Debra Gwartney in Conversation with Kathleen Holt
Debra Gwartney joins us to read from her new book, I Am A Stranger Here Myself, published by the University of New Mexico Press. Debra will be joined in conversation by Kathleen Holt, editor of Oregon Humanities Magazine. This book is the winner of the 2018 RiverTeeth Nonfiction Prize, judged by Gretel Ehrlich. Part history, part memoir, I Am a Stranger Here Myself taps dimensions of human yearning: the need to belong, the snarl of family history, and embracing womanhood in the patriarchal American West. Arranged in four sections as a series of interlocking explorations and ruminations, the book uses Narcissa Prentiss Whitman as a touchstone to spin a tightly woven narrative about identity, the power of womanhood, and coming to peace with one's most cherished place. Author Claire Dederer says "For women, the West can be a two-hearted place -- a place of belonging and alienation, a place of history and its erasure. In this brilliant exploration of what it means to be a woman of the West, Debra Gwartney interweaves her own story with that of Narcissa Whitman. The result is a beautiful hybrid -- a genre-busting book that takes a profound, relatable, and riveting look at Western identity, then and now."
Debra Gwartney is the author of Live Through This, a memoir published in 2009 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. She is also co-editor, along with her husband Barry Lopez, of Home Ground: Language for an American Landscape, published by Trinity University Press. She has published essays in many magazines, newspapers, and literary journals, including American Scholar, TriQuarterly, Prairie Schooner, Salon, Tampa Review, Kenyon Review, Crab Orchard Review, The New York Times (“Modern Love” column), and others. She has received several fellowships including from Portland’s Literary Arts, The Oregon Arts Commission, The Wurlitzer Foundation of Taos, New Mexico, and Hedgebrook Writers Colony. In 2000, she was a scholarship winner for the Breadloaf Writers Conference. Debra is currently a member of the nonfiction faculty for Pacific University’s MFA in Writing program and lives in Western Oregon.