Women's history month brings Ali Liegott to EMU

Award-winning author Ali Liebegott said the idea of success is bullshit Monday evening.

Liebegott, 43, is a writer on the Amazon television series “Transparent” and is the author of “The Beautifully Worthless,” “The IHOP Papers” and “Cha-Ching!” She was the second keynote speaker in the women’s and gender studies department’s Women’s History Month. Poet Marge Piercy spoke March 5.

“Everything is a combination of hard work and luck,” Liebegott said.

The lecture, which Liebegott described as a “crystal meth journey,” explored her childhood and life as a working-class author. Liebegott said that our point on earth is to follow intuition and to help others follow theirs.

“Intuition, to me, is that thing we all experience where we find it so hard to say yes to the truths inside of us,” Liebgott said.

Mary Elizabeth Murphy, assistant professor of history, invited Liebegott. She said that they wanted to have one of the keynote speakers explore issues of sexuality.

“I think there’s a danger in having keynote addresses satisfy one facet of identity,” said Murphy. “But I also think that it is important to push people to explore the way that the idea of feminism or gender equality can take us down so many paths.”

Liebegott started by reading two poems, Mary Oliver’s “Wild Geese,” and one she wrote, “Poetry is something people turn to in times of great tragedy.”

Her personal poem strung together the BP oil spill of 2010 and the death of her dog. It was ultimately about being remembered.

“To be remembered you have to be someone people even want to look at,” one of the lines in her poem read.

Sam Teeple, a senior music major, said that he enjoyed the poetry Liebegott read and being able to see the perspective of an outsider in Hollywood.

“We need to kind of show different perspectives on TV besides just, 'here’s a black person, here’s an Asian person, here’s a gay person,' but actually telling a story about them,” said Teeple.

Liebegott’s serious observations on life and her experiences were broken up by anecdotal tangents. At one point, she performed the opening of her stand-up act. In it, she shyly waves at the crowd, says, “I’m a woman” and pretends to walk away.

Liebegott said that young adults sometimes do not have someone to look up to in their family.

“I think in general people need community, we need people,” she said. “Mostly I think it’s great not to be isolated in life; we see the examples of what life can be.”

The next event for Women’s History Month will be Makers: Women Who Make America, a film screening. It will be held 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday in the Student Center Auditorium.

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