Welcome back to SunnyRoomStudio.
I’d like you to meet my insightful Studio Guest, author Karen Levy. Her memoir, My Father’s Gardens (Homebound Publications 2013), is nominated for the 2014 Pushcart Prize. Please feel free to submit questions in the comment section. And thanks for stopping by this sunny space for kindred spirits. Welcome, Karen!
Words. I won’t be telling you anything new when I say that words are powerful and precious, that they can be both inspirational and devastating, evoking heartwarming memories as well as bone chilling nightmares. Whether you’re an aspiring writer, a published author or an avid reader, you know how magical words can be, transporting us to faraway realms, offering respite from our own realities if only for a brief time. In my case however, words have done so much more than provide me with alternate worlds into which I escape (when I’m not reading incredibly bad student essays…). Reveling in language transformed me from shy immigrant to vociferous citizen. From an individual who had to write out entire sentences before making even the simplest phone call, to a published writer asked to give talks at author luncheons. While I always loved to read, and did so voraciously in my native Hebrew as well as in my adopted English, discovering the magic of writing gave me a voice, a foothold in a country in which I needed to feel at home. Initially the desire was to prove myself worthy of this new place that had welcomed me in. And prove myself I had to do, beginning with the UC Davis official who thought my writing for the Subject A exam was too good for an immigrant and accused me of cheating. So I sat under their watchful eyes once more, and wrote a second essay in response to yet another unseen prompt, dipping into the trove of words I had been collecting and honing, earning my entry through their doors.
Many years have passed since that day, and words have served me well in return for my admiration of their beauty. And while I am enjoying the various book related promotional events for My Father’s Gardens, I am most vividly reminded of the power of language when I am creating it for others and preserving moments in time for myself. Without words I would not be able to describe how small my daughter seemed in the driver seat of my car, her license not a week old, her lovely face brimming with pride as she drove off down our street, disappearing from my view. I wouldn’t be able to describe the immense love I feel as I watch my son sleep seconds before I wake him for school, his dark beard incongruous with the bears still lining his bed, remnants of childhood not easily shed. I couldn’t tell you about the hot pressure of tears gathering and threatening to spill as I try not to but can’t help imagining their empty rooms, when in a year from now they will both embark on the next chapter of their lives without me.
This need to transform what I see and feel into written words allows me to make sense of my world as well as connect to others. And how incredible when both happen at the same time, when a piece of writing that had allowed me to unburden myself strikes a chord with a reader who felt the same way but didn’t have the words with which to release the pressure of ideas. Writing down what I think somehow untangles the confusion, gives form to the chaotic, sets free the voice that is forever narrating the life around me, as though it all wants to be set in a story and made immortal.
About Karen: Levy is an Israeli-American writer. Born in Israel, she spent most of her childhood traveling between her native land and the United States. Commuting between these two countries and having a keen eye for detail have afforded Levy the knowledge necessary to recount the immigrant experience in a candid style. Following her military service, Levy pursued her studies in the United States where she earned a B.A. in Comparative Literature from the University of California at Davis, and an M.A. in English/Creative Writing from Sacramento State University where she teaches composition and interpretation of literature. ~
Thanks for visiting, see you next Friday, October 17th.
On October 24th, my studio guest is Sukey Forbes, author of The Angel in My Pocket.
Remember: If you haven’t looked within, you haven’t looked.
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