Author Melissa Ginsburg visits, discusses portraying women in literature
Cora Haddad | Monday, April 3, 2023
As part of the Visiting Writers Series, Saint Mary’s welcomed novelist and poet Melissa Ginsburg Thursday for a reading and book signing in Haggar Parlor.
Ginsburg started off by reading from her novel, “The House Uptown,” which was released during the pandemic. The novel’s inspiration, Ginsburg said, was both her personal life and imagination.
“The setting for this novel is the house that my grandmother lived in New Orleans when I was a little kid,” she said. “So, things like that are taken straight from life, but all of the characters are made up or are like an amalgamation of people I know and made up stuff and parts of myself too.”
Ginsburg then read from her most recently published book of poetry titled, “Doll Apollo.”
The musicality of her poems is very intentional, Ginsburg explained, reading at an intended cadence to demonstrate so.
“They’re very musical,” Ginsburg said. “So I hope that people just enjoy listening to them and also are moved by them. And I also hope that a lot of the sort of emotional tenor of the poems will resonate with people in the audience.”
Ginsburg also spoke about where the content of her poetry is adopted from.
“I use a lot of images that are just things that I see and I’m interested in or a lot of images that are derived from the landscape of the place where I live, that I’m directly observing and interacting with all the time,” Ginsburg said.
Because of her interest in portraying women, Ginsburg welcomed the opportunity to speak on Saint Mary’s campus.
“I love speaking at an all girls school,” Ginsburg said. “I visited a class this morning that was really wonderful to interact with those women. All of my writing is about women and girls. This is my audience, it’s really wonderful just to be able to read these from these books that are so much about art and art making and being a woman in the world. And navigating all of these sorts of things that we all have to deal with, like patriarchy, sexual violence, all of that stuff, you know, is such a part of my work.”
Circling back to “The House Uptown,” Ginsburg again elaborated on the experience of women.
“The novel is about a woman artist who has had to figure out a way to make her life function. While she’s dedicated to her career, and also a mom and the kinds of sacrifices that she makes to do that and the things that she does, the things that she gives up and the ways that she’s judged. All of that comes from the novel. So I think we’re all still dealing with that.”