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.