We come from all walks of life. A Broadway actress writes alongside a woman who represents the first generation to grow up without the veil in Pakistan. The daughter of a Nazi soldier evokes a fatherless early childhood alongside a woman whose mother was lost in the Holocaust. One woman tells of joining a group of violent revolutionaries when she was young, in an effort to undo the ills of her privileged family of origin. Another tells of how a racially inherited illness helped her reclaim her Native American roots. One tells about abuse from a child’s view; another describes the beauty of discovering a friendship with her grandmother; still another writes of the loss of the woman who was her partner for 35 years.
In the word of Herstory facilitator Lonnie Mathis: “We are housewives, community activists, court judges, retirees, physically and mentally disabled. We are mothers, sisters, wives, aunts, partners, Black, White, Latina, Native American, Asian, gay, straight, wealthy and poor, incarcerated and free. Each week we gather, we break bread, and we share. We share who we are as women. We challenge ourselves and each other to go beyond what we see as our limits. But we never lose sight of the writing.”
We come to Herstory, believing in its power to bring about real change in individuals and ultimately in our world, by teaching us how to shape our stories – and by honoring our trust that no matter where our paths may have taken us, we will not be judged or rejected. This is the pledge and the hope of Herstory, the young-old-white-black-brown-gay-straight-educated-uneducated-incarcerated-free-poor-wealthy-recently immigrated-and-everything-in-between community of women writers we have become.
What joins the women, as they learn how to write together so that a stranger who reads each of their stories might be moved, is the passion they have for revealing their tales. Learning to make barely remembered moments come alive on the page so fully that another may feel them, they discover not only each other, but an often more loveable part of themselves that they had either banished or left behind.
Some women come only for a month or two, to tell a particular story. Others continue year after year, completing book-length projects, while the Herstory community becomes central in their lives. While the making of art is our mission, healing is very often an important by-product, as stories relegated to silence take flight and begin to be heard.
Meet Some of the Women of Herstory