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At Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem NC

February 23, 2014
View from the pond at Graylyn International Conference Center, 2014.

View from the pond at Graylyn International Conference Center, 2014.

What a lovely time to be in the south!  Bright blue skies, warm temperatures in the 60s, and heavenly food at Graylyn International Conference Center in Winston-Salem.  Graylyn (above) was constructed in 1932 and served as a country estate for the Gray family.  They lived here off and on in the 1930s and 1940s and finally the estate was donated to Wake Forest University in 1972.   (I’m sure there’s more to the story but I don’t know it.) Anyone who does reply here.

I’m staying here, and have been walking the grounds today, writing and trying to finish some poems I’ve been working on for years.  Or so it seems.  Poems are all I can work on when I’m on the road.  Fiction requires so much more head room.

This morning green-headed mallards were honking and flying around the pond.  You can see a few on the other side of the water. Being here has really been a joy.  A shout out to my hosts for ensconcing me at Graylyn so I can write, and prepare for my lecture/reading on Monday night , 2/24/14 at Wake Forest University.  I taught at Wake as a visiting writer over a decade ago in the spring of 2001.  As I remember the undergraduate fiction writers were very good.  During the interim years, the friends I made have remained in touch, but mostly through email.  What a treat it is to see them again.  Women’s Studies professor Mary DeShazer and I had a great meal (Thai food) last night in downtown Winston-Salem.  Her new book Mammographies: The Cultural Discourse of Breast Cancer Narratives (2013) is a must read! Mary argues that breast cancer narratives of the past ten years differ from their predecessors and suggests that the ethics and efficacy of genetic testing and prophylactic mastectomy have shifted the politics of prosthesis and reconstructive surgery.  And today so many women are opting to have their breasts removed rather than risk breast cancer.  The book is a companion to Mary’s 2005  Fractured Borders: Reading Women’s Cancer Literature.

My other dear friend in Winston-Salem is Emily Herring Wilson, also a writer.  She and I met nearly 20 years ago at MacDowell Colony, a writer’s retreat in New Hampshire.  Her recent books include Becoming Elizabeth Lawrence: Discovered Letters of a Southern Gardener (2010), North Carolina Women: Making History by Margaret Supplee Smith, Emily Herring Wilson, and Doris Betts (2007); No one Gardens Alone: A Life of Elizabeth Lawrence (2005); and, Two Gardeners: Katharine S. White and Elizabeth Lawrence–A Friendship in Letters (2003).  She’s currently at work on a new biography and we spent a lovely evening together catching up by a warm fire at her place.  It’s still cold here at night.

I promised I would post a picture of Kirstin Squint’s class at High Point University in High Point.  I was just there last week. They were a great class and asked a lot of good questions about my first novel, Shell Shaker, (2001)  Picture below: (top row, left to right) (me), Kyle Rother, Nick Lieberz, Cole Gibson, Kevin Garrity, Patricia Chandon, Lexi Koperna, Shannon Curley.

(Bottom row, left to right) Stephanie Bogutz, Michelle Tarangelo, Julia Choquette, Sydney Anderson, Amy Sanborn, Olivia French.

Next week, I promise to post reviews of Susan Power’s new novel, and Ken Hada’s new book of poetry!

Yah! Go High Point!

Yah! Go High Point!

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