Nature Nurture Neither: A Family's Journey in Creativity
by Jan Epton Seale

Angelina River Press, 2014. ISBN 978-0-988-38445-3.
Reviewed by Khadijah A.
Posted on 02/20/2015

Nonfiction: Memoir; Nonfiction: Creative Life

Having long been a fan of Jan Seale's poetry, I was excited about reading Nature Nurture Neither: A Family's Journey in Creativity, a collection of essays about her family's journey in creativity. I, too, often get asked about how and why our family is so creative. Here, Seale answers the questions much better than I ever could!

The first three sections of the book give us the background information. We learn about her and her husband's families, as well as the family they created together: the two of them and their three sons. These are not just about the "nature" part of the creative equation, but touch on "nurture" as well, as we see snapshots of the family life through several decades. Seale shares stories of her own childhood, as well as those of her sons, who all sound like they were imaginative, interesting children. I found myself nodding agreement again and again as I recognized something in their stories that paralleled my own experiences, both as child and as mom.

In Part Four: The Home as Lab, Seale explores nurturing creativity more in depth, as she looks back at her household and how it may have facilitated and encouraged her sons to express themselves creatively. In this section, too, I found a lot of fascinating parallels. I think that Seale, like me, never "planned" on raising creative children, but her way of looking at the world and experiencing it led her naturally into creating an environment that was secure and offered the boys almost endless opportunities for creative work and play.

Part Five of the book explores genetics, right and left brain dominance, and other matters that may play a part in creativity. I have to admit that being dominated by a certain part of my brain caused me to read more lightly over this part of the book, to get back to the "fun" stuff!

While Nature Nurture Neither: A Family's Journey in Creativity is full of ideas and examples that can help families nurture creativity in their children, Part Six: Cultivating Creativity explores this, as well as the role of genetics and heredity, in more detail.

Again, using her own experiences and those of her children, Seale brings subjects such as creativity, adversity, IQ, character, skills, and joy (never to be underestimated) together, showing the influence they can have over a child's creativity.

I enjoyed reading Nature Nurture Neither, not only to better understand creativity and why it happens, but because it was interesting to learn more about Seale herself, as well as her family life. The book was well organized and written, and a joy to read.

Jan Epton Seale, the 2012 Texas Poet Laureate, is a native Texan who lives in McAllen, in the southern tip of Texas. She is the author of eight volumes of poetry, two books of short fiction, three books of nonfiction, and nine children's books. Visit her website.

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