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Susan Stinson

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09:53 pm: Deborah Digges
I was so sorry to learn, via Paul Lisicky, that Deborah Digges has died.

She was a poet. I met her only once, almost twenty years ago at a writers conference. I was in a workshop with Terry McMillan, and my clearest memory is dancing in a circle with Terry and Deborah, who was also teaching, and a couple of high school aged writers at a party, while some others looked on a little bit sourly ("That's not dancing, that's aerobics," I remember hearing one of the male faculty poets say.) It was just the length of a song, but it's a strong impression: Deborah being kind and willing to appear at least a little bit wild. I think she had on hip huggers. I thought of her as very beautiful.

Right after that, I read her Late in the Millennium. I remember lying on my back on the bed in Chesterfield, being moved and amazed. I loved the poem about her mother, "The Rockettes." I went looking for the book tonight, and couldn't find it. but here is a link to a stunning poem, Telling the Bees, about her father's death. There's a recording there, too, so, if you want to, you can hear her voice.

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From:pantryslut
Date:April 14th, 2009 02:24 am (UTC)
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Susan -- was the writer's conference at Holyoke? I was there (and so were Terry and Deborah, which is why I ask).

I'm so sorry to hear this news. I liked her a lot.
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From:susanstinson
Date:April 14th, 2009 02:30 am (UTC)
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Mt. Holyoke Writers conference -- yes it was. You were there? Wow. Whose workshop did you take, do you remember? Summer of 1989, I think. I was on a scholarship, working the conference, and, yes, liked Deborah and her work a lot.

[User Picture]
From:pantryslut
Date:April 14th, 2009 03:23 am (UTC)
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I was in Stephen Dunn's poetry workshop. And yes, summer of 1989. Wow.
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From:susanstinson
Date:April 14th, 2009 11:21 am (UTC)
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Stephen Dunn, sure enough. One of the memorable things that happened at that conference was that I got riled up by the way one of the writers casually used fat imagery, and read my poem "Pretty Fat" -- "Fat so fat so fat so fat so so so fat..." etc., in the outdoor amphitheater at one of the big student readings. Terry said, "Next time, read fiction," but Deborah told me that she liked it, and I think that's one of the reasons that dance meant so much to me -- it felt like a kind of body solidarity dance, something like that.

Were you living out here at the time (I was), or did you travel to the conference?
[User Picture]
From:pantryslut
Date:April 15th, 2009 05:14 am (UTC)
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I traveled from Michigan to be there.

I remember spending a lot of time late at night talking with Dave Smith in the dorm lounge. Well, and I also remember the very drunk fiction writer who tried to pick me up one night mid-week, and then left the conference the next day.

And I also remember eating lunch almost every day at Terry's table.
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From:susanstinson
Date:April 15th, 2009 01:14 pm (UTC)
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The very drunk thing was going around, as I remember, especially one guy, whose name I don't remember. I was commuting, so didn't stay in the dorms (and maybe didn't have meals), but hung out some with Ernest Hebert, who I really like. His book, The Old American, is really terrific.

It is a small world. And it's still sad, so sad, that Deborah is now gone.
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From:wordweaverlynn
Date:April 14th, 2009 03:38 am (UTC)
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I am so sorry. I've always loved her work.
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From:susanstinson
Date:April 14th, 2009 11:22 am (UTC)
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She was such a strong writer.
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From:ivyblogs
Date:April 14th, 2009 09:00 pm (UTC)
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I have never read her poetry, but when my son was eight, I read her book about her son, The Stardust Lounge. My son had been diagnosed with ADHD and I'd been doing everything I was supposed to do and he was becoming horrible. I was worried for him and for his future. I'm not exaggerating when I say her book started me down a completely different road with my son. One that's made him a much happier, well adjusted person. it changed out whole family. I read that book every year. I'm so sorry to hear she died.
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From:susanstinson
Date:April 14th, 2009 10:33 pm (UTC)
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What a strong testimony to her work, that it has meant so much to you.
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