March is women’s history month, a time to celebrate women’s accomplishments and contributions to our world. There’s no doubt that columnist Erma Bombeck earned her legacy among the ranks of great women here in Ohio and around the world. A champion for the rights and opportunities of all women, Erma left a legacy for writers at her alma mater, the University of Dayton.
I first attended the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop in 2012. The conference runs every two years and sells out its 300+ spots every time in a matter of hours. At my first Erma Conference (as we Bombeckians call it) I met feminist scholar, humorist, Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Connecticut, Gina Barreca, Ph.D.. She was the pee-your-pants-funny keynote speaker with a tribe of loud smart funny women surrounding her (look it up, it’s even a hashtag).
I don’t think I was an official member of the tribe until 2014. There are no membership cards and no official sign-on for this tribe, but you know when you’ve become a member. For me, it was after the 2014 Erma conference. Gina and I sat at the same dinner table and this time Phil Donahue gave the keynote talk. Donahue was Erma Bombeck’s neighbor and friend.
After that conference I sent Gina an essay I had been working on and asked for her feedback. She welcomed the opportunity and offered honest, precise input. I listened and learned and edited and then my essay was published in the New York Times.
Gina Barreca is strong and assertive which pairs surprisingly well with funny and kind, but what stands out the most about her is that while she’s ambitious, she’s also the kind of person who reaches a hand back for you while she continues to move forward.
Well, she’s done it again in a new book of which I am thrilled to be a part. Fast Funny Women — a flash nonfiction collection of 75 essays published by WoodHall Press all began with a personal invitation to contribute from Gina, the book’s editor.
She says it best in her introduction:
“A Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, a TV…