Today (well, okay, I guess it’s tonight already in some time zones) it’s my pleasure to host Kimberly L. Becker’s “next big thing.” Be sure to also check out Drew Myron’s next big thing on her blog.
What is the title of your book? The Dividings
Where did the idea come from for the book? While I was on residency at Hambidge and researching local Cherokee sites, I discovered that The Dividings was the Cherokee name for what is now Clayton, GA, where several trails converged. From there the poems gravitated towards the theme of journey—both inward and outward.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? I started drafts for the book the summer of 2010 at Hambidge and finished it when I was on residency at Weymouth in November of 2011, although some of the poems I incorporated into the final manuscript had been published previously. For instance, the last poem in the book was one I had wanted to use in my first book, but it just didn’t fit. It found its home in this book. The structure was the hardest part of the process. I remember printing out the sections and paper clipping them together, shifting them around, removing and replacing poems, until I ended up with the final form, but even then I saw some gaps, so I had to write some additional poems. I did a lot of walking in the woods at Weymouth and got ideas there and got lost once for hours, too deep in thought to mark the way, which resulted in a poem about…getting lost!
What genre does your book fall under? Poetry
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? As yet undiscovered talent.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? The Dividings explores our non-linear journey from “setting out” to “crossing over” and junctures along the way that demand or invite our attention or decision.
When will the book be released and who is the publisher? The Dividings will be released late 2013 or early 2014 by WordTech Editions, publisher of my first book, Words Facing East.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? I wouldn’t presume to compare my work to others, but a book I admire for its journey theme is Stephen Vincent’s Walking Theory. Other books that sustained me in my own writing are Allison Hedge Coke’s Dog Road Woman (as well as her memoir Rock, Ghost, Willow, Deer), Linda Rodriguez’s Heart’s Migration, and Deborah Miranda’s The Zen of La Llorona, to name a few kindred spirits.
Who or what inspired you to write this book? While inspired by places I’ve lived or visited, the book also took me on an inward journey to places I had to reconcile within myself, especially the dissolution of my long marriage. I just kept writing my way through the “gap,” an image that figures in the book. My son, Alex remains my greatest inspiration. “Love lures life on.”
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? Central to the book is the section called “At the Gap,” a place of difficulty and even trauma, preceding transformation. Many of us struggle with moving forward from the familiar, even if miserable, into the unknown. I thought often of Auden’s “we would rather be ruined than changed.” We can be changed from without, by places and people we encounter, and from within, by how we process our experience.
I’ll include links to a few poems from the book. If readers like these poems then I hope they’ll want to read The Dividings when it comes out. Thanks for letting me share a bit about my work and thank you to Sally Rosen Kindred for tagging me. I admire Sally’s work and congratulate her on her forthcoming Darling Hands, Darling Tongue.
- “No Easy Way” is in Prime Number Magazine: http://www.primenumbermagazine.com/Issue29_PrimeDecimals2.html#anchor_551
- “The Other Woman” at Drunken Boat: http://www.drunkenboat.com/db15/kimberly-l-becker
- “What to Take” at Toe Good: http://toegoodpoetry.com/2011/09/kimberly-l-becker/
Born in Georgia, raised in North Carolina, Kimberly L. Becker is a member of Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers and is of Cherokee/Celtic/Teutonic descent. She is the author of two poetry collections, Words Facing East (WordTech Editions, 2011) and The Dividings (forthcoming from WordTech Editions). Individual poems appear widely in journals and anthologies. Other published writing includes fiction, essays, reviews, and a series of interviews with other Native writers. Current projects include adapting traditional Cherokee stories into plays for the Cherokee Youth in Radio Project at the Cherokee Youth Center in Cherokee, North Carolina. Kimberly has been awarded grants from the New Jersey State Arts Council, the Montgomery County Arts and Humanities Council (Maryland), as well as a fellowship to the Hambidge Artist Residency Program in the North Georgia mountains. She has held an Individual Artist Award in Poetry from the Maryland State Arts Council and been Writer-in-Residence at Weymouth Center for the Arts and Humanities (North Carolina). She has been a featured reader at many venues, including “Native Writers in DC” at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. Visit her at www.kimberlylbecker.com