A Grand And Looping Novel
Kimberly Elkins, What Is Visible (New York: Twelve, 2014)
Elkins’ imaginative and historically rich novel, What Is Visible gives readers immediate access to the world and perception of Laura Bridgman, the first woman to learn language from the efforts of Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe, who founded the Perkins School for the Blind. Bridgman lost four of her five senses after recovering from Scarlet Fever at age two and arrived at the Perkins Institute when she was seven years old. She became one of the most famous women of the 19th century, yet her celebrity and accomplishments were eclipsed in history by Helen Keller’s.
Elkins’ Laura is a powerful force; her personality emerges instantly on the page fully formed, commanding attention with a distinct and unforgettable voice. She is the primary narrator of the novel, and while every author makes indispensable choices in respect to perspective, tense, and structure, Elkins’ choice of title points to what also is an unavoidable, moral decision: in order to render Laura’s story authentically and with dignity, a narrative in which readers may participate fully, the reader must experience it from Laura’s perspective. This is Elkins’ great achievement. Although Elkins includes other narrative perspectives, What Is Visible, is to my reckoning, ultimately narrated by and for Laura. It’s her story, the story Laura would tell if she were permitted to so:
I want to write out everything—for me, for her—but I am denied the pleasure, or pain, of ever being able to read my own words. You will be able to read them, but I will not. So I write this out into the air, in a grand and looping script, that what is invisible to man may be visible to God (299-300). Continue reading
Updating my blog has been a thing nagging at me in the back of my mind all year. I’ve never been one to journal but have changed the way I document events, free writing memories in storyscapes, scenes, diagrams. Instead of making notes like “never forget…” here and there or asking Peter, “Hey what happened when….,” I’ve been writing to recall the emotions tied to memories. I’ve stalled though lately. My preoccupation isn’t with the past long gone but the near past. My mother died recently, and I find that I grasp at every moment in the days before her sudden death, afraid she will slip away in my mind as easily as she did on Labor Day.
Red Mill, Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, VT
This is the view of Red Mill from Maverick, the writers’ studio at Vermont Studio Center. I’m here for the month of March as a writer-in-residence with several other poets, creative nonfiction writers, fiction writers, and playwrights. At least twelve of us join over sixty visual artists here. Everyone in community is a writer or artist; some are both. Continue reading
Bradley’s Barn Pre-Construction, Mt. Juliet, TN
You Bright-Young-Thing Southern Scribes, let me judge your best submission. I’m thrilled to be one of the judges for the Short Story category for the 2015 Southern Literary Festival Competition. Undergraduates, send in your writing.
Is your college or university a member of The Southern Literary Festival Association? Ask your English Department chair or a professor or an instructor obsessed with Southern Literature because The 2015 Southern Literary Festival Competition will award First, Second, and Third Certificate prizes and publish an anthology of the winning submissions in undergraduate writing of member institutions at the 2015 Southern Literary Festival held at The University of North Georgia in Dahlonega, GA, March 26, 27, and 28 in the following categories:
2. Short Story
3. One-Act Play
4. Formal Essay
5. Creative Nonfiction
6. Literary Magazine (Print), and
7. Literary E-zine.
“I done a lot of things I shouldn’t have. You don’t know the half of it. But let me tell you something. I did not do stupid shit with stupid people that resulted in even more stupider shit that needed help cleaning up after. You got that” (99)? This is all the information thirty four-year old James Hart is willing to reveal about himself to his younger brother, Ezra, known as Rabbit in Steph Post‘s new novel, A Tree Born Crooked, forthcoming September 30 and available for preorder from Pandamoon Publishing. A flight school dropout who cut himself off from his family for fifteen years, James returns to his family’s rural home in Alachua County, Florida when he receives a summons by postcard announcing his father’s death too late to attend the funeral. Instead of leaving the place that haunts and repels him, James remains to settle his father’s estate and walks into a snare meant for his petty-criminal brother. Author Steph Post has created a vivid literary thriller where her characters stride among the groves, backroads, and bars of north-central Florida like weary Titians, flicking their burning cigarettes into the sand and grit, wiping away whiskey with the backs of their hands.
After the murder (1882) artist John Collier (1850–1934) Guildhall Art Gallery (London) Public Domain
Many thanks to Anna B. Sutton for inviting me to join a literary blog tour about the writing process.
Anna B. Sutton is a writer & co-founder of the Porch Writers’ Collective. Born & raised in Nashville, TN, she received her BFA in Art Education & Painting from the Appalachian Center for Craft in Smithville, TN. In 2013, she received her MFA in Creative Writing & Poetry at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.
While in Nashville, Anna worked at the Tennessee Young Writers Workshop as a counselor & assistant director. She also earned her teacher’s license & taught high school art in Cookeville, TN. In her time at UNCW, Anna served as the president of the Creative Writing Graduate Student Association, as an outreach teacher with Writers in Action, & as a counselor & instructor at the UNCW Young Writers Workshop. Anna also spent three years on staff at Lookout Books, a literary imprint housed in UNCW’s Publishing Laboratory. There, she worked with authors such as Edith Pearlman, Steve Almond, & John Rybicki. She has served as a reader for the literary journals Ecotone, Gigantic Sequins, Dialogist, Chautauqua, & Atlantis. In 2011, Anna became a web editor at One Pause Poetry, an online audio archive & resource center. She received a James Merrill fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center in 2013. She is now the Sales & Marketing Assistant at John F. Blair Publisher in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Her MFA thesis, Playing House on the Bones, has been shortlisted in the Crab Orchard Poetry Series’ 2013 First Book & 2014 Open Reading contests & is currently looking for a home. Anna also is a participant in Tupelo Press’s 30/30 Project. This is a fundraiser project to support writers.
Four Questions About My Writing Process.
I’ve been honored to receive several inquiries about an assignment focused on my short story, “Brittle Sisters,” that appears in Thrice Fiction 9. I composed an initial response to the first student who contacted me, but decided to post one that attempts to incorporate the others students’ questions as well. Thank you all for asking me about my story.
January is National Stalking Awareness Month. Despite ten years of outreach and activism, The National Center for Victims of Crime reports that over 6.6 million men and women are victims of stalking each year; about half of these people are new victims. This figure does not include children. Safe Horizon, “the largest victims’ services agency in the United States” understands stalking as defined by the U.S. Department of Justice as “a pattern of repeated and unwanted attention, harassment, contact, or any other course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.” Continue reading
I’m way behind on my book review obligations as well as my own writing and reading. Even when I was concussed, I managed to read—it wasn’t a good idea; it wasn’t pleasant, but it was irresistible. May as well tell me not to breathe. But my fall down our back stairs and the resulting injuries and staph infection has brought me low and humble. I haven’t read a complete novel in about three weeks and only a smattering of flash or blog posts. It’s unimaginable that such a thing could occur. The loss of productivity has been devastating. Because, if you can’t or won’t write, you can always read. But that hasn’t been possible. So it is with great enthusiasm that I have finally been reading again and offer a review of CS DeWildt’s fine flash novel, The Louisville Problem.