Diane P. Freedman has written a new book that combines memoir, critical essays, journaling, and poetry to explore her experiences of the middle years. In Midlife with Thoreau: Poems, Essays, Journals, Freedman turns to the books of Thoreau, practicing the nature cure and the narrative cure. She writes about family, feminism, literary history, loss, divorce, dating, accidents, animals, waterways, local landscapes, and teaching environmental literature in suburban New Hampshire. She sojourns with books and domestic beasts, tramps brambles and trails, and basks in language, love, and lake-front sun. Thoreau loved a “broad margin” in his life and Whitman, another influence, “a certain free margin.” Out of these, Carl Bode maintained—and Freedman shows—poetry could grow. Taking direction also from new environmental writers such as Ian Marshall, John Elder, Janisse Ray, Sandra Steingraber, and Amy Seidl and from other hybrid or narrative and autobiographical critics, this is a book of intense observation, advocacy, lyricism, sweetness, and sadness. Midlife with Thoreau will be released by Hiraeth Press next month.
Freedman is Professor of English and Core Faculty Member in Women’s Studies. She is the author of An Alchemy of Genres: Cross-Genre Writing by American Feminist Poet-Critics; editor of Millay at 100: A Critical Reappraisal; and co-editor of The Teacher’s Body: Embodiment, Authority, and Identity in the Academy, Autobiographical Writings across the Disciplines: A Reader, and The Intimate Critique: Autobiographical Literary Criticism. She teaches courses in poetry, memoir, nature writing, women’s literature, and the Holocaust.