Bearing Life
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ROCHELLE RATNER is the author of the novels Bobby's Girl and The Lion's Share, as well as several volumes of poetry. She is executive editor of the American Book Review and a widely published reviewer. more about this author

Bearing Life

Women's Writings on Childlessness
Edited by Rochelle Ratner

A wall of silence surrounds the experience of women who are childless, whether by choice or by circumstance. Bearing Life is the first anthology to marshal the power of literature to break this silence.

Here, more than 40 contemporary writers reflect candidly and movingly on what it means to live as women without children. These stories, poems, and personal essays speak directly from—and to—the conflicting, often painful, and sometimes liberating emotions of childless women. The selections move through the ambivalence and denial childless women confront within themselves, to the misunderstanding and hostility they confront in the outside world, toward a space where an acceptance and even celebration of childlessness can begin to take place.

Bearing Life includes work by Julia Alvarez, Margaret Atwood, Rita Mae Brown, Ana Castillo, Sandra Cisneros, Diane diPrima, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Janice Eidus, Daniela Gioseffi, Amy Hempel, Linda Hogan, bell hooks, Hettie Jones, Irena Klepfisz, Joy Kogawa, Valerie Miner, Kathleen Norris, Naomi Shihab Nye, Joyce Carol Oates, Grace Paley, Molly Peacock, Marge Piercy, Minnie Bruce Pratt, Evelyn C. Rosser, Jane Rule, May Sarton, Sandra Scofield, Amy Tan, Luci Tapahonso, and many others.

"This compelling collection of short stories, essays, excerpts, and poetry . . . explores the lives, the fears, and the dreams of childless women. Together, these writings illuminate the complex issue of childlessness and the social stigma that can be attached to women who are not mothers."

Library Journal

"Outstanding poems, fiction, and essays, by more than 50 women writers, that cover a broad spectrum of emotions and viewpoints. Ratner's premier literary anthology widens the family circle to embrace childless women and recognize their invaluable contributions to our collective soul."


"In Bearing Life, some of the nation's finest writers address the emotions and experiences of childlessness . . . in exquisite poetry and prose, all with power and depth. Whether parents or not, or trying to decide, all readers will be moved by these eloquent voices."

—Elaine Tyler May, author of Barren in the Promised Land: Childless Americans and the Pursuit of Happiness

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