THIS WEEK’S OTHER FEATURED BOOKS, “PETER’S MOONLIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY AND OTHER STORIES,” BY DINA RABADI AND “GET BACK,” BY DON TASSONE, CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST, OR BY CLICKING THE AUTHOR’S NAME ON OUR AUTHORS PAGE.
THE BOOK: History of Gone
PUBLISHED IN: 2018.
THE AUTHOR: Lynn Schmeidler.
THE EDITOR: Laura Cesarco Eglin.
THE PUBLISHER: Veliz Books, an independent literary press run by book-lovers.
SUMMARY: History of Gone is a collection of poems inspired by the life and unsolved disappearance of Barbara Newhall Follett, a once-famous child prodigy writer of the early 20th century. By the age of 14, BNF had published two books to glowing reviews and H.L. Mencken was congratulating her parents for raising her. She was expected to be the Next Great American Writer. Instead, her father left; she and her mother set sail on an open-ended sea voyage; The Great Depression hit, and she found work as a secretary; she met a fellow free spirit, travelled to Europe with him for a few months and returned to marry him. Then, one December night in 1939, after arguing with her husband, Barbara left the house with a notebook and $30. She was never seen nor heard from again. She was 25.
In the book, the poems appear in different sections: the SHEs where I write about Barbara Newhall Follett, the I’s where I write as Barbara, the ADDRESSES where I write to Barbara. There are also the LISTS, an imagined interview with Barbara and finally, an erasure.
THE BACK STORY: I first heard about Barbara Newhall Follett from an article written in a literary magazine. I was immediately taken with her story— the early promise, the mysterious disappearance, and I soon found I couldn’t get her out of my mind. How could this woman who’d once been so famous be so utterly forgotten? Soon I became obsessed not only with her life, but with the themes it illuminated: creativity, femininity, autonomy, erasure. I wrote the poems over a couple of years, both hearing Barbara’s voice in my ear and seeing my own world through her eyes, so throughout that time, she was both my muse and my mirror.
WHY THIS TITLE?: I came close to naming the collection Clean Sneak, which is a jazz-age slang term for a disappearance without any clues left behind. In the end, though, I wanted a title that spoke to the larger concerns of the book.
WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? The book is full of the joy and play of language. If you like poetry and are interested in history, feminism, art, biography, mystery and love you’ll enjoy it.
“In these smart and haunting poems, rich with human vulnerability and wit, Lynn Schmeidler playfully explores the nature of genius, love, and celebrity against the backdrop of a mysterious disappearance…These poems weave, reverse and reveal longings for reinvention we didn’t even know we had.”
—Kim Garcia, author of DRONE and The Brighter House
“A daring conceptual feat of reanimated biography… replaying the “stolen reel” of a forgotten life…. A cautionary tale of the erasures of domesticity, a vocational fable, an inside-out bildungsroman, this book envisions the prismatic possibilities when the self makes a “clean sneak,” and the result is nothing short of levitation.”
—BK Fischer, author of Radioapocrypha
“Schmeidler understands the slippery masks of the intellect and imagination… This book, made up of distinctive and perceptive lyrics, surreal list poems, evasively truthful Q&As, and found poems, ends in memoriam with an erasure. Open the book and you will always find her.”
—Amy Holman, author of Wrens Fly Through This Opened Window and Wait for Me, I’m Gone
AUTHOR PROFILE: I write fiction as well as poetry and my work has been nominated for The Pushcart Prize as well as Best of the Net and has been shortlisted in Best American Short Stories. My poems and stories can be found in various magazines including The Awl, Barrow Street, Boston Review, Conjunctions, Hobart, The Georgia Review and The Southern Review. My first poetry chapbook, which won the 2013 Grayson Books Chapbook Competition, is a collection of poems each about a different rare neurological disorder. http://graysonbooks.com/curiouser–curiouser.html My second poetry chapbook collects poems about the three romantic L’s: Lust, Longing and (unrequited) Love. http://graysonbooks.com/wrack-lines.html I’ve written stories about a variety of unusual characters: a Stevie Nicks impersonator, an art forger, a con artist, and a woman born with the unformed body of her identical twin inside her. Tell me something strange and likely it will make its way, somehow, into my work.
AUTHOR COMMENTS: I enjoy connecting readers to the sides of themselves that may otherwise go unseen or unrecognized. Poetry has a way of saying what otherwise feels too tricky to get at.
The Opposite of Substance is What I Am a Woman Of
You know me.
I’m the one sitting at the small round table outside in winter.
If a tree falls in Paraguay I feel it.
I understand crazy
on its back in the open field eyes closed arms splayed
waiting for transport
LOCAL OUTLETS: Your local bookstore can contact Veliz Books who will be happy to help them stock it.
WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT:
Small Press Distribution https://www.spdbooks.org/Products/9780996913478/history-of-gone.aspx
CONTACT THE AUTHOR: http://lynnschmeidler.com/contact/