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Writer, Professor, Revolutionary.

Biography of Hedda Garza (1929-1995) & Poem “Hardheaded woman”/ “Mujer Realista”

March 10, 2012 note by James Cockcroft: My late beloved second spouse Hedda Garza (1929-1995) is well known in the United States and indeed other parts of the world for her lifetime of courageous activism for revolution, human rights, feminism, and human liberation. She worked with many famous revolutionaries, including Malcolm X and Conrad Lynn. She never sought fame for herself and I honoured that by not including this entry in my blog or other publications, a mistake on my part aggravated by my extreme grief triggered by her sudden unexpected death. As Bruce Clark's biographical note and my bilingual poem here indicate, Hedda had an extremely loving, truth-telling, upfront personality that made her very much loved by me and by countless others who met her --by no means all, of course, since genuine, uncompromising honesty and revolutionary conduct framed by respect for others and lack of ego-centrism may be admired by many without being accepted by all! Not surprisingly, the Socialist Workers Party’s new (and present) leadership expelled her in the early l970s. As the bilingal love poem at the end of this entry suggests, she transformed my life.

¡Hedda Garza, presente, ahora y para siempre!

From Bruce Clark’s blog, http://www.old-yankee.com/
Hedda Garza Memorial [with photo of Hedda]

Hedda Garza died unexpectedly on Wednesday, August 23, 1995. This was a great shock for those who knew and loved her. This page is dedicated to her memory.

Hedda lived and worked for most of her life in New York City. She was primarily concerned with and active in political issues. Hedda began her long political life as a member of the Young Communist League on Long Island. In the mid l950s she joined the Socialist Workers Party where she became a well-known, dynamic, and charismatic activist in the New York branch of the SWP. She ran several times for public office on the SWP ticket in elections for US Senate, against Jacob Javits, and for other offices in the 1960s and ’70s.
Hedda was particularly known for her impassioned public speeches on behalf of socialism and she was especially effective in recruiting young people to socialist politics. She was also a widely known leader of the anti-Vietnam war movement in New York and very active in the movement for the legalization of abortion in New York. She remained an ardent socialist all her life. Last year she was engaged in gathering signatures for the full page advertisement that ran in the New York Times calling upon the United States to drop its blockade of Cuba.

For much of her adult life, Hedda was free-lance indexer, working for all of the major publishing houses. She was self-taught, starting work on her first book (if I remember correctly, she said it was a book of recipes) knowing nothing about the craft except what she herself wanted to see in a good index. But Hedda not only had the knack, she had an exceptional intellect, one that saw the connections between various things, and she was a very fast reader who retained what she read. Over the years, she compiled fine, detailed indexes for hundreds of books of all types and for many years of the Diabetes Journal. She was the compiler of the award-winning two-volume index to the House and Senate Watergate hearings.

In her later years, Hedda started what she had always wanted to do — to write. The first magazine article she ever wrote was immediately published (and paid for!) in Ms. Magazine a dozen years or so ago; it was about male sexual disorders. More recently, she published an article about the Bring the Troops Home movement at the end of World War Two in a historical magazine. She also wrote numerous books for young adults.

What Hedda really wanted to do was to write fiction. She had a wonderful imagination and wrote beautifully, but like most new writers, she has had a very difficult time getting her works published. At the time of her death, two novels and two screenplays were with agents, but not yet published.

Those of us who were lucky enough to know her, go through political battles with her, and participate in the struggle to make the world a better place with her, will miss Hedda terribly. Politically, we will miss her intelligence, broad knowledge, strong principles, honesty and dedication. Personally, we will miss her warmth, humor, frankness and kindness. We will remember the hospitality she and Jim Cockcroft provided at their home in Chestertown, New York, the gourmet meals that Hedda loved to cook and serve their guests in their dining room overlooking Friends Lake and the Adirondacks, under the branches of the world’s biggest house plant (which she found in a dumpster in New York City and nurtured to truly gigantic size). Her meals were always full of things from the large garden that she and Jim kept, the cycles of which were always a part of their lives there, with planting, weeding, watering, harvesting hurriedly to beat the early mountain frosts, drying and canning. We will miss all of this, and our hearts go out to Jim, who will miss Hedda most acutely.
________________________________________
• Obituary in the Glens Falls, NY, Post Star, Monday, August 28, 1995
• Resume
• Book List
• Obituary for Solidarity
________________________________________
Contributors of text and memories to this page are:
• James D. Cockcroft, Hedda’s longtime friend and companion.
• Patrick Quinn, friend and comrade.

Poem “Hardheaded woman”/ “Mujer Realista,” by James Cockcroft from his poetry book WHY? ¿POR QUÉ? POURQUOI? (Hidden Brook Press, First Edition, 2009, Second Edition, 2012, www.HiddenBrookPress.com, writers@HiddenBrookPress.com, Copyright © 2009 Author):

“Hardheaded woman” (poem by James Cockcroft saved by Hedda Garza, d. 1995)

Hardheaded woman
talk mean,
cut through shit,
take no jive
from man she love.

Softheaded man
learn a lot
from her;
get tough with
self and friends.

Hardheaded woman
love sweet,
big in heart,
big enough for
bighearted,
tightfisted,
softheaded,
but half-wise man.

That make them
down, each in
the other till
don't know who's who,
but know great flowering
love,
each time like it's
been a long time since...

hardheaded woman a
gypsy whose love knows,
understands,
guesses (sometimes wrong),
no bounds.

Gonna take away all that pain,
make the hard and soft all wet
and solid, intertwined,
in our symphony of
leaves, flowers, artichokes,
and something new.

“Mujer realista” (poema por James Cockcroft salvado por Hedda Garza, m. 1995)

Mujer realista
habla mal,
no aguanta pendejadas
ni del hombre que ama.

Hombre ingenuo
aprende mucho
de ella;
da mano dura a
sí mismo y a amigos.

Mujer realista
ama dulce,
con corazón grandote,
bastante grande para
hombre duro,
ingenuo,
pero medio-sabio y
de gran corazón.

Y se juntan
uno en el otro,
hasta que
no se sabe quién es quién,
pero conocen un gran amor
que florece
cada vez como si
fuera un largo tiempo desde...

Mujer realista
gitana cuyo amor no conoce,
comprende,
ni adivina (a veces sí),
límites.

Quitaré todo ese dolor,
haré lo duro y lo blando todo húmedo
y sólido, entretejidos,
en nuestra sinfonía de
hojas, flores, alcachofas,
y algo nuevo.