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When I Am an Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple
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When I Am an Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  452 ratings  ·  49 reviews
This enchanting collection of fiction, poetry, and photographs evokes the beauty, humour, and courage of women living in their later years. Over 1.7 million copies have been sold, thanks to its universal message of aging as a natural gift of life. The book has created a network of support and encouragement: the sixty-plus men and women whose work is included and the reader ...more
Paperback, 203 pages
Published July 1st 2007 by Papier-Mache Press (first published July 1st 1991)
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Fun book. I got it years ago. Smiled. Still smile.

*nb: and by now I've learned for myself why old women wear purple, it goes well with white hair
Larry Bassett
This is another one of those 20+ year old books that I seem to be reading regularly. But it has aged well and I would recommend it to all people who are old or think they may be old one day. Especially women. This one was on my parent's bookshelf that I have been raiding recently.

I love short stories and poems that I can actually understand. When I Am an Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple has 60 written offerings plus some excellent photography of well weathered women.

You can get this book on GR Bo
Mar 04, 2013 Ruth rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Poetry lovers/the human condition
Recommended to Ruth by: my daughter (a gift)
Just finished reading "purple" for the second time and it is just as interesting and gut-wrenching as the first time. Loved the poetry, the spirit and stamina of people who have already gone far beyond their prime years. The photos, the emotions are pretty raw and some of the photos are hard to view! Makes me feel like I am looking at my own destiny--and does that eventually become the story or each of us?? I wonder? The spirit of adventure, of throwing caution to the winds and tackling life whe ...more
A friend introduced this to me, and I am very grateful. The voice and beauty of this book sings for me in ways that I cannot find words for. We just "click" this book and I. We just click. I don't know what to make of the concept of the Red Hat Society that was spawned by this except to say that if it gets women riled up and living life more fully, more power to it.
You may pick this up for the title, perhaps you have heard of the saying...... but read it for the wisdom contained within. How to grow up, with humility, grace and love.

Social Security (page 127)
By Barbara Bolz

She knows a cashier who
blushes and lets her use
food stamps to buy tulip
bulbs and rose bushes.

We smile each morning as I
pass her - her hand always
married to some stick,
or hoe, or rake.

One morning I shout,
"I'm not skinny like
you so I've gotta run
two miles each day"

She begs me closer, whisp
I flip through this book when I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed with the world and the pace of life when I do not want to look towards any poems about consciousness or oneness with everything. It puts me in my place and reading some of the poems and short stories reminds me of who I might be one day and I take comfort in knowing I don't need to be there yet. I recommend this book and a cup of tea in the early afternoon in the winter with a heavy sweater. Mmmm. Just a little snippit at a time here an ...more
Mar 06, 2014 ☯Bettie☯ rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: reminded of the read by Bev
An anthology - photos, poetry, short stories and essays about being female and aged.
It's good to pick up and put down.
Una Tiers
These are enchanting poems read with grace and heart. I highly recommend them on tape.
When I first bought this book about 20 years ago, I was in my early 30s. The opening poem was very clever:
When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.
I never got much further than that, but assumed the rest of the book was in much the same vein. How fun it will be to be a clever old woman.
Not in this book.
Perhaps the rest of the stories
"When I am and Old Woman I shall Wear Purple" is an anthology of poems and short stories. Some made me laugh, some made me cry, and some made me flinch a bit. I enjoyed this anthology but no matter how old I am I shall never be an old woman because I want to always be young at heart. ;-)
N Sharpe
A fun read - - reminds me of my sister Jan, we used to quote the first line all the time "When I am an old woman I shall wear purple, with a hat that doesn't go, and doesn't suit me"
This book is a compilation of poems and short stories. Some are sad, some are funny, some are very close to home. I think the author describes it best when she is relating how she chose the stories she put in the book. "...I would read more than 600 poems and stories, selecting those that spoke to the heart, ones that brought tears, and laughter, and ones that made me think - about letting go of youth, about support systems and the adequate health care, about respect and consideration, septuagen ...more
Such a beautiful collection of poems, short stories and emotional photographs. Some pieces were upbeat, others more haunting. I think it's a must-read for every woman.
Nov 13, 2008 Jennifer added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jennifer by: P.Luckman
I happened to be discussing books with a lovely lady, an assistant in an art gallery in WV. The next day, she brought me these two wonderful books. This past Saturday evening, I curled up and enjoyed this book full of prose by women of all backgrounds mainly all over 50. Short stories and poems full of hope and the beauty of aging. When she gave it to me, she said "you may be too young to really enjoy it, but it's great." I loved it...I filled two pages of my journal as it provoked many emotions ...more
Sep 25, 2009 Kathy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kathy by: Helen
Shelves: other-fiction
I'm really enjoying this collection of poems and essays told about or from the perspective of elderly women. Many are poignant in their depiction of the losses I'm realizing are an inevitable part of aging. But they also convey a sense of peace, gentle humor and (I hope) wisdom that comes in later years. The next phase of life does have its own rewards, and there is much to look forward to. It's a book best read a bit at a time since each piece stands on its own.
Carolyn F.
While I love the first poem about wearing purple with inappropriate red hats, all the other stories and poems felt so depressing. I know this is geared toward old women, but it seemed mostly about death and pain. I would have to be in a depressed mood to read it because to start out happy and then read this was too much for me. I'm passing this book on to my little sister. I'm not saying she's depressed, but maybe she'll appreciate it more than I did.
My Nana recommended this book to me when I was a teenager which may color my view. That said, this book is re-visited often and I feel it is a valuable addition to any collection. It's one of those books I pick up periodically and feel my perceptions shifting with my age. Incredibly eye opening and sad and still a huge relief in my heart every time I pick it up. Crosses ages, sex, class and lifestyle boundaries...highly, highly recommend.
I’ve had this since ‘91, when I/we were all 20 years younger. The title comes from the poem "Warning" which speaks to women juggling work, home and family. Eight years later, I read it to find solace and community with women dealing with aging mothers. I love it, even the inscription, "To my grandmother who gave me hope and to my mother who gave me wisdom." My mother gave me wisdom too.
Absolutely devastating and beautiful collection of poems and short stories by and about woman who are in the last years of their lives. Best 50¢ thrift store purchase I've ever made; I'm so glad this book exists, and so pleased with the variety within its pages. Old ladies, you have it rough, but you can be amazing, and I hope to join your ranks some day.
The title poem of this book is inspiring. Most of the rest are also very good. I especially like the image of a woman looking for assisted living for her mother, lying that her mom can still use the restroom independently, the same way her mother had lyed that she was potty trained when looking for a preschool.
Julie Unruh
This book was funny and very eye opening, I did like the poem at the begging of the book, "When I Am An Old Women I Shall Wear Purple," and the story near the end "Making the Wine." I had wrote a story like "Making the Wine," but did not add all the things that good with how old people act.
This was lovely. I was trying to read just a few poems or short stories a day, but had a hard time putting it down. I appreciate learning from others' shared experiences, especially women's, even if I'm at a different stage in life than the authors. I'm on to the 2nd edition now.
It is an amazing book and I HATED it! If this is book is at all accurate as to what it is like to be an OLD woman, which some say I am now, I do not have much at all to look forward to...
I really wanted to like this anthology, but I think its poems are lost on the young. Most of the poetry is about what it's like to be old, which is a valid topic, but not one I can really relate to. But it has cute photography. At least there is that.
Anthology of short stories and poems by and of the 'older woman'. Jenny Joseph's 'Warning' is an all-time favourite poem of mine so when I found this collection, I was thrilled! Good book, one that I anticipate rereading every now and then.
I am not a fan of poems or short stories but I enjoyed reading this book on different women's views on aging, being old, & dying. It also contained many interesting pictures of older women. I'd recommend this book to women of all ages.
Barbara McEwen
Can I rate it 3.5? I know I shouldn't generalize but I never really feel the connection with poetry that I do with novels. That being said, I really liked this collection. I would recommend it even.
Loved this. Great tales of women who are growing old(er). I like to give this to friends who turn 50+. There is so much to relate to and make you enjoy the aging process.
Great read. Good stories to live by. And When I am an old woman I shall not only wear purple, I am going to dye my hair purple and spit on the street!
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Sandra Kay Martz founded Papier-Mache Press in 1984. Papier-Mache Press was known for publishing accessible books which, “presented important social issues through enduring works of beauty, grace, and strength,” and “created a bridge of understanding between the mainstream audience and those who might not otherwise be heard. As an editor and publisher, she has compiled several successful Papier-Ma ...more
More about Sandra Martz...
If I Had My Life to Live Over I Am Becoming the Woman I've Wanted Grow Old Along with Me - The Best Is Yet to Be If I Had a Hammer: Women's Work in Poetry, Fiction, and Photographs Anthology: When I Am An Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple, If I Had My Life To Live Over I Would Pick More Daisies, I Am Becoming The Woman I've Wanted

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