaye-Moses

Seventeenth Summer, Susan Wozniak

What Do You Mean Ken’s Pants Zip Up the Front?, Ellen Bliss

Fudgsicles, Martha C. Beattie

Boys Don’t Cry, Lisken Van Pelt Dus

Sandbars, Jenny Laird


Part Five: Courage, Resilience and Strength: The Power of Women’s Voices and Visions

Searching for the Moon: Musings on Growing Up Female, Amber Chand

The Drowning Girls, Grace Rossman

Black Clues, Joan Embree

Be Fruitful, Heather C. Meehan

Surviving the Cold, Teresa Gentile

Hand Towels, Barbara Dean

Concerning Bella, Jayne Benjulian

The Girls’ Club, Ellen Meeropol

Second Opinion, Sondra Zeidenstein

The Story of Harriet Ferment, Sally-Jane Heit

Betty’s Brain, Jan Krause Greene

I Found I Had Neglected Thirst, Rosemary Starace

Four Poems, Ruth Sanabria

Three Poems, Raquel Partnoy

Aunt Nkoumou and the Panthers, Pauline Dongala

No One Knew, Maggie Katz

Goodnight, Casey Anne Hall

A Hard Story, Leigh Strimbeck

Why I Chant, Diane Kavanaugh-Black

An Unusually Warm November, Jana Laiz

When the Sky Fell, Yvette “Jamuna” Sirker

Solstice Dreams, Jennifer Browdy

Woman Wondering, Suzanne Fowle

LOVE? A prayer for us, Carmen Maria Mandley


Part Six: Strong Shoulders: The Loves and Labors of Women

The Labor I Didn’t Have, Beverly Pimsleur

Baptism by Fire, Adrian Dunn

What I Did Not Expect, When I Was Expecting, Suzi Banks Baum

Let Him Eat Cake, Camille Tewell

The Dawson College Shooting, Carolyn Van Der Meer

Machine, Cheryl Anne Latuner

Translating Pain into Colors and Words, Raquel Partnoy

Catechisms: Three Poems, Mary Kate Jordan

Boots, Barbara Newman

Smudges, Linda Kaye Moses

On My Way to Rehab, Lee Schwartz

Underground, Susie Kaufman

The Yoga of Aging and Dying, Mary Beth Ogulewicz

Four Poems, Elizabeth O’Rourke

My Edible Muse, Judith Berg

Laundry, Sharon Coleman

Working It Out, Hilde Weisert

Magnolia Justice, Jana Laiz

About the Editors


Jennifer Browdy

Jennifer Browdy, Ph.D. is a Professor of Comparative Literature at Bard College at Simon’s Rock. She is the author of What I Forgot…and Why I Remembered, an environmental memoir, and The Elemental Journey of Purposeful Memoir, a writer’s guide. The editor of Women Writing Resistance, a collection of essays, stories and poetry by Latinx and Caribbean writers, as well as co-editor of the award-winning anthology African Women Writing Resistance, she founded the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers in 2011 and offers coaching, developmental editing and writing workshops and retreats on purposeful memoir. She blogs on social and environmental justice from a personal perspective at Transition Times.

Jana Laiz

Jana Laiz is the award-winning author of Weeping Under jana-laiz_portraitThis Same Moon, The Twelfth Stone, A Free Woman On God’s Earth, Elephants of the Tsunami, and Thomas & Autumn. She is the first Writer-In-Residence at Herman Melville’s Berkshire home, Arrowhead. She teaches writing workshops locally, nationally and internationally, including the 2014 San Miguel Writer’s Conference. Find her at janalaiz.com.

Sahra Bateson Brubeck

Sahra Bateson Brubeck earned her B.A. from Bard College at Simon’s Rock in 2014, majoring in Creative Writing with a minor in African American Studies. Her most recent creative work focuses mainly on the tradition of retelling and rewriting ancient myths. She strives to shed light on the convoluted histories and stories of ancient Greek Goddesses, often rearranging and repositioning the interpersonal dynamics that originally comprised the ancient myths, in an effort to add depth to the stories’ notions of power and femininity.

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