Early Review for The Art of Waiting


An early, starred review from Kirkus:

“This deeply empathetic book is about more than one woman’s challenge; it’s about the whole scope of maternal urges, of how culture (and literature) treat the childless (or “childfree”), how biases against medical intervention serve to stigmatize those who need such expensive (and not always successful) assistance, and how complicated can be the decisions about whether to adopt rather than continuing to attempt to conceive, the moral dimensions of international adoption (and surrogates), the additional hurdles facing gay couples, and the seemingly arbitrary differences between states as to what procedures are covered and to what financial limit. . . . Boggs writes with considerable heart and engagement about the decisions that are so tough for so many. . . . A story well-told and deeply felt.” Kirkus Reviews, starred review
The book isn’t out until September 6, but it makes me so happy to see it in galley format (pictured above, with clover) and to hear that the writing, research, and ideas are resonating. More soon about a galley signing in May!


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New work…


Hello! It’s been a while!

I’ve been working on some big projects, including a new nonfiction book, The Art of Waiting: On Fertility, Medicine, and Motherhood. It will be published next September by Graywolf Press! Would you like to read an excerpt?

“Baby Fever,” in the current issue of Orion, is adapted from the manuscript.

I’m working on a new website, too, which will show off the beautiful cover designed by Kimberly Glyder. And photos, and essay and story links. And this poor neglected blog, which I think I now have time to neglect a little less.

(photo above by Ken Abbott. Check out his amazing book here.)

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William Hazlitt Prize news, new Orion post

I’m very pleased to tell you that my essay, “The Art of Waiting,” was a runner-up in the inaugural William Hazlitt Prize, sponsored by Notting Hill Editions, which honors the best essays written in English. Canadian author, academic, and politician Michael Ignatieff was the winner, with his outstanding “Raphael Lemkin and Genocide,” first published in the New Republic. The other runners-up are “Politics 2013” by JT Barbarese, “Light Entertainment” by Andrew O’Hagan, “The Empathy Exams” by fellow Graywolfer Leslie Jamison (her debut essay collection of the same name comes out next year), and “The Shadow of the Scroll: Reconstructing Islam’s Origins” by Sameer Rahim. It’s an honor to be in their company, and I hope you’ll consider ordering the handsome book (pictured above) that will include all of our essays.

For more on William Hazlitt, check out this page from Quotidiana, which includes a brief bio and a good selection of his work. I highly recommend “On Going a Journey,” relevant reading in the face of iPhones, social media, etc. etc.

Also: my students and I have a new post on Orion‘s blog.


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Recent Photos







From top: Halloween on River Road / sleeping Julius / sleeping Loretta / felted wool puppy by Sophie / me / clover

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Views from Above

Aerial photo of a former tobacco farm in Cerro Gordo, NC

Aerial photo of a former tobacco farm in Cerro Gordo, NC.

About two years ago, at a Creative Capital retreat sponsored by our state’s Arts Council, I met Ken Abbott, an Asheville-based photographer who has been doing incredible work with low elevation aerial photography (LEAP). Using a tethered balloon and a digital camera, Ken photographs landscapes that are sometimes beautiful, sometimes ravaged by development (including mountaintop removal). He’s even gotten himself into trouble (almost) documenting supermax prisons from above.

Ken and I had the idea to collaborate on a project with students, and with generous support from the North Carolina Arts Council, the North Carolina Humanities Council (and wonderful Indiegogo contributors!) brought our pilot program, “Views from Above,” to West Columbus High School in rural eastern North Carolina. For two weeks, we worked with students to do both land and aerial work–photographing using the LEAP system, evaluating and arranging images, and doing landscape work and interviews in two small towns. With plenty of student help, I’m blogging about the work on Orion‘s website for the next few weeks; check out our first post here.

Ken, by the way, will publish his first book next year with GFT. I saw the collected photographs while we were in Columbus County and can’t wait to get a copy.

P.S. Orion is accepting submissions November 1-15!

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a personal note


I am pregnant, and Richard and I are so happy to be expecting a baby girl in less than a month. I feel like I’ve lived with this pregnancy for so long now, and have gotten so used to my new lifestyle (decaf coffee, no wine, no Jillian Michaels 30-day Shred) and my big belly that everyone must know, but last week someone came up to me at Trader Joe’s and gasped, “Belle? Are you pregnant?” (Trust me, it is quite obvious, but she was very sweet.)

I didn’t post about it here because, well, I wasn’t posting much, but also because it felt like such fragile and improbable news. In the spring, when I was newly pregnant, I collected four-leaf clovers that I found along the river in a small notebook I used to take with me to the RE office. The first half of the book is all notes from those visits: E2 levels and follicle counts, plus the flavors of the Keurig machine in the reception area, what was on television, the color and texture of the wallpaper…  The second half is filled with dozens and dozens of pressed clovers.

Even when we relaxed a little about the pregnancy, the news felt very personal, and when I thought of posting her sweet ultrasound profile (which I look at all the time), it occurred to me that I could see it as an invasion of her privacy, so I didn’t. I think after she’s born I’ll be able to tell whether she’d be okay with having her photo on a blog or not, and we’ll go from there, and in the meantime I can post a picture of Julius sleeping in her crib and Loretta sleeping in her basket of diapers.

Otherwise, I’m writing about it: recently here and here, but also in some new pieces that are still coming together.

(The photo above is of me in Iceland last Christmastime, the big trip Richard and I took before beginning IVF.)


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“The Science of Citizenship” in Orion


Some books you can’t wait to read–you have to get them the day they come out, and then you devour them in a day or two. That was my experience with Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, which I blogged about in February 2010. I read it as an argument for the value of science education in our culture, and later wrote an essay for Orion about why skimping on science is bad for an engaged and informed citizenship.

To document the piece, I used Skloot’s work, my own experience as a poorly-trained Brooklyn classroom teacher, as well as my more recent teaching experience working with the dedicated science teachers at Hawbridge in North Carolina. I also paid visits to the inspiring Environmental Charter Middle and High Schools in Los Angeles, and spoke with Sandra Laursen, who codirects a research unit devoted to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education at the University of Colorado, Boulder. You can read the article online in full here; it will also appear in Leave No Child Inside, an anthology just published by Orion.

(Above: seedlings in the hydroponic greenhouse at ECHS.)

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