Saturday, November 4, 2023

Q&A with Diane Gottlieb



Diane Gottlieb is the editor of the new anthology Awakenings: Stories of Body & Consciousness. She is also an educator, and she is the prose and nonfiction editor of Emerge Literary Journal.


Q: What inspired you to create this anthology, and how did you select the stories to include?


A: The founder and publisher of ELJ Editions, Ariana D. Den Bleyker, came up with the idea. As soon as she mentioned it to me, I was all in! She and I have had numerous conversations about our own struggles with our bodies and body image. It was time to open the conversation and invite others in.


After the call for submissions, I began to see common threads—courage, a journey towards self-acceptance, and a push back against toxic societal messages about how our bodies should look and function.


Choosing among the submissions was difficult. My main criterion for selection was that the essay had to move me—deeply. It could make me laugh! Or cry. Or think in new ways. I needed to learn and grow from each piece.

Q: How did you decide on the order in which they would appear in the book?


A: Initially, I thought this might be my greatest challenge. But the essays seemed to order themselves! Essays were in conversation with each other and connected organically. They kind of fell into place and created their own beautiful narrative arc.


Q: The writer Ana Maria Spagna said of the book, “Awakenings is a celebration of the body, the whole body. These essays astonish with tales of teeth, arms, hips, gallbladders, lungs, toes and hair. And hearts too...” What do you think of that description?


A: Oh, I love Ana Maria’s description! It feels exactly right! While the book has some difficult stories, each is a testament to resilience. Every piece is empowering. Awakenings truly is a celebration of flesh and bone—imbued with tremendous heart. 


Q: What do you hope readers take away from the book?


A: I hope readers will come away inspired.


I hope they will have learned to see the world and the body from multiple perspectives they hadn’t before considered.


Lastly, I hope the book will give readers a new and deeper appreciation of their own bodies and for how their bodies move about in the world.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I am primarily working on longer form personal essays and some flash fiction, along with several book reviews. There might even be another anthology on the horizon.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: Just that I hope your readers will pick up a copy of Awakenings. These diverse and brave voices should not be missed.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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