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Her Texas: Story, Image, Poem & Song book coverHer Texas: Story, Image, Poem & Song

by Donna Walker-Nixon

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Hardback, 448 pages

Her Texas, published on March 1, 2015, coincides with National Women's History Month. It is edited by:

[Donna Walker-Nixon], [Cassy Burleson], [Rachel Crawford], and [Ashley Palmer]

Her Texas is "among the most important anthologies of Texas writers in a generation" (San Antonio Express-News). Multicultural, multiethnic, and multidisciplinary, it includes stories, essays, memoirs, poetry, song lyrics, paintings, and photographs by 60 Texas women.

Texas, once a country unto itself, has engendered myths and legends that rival the magnetic force of national identity. At first, Texas writers looked toward the men who embodied the larger-than-life stories of cowboys and Indians, pioneers and outlaws, cattle barons and oil kings. Although the female writers, poets, songwriters, artists, and photographers of this collection know this heritage, they also illuminate a Texas that is large enough in landscape, history, and spirit to include a multitude of experiences and identities.

The title of this anthology comes from folklorist Lou Rodenberger (1926-2009), to whom the anthology is dedicated. Rodenberger's previous works brought to the forefront the literature written by real Texas women. Rodenberger focused on the fact that the Texas myth includes but is not limited to masculine mystique. Having edited three collections of stories of Texas women writers beginning in 1997 and ending in 2003, Rodenberger was busy writing her memoir about her experiences with Texas women writers at the time of her death. Her memoir was to be titled "Her Texas." Rodenberger's husband, Charles, permitted the editors of this collection to use this title as a tribute to Lou and to earlier women of Texas literature.



Chinua Achebe once commented that "until lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter." Transposed from an African to a Texan literary context, Achebe's words remind us that for a body of literature to be vital and fully representative, it must relate experiences not only from dominant or outside points of view, but also from a wide range of insiders. Texas literature has been filled until relatively recently with women imagined from male perspectives. The female perspective has never been absent, but it has been mightily under-represented. Other all-women anthologies preceded Her Texas, notably Texas Women Writers: A Tradition of Their Own (Texas A&M University Press, 1997), but none has had the scope of Her Texas.

Past collections have emphasized the short story, with little emphasis on poetry and no emphasis on art, photography, and songs by Texas women of letters and the arts. In the first issue of The Langdon Review of the Arts in Texas (2003), Lou Rodenberger wrote an article about women and their place in the "story of Texas." This article countered an article by Tom Pilkington that dealt with Texas literature in general. Rodenberger wrote:

Women writers have never been particularly overwhelmed nor impressed by what outsiders as well as Texas natives like to label as Texas myth. When their fiction is set in early Texas, the familiar characters often are reshaped from a woman's points of view.... Place for Texas women may dominate, but it may be East Texas or la frontera of those Tejanas living in El Paso and border towns. The range and cowboy life dear to Dobie and his admirers may inspire novels, but these staples of western fiction may be transformed into fiction with women ranch owners as protagonists and cowgirls competing as rodeo stars. The most talented of Texas women writers have earned their place in mainstream fiction in this new century. They may slosh around for a while, demanding recognition, but their place in Texas letters seems obvious and assured.

In a very real way, Her Texas makes connections where readers will see themselves somewhere. Love, hate, struggle, survival, restlessness, rejection, the little and the big deaths, irony; the need for serenity; the need to eliminate boredom; the need to believe in God, transcendence, or truth; the need to leave when you want to stay or stay when you want to go; the reality of racial separations; the need to fight; the push of time and laughter at the wrong moments; and the need to believe ... in something, anything ... right now. The need to know what's right.... Thinking, what's my next step? And then realizing, you are not alone. We are not alone. This collection does not stop with women asserting themselves and their identities as writers and artists; the final goal is for the literature and art here to show human beings, both men and women, illuminating who they are.

Critical Praise


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Buy This Book : $29.95

ISBN 978-1-60940-423-9
US $29.95
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