Since I arrived back home to Sonoma County a few nights ago, I've had to evacuate my home because of the wild fires that are devastating the area. Uncontained, these fires have everyone on edge. Some friends have lost everything. I don't know what the outcome is for my house, for me, yet. The uncertainty is hard.
So I'm happier than ever that this issue of Poets and Writers magazine has come out today. I'm thrilled to be one of the 5 over 50 in this feature. My essay is in the print edition, but you can read an excerpt from the book here.
I had a wonderful afternoon recently visiting the University of Pittsburgh's The Writers' Café and teaching from Show Her a Flower, A Bird, A Shadow. The students were engaged and engaging, and wrote some powerful pieces. Tom McWhorter's lesson, following mine, was insightful and I'm looking forward to returning to the writing I started in class that day. My experiences visiting classrooms and writers' groups have reminded me how much I enjoy teaching and talking writing. Do get in contact if you'd like to invite me to your class or workshop!
Grateful to Linda Michel-Cassidy and The Rumpus for this interview.
"Lyricism played against the narrative arc of fiction produces a satisfying tension at the line level, for me. That tension can express the sense of yearning you speak of. Yearning, in one form or another, is the human condition, our shared story."
Please check out the whole thing. Linda Michel-Cassidy is so thoughtful, in all senses of the word, and I appreciated the chance to think about my book in new ways.
A few months ago I enjoyed answering questions for Hamline Lit Link about publishing Show Her a Flower, A Bird, A Shadow, my first book, and about my work as a publisher and editor with WTAW Press. The Q & A is now published at Hamline Lit Link site, a writers' resource from the Hamline English Department.
Here's a snippet: My approach to writing very short prose is varied. Sometimes it’s a matter of distilling a much longer story into one substantially shorter in length than the original, through a process of culling and refinement again and again until I’m satisfied that the story can’t be any further pared away at without consequence. I enjoy that challenge of crystallization, which involves thinking deeply about the reader, imagining what she may fill in with her intelligence, intuition, and empathic imagination and invention.
Check it out here.
I'm so pleased with this review from Libby Maxwell and published by Mom Egg Review. MER has long been one of my favorite literary journals, so this is especially thrilling. I could easily quote the entire review, but I'll limit myself to this: "Pursell’s honesty encompasses not only the truths that aren’t told, but the ones that can’t be known, and yet touch our lives all the same." And ask that you check out the astute attention Maxwell focuses on my book at the journal.
Side note: MER is open for submissions. Mom Egg Review seeks your best poetry, fiction, and creative prose for the 16th annual print issue. We publish work by writers who are mothers or by others about motherhood. This is themed issue —the theme is MOTHERS PLAY/MOTHERS WORK— we will only publish work that relates to this theme. Deadline is August 15, 2017.
Show Her a Flower, A Bird, A Shadow is now catalogued at WorldCat! Thank you to Rachel Boyd, cataloger in the libraries at Notre Dame, who asked first to catalog it there and was careful about my name. What a thrill to see holdings there, in Harvard, in Johns Hopkins, Texax A & M, the New York Public Library, and others.
How beautiful is the photograph of Siel Ju-- author of Cake Time-- of my book with her meal. I'm flattered to have her attention focused on my book. She writes: Peg’s slim volume of short prose pieces each give a glimpse of a seemingly nondescript yet poignant moment — a girl watching her mother fall while chasing a dog, a chat between strangers at a bus stop, a woman going hiking with a hole in her sock. A poetic read ... Siel of the poetry of meals: thank you!
Kate Milliken is a writer I'm proud to call a friend. She's a wonderful friend and a wonderful writer. I used to think that friends shouldn't write reviews of other friends' books, but that idea has proven antiquated in this day and age, and after all, I care very much what my friends think about my writing. I love this review of my book from Kate on Goodreads and want others to read what she's said so eloquently. Evidently, Kate can write anything beautifully. The review begins like this:
Full disclosure, I've known Peg for many years...seven, I believe, yet I feel as if I've known her forever. She is that kind of friend, but also that kind of a writer; intimate, timeless, and necessary. In her debut collection, Show Her A Flower, A Bird, A Shadow she transcends the prescribed story forms, getting at the heart of an experience or a feeling with a precision and intensity that leaves you at once breathless and relieved. This book does not sweep you away to another time and place, but instead asks you to bend and look at the shards of glass all of the escapists have left in their wake...
Read the rest here. So many beautiful lines. Huge gratitude to Kate!
Thank you to Your Impossible Voice and Nicholas Alexander Hayes for this review of Show Her a Flower, A Bird, A Shadow.
"Often I find flash fiction is gratifying like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. It is a pleasing combination of strong elements in a single tone. It is quickly consumed and quickly forgotten.Pursell gives us similar proportions, but her work is not a saccharine, cloying, or emotive nibble. Instead her pieces are like a well-aged scotch. You could take each of these narratives as a shot but doing so would miss the point of slowly savoring the complexity. "
The dedicated attention to one's creative work means so much. I'm to grateful for Hayes and to Your Impossible Voice, with a special call-out to Managing Editor Keith J. Powell.
Last night, April 20, I had the singular experience of reading for Why There Are Words-Los Angeles, joining a dream lineup: Antonia Crane, Siel Ju, Paula Priamos, and Rob Roberge, hosted and emceed by Patrick O'Neil in his very own very awesome live/work space in downtown L.A. I couldn't have been more impressed with the event.
I was mesmerized by the other authors' readings, and that's no small thing for me. I founded Why There Are Words seven years ago in the Bay Area, and have literally listened to hundreds of readings there alone, and as an active participant in supporting writers, regularly attending readings all over the place, near and far, listening to hundreds and hundreds more. My attention did not waver last night. I was honored to be part of that event.
I'm proud of WTAW-Los Angeles, and I know it's only going to grow-- and grow and grow. Patrick O'Neil was and is the right choice for the curator. Last night demonstrated that in spades. Before I began reading I spoke a little about that, but let it go down here on record.
Why There Are Words is organized by working writers, and that's essential. Working writers who appreciate and care deeply about the writing process and about the importance of having one's words shared and out there. Yet, it's not just any working writer who's part of WTAW. I want and have selected those writers who have a certain humility, who aren't driven by a false sense of or are looking to perpetuate hierarchy, but who are always, always developing as writers and human beings. Who are exceptional writers themselves. Who have some sense of how writing saves them--and their readers, again and again. Ultimately, that's Why There Are Words.