Wordsworth Hosts

“That Takes Ovaries” Reading Sept. 5


by Susie Davidson



Bold and brazen Cantabrigian women will command stage presence with aplomb on Sept. 5 as Wordsworth Books in Harvard Square presents a “That Takes Ovaries: Bold Females and Their Brazen Acts” book reading. The reading, featuring Cambridge residents Amelia Copeland and Cecelia Tan, as well as book contributors Julia Willis, Iris Stammberger, Lynda Gaines, Rosa Baez and the book’s compiler Rivka Solomon, begins at 7 p.m. Solomon blazed onto the literary scene earlier this year when the local writer and activist realized her vision of producing an anthology of 64 true tales of chutzpah and womenly verve. The result, “That Takes Ovaries,” quickly catapulted into a series of national open mics as it received wide notice in major media, including Glamour and Jane magazines. Solomon sought to impart further meaning into her movement by linking the mics and readings with pet causes such as the halting of international human rights abuses against girls.

“The book,” said Solomon, “is a collection of real-life stories from women and girls. It is jam-packed with multi-culti, short, playful, sassy, often touching, true tales of kickin' estrogen-powered deeds.” The stories cover the gamut of experience, from jumping off the wrong train in Europe, to leaving wealth and prestige in Latin America behind in order to start a humane business in America, to dumping one's alcoholic father's supply of moonshine, to braving a double mastectomy, to facing down a burglar.


Solomon’s own work has appeared in national magazines, newspapers and anthologies, and has aired on WBUR and NPR, as well as like-minded radio broadcasts such as Lilith Magazine; Sojourner; Bitch: Feminist Response to Pop Culture; Bust: The New Girl Order and Moxi: For the Woman Who Dares.


Copeland, who also goes by Amanda Nash, published Paramour magazine from 1993 to 1998. “It was a high-class smut rag consisting of fiction, not-too-serious erotic poetry, photography, and spirited reviews,” she explained. Stories she edited and her own work appear in feminist Susie Bright's “Best American Erotica” series. As Paramour’s editor, Copeland, who was voted one of Boston Magazine's 50 Most Intriguing Women in 1996, hosted many readings at area venues such as the Cambridge Multicultural Art Center, the Bookcellar Café, Kingston Gallery and Waterstone's.


“Following my stint in smut,” she continued, “I was the Personals Marketing Manager and member of The Love Squad at the Boston Phoenix, where I also wrote the ‘Lustrology’ column for two and a half years.” Now, however, she admits to being back to plain old Amanda, serving as Production Editor for “The Women’s Review of Books” monthly at Wellesley College.


Writer and editor Cecilia Tan began Circlet Press, Inc. in 1992, in order to self-publish a book of (only in Cambridge) erotic science fiction. But a decade hence, the press has nearly 40 books in print. Other than the erotic sci-fi material, their catalogue includes such award-winning authors as Francesca Lia Block and Delia Sherman. “Although I began Circlet by self-publishing my own stories,” Tan said, “I mostly publish my erotica with other presses, and I have been in Best American Erotica and Best Lesbian Erotica numerous times.” In 1998, HarperCollins published Tan’s collection of 23 of her erotic short stories under the title “Black Feathers.”


Tan’s essay for the Wordsworth reading will describe the book party her mother threw for her in her native New Jersey suburb. “She invited all my relatives and school teachers. It was an entirely different experience to get up on front of that crowd and read an explicit story than it was in bookstores or colleges or the many other places I had read. It was the first time I had ever been nervous to read.”


Upcoming That Takes Ovaries readings are set for Oct. 3 at the Jorge Hernandez Cultural Center (a benefit for the Boston Women’s Fund), 405 Shawmut Ave. Boston, and Nov. 14 at Brookline Booksmith, 279 Harvard St., Brookline, which will be coordinated by Nash, or Copeland, as the case may be.


For further info, or to organize or merely attend a That Takes Ovaries! open mike, book reading or play, please contact rivka@thattakesovaries.org or visit www.thattakesovaries.org.