Old Enough
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Old Enough

Southern Women Artists and Writers on Creativity and Aging

Edited by Jay Lamar and Jennifer Horne

With Katie Lamar Jackson and Wendy Reed

Photographs by Carolyn Sherer

Title Details

Pages: 200

Illustrations: 20 color and 5 b&w images

Trim size: 7.000in x 10.000in



Pub Date: 05/01/2024

ISBN: 9-781-5883-8518-5

List Price: $34.95


NewSouth Books

Subsidies and Partnerships

Published with the generous support of Friends Fund

Old Enough

Southern Women Artists and Writers on Creativity and Aging

Edited by Jay Lamar and Jennifer Horne

With Katie Lamar Jackson and Wendy Reed

Photographs by Carolyn Sherer

Essays by women artists and writers on self-perception and self-imposed expectations on aging, creativity, and power

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  • Description
  • Reviews
  • Contributors

In Old Enough, twenty-one women artists and writers write about the experience of aging. Gay, straight, unmarried, partnered, widowed, Black, white, Latinx, retired, and working, these women are not squeamish about the challenges of growing older, including ageism, health concerns, and loss. And they are frank about how received notions of female aging can be restrictive and diminishing. But in lyrical, sometimes wry, often inspiring essays they explore what growing older can offer: self-knowledge, insight, and acceptance. Striking portraits by award-winning photographer Carolyn Sherer, who is also a contributor to the volume, accompany each essay.

At the heart of this invigorating collection is the bold championing of creative practice. Some contributors look back to their girlhood to recall their first powerful connections to art, while others show how they have refreshed their commitment to maintaining a practice. However, all are still driven to create and to investigate, to stay committed to the processes that work while finding new ways to stay creatively alive. Old Enough aims to honor the limitless variety, depth, and scope of being “old enough” and will resonate with readers who want to understand and find purpose, meaning, and comradery in their creative journey.

This beautiful collection of essays captures the process of aging from multiple points of view. Its wise writers can help us all navigate aging with courage, wisdom, and joy.

—Mary Pipher, author of A Life in Light

The spark may start early, but the real fireworks in late-life artists explode with the focus of age. Couldn't they have done it earlier? If this or that had happened in their lives, couldn't they have made their art when young? The answer is a resounding 'No.' Experience leads to experiment. 'What-others-want-me-to-do' fades in the glow of the finally acknowledged inner drive that fosters the brilliance of at last being splendidly Old Enough.

—Molly Peacock, author of The Paper Garden: Mrs. Delany Begins Her Life's Work at 72

Old Enough is an extraordinary collection of observations, musings, and hard-earned insights about creativity and aging from an equally extraordinary group of diverse, bold, and brilliant women writers and artists—women who once blazed their own trail and now pause to reflect on the journey. Carolyn Sherer's stunningly beautiful photographs of the contributors, which accompany each piece, are not only a delightful surprise but also a creative touch which adds an intimacy and truth to the individual stories. This is a book to cherish, to hold close and contemplate, then to recommend to others: this one is a must-read. Whether their own journey is just beginning or in progress, they will thank you for it.

—Cassandra King, award-winning author of Tell Me a Story: My Life with Pat Conroy

This book is a gift! It confronts clichéd thinking about 'women of a certain age' with grace, humor, and candor. The idea that our creative pursuits can continue to nurture the best in ourselves and others, especially as we age, is inspirational. As a working journalist, mother, wife, and daughter (and Southerner) who has just rounded sixty, I want to thank these remarkable women for sharing their beautiful stories and encouraging us to embrace the now, and beyond.

—Debbie Elliott, national correspondent, NPR News

In Old Enough, twenty-one creative women 'of a certain age'—writers, painters, sculptors, a quilter, a photographer, and a singer-songwriter, ages 57–87—share their stories about aging, illness, caretaking, and loss, and permission to carry 'play' from their childhoods into their adult and older lives. There are amazing essays here, about following your obsessions but keeping your balance, and about redefining, redoing, and finding purpose beyond the roles and structures we’ve used to keep ourselves safe. It’s all here, y’all—wisdom captured in prose that flows like honey while cutting through tough topics with literary candor.

—Susan Cushman, editor of A Second Blooming: Becoming the Women We Are Meant to Be and Southern Writers on Writing

A work of art to be enjoyed and learned from in parts or as a whole. We listen eagerly to a familiar piece of music. We revisit a favorite painting. We search our shelves for the book that holds a particular passage. This is the manner in which I plan to look again and again into Old Enough, seeking joy and nuance revealed afresh.

—Pearl McHaney, Atlanta Journal-Constitution / Arts ATL

Gail Andrews

Sara Garden Armstrong

Carmen Agra Deedy

Patricia Foster

Patricia Gaines

Mary Gauthier

Patti Callahan Henry

Jennifer Horne

Angela Jackson-Brown

Jay Lamar

Katie Lamar Jackson

Nevin Mercede

Cecilia Rodriguez Milanés

Janisse Ray

Wendy Reed

Carolyn Sherer

Anne Strand

Jeanie Thompson

Jacqueline Allen Trimble

Lila Quintero Weaver

Yvonne Wells

About the Author/Editor

JAY LAMAR is the Director of Special Programs for the Office of the Provost and University Libraries at Auburn University. She serves directly with the Office of Undergraduate Studies on special lectures and the common reading program and with the Department of Archives and Special Collections in the Ralph B. Draughon Library. For more than two decades she was director of the Caroline Marshall Draughon Center for the Arts & Humanities, where she helped forge partnerships between the university and the community. She is co-editor of The Remembered Gate: Memoirs by Alabama Writers.

JENNIFER HORNE is a poet and freelance writer who grew up in Arkansas and has lived in Alabama since 1986. She received an MA in English and an MFA in creative writing from the University of Alabama and has been a university English teacher, a poetry teacher in elementary schools, and a journal, magazine, and book editor. Her poems, essays, and reviews have appeared in journals across the Southeast, including Carolina Quarterly and the Birmingham Poetry Review. She gardens on Canyon Lake, outside Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

CAROLYN SHERER is an American photographer interested in issues of identity. She works in series, making individual images to create a composite portrait of often-marginalized communities. Her past work has featured people with disabilities, people living with HIV, and multiple projects related to the LGBTQ community. She lives in Homewood, Alabama.

KATIE LAMAR JACKSON is a freelance writer and photographer with four decades of experience working as a journalist, author, editor, communications director, and educator. Her work has been published in myriad newspapers, magazines, books, and essay collections and covers a diverse array of topics—gardening, wildlife, the environment, arts and culture, history, biography, and travel among them. She has authored or co-authored eight nonfiction books including the award-winning Oracle of the Ages: Reflections on the Curious Life of Fortune Teller Mayhayley Lancaster (NewSouth Books, 2001). She lives in Opelika. Alabama.

WENDY REED has received writing fellowships from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and Seaside Institute and has published in various anthologies, magazines and newspapers. She also co-edited All Out of Faith and Circling Faith with Jennifer Horne. Reed produced and directed numerous documentaries and the series Bookmark with Don Noble at the University of Alabama Center for Public TV & Radio and for her work with Discovering Alabama she received two Emmys. She has three children and lives in Waverly, Alabama.