Motherhood & Words
I want to thank everyone who came out on Thursday night to the 3rd Annual Mother Words reading. There were about a hundred people there, and it was so incredible to look out at and see all those familiar—and unfamiliar—faces. If you weren’t able to make this year, don’t worry. I will inundate you with details as the “who” and “when” become clear for next year’s reading.
The Loft, for those of you who don’t know, is situated in the Open Book, a wonderful space with a lovely auditorium—wood floors, brick walls and warm lighting. I can’t imagine a better place for a reading, and I’m grateful to the Loft for allowing us to use it. And, as I said in my opening comments on Thursday night, I am also very grateful to the Loft for taking a chance on me in 2006, when they first approved my Mother Words class. As many of you know, I developed Mother Words to create a place where women could come and have their writing about motherhood supported and critiqued and taken seriously as art. And it’s really from that class that this blog and the annual Mother Words reading were born. So I feel I owe a great debt to the Loft Literary Center.
After a warm welcome on Thursday from Jocelyn Hale, the executive director of the Loft, I introduced the reading and kicked it off with a section from Ready for Air. I went back and forth that afternoon, trying to decide whether I should read a chapter from the book or read a more recent and more intense essay. In the end, I went with the excerpt from the book, and I’m glad I did. People laughed, and I’d rather look up and see smiling faces than faces that are totally freaked out. (There will be a time for this essay, though; I promise you.)
Kate St. Vincent Vogl read second, and she read from the beginning of Lost and Found: A Memoir of Mothers, beginning with the phone call she received from her birth mother late one night, a few months after her mother died of cancer. Vicki Forman read third, and she read a section late in This Lovely Life, the heartbreaking and also very funny scene in which she and her husband are searching for a gravesite for Ellie’s ashes. Kate and Vicki were wonderful, and I felt honored to share the stage with them. And it was amazing to finally meet Vicki in person!
One of the questions asked during the Q & A had to do with humor and how Vicki and I both used humor in situations of crisis. I think it’s true that when you are in the midst of crisis, sometimes the only thing you can do is laugh. But as a writer, it’s also our jobs to give the reader a break sometimes. Vicki said that if you are working with particularly intense material, you need to be on the lookout for situations/moment/scenes that will bring levity to your writing.
I’m curious how other mother-writers incorporate humor into their writing. Does it come naturally or do you feel you have to craft it?
Here are a couple of photos from the night:
Thanks, again, to everyone who was there and to everyone who wished they could be there!!