Unconfirmed reports that noted poet, short story writer and “combative pacifist” Grace Paley had been circulating for the last day, but now AP’s Hillel Italie comes through with the official obit for Paley, a longtime New Yorker who died Wednesday at her home in Thetford Hill, Vt., according to her husband, playwright Robert Nichols.
A published writer since the 1950s, Paley released only a handful of books over the next half century, mostly short stories and poems. Writing was a passion, but not a compulsion: She never felt the need to put every experience into words. Her fiction, although highly praised, competed for time with work, activism, family and friends. “None of it happened, and yet every word of it is true,” she once said of her fiction. “It’s truth embedded in the lie.” Paley was named state poet laureate for Vermont in early 2003. “Artists are known for challenging convention,” said Gov. Jim Douglas at the time. “Great artists like Grace Paley do that and more.” Elaine Woo at the LA Times also has a lengthy obit highlighting Paley’s writing and activism.