Women and Words/Les Femmes et les mots: The Anthology/Une anthologie
Julie Rekai Rickerd is a Toronto broadcaster and public relations
Women and Words: The Anthology is the result of an idea formulated at the Women and Words Conference held in Vancouver, British Columbia, in July 1983. A group of women writers were brought together from across Canada to discuss their pasts, presents, and futures as writers and as women.
The anthology most definitely reflects the wide variety of backgrounds of the contributors; some are well-established writers such as Marian Engel, Janice Rule, Nicole Brossard, and Dorothy Livesay, while others have never been published before. The writers are a mix of Native Indian women, immigrant women, lesbians, Quebecoises and WASP women, of different ages, schooling, and lifestyles. They are all “concerned” women who attempt to deal with issues such as racism, women in the work force, communication, and single parenting: “relationships, traditions, life and death.”
A pot-pourri of this kind naturally lends itself to both success and failure. Some of the women have “come a long way, baby,” but others are still in the quagmire. Some want a platform of equality with men; others want much, much more.
The quality of the prose and poetry, all short stories and short poems, varies from the delightful to the not so meaningful. The French works were chosen for their “variation and innovation of theme and style”; the English, to represent “cultural and linguistic backgrounds of race, age, sexuality, class and location.” These criteria have led to a neglect, in certain instances, of literary value and validity. There is much anguish and agony throughout the anthology, even some whining, but there are also many instances of humour, hope, nostalgia, and creative energy and imagination.
This is not an anthology of Canadian women authors. It is a collection of ideas of Canadian women, some of whom are writers.