"Unmasked" is a new anthology from Weeping Willow Books. The subject matter: women's reflections on sex and intimacy after the age of 50. The book contains poems and essays by a diverse group of women from around the United States and the world.
Seven of the contributors -- including the book's two co-editors, Marcia Meier and Kathleen Barry -- will be coming to the Society of the Muse of the Southwest in Taos to offer what the publishers promise to be "an intimate afternoon of blush-worthy readings." The event is Saturday (Sept. 29), at 2 p.m., and admission is free.
Meier is an award-winning writer, editor and publisher. She is the author of numerous books, and her work has appeared in anthologies and reviews for decades. She is at work on a memoir.
Co-editor Barry is a licensed psychotherapist, specializing in working with individuals as they face the crossroads of major life transitions. Barry teaches at Antioch University in Santa Barbara.
"Kathleen and I were both doing the online dating thing about three years ago," Meier said. "As we talked about our experiences, we realized there were a lot of older women's stories that were not being shared, much less discussed. So we decided to do an anthology. Touring with the book has been amazing. The response we've gotten -- from women and men -- has been both surprising and heartening. There are a lot of women out there who want to talk about sex and intimacy in later years. And the book offers a wide variety of voices, from a 50-year-old mom with three kids still in school, to an 87-year-old matriarch and philanthropist who writes about the sweetness and joy of lovemaking even after more than 30 years of marriage."
"After being widowed at the age of 58, I found myself wondering about being in a relationship again roughly three years after my husband died," said Barry. "Four years later, I have returned to live in Arizona after 37 years in Southern California. I am cautiously optimistic that my next beloved is right here in the Sonoran desert surrounding Tucson. Sex is better now than as a younger woman. I am freer in my body and know exactly what I want."
Contributor Renata Golden has lived in Santa Fe for the past 14 years. "My essay is a true account of a blind date I had planned with a man who died just before I was to meet him for dinner," she said. "The essay was a way for me to come to terms with my surprise and shock to find that I would never have the chance to meet the man for whom I had great expectations. Thoughts on aging and mortality tend to replace our obsession with youth and beauty as we get older and remind us to enjoy our lives while we can. And sometimes we need a reminder to love as fully as we can while we are fortunate enough to have that opportunity."
Tania Pryputniewicz is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop. "I initially wrote 'Sex, Hammers, and Self-Care in a House with Three Children' for my quiet little blog, "Feral Mom, Feral Writer." And most of the time otherwise I'm busy writing serious poems. So it is really fun to read this anecdote out loud and have a live audience respond with laughter. I was so curious to see what such a collection call would cull from women writers. And when I read through 'Unmasked' from cover to cover, I fell in love with the wild array of voices represented. Who knew women have so many choices, perceptions and desires when it comes to love and sex? Dating, hesitating, abstaining, divorcing, staying, finding passion in nature or the solo self -- how beautiful. I wish 'Unmasked' existed when I was in my twenties and I'd had the chance to read it!"
Lisa Rizzo is an award-winning published poet. "Unmasked" is her first nonfiction publication. "I see my essay as a declaration of independence from the idea that a woman who is single must be in search of a mate. I have spent most of my adult life having to explain that I am not just a single woman, but a happy woman at that. So many dinner parties answering questions about why I'm single, why I don't bother to date, am I really happy have left me feeling like a true rebel. But I still find myself uneasy talking about this part of my life. When Marcia encouraged me to put my thoughts on paper, I started writing before I could lose my nerve. I've come to believe it's important to show our diversity in wants and needs in life."
Acclaimed poet Barbara Rockman lives and teaches in Santa Fe. "My contribution to the anthology surprised me," she said. "It is about the erotics of making art. It is especially about how women inspire other women in a passionate, sensual, bodily way to explore their wildest, most mysterious and unspoken truths and stories. There are as many interpretations of 'sex and intimacy after 50' as there are women! What I love about this anthology is its breadth of definition, its willingness to include diverse voices and interpretations, and the wonderful way the editors have selected and orchestrated these linked but varied poems and essays."
"We invite anyone -- men and women -- to come join in the discussion," Meier said. "Aging, sexuality and love are universal concerns, and we can all learn from one another."
SOMOS is located at 108 Civic Plaza Dr. Admission is free. For more information, call (575) 758-0081 or visit somostaos.org.