Leonore Alaniz

Attar Mellea

Corina Barrett

Anne Beresford

Jean Bergstrom

Olivia Bernard

Rema Boscov

Carole DeSanti

Rosie Dinsmore

Nancy Emond

Marilyn London-Ewing

Alice E Field

First Mountain Design

Leslie Fisette

Joy Friedman

Bess Hepner

Bob Hepner

Rhoda Juels

Ron Juels

Carole King

Parmatma Khalsa

SiriNamSingh Khalsa

Corinne Larsen

Chris Nelson

Leverett C Chorus

&Anne Louise White

Holly Lynton

Susan Mareneck

Louise Minks

Susan Mulholland

Don Ogden

William Rathbun

John Rathbun

Janine Roberts

Paul Root

Laureen Shea

Sue Swartz

Macaylla Silver

Elsje Sturtevant

Cynthia Thomas

Betty Thurston

Susan Valentine

Kerry Alisa Young

Ruth West


Carole DeSantiCarole DeSanti

Permission to create is fundamental to us. It is in our nature as creatures of spirit and of biology; as creations ourselves. We were born this way, and we are allowed – invited, in fact -- to participate in that which we are. For some it comes easily and for others it does not, but this is a permission that cannot be granted by contract, nor taken away by fiat. The right, and even the capacity -- once we find it within ourselves -- is ours whether we are young or old, rich or poor, male or female, ill or well, calm or furious; and whether or not our gifts were encouraged and nurtured when we were young (mostly, they were not). It cuts across categories, boundaries, and all of the ways human society has found to divide things up. It is also available to us at any time. We may not feel that way, but often, the limitations and conditions we place upon ourselves are dreams and distortions. They have much to tell us; but often we cannot converse with these doubtful phantoms until we have slipped through the narrow doorway, and moved past them.

Our permission to create is perhaps the most durable gift we are given. It is a not a path for the chosen few, but for those who choose it. Perhaps, in various ways, for all of us.
--Carole DeSanti, Leverett, MA, June 2013

The Unruly Passions of Eugénie R. (now in paperback from Mariner/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Inspiring Women of History

Céleste Venard, born in a Paris slum, later became the famous courtesan “Mogador,” ….then, Comtesse de Chabrillan. She was my presiding muse as I researched and wrote The Unruly Passions of Eugénie R., and still, to think of her reminds me of the sure and steady spark she was. At first it was only a few words, a snippet or two picked up in a secondary source. Even so, the emotional quality of her writing was evident – and striking as it was often lacking in the stilted, formal and self-conscious material of the 19th century. This was a woman living from, and working on, her soul – whether as a circus rider, a jilted lover, a card-carrying prostitute, a furious, vengeful (then remorseful) memoirist; later,a novelist and playwright who actually did marry the love of her life, Lionel de Chabrillan, to the great distress of his family. I called her most by the name she was born with, Céleste Venard, daughter of a hatmaker mother. That’s who she was when she appeared at the Préfecture de Police to be inscribed as a prostitute: “My body was purer than my soul, and I fell,” she later wrote of this event. She threw herself to this fate because she was angry, she confessed in her memoirs, which to me, signaled something interesting about a woman’s choices when she is facing survival under stress. She found the strength to climb out of this abyss, which was rare enough; and went on to be self-reflective about it – even rarer.

If the contours of Celeste Venard’s life resonated first for me, Louise Michel proved stronger medicine. Known as “The Red Virgin” in her day, Michel was a schoolmistress, a poet and composer (self-defined), and once she turned revolutionary, popular hero to many and thoroughly vilified by those who spoke for the ruling classes. She was perhaps the most vivid, individually, of a group of women advocating for women’s right to work and other basic civil liberties and social equalities at the time. A notorious public speaker (I wish I could have heard her) Michel was known for her statement that all have the right to eat and drink at the “great banquet of life.” She loved books, insisted on literacy and broad public education; she also armed herself and was prepared to fight to the death at the barricades for the Paris Commune – which did, after some internal struggle, endorse women’s rights. The Commune was inaugurated in March of 1871, at the miserable end of the Franco-Prussian war that was to turn into a civil and class war in France. After a two-month occupation of Paris, most of the Communards were gunned down by French government troops or like Michel, deported. She was granted amnesty in 1880 and now has a Paris Metro stop named after her.