Boston: Whetstone Press, 1984. Single volume, measuring 9 x 6 inches: xiii, , 37, . Original color pictorial wrappers. Printed in purple ink, illustrations throughout text. Inscribed by the author on the half-title.
First edition of Susan Eisenberg’s first book of poems, one of 1000 copies. Introduced by poet Denise Levertov and union organizer Freddy Paine, this collection explores the experience of one of the first women in the United States to achieve journey-level status as a union electrician: “Electricity! At its core / political: / the transformation of power / in a safely grounded system.” This copy is inscribed by the author: “For Lonnie, Thanks for your comments and questions here in Vancouver! Warmly, Susan Eisenberg.” Eisenberg would later observe: “Writing those poems was one way that I survived hostility and isolation, and celebrated entry into a world that was new and mysterious to me. It was quite a surprise to learn that the poems in that chapbook -- which I thought were unique to my experience as a female electrician in Boston -- resonated with other tradeswomen across the country and even with men who worked in the industry.” Although the poems in this collection, written during the first wave of federal affirmative action, are guardedly optimistic about the prospects for women in construction, Eisenberg would come to take a more critical view. After fifteen years in the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, she left her career as an electrician. Her oral history, We’ll Call You If We Need You: Experiences of Women Working Construction, was a 1998 New York Times Notable Book, and would be re-issued in 2018. A near-fine inscribed copy of a compelling document of feminist and labor history.