Monday, May 5, 2008

Mother's Day

This week on Realgoodwords I talk with Minnesota poet and editor Kathryn Kysar. She's put together a really wonderful and surprising book of stories by Midwest women writers about their moms. The anthology includes some of my favorite writers like Alison McGhee, Faith Sullivan and Sandra Benitez.

These highly personal yet often universal stories offer windows into those influential mother-daughter moments that have forever shaped the lives and perspectives of the writers, powerful women—authors, spokespeople, scholars, teachers, and some mothers themselves.

As a writer, I was really impressed by how these women really captured their mothers. The book is not just a tribute to mothers, but it gets at the complex relationship.

In a review on Shannon Gibney wrote a of "Riding Shotgun"....

But finding a book which actually looks, feels, and tastes truly representative of our complex state is, even now, a strange and wonderful occurrence. Riding Shotgun is the real thing, with writers from rural and urban Minnesota—who are Black, Native, Hmong American, Korean American, White, Latina, queer and straight—all weighing in on the difficult, inspiring relationship between mothers and daughters. This diversity of voices, coupled with the high quality of the writing throughout, makes Riding Shotgun a great read.

Diane Glancy’s poetic short “M(other),” likewise, offers insight into the huge emotional distances that often exist between mothers and daughters: “My mother was the other in the house. She was something of which I was not part. I was left alone with her in the house until my father came home and my brother was born. A child is an island. A child is a spot on the distant sea. My mother was in the house as I was. A dimmer light. An unwanted smot.”

I asked Kathryn about how she was able to solicit this kind of writing - how we as writers could push ourselves to really write about our mothers. She suggested starting out with a tribute. After that you are free to look at the complexity, the fascination of the bond betweeen mothers and daughters. In a way, writing about our moms can really tells us a lot about ourselves.

How would you describe your mother? Do you have a story about your mother? Did she put raisins in the spaghetti or burn the birthday cake? Did your mom make toast with butter and bring you warm gingerale when you were sick? Maybe your mom baked the perfect bread. Email us or comment here!

Tune in this Wednesday (May 7th at 6pm) or Sunday (May 11th at 9am) for our conversations. If you miss the live audio stream you can also check the archives.

See more information at Kathryn Kysar's website,

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