My thoughts on why Milkweed Matters

Alison Hawthorne Deming — 06/08/2017

Last week, Milkweed shared their 2016 Impact Report—I’m writing today to expand on this message and share a writer’s perspective.

Tolstoy said the purpose of poetry is to infect the world with feeling and so induce a change in conscience. I like that description of poetry, and I think it suits art and literature, too. Art broadly defined is always about empathy, about imaginative identification with the other, whether it’s a human being close to us or distant from us, or beyond the human world.

Lately, it feels as though we’ve gone through a black hole, that we’ve been sucked into an anti-empathy vortex. I think we’re all asking, all wondering: How do we get out?

Enter Milkweed Editions, a literary publisher driven by a mission of artistic excellence and the belief that literature can help us transform and transcend the problems that oppress us individually and as a society.

Does a book of essays, poems, or a novel seem small in influence compared to the monstrous forces of mean-spirited avarice that shadow our public life today? Sure. But why do we remember Leo Tolstoy, Walt Whitman, Virginia Woolf, or James Baldwin? Because literature bears witness to the history that takes place in the ecotone between self and world; literature is a manifestation of the inner life made flesh.

The team at Milkweed has a deep respect for literature and writers, and for how to make books the best they can possibly be. They also offer the kind of focused intelligence and heartfelt insight that makes all of us who publish with Milkweed better writers than we would be without them. This means that when you donate to Milkweed, you also support writers like me.

All of us who love language and believe in social justice need to use our words, dollars, and whatever sphere of influence we have to ensure a sustainable future for generations ahead.

I hope you’ll join me in continuing to support this important literary enterprise.

Alison Hawthorne Deming

Help Milkweed continue serving writers like Alison!  DONATE NOW.

Want to learn more about what an investment in Milkweed Editions means for the world?
Read the 2016 Impact Report.