About Us

Who We Are

Persimmon Tree, an online magazine, is a showcase for the creativity and talent of women over sixty. Too often older women's artistic work is ignored or disregarded, and only those few who are already established receive the attention they deserve. Yet many women are at the height of their creative abilities in their later decades and have a great deal to contribute. Persimmon Tree is committed to bringing this wealth of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and art to a broader audience, for the benefit of all.

Here is a way of finding out more about who we are: our summer reading lists.

Sue Leonard retired from teaching history at an independent girls’ school in 2004.
  • Nathan Englander, The Ministry of Special Cases — novel set in the early years of the Dirty War in Argentina
  • Alison Bechdel, Are You My Mother? — her latest graphic novel
  • Eduardo Galeano, Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone
  • Oliver Sachs, Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain
  • Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
  • Pete Seeger, In His Own Words

Nan Gefen founded Persimmon Tree in 2007 and is its current publisher. Her novel, Back to Clear Lake, is forthcoming.
  • Julie Orringer, The Invisible Bridge, a saga about three Hungarian brothers that spans before/after WWII
  • Caroline Leavitt, Pictures of You — two families and the results of a car accident
  • Caroline Moorehead, A Train in Winter — nonfiction France resistance during WWII
  • Maggie O’Farrell, The Hand That First Held Mine — two mothers and their struggles
  • Carol O’Connell, Mallory’s Oracle — a mystery with a quirky woman detective

Kitty Cunningham retired in 2004 from her position as Head Librarian from the same independent girls’ school at which Sue worked.
  • She says the best book she read this summer is Quicksand and Passing by Harlem Renaissance author Nella Larson.
  • She also recommends a mystery writer — Martin Walker. His detective, Bruno, lives in truffle country in France and he has a truffle dog. One to try: Black Diamond.

Natalie Levy describes her life in reverse: artist, legal recruiter, lawyer, mother, student, little kid.

Listening and reading:
  • Jeffrey Eugenides, The Marriage Plot
  • John Irving, A Prayer for Owen Meany
  • Several Donna Leon mysteries
  • Fewer Laura King mysteries
  • David Sedaris, Squirrel Meets Chipmunk
  • Colum McCann, Let the Great World Spin and Zoli
  • Robinson Mistry, A Fine Balance

Elizabeth Zimmer writes about the arts, mostly dance, and teaches writing all over the place, most recently at Hollins University in Roanoke, VA.
  • Harry Belafonte, My Song
  • Kay Larson, Where the Heart Beats: John Cage, Zen Buddhism, and the Inner Life of Artists
  • Alan Bennett, Smut
  • Draw it with Your Eyes Closed: The Art of the Art Assignment
  • John Franceschina, Hermean: The Man Who Danced with Fred Astaire
  • Varley O’Connor, The Master’s Muse
  • David Abram, The Spell of the Sensuous
  • Toni Bernhard, 10,000 Joys 10,000 Sorrows: Awaken Like a Buddha to Life as It Is

Jean Zorn teaches, despite having supposedly retired, at CUNY School of Law, and spent the summer researching the response of courts in the South Pacific to gender violence. Given the gravity of that topic, her summer recreational reading list was even more frivolous than usual, consisting almost entirely of mysteries, YA fiction, and the Daily Racing Form.

Gena Raps is a concert pianist whose new recording of the late piano works of Brahms will be released soon. She is on the faculty of the Mannes College of Music in Manhattan.

Listening and reading:
  • Shostakovich, Trio for violin, cello and piano
  • Arensky, Trio for violin, cello and piano
  • Stravinsky, Rite of Spring for piano, four hands
  • Rachmaninov, Op. 11 for piano four hands
  • Brahms, Sonata No. 3 in D minor for violin and piano
  • Brahms, Trio in C major for violin, cello and piano

  • John Kennedy Toole, A Confederacy of Dunces
  • Heinrich Harrer, Seven Years in Tibet

Wendy Barker has published five collections of poetry and three chapbooks, most recently, Nothing Between Us, a novel in prose poems. She is Poet-in-Residence and Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Texas at San Antonio.
  • Sandra Steingraber’s terrific, deeply disturbing Living Downstream: An Ecologist Looks at Cancer and the Environment
  • Donovan Hohn’s delightful (though also disturbing) read, Moby-Duck: The True Story of 28,800 Bath Toys Lost at Sea and of the Beachcombers, Oceanographers, Environmentalists, and Fools, Including the Author, Who Went in Search of Them
  • Daniel Rirdan’s forceful, convincing The Blueprint: Averting Global Collapse
  • Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk — an hilarious, brilliant novel
  • Teju Cole, Open City
  • Steve Stern, The Book of Mischief: New & Selected Stories
  • Lots of poems and poems in journals, but especially focusing on Martha Collins, Blue Front and White Papers

Marcia Freedman is a member of the founding Editorial Board of Persimmon Tree. She has published a political memoir, Exile in the Promised Land, an account of the establishment of second-wave feminism in Israel and her experience as a Member of the Israeli Knesset (Parliament).
  • Steve Sem-Sandberg and Sarah Death, Emperor of Lies about Chaim Romkovski, the Eldest of the Jews of the Lodz Ghetto, who did the Nazis’ bidding and became wealthy.
  • Anouk Markovits, I Am Forbidden set against the background of what became infamous: a pre-state Zionist emissary to a Nazi ghetto who traded the deceptive and unopposed deportation of most of the Jews to extermination camps in exchange for the safe passage for a trainload of the chosen few.

Nan Fink Gefen

Sue Leonard

Contributing Editors                
Wendy Barker
Kitty Cunningham
Marcia Freedman
Natalie Levy
Gena Raps
Elizabeth Zimmer
Jean Zorn

Ads and Outreach
Marcia Freedman

Judith Arcana
Anita Barrows
Jill Breckinridge
Rosellen Brown
Toi Derricotte
Eve Ensler
Lillian Faderman
Tess Gallagher
Sandra Gilbert
Vivian Gornick
Susan Griffin
Marilyn Hacker
Melanie Kaye Kantrowitz
Maxine Hong Kingston
Maxine Kumin
Jane Lazarre
Deena Metzger
Naomi Newman
Alicia Ostriker
Letty Cottin Pogrebin
Martha Roth
Sonia Sanchez
Gloria Steinem
Marilyn Yalom
Susan Yankowitz
Website Programming
Zaki Consulting Inc. / Laura Laytham Zaki

Mills Liaison
Renee Jadushlever

We acknowledge with gratitude the help and support of our many friends—and we remember our dear friend, Esther Broner, who inspired us as we created the magazine and whose spirit continues to inspire.

Contact Us

Please email editor@persimmontree.org
to contact the Persimmon Tree editorial staff.


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Links to Friends and Associate Sites

Literary Links

  • 2River

  • The Adirondack Review

  • AGNI

  • Apple Valley Review: A Journal of Contemporary Literature

  • Cha: An Asian Literary Journal

  • Conceit Magazine

  • Duotrope's Digest

  • JMWW

  • Litquake

  • LitList

  • Mad Hatters' Review

  • Miranda Literary Magazine

  • Netwest Writerlady

  • Poets & Writers

  • NewPages

  • Room Magazine

  • Story Circle Network

  • Women Who Write

  • Zeek

  • Feminist Links

  • International Women's Writing Guild

  • WomanSage

  • WOW - Wise Older Women

  • Educational Links

  • Mills College

  • National Resource Center, Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes


  • Women's Studies Librarian

  • Websites of Contributors, Editors, and Advisors

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  • Wendy Barker

  • Chana Bloch

  • Martha Boesing

  • Sandy Boucher

  • Jill Breckenridge

  • Judy Chicago

  • Lillian Faderman

  • Sandra M. Gilbert

  • Susan Griffin

  • Nicole Hollander

  • Melanie Kay/Kantrowitz

  • Maxine Hong Kingston

  • Gloria Kirchheimer

  • Maxine Kumin

  • Jane Lazarre

  • Joan Lester

  • Deena Metzger

  • Mayumi Oda

  • Alicia Ostriker

  • Faith Ringgold

  • Martha Roth

  • Flo Oy Wong

  • Marilyn Yalom

  • Susan Yankowitz

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    Older women Visual art Mills College Bay Area publishing Plays Crone Wisdom Online literary magazine Nan Gefen Nan Fink Gefen Chana Bloch Martha Boesing Sandy Boucher Sandra Butler Marcia Freedman Judith Arcana Paula Gunn Allen Anita Barrows Carol Bly Jill Breckinridge Esther Broner Rosellyn Brown Eve Ensler Lillian Faderman Marilyn French Tess Gallagher Sandra Gilbert Vivien Gornick Susan Griffin Marilyn Hacker Melanie Kaye Kantrowitz Maxine Kumin Maxine Hong Kingston Jane Lazarre Deena Metzger Naomi Newman Alicia Ostriker Letty Cottin Pogrebin Martha Roth Starhawk Marilyn Yalom Susan Yankowitz Daphne Muse