Birthed from Scorched Hearts: Women Respond to War
compiled and edited by MariJo Moore (Fulcrum trade paperback, 2008, 383 pages)
A consistently high quality anthology, with an unapologetic facing up to horror, and also many subtle themes, such as the loss of women's history as a casualty of war.
Following a brief catalog of war horrors, Moore, in her introduction to “Birthed from Scorched Hearts,” notes: “Constantly we are bombarded with this imagery, so often that many have to go deep within themselves to grasp compassion.” Her wish was to counter desensitization and foster a “commitment to our callings” to act bravely in the face of demons.
Moore obtained permissions to republish certain writings and elicited from international and local writers responses to the question: If you could converse with any woman who suffered from war, who would it be, and what would you ask?
Five chapters range from endurance to protest, and from ancient times to the current war in Iraq. The book opens with an essay and poem by Ellenburg, a woman with one name, indentified as a Western North Carolinian who has published in “The American Indian Quarterly.” Ellenburg sounds the drum for Moore’s literature-as-ritual, elevating the mythical Gorgon from dreaded monster to much-needed women’s role model, proclaiming, “Vengeance, too is mine…the vengeance of a terrible love.”
Kimberly Shuck, a Tsalagi, Saux/Fox, and Polish writer and weaver, communes with Hypatia, 5th century daughter of the curator of the Museum of Alexandria. Hypatia wrote a book on mathematics, defended the library, which contained many pre-Christian writings, and was hacked to death in a public display.
“Have you ever said something so ignorant that it changed your life?” is how Shuck begins. Researching Hypatia, Shuck realizes that there are many conflicting accounts, and that she, too, is participating in the erasure of her heroine through myth. War, she says, magnifies the problem of women’s stories being wiped out by historians.
Moore inhabits the mind of the mother of Lyncoya, the boy Andrew Jackson adopted during the Creek War of 1813-14. Kathryn Stripling Byer writes from the point of view of the sister who hears about the Shelton Laurel Massacre during the Civil War. Glenis Redmomd writes about Harriet Tubman.
Laurel Hope-Gill connects to her grandmother, who had languished in a prison camp in Manchuria during World War II. Emöke B’Racz writes, “I am only a daughter of war victims and survivors…a listener in the family of storytellers.” There are 59 other pieces, including ones by the Iraqi poet, Bushra Al-Bustani, the Irish poet Eavan Boland, and the best-selling author and host of “Democracy Now!”, Amy Goodman.