By conservative estimates, there are currently enough wrongfully convicted people in prison in the United States to fill a football stadium.
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Judy Hogan is a writer who lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She runs the Carolina Wren Press.
November 17. Monday. The car didn’t start — again. We rode the bus. Manuel, in hat, was driving. He picked us up, leaving the students who were waiting to wait seven more minutes. I bet they hated me.
Thinking today again about fate, the substratum of what is possible, and then the power we have once we are in close touch with what is there. Where the power to act and to change things and to create really lies.
This collection of Bob Fox’s stories are described by Fox’s publisher, Curt Johnson, as “the most enlightening and enlightened surrealism I’ve read since Franz K.”
How many novels have you read lately that challenge stereotypes, while giving you characters you can love and hate, with a plot and an ending that satisfy both your sense of what must happen and what you wish would happen?
Nobody’s Perfect, Johnson’s second novel to be published, though the third to be written, takes up the whole issue of who gets published and why. It takes as its main subject the uproarious literary politics of the late 60’s, when the government first set up the National Endowment for the Arts, and fools and crooks and serious editors asked for money to keep small-scale literary operations afloat in a sea of conglomerate-owned houses and declining public taste. One of the best parts is the description of the first COSMEP (Committee of Small Magazine Editors and Publishers) meeting.
I don’t really know what a poet is. I like these definitions as well as any. I have a lot of convictions, though, about being a poet, which may or may not be similar to those of other poets, or of people who see us as a class — a group with a rather esoteric occupation, the fruits of which can be hard to get at or into.
We have in this country a great freedom. We have the freedom to say what we think. What I am wondering, though, is why so few of us say what we think. I wonder how many of us know what we think. Particularly the bumper crop of writers this country has produced in the last two decades.
In my chair. What’s it like? It’s a green, upholstered, old-fashioned rocker. I tuck my feet up under me. Unlike Virginia Woolf, I do not stand up and work at a desk to do the writing I take most seriously. I get as comfortable as possible. I get a cup of coffee, and while I’m thinking, or between sentences, I go back and heat it up if it’s gotten cold.
I can’t remember the first time I heard someone say that the conglomerates (giant U.S. corporations like Xerox) were buying out the big New York publishing houses, the ones that 20 or so years ago were a fairly reliable place to publish a first novel, a well-written book, something that might someday be known as a great book, as “literature.”
Four years ago, I was a housewife, though I didn’t think of myself that way. I had a three-month old baby girl, born Caesarian, and I was just beginning to pull physically out of that. My worries were how to resolve the jealousy of her three-year-old brother; how to get the right nourishment into all our bodies, especially mine (I was breast-feeding her and was often tired); how to get tomatoes off the vines as long into September as possible and figure out when you were supposed to pick acorn squash; how to keep myself alive as a writer (I was writing poetry, diary, and small press book reviews for The Durham Herald); and how to love and provide that nourishment for the whole family. We were five and lived in an old farm house in Cedar Grove. An article on me in the Herald of July 1972 had as a headline: “Peace in the country for Poet Judy Hogan.”
I have been struggling, mostly alone, with issues which are in many ways feminist since I was four and my father gave me a choice: a toy eggbeater or a book about Raggedy Ann. I freely identified with my mother’s domestic side and wanted the eggbeater. I also wanted the story-book. It was a hard choice because I wanted both so much and I was impatient with my father for putting it to me. When I chose the book, I knew I also chose the companionship of my father, his lap, and hearing the stories which I liked read many times over.