Jeffrey Hillard interviews memoirist Christine Grote in this entertaining and evocative episode of the podcast. Christine’s two memoirs, Dancing in Heaven: A Sister’s Memoir and Where Memories Meet: Reclaiming My Father after Alzheimer’s, explore unique and fresh ground in the arena of Creative Non-Fiction. In fact, Dancing in Heaven breaks new ground in the family-medical-experiences sub-genre, as Christine incisively portrays of the joy, pain, wisdom, sacrifices, humor, and love that dominated the decades-long caretaking of her beloved, late sister Annie. Christine shares insights into memoir writing and also reads from a very revealing project-in-progress. Share your thoughts about this podcast in the blog comments below. Check back regularly for future “Inside the Writer’s Head” podcasts. Also, please consider subscribing to this podcast wherever you listen to podcasts. You may also rate it on iTunes and other platforms. We’d love to hear your feedback.
“Oh, I feel that I could melt,
Into heaven I’m hurled….”
–George Gershwin (“How Long Has This Been Going On?”)
When the musical genius, Prince Rogers Nelson, died on April 21 and his legend slipped into a new direction, I began drafting a poem in my own poet’s response to his death. Although I’m still affected by this loss, the poem, “Leaking Rain in Minneapolis,” was a gift to my imagination.
Alongside the short elegy, I am pleased to have two drawings by a richly talented student, Patrick Zopff, whose art I tremendously admire. He is one of our great young artists in this region. I invited Patrick to create his own artistic response to “Leaking Rain in Minneapolis,” and so his lovely vision of Prince and the poem, as evoked in two original drawings, accompanies my poem.
Patrick Zopff is an award-winning Art major and Music minor at Mount St. Joseph University. A multi-talented student, Patrick’s work has been exhibited at Studio San Giuseppe Art Gallery (Mount St. Joseph) and in 2014, his art received honors recognition in the regional Congressional Art Competition.
Leaking Rain in Minneapolis
Smoke circles with no fire. No fire to add
any comfort to our loss. The smoke is fog afterall,
with nothing burning for us to smell its beauty.
The morning you died, a mourning dove rose above it
and looked down at purple in droves, at bed sheets
spray-painted in your symbolic name, Prince, the man,
still prevailing in posters and candles,
in song beaming from the inside of a truck.
Then, of course, the sun drenched it all. Bathed all
in light that washed the face of every balloon.
In a fit of calmness, light growing pale and paler
around Paisley Park, you withdrew from a last dance
to glide into an awaiting shadow.
There is something pain can’t return.
Your voice disappears in the hollow of our minds,
and yet it does return, waits, your hand empty,
this feverish voice coming constantly
in the darkness, in the blue TV screenlight.
It was like this inside that early Thursday
when a rain cloud almost whisked by unnoticed.
Small pellets of rain fell. The mourning dove
called for your soul
you could not keep hidden and to the sky
you could not hide from.
**the italicized words are from the song, “A Case of You” (by Joni Mitchell, covered by Prince)