Katha Pollitt is well known for her wit and her keen sense of both the ridiculous and the sublime. Her “Subject to Debate” column, which debuted in 1995 and which the Washington Post called “the best place to go for original thinking on the left,” appears every other week in The Nation; it is frequently reprinted in newspapers across the country. In 2003, “Subject to Debate” won the National Magazine Award for Columns and Commentary. In 2011, Pollitt won the American Sociological Association Award for Excellence in the Reporting of Social Issues. She is also a Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow at The Nation Institute.
Pollitt has been contributing to The Nation since 1980. Her 1992 essay on the culture wars, “Why We Read: Canon to the Right of Me…” won the National Magazine Award for essays and criticism, and she won a Whiting Foundation Writing Award the same year. In 2013, her column won a Maggie Award from the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, as did her 1993 essay “Why Do We Romanticize the Fetus?”
Many of Pollitt’s contributions to The Nation are compiled in three books: Reasonable Creatures: Essays on Women and Feminism (Knopf); Subject to Debate: Sense and Dissents on Women, Politics, and Culture (Modern Library); and Virginity or Death! And Other Social and Political Issues of Our Time (Random House). In 2007 Random House published her collection of personal essays, Learning to Drive and Other Life Stories. Two pieces from this book, “Learning to Drive” and its follow-up, “Webstalker,” originally appeared in The New Yorker. “Learning to Drive” is anthologized in Best American Essays 2003. It has been made into a movie of the same title, starring Patricia Clarkson and Ben Kingsley. Her most recent book is Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights, which The New York Times listed as a Notable Book of 2014.
Pollitt has also written essays and book reviews for The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New Republic, Harper’s, Ms., Glamour, Mother Jones, The New York Times, and the London Review of Books. She has appeared on NPR’s Fresh Air and All Things Considered, Charlie Rose, The McLaughlin Group, CNN, Dateline NBC and the BBC. Her work has been republished in many anthologies and is taught in many university classes.
For her poetry, Pollitt has received a National Endowment for the Arts grant and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Her 1982 book Antarctic Traveller won the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her poems have been published in many magazines and are reprinted in many anthologies, most recently The Oxford Book of American Poetry (2006). Her second collection, The Mind-Body Problem, came out from Random House in 2009.
Born in New York City, she was educated at Harvard and the Columbia School of the Arts. She has lectured at dozens of colleges and universities, including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Brooklyn College, UCLA, the University of Mississippi and Cornell. She has taught poetry at Princeton, Barnard and the 92nd Street Y, and women’s studies at the New School University.
(Daniel Pollitt, who is professor of law emeritus at the University of North Carolina and my uncle, sent me his reflections on The Blogojevich-Burris flap. I figured I should put them up before New York Governor Paterson selects his own personal Senator.)
The F.B.I. was bugging Illinois Governor Blagojevich and recorded him commenting that the opportunity to name the Senate replacement for Barack Obama was "golden" (apparently there is no one offering a pot of gold for the appointment).
On this, Democratic Senate leaders announced that anyone appointed by Blagojevich would be "tainted" and would be denied a seat in the Senate. The Illinois Secretary of State piled on, saying he would not sign or affix the State Seal to any Blagojevich appointments.
In the endless debate over abortion, we can forget the concrete reality in which pregnant girls and women so often live. Feminists for Life and other anti-choice groups make it sound as if an unwanted pregnancy is just one of life's little challenges --some baby clothes, some food stamps, some campus housing for college-going moms and tots, and everything will be fine. It's usually not so simple. The appeal below popped up in my inbox this morning. It's from the DC Abortion fund, which raises money for low-income women's abortions.
"Nickie" needs a lot of things -- beginning with a family free from domestic violence -- but one thing she doesn't need, or want, is a baby. Her pregnancy places her at risk in all kinds of ways.Can you help her? Even five dollars, added to the donations of others, would make a difference.
You can donate here.
For the Election Day causes I've written about here and in my column,there's good news and, well, not so good news.
First the hurrahs. By a whopping 69%, Milwaukee voters passed a binding referendum requiring private employers to give workers nine paid sick days a year (employers of fewer than ten workers must give five days). Workers can use their days for themselves or for or a sick child or other relative. They can also use them to attend to medical and legal issues related to domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.
Congratulations to 9to5, which spearheaded a dynamic coalition of union and community groups, and waged a terrific grassroots campaign . Milwaukee now joins San Francisco and Washington DC in taking this bold step to create a healthier and more humane workplace for its citizens, and offer an important helping hand to women and to working parents.