The Writer-Historian

 

Historian and Harvard Professor Jill Lepore’s newest in a long line of readable histories, Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin, reveals the life and writings of Jane Franklin, Benjamin Franklin’s younger sister. Close in age and temperament, the Franklin siblings had a lifelong friendship in letters. But, where Benjamin became a founding father and prolific writer, Jane mothered 12 children, only one who outlived her, and penned her Book of Ages, a chronicle of her children’s and their children’s untimely deaths. Lepore compares the very different lives of Benjamin and Jane, known in childhood as Benny and Jenny, to a kind of sociological experiment. The two were raised side by side with similar intelligence and personalities, but where Benjamin was afforded the education and assistance that a boy in America at that time could expect,  Jane never learned to hold a pen correctly. Lepore asserts that Jane was a more capable writer than many women and poor men of the time, but we can’t ignore the scant record of her life. Nor can we ignore the fact that Jane saved nearly every letter from Benjamin where he saved only a few from her, never mentioning his beloved sister in his autobiography.

Poem in Tupelo Quarterly

Removal

It’s here! The inaugural issue of Tupelo Quarterly, which includes the poem Removal from my manuscript Split the Crow. About the Native American experience from early contact through loss of ancestral land, environmental degradation and all the darkness in between, it was recently a finalist for Tupelo’s first/second book contest and Anhinga’s Robert Dana Prize.

Inspiration for a poem

My poem Man Shields Man, the story of one man saving the life of another when he fell from a subway platform onto the tracks was inspired by a story which I first heard on the public radio show Radio Lab a couple years back and also appeared in the New York Times  The poem was included in The Best of Kore Press 2012: Poetry now available on their website (and through Paypal, so easy). The amazing Native American poet Nathalie Diaz was an editor; the anthology includes poems by Anna Ross, Dawn Losinger, Laynie Browne, Meg Day and many others. As an extra benefit, the cover is great. I love it.

Breaking News!

My first book Church of Needles has won the Red Mountain book prize and wil be published in fall 2014. More on that later. I also have a poem forthcoming (Oct 15) in the inaugural issue of Tupelo Quarterly where my second book Split the Crow was a finalist for the first second book contest. Coming soon: poems in Barn Owl Review and Cider Press Review.