Grace Paley (born 1922) is Poet Laureate of the state of Vermont. Her politics are fundamental to her art, and a large part of her past 50 years has been spent in political action–from weekly silent vigils to marches and street rallies. In the past 30 years Grace has played a crucial role in promoting learning about the struggle of Muslims, Christians, and Jews in Palestine and Israel. Her peace work is inclusive of environmentalist and feminist thinking, and through it Grace continues to act locally, think globally, and inspire people all over the world.
Grace Paley's writing, teaching, and speaking engender fierce attachment: Grace has fans like a film star. She is unusual in the worlds of literature and politics, partly because she is so passionately active in both, and partly because she engenders great warmth and affection from her colleagues in both. It is no exaggeration to say that she is revered as a political activist and thinker in much the same way she is revered as a writer of stories and poems. In the past 30 years, Grace's writing has grown to articulate her politics; she is devoted to making connections among issues, and shows the intricate webs linking such constellations as famine, literacy, and the global dominance of biotechnology in agribusiness. She is now over 80, working mostly in New York and Vermont, and yet she still travels frequently to other states and other countries: as a member of the Greenwich Village Peace Center, the War Resisters League, and the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, as well as the Women's Pentagon Action and several Jewish peace organizations. During the Vietnam war, Grace was a delegate to the World Peace Conference and a member of peace missions to Hanoi. She visited with Soviet dissidents, and travelled to Chile, Nicaragua, and El Salvador, learning about liberation and peace movements there, and then teaching about what she had learned when she returned to the USA. Grace has often focused on the relationships between peace, work, and the health of women and children, arguing against forced sterilization, nuclear proliferation, and bioengineering of food and seeds, and in favor of abortion rights, access to contraception, and small farms and rural communities. She also discusses the dangers of fundamentalism–in any religion.
War Resisters League Greenwich Village Peace Center Women's International League for Peace and Freedom