Interweavings: Creative Nonfiction
by Carol Smallwood

Shanti Arts Press, 2017. ISBN 978-1-941-83046-8.
Reviewed by Mary Jo Doig
Posted on 02/04/2018

Nonfiction: Memoir

My previous experiences with a Carol Smallwood literary book have given me the knowledge that I'm about to enter a silent, sacred space of words. Smallwood's latest book, Interweavings: Creative Nonfiction, beautifully upheld my earlier feelings.

The cover, a delicately sketched illustration of a young woman in a peasant blouse and long skirt, deeply engaged with her hands on a slider bar of her large loom weave, is a lovely metaphor for the nearly four-dozen reflective essays that wait inside. In the Visits section, for example, I loved the reflection in "The Post Office," where Smallwood stitched thoughts about ways that her visit to the post office resembled some aspects of attending church.

Who were these people coming in and going out, so politely standing in line as directed by the sign: ATTENTION!!! Customer Line Forms on the RIGHT....The hushed lines were not unlike those confessional lines at St. John's with the same air of wishing to be somewhere else. Come to think of it, venial and mortal sins could be compared with parcel post and priority rates, though I heard you don't have to go to church on Sundays (or Saturdays) anymore under the pain of mortal sin.

Similar reflections of other places and topics follow, each a delightful mingling of seemingly unconnected places or concepts, yet when viewed through the author's lens and words, lightly weave together in a true, often whimsical fashion.

In Smallwood's Things Literary section, she contrasts multi-tasking and other methods of time-saving to increase higher productivity with the artist's need to have time for daydreaming. The essay, Arriving at the Aha Moment, is a reflection that every writer or artist can appreciate.

I do not understand how mulling works, but I know enough to respect its complexities and be open to it. For years the color of spring grass after a long rain, the brilliance of the emerald, made me want to capture it in words. Finally, this spring a poem came easily and was accepted for publication the first time I sent it out. The triolet seems like it came from someone else when I read the printed issue I received. For years I struggled to express that overwhelming connection with the mystery of renewal, but eventually the time was right.

The above essay excerpts are but two of the treasures that wait for you in this remarkable book. I recommend Interweavings for anyone who enjoys the experience of carefully-chosen words tenderly written in a manner that delights one's senses and tugs them into Smallwood's world. Once you're there, her perceptions may cause you to search out your everyday moments and discover your own interweavings.

Carol Smallwood edited Bringing the Arts into the Library (American Library Association, 2014) and is a National Federation of State Poetry Societies and Franklin-Christoph Poetry Contest Winner. Among her over four dozen books, Women and Poetry: Tips on Writing, Teaching and Publishing by Successful Women Poets (Foreword by Molly Peacock) appears on the list of "Best Books for Writers" by Poets & Writers Magazine. Recent poetry collections are from WordTech Editions, Lamar University Press, Shanti Arts. Writing After Retirement: Tips by Successful Retired Writers (Rowman & Littlefield, 2014); The Library's Role in Supporting Financial Literacy for Patrons (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016); Library Partnerships With Writers and Poets (McFarland, 2017). Compartments: Poems on Nature, Femininity, and Other Realms was nominated for the Pushcart Prize; others followed. Carol's first chapter of her novel, Lily's Odyssey, is in Best New Writing 2010; Interweavings: Creative Nonfiction (Shanti Arts, 2017).

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