Dena Taylor

Coming soon: When A Woman Tells the Truth: Writings and creative work by women over 80



Books Written by Dena Taylor

Exclamation Points: Collected Poems

Tell Me the Number before Infinity:
The Story of a Girl with a Quirky Mind, an Eccentric Family, and Oh Yes, a Disability
with Becky Taylor

Red Flower: Rethinking Menstruation



Anthologies edited by Dena Taylor

Feminist Parenting: Struggles, Triumphs, & Comic Interludes

Women of The 14th Moon: Writings on Menopause
with Amber Coverdale Sumrall

Sexual Harassment: Women Speak Out
with Amber Coverdale Sumrall

Disabled Mothers: Stories and Scholarship by and about Mothers wih Disabilities
with Gloria Filax

The Time of Our Lives: Women Write on Sex After 40
with Amber Coverdale Sumrall



Published by Dena Taylor

Murawina: An Authentic Aboriginal Message


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When A Woman Tells the Truth: Writings and creative work by women over 80
edited by Dena Taylor and Wilma Marcus Chandler, will be published in May of 2024 by Many Names Press.
When A Woman Tells the Truth cover


Praise for When A Woman Tells the Truth


Glimpses of rich lives, lived long, with roots in the past but still growing towards the future: when older women tell their truth, it looks like this.

—Laurie R. King, New York Times bestselling author of 30 novels including The Beekeeper’s Apprentice


With a title from Adrienne Rich, “When a woman tells the truth she is creating the possibility for more truth around her,” the editors honor voices we need to hear: women over 80. These poets, prose writers, and artists share thoughts on how to live. Over and over, they choose art, resilience, and truth— from turning the mulch to politics to loneliness, to desire, from children to grandchildren, from re–reading books to losing words. “I have lived on the edge of despair,” writes poet Patricia Grube, “and of happiness / and sometimes / both at once.” Addressing age, inspiration, experience, sexuality, physicality, and life, this collection provides perspective and wisdom for all readers, and honors, as poet Nellie Wong says, “Remembering living a witness in / Story. In unhurried song.”

—Ellen Bass, Chancellor Emerita of the Academy of American Poets, author of Indigo.


I found “When A Woman Tells the Truth” a cornucopia of delights that should become your new companion. This book is to be read slowly, over the years, taking time to savor the pieces one at a time. You will find joy, beauty, and wisdom throughout. It will help you make meaning out of the losses, challenges, and surprises of growing old.

—Katharine Esty, psychologist and author of Eightysomethings, A Practical Guide to Letting Go, Aging Well and Finding Unexpected Happiness.


Oh, when elder women tell the truth — and the women in this volume are elders — they open doors to the mostly unacknowledged’ wisdom of half our species.

What’s inspiring is more than their intelligence as they face health and awareness problems, it’s their attitudes. And there’s humor here. In the multitude of stories and poems, such variety and range of issues and strategies we all will find our so–called ‘unique’ personal challenges mirrored with such accuracy we’ll snap to attention. We’re reading what our next step might be. Or must be. We’ll find ourselves examining hints of more than a handful of ways to deal. The shared feeling here, generally, is that life is still a grand adventure. And deserves our full attention.

This book shows us women being real about life. Together they are the village elder, two hundred and fifty thousand years old, who knows everything. This is the twenty–first century version of that elder, and this book will change your life. Who needs to read it? Everyone.

— Clive Matson, author: Let the Crazy Child Write! and Hello, Paradise. Paradise, Goodbye.



We hear a lot about aging these days—but rarely from the people who know it best. When a Woman Tells the Truth brings together the poetry, prose, and art of more than eighty women over eighty. Here are poets, professors, Zen buddhists, theater directors, French teachers, jewelry artists, union organizers, midwives, hospice workers, and more. These compelling dispatches from the land of eighty and beyond are by turns loving, funny, heartbreaking, sly, tender, and angry. Through it all, the light of great and small joys shines through, along with the fierce clarity of seeing the present, each day, for what it is.

—Kathryn Chetkovich, author of Friendly Fire


This unique anthology of writing by women over 80 is a refresher course in keeping feisty, funny, and fit—despite late–life challenges to all three. From prose like Sheila Carrilo’s No Red Diapers For Me: A Late–in–Life Encounter With Socialism, to poems like Katherine Willams’ Afterlife, which ends: “I’m thirsty for the actual light of stars still shining eons after their end,” this widendash;ranging and racy anthology belies any notion that women over 80 are too old to kick butt, dispense hard–earned truths, and make us laugh so hard we pee. From the ferocity of Fareshteh Fatemi’s feminist rallying cry, to Maude Meehan announcing: “did I / mention by the way that when / I heal and throw away this cane / I have on layaway a big red Harley?” these raucous manifestos are zippy as that woman on her late–in–life Harley. Did I mention racy? Heres Susan Terris’ poem Pubic Enemy in its entirety:

Shave it, wax it, pluck the black coils
Escaping your bikini bottom.

Brazilian, French—the triangle, sphynx,
The landing strip, moustache, the heart.

A source of obsession. But older now,
Much much older. . . .

Where is that burning bush?


What a sacrilegious zinger of an ending! Catch a ride with these women. But hold on tight.

—David Allen Sullivan, Black Butterflies Over Baghdad, Poet Laureate of Santa Cruz





Dena Taylor, MSW, Rutgers University, is retired from careers in social work and education.