“Sometimes I think I would like to be a word,” poet, essayist, and critic Katha Pollitt has said, “not a big, important word like ‘love’ or ‘truth,’ just a small ordinary word like ‘orange’ or ‘inkstain’ or ‘so.’” What an interesting thought! What word(s) would I choose to be? What poem(s)? What memoir(s)? What work(s) of nonfiction? If I were a library, what books, art, videos, manuscripts would I choose to hold?
Right now, at least, most of us who live in democratic societies are free to investigate a veritable universe of information and creativity—including visual, musical, and written materials that reveal brutal chapters in our past and discomfiting facts about our present. Clashing opinions, bitter exposés, inspirational poetry, poetic prose—all help us build our understanding of this complex and challenging world, to choose what words/thoughts/attitudes we will embrace. They help form our life choices and our own creative contributions.
This issue of Persimmon Tree is a stellar example of the benefits of varied creativity. Humorous, harrowing, uplifting, and engaging—these pages provide a bounty of provoking and engaging artistry and opinion from older women around the world. Along with an arresting array of fiction and nonfiction, you will find a stunning collection of poems from international poets; material from the winners of our 2022 fundraising drawing; a vivid discourse on travel from our guest columnist; a vibrant art section introducing readers to the work of Barbara Dale; brilliant musical performances; and a Short Takes section crackling with examples of “Verbal Lightning”—each Short Takes contribution yet another reminder of the importance of words and word choices.
We present, too, via the Persimmon Tree Forum, an array of thoughtful and thought-provoking comments from our readers on the increasingly crucial subjects of censorship and book banning—movements that are on the rise in the United States and beyond. These efforts to restrict access to “unapproved” ideas—and the arguments supporting those efforts—bring to mind Ray Bradbury’s novel Fahrenheit 451. Looking toward the future, the author posits a society in which the thoughts provoked by books are considered such threats to order that the protagonist fireman’s principle job is to find and burn all the books that have not yet been destroyed.
Efforts at censorship also bring to mind a creative work by Katha Pollitt, the poem “Silent Letter.” In it, Pollitt describes a girl in the throes of creativity, sitting alone in her room, wondering “how to write/so that what she writes/stays written.” Right now, we all have a say in whether what she, and all others like her, eventually create will not be declared “disturbing” and erased.