HER TEXAS: STORY, IMAGE, POEM & SONG
Edited by Donna Walker-Nixon, Cassy Burleson, Rachel Crawford, and Ashley Palmer
Reviewed by Trilla Pando.
Texas writers cast their eyes across the Lone Star State from city streets to windblown prairies. The women writers collected in this extensive and inclusive anthology are among them. I explored the state as I explored the book.
Suddenly as I read Sherry Craven’s “Coleman, Texas and Us,” I’m a kid in the hot back seat of the family Chevy, windows down to catch the cedar-scented dust-ladened wind, craning to catch sight of the farm house on the hill and know that Grandmother, cold buttermilk, and love are waiting not that many miles from Coleman. Later, I found myself playing in the Gulf, sniffing rich magnolias, and listening to Bob Willis and the Texas Playboys.
From the early days of novelist Mary Holley, Stephen F.’s cousin, to the present day, women have shared their views and emotions about their state. Growing up in Amarillo, I relished every word of my down-the-street neighbor Loula Grace Erdman who made the drab lives of homesteaders and school teachers shine. Do a computer search on Texas women writers and Erdman will pop right up, still fresh like her novels.
That search most likely will reveal another Lou—Lou Rodenberger whose anthologies of Texas women writers inspired this volume. An essay by Rodenberger appears as the second prose offering in the book—the first is a tribute to this strong, prolific woman. Read her essay first. Read it often.
This book, and I trust it will be followed by additional collections—so many writers, so few pages—will serve as a reference and a resource, but it is more. For me it will not be a straight-through read, but rather a dipping volume for when I am in need of a vicarious trip across time and Texas.
The more than fifty Texas women writers and photographers do this in myriad ways using stories, poems, songs, memoir, essays and photography. It’s a great trip.
Trilla Pando holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Houston; she taught in both Texas and Georgia. Her research focused on women in Texas and Houston. The Bainbridge (Georgia) Post-Searchlight published her weekly column on food and local history. She now lives and works in Houston.