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Grace: A documentary on the noted short-story writer, poet, educator and political activist Grace Paley


Grace Paley’s Background

Grace Paley was born Grace Goodside, 1922, in the Bronx, New York, to “a normal Jewish socialist family.” Her first collection of short stories, “The Little Disturbances of Man,” immediately established her reputation world-wide.  Coming at the end of the timid 50’s, Paley tackled the lives of “ordinary” urban women with bold language — brilliantly funny and heart-breaking, wise and frankly sexual.  With her next book of short stories, “Enormous Changes at the Last Minute,” she was confirmed as a master of the genre. Her celebration of our rich multicultural community, interconnecting Jewish, Irish, Italian, black and Puerto Rican lives, has earned her a place among the major 20th century American authors.  The first Poet of New York State, then Poet Laureate of Vermont, Paley is a literary icon, an American original.

"Art is too long and life is too short. There's a lot more to do in life than writing," Paley said, as she plunged into political action. She fought for human rights and for peace from the Vietnam War right up to the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, organizing, writing pamphlets and position papers, and going to jail time and time again.

The film “GRACE” shows every facet of this courageous writer’s complicated, yet integrated, life. A feminist who loves men, a sophisticate who revels in street language, Paley’s work portrays a complex and contradictory America, and exemplifies how great literature resists ideology.

The film includes never-before-seen intimate footage of Grace recalling her Russian-Bronx family and her youthful years in Greenwich Village; Grace at her fabled performance readings; and in interviews over the decades. Loving memories by her colleagues (such as Jean Valentine, former Poet Laureate of New York) recall Grace as "a combative pacifist and cooperative anarchist" and "a writer of genius."

“Let us go forth with fear and courage and rage to change the world.”  Grace Paley


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