About Jeri

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Jeri aka Jeritree, 2019. Photo: Janet Mayes

Jeri Hilderley was born in the middle of the country, Midland, Michigan, amid small, comfortable houses, gardens, back yards, birch and pine trees and mourning doves. Because she was born a twin, she has always needed to carve out  an I-dentity and has never stopped pursuing what it means to be human and to work for the good of all. She studied liberal arts at Smith College to please her mother, at University of California, Berkeley to please herself and at the University of Michigan to get an MA in Sculpture and Hunter College, The City University of New York to get a Special Education Teaching License. 

Jeri (right) and poet Nancy Willard act out on the streets of NYC.  Photo: Eric Lindbloom

Her Sculpture Happenings were part of the 60s reawakening of women as power-figures. She founded several collective theater groups (NYSCA-funded), focusing on anti-war, ecology and women’s issues.

She taught memoire writing at The State University of New York at Purchase and Empire State College; her own grant-funded curriculums, Learning Language Arts through Music, to Special Education students in NY City public schools; and composition at CUNY Tech’s SEEK Program.


Founder of SeaWave Recordings in the 70s within the blooming Women’s Music Network, she performed solo and recorded her original soulful compositions for voice, marimba and guitar. Reclaiming Ourselves, A Few Loving Women, Jeritree’s House of Many Colors, 12 Meditations on Love and Talking Truth enjoy world-wide distribution. With publisher (WordSpace Publications) and bassist partner Janet Mayes, she recently produced the cd and booklet: Time Traveling with Sappho, a song-cycle of Sappho’s poem fragments set to her original music. When she released Talking Truth,  Merry Gangemi interviewed her about her music and political activism in the radio series Woman-Stirred.


Her stories, poetry and essays have appeared in Chicago Review, Heresies, People’s Theater in America, Paid My Dues and Sinister Wisdom among others; reviews of her work were published in The Village Voice, Ms. Magazine and the Guardian


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mari New Victoria Press published her first novel, Mari in 1991. This 70s lesbian love story received praise from Isabel Miller, author of Patience and Sarah: “Admirers of Jeri Hilderley’s music will be happy to see that she brings the same creative boldness and energy to this novel. She’s taken huge themes–heroic women, blundered love, passion for justice, recovery of the Goddess, the need to separate and unite. Most of us wouldn’t dare so much. I’m glad she did.”

The Fire Dragon Street Theater, Wheeling Across Amerika, Ruth & Lucina, and Rune Seekers form RUNE QUARTET, which is now seeking publication. These novelized re-creations of Jeri’s experiences spanning the 60s: sculpture-happenings and anti-war street theater; the 70s: lesbian-feminist movements; the 80s: back-lash of Reaganism and the 90s: love in the time of AIDS and the Mid-East Israeli-Palestinian Crisis were written with the help of fellowships from Cummington Community of the Arts, Virginia Creative Center of the Arts and Blue Mountain Center. She continues to write short stories on challenging topics, submitting them to main-stream and LGBTQ journals.

[Cartoons by Jeri]


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