Join us at Book Passage for this special event featuring literary sisters Joan Baranow and Amy Crider!
"We think back through our mothers if we are women," Virginia Woolf declares in A Room of One's Own, and certainly Joan Baranow embraces a woman-centered poetics in A Slight Thing, Happiness. In this volume of poetry, Baranow explores the many phases of motherhood, from the intimate details of infertility and premature birth to the heedlessness of childhood and the losses incurred by age. The poems that open the book narrate those early days of disappointment, hope, and gratitude with vivid images of nature as the poet negotiates her way through a harsh clinical environment.
Poet Erin Rodoni says, "From hospital beds to IVs and incubators, from the under-developed lungs of a preemie to the bruising love of early motherhood, those poems soothe and croon and bloom toward the messier, wilder garden that is the family and the world we live in."
In A Slight Thing, Happiness, readers gain a look into reproductive experiences that are rarely found in poems and are rewarded with the miracle of ordinary family life. As the title poem suggests, the sight of a red squirrel toppling into a bird feeder-slight as that may be-can be enough for happiness.
Joan Baranow is the author of In the Next Life, Living Apart, and two poetry chapbooks. Her collection, Reading Szymborska in a Time of Plague, won the 2021 Brick Road Poetry Book Contest. A fellow of the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and member of the Community of Writers, she founded and teaches in the Low- Residency MFA program in Creative Writing at Dominican University of CA. With her husband David Watts she produced the PBS documentary Healing Words: Poetry & Medicine. Her feature-length documentary, The Time We Have, presents an intimate portrait of a teenager facing terminal illness.
Amy Crider's debut psychological thriller, Disorder, is an endlessly satisfying page turner that will forever change the way you look at storytelling and mental illness. Wendy is a vulnerable graduate student at an isolated state university in rural Upstate New York. Struggling with bipolar disorder, she has just come off disability to work on her MA. When her roommate Diana disappears, the stress launches a bout of increasingly paranoid mania. Wendy longs to take charge of her life, and in the end, she must take her place as a competent adult to face down Diana’s killer.
Publishers Weekly praised Disorder for its “ingenious plot…psychological thriller plans will want to check this out.” Foreword Reviews, giving it 5 stars, calls it “a perceptive character study.”
Disorder was inspired by author Amy Crider’s experience with being bipolar as a young woman in the 1990s: During a bout of particularly paranoid mania, I found myself thinking, “It’s a good thing I’m not involved in a murder investigation right now, or I’d really be in trouble.” I knew I had to write that story someday.
Amy Crider is an award-winning novelist and playwright based in Chicago. She studied theater and education at Goddard College, and began her playwriting career with the writing program at the famed comedy center Second City. In 2021 she won the Tennessee Williams One Act Play Contest. Her first novel Disorder was published in 2021 when she was 60, after it won the University of New Orleans Press Lab Prize. She produces a podcast of audio versions of her plays called Continuous Dream Theatre, based at www.continuousdream.com. Her website is www.amycrider.com.
Joan Baranow photo courtesy of David Watts; Amy Crider photo courtesy of author
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