What a pleasure it's been putting together the reading list for my food writing course, which I'm teaching for the first time this fall at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. Among my favorites "dishes" are: A. A. Milne's poignant essay, "Autumn," about celery; Judith Moore's lyrical, insightful "Adultery" (she cooks out of guilt!); anything by M. F. K. Fisher, but especially "Define This Word," about bad food servers; Henry Beecher Ward's sumptuous, 1862 essay on apple pie; Mike Sula's "Chicken of the Trees" (he encourages people to kill and eat urban squirrels); anything by Change-rae Lee (the subject of "Magical Dinners" is his Korean-American family's celebration of Thanksgiving); the clever, precise restaurant reviews of Ruth Reichl. It's been quite a feast and I'm pleased to report that I haven't gained a pound!
Knopp is the author of Field of Vision, Flight Dreams: A Life in the Midwestern Landscape, The Nature of Home, and Interior Places. Her award-winning creative nonfiction, which explores her home ground in Iowa, Illinois, and Nebraska, has been lauded as "reminiscent of Thoreau's introspective nature writing and Dillard's taut, personal prose."
with Burlington author, Gary Chapman
Sterling Lord, who was born (1920) and raised in my hometown, Bulington, Iowa, and who graduated from BHS, is a major literary agent who has represented such authors as Jack Kerouac (On the Road), Ken Kesey (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest), Lawrence Ferlinghetti ("A Coney Island of the Mind"; co-founder of City Lights Booksellers & Publishers), and Stan and Jan Berenstain (the Berenstain Bears books for children). In his honor, the Burlington Pulbilc Library is sponsoring a celebration of local authors. I'll be there with my books, each discounted for festival attendees. I'm looking forward to meeting other Burlington-area writers and those coming to the festival.
The local author showcase is from 11-1:30. At 1:30, Stacey Cordery, one of Lord's clients, will talk about her work. At 2:00, Mike Berenstain, son of Jan and Stan and now author and illustrator of the Berenstain Bears series, will speak with us by Skype. At 2:30 Lord will also speak with us by Skype.
The Burlington Public library is at 210 Court Street, just a stone's throw from the beautiful Mississippi. The event is free and open to the public.
For more about Sterling Lord, check out "Out to Lunch with Sterling Lord" in the February 2013 issue of Vanity Fair.http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2013/02/agent-sterling-lord-launching-jack-keroua
I found out on April 2nd that I won one of the 2015 Distinguished Artist Awards from the Nebraska Arts Council. I'm deeply grateful for this recognition and support.
Here's the entire list of winners: $5,000 Master Artist Award, Paul Dickey (Omaha) Poetry; $4,000 Distinguished Artist Award, Lindsey Baker (Omaha) Poetry; $3,000 Distinguished Artist Award, Terry L. Schifferns (Gibbon, NE) Fiction; $2,500 Distinguished Artist Award, Erik Campbell (Lincoln) Poetry and Lisa Knopp (Lincoln) Nonfiction; $1,000 Merit Award, Kailee Pedersen (Lincoln) Fiction; Amy Knox Brown (Lincoln) Fiction; and Kelly Madigan (Lincoln) Poetry.
The fellowship doesn't stipulate how the recipient is to use the money other that to assist the recipient in some aspect of his/her "work, career, or personal growth." I'm using my money to buy the experiences that travel provides.
My little essay, "Ode to Bellies," has been accepted for publication by a new journal, Embodied Effigies. I submitted there because I love the title of the journal and thought it a good place for an essay written in praise of bellies. Here's a sample paragraph:
There are all of those other bellies, too, each beautiful in its own way: a baby’s, smooth, rounded, and kissable orb; a puppy’s, pink, taut, milk-filled drum; my ex-husband’s, more of a flat tire than a basketball, in spite of all the jogging and weight-lifting, and still inexplicably sexy; old cats, with their sagging burden that swings from side to side as they run; the bud of a belly sported by young women in their low-slung jeans and shirts that do not cover all; my own concave belly before my two pregnancies; my own mid-life belly that has lost its edge and will never, I mean never, again appear in public in a two-piece swimming suit.