Radio Spotlight: The Writers at Harwood Place on
A Space for Poetry

A few months ago, James Roberts made an early morning drive from Madison, Wisconsin to spend an hour with the writers at Harwood Place. He had been there before as a visiting poet but returned this time as interviewer and Radio Host of A Space for Poetry. His radio show airs every other Friday on WWMV (95.5) in Madison, and you can listen to the archives on Soundcloud.com (just search “A Space for Poetry”).

Many thanks to James, who shined a light via the airwaves on the poets and writers at Harwood Place. You’ve read me go on and on about their good work. Now, you can listen to them read a few of their pieces out loud by clicking the play button below.

Some of my favorites: “Thoughts After Hearing a Poet Speak” (Betty Sydow), “An Experience with Color” (Richard Borchers), and Chuck Mortiz’s “An Ode to Christi Craig”…. (Hey, that’s me!)

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#FamilyStories Meet the Author: Ramona M. Payne

This post is part of an interview series featuring the authors of Family Stories from the Attic, an anthology of essays, creative nonfiction, and poetry inspired by family letters, objects, and archives. Monday posts are featured on the Hidden Timber Books website, and Wednesday posts are featured here. Learn more about Family Stories from the Attic at the bottom of this post. Without further ado, let’s meet Ramona Payne, author of “Without Words.”


Ramona M. Payne

Q: Did you write “Without Words” with a particular person/reader in mind?

Ramona: I did not start “Without Words” with a specific person or audience in mind; I wrote it because by writing and researching the silver service that she left behind, I was able to understand more about my mother-in-law and consequently, about what it means to communicate when a conversation is not possible. It helped me to understand a part of her life with her husband and sons that we had not discussed. So many of us can relate to the need to learn more about those who are no longer with us to answer our questions.

Q: How has the publication of your piece influenced the work you are writing today or your writing in general?

Ramona: Since the publication of my essay “Without Words,” I continue to work on other essays, my favorite form of creative nonfiction. Some are intended for other anthologies and journals; many will part of a collection of personal essays that I am writing.

Being part of Family Stories from the Attic has introduced me to a new group of fellow writers, all of whom seek to tell stories that reveal, inform, and enlighten. The anthology affirms that there will always be an audience of readers for these type of stories and I hope it will encourage other writers to continue writing and submitting their work.

Q: What is a fun, interesting, or unusual fact to share with your readers?

Ramona: For several years I was a fundraiser at a major university where I worked with generous benefactors to raise millions of dollars; many of these gifts went to support the visual and performing arts. I met many artists—writers, sculptors, actors, playwrights, producers, singers, and dancers—and I enjoyed talking to them about their work. I learned that an artist needs time and a place to create, and that consistent effort is critical. I decided to leave that job to focus on my own writing, to give it the attention it required to produce work I wanted to share. I have no regrets about this decision; I am finally doing the work I have wanted to do for years.

Connect with Ramona

Website | Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn


ABOUT THE BOOK

Family Stories from the Attic features nearly two dozen works of prose and poetry inspired by letters, diaries, photographs, and other family papers and artifacts. Editors Christi Craig and Lisa Rivero bring together both experienced and new writers who share their stories in ways that reflect universal themes of time, history, family, love, and change.

Available now from Boswell Book CompanyAmazonBarnes & Noble and other online retailers.

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#FamilyStories Meet the Author: Annilee Newton

This post is part of an interview series featuring the authors of Family Stories from the Attic, an anthology of essays, creative nonfiction, and poetry inspired by family letters, objects, and archives. Monday posts are featured on the Hidden Timber Books website, and Wednesday posts are featured here. Learn more about Family Stories from the Attic at the bottom of this post. Without further ado, let’s meet Annilee Newton, author of “Leet.”


Annilee Newton

Q: Did you write “Leet” with a particular person/reader in mind?

Annilee: I used to teach at an inner city middle school in Houston. Most of my students were Hispanic, and many of them had very strong family ties and cultural identities. One day while we were discussing a piece of literature that grappled with the theme of family, I mentioned that I didn’t know my grandparents very well. The eyes of one of my students grew wide with alarm. “You don’t know your grandparents? Are you okay, Miss? I mean, did it hurt you?”

“I don’t know, I mean, I don’t think so,” I said. “After all, I’ve never known anything else.”

Every time I write about my family, I remember this student and this class and this question. And, although he could never be the audience, I thought about Grandpa Leet himself, and all the rest of the dead Newtons in Kentucky. They are my ghost audience. I thought about Grandy. Also, my sister and my dad and my tiniest baby nephew. Together, the four of us represent all of the genetic material that Leet still has kicking around this world.

Q: How has the publication of your piece influenced the work you are writing today or your writing in general?

Annilee: The editing process taught me, or maybe reminded me, how invaluable another set of astute eyes can be to the process of creation. Collaboration of any kind is so rewarding, and now my piece gets to be a part of something bigger than me and my story. I’m am so proud that “Leet” can part of a this collection of voices and memories.

Six years ago, I started writing a multigenre book about food, memory, family, identity, taste, and experience. It’s all a glorious mess, and the different drafts of the separate pieces tell the history of my development as a writer. Something about the publication of Leet has made me see that the unifying thread that ties all the recipes and biology and myth together is me. In all the excitement of the research (which I love), I have choked out the narrative thread. In this summer’s revision, I’ll spend time writing myself back in.

Q: What books are you reading at the moment?

Annilee: During the school year, I’m usually reading two books–one that I’m teaching and one that I’m reading for pleasure. Right now, I’m teaching and rereading The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. Every year when students experience this memoir, I get to see their understanding of the world deepen and widen. With the power of her own story, Jeannette Walls gives my students an intimate portrait of poverty, and she shows them how sometimes in the messiness of real life, the hero and the villain can be the same person.

I’m also reading A. B. Mitford’s Tales of Old Japan. Mitford was a British diplomat who lived in Japan in the late 1800’s. He watched the country transform as it opened itself up to the world after a long period of enforced isolation. This year for spring break, I took a group of students on an educational tour of Japan, and we all learned so much. My trip also inspired me to rewatch the Sailor Moon anime series from the nineties, to my boyfriend’s horror.

Read more from Annilee

Research Studio | NaNoWriMo-inspired cookies | On food & Family in the Heartland


ABOUT THE BOOK

Family Stories from the Attic features nearly two dozen works of prose and poetry inspired by letters, diaries, photographs, and other family papers and artifacts. Editors Christi Craig and Lisa Rivero bring together both experienced and new writers who share their stories in ways that reflect universal themes of time, history, family, love, and change.

Available now from Boswell Book CompanyAmazonBarnes & Noble and other online retailers.

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