This post is about my writings for the anthology, Shadow on a Tightrope, (Writings by Women on Fat Oppression), published by Aunt Lute Books in 1983. Today is the 30th anniversary publication of the book.
The anthology is the first ever collection of fat feminist writings and I am one of the catalysts and contributors.
For historical purposes, please note that I have also written under the pen names Sharonah Robinson/Sharon Bas Hannah.
We who are artists create our fantasies, our new realities, often in our hope to create a better world, a more compassionate presence for all.
In 1976 while living in Venice, California, I wrote my ground-breaking poem “whoever i am, i’m a fat womon.”
The poem was inspired by my participation in the early years of the Fat Women’s Liberation Movement in Los Angeles, California and in New Haven, Connecticut, circa 1974-1978.
I was also deeply influenced by my interest and research in Jungian psychology. The process of Jungian psychology became an important experience for helping me to discern my authentic self.
I began to feel more self-validation in my creative writings, inspiring me to integrate fat feminism into my artistic life.
For me, the essence of Shadow on a Tightrope started in 1976/1977.
During that time, Aldebaran (Vivian Mayer) and I were searching for a title for the initial manuscript of writings we had collected and co-edited for a fat feminist anthology.
We decided to call the anthology, Shadow on a Tightrope, from a line in my poem, ”whoever i am, i’m a fat womon.”
The poem was first published in my 1978 poetry chapbook, fat womon/renaissance. The chapbook was included that year in the resource material distributed by Fat Liberator Publications in New Haven, Connecticut, along with some of the other Shadow articles.
As the initial fat activist material became more widely known, we finally found a publisher, Aunt Lute Books..
I am honored that the editors, Barb Wieser and Lisa Schoenfielder, decided to keep our initial title, Shadow on a Tightrope, when the anthology was greatly expanded and published by Aunt Lute Books in 1983.
In 1986, I donated my Fat Activist papers to The Schlesinger Library on Women’s History, Radcliffe College, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
My archives there include the original Shadow On A Tightrope manuscript; originated by Aldebaran (Vivian Mayer) and myself in 1976/1977.
I am delighted and grateful that my poem is included in the beginning of the Aunt Lute Books published anthology, with two of my essays from the initial collection, “Fat Women As Dancers” and “The Human Potential Movement: Judging People’s Humanity By Their Looks.”
When Shadow on a Tightrope was first published in 1983, I was living in Somerville, Massachusetts, creating poetry, theater and dance to portray fat women in new and visionary ways; integrating the ideals of fat feminism with my artistic spirit. Several younger fat women were my dance students.
In restaurants and concerts today, I sometimes observe younger full-figured women dressed in great outfits, and reflect to myself, or comment to a friend, “I think I played a part in giving that woman a chance to wear her lovely clothes and be seen out in public as a beautiful woman.”
Throughout the years, I have continued my creative work.
(Poem By Sharon Lia Robinson)
I have carved you
out of the seaweed
out of the snow
to my deep surprise
your hidden reflection
now comes alive
appearing in times of uncertainty
seeking its own hidden treasure
finding a long- lost reflection.