Next Thursday, April 23, the Friends of Fondren Library will host its annual event honoring Rice University faculty, staff, alumni and members of the Friends of Fondren Library who have authored a book, edited a journal, composed a major musical work or mounted a one-person art show in 2014.
We are excited to announce that three of the honorees are associated with the Susanne M. Glasscock School of Continuing Studies, including Emily Threlkeld, receptionist and administrative coordinator, Kristy Loye, Master of Liberal Studies (MLS) program graduate and Joe Campana, MLS instructor. We asked two of the honorees to answer a few questions about the works they submitted.
Congratulations on being honored by Rice University’s Friends of Fondren Library. What type of work did you submit?
Kristy Loye: “My Other Ex” by the HerStories Project. It’s an anthology of women writers and their experiences with failed friendships.
Emily Threlkeld: I submitted “Debs: Four Women Writers on the Verge,” which is an anthology by St. Andrews College Press that I was invited to be a part of last year. I’m one of two poets featured in the book.
How long have you been working on the piece you submitted?
KL: I wrote the piece while writing a memoir. The memoir took about a year, the piece about a day or two.
ET: The poems in the book span a period of almost ten years. The earliest are from 2005, and the more recent ones were written a few months before the book was sent to the printer.
What was the most challenging part while working on the piece you submitted?
KL: Giving justice to a situation that long haunted me … this was a person who loved me and I wronged them, so the piece is redemptive in some respects, I suppose. I think in writing memoir pieces we afford ourselves an opportunity to correct mistakes on some level. At least in communicating fault, we come to terms with the truth which otherwise would remain buried. In this way, not only is the author liberated from whatever guilt burdens them, but those who read it bring their own experiences to the piece as well. Like, a communal healing almost … You can’t deny that its cathartic, but the greater payoff is the act of communicating the event. In that communication, we find community because others relate with their own memories.
ET: Because the poems spanned such a big period of time, arranging them was a bit of a challenge. There are a lot of moving parts when you’re ordering a collection of poems – themes, images, the relative strength of a poem compared to the others, an overall narrative arc – and there’s not necessarily a right answer.
What did you enjoy most about working on the piece you submitted?
KL: I reconnected with the person I wrote about, Delilah. To my sadness and surprise she is incarcerated for many years in an Oklahoma women’s penitentiary … I sent her a letter, not knowing how she would react to the publication. She actually responded very positively, and we’ve maintained a letter writing exchange ever since.
ET: VIDA: Women in Literary Arts is an organization that tracks the number of women writers (and, as of this year, women writers of color) in national journals and magazines. Caitlin Johnson, who edited Debs, was inspired by their work and conducted an inventory of past publications at St. Andrews College Press. About 40 percent were written or edited by women, and she wanted to make an effort to get that number closer to half. The entire collection was created by women, right down to the cover art by Hrachouhi Zakaryan. I feel lucky to be part of a collaboration with five talented women but also a larger conversation about representation in publishing.
What is your favorite book and why?
KL: “The Great Gatsby” … it’s a chiasmus of perfect sentences. Absolutely perfect. While I’m sure there are better books, none other grabs my conscious (and subconscious consequently) quite like Fitzgerald. He’s able to weave so much into a seemingly simple piece. I’m always surprised by the complexity of his writing. His depth of literary genius is remarkable. I never tire of that book.
ET: One of the most loved books on my poetry shelf is “The New American Poetry, 1945-1960,” edited by Donald Allen. It features work by well-known names like Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac but also writers from lesser-known postmodern movements like the Black Mountain poets. It was one of my college textbooks, but I still pick it up at least once a month and find something new every time. It’s full of dog-eared pages and scribbles.
If you’re interested in learning more about the authors and the works they submitted, you can meet them at next week’s reception and see their works firsthand. The event will also feature a panel discussion with selected honorees and a Q&A session after the presentation.
Top image caption: Spring 2014 MLS graduation. Kristy Loye (far right).
Rachael Shappard, Marketing Coordinator