The Feminist Review has given LABOR PAINS AND BIRTH STORIES a very positive review here.
Thank you, Feminist Review, and thank you to my wonderful writers for all their hard work and for making this such a great book.
Here’s a couple of short excerpts from the review:
“With twenty-nine compelling essays of pain and strength, each glimpse these writers provide validates the awesomeness and depth of the process of pregnancy. Written from mostly women authors, Powers weaves together a tapestry of debate, conflict, joy, and uncertainty all through the common practice of story-telling our lives….Not only are the individual literary essays gifts for those seeking comfort and company in their own birthing experience; the collection as a whole can be used for critical analysis as to how the world not only accepts children, but how we treat and care for mothers as well.”
This weekend, I had three appearances at the Wisconsin Book Festival in Madison. Here I am, appearing on a panel with (from left to right) Marlene Kim Connor Lynch of Connor Literary Agency, Nichole Shields of Connor Literary Agency, Marcela Landres (editorial consultant), Jessica Powers of Catalyst Book Press, and Ken Waldman, Alaska’s Fiddling Poet and author of Are You Famous? Touring America With Alaska’s Fiddling Poet, published by Catalyst Book Press.
I am a lurker on a religious writer’sÂ blog (a religous writer totally ensconsed in evangelical culture)Â and I’ve been sort of interested in how often he and his wife mention that he’s coming out with his first “hardback” book. (Yes, I even go to his wife’s blog, that’s how obsessed I am.Â I guess it’s because sometimes I realize that this could have been me given my own engagement in evangelical culture at one point in timeÂ and even while I’m glad it’s not me, I also can’t help but check it out, perhaps because I’m aÂ mean ol’ bastardÂ for feeling superior, or perhaps because I’m a little nostalgic and envious that he could make it in that world while I couldn’t, or maybe because I’m grateful to see somebody engaging with the culture from the inside and grappling with all its problems, and maybe also I’m gratefulÂ realizing that, but for the grace of God, there goeth I. Probably I read him for all those reasons and more.Â Obviously, he and his wife say some interesting things.)
I never realized that the “hardback” book was such a big deal. It never even occurredÂ to me to care about the factÂ that The Confessional is hardback. I worked at Cinco Puntos Press and we printed both hardback and paperback as first runs and even then, I never even thought about whether one was more “real” than the other, or more superior.Â But guess what? My post about hardback vs. paperback on Catalyst’s blog is accessed more than any other posting, except for the cover of Killing Trout and Other Love Poems, which also features a naked lady on the cover. (By the way, Trout Fishing is a paperback book! But I guess naked ladies on the cover trump hardbacks anyway….)
I posted this on Catalyst Book Press’s blog but thought it appropriate for this one as well. Â
Iâ€™ve been thinking a lot lately about the problems with professionalization or the problems that institutionalization brings to professions. Although Iâ€™ve been thinking about this problem for several years, it has really come to the forefront of my mind because Iâ€™m teaching a class on Health & Healing in Sub-Saharan Africa at Stanford this spring. The first week of school, I had my students read an essay by Steve Feierman and an excerpt from a book by John M. Janzen. Both scholars touch on the medical â€œpluralismâ€ that exists in African today: though colonial states and missionaries brought biomedical health systems to the continent, they never replaced indigenous healing systems. Today, Africans (educated and uneducated, Christian or Muslim or other) access both systems for different illnesses, recognizing the legitimacy of both systems. Some of my students really struggled with this, inherently believing that biomedicine is superior because itâ€™s based on empirical evidence. Both Feierman and Janzen attempt to disprove this assumption, arguing that indigenous healing systems are also based on empirical evidence and long periods of testing different treatments. They also point out that just as indigenous health systems offer cures that are based outside of this western scientific paradigm, western science is also based on unexamined assumptions that sometimes limit its effectiveness or its ability to recognize the validity of certain cures because they are untestable or outside the system. Healing, Feierman pointed out, is mysterious. Read More
I got an email from Lee Byrd at Cinco Puntos Press today, telling me that Bobby always said he shot himself in one foot when he decided to become a poet and shot himself in the other foot when he decided to become a publisher. Then she said, “Well, you already know what it’s like not to be able to walk.” (She’s referring to the 3 months I spent in a wheelchair post-getting-hit-by-a-truck-twice while I was trying to cross a busy intersection.)
This is what scares me MOST about this new venture. The last two years in the Ph.D. program, it’s been hard hard hard to do both. I readily admit it. I am miserable, trying to do both at the same time. When I’m just writing, I’m fine. When I’m just doing the Ph.D., I’m fine (well, not fine, exactly, because I’m miserable when I’m not writing but it’s not as stressful as trying to do both at the same time.) My adviser, who has always been incredibly supportive, has told me just this: You can do both, he has said several times, but you probably can’t do both at exactly the same time. He might have used the word “sequencing.”
And now I’m publishing books. Am I crazy?
Yes, somebody shoot me now.
But this is precisely why I’m a) going to keep the number of books I publish small, very small and b) not follow the traditional publishing format.Â Tons more on that at the press’s blog, of course, in coming weeks. And here.