THE ROANOKE TIMES
Rogers: Artemis still celebrates ‘season of women’
Rogers is editor and founder of Artemis Journal.
Our president has finally accomplished what he promised to do and has signed a law to trim federal aid to Planned Parenthood. This follows the historic Women’s March earlier this year. President Trump has chosen to ignore millions of women and men who stand for the freedom of choice of reproductive rights for women. This type of attack on Planned Parenthood puts women at risk, especially those that are under-served in rural communities by making it harder for women to have wellness and health services.
Yes, I marched in the Women’s March in my hometown of Floyd along with millions of other women and men around our country and the world. I marched because I believe our equality as women is an illusion and in grave peril of disappearing with our current president. It is time to open our eyes to the fact that we women are not equal.
In 1976 I was director of a Women’s Center at the Roanoke YWCA, which was co-sponsored by TAP (Total Action Against Poverty). Bristol Hardin, then the director of TAP, convinced me that my interest in art and social issues could be entwined. In order to entice me to take the job, TAP awarded a grant for me to do a photographic study of women along with opening the Women’s Center. It was an offer I could not refuse and I set out to photograph women while operating the center. After one year, the photographs resulted in a one-woman show titled “Season of Women.”
Celebrating our 40th anniversary this year, Artemis still carries the torch for equality giving a voice to the artists and writers who share in these ideals of equality. Artemis, namesake of our journal and goddess of light, had the divine duty of illuminating the darkness. Often she is depicted carrying a candle or torch, lighting the way for others and leading them through territories yet uncharted. Known as the chaste Greek goddess associated with the moon and hunt, her connection with the natural world symbolized her own un-tamed spirit. She became the patron saint of women, childbirth, protector of wild animals, virgins and the powerless. And she became the patron goddess for our journal Artemis.
In 1976, with my young idealism, I believed it was the “Season of Women” and never thought 40 years later I would be expressing my worries and concerns over our fragile rights as women. So our conversation continues as women come face to face with the real possibilities of losing their health insurance, their freedom of control over their bodies and work-balance issues. Our equality as women is an illusion and the threats to our status are very real. So for those who do not believe in these dangers, I will continue to march and be vigilant for them. Perhaps this year of 2017 will actually be the “Season of Women.”
The launch of Artemis 2017 will be held Friday at the Taubman Museum of Art featuring guest writer, Nikki Giovanni. For more information, see www.artemisjournal.org
May 5th, 7:00 pm
Roanoke Taubman Museum of Art
110 Salem Avenue
Roanoke, Va. 24011
Nikki Giovanni, poet, activist, mother and professor is a seven-time NAACP award winner and the first recipient of the Rosa Parks Woman of Courage Award. She also holds the Langston Hughes Medal for Outstanding Poetry, among many other honors. The author of twenty-eight books, and a Grammy nominee for the The Nikki Giovanni Poetry Collection, she is a distinguished Professor of English a Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia.
Artemis is pleased to announce that Nikki Giovanni will be our guest writer for the upcoming Artemis Journal 2017, for our 40th anniversary. Artemis emerged in 1977 as a result of women’s writing workshops at the Women’s Center in Roanoke, Virginia. Originally a feminist journal for 3 years, Artemis evolved and began to take men’s submissions into the journal in 1980.
Here is a quote from Nikki about her life growing up as a Black girl writing what was called “militant” poetry;
“No one was much interested in a Black girl writing what was called “militant” poetry. I thought of it as good poetry but we all have our own ideas. Since no one wanted to publish me I formed a company and published myself. That was a lot easier to do in the old days. For $100 you could get 100 books which meant you could sell them at a dollar a book to break even but you could also ask one of the many small bookstores, black or white, to take your book and offer them a discount of, for example, 40%. Yes, you were losing forty cents on each book but to go back to press was only about $70 which meant you only needed about $10.00 for your second edition. Now I had a goal. I wanted to be a writer who dreams or maybe a dreamer who writes but I knew one book does not a writer make. I started on my second book which garnered a lot of attention because I launched it at Birdland– the jazz club in NYC”. Nikki Giovanni
There is so much to write about Nikki’s accomplishments and I encourage you to visit her website at www.nikki-giovanni.com
The new 2017 Artemis Journals will be available for purchase.
Jeri Rogers, Editor