Winner in the Women's Issues category of the
Defining Sisterhood: "Laura McHale Holland has edited this anthology of poems, memoirs, stories and essays and dedicates it ‘To all women throughout the world whose birth families gave them siblings, to those who became sisters through other kinds of bonds, and to all the sisters and brothers who love them.’ As she states in her introduction, ‘I embarked upon this anthology project to honor my sisters, Kathy and Mary Ruth, as well as to capture the power of readings I have conducted in recent years at SISTERS Consignment Couture in Sonoma, California. The shop is a cozy place where local authors have shared memoir, essay, fiction and poetry by and about sisters of all types. The readings have been heartfelt, memorable and multifaceted, ranging from intense and painful to lighthearted and celebratory.’ Her idea was so favored and touched so many empathetic eyes and ears that after posting the concept on the social media she was inundated with entries from around the world who were part of the sister journey. ‘I considered several possible ways to organize the varied contents of this book but ultimately did not attempt to place them into categorized groups. But given the size of this book, I divided the work into seven sections to suggest places where readers might want to pause. While grouping the work, I strove to create a reading experience that emulates what I experienced when reading submissions as they came to my inbox. I never knew where the next writer would take me, what aspect of the sister journey she or he would reveal, or how the work would affect me. I believe whether you read the book cover to cover or skip around, you will find numerous insights and fresh perspectives on sisterhood. I certainly have.’
"Reading this collection of works by women about that special bond women can form between each other, whether that connection is genetic or simply the proximity of neighborly, is not only illuminating: it is revelatory. Perhaps something men will never understand, really, truthfully. Being male crowds out such sensitive bonding, unless during combat on the battlefield.
"What happens in this exquisite array of the spectrum of ‘sisterhood’ is discovery of new poets and writers who deserve a louder voice, a chance to talk about women in ways too often usurped by whispering – those myriad details of owning homogametic XX chromosomes that attracts yet deeply, philosophically distances the XY gender. These are songs of linking, love, need, compassion, yearning for some semblance of sameness that make two women sisters.
"A difficult task, but some excerpted examples follow:
"Sister Act – Vicki Batman – 'To this day, I plop my family on the couch with treats and drinks, and we turn on White Christmas. I sing all the tunes. When the signature song ends, contentment swells inside me. I fight back tears. My holidays are perfect. Life is perfect. I have everything. Funny, my men refuse to sing with me. Maybe some things are best shared with sisters.’
"To attempt to taste this panoply of works by 85 submissions is nearly impossible: each reader will find particular passages that speak more strongly to memories, minds, souls, and experiences. For women this is not simply an anthology: this is the definition of ‘sister’. For men it is a Diogenes lantern as a guide to understand or appreciate that elusive bond."
Grady Harp, Poet, War Songs
Critic, Literary Aficionado
Art Historian, The Art of Man and Vitruvian Lens
Writer for art museum catalogues, PoetsArtists