Born in Upstate South Carolina, Glenda Bailey-Mershon has explored in writing her mixed heritage, as well as cultural fractures and historical communities. Her published works include a novel, Eve's Garden; two volumes of poetry (Bird Talk: Poems and saconige/blue smoke: Poems from the Southern Appalachians). She also published a well-used A History of the American Women's Movement: A Study Guide and edited four volumes of the Jane's Stories anthologies by women writers, including Bridges and Borders, by women in crises around the world. She has worked with writers of all ages and has read and spoken to many audiences as an author and an active speaker on political and cultural issues.
Her first novel, Eve's Garden, is the story of three generations of women from a Romani-American family in North Georgia, their tragedies and renewals, and the friendships that guard and enrich their lives. It was published in September 2014 by Twisted Road Publications, and is widely available. Her work has appeared in Drunken Boat, The Daily Beast, AC Papa, and other publications.
Glenda has been a finalist in Our Stories fiction contest; featured author at the Illinois Book Fair; and a grant recipient from both the Illinois and Florida Humanities Councils as well as the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs. She keeps an active blog, weaversknot.me.
Her work as a literary organizer includes founding Jane’s Stories Press Foundation, which grants the Clara Johnson Award for Women’s Literature and offers workshops and retreats; working with the Ancient City Poets of St. Augustine, Florida; and generally promoting Romani, Native, and women’s lit.
As a board member of the Foundation for Romani Education and Equality, she has tutored Romani youth and organized a slide lecture presentation on Romani history.
She is an associate member of the European Institute for Romani Arts and Culture (ERIAC).
After earning a degree in anthropology from Knox College and graduate degree in community planning from Governors State University, Glenda began helping local communities to unearth long-buried stories. She earned an Award of Merit from the Illinois Historical Society for her pioneering work in using oral methods to compile a history of Park Forest, Illinois, one of the first post-World War II planned communities. She consulted on numerous other local histories and wrote and carried out two grants from the Florida Humanities Council for historical collections focusing on the African-American Lincolnville community in St. Augustine, Florida. One of her efforts resulted in a film called Somebody Started Singing that was written, directed, and filmed by teenagers chronicling the evolution of the St. Augustine civil rights movement. With Barbara Henry Vickers, she directed the Roots & Flowers project, gathering photographs and oral history accounts of a Black community that began with the first European conquest of American territory. She also helped Barbara place in the ancient Plaza de la Constitucion a memorial to the foot soldiers of the St. Augustine civil rights movement,
She retired as Assistant Director for the Public Policy Analysis PhD. Program at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she also completed post-graduate work in History and Women's Studies and served in the Women's Studies Teaching Collective. At the college level, she has taught anthropology, political science, and creative writing
Eve’s Garden is the story of Eve Gates’s troubled history as a daughter, friend, and a beauty queen, as she tries to unravel the mysteries of why her best friend disappeared, and why her family reveres but covers over the story of her Romani grandmother, Evangeline.