Friday, August 31, 2012

A little self-promotion never killed anyone that I know of

Virginia Konchan asked 13 writers what the word "genealogy" means to them. Mostly, I just hate the way the word is spelled, but I responded by talking a little about the subjects I am always returning to in my writing. Here's an excerpt:
Over the past decade, as my love life has stabilized, my writing has gravitated toward two subjects, two obsessions. One is the death of my mother. Forgive me – she is still very much alive and in fact successfully managing two careers, in addition to a thriving garden. But she will die someday. We’ll all die someday, but her death is more threatening. Her health is tenuous; I can’t be sure that she will live into her 90s or 80s or even 70s, and the knowledge of this haunts me, when I don’t suppress it entirely. The other obsession is my brother; we were once very close, but our relationship began to deteriorate in my mid-20s, and though we’re now in a place that is civil and mostly free of contention, we rarely speak or see each other, and the memory of our former friendship – or rather, a connection that was more than friendship, and is now less – haunts me too...
You can read the full piece (which includes the text of real private email chains!), as well as responses from Kathleen Rooney, Rebecca Hazelton, Elizabeth Hildreth and others at the Michigan Quarterly Review blog (be warned, it's a scroller; my piece is second in the sequence). Thanks to Virginia for including me!

Also, today is the last day of my guest-editor stint at Everyday Genius. Thanks again to Adam Robinson for letting me take the reins. I was so happy to be able to feature work by poets like Jason Labbe ("I don’t have your best interest anywhere / near the still sunken portion of my chest. / Unless ruined, and so overrated, you fester."), Darcie Dennigan ("Yes, yes, yes, the film is about loving this world. Though who can stay long enough in it. The bells that call you to heaven call you to the next available agent."), Fani Papageorgiou ("This is the hurt which drives everyone mad in books and although I don’t feel it yet / I am being in the know / Life will be tenuous and always in faded pale blue—the color of ice. / Write down what you love."), and other clever people.

This is a picture of the back of my head. That's John reading a poem in the background.


  1. Hi Elisa - you're right that self promotion never killed anyone. I don't know why it gets such a bad rap, honestly.

    What you said about the death of your mother was interesting...I have found it freakishly easy (relatively so, compared to my siblings) to move on with my life following my own mother's death. This is not to say that I haven't grieved the loss of her over the last two and a half years. It simply speaks to the fact that I am both driven and pragmatic. No amount of grief will bring her back, and the best way to honor anyone, alive or dead, is to make the most of my life.

    I say this because, even though I don't know you, I sense that you are also driven to achieve and aware of your unique talents. This is a strength that will help you keep living successfully no matter what happens.

    The back of your head looks stunning, by the way.

    1. Thank you Josephine! I've been reading your posts about grief over the past couple of years. I know you're right; when the time comes I'll find my own way to deal with it. There's just something about it that would, I think, make me feel a little less safe, a little unmoored -- but also, I imagine, less like a child.