Love, H

The Letters of Helene Dorn and Hettie Jones

Book Pages: 384 Illustrations: 21 illustrations, incl. 10 in Published: October 2016

Author: Hettie Jones

Gender and Sexuality > Feminism and Women’s Studies, General Interest > Biography, Letters, Memoirs, Literature and Literary Studies > Poetry

"It works, we're in business, yeah Babe!" So begins this remarkable selection from a forty-year correspondence between two artists who survived their time as wives in the Beat bohemia of the 1960s and went on to successful artistic careers of their own.
From their first meeting in 1960, writer Hettie Jones—then married to LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka)—and painter and sculptor Helene Dorn (1927–2004), wife of poet Ed Dorn, found in each other more than friendship. They were each other's confidant, emotional support, and unflagging partner through difficulties, defeats, and victories, from surviving divorce and struggling as single mothers, to finding artistic success in their own right. 
Revealing the intimacy of lifelong friends, these letters tell two stories from the shared point of view of women who refused to go along with society’s expectations. Jones frames her and Helene's story, adding details and explanations while filling in gaps in the narrative. As she writes, "we'd fled the norm for women then, because to live it would have been a kind of death."
Apart from these two personal stories, there are, as well, reports from the battlegrounds of women's rights and tenant's rights, reflections on marriage and motherhood, and contemplation of the past to which these two had remained irrevocably connected. Prominent figures such as Allen Ginsberg and Timothy Leary appear as well, making Love, H an important addition to literature on the Beats. 
Above all, this book is a record of the changing lives of women artists as the twentieth century became the twenty-first, and what it has meant for women considering such a life today. It's worth a try, Jones and Dorn show us, offering their lives as proof that it can be done.


"This moving portrait of a friendship has much to offer those with an interest in the lives of women writers and artists." — Publishers Weekly

"What does emerge is an inkling of the friendship, understanding, and empathy between the two women who saw themselves as 'Babes in Boyland.'... A fertile trove...." — Kirkus Reviews

"[T]his book makes an important contribution to the growing literature on women in the Beat Generation." — William Gargan, Library Journal

"This captivating chronicle of a free wheeling dialogue between two phenomenal women resonates with depth, support and mature self-awareness. More then a fascinating record of contemporary friendship, Hettie Jones and Helene Dorn personify brave, full artistic lives enriched by their enduring platonic love."
  — Ilka Scobie, American Book Review

"Love, H is a very tender correspondence, augmented by Jones’s running commentary between two deeply loyal 'no nonsense' friends, both strong women, artists, mothers. This delicate weave runs adjacent to the lives and dynamics of the New American Poetry and its inspired players. The affinities create a jazz track of quotidian life, literary and visual art talk, heartbreak, survival, politics, social justice, and illuminating details from place: traveling from Colchester (UK) and Gloucester to the Lower East Side. This is a wonderful addition to Hettie Jones’s memoir How I Became Hettie Jones. This is one for the Archive." — Anne Waldman, Poet, Artistic Director of the Kerouac School Summer Writing Program

"Love, H, a lucid compendium of epistles, postcards, and e-mails, depicts an intimate account of the lives and minds of two artists. The straightforward acumen of Beat poet Hettie Jones (New York City) and sculptor Helene Dorn (Gloucester) cumulate into a poignant dialogue that critiques and probes a unique body of shared feelings during the post-Beat movement and its legacy. Love, H is life on the page. The day to day, with gaps and silences, portrays a psychological and spiritual map of these two speakers who aptly refer to the post-Beat landscape as Boyland. These pages of joy and pain add up to more than two full hearts and minds caught at a turning point in America. Two friends sort out the fray. Their playful certainty embodies wisdom. Lively, and at times even taciturn, the two give us a shared truth as witnesses. This correspondence of more than forty years is personal and political, and without trying creates a collage of experience that grows into an American portrait." — Yusef Komunyakaa, author of The Emperor of Water Clocks: Poems

"Love, H reveals the struggles and contradictions of being an aspiring female artist, a wife, and a mother during the tumultuous sixties. Here are two cool 'chicks'—in this case writer Hettie Jones and painter Helene Dorn—running in the highly competitive, male-dominated, bohemian circles of New York/San Francisco/& Beyond. It’s a gritty and seductive world, referred to by Jones as 'Boyland,' where smart, creative women are expected to be seen but not heard. These candid letters—framed by Hettie Jones’s own eloquent and insightful recollections—are a deeply moving ode to friendship, as well as a window to an incredible time of conflict, social change, and artistic flourishing in America." — Jessica Hagedorn


Availability: In stock
Price: $37.95

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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Hettie Jones is the author of numerous books, including her memoir of the Beat scene How I Became Hettie Jones; the poetry collection Drive; and the young adult Big Star Fallin’ Mama: Five Women in Black Music. She has published in many newspapers and magazines, including the Village Voice, Global City Review, and Ploughshares. She currently teaches in the Graduate Writing Program at The New School, the 92nd Street Y, and the Lower Eastside Girls Club, and she previously taught at several colleges and universities in New York and elsewhere. Jones lives in New York City.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Introduction  1
Chapter 1.  6
Chapter 2.  34
Chapter 3.  51
Chapter 4.  77
Chapter 5.  100
Chapter 6.  122
Chapter 7.  140
Chapter 8.  163
Chapter 9.  184
Chapter 10.  203
Chapter 11. 220
Chapter 12.  238
Chapter 13.  253
Chapter 14. 279
Chapter 15. 297
Chapter 16. 313
Chapter 17.  333
Doing 70  351
Acknowledgments  357
Credits  359
Index  361
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