Paul Wilkes and Christine Stark this Week on WSR   Leave a comment

This week’s show will be an interesting juxtaposition: Paul Wilkes, author of The Art of Confession, and Christine Stark, author of Nickels, which has been nominated for a Lambda Literary Award.

Wilkes talks about confession with a small c, and Stark offers us the experience of dissociation and the relentless inner dialogue that plagues survivors.  What is a common thread? Both Wilkes and Stark explore processes of explaining and changing our behaviors. Of finding a meaningful and accessible means to tell our stories—not apologize—but tell the tale without the slant. Both search for truth.

Paul Wilkes

4:15 interview is with Paul Wilkes, whose new book The Art of Confession (Workman, 2012) has attracted very good reviews and for good reason. Wilkes has written a book that is unassuming, sage, and most informative.

“Confession,” Wilkes writes, “is a conversation with ourselves…..and strips away the veil that we often cast over our actions, realigning our souls with what is best and truest in our natures” (x). The Art of Confession walks us through the chapters that unpack apology versus confession, the origins of confession, the birth of conscious and other aspects of confession that enrich and enhance our lives.

Drawing on traditions “as old as ancient Greece and as modern as psychotherapy, as diverse as Judaism, Buddhism, and Christianity,” Wilkes presents the practice of daily confession “contemporary, relevant, universal—and vital” (WP).

So please join us at 4:15 for an interview with Paul Wilkes and if you want to join the conversation, call the air studio at: 802.454.7762, or email your questions to

Then at 5:00, I welcome Christine Stark to WSR. We’ll discuss her book Nickels: a tale of dissociation (Modern History Press, 2012), which is stunning in its raw, bold narrative as it recounts and details the extraordinary inner experience of dealing with childhood sexual and one of its common burdens, dissociation.

Christine Stark

The story tells of little “Miss So-and-So” whose father gives her a nickel every time he sexually assaults her. But this is more than a “story” because the emotional engagement with the text is profound and present. The veracity of the narrative penetrates the language, tenacity, and intelligence of the author. It’s a tough book to read but it is worth every syllable.

Christine Stark’s work has been published widely in periodicals and anthologies. A 2009 Pushcart nominee (fiction) and was awarded a 2010 Loft Mentorship in creative non-fiction. She teaches writing at metropolitan State University and Normandale Community College.

So tune in or stream us live this Thursday, April 5th, on Woman-Stirred Radio. Interviews begin at 4:15. And as always, if you want to join the conversation, the air studio phone is 802.454.7762 or email your questions:

Woman-Stirred Radio is underwritten by Sinister Wisdom, celebrating 35 years of  lesbian-feminist arts and letters. Woman-Stirred Radio broadcasts live on WGDR 91.1 fm and WGDH 91.7 fm, Goddard College‘s community radio station located in Plainfield, Vermont. 

Posted 04/04/2012 by Merry Gangemi in Uncategorized

Sheila Fisher’s The Selected Canterbury Tales and Susan Hawthorne’s Cow on Woman-Stirred Radio   Leave a comment

Thismorning, as I was getting ready to write the post for this week’s show, Iwas struck once again by the fortunate fact that I get to read greatbooks and then talk to the amazing people who write them.
photo by: Sonia Brand-Fisher
Thisweek is no exception and I’m thrilled to welcome Sheila Fisher, who isgarnering some attention with her new TheSelected Canterbury Tales (Norton, 2011),  just re-issued in paperback, and poet Susan Hawthorne, whose collection, Cow, is a Lambda Literary finalist.

Sheila Fisher’s interview starts at 4:15 p.m. (eastern).
“In the tradition of Seamus Heaney’s Beowulfand Marie Borroff’s Sir Gawain and theGreen Knight, Sheila Fisher’s TheSelected Canterbury Tales is a vivid, lively, and readable translation ofthe most famous work of England’s premier medieval poet. Preserving Chaucer’srhyme and meter, Fisher makes these tales accessible to a contemporary earwhile inviting readers to the Middle English original on facing pages. Herinformative introduction highlights Chaucer’s artistic originality in hismemorable portrayals of surprisingly modern women and men from across thespectrum of medieval society” (WWN).
Chaucerhas long been known as the Father of English poetry, who had a directand significant influence on Will Shakespeare, but who does not enjoy  proportionate interest and popularity, let alone have a pop cultural resurrection. (I’mthinking Shakespeare in Love, thevarious Kenneth Branagh postmodern productions, Macbeth, King Lear, Midsummer’s Night Dream, et cetera.) 

But Chaucer is influential, and markedly so. Chaucer’s influence resonates throughout the labyrinths of literary and artistic production and Sheila Fisher is working to further underscore that. Fisher’s new translation of the Canterbury Tales is engaging and interesting, and in spite of the factthat the Church controlled every single aspect of a medieval woman’s or man’slife, Chaucer dishes up fascinating portraits into the medieval mind and character and insightsinto their life-circumstances. We also access the subtle and not so subtle social commentariesvoiced through the likes of the Prioress, the Pardoner, the Wife of Bath, theMerchant’s, Reeve’s or Nun’s Priest (sic) about their time and place in history. The Selected Canterbury Tales are really good stories and traces can be found in current culture (I’m sure to the angst of Hilton Kramer) via the endless variationsof heroes and knights against evil, dark villains, vulnerable maidens, andDisneyesque romances. Or the perfectly hilarious Knight’s Tale, with Heath Ledger.

Sheila Fisher, PhD teaches English and is associate academic dean at Trinity College. She specializes in Chaucer,fourteenth-century English literature, and medieval women writers.

That’s 4:15, Thursday March 29th, and if you want to join theconversation or have a question or comment, call 802.454.7762.
Thenat 5:00 I welcome one of favorite poets, Susan Hawthorne, whose recentlypublished collection, Cow (Spiniflex, 2011) is a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award inpoetry. 
Lastautumn, my dear friend Julie R. Enszer, sent me a copy of Cow, and several nights running, after reading another string ofHawthorne’s masterful reimaginations of a multitude of cultural myths, I would settle down to my nightlycigarette and let my own imagination out to pasture. There in the dark, grassessoft underfoot and fragrant, was Queenie, her long flanks and elegant horns,her face soft in the moonlight, her eyes waiting for me to accept herpossibilities. 

This is the effect of Cow: one wants to really go there

Hawthorne conjures such vitality and cleverness in her language that Cowbecome a cinematic emersion into a carnal, spiritual world without parametersand expectations; it’s as if the original myths of all our cultures have cometogether, reconfiguring the violence and calculated control of patriarchy intoa vast, quirky fantasia of imagination. It becomes a personal experience ofmyths exploded:
in anothertime
a later time
when godsand demons
hadforgotten to be immortal
they joinedforces to create a nectar of immortality
these boystook their time
they carriedin Mount Mandara
turned itupside down
placed it onthe back of the tortoise
demons onone side
gods on theother
and eachheld the world snake
twirled themountain top for a thousand years
again andagain
the bestthey could manage was deadly poison
So please join us at 5:00 for a live interview, all the way from Australie, for an interview with poet Susan Hawthorne. Feel free to call in with comments and questions: 802.454.7762, or email:

Woman-Stirred Radio is underwritten by Sinister Wisdom, celebrating 35 years of  lesbian-feminist arts and letters. Woman-Stirred Radio broadcasts live on WGDR 91.1 fm and WGDH 91.7 fm, Goddard College‘s community radio station located in Plainfield, Vermont. 

  Leave a comment

Sheila Fisher (sonia Brand-Fisher)

Please note: Sheila Fisher’s will be on Woman-Stirred Radio on Thursday, March 29th, at 4:15 eastern.

Today on Woman-Stirred Radio, we start off at 4:15 with Sheila Fisher’s new translation of the Canterbury Tales, by  Geoffrey Chaucer and then move into the twenty-first century with African American lesbian-feminist poet, Stephanie Byrd, whose work is a powerful challenge to the ubiquitous and insidious racism and misogyny—the double burden of oppression—that continues to haunt the lives of African-American women—or any woman who does not fit into the category of white and male hegemony.

Stephania Byrd

And what does a privileged white guy from London who was born in the early 1340s have in common with a black lesbian-feminist American? Ostensively none—except if we consider the creative force and social conditions that underpin the connective threads. Chaucer was “the most sophisticated voice for the kinds of intricately varied topics, themes, and content that make their way… into medieval poetry” (Fisher, xvi).

Stephania Byrd‘s poetry “locates [her] in a particular place to excavate” (Enszer 2012) and thread together the commonalities of experience in her time and place. If Chaucer told tales of enforced gender roles, theocracy, and economic and political conditions that were determined and enforced by men, then Byrd deconstructs the compromised status of Black, lesbian-feminists—enforced by men but actively being dismantled by women. And if Chaucer’s work “meant adopting and adapting previous written authority” (xxxiii), for Stephania Byrd, writing and making literature is claiming the right, if not the moral imperative, NOT to adopt or adapt to previous authority.

While Chaucer’s pilgrims seek redemption and safety within the bounds of the dominant Christian culture, Byrd looks beyond the borders of dominant white male Christian culture to break free of it. Both writers, however, question the order of things in the world and the authority through which world order is maintained.

The kitchen is inviting
The summer epochal
It’s a shame Burley
died such a way
Hanging there
the flesh being plucked
from his bones                  (Byrd)

           But since you speak now of such gentleness
As descends to you down from old richness,
So that, because of it, you’re gentle men,
Such arrogance is just not worth a hen.       (Chaucer)

So please join us today from 4 to 6 p.m. on Woman-Stirred Radio for two very different and yet prescient discussions with Sheila Fisher at 4:15 and Stephania Byrd at 5:00 (eastern. Want to join in the conversations? Call the air-studio at 802.454.7762, or email with your questions and comments.

Woman-Stirred Radio is underwritten by Sinister Wisdom, celebrating 35 years of  lesbian-feminist arts and letters. Woman-Stirred Radio broadcasts live on WGDR 91.1 fm and WGDH 91.7 fm, Goddard College‘s community radio station located in Plainfield, Vermont. 

Ellen Ullman Visits Woman-Stirred Radio on the Ides of March!   Leave a comment

Ellen Ullman

Thursday, March 15th—the Ides of March—at 5:00, Merry Gangemi welcomes  award-winning author, Ellen Ullman, to Woman-Stirred Radio.

Ellen Ullman’s new novel,  By Blood  (2012), set in 1970s San Francisco, is “absorbing” and “atmospheric,” centering on a thirty-something analysand, her German-born therapist, and a disgraced university professor who has no idea what a personal boundary is.  The wall between his office and the therapist next door is thin; one of the patients hates the white-noise machine; and so the professor listens in, learning about the life and the complicated history of his “beloved” patient’s adoption in the aftermath of World War II. This is a novel that gives new meaning to the term “triangle.”

The dilemmas that unfold in By Blood are not alien and, given present-day political and cultural extremism, the history-bound back-stories heighten the tensions and emotional connections between analysand, therapist, and voyeur professor—who is invisible, dis-embodied, if you will, trapped in the malaise of American hypocrisy and the recalibration of American society and culture in the aftermath of the Holocaust.

By Blood, explores the constructions of identity and veracity, the vagaries of fate, the contradictions of a pliable moral landscape—and how the mind and soul fare in a world that constantly bombards one with rationalizations, the placebo of self-importance, and wishful happy endings. 

Ellen Ullman was a software engineer for twenty years when she began writing about her profession. Her interests are the effect of computing on its practitioners and on society at large. She is the author of the memoir Close to the Machine: Technophilia and Its Discontents. Her essays, reviews, and opinion pieces have appeared in Harper’sSalonWired, the Washington Post, and the New York Times. Her novel, The Bug, about a programmer’s battle with an elusive bug, will be published in spring 2003.

So please join us on Thursday, March 15th at 5:00 for an interview with Ellen Ullman.  Want to join the conversation? Call the air studio at 802.454.7762 or email

Woman-Stirred Radio is underwritten by Sinister Wisdom, celebrating 35 years of  lesbian-feminist arts and letters. Woman-Stirred Radio broadcasts live on WGDR 91.1 fm and WGDH 91.7 fm, Goddard College‘s community radio station located in Plainfield, Vermont. 

Marianela Medrano-Marra on Taino culture and poetry : : Crescent Dragonwagon on Bean by Bean   Leave a comment

Marianela Medrano

This week on Woman-StirredRadio,visiting scholar Marianela Medrano takes time from herresidency schedule at Goddard College totalk to Merry Gangemi about Tainoculture, poetry, colonialism, and the feminine divine. Our conversationmoves from Taino cosmology, to colonialism, and on through poetry, the power oflanguage, the caveats and crevasse of racism and cultural imperialism, to thehealing power of self-knowledge and artistic expression.

Ruth Farmer,program director of Goddard’s MA in Individualized Study,explains: “In her essay, “The Ciguapa Speaks:Dominican Women in the 21st Century,” Marianela points out thatthere needs to be ‘a resurgence of both feminine and masculine consciousness.’She explains that this resurgence would lead ‘the feminine” to recover from“the dullness and fatality through which history has presented her’ and ‘theconsciousness’ would be ‘stripped of its aggressive mask,’” a perspective whichunderscores and embraces the responsibility and opportunity of both women andmen to instigate and implement social and cultural change. But changes comefrom an integrated understanding of who we are and how our origins, our rootsboth nourish and challenge us to learn about and value the inter-dependent relationshipsbetween our physical, intellectual, and spiritual selves—an integrated view oflearning and knowing.
MarianelaMedrano-Marra is a Dominicanwriter, poet, and a psychologist in private practice, and is the author of Diodesde la Yuca, (Torremozas, 2011), and Curada de Espartos (2002).Sheholds a PhD in psychology and is a Licensed Professional Counselor andCertified Poetry Therapist. She works as a consultant and has a psychotherapyprivate practice in Connecticut. Medrano-Marra has earned fellowships from the Connecticut Commissionon the Arts and the Center for The Divine Feminine at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology.
The interviewwith Marianela was recorded on Sunday, February 19th, in the studio of WGDR. Youcan post your comments below or email to
Crescent Dragonwagon
Then at 5:00, I’mdelighted to welcome the inimitable CrescentDragonwagon, whose latest cookbook, Beanby Bean hit the stores just last week, on February 13th.  
Crescent Dragonwagonis the James Beard Award-winning authorof seven cookbooks, including DairyHollow House Soup & Bread Cookbook, Passionate Vegetarian, and TheCornbread Gospels.
Dragonwagon, who calls herself a Southern Yankee, is a NewYorker (the daughter of writer-editor Charlotte Zolotow and the late Maurice Zolotow, who was Marilyn Monroe’s firstbiographer). Dragonwagon spent 36 years in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, where she “ladledup beans and sliced skillet-sizzled cornbread for the masses—including Secretaryof State Hillary, former president Bill Clinton, Betty Friedan, and thatsmooth-cheeked crooner Andy Williams.
Beans are serious nourishment; they are also highlyeconomical, and while often considered a poor man’s fare, are quite chicthese days, featured prominently on the menus of many of the world’s finestrestaurants.

Beans can be curry, chili, stew, soup, or salad. They can start ameal or finish it in the guise of bread, appetizers, crepes, cake, ice cream,and even candy. Beans are chockfull of protein, fiber, vitamins, omega-3 fats,calcium, potassium, zinc, and more.  They nourish the soil and have made their mark in fairy tales and folklore (good old Jackand his beanstalk!); and bean carbohydrates have been found to improve thestability of blood sugar levels in diabetics.

The monastic followers of Pythagorusthought humans traveled through the stems of bean plants to reach Hades, wherethey were transmogrified for their next lives—and don’t forget those notableRoman surnames: Cicero (chickpea), Fabius (fava), Piso (pea),
and Lentullus (lentil).

Bean by Bean is a beautiful book, filled with more than 175 recipes, as well as how to pick and preserve the little legumes. Crescent Dragonwagon rocks!

So please join us Thursday, February 23rd from 4 to 6 p.m. (eastern), for another broadcast of Woman-Stirred Radio. Want to join the conversation? Call the air studio at 802 454 7762 or email

Woman-Stirred Radio is underwritten by Sinister Wisdom, celebrating 35 years of  lesbian-feminist arts and letters. Woman-Stirred Radio broadcasts live on WGDR 91.1 fm and WGDH 91.7 fm, Goddard College‘s community radio stations located in Plainfield, Vermont.

Posted 23/02/2012 by Merry Gangemi in Uncategorized

Superheroes, Gender, Immigration, and Hope: Linda Stein and Maria Friedman Marquart on Woman-Stirred Radio   Leave a comment

This week on Woman-StirredRadio, Merry Gangemiwelcomes lesbian-feminist sculptor LindaStein, and sociologist MarieFriedman Marquart, whose new book, LivingIllegal: the human face of unauthorized immigration, was released by the New Press late in 2011.

Linda Stein
Body-swapping, gladiators, amazons, and superheroes; gender construction and gender constrictions, sexuality, empowerment, shape-shifting—social norms, cultural tropes or pop icons and concepts that are turned upside-down or leftside-right in the work of Linda Stein
Drawing on the visual arts and pop cultural performatives of gender and sexuality from Michelangelo to Wonder Woman, Linda Stein compels us to interpret and reinterpret what we see in the human body as proscribed not by social and cultural norms but by constantly changing and always fluid imaginings of sexuality and gender.
As an artist and activist, Stein asks, repeatedly “How do we find the courage, the bravery to break these molds?” (May 2009).

Photos from Have Art Will Travel. Linda Stein is (top to bottom) on the left, right, left.

Artist-activist, lecturer, performer, and video artist., Linda Stein is the founding president of Have Art: Will Travel! Inc., vice president of the Woman’s Caucus for Art, and art editor of On the Issues Magazine.

Her work is represented by the Flomennhaft Gallery, NYC and her archives are found at Smith College. A current installation, of five eight-foot windows, is in Downtown Crossing, Boston and her solo exhibition, The Fluidity of Gender: Sculpture by Linda Stein, is currently touring the U.S. and will remain on the road until 2014. She has also been commissioned for a “larger-than-life Knight, sited as the central sculpture for the Walk of the Heroines at Portland State University” (LS).

Linda Stein’s interview begins at 4:15. Want to join the conversation? Call 802.454.7762 or email questions and comments to
Then, at 5:00, Marie Friedman Marquart.

As the title clearly states, Living Illegal challenges the amplified negativity and misinformation about the men, women, and children who are labeled and targeted as unauthorized, alien, illegal, and criminal. Through personal immigrants’ narratives, Marquart and her colleagues excavate “far beyond conventional explanations” and “challenges our assumptions about why immigrants come to the United States, where they settle, and how they have adapted to the often confusing patchwork of local immigration ordinances” (NP). 
Marie Friedman Marquart
“Specifically focused on issues related to religion and inter-ethnic relations,” the researchers nevertheless “decided to write this book to share the stories… challenge many of the myths” (Latinovoices).
Living Illegal offers insights and analyses; and Marquart shares what she “learned first-hand about positive solutions devised by real people in local areas grappling with unauthorized immigration and rapid demographical change.”  
Interview starts at 4:15, and if you want to join in the discussion, call 802.454.7762 or email questions to:

Woman-Stirred Radio is underwritten by Sinister Wisdom, celebrating 35 years of  lesbian-feminist arts and letters. Woman-Stirred Radio broadcasts live on WGDR 91.1 fm and WGDH 91.7 fm, Goddard College‘s community radio station located in Plainfield, Vermont. 

Stacy Pershall on Woman-Stirred Radio This Week   Leave a comment

Stacy Pershall

This week on Woman-Stirred Radio, at 5:00 p.m.,  author Stacy Pershall visits with Merry Gangemi to talk about her memoir, Loud in the House of Myself, published last year by W.W. Norton, and re-released, in paperback, last month.Hailing from Prairie Grove, Arkansas, Pershall grew up in the 1970s, the decade of Vietnam, Watergate, Kent State, and Janet Jackson, when the average starting salary was $7,600.00 and the national debt only $382 billion.

From her life as a Jesus freak to a belly dancer and writer in New York City, Loud in the House of Myself, is a narrative of being different, brilliant, and wack-a-doo—all at the same time.

Pershall’s voice is bold, wry, and her behavior, at times, is comical. But it is not light reading. Loud in the House of Myself is a deeply insightful and existential, a well-crafted memoir which brings the reader, like Dante on his metaphoric journey through Hell, down and back again from the harsh difficulties of mental illness. Loud in the House of Myself is also a map and thesaurus of the emotional intelligence needed to understand oneself, and of the fierce, successful determination to take back control of one’s life.

Stacy Pershall describes herself as having a body “made… of color and light.” Her skin “is made of lightning bolts, robots, rockets, cats, the Bride of Frankenstein, Laurie Anderson quotes.” Her tattoos remind her of “who I am and what I’m made of, and the unfilled lines of a work in progress.”

Stacy Pershall lives in New York City and holds an MFA in new media art from the University of Cincinnati. She is a member of the Active Minds Speakers Bureau, and lectures widely on issues of mental health, body modification, and bullying.

Want to join the conversation? Call the air studio at 802.456.1630.

So please tune in to Woman-Stirred Radio—or stream us live at

Woman-Stirred Radio is underwritten by Sinister Wisdom, celebrating 35 years of  lesbian-feminist arts and letters. Woman-Stirred Radio broadcasts live on WGDR 91.1 fm and WGDH 91.7 fm, Goddard College‘s community radio station located in Plainfield, Vermont. 

Posted 08/02/2012 by Merry Gangemi in Uncategorized