Why Persimmon Tree?
People often ask us this. Usually they are questioning why we made the decision to publish only women over sixty. I tell them it is because too many excellent older women writers, poets, and artists are ignored or disregarded. We live in a youth-oriented society that fails to validate, much less venerate, older women’s talent and skill. Our mission, then, is to showcase their work so that it reaches a broader audience.
That is our standard rap. But sometimes people instead are asking why we chose the name Persimmon Tree. Depending on how much time I have, I like to talk about persimmons being the last fruit of the autumn and describe the beautiful orange globes that hang on the bare branches of the tree after the autumn leaves have fallen. I always find this image inspiring.
This winter issue of the magazine—with its strong fiction, nonfiction, and art, Sandra Gilbert’s excellent poetry, and the fascinating conversation with Susan Griffin and Maxine Hong Kingston—is the sixteenth issue we’ve published. In our lives, sixteen is still a time of adolescence. We editors are not in the emotional throes of adolescence—god forbid!—but we do have a feeling of newness and possibility that goes with that stage of life. Persimmon Tree demands that of us. Our systems are in place and our ideas have developed, but we haven’t concretized into adulthood.
It’s an exciting time. We can look back at our accomplishments—readers in 75 countries, each issue read by about 15,000 people. We have published close to 200 writers, poets, and artists in the magazine. Wow! The ARTS MART has taken off, and our fundraising is coming along.
But we also look forward to the years ahead. With the upheaval in the publishing world, the number of opportunities to publish is decreasing, a sorry fact. And the number of women over sixty is quickly increasing with the early baby boomers now reaching this age. Already there are a lot of creative, talented women out there—and their numbers will only increase.
We need Persimmon Tree, and other publications like it, to insure that their voices be heard.
One of the most wonderful things about the magazine is being in touch with readers all over. We have a strong sense of being part of a larger community—we hope you do, too. Many of you have told your friends and colleagues about the magazine, and this has helped us grow. Also, many of you have contributed financially, so very important for our continued success. Thank you, thank you.
Sending you good wishes in this winter season,
Tikkun magazine in 1985 and the founding editor of Persimmon Tree magazine in 2007. She is
the author of Stranger in the Midst (Basic Books, 1997) and Discovering Jewish Meditation
(Jewish Lights, 2nd edition 2011), and her fiction and nonfiction pieces have appeared in literary
journals and magazines. She currently is working on a novel, Woman on a Wire.