SINGING BONES READING GUIDE
Kate Schmitt earned her M.F.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Houston. She is a visual artist as well as a writer, and her work has appeared in a number of anthologies, including The Weight of Addition: An Anthology of Texas Poets, for which she won the Editor's Choice Prize. She has also published her visual and written work in literary journals, including Third Coast, The Florida Review, and Louisiana Literature. She grew up in New Hampshire and Hong Kong and now lives in Florida, where she teaches creative writing at Florida Atlantic University.
SUMMARY OF THE BOOK:
This book is a collection of poetry and prose pieces about the author's grandmother who committed suicide and of her own experiences with depression, self-harm and many other issues. It is a book about family, love and difficulties associated with illness. Singing Bones was the winner of the Zone 3 Press 2013 Creative Nonfiction Book Award
1. In this book Kate Schmitt writes about family and loss in a way that is very particular to her experience and yet potentially like the experiences of her readers. Did reading these pieces bring up memories of people you have lost or people in your family to whom you feel connected? Was there one work in the book that triggered that memory?
2. Who are the people in Kate Schmitt's life who had the most impact on her emotional health? Have there been people in your own life who appeared just at the right moment?
3. The writing in Singing Bones is clear and calm despite the intense distress often described. Has writing ever been useful to you in addressing difficulty in your own life?
4. There are many books about illness, family and loss. What other books have you read that revolve around a real life situation like Kate Schmitt's depression? How do they compare to Singing Bones?
5. Have you heard of "creative nonfiction" before reading this book? What characterizes the genre? It seems as though the author did a fair amount of research which she recounts. Her gradual discoveries about her family, particularly about her grandmother, create a kind of suspense, as do her experiences in institutions. Does this book remind you of books of true crime, mystery or other genres?
SPD's "Open Books" project is generously supported by the Berkeley Civic Arts Program, the California Arts Commission and the Walter & Elise Haas Fund.