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ON THE SHELF

Poetry, prose: Violence hits home

August 26, 2007|Lynne Heffley

"The Vagina Monologues," tragicomic, graphic performance piece, was inspired by the mystique of the female anatomy. It became a global theatrical franchise, then a major fundraising tool for V-Day, the annual Valentine's Day observance created by Ensler and others in 1998.

V-Day was aimed at helping fight violence against women, and Ensler picks up that theme in "A Memory, a Monologue, a Rant, and a Prayer," edited with Mollie Doyle. This often frank collection of essays, letters, poems and short plays is drawn from writings performed in the touring "V-Day: Until the Violence Stops" international festival.

High-profile contributors exploring domestic, political, social, military and religious abuse of women include Edward Albee, Maya Angelou, Jane Fonda, Anna Deavere Smith and Howard Zinn.

The inclusion of men has been a new, key step for the predominantly female movement, Ensler says. "It's a very big deal for V-Day. What I wanted to do is just ask the writers that I love to write their take, write how this issue has hit them. I was so excited to see how many men responded."

Excerpts:

"It wasn't being trapped in a house filled with women that had made me the very strange person I was, but growing up in a household of raped women." -- "Rescue," by Mark Matousek.

"Why are we worried about bird flu when women are being mutilated and raped? Why aren't we marching on Congress for that? And nobody has a clue why we're in Iraq, but we would know why we were in Darfur." -- "Monologue" by Susan Miller.

"Tonight make Rwanda come on my mind. Strong. About when the Hutus, they gonna kill my youngest brother -- my mother was by his side in the road. You know dat story, right? But you don't really know. Tonight make me think I gotta tell you -- the whole story." -- "Monologue" by Anna Deavere Smith.

-- Lynne Heffley

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