Surviving is important, but thriving is elegant ~ Maya Angelou
Though survival may have been on their minds when they launched Minnesota Women’s Press in 1985, Glenda Martin and Mollie Hoben have thrived – elegantly! In fact, they have just launched a celebration of their more recent twenty years as founders and leaders of The BookWomen Center for Feminist Reading, which is both a part and an outgrowth of Minnesota Women’s Press. The best known project of the Center is publication and global distribution of BookWomen, a bi-monthly journal designed to create “a readers’ community for those who love women’s words”.
Glenda and Mollie continue to thrive through their unstinting and endlessly creative work to give voice to women – women who write great books, women who reshape the political landscape, women who merit a platform to share their pain, women who are redefining the world of art, women who simply have much to say about literature and living.
Their tradition of amplifying the voices of others lives on as Mollie and Glenda celebrate another milestone. The next issue of BookWomen will mark the completion of twenty years’ publication to inviting readers to share their thoughts. Questions to readers affirm their sincere commitment to learn and share – and thus thrive:
- How did you get connected to BookWomen, and why have you stuck with us?
- How has your own reading; life changed in the past 20 years”
- What memorable book or other have you learned about from BookWomen?
For two decades BookWomen readers have learned about great reads, personal experiences of readers and writers, literary news and views, updates on Reading on the Road retreats that have attracted vagabonds and locals at significant literary sites from Taos to the Coast of Maine to Iceland to Oaxaca, Mexico and England’s Lake District.
As one fortunate enough to have known the trajectory of Mollie’s and Glenda’s thriving since MWP was still a dream it has occurred to me how important it is for younger and newer followers of these women to know more about the narrative. We need to learn or remember the times and the impact of their commitment to share a critical light on the words of women – through Minnesota Women’s Press, later BookWomen and The Bookwomen Center.
The good news is that the narrative is preserved in print and in oral and video interviews they have generously shared. My hope is that readers of this blog will learn for the first time – or recall – more about Mollie and Glenda as they have shared their story.
- My favorite interview with Mollie and Glenda was conducted in 1997 by beloved Minnesota poet Joanne Hart as part of the Northern Lights and Insights video series. The interview incorporates stories of the day when the MWP entrepreneurs not only published the newspaper but also hosted several reading groups and operated a bookstore (on Raymond off University) and a unique library of feminist literature contributed by readers and supporters of the enterprise. It is a forever treasure!(http://reflections.mndigital.org/cdm/ref/collection/p16022coll38/id/80)
- For a thorough oral interview replete with stories and reflections of Minnesota Women’s Press check Kathryn Brewer’s interview with Mollie Hoben, conducted in June 1999 under the auspices of the Minnesota Historical Society. http://collections.mnhs.org/cms/web5/media.php?pdf=1&irn=10245225
- The most recent BookWomen offers a great overview of current (June-July 2016) projects: (http://www.womenspress.com/main.asp?SectionID=10&SubSectionID=706&ArticleID=3534&TM=72771.3)
Helpful histories of Minnesota Women’s Press were published when founders celebrated significant anniversaries of the Press. Here are some good backgrounder or refresher reads:
- When MWP turned twenty Greta Cunningham of MPR wrote a special tribute to Mollie and Glenda: http://news.minnesota.publicradio.org/features/2005/04/30_cunninghamg_womenspress
- On MWP’s 25th anniversary the Park Bugle, ancestral home of some MWP founders, remembered the early days with an eye to the future: http://www2.parkbugle.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1100%3Amilestone-has-minnesota-womens-press-looking-forward-to-the-next-25-years&Itemid=50
- When MWP turned 30, current publishers Kathy Magnuson and Norma Smith Olson captured the MWP “Founding Story” http://womenspress.com/main.asp?SectionID=1&SubSectionID=233&ArticleID=4745
Back in the day, decades before the birth of The BookWomen Center for Feminist Reading, Virginia Wolfe lamented that “women have sat indoors all these millions of years, so that by this time the very walls are permeated by their creative force, which has, indeed, so overcharged the capacity of bricks and mortar that it must needs harness itself to pens and brushes and business and politics.” (A Room of One’s Own, 1929)
In recent decades the “creative force” of women has indeed harnessed itself to pens and brushes and business and politics.” Through it all Glenda and Mollie have thrived by shedding light on the power of women’s words to “overcharge the capacity of bricks and mortar.”