Needlework, as this brilliant book makes plain, has been trivialized and dismissed as mere "women's work." What a joy it is to inhabit this world in which the needle and the pen share the labors of love.
“Needlework, as this brilliant book makes plain, has been trivialized and dismissed as mere “women’s work.” The poems here, however, present the powerful counterpoint that work with the needle, from the flame-stitch to embroidery, is both a skill and a foundation for female artistic expression. It is a hands-on art, passed from woman to woman through the generations. Such passage also entails the vital connections to selfhood, history, meaning, and wisdom. This is a book that syllable by syllable as if stitch by stitch, creates patterns that exceed the confines of artistic form by reclaiming form and redefining it, with a total effect that is affirming and transcendent. What a joy it is to inhabit this world in which the needle and the pen share the labors of love. After all, love is a most subversive expression. This book is proof.” —Maurice Manning
Poetry. Women’s Studies.
Mary Leader began writing poems in the midst of a career as a lawyer working for the Oklahoma Supreme Court. For her, law practice did not entail interacting with lawyers, litigants, witnesses, judges, juries, bailiffs and so on. Rather, she gravitated to appellate work. Appeals happen at a far remove in time and space from the drama in the lower court. On appeal, there are almost no performances requiring people to appear. Almost all the actions are performed by words written on a page. Legal documents and trial transcripts were evocative to Leader in a way that meeting the parties to a lawsuit or observing a trial would not be. Those words on a page had impact, as do poems, and eventually led her to a literary career. THE DISTAFF SIDE is her fifth collection of poems.