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2013 State of the Book Presenter: Anne-Marie Oomen

Editor’s Note: For the past two weeks we’ve been posting micro-portraits and/or interesting news about this year’s 2013 presenters at The State of the Book Literary Symposium, which will take place in Ann Arbor TOMORROW, September 28, in Rackham Auditorium. All events are free and open to the public. For a complete schedule or list of presenters, please check out the State of the Book Website. Thank you!


Anne-Marie Oomen is the author of two memoirs, Pulling Down the Barn and House of Fields, both Michigan Notable Books; An American Map: Essays  (Wayne State University Press); and a full-length collection of poetry, Uncoded Woman (Milkweed Editions). She is also represented in New Poems of the Third Coast: Contemporary Michigan Poetry, and edited Looking Over My Shoulder: Reflections on the Twentieth Century, an anthology of seniors’ essays funded by the Michigan Humanities Council. She has written seven plays, including the award-winning Northern Belles (inspired by oral histories of women farmers), and most recently, Secrets of Luuce Talk Tavern, 2012 winner of the CTAM contest. She adapted the meditations of Gwen Frostic for Chaotic Harmony,  a choreopoem. She is founding editor of Dunes Review, former president of Michigan Writers, Inc., serves as instructor of creative writing at Interlochen Arts Academy, ICCA Writer’s Retreat, and Solstice MFA at Pine Manor College, MA.  

In an interview with Carrie Margolis for Pine Manor College, Margolis asks about Oomen’s research in writing her memoir Pulling Down the Barn, given that an extensive family history is part of the story. In response to whether researching her family history had “any personal impact on [her] or [her] writing,” Oomen replies:

I work primarily from my own memory, which is usually similar to but not always exactly like my sibling’s memories. I do talk to members of my family and look at family photos and documents when they are available, but I know that my real sources (my personal primary sources) are my memories. I remember them because they were in some way singularly formative to my being, my identity. My brothers have other important memories, some that I don’t have. Memory is not history, memory is the story of an identity or realization or revelation. In that way, my memories may serve the narrative (that is, the literary endeavor) better than history. Though history can’t be entirely discounted, it plays a different role. I am aware of and careful about the place where history meets memory, and where imagination meets both. It is a rich meeting place.

Hear more from Oomen on her non-fiction process at The State of the Book, where she’ll be joining fellow essayists Jonathan Cohn and Christine Montross in a panel entitled “The Art of Fact,” moderated by author Eileen Pollack.

Read the rest of the interview here.

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