Saturday, July 22, 2023

Q&A with Roberta S. Kuriloff




Roberta S. Kuriloff is the author of the new memoir Framing a Life: Building the Space to Be Me. She also has written the book Everything Special, Living Joy. Also a community activist and former attorney, she lives in Maine.


Q: What inspired you to write Framing a Life, and how long did it take you to write it?


A: I earlier published Everything Special, Living Joy: Prose & Poems to Inspire, written at a silent meditation retreat, which triggered an eight-year spiritual quest, wanting to live life half-full, not half empty. 


Years later I recognized I needed to share how I came to write the poetry book, which could only be told through memoir. It took me about five years to write, in between working full time. I believe my memoir is honest, loving and spiritual. It is not an angry nor hostile.


Q: The writer Laura L. Engel said of the book that “you will cheer on Roberta as she learns home is not necessarily a place. It is embedded in your core, your heart, and your soul.” What do you think of that description?


A: I agree with Laura’s description. As I struggled to understand my life, I came to recognize that home is inside me; I take it with me wherever I am. 


I wanted to share how loss can be transformed into meaning. The losses of my early life were the death of my mother at age 32, living in an orphanage for many years, and mainly seeing my father on the weekends.


Later in life, an added loss was the death of my partner in a car accident, which exploded my sense of self, opening up a new internal spiritual search.


Q: What impact did writing the book have on you?


A: It was a soul-searching experience. It required me to review my diaries/journals – 35 of them! In essence I relived my life, and the adult in me finally appreciated the pain and growth and loss I had faced, without which I wouldn’t be who I now am.


Q: What do you hope readers will take away from your story?


A: My memoir is not just my story, but the story of women who lived difficult lives, who struggled to survive.


Most importantly, I would love readers to see/believe that they are not alone in their life struggles. That they can find their inner core and trust; unafraid to tolerate or endure challenges and take chances in life. That home is less a physical place than an intrinsic sense of self. 


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I’m considering short stories on aging, health and having fun.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: I believe in walking the talk.  I was a founding member, and on the board for six years, of a battered women’s shelter/organization in New Haven, as well as received the President’s Award from the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence of New Haven, 1977.


I also was a founding member of The Next Step, a battered women’s shelter/organization in Ellsworth, Maine. I’m a past Board member and volunteer with Hospice.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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