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The Writing Menopause literary anthology is a diverse and robust collection about menopause: a highly charged and often undervalued transformation. It includes over fifty works of fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, interviews and cross-genre pieces from contributors across Canada and the United States that break new ground in portraying menopause in literature. The coll The Writing Menopause literary anthology is a diverse and robust collection about menopause: a highly charged and often undervalued transformation. It includes over fifty works of fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, interviews and cross-genre pieces from contributors across Canada and the United States that break new ground in portraying menopause in literature. The collection includes literary work from award-winning writers such as Roberta Rees, Margaret Macpherson, Lisa Couturier and Rona Altrows. Emerging voices such as Rea Tarvydas, Leanna McLennan, Steve Passey and Gemma Meharchand, and an original interview with trans educator and pioneering filmmaker Buck Angel, are also featured. This anthology fills a sizable gap, finding the ground between punchline and pathology, between saccharine inspiration and existential gloom. The authors neither celebrate nor demonize menopause. These are diverse depictions, sometimes lighthearted, but just as often dark and scary. Some voices embrace the prospect of change, others dread it.Together, this unique offering reflects the varied experience of menopause and shatters common stereotypes.


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The Writing Menopause literary anthology is a diverse and robust collection about menopause: a highly charged and often undervalued transformation. It includes over fifty works of fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, interviews and cross-genre pieces from contributors across Canada and the United States that break new ground in portraying menopause in literature. The coll The Writing Menopause literary anthology is a diverse and robust collection about menopause: a highly charged and often undervalued transformation. It includes over fifty works of fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, interviews and cross-genre pieces from contributors across Canada and the United States that break new ground in portraying menopause in literature. The collection includes literary work from award-winning writers such as Roberta Rees, Margaret Macpherson, Lisa Couturier and Rona Altrows. Emerging voices such as Rea Tarvydas, Leanna McLennan, Steve Passey and Gemma Meharchand, and an original interview with trans educator and pioneering filmmaker Buck Angel, are also featured. This anthology fills a sizable gap, finding the ground between punchline and pathology, between saccharine inspiration and existential gloom. The authors neither celebrate nor demonize menopause. These are diverse depictions, sometimes lighthearted, but just as often dark and scary. Some voices embrace the prospect of change, others dread it.Together, this unique offering reflects the varied experience of menopause and shatters common stereotypes.

19 review for Writing Menopause: An Anthology of Fiction, Poetry and Creative Non-Fiction

  1. 5 out of 5

    Prairie Fire Review of Books

    Reviewed on prairiefire.ca Reviewed by Carolyn Creed With the national success of Gordon, Deerchild and Roberts’ collection on menstruation, Gush, we can consider Cawthorne and Morin’s work, published previously but no less powerfully, to serve as a vital companion piece. There is no denying that the taboo subjects of women’s cycles have ceased to carry the invisible publication ban that held women silent on the topic(s). Like the exploration of the phenomenon of monthly bleeding for fertile wome Reviewed on prairiefire.ca Reviewed by Carolyn Creed With the national success of Gordon, Deerchild and Roberts’ collection on menstruation, Gush, we can consider Cawthorne and Morin’s work, published previously but no less powerfully, to serve as a vital companion piece. There is no denying that the taboo subjects of women’s cycles have ceased to carry the invisible publication ban that held women silent on the topic(s). Like the exploration of the phenomenon of monthly bleeding for fertile women, Cawthorne and Morin’s anthology of the end of female fertility strides into territory that rarely takes up literary space. The result of collecting diverse stories on a subject many would prefer not to broach is surprisingly readable—even though the word “squinching,” used in the intro by the editors themselves to describe a squirming, flinching discomfort, does characterize a reader’s response to many of the entries (1). How readable the selections turn out to be, in the three sections that enter, explore and exit the state of fertility’s cease, makes the assembled pieces remarkable as a whole. In Section I, “Un/Done,” we are exposed to the early stages of response to the phenomena associated with menopause: the irregularity and downright oddness of later-in-life menstrual periods is brought to our attention in “Disassembly” by Jane Cawthorne, when the mother whose son takes up her love of the piano witnesses the result of a massive flow as his mother contends with the stressors of her husband’s precarious work status, his loss of a job, and his subsequent decision that the piano must be sold. Through Thompson and Caruso’s pieces, a sense of how sexuality and view of self in the world undergo change, so that in the latter, “Eating Beets during Menopause,” the metaphor of beets’ reddening effect on urine becomes a nostalgic reminder of what has been lost. By interspersing snippets of non-fiction between poems and short stories, the editors have created a lilting movement through the states the authors and/or speakers inhabit; this pleasing composition works successfully throughout the collection. At the beginning of the first section and toward its end, celebrity singer/songwriters make an appearance: in the fantasy, “The Chrissie Hynde Stories,” Chrissie Hynde becomes muse to a speaker whose longing for escape brings her repeatedly in range of the Pretenders front-woman. The actual performer, Tori Amos, gives a wondrous interview to Noah Michelson in “Go. Rock.” On appearing in green leather and talking about menopause at the age of fifty, Tori Amos remarks that women “can’t be doing granny rock. We’re singing about emotions, we’re singing about sexuality, we’re singing about all these things” (47). Like Lori Roadhouse’s poem “Caged,” the interview questions why women must yield to men’s expectations of them, and continue to be defined as lesser beings even after they have broken free of the supposed “biological imperative” of childbearing and the mothering of young. The second section, “In/Fertile,” shows women a-doing while their bodies undergo change, so that a sense of each life fully lived while menopause appears at the margin of the experience sounds the dominant note. The opening story, of a grown son’s loss to drowning, stands out: Arlene S. Bice’s “Life after Life” juxtaposes the speaker’s recent hysterectomy against the news of her son’s disappearance into the nearby river. As family and neighbours gather to search, to offer help, the mother deals with multiple strains. “The day slipped by with no sign of Guy. My stitches pulled from standing so long; my strength drained” (63). The story ends with the loss confirmed, and the grieving mother declares with multiple meaning, “Part of what made me a woman was gone” (67). As counterpoint to this tale, many of the rest of the stories and poems in the section are playful and explorative, with new discoveries to be made, post-menopause, about sex and adventure: a particular treat is the poem “Unconventional Wisdom” by Merle Amodeo, which holds the promise in dream form of a “handsome stranger” who would “stay in my bed/ until we’d done/ everything I’d missed/ for the last ten years” (84). There is, indeed, life after the ability to produce new life has terminated. In Section 3, “Un/Known,” the editors expose us to the non-fiction piece, “Hidden Talents,” in which the author, Lou Morin, gains access to a new sense of smell, having given up most of her regular one due to surgery. With the capability to detect the odour of a certain craziness in those she meets, she finds the new talent yields a scent that is “[a]lien, acrid and unnerving” (131), but one which stimulates her excitement at the discovery, “the next turn in my fantastic inner voyage” (136) A reconsideration of self and others also informs Kate Austin’s poem, “My Mother’s Skin,” in which inheritances from a mother are tallied up, including those of the body’s aging appearance: “I map the marks/ on my hands/ pale ones, dark ones/ to find a path to/ my mother/ myself” (155). Self-knowledge in the face of inevitable change informs piece after piece in the collection as a whole, and the resulting assembly of works brings a reader who has to deal with post-menopausal realities—or one merely contemplating the approach of the stage—much comfort and consorority (not a standard term, but it definitely belongs here). The penultimate work in the last section, Heather Dillaway’s “Fact and Fiction,” catalogues things which menopausal women crave hearing, both true ones and ones that “Might NOT Be True” (193)—a humourous list in view of the knowledge of how much disinformation exists around menopause. The closing piece of the volume, Joaann McCaig’s “Last Blood,” marks one last menstrual period by a retrospective celebration, fittingly final. It summons recall of the collection mentioned at the review’s outset, Gush. Since Gush highlights the uniquely female condition of menstrual monthlies, Writing Menopause belongs beside it as an introduction to the state beyond, also located in the domain of woman.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Nadia

    A disappointing read. Not as engaging, insightful and or incisive as I would have liked for this subject matter. I was looking forward to some insights, wry observations and perhaps gained wisdom, but instead got a relatively dry read with nothing which made me laugh and or think outside of the box. As a Woman in early perimenopause who loves the written word and sees books as a tool of awareness, I was left deprived. Unfortunate that the editors weren't able to shed some wondrous light on a top A disappointing read. Not as engaging, insightful and or incisive as I would have liked for this subject matter. I was looking forward to some insights, wry observations and perhaps gained wisdom, but instead got a relatively dry read with nothing which made me laugh and or think outside of the box. As a Woman in early perimenopause who loves the written word and sees books as a tool of awareness, I was left deprived. Unfortunate that the editors weren't able to shed some wondrous light on a topic which needs desperately to come out of the closet.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Angela

    As with many anthologies, I connected with some pieces more than others, but as a whole, I enjoyed this collection. It tackles a subject that doesn't get nearly enough attention, because who cares about women when they're no longer young, hot, and fertile, right? Our culture shies away from open, frank discussion related to women's health, especially periods and the ending thereof, so as a Woman of a Certain Age, I'm happy to see a creative collection devoted to the subject and to see my time of As with many anthologies, I connected with some pieces more than others, but as a whole, I enjoyed this collection. It tackles a subject that doesn't get nearly enough attention, because who cares about women when they're no longer young, hot, and fertile, right? Our culture shies away from open, frank discussion related to women's health, especially periods and the ending thereof, so as a Woman of a Certain Age, I'm happy to see a creative collection devoted to the subject and to see my time of life celebrated through artistic expression.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Anwen Hayward

    I picked this up on a total whim in a secondhand bookshop in Brixton, and then proceeded to devour it in one sitting on the train home. I found it to be a very poignant insight into lives that are, completely fallaciously, often depicted as not worth exploring. I also liked how it included a diverse range of contributors, including an interview with a trans man, women who went through early menopause, and those whose menopause was induced for medical reasons. Lots to think about with this one.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Christine Dober

    This anthology had some good pieces and some forgettable ones. I would have appreciated a more carefully curated collection on the themes. I think I also would have preferred non-fiction personal essays or other creative non-fiction forms over a mix of fiction, poetry, interview, and non-fiction.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mai

    Super inspiring reading for my research on people's experiences around menopause :)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Shawna

  8. 4 out of 5

    Inanna

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lucy Smith

  10. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kyra

  12. 4 out of 5

    Spokanemadge

  13. 5 out of 5

    Eva Sevares

  14. 4 out of 5

    Chloe A-L

  15. 5 out of 5

    Mary Smith

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jen

  17. 5 out of 5

    Molly

  18. 4 out of 5

    Megan Hill

  19. 5 out of 5

    Shay

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