Contributor Spotlight – Hayden’s Ferry Review, June 12, 2102

August 28, 2013 § Leave a comment

Contributor Spotlight – Hayden’s Ferry Review, June 13, 2102

Three generations of Witter women, no longer living, press themselves upon me; like children of the forest, these women appear to me in my waking and in my dreaming, these strangers whose lives were shaped and defined a long time ago in a distant land. I have lived with them for so long now that I feel I know them well – their desires, their despairs, their rich and complicated lives….

Click on the link above to read my reflections on “Dangerous Archaeology: A Daughter’s Search for her Mother (and Others) – a memoir in fragments”  – a hybrid image/text essay done in collaboration with photographer Autumn E. Monsees and published in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Spring/Summer 2012 (Issue 50). This essay was named to the “Notable Essays” section of The Best American Essays 2013.

We Must Travel Back

August 25, 2013 § Leave a comment

Ceramic Tile
We Must Travel Back

Broadside from Dangerous Archaeology. Photograph by Autumn E. Monsees. Ceramic Tile, Witter Family Artifact.

This is one of sixteen broadsides produced in collaboration with photographer Autumn E. Monsees during the summer and fall of 2011. These broadsides were exhibited at the New England College Art Gallery in February-March of 2012 as part of my mixed-genre work-in-progress Dangerous Archaeology: A Daughter’s Search for Her Mother (and Others) – a memoir in fragments

Dangerous Archaeology: One Writer’s Excavation

August 24, 2013 § Leave a comment

Martha Donovan_53
Photograph by Autumn E. Monsees

“By digging and digging the truth is discovered.”
– Telugu Proverb

As a writer, I am interested in the intersections between memory, image, and narrative, and the ways in which the things we unearth – photographs, artifacts, ephemera, and other fragmentary evidence – can help narrate a life.

For quite some time, I have been working on a mixed-genre project Dangerous Archaeology: A Daughter’s Search for Her Mother (and Others) – a memoir in fragments (with photographs by Autumn E. Monsees), a work that springs from my research into my mother’s unusual and complicated childhood in rural South India as the daughter and granddaughter of foreign missionaries. I have imagined myself as an archaeologist, digging and digging my way to some kind of truth, some kind of understanding. Truth, as many writers have noted, is something quite distinct from fact and so we storytellers must become archaeologists, reading the earth before us. That work can be dangerous because what we discover is often what we least expect to find.

With this blog – part field notebook, part gallery space, part meanderings, musings, and asides – I continue to unearth the fragments before me and sift out what it might mean to narrate a life, piece by piece.

Here, then, is one writer’s excavation.

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