At the end of last year, a friend sent me a copy of artist/author Maira Kalman’s most recent book, Women Holding Things (2022). In her distinguished career, 73-year-old Kalman has thus far created a stunning array of works—including more than 30 other books on topics ranging from instructions and reminiscences on the art and enjoyment of delicious desserts (Cake), to a celebration of democracy (And the Pursuit of Happiness). Along with the latter title, Women Holding Things—an eloquent artistic tribute to exactly what the title describes—now holds a special place in my home library.
Patience, fortitude, talents, love, anger, children, memories (painful and sweet), families together, opinions (harsh and generous), pets, gazes, a giant cabbage: women hold all these things and more in Kalman’s homage to members of what, in many ways, is the stronger sex. (Men are not forgotten, of course. They “are here,” Kalman writes introducing a brief section devoted to them, “and that is not a bad thing.”)
How could this book not inspire me to think of and celebrate the talents, opinions, experiences, and wisdom possessed by older women and reflected in every issue of Persimmon Tree—and in the other submissions my colleagues and I receive every day but are unable to accept for publication? The rich array of material in this issue of our journal is a powerful testament to these gifts—providing yet another reminder of Persimmon Tree’s importance as a unique avenue for distributing them to a wide audience; an inspiration for continuing to build and broaden our subscription list; a tribute to the readers, subscribers, and donors comprising the Persimmon Tree community.
We present here a cornucopia of arresting fiction and nonfiction; the stunning poetry of Louisiana’s poet laureate Mona Lisa Saloy, introduced by our Poetry Editor, Cynthia Hogue; Art Editor Greta Berman’s presentation on the two avenues traveled simultaneously by artist Marilyn Church; and Music Editor Gena Raps’s selection of three stellar musical performances. Publisher Jean Zorn introduces this issue’s Short Takes; and readers from within and outside the United States provide gripping commentary in the Persimmon Tree Forum.
Both Short Takes and the Forum focus on experiences, dangers, and controversies surrounding what is currently called climate change—which most scientists now agree is an existential crisis facing all the inhabitants of Planet Earth. It is only one—though arguably the most important—of many dangers looming as we move deeper into the twenty-first century. Yet the contents of this issue are also a testimonial to creativity, courage, and resilience—vital attributes we hold that are essential to overcoming these great challenges. As Maira Kalman writes on the front flyleaf of Women Holding Things, “If there was ever a time to hold onto something, this is it.” If there was ever a time to hold onto and employ the gifts reflected in these pages, this is it.