The University Record, December 10, 2001

Visiting writer Paley shares her art

By NoŽl Rozny

Paley (Photo by Martin Vloet, U-M Photo Services)
Lights of the Michigan League Ballroom dimmed and a crowded room of students and faculty drew silent as poet, short story writer and political activist Grace Paley approached the podium to read from her works. Her reading Dec. 4 was part of the Department of English’s Visiting Writers Series. Paley gave a lecture Dec. 6.

Paley began with Listening, a short story about Faith, the character who literary critics believe to be Paley’s alter ego.

Paley continued with poems such as Reading the Newspapers at the Village Store, What If, The Immigrant Story, and Here, a poem she wrote for her husband.

Born in New York City, Paley studied at Hunter College and New York University. Although she began her career writing poetry, she is best known for her short story collections, including The Little Disturbances of Man, and Enormous Changes at the Last Minute. In 1989, New York Governor Mario Cuomo named Paley the first official New York State Writer. Recognition as a writer led her to teach at Columbia University, Syracuse University and Sarah Lawrence College. Her interest in feminism and peace advocacy has taken her all over the world. Paley has been involved in numerous activist groups, such as the War Resisters League, the World Peace Congress and the Greenwich Village Peace Center.

Nicholas Delbanco, the Robert Frost Collegiate Professor of English Language and Literature, introduced Paley, saying, “Our guest tonight has been timeless; her voice will not be shouted down.”

For a schedule of future readings in the Visiting Writers Series, visit the Web at