Saturday, August 18, 2012

Guest Author: Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg

What's Love Got to Do With It?: Loving Yourself Through Life's Hard Stuff

My main character in The Divorce Girl -- Deborah Shapiro -- has more than her share of life's hard stuff: a crazo divorce during which time neither of her parents will move out of the house, a long stretch of being flung in the role of her father's daughter-wife, and a dramatic merging with a whole new family which has no room for her. She is often trapped in other people's agendas, and sometimes their manipulations, abuse or neglect. Yet her story, covering her life from ages 15-18, is a love story, and not just because of a particularly hottie named Mark.

This is a novel about Deborah learning to love herself, or at least learning to act as if she loves herself enough to aim herself toward her dreams of freedom, community, art and belonging. Loving herself is not something, however, she actively thinks about; still, it's something she's moving toward all the time. For example, in this passage, she tells the reader, after a particularly hard turn in her life, about lighting a candle late at night and reaching out for support from her future:

"Yet at the same time the flame of my candle seemed to tell me that all I needed to do was to watch it. As long as I was watching that steady flame, I was okay. And watching it made me imagine a woman a bit like me but older – an older version of myself, perhaps – climbing into bed behind me.  She would put her arms around me and hold me against her warm, stable body.

Such reflections help Deborah cultivate greater acceptance of where she feels broken and stuck now as well greater hope as she steps into her imagination to take care of herself.

So what does love have to do with it? Everything! When we look for what love inside and around us can hold us up and carry us forth, we find how to love ourselves. This isn't love as a noun, but love as a verb: on the move, changing, growing as we craft lives that truly reflect who we are.

Meet Deborah Shapiro, a New Jersey teenage photographer whose parents' outrageous divorce lands her in the biggest flea market in the free world, a Greek diner with immigration issues, a New York City taxi company, a radical suburban synagogue, a hippie-owned boutique, and bowling alleys, beaches and bagel shops. As her home explodes apart, a first love, a series of almost-mothers, and a comical collection of eccentric mentors show Deborah how to make art out of life, and life from the wreckage of a broken home. This debut novel of Kansas Poet Laureate Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg travels through wild loss, untended grief and bad behavior with humor and imagination. Reminiscent of the works of Wally Lamb, Stephanie Kallos, and Kaye Gibbons, this coming of age story illuminates how a daring heart can turn a broken girl into a woman strong enough to craft a life of art, soul and beauty. 

About the Author: 

Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg is the Poet Laureate of Kansas, and the author of 14 books, including a forthcoming non-fiction book, Needle in the Bone: How a Holocaust Survivor and Polish Resistance Fighter Beat the Odds and Found Each Other (Potomac Books); The Sky Begins At Your Feet: A Memoir on Cancer, Community & Coming Home to the Body (Ice Cube Books); the anthologies An Endless Skyway: Poetry from the State Poets Laureate (co-editor, Ice Cube Books) and Begin Again: 150 Kansas Poems (editor, Woodley Press); and four collections of poetry. Founder of Transformative Language Arts – a master's program in social and personal transformation through the written, spoken and sung word – at Goddard College where she teaches, Mirriam-Goldberg also leads writing workshops widely. With singer Kelley Hunt, she co-writes songs, offers collaborative performances, and leads writing and singing Brave Voice retreats.

Author’s Website: 


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