It’s July, and here at Sarabande that means submissions for the Linda Bruckheimer Series in Kentucky Literature are now open! This year, in addition to searching for new voices in Kentucky literature, we’ll be sharing the stories of past winners on our blog. Check back throughout the month to see various authors talk about writing in and about Kentucky, and their responses to winning the Bruckheimer.
Here's Julie Marie Wade, author Small Fires (Bruckheimer Award Winner in 2009), has to say:
I became a writer in my home state of Washington, but I became an author in my adopted state of Kentucky. Ever since I read Brenda Miller’s collection of lyric essays, Season of the Body–the first literary nonfiction book published by Sarabande in 2002–I dreamed of having a book of my own published by Sarabande. Six years later, my pursuit of a PhD in Interdisciplinary Humanities brought me fortuitously to Louisville, Kentucky, the hometown of Sarabande Books. At the University of Louisville, I began work on a dissertation that explored the relationship between literary nonfiction and gender & sexuality studies. While Small Fires did not serve as my dissertation, the essays that comprise the book were mostly written during my early years in the PhD program, where I was bolstered and inspired by the University of Louisville’s intellectual and creative community and also by the many public readings of literary work that take place around the city, including Sarabande’s own 21c Reading Series. I feel fortunate that the folks at Sarabande recognized me as a “Kentucky writer” early on and extended to my collection of lyric essays the special designation of being a Linda Bruckheimer Series in Kentucky Literature selection.
This is a daughter’s story. In Small Fires, Julie Marie Wade recreates the landscape of her childhood with a lacemaker’s care, then turns that precise attention on herself. There are floating tea lights in the bath, coddled blossoms in the garden, and a mother straddling her teenage daughter’s back, astringent in hand, to better scrub her not-quite-presentable pores. And throughout, Wade traces this lost world with the same devotion as her mother among her award-winning roses. Small Fires is essay as elegy, but it is also essay as parsing, reconciliation, and celebration, all in the attempt to answer the question—what have you given up in order to become who you are?