Congratulations are in order for two former 9-5 contributors Paula Carter and Geoffrey Hilsabeck! Hip Hip Hooray! This year they both published their first books! Paula Carter’s flash-nonfiction memoir No Relation and Geoffrey Hilsabeck’s poetry collection Riddles, Etc. have been garnering great reviews around the interwebs, so I thought it was time to reach out to both of them and see what they have been up to since we last spoke on the blog.
I don’t think it is a secret that writing and then publishing a book is a long process. This book – No Relation – has been in the works for a number of years. There is a piece in the book that I wrote in one of my graduate workshops, which was 10 years ago! After spending so much time with these words, I was both excited and nervous to send them out into the world. Partly because the book is a personal story about my experience falling in love, getting to know my partners two children from his first marriage, and then leaving the relationship(s).
I’ve done a couple events for the book now and people are reading it and the reaction has proven to me again what it is that I (we) hope and believe story can do: help us connect it in new ways, help us understand each other better, help us express things that are hard to express otherwise. My nervousness (fear?) has given way to connection, which is all I could have hoped for. At a reading, someone asked me about the reward versus risk of sharing something personal. My answer was to say that so many times I have read things where authors have been willing to go there, to be honest and authentic in ways that might be hard for us in our everyday lives, and so many times I have been blessed by their willingness to do that. I hope for some people No Relation does that same thing.
This is a theme I am seeing repeated in other places in my life as well. A year ago I took a job as editorial manager for an online magazine, INTER, which is a project of the organization Interfaith Youth Core. The mission of the organization is to bring people together from all different religions (and nonreligions like Secular Humanists) to make space for people to understand each other better and ultimately create a more civil society. The magazine features stories from people of diverse faiths living in the U.S. and what I’ve seen (and experienced myself) is how a story from someone else’s perspective can change your own perspective in ways that arguments and facts cannot. Something that seems particularly important given the tone of discourse in our world right now.
Learn more about Paula and maybe catch her reading from her new book on her book tour which continues into 2018.
Since our last conversation, I have moved twice, first to Atlanta, GA, and then, and now, to Morgantown, WV and continue to teach. I have a daughter. I’ve become a Quaker. A poem I wrote has been published in The New York Times Magazine. My first book of poetry, Riddles, Etc., comes out November 1st. The materials remain pretty much the same: Mead composition book, German-made pencil sharpener, my Stan Laurel lamp. Legal pads are nice for prose. And I’ve acquired a second dictionary. I still prefer morning to evening and coffee to tea. And even though in my poems I’m after the magic and absurdity–the brightness–of life (these tiny, toothed bodies), I feel drawn too to that secret wound in the mind. That layer of water. Now more than ever I want to take risks in my work.
Learn more about Geoffrey and how he responded to the election with poetry.