On Sept. 28, the Salem College Center for Women Writers (CWW) hosted an event in Gramley Library as a part of their NC Writers Showcase Series. Novelist Holly Goddard Jones, author of “The Salt Line”, and poet Lavinia Jackson, writer of “Poetry in Plain Sight,” were invited to read from their books and answer questions from audience members, many of whom were Salem students of creative writing.
The event was introduced by Salem’s Assistant Professor and Director of Creative Writing, Metta-Sáma, who spoke of what she called “the two-headed beast called hope,” citing the dual hopelessness and hopefulness that she found in the writers’ work. First to read was Jackson, a Coast Guard veteran and poet local to the Winston-Salem and Greensboro area, who spoke about her book, “Poetry in Plain Sight.”
“[The book] took twenty-five years to write and thirty-four days to get published,” said Jackson. “Hold on to your dreams.”
Jackson then read several poems from the collection, including “Artistic Warrior,” “How We Do,” “Truth Is” and others. She ended with a piece of wisdom: “I think it’s important that we, as a collective, return to the places that foster us…. Years from now, come back [to Salem College] and show other women that it is okay to occupy this space.”
Jones followed with a reading from her feminist dystopian novel “The Salt Line,” noted as a literary spin on the dystopian genre. The novel is about a group of men and women who venture beyond the “salt line” that separates their world from the outer zone populated by disease-carrying ticks.
During the question and answer session following both readings, Jones spoke about the process of writing strong female characters, including Marta, a middle-aged mother from her book, and noted how few central characters in novels happen to be older women.
“I like writing characters who are different from myself,” said Jones.
Students and other audience members also asked questions of developing characters and plot lines, as well as suggestions regarding the writing process and other issues related to creative writing. At the end of the event, CWW and the audience thanked the writers for donating their time, and a book sale of “Poetry in Plain Sight” followed afterwards.
Follow CWW on Instagram @centerforwomenwriters, and follow the writers from this event @goddardjones and @lavinia_poet.