Our mothers and grandmothers, even when they are no longer among the living, are always with us. As daughters, whether we like it or not, become our mothers, and their stories become our stories, as much of a part of us as having our mother’s eyes or her ear for music. As writers we sometimes write their matriarchal stories, and sometimes we transform and fictionalize our mothers into characters about whom we write, but the role our mothers played in our writing life is more significant that what happens on the page. That is, we are writers because our mothers inspired us to be writers. Inspiration comes in many guises and from myriad impulses. We will discuss the roles our mothers have played in our writing and our becoming writers under the shadows of our mothers.
BINNIE KIRSHENBAUM is the author of the story collection History on a Personal Note and six novels, On Mermaid Avenue, A Disturbance in One Place, Pure Poetry, Hester Among The Ruins, An Almost Perfect Moment and The Scenic Route. Her novels have been chosen as Notable Books of the Year by The Chicago Tribune, NPR, Time, The San Francisco Chronicle and The Washington Post; she won the Critics Choice Awards twice and was selected by Granta as one of the Best Young American novelists. She’s published short fiction and essays in many magazines and anthologies.
ELISSA SCHAPPELL is the author of two books of fiction, Blueprints for Building Better Girls, which was chosen as a “Best Book of the Year” by The San Francisco Chronicle, The Boston Globe, The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek/Daily Beast and O Magazine, and Use Me, which was runner up for the PEN/Hemingway award, a New York Times ”Notable Book” and a Los Angeles Times “Best Book of the Year” She is a former Senior Editor of The Paris Review, a Contributing Editor at Vanity Fair, and co-founder and Editor-at-Large of Tin House magazine.
NOEMI JAFFE is an author, professor and literary critic. She’s a PhD in Brazilian Literature from USP (São Paulo’s University) and has taught as a literature teacher in high schools for over twenty-five years. Nowadays, she teaches classes about literary creation at Vera Cruz Institute, at her own school, Escrevedeira, and at other institutions. She’s the owner of the literary blog Quando Nada Está Acontecendo (When nothing’s happening) and the coordinator of a particular writers group for five years now, of which she’s organized and published two anthologies: 336 Horas (336 Hours) and Bestiário (Beastiary). Since 2006, she’s been a literary critic at Folha de S. Paulo and at Valor Econômico and she’s been participating as a judge in literary contests such as Prêmio Oceanos (Oceanos Award), one of the most important in the country. She’s written A Verdadeira História do Alfabeto (The real story of the alphabet), which won the award Brasília de Literatura 2014 (Brasília Literature 2014), Írisz: as Orquídeas (Irisz: the Orchids) and O que os Cegos Estão Sonhando? (What are the blind dreaming of?), recently edited in the US by Deep Vellum.