A Look At Wichita’s Feminist Movement

Dec 21, 2011

Last week Wichita publisher Watermark Press released its first book in 20 years, “Radiating Like a Stone: Wichita Women and the 1970s Feminist Movement.”

The book is a collection of essays, stories and poems compiled and edited by former teacher, congressional staff director, university public relations administrator, and nationally syndicated columnist, Myrne Roe. Roe recently joined Briana for a conversation about the book.

Find the book at Watermark Books & Cafe.

Title Poem from “Radiating Like a Stone: Wichita Women and the 1970s Feminist Movement” Compiled and Edited by Myrne Roe

On Vicki’s Porch – Anita Skeen

We called it the stoop, a concrete
slab beneath the back door,
two steps down to the ground.
I sat there in the bee humming
Thick of summer. Sniffing
the air for rain. Listening for tires
chewing up dirt. Watching
wooly worms hump across rocks.
My daddy painted the stoop green,
then, years later, brick red. In August
The stoop was a hot coal

This May we sit in wicker chairs
on Vicki’s curved porch, in the crook
of its arm. This is the porch
of Southern lore, Victorian veranda
open to Lake Michigan, vacation
folk from Chicago clinking cold drinks.
But we’re in Wichita, already a sea of heat.
Old friends gather here for chat.
Some crackers, a few glasses of wine,
salted nuts, a bowl of fruit. One red apple
on a glass plate, two strawberries touching.
There’s a tornado gusting from the west
but we don’t know it yet, one that will be
headline news. The grass in the yard
murmurs, talk of the entwined.

Across the street, a dog hops on his igloo
doghouse like a circus dog on a ball.
But he’s going nowhere, barking. A car
goes by, honks the horn. It’s David,
someone says. Another says she’s writing
about hope, attempting to prove it doesn’t exist.
One of us has survived an aneurism.
One this day gets a diagnosis: Parkinson’s
One of us wants her life to change. Another
believes it will. Two of us live four states away.
It’s been years since we’ve all been together.
The porch shimmers, a constellation
harboring stars, a song learning its own notes.
The wind sings one tune we all know.

I sang to myself on the stoop.
I pulled my knee against my chest
and rocked, imagining the days
ahead, inventing words
I needed, letting warmth seep
Up into my body, radiating like a stone.

“On Vicki’s Porch” by Anita Skeen from Never the Whole Story (Michigan State University Press, 2011)