Letters, Friendship, & Feminism: Hettie Jones & Claudia Moreno Parsons
An event presented by Lost & Found: The CUNY Poetics Document Initiative
As letters have largely become a thing of the past, conveying a kind of intimacy that is increasingly hard to achieve, Love H: The Letters of Helene Dorn and Hettie Jones, a selection from the forty year correspondence between poet, writer, and teacher Hettie Jones and sculptor Helene Dorn, is a treasure trove of essential social history. While these letters explore the battlegrounds of women’s rights, tenants’ rights, marriage, motherhood, and a shared past that kept the two irrevocably connected in the Beat bohemia of the 1960s, they are also the portrait of deep and abiding friendship. In celebration of the publication of the book, Hettie Jones will read from the letters and present her side of the story. She will be joined by Professor Claudia Moreno Parsons of LaGuardia Community College in a discussion of the importance of letters and friendship in the documentation of social history. The discussion will be followed by Q & A.
Cosponsored by Intellectual Publics at The Graduate Center, CUNY.
Best known for How I Became Hettie Jones, her memoir of the “Beat Scene,” Hettie Jones is the author of 24 books for children and adults, including the award-winning Big Star Fallin’ Mama, Five Women in Black Music. Drive, her first poetry collection, won the Poetry Society of America’s Norma Farber Award; it was followed by second and third collections, All Told and Doing 70. Love, H, selections from her 40-year correspondence with the sculptor Helene Dorn, appeared this past October from Duke University Press, and is available in both print and e-book editions. Jones’s short prose has been published in journals such as The Village Voice, Global City Review, Fence, and Ploughshares, and there are numerous interviews and some of her performances online. In addition to her own work, Jones has authored memoirs for Rita Marley (No Woman No Cry) and others, and taught writing in colleges, prisons, and community settings. The former Chair of PEN’s Prison Writing Committee, she currently teaches graduate writing at The New School, and a memoir workshop at the 92nd Street Y.
Dr. Claudia Moreno Parsons is an Associate Professor of English at LaGuardia Community College, CUNY. She earned her PhD from the CUNY Graduate Center’s program in English in 2010. Her first book, Amiri Baraka and Edward Dorn: The Collected Letters, was published by the University of New Mexico Press in their Recencies Series (2013) and received the 2014 PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award for Excellence in Literature. The Collected Letters, an annotated collection of the correspondence between the poets Dorn and Baraka in the early 1960s, originated as both dissertation and as a publication in the first Lost and Found series, from 2009. Claudia is currently at work on a second book, a project focused on Ed Dorn.