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Annie Finch, Choice Words: Writers on Abortion

Donate to this amazing project here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/arcfinch/choice-words-writers-on-abortion

With reproductive freedom under unprecedented attack at the state and federal levels, it’s time to take back the conversation.  Literature has always been at the forefront of profound shifts in human consciousness, and that’s the level of shift that is needed now.  It’s time for Choice Words: Writers on Abortion, the first major literary anthology of poems, stories, and literary essays about abortion.  

Twenty years in the making, this book spans continents and centuries; the manuscript  includes Audre Lorde, Margaret Atwood, Lucille Clifton, Amy Tan, Gloria Steinem, Ursula Le Guin, Gwendolyn Brooks, Joyce Carol Oates, Gloria Naylor, Dorothy Parker, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, Anne Sexton, Ntozake Shange, Sholeh Wolpe, Ai, Jean Rhys, Mahogany L. Browne, Shirley Geok-lin Lim, Frank O’Hara,  Vi Khi Nao, Sharon Olds, Judith Arcana, Alice Walker, Lucille Clifton, Molly Peacock, Carol Muske-Dukes, Mo Yan, Leslie Marmon Silko, Bobbie Louise Hawkins, Kathy Acker, Anne Sexton, Langston Hughes, Sharon Doubiago, and numerous other classic and contemporary writers including voices from Canada, France, China, India, Iran, Ireland, Kenya, and Pakistan.

My name is Annie Finch, and I’m the editor of Choice Words.  I’m an award-winning feminist poet and writer and the author or editor of twenty books, including eight previous anthologies from publishers including University of Michigan Press, University of Arkansas Press, and Penguin/Random House. I earned a Ph.D from Stanford, have taught widely, and live in Washington, DC.

Editor Annie Finch and her children in 2000
Editor Annie Finch and her children in 2000

At the age of 43, a year after the birth of my second child, I had an abortion. Afterwards, I sought out writing about abortion to understand my experience more deeply. I was astounded to discover that there was no collection of important poetry and fiction about one of the most profound experiences in my life and that of millions of others.

So I began to search for poetry, novels, short stories, and drama about abortion and discovered that, if I looked hard enough, there was lots of great writing on abortion that defied the cultural shaming and silence.  With patience and help, over 20 years I edited a book that expresses the uniqueness, universality, and complex diversity of women’s experiences of abortion. Choice Words gathers powerful writers who depict our personal and collective courage, the ways that every decision involving abortion is different, and the necessity of access to safe, legal abortion for human freedom and integrity.

CHOICE WORDS contributors Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, Lucille Clifton, Sharon Olds, Amy Tan, Dorothy Parker, and Mahogany L. Browne
CHOICE WORDS contributors Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, Lucille Clifton, Sharon Olds, Amy Tan, Dorothy Parker, and Mahogany L. Browne

Haymarket Books, publisher of Choice Words, is the visionary, progressive publisher of such leading writers as Naomi Klein, Arundhati Roy, Angela Davis, Rebecca Solnit, Noam Chomsky, and Howard Zinn. Haymarket is a publisher uniquely suited to make sure this book gets into the hands of those who can most benefit from its wisdom and passion. However, as an independent, nonprofit press, Haymarket does not have the funds for the permission fees required to reprint so many classic and iconic writers in one volume. That’s why Haymarket and I are teaming up to request your financial support to bring out this necessary book.

CHOICE WORDS contributors Amy Levy, Gwendolyn Brooks, Margaret Atwood, Sholeh Wolpe, Kathy Acker, and Shirley Geok-Lin Lim
CHOICE WORDS contributors Amy Levy, Gwendolyn Brooks, Margaret Atwood, Sholeh Wolpe, Kathy Acker, and Shirley Geok-Lin Lim

STATEMENT OF SUPPORT FOR CHOICE WORDS 

“In this frightening political climate, we are thrilled to partner with Annie Finch on Choice Words. Through its poems and prose, this anthology pushes back against those in power who seek to strip away the right to choose. Through the words and stories of these incredible authors, stigma is broken and the right to bodily autonomy that should be guaranteed to all shines through.”

—Julie Fain, Publisher, Haymarket Books

The poems, essays, and stories in Choice Words prove that women’s bodies cannot be nationalized.”

— Gloria Steinem

FUNDING GOAL

We are committed to raising $10,500 through this Kickstarter to cover the estimated permissions costs for Choice Words so that the publication process can begin for this landmark international anthology.

CHOICE WORDS contributors Starhawk, Leslie Marmon Silko. Georgia Douglas Johnson, Jean Rhys, Amy Alvarez, and Judith Arcana
CHOICE WORDS contributors Starhawk, Leslie Marmon Silko. Georgia Douglas Johnson, Jean Rhys, Amy Alvarez, and Judith Arcana

I have been awed by the enthusiasm of writers, readers, and project volunteers about Choice Words: Writers on Abortion. I believe this book’s wisdom and urgency will offer solace and insight, open deeper discussion and understanding, and serve as a powerful rallying point for reproductive justice activism. But without your help, it won’t happen.

CHOICE WORDS contributor Audre Lorde, quoted on a rally sign in 2019.
CHOICE WORDS contributor Audre Lorde, quoted on a rally sign in 2019.

More details about the book and the campaign may be found under the FAQ tab.

Please help us to get the necessary writings in this book out into the world. Your donation to Choice Words will have a lasting impact on the cause of reproductive justice now and for our future.

Thank you for your support, and please spread the word!

Warm wishes,

Annie Finch

Risks and challenges

Timeline: There is a chance that the timeline may be lengthened, as Haymarket does a very careful and deliberate job to assure the best book possible.

Permissions Budget: Due to some exciting late-breaking international additions including a Nobel Prize winner, actual permissions costs may exceed the budget. Our stretch goal is $13,000 to cover these extra fees.

Contents: The list of authors included in the book may change slightly before publication. It is rare for an author to decline inclusion (I have edited eight previous anthologies including thousands of authors and it’s only happened once), but it might happen.

Audience: In spite of heroic efforts with the help of many supporters and volunteers working to get the word out about this campaign, there is a chance it won’t reach enough people who care about the book to succeed. So please share this link as widely as possible!

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