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On The Table Read Magazine, “the best book magazine in the UK“, award-winning author, Joan Gelfand, shares her story of artistic, sexual and spiritual awakening in Outside Voices: A Memoir Of The Berkeley Revolution.

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Outside Voices

In November 1972, as Ms. Magazine hit the newsstands with its inaugural issue, Joan Gelfand left the comforts of Forest Hills, New York, and summers in the Catskills for a trip to San Francisco. That vacation became a journey that lasted a lifetime and an unparalleled moment in history. 

In Outside Voices: A Memoir of the Berkeley Revolution, Joan Gelfand, award-winning author and nationally acclaimed literary citizen, shares her story of awakening — artistically, sexually and spiritually — during a radical time in a remarkable place. Writing with honesty and lyrical grace, Gelfand recounts a story of healing from devastating loss while honing her craft as a poet amid a cataclysmic social change in which the Beat Generation was born.

Finding a “room of her own” in a quiet, wood-shingled house in Berkeley, she sees her tribe: like-minded feminists and artists.

Women are creating safe spaces where they can find their voices in art, books, music, recording, feminist theory, or just plain banging a hammer and competing in a world typically run by men.

-Joan Gelfand

Bolstered by new friends Cloud, a poet and artist with a tinkling laugh, and Nancy, a working musician, Outside Voices gives a backstage view of artists and thinkers who went on to great things, including a young waitress named Suze (Orman); filmmaker Barbara Hammer; writers Judy Grahan, Gloria Andaluza and Pat Parker; and musicians Mary Watkins, Linda Tillery and more. Hard on the heels of the Free Speech Movement, the Summer of Love, and the Beats’ disruption of culture and literature, Berkeley was a fertile proving ground. 

The book reveals that Gelfand is on her way to becoming a community organizer and poetry editor in tandem with her dream of becoming a published author. It’s all good until her tribe presents an ultimatum: No men allowed. The women’s movement was fracturing, and once open and free flowing, the Berkeley community embraced separatism as the answer for women to move to the next level of liberation.

For Gelfand, the Berkeley Revolution ended when she became her own person. She had outgrown the falling-down house and the “men vs. women” mentality. As the memoir reaches its denouement, she reflects: “Maybe there is more than one way to change my life, more than one way to change the culture, racism, sexism. Maybe, if I work hard enough, I could find words to inspire change, the way that I continue to be changed by books and words.”

Joan Gelfand

Joan Gelfand photo credit: Terri Vershel on The Table Read Magazine
Joan Gelfand photo credit: Terri Vershel

Joan Gelfand is the author of three volumes of poetry, an award-winning chapbook of short fiction and a novel, Extreme, which was a finalist in the International Book Awards. Her poem about Lawrence Ferlinghetti was the basis for a film, The Ferlinghetti School of Poetics, which was featured in over 20 international film festivals.

Her writing has appeared in more than 150 literary magazines and journals, including Huffington Post, LA Review of Books, Levure Litteraire, Chicken Soup for the Soul and the San Francisco Chronicle, which published her tribute to Ferlinghetti upon his death.

A beloved teacher and mentor, Gelfand is president emeritus of the Women’s National Book Association and a member of the National Book Critics Circle. Her guide You Can Be a Winning Writer: The 4 C’s Approach to Author Success is an Amazon #1 bestseller. She holds a BA from San Francisco State University and an MFA in Creative Writing from Mills College.

She lives in San Francisco with her husband, Adam Hertz.

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