Elise Gardella
from the text/   I stand here ironing, and what you asked me moves tormented back and forth with the iron.from the text/   She was a beautiful baby. She blew shining bubbles of sound. She loved motion, loved light, loved color and music and textures.from the text/   She was a miracle to me, but when she was eight months old I had to leave her daytimes with the woman downstairs to whom she was no miracle at all, for I worked or looked for work.from the text/   I was nineteen. It was the pre-relief, pre-WPA world of the depression. I put down the iron. What in me demanded that goodness in her? And what was the cost to her of such goodness?from the text/   Now suddenly she was Somebody, and as imprisoned in her difference as she had been in her anonymity.from the text/   She is so lovely. Why did you want me to come in at all? Why were you concerned? She will find her way.from the text/   I will never total it all. I will never come in to say: She was a child seldom smiled at. She is a child of her age, of depression, of war, of fear.from the text/   Let her be. Only help her to know—help make it so there is cause for her to know—that she is more than this dress on the ironing board, helpless before the iron.
Standing with Tillie in D-minor
The powerful writings of Tillie Olsen (1912-2007) have roamed in my mind since my first reading in the 70s of "I Stand Here Ironing," from Tell Me a Riddle.

In 2017 with the open time before me in the Shift Residency, EFA — I sampled and thought about this intense and beautifully concise story. Following each idea that came to mind, I made recordings reading the entire story and then from the last paragraph to the first; interrupted the reading with D-minor chords and progressions; created a dance to this playback; filmed my hands interpreting it; and selected portions of the text to couple with images—these eight pieces here.

And I'm not alone in my explorations and enduring interest in Olsen’s work. In addition to feature films, there are hundreds of homages, commentaries, iterations, and adaptations of her writing on YouTube, especially of "I Stand Here Ironing." Read it. Her forceful writing style and intelligence yields this unusually insightful story telling of women, poverty, social structure, class, interference and America.
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