>Happy Mother’s Day

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I’m about to hit the road to visit my mother in Jackson (Mississippi). I’m taking a Mother’s Day card and some peanut M & M’s. That’s it. I took her some new clothes recently, and she no longer reads, so it’s hard to find gifts that she will enjoy, especially as her Alzheimer’s progresses. She mainly enjoy sitting on the patio at Lakeland Nursing Home and watching the birds and talking about the flowers, so that’s what we’ll do today. And maybe I’ll take her a handful of wild flowers. She was an artist at arranging flowers for most of her life. (That’s me with Mom, circa 1954.)
I just found this post from two years ago, “Guilt-Free Mother’s Day,” which you might enjoy if you didn’t see it. 
How fun it is to imagine my daughter celebrating her first Mother’s Day on Sunday, when Gabrielle Sophia will be almost 3 weeks old. I thought of her yesterday when I read this quote:
“Making the decision to have a child—it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” – Elizabeth Stone
This is true whether your child is “home hatched,” as my friend, Nancy Mardis says, or adopted, like my three children. Holding Gabby every day during the first two weeks of her life felt a lot like holding Beth when she first arrived from South Korea… except that she was almost three. But like Stone says, there goes your heart….

Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers, and have a great weekend.

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>Circling Faith Event July 12 at Burke’s Books!

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CIRCLING FAITH: Southern Women on Spirituality(2012, University of Alabama Press, editors Jennifer Horne and Wendy Reed) is a collection of essays by 20 Southern authors (including Mary Karr and Alice Walker) that encompasses spirituality and the experience of winding through the religiously charged environment of the American South. Three of those women—two Memphians and one from Oxford—will be reading from their essays at Burke’s Books in Cooper Young at 5 p.m. on July 12. Come and enjoy a glass of wine and enjoy readings by all three authors, who will be available to inscribe a copy of this anthology for you or as a gift for someone else.

 

MARILOU AWIAKTA is a poet, storyteller, and essayist who weaves her Cherokee and Appalachian heritages with science in her books, Abiding Appalachia: Where Mountain and Atom Meet (poetry) and Rising Fawn and the Fire Mystery(novella). Her nonfiction book, Selu: Seeking the Corn Mother’s Wisdom, has been widely studied in colleges  and universities. Her life and work are profiled in the Oxford American Companion to Women’s Writing in the U.S. Marilou lives in midtown Memphis.

 

SUSAN CUSHMAN’s essays have been published in First Things: The Journal of Religion, Culture and Public Life, the Santa Fe Writers Project Literary Journal, the Saint Katherine Review, and other publications. She was co-director of the 2010 Oxford Creative Nonfiction Conference, Director of the 2011 Memphis Creative Nonfiction Workshop, and a panelist at the 2009 Southern Women Writers Conference (Berry College, Rome, GA). Susan lives in Harbor Town, where she is currently finishing her first novel.

 

BETH ANN FENNELLY directs the MFA program at Ole Miss and lives in Oxford with her husband, Tom Franklin (author of New York Times best-selling novel,Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter), and their three children. She has published three full-length poetry books and a book of nonfiction, Great with Child. Her work has three times been included in the Best American Poetry series. As a contributing editor to The Oxford American, she frequently writes essays on Southern food, music and books.

If you can’t make it to the event, just call Burke’s at 901-278-7484 and order an autographed copy to pick up after July 12.
(P.S. I’m having problems with the new Blogger… can’t move pictures around and control the layout… will be changing to WordPress eventually… sorry if it looks messy.)

                          

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Circling Faith Event July 12 at Burke’s Books!

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>Southern Sin

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The Creative Nonfiction Journal is holding a contest for their spring 2013 issue, “Southern Sin.” I’ve been thinking about it for months now, but haven’t been able to put pen to paper. Not sure why… growing up in Mississippi in the ‘50s and ‘60s where almost everyone’s family seemed to be “dysfunctional,” and then being part of a cult-like religious group in the ‘70s and ‘80s, I certainly know enough about sin—my own and others’—to write this essay. (And I’ve got two book-length memoirs on a shelf that I haven’t been ready to publish.) The first short story I wrote as an adult, shortly after moving to Memphis in the late 1980s, was called, “Southern Sinners and Shakespeare.”
When I was nine years old, I answered all 107 questions in the Westminster Shorter Catechism by heart when asked by the Session (elders) at Covenant Presbyterian Church in order to become a communing member. Number 14 is forever etched onto my soul:
Q. What is sin?
A. Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God.
As Flannery O’Connor says:
“The serious writer has always taken the flaw in human nature for his starting point, usually the flaw in an otherwise admirable character. Drama usually bases itself on the bedrock of original sin, whether the writer thinks in theological terms or not. The Christian novelist is distinguished from his pagan colleagues by recognizing sin as sin.” (Mystery and Manners)
The deadline has been moved from May 31 to July 31, so maybe I’ll make a stab at it. If you’re interested in submitting an essay, rules and details are here.

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Southern Sin

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>Bucket List and Then Some (Leaving Denver)

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One month ago today I posted my “Denver Bucket List” where I described 9 things I wanted to do while visiting Denver. As I pack to leave tomorrow, it’s fun to look back and see that I not only did all 9 things on the list (and several of them many times) but I added a few more during my 5-week stay, including speaking/reading at the Boulder Writers Workshop’s monthly Literary Salon on April 21.

But mostly I loved hanging out with my kids and grandkids. It was such a joy to be here long enough for Grace and Anna to scream excitedly, “SuSu’s here!” each time I visited them, and to allow me to stay with them several afternoons while their folks were at work. And to be with my daughter during the birth of her first daughter, Gabby, on April 23. And then to have 10 days to bond with her before flying home to Memphis tomorrow. I’m sure there will be tears shed tomorrow morning when I leave.

So, tomorrow I return to my busy life in Memphis, where I look forward to working with a web designer on my first web site, meeting with a freelance editor and doing final revisions on my novel before querying agents, driving to Jackson to visit Mom, and, two weeks from today, flying to New York City with my husband for the annual American Society of Hypertension Meeting. Thanks for reading and helping me feel in touch even while away from home for so long. Have a great weekend, everyone.

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Bucket List and Then Some (Leaving Denver)

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