Published in The Susquehanna Review: “What to Expect While Grieving for Your Father”

Lots of good news! As some of you know, I had a story accepted by the national undergraduate literary journal, The Susquehanna Review, back in June.* This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the launch party for the 2011-2012 issue which means that:

  1. My short non-fiction piece, “What to Expect While Grieving for Your Father” (which won the 2011 Bloomsburg University English Department Award for Creative Non-Fiction and 2nd place in The Baltimore Review’s Creative Non-Fiction Contest) is finally published!
  2. I got my hands on a copy of the journal (so excited to read it from start to finish!)
  3. As the launch party was a celebration of the dual launch of both the print journal and the online journal, you can read it for yourself now too!

All contributing writers who attended were granted the opportunity to read their writing to a big room of people. While being video taped.

Have I ever mentioned that I recently developed a slight fear of public speaking? It stems from a really horrific public speaking class I was required to take in college. Before taking it, I liked public speaking the same way I’ve always enjoyed reading books aloud to my younger sister and to unsuspecting passerbyers I can convince to sit still long enough to listen. Not that I was an impressive orator by any means, with long passages memorized, or the ability to speak with a passionate eloquence which could thrill an attentive audience. If I didn’t have the confidence that I was good at it, I at least had the confidence that I could do it and that I had the right to stand in front of people and be heard. So therefore, I had no natural build-up of nerves when I prepared for my first graded speech presentation. That was, I wasn’t nervous until the professor dedicated an entire class period to a never-ending, incredibly detailed list of reasons why one should be afraid of public speaking and the knee-quivering, gut-wrenching, heart-pounding effects that everyone should have. “If you don’t have these feelings,” he told us, “it’s unnatural.”

Therefore, when I stood at the podium (read: music stand) with my printed story in hand, I was more annoyed than nervous when my voice started to quiver and break, when my heart started to race so fast that I was gulping to keep it in my chest, and when my legs started to shake underneath me like an earthquake (not ideal when one is wearing five-inch-high heeled boots). Thankfully, my voice evened out after a page and, since my story is rather emotional, perhaps listeners chalked it up to that. Two really nice students came up to me afterwards to shake my hand, compliment the story, and admit that they had been reduced to tears in their seats. I was still so flustered that my manners failed me and I didn’t do more than mumble an awkward apology for causing them to cry–and I certainly didn’t manage to ask their names–but if you’re reading this, thank you again! [waves through computer screen]

In other good news, I’ve been featured on the Bloomsburg University College of Liberal Arts blog. It talks more about the NYU Summer Publishing Institute, if you’re interested in that. You can read the post here.

*Personal Submission Response Time: 3 months, 6 days.

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13 thoughts on “Published in The Susquehanna Review: “What to Expect While Grieving for Your Father”

  1. sweetmother says:

    congrats. and truly deserved. i read the piece and it’s terrific, albeit sad. you look far too young to lose your dad. anyway, a really solid piece. it hit me in all the right places.

    • hannahkarena says:

      Thank you, I’m glad it affected you. And that’s the perfect way to say it, “hitting in all the right place.” I think a lot of people who have read it don’t know how to verbalize their reaction, for fear of upsetting or offending because it’s such a personal piece. Thanks for reading and for the feedback :] And yeah, I may look young now–I was told I didn’t look old enough to have a drivers license the other day . . . trying to decide how I feel about this–but he died when I was 18 and a freshman in college.

  2. Samir says:

    Congratulations. I think you should keep getting published and reading your material, that ought to fix the stage fright, right? Practice makes perfect so what an excellent excuse 😉

    • hannahkarena says:

      Thanks Samir! I wish all the places I got published in hosted launch parties; they’re such a great way to celebrate! (and yes, get over that stage fright . . .)

  3. lindseycrittenden says:

    Hannah, I loved reading your piece. The use of the imperative tense, the verbs like “crippling” and “punching,” the details of the loud TV, the way Father’s Day and weddings are too painful. I hope you won’t mind my sharing a piece I wrote after my brother died not to steal your much-deserved publication thunder but to say how interesting it is as a writer, to see how two of us can address the same topic (grief) with some stylistic similarities but completely individual voice & detail.
    I’m sorry for your loss and grateful, this morning, to find you online.

    • hannahkarena says:

      Thanks Lindsey, I’m glad you liked it. Where is your story published? I’d like to go read it myself. And I’m glad to have found your blog too. There’s not many memoir writers on the internet and it’s great to have stumbled upon one with such good discussion on their blog :]

  4. Roxie says:

    congrats! and I’m not fond of public speaking either. tho’ they say to write, we must read in public…sounds like you rocked it with 5 inch heels. good for you! 😉 btw, the more you read in public the easier it gets!

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