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A Virtual Afternoon with Julie Marie Wade and Julia Koets
Sunday, September 20, 2020 @ 4:00 pm
Books & Books and Miami Book Fair present “An Afternoon with Julie Marie Wade and Julia Koets” discussing Just an Ordinary Woman Breathing and The Rib Joint.
You have a history, and a body. You are a history, and a body. Your body has (is) a history, too. As a girl, Julie Marie Wade was uninterested in makeup, boy-watching, and other trappings of conventional girlhood, much to her mother’s disappointment. Grace Kelly and Marilyn Monroe—movie stars immortalized as feminine ideals, even as they both died tragically and young—were lodestars that threw Wade’s own definition of beauty into relief as she stumbled into adulthood.
Now, in Just an Ordinary Woman Breathing, Wade traces the intimate story of coming of age in one particular body (as a lesbian, an only child, a Protestant attending Catholic school). She uses the language and tenets of music, math, religion, fairy tales, poetry, and art to reckon with the many facets of embodiment, sexuality, and love in our contemporary world. The diet industry, popular culture, and her own family all provide rich material for what is ultimately a lyrical and unflinching investigation into the questions that prickle deep within the human heart.
In this collection of linked, lyrical essays, Julia Koets writes, “When you date in secret, the pressure is different. You’re weightless. You’re stuck in between jumping and landing. You exist in midair. Your bones start to thin.” Growing up in a small town in the South, Julia and her childhood best friend Laura know the church as well as they know each other’s bodies—the California-shaped scar on Julia’s right knee, the tapered thinness of Laura’s fingers, the circumference of each other’s ponytails. When Laura’s family moves away in middle school and Julia gets a crush on the new priest’s daughter at their church, Julia starts to more fully realize the consequences of being anything but straight in the South. After college, when Julia and her best friend Kate wait tables at a rib joint in Julia’s hometown, they are forced to face the price of the secrets they’ve kept—from their families, each other, and themselves. From astronaut Sally Ride’s obituary, to a UFO Welcome Center, to a shark tooth collection, to DC Comic’s Gay Ghost, this memoir-in-essays draws from mythology, religion, popular culture, and personal experience to examine how coming out is not a one-time act. At once heartrending and beautiful, The Rib Joint explores how fear and loss can inhabit our bodies and, contrastingly, how naming our desire allows us to feel the heart beating in our chest.
About the Authors
Julie Marie Wade is the author of 12 collections of poetry and prose, most recently the hybrid-forms chapbook P*R*I*D*E (Vermont College of Fine Arts, 2020) and the book-length lyric essay, Just an Ordinary Woman Breathing (The Ohio State University Press, 2020). A winner of the Marie Alexander Poetry Series and the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Memoir, Julie is an Associate Professor of English in the creative writing program at Florida International University. She lives with her spouse Angie Griffin and their two cats in Dania Beach.
Julia Koets is the author of The Rib Joint: A Memoir in Essays (2019, Red Hen Press), Pine (forthcoming in 2020, Southern Indiana Review Press), and Hold Like Owls (2012, The University of South Carolina Press). She is the winner of the 2017 Red Hen Press Nonfiction Book Award judged by Mark Doty, the 2019 Michael Waters Poetry Prize, and the 2011 South Carolina Poetry Book Prize judged by National Book Award Winner Nikky Finney. Julia’s essays and poems have been published or are forthcoming in literary journals including Creative Nonfiction, Indiana Review, Nimrod, The Los Angeles Review, Carolina Quarterly, and Portland Review. She earned her M.F.A. at the University of South Carolina and her Ph.D. in Creative Writing and Literature at the University of Cincinnati. She is an Assistant Professor of creative nonfiction at the University of South Florida in Tampa.