Sunday, September 02, 2007

Grace Paley

Writer, Grace Paley died on August 22nd. I met her when I was in college. I have her autograph in the collection of her collections, The Collected Stories. I also have Begin Again, Collected Poems.

Revisiting the poems I understand them better over ten years later. I may grow to understand them even more as years go by:

Some people set themselves tasks
other people say do anything only life
still others say
oh oh I will never forget you event of my first life

The Nature of This City
Children walking with their grandmothers
talk foreign languages
that is the nature of this city
and also this country

Talk is cheap but comes in variety
and witnessing dialect
there is a rule for all
and in each sentence a perfect grammar

The stories are like no one else's. The voice is New York and working class and Jewish. It is a mother's voice and a woman's voice. Nothing much happens in her stories, and that makes her books something to dip in and out of, because what they are is an examination of the minute(') of life and the way that that is all of life.
She was not a prolific writer. She was a prolific activist. I don't always agree with her activism but her passion and her commitment to her beliefs were always admirable. She was never afraid of making mistakes, and unlike many others admitted them.

When I met her, in her 70's, and my 20's, she seemed so solid. By which I mean, a comfortableness with herself, that seemed infinitely admirable to me then and now.

I am sorry that she is no longer in the world.

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