Elizabeth Kirschner, Author of My Life as a Doll, Launches Her Blog Tour!

Monday, June 15, 2009
& Book Giveaway Comments Contest!

Elizabeth Kirschner has published three books of poetry, Twenty Colors, Postal Routes and Slow Risen Among the Smoke Trees all by Carnegie-Mellon University Press. Her chapbook, The Red Dragon, was published by Permafrost, and My Life as a Doll was published by Autumn House Press.

In addition, she has a CD released by Albany Records wherein her own poetry, not a translation, has been set to Robert Schumann's Dichterliebe. Now titled The Dichterliebe in Four Seasons, it premiered in Vienna in the fall of 2005, followed by an American debut in Boston featuring soprano Jean Danton accompanied by pianist Thomas Stumpf. She has collaborated with many composers and taught at Boston College for over a decade. Kirschner also studied ballet with Boston Ballet. She now lives in a house on the water at Sea Cabins Retreat in Kittery Point, ME.

Find out more about Elizabeth by visiting her website: www.elizabethkirschner.com

My Life as a Doll
by Elizabeth Kirschner

The bleak ferocity of Kirschner's lines often comes nigh to overwhelming this narrative of an abused childhood but then the strength of the imagery, a richness for which this poet is known, seizes the nightmares and transforms them into events that can be handled, shaped and put aside. No, not a happy ending but one that locates dignity and the forever force of life. --Hilary Masters

These poems are dark, iridescent beads strung along a narrative of embattled childhood that supports but never overrides the lyrical force of Kirschner's voice and vision. The narrative begins with a mother's violence and follows its effects upon the daughter's inner landscape the visions, the bouts of madness, the circling smoke of memory -- as she grows older. It's the landscape that generates the force behind these poems, rendered as it is with stunning imagery at every turn, and with urgent rhythms that push towards a kind of exorcism. These poems confront hard things head-on, but far from being sensationalistic or depressing, they are lush, fierce, and lovely. --Leslie Ullman

Autumn House has nominated My Life as a Doll for the Lenore Marshall Prize from the Academy of American Poets. The winner receives $25,000 and national publicity. (We're rooting for you, Elizabeth!)

Book Giveaway Comments Contest!
If you received our Events Newsletter, remember, we are
holding a contest to win a copy of Elizabeth Kirschner's My Life as a Doll to those that comment. So, grab a cup of coffee, pull up a chair, enjoy the chat, and share your thoughts, and comments, at the end. We will randomly choose a winner from those who comment. Enjoy!

Interview by LuAnn Schindler

WOW: Welcome, Elizabeth. Congratulations on the publication of your memoir, My Life as a Doll. I'm sure our readers are excited to learn more about you, your book, and your writing background. Let's get started.

One goal of the memoir is to tell the deepest truth. You definitely achieve that goal. Why is it so important to capture that truth and share it with others?

Elizabeth: My Life as a Doll gets at some brutal truths. It is deeply concerned with the retrieval of memory then transforming it, via the alchemy of art, into poetry. The catalyst of this book was spurred by a sudden and violent assault by memory. In it, my mother was whacking the back of my head with a baseball bat. I was only three or four years old. This memory lead to the denotation of other ones thus making My Life as a Doll a survivor's tale about abuse, madness and recovery. The writing of the book was an act of salvation meant to redeem others who are keeping their stories secret. That I survived my childhood is a miracle, that I wrote this book is another one. I bare such brutal truths because my words can help heal the wounds that so very many bear.

WOW: Words play such an important role in the healing process. The first element of style that captured my attention is that you chose to write your memoir in verse. What lead to that decision?

Elizabeth: First and foremost, I am a poet. I needed the compression of language, its insistent rhythms and music, to craft the harrowing narrative the book chronicles. The short story writer Raymond Carver once said, "Get in, get out, get your pain over with." Brevity is all. I wanted to make My Life as a Doll so violently compelling that a reader could plunge through it in a single sitting.

WOW: You've achieved that goal! Once I began reading, I couldn't put it down. I wanted to know how this young girl will survive and what her future holds. As a writing teacher, the use of symbolism is extremely important. While I'm reading My Life as a Doll, four separate doll visions come to my mind: a toy doll, a blow up doll, a Cinderella or princess doll and finally, a broken doll. Talk a bit about the symbolism of the doll in your memoir.

Elizabeth: When I first remembered my mother's violence, I also recollected a poem I had written in graduate school titled, "The Doll Collection." I pulled out that poem and worked the memory into it. Abuse turns the abused into objects. Dolls are objects. Children play with dolls, but I became one—hence a toy to be toyed with, a blow-up doll that pops back up when punched, a half mad Cinderella doll, a broken doll which was what I was as a broken woman. I was treated like a thing, thus became one and turning back into flesh and blood was exceedingly painful, but if I did it, anyone can.

WOW: And we're so lucky that you were able to reclaim your life and examine it honestly. My Life as a Doll contains such vivid imagery. Which comes first: the image or the theme to tie together poems into a collection?

Elizabeth: I am a lyric poet, hence the image and the music it employs comes first. The interrogation of images and metaphor reveal subject matter for me. I never go into a book with a pre-conceived notion of what it's about. When narrative asserts itself, I ride that pulse. I learned quite early what Flannery O'Connor termed "the habit of art." I write everyday, including weekends, making process rise out of practice.

WOW: That's great advice for our readers to follow, too. Thank you for sharing it. The publisher of My Life as a Doll, Autumn House Press, promotes poetry and its continued teaching. Have you worked with other small presses? What was the publication experience like with this publisher? What can authors learn from your experience with the industry?

Elizabeth: All of my books, with the exception of My Life as a Doll, have been published by other small presses. I courted Autumn House for years before this book was taken. The publisher, Michael Simms, is a brilliant editor and true visionary. The publication experience was exquisite, but it's only the first step. Writing is a labor of love, but so is getting a book out into the hands of real readers. Not every book is meant to reach the light of publication. I have had work rejected many, many times, but persevered in spite of it till I trained myself to reject the rejections. I think that’s essential to one's survival as a writer.

WOW: Very true. Writers must learn to push those rejections aside and continue writing. Elizabeth, not only are you a talented writer, you also have experience with another creative art: ballet. I had a dance instructor who said "Ballet is poetry in motion." How has dancing influenced your poetry?

Elizabeth: Early on, a teacher told me that ballets uses all four quadrants of the brain at once. I believe poetry does, too. Ballet has trained me to use my body as an instrument of expression. So has poetry, but the instrument is primarily that of the voice. Both require an intense focus and a profound musical sensibility. I have written that poetry is the dancing lyric that sings as it blooms. That feels right to me.

WOW: Such a beautiful analogy between two creative processes! You also find time in your schedule to promote writing. Recently, you started a mentorship program called: Wise Eye: Creating Poetry That Soars. Talk about your program and what you hope to accomplish.

Elizabeth: All poets need to be mentored, but I think this notion has fallen along the wayside, perhaps become a little old-fashioned. In the realm of the classroom, we teach, most certainly teach, but there isn't enough time for true mentoring to occur. I'm profoundly engaged with the desire to nurture poets over time, one on one, to give them as Juan Ramon Jimenez says of the poem, roots that fly and wings that take root. This means cultivating the entire sensibility. I want to enrich other writers with the riches I've garnered from both practicing and teaching my art for more than three decades. I have a highly trained eye, therefore a wise eye that can look into the depths of the poem which came from the depths of its creator. I was mentored, and now, in the fullness of time, I want to return the gift.

WOW: That's a wonderful idea! It's so important for writers to have someone who can serve as an honest sounding board and guide them through the process. For many writers, examining a specific time in one's life raises awareness of global problems while bringing it to a personal level by building a bridge of intimacy with readers. What do you want readers to take away with them after reading your memoir.

Elizabeth: There is a huge population of trauma survivors out there. My hope is to reach some of them, instill a genuine feeling that they are not alone. By telling my story I'm giving voice to many stories. Abuse, mental illness is very real and still taboo. Damaged goods can be durable goods and no one should be annihilated by the violence of violation. If abuse and mental illness is real so is the power to heal. Louise Gluck has a wonderful line that opens her book, The Wild Iris, which reads: "at the end of my suffering/ there was a door." I want my book to be such a door, an inwardly opening one that at last, alas, lets the light in.

WOW: Powerful sentiments! You will open the door for many of your readers. Thank you again, Elizabeth, for talking about your work, your words, and the power of creative expression.

Want to join Elizabeth on her blog tour? Check out these dates and mark your calendar! You can also snag a copy of WOW's Events Calendar HERE.

Blog Tour Dates: Come and join the fun!

JUNE 15, 2009 Monday
Elizabeth chats with WOW! Women On Writing at The Muffin. One lucky commenter will win copy of Elizabeth's book!

JUNE 16, 2009 Tuesday
Elizabeth stops by Carolyn Howard-Johnson's blog, The New Book Review, to share a great review of My Life as a Doll.

JUNE 17, 2009 Wednesday
Elizabeth stops by C. Hope Clark's blog to share an excerpt from My Life as a Doll.

JUNE 19, 2009 Friday
Poetry lovers are in for a treat! Elizabeth stops by Allen Taylor's blog, World Class Poetry Blog, to chat about her love for poetry. These two fantastic poets are bound to spur an interesting discussion. Not to miss!

JUNE 22, 2009 Monday
Elizabeth stops by Joanne DeMaio's popular blog, Whole Latte Life, to chat about the connection between poetry and music. This should be an inspiring post! Join in on the discussion.

JUNE 23, 2009 Tuesday
If you dread public speaking, this is your day! Come learn from an expert on the subject. Elizabeth stops by Beth Morrissey's blog, Hell or High Water, and shares her tips for surviving public appearances--even making them fun! Not to miss!

JUNE 25, 2009 Thursday
Are you working on a manuscript based on your life, but unsure whether to publish it as a memoir or fiction? Sometimes it's better for those family skeletons to stay in the closet. Today Elizabeth stops by Cathy C. Hall's Blog, Cathy C.'s Hall of Fame, and discusses the choice NOT to publish a written memoir. Come and weigh in on the pros and cons of this interesting topic!

JUNE 30, 2009 Tuesday
Elizabeth, who can claim the titles of poet, musician, and dancer, stops by Donna Volkenannt's blog, Donna's Book Pub, to tell us the advantages of having a creative force that crosses boundaries. And book giveaway comments contest! Stop by and comment for a chance to win a copy of My Life as a Doll.

JULY 7, 2009 Tuesday
Elizabeth stops by Mary Jo Campbell's blog, Writers Inspired, for a surprise guest post and author interview! Be sure to stop by for this fun day.

We may have more dates to come, so be sure to check out our Events Calendar HERE to keep up with the latest.

Get involved!

We hope you are as excited about the tour as we are! Mark your calendar, save these dates, and join us for this truly unique and fascinating author blog tour.

If you would like to host one of our authors, or are an author looking to schedule a tour of your own, please email Angela and Jodi at: blogtour@wow-womenonwriting.com

** Please feel free to copy any portion of this post.

Oh, be sure to comment on this post to enter in a drawing for a signed copy of Elizabeth Kirschner's memoir, My Life as a Doll.


AskMagnolia said...

Elizabeth, you are truly an artist! My Life as a Doll literally turned the dark mucky bottom of a swamp into an exquisite piece of fine art, not unlike a potter’s dream, throwing muddy clay to create a functional vessel of beauty. I rarely take time to read others’ writings, but somehow My Life as a Doll grabbed at me and I consumed it, I devoured every word at one sitting, and reread it again and again. What masterful intensity – you captured my heart and my soul, you left me breathless, you took me there where you were beaten and abused, showed me your deepest wounds and yet convinced me that in spite of your trauma, your passion, torn to shreds, had not been stolen, your soul survives, you are a phoenix! Thank you for this fine fine work of art, a poem of triumph over evil.

Margo Dill said...

I am in awe of people who can write in verse and people who can write about their own lives full of such pain. You are truly remarkable. So, since you are a poet, is that how most stories come to you? In verse?

Rev. Linda M. Rhinehart Neas, M.Ed. said...

Dear Elizabeth,

We have much in common. I am looking forward to reading your work.

High praise for the courage to put your pain in words, especially poetry. I am awed by how poetry transforms our pain, creating something beautiful.

Cheering for you!

Bridal Magic said...

Pain is turned into poetry, tragedy into beauty. I look forward to reading My Life as a Doll. It sounds like a truly inspirational book.

I also loved the comment on dance being a form of poetry. That's so true! I've been a ballet dancer for 8 years and its just another way for me to bring my emotions to the surface. I can't imagine living without it.

Thank you, Ms. Kirschner, for this wonderful interview!

PeacheReader said...

Great Job, You should be proud. I enjoy reading poetry. I wish I could write it. I could never get past Tanka and Haiku. I love these forms.
I look forward to reading your work. I wish you well on your tour.

LuAnn Schindler said...


Even though the story of My Life as a Doll is filled with the brutal truths that life sometimes tests our strength and courage, I certainly enjoyed the rhythm and language you place on the page.

It's been a pleasure getting to know you during the interview process for your blog tour. I will be following your progress! Much success.

WOW! said...

Hi Ladies,

We held a random drawing for Elizabeth's book, and picked a winner. Congratulations, Cassandra!

I couldn't find your email addy on your profile, so please email me (angela@wow-womenonwriting.com) with your mailing address and I will get in touch with Elizabeth. :)



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