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Madonna and Me writers at Busboys and Poets, Washington, DC. March 27, 2012

Just finished a sort of mini-tour for the Madonna and Me: Women Writers on the Queen of Pop anthology, edited by Laura Barcella. I can’t say enough positive things about this collection and the women I’ve met from it. My personal essay, “Articles of Faith,” is about the mixed messages I received about bodies and sexuality as a tomboyish teen trying Madonna-inspired clothing on for size in a small-town Catholic military environment. Jamia Wilson’s “Are You There God? It’s Me, Madonna” critiques and celebrates the singer’s spirituality and hypocrisy. Dana Rossi’s “In Costume” tells her story of being robbed at gunpoint while dressed as Madonna (during the singer’s pimp fashion phase). Kelly Keenan Trumpbour wrestles with an age-old question with “In the Name of a Mother,” examining her own contemplations of motherhood. Maria Raha brought a dose of incisive music criticism, recognizing real revolutionary women in rock with her own evolution. In “Our Lady of the Hotpants,” Kristin McGonigle makes a case for Like a Prayer as spiritual incantation, while editor Laura Barcella’s “My Pocket Madonna” evokes the icon-as-talisman, an image of strength to call upon in times of loneliness or depression.

In high school, there was this pack of mean girls—we called them the “Madonna-Wanna-Bes” for their imitation of the pop star’s look—and, as much I liked Madonna’s style, I never wanted to be associated with a group that picked on other girls. I’d forgotten about them until after this anthology was published. Meeting some of the inspiring writers found within this collection has been the exact opposite experience of high school—we cheered one another on at readings, signed each other’s books, shared the mic and spoke our truths. I only hope the “Madonna-wanna-bes” have since discovered the power of sisterhood somewhere.