Spirited, appropriately oversized anthology of Texas-centric creative work by women from the Lone Star State.
Gathering poems, nonfiction, stories, and images, this collection explores the premise, as lead editor Walker-Nixon (Canaan's Oothoon, 2010) writes, that “women form a large part of the backbone of Texas storytelling and art, despite the fact that the existence of female mythmakers has all too often been overlooked.” That seems almost self-evident: the genres associated with Texas have been dominated by male writers, a point the thoughtful introductory essay by the late folklorist Lou Rodenberger details while arguing for greater inclusiveness. The present anthology proposes any number of women to join their ranks, with a particularly strong showing in fiction; too many of the poems are just limping prose with line breaks—though that is true everywhere. Not all the work is set directly in Texas. Some poems and stories wander to New York City, others deep into Mexico, but in the main, they partake of the state’s storied sense of independence and assertiveness. The editors strive for, and attain, a good balance of old and new and of ethnicities and ages. Though there are a couple of gaps and missing names (LaVerne Harrell Clark, Becky Patterson), some of the state’s better-known writers make appearances—e.g., Naomi Shihab Nye, Carmen Tafolla, and Sandra Cisneros. As Willie Nelson can attest—and as Kathleen Hudson’s thoughtful introductory essay to a gallery of lyrics shows—women are particularly well-represented in the ranks of Texas songwriters; the anthology includes selections from the always excellent Tish Hinojosa, as well as Amanda Pearcy, Emy Taylor, and others. Their commentary on their lyrics is a lagniappe, a bayou country term of art that the editors employ in a closing section comprising their own work.
Inevitably, there are a few clunkers, but this is a strong gathering in both its parts and its sum.