Monday, August 27, 2007


Grace Paley: Poet, Writer, Activist, 1922-2007

Grace Paley will always be one of the greatest lights in my life and the life of this benighted country. A writer-activist role model, a fierce intelligence, an unparalleled dedication. Always with humor, compassion. No self-righteousness. No self-aggrandizement.

I met Grace a couple of times but was always too star-struck and tongue-tied to have a real conversation. How could I be so stupid?

We can listen to her now:

Democracy Now! interview on the role of the poet in wartime:

New York Times obit

NPR piece on Paley

Interview with Paley from War Resisters League

A beautiful piece by Dani Shapiro on Huffington Post:

And a wonderful poem, courtesy of Dan Vera:

This Life
Grace Paley

My friend tells me
a man in my house jumped off the roof
the roof is the eighth floor of this building
the roof door was locked how did he manage?
his girlfriend had said goodbye I'm leaving
he was 22
his mother and father were hurrying
at that very moment
from upstate to help him move out of Brooklyn
they had heard about the girl

the people who usually look up
and call jump jump did not see him
the life savers who creep around the back staircases
and reach the roof's edge just in time
never got their chance he meant it he wanted
only one person to know

did he imagine that she would grieve
all her young life away tell everyone
this boy I kind of lived with last year
he died on account of me

my friend was not interested he said you're always
inventing stuff what I want to know how could he throw
his life away how do these guys do it
just like that and here I am fighting this
ferocious insane vindictive virus day and
night day and night and for what? for only
one thing this life this life

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