Sunday, February 2, 2020

Talking to Myself Seven

Judy Hogan in 1976 at a Cosmep (small press) conference in Austin, Texas. I was the chair, and 39 years old.

Talking to Myself Seven   February 2, 2020

“Keep doing what you’re doing,” said Dr. K.
My blood pressure was normal, even ideal
for a woman of eighty-two. My black eye 
had finally faded. I was learning to walk 
heel first, and I had healed. My body worked 
its own miracle. It helped that I slept a lot,
and rewards I did not expect came: a Midwest
Book Review of pure praise. Then a front page
story about my writing life. Over seventy years
of it, back to age seven when I lived in bed.
I wrote stories. I was happy. The stories 
continued, and then I wrote poems and kept
a diary. I tried novels and plays, and an epic 
of my own life. My husband showed my
diary to his friend, who called it pure fiction.
Not to me. It was my heart’s truth, but was I 
a real writer? Finally, I answered my own 
question. “A writer is one who writes.”
I read Anais Nin’s published diary. Sometimes
I published part of my diary. Later I published
my poems, and my friend Paul and I started
a poetry journal using underground presses
in Berkeley. We bought an offset press, which
changed publishing, at least for us. We named
it Hyperion, the light god. We wrote and
published against the Vietnam war. We found
so many new voices. Paul was in Berkeley. 
I was in Evanston. We published writers in 
Alaska and California, and later in North
Carolina and Texas. I understood the women
writers better, and he, the men, so we each
had power. We won National Endowment
grants. In North Carolina I found Jaki 
Shelton and others who came to my open
readings. Lots of new women writers.
Then I started my own press, Carolina Wren.
I even published a street poet, Michael 
Riggsbee. He would sell his book for $2, 
or for fifty cents if that was all they had.
Amon Liner found me. I barely understood
his poems, but he didn’t care. He explained
them to me. I put Jaki in print, and she’s now 
our state’s poet laureate. I gave up Carolina
Wren but began publishing my mystery
novels. Twelve now, including one amazing 
review and a front page article. Seven
decades of writing, and people begin
to notice. I celebrate quietly, and
my heart is happy.

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