Marianne Betterly and other contributors to the Widows’ Handbook: Reflections on Grief and Survival will be reading and speaking on May 31st from 9:30-10:45 a.m. at the First Unitarian Universalist Society of San Francisco.
The Widows’ Handbook is the first anthology of poems by contemporary widows, many of whom have written their way out of solitude and despair, distilling their strongest feelings into poetry or memoir. This stirring collection celebrates the strategies widows learn and the resources they muster to deal with people, living space, possessions, social life, and especially themselves, once shock has turned to the realization that nothing will ever be the same. As Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg says in her foreword, losing one s partner is a loss like no other.
The Widows’ Handbook is a collection of poetry from 87 American women of all ages, legally married or not, straight and gay, whose partners or spouses have died. Some of the poets are already published widely including more than a dozen prizewinners, four Pushcart nominees, and two regional poets laureate. Others are not as well known, and some appear in print for the first time here. They write frankly about being paralyzed and about going forward. Their poems are honest, beautiful, and accessible.
Only poetry can speak such difficult truths and incite such intense empathy. While both men and women understand the bewilderment, solitude, and change of status thrust upon the widowed, women suffer a particular social demotion and isolation. Anyone who has lost a loved one or is involved in helping the bereaved will be able to relate to the experiences conveyed in The Widows’ Handbook.
“When a partner dies, we begin a long journey down a path we’d rather not take, and we may imagine that life could never be bearable again. The poems in this “Handbook” offer much more than guidance or comfort. Their searing honesty and vivid depictions of resilience offer us invaluable reassurance that our grieving, however painful, will not destroy our capacity to live with meaning–and even joy.”
–Judy Norsigian, Executive Director of Our Bodies, Ourselves and Co-founder, Boston Women’s Health Book Collective
Readers may include (but are not limited to): Marianne Betterly, Judy Bebelaar and Jacqueline Kudler, Sandra Gilbert, Kristine Forbes, Mary Curtis,
When Marianne Betterly isn’t hip hop dancing, designing websites or traveling to Kyoto, she’s writing poetry. Her poetry has been published widely in books and journals including the Hot Flashes series, “The Green Silk Journal,” and “The Haight Ashbury Literary Journal.” Marianne is the book designer of Turning a Train of Thought Upside Down.
Judy Bebelaar taught in San Francisco public high schools for 37 years. Her students won many writing honors, including 8 Scholastic Writing Awards. Judy’s poetry has won prizes as well, and has been published widely, including in the anthologies The Widows’ Handbook (Kent State University, 2014) and Turning a Train of Thought Upside Down (Scarlet Tanager Books, 2012). Her chapbook, Walking Across the Pacific,(Finishing Line Press) was published in 2014. She co-hosts a reading series for the Bay Area Writing Project with Marty Williams.
Jacqueline Kudler lives in Sausalito, California and teaches classes in memoir writing and literature at the College of Marin in Kentfield. Her poems have appeared in numerous reviews, magazines, and anthologies. Her first full length poetry collection, Sacred Precinct, was published by Sixteen Rivers Press, San Francisco, in 2003: her second, Easing into Dark, in 2012. She was awarded the Marin Arts Council Board Award in 2005, and the Marin Poetry Center Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010.