Michele Morano, Sejal Shah, and Joanna Eleftheriou on The Essay - Virtual Event

Wednesday, October 14, 2020 - 6:00pm - 7:00pm
Event Presenter/Author: 
Sejal Shah, Joanna Eleftheriou, and Michele Morano

Sejal Shah, Joanna Eleftheriou, and Michele Morano will discuss the essay form and their new essay collections, This Is One Way To Dance, This Way Back, and Like Love. They will be joined in conversation by Karen Babine.

Presented in partnership with Chicago Public Library

Virtual event: live streamed on the Chicago Public Library YouTube


About the books: In the linked essays that make up her debut collection, This Is One Way to Dance, Sejal Shah explores culture, language, family, and place. This Is One Way to Dance draws on Shah's ongoing interests in ethnicity and place: the geographic and cultural distances between people, both real and imagined. Her essays--some narrative, others lyrical and poetic--explore how we are all marked by culture, gender, and race; by the limits of our bodies, by our losses and regrets, by who and what we love, by our ambivalences, and by trauma and silence. Language fractures in its attempt to be spoken. Shah asks and attempts to answer the question: How do you move in such a way that loss does not limit you?

This Way Back dramatizes a childhood split between Queens, New York, and Cyprus, an island nation with a long colonial history and a culture to which Joanna Eleftheriou could never quite adjust. The book avows a Greek-Cypriot- American lesbian’s existence by documenting its scenes. While the author’s life binds the essays in This Way Back into what reads like a memoir, the book questions memoir’s conventional boundaries between the individual and her community, and between political and personal loss, the human and the environment, and the living and the dead.

In Like Love, Michele Morano takes on the intrigues, strangeness, and lessons of unconsummated romance with humor and imagination. Like Love poignantly interweaves episodes from adulthood with the backstory of a young family’s turbulent breakup. When Morano was an adolescent in blue-collar Poughkeepsie, New York, her mother left her father for a woman in an era when LGBTQ parents were widely viewed as “unfit.” Through the turmoil, adolescent Morano paid attention, tucking away the stories that were shaping her and guiding her understanding of love. Turning romantic clichés inside out and challenging us to rethink our notions about what it means to love, Like Love tells hard and necessary truths about the importance of desire in growing, traveling, mourning, parenting, and figuring out who you are in the world. With precision and depth, Morano explores what it means to find ourselves in relationships that are not quite—but almost—like love.

About the authors: Sejal Shah is the author of the debut essay collection, This Is One Way to Dance (University of Georgia Press, 2020). Her stories and essays have appeared in Brevity, Conjunctions, Guernica, the Kenyon Review Online, Literary Hub, Longreads, and The Rumpus. The recipient of a 2018 NYFA fellowship in fiction, Sejal recently completed a story collection and is at work on a memoir about mental health. She teaches in the Rainier Writing Workshop low-residency MFA program at Pacific Lutheran University and lives in Rochester, New York.

Joanna Eleftheriou holds a PhD in English from The University of Missouri and her scholarship, essays, fiction, poems, and translations have appeared in journals such as Crab Orchard Review, Arts & Letters, Bellingham Review, and The Common. A contributing editor at Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies, Joanna teaches at Christopher Newport University and the Writing Workshops in Greece. Her collection of essays, This Way Back, has just been released from West Virginia University Press.

Michele Morano is the author of the memoir-in-essays Like Love (Mad Creek Books, The Ohio State University Press, September 25, 2020) and the travel memoir Grammar Lessons: Translating a Life in Spain. Her essays and short fiction have appeared in many journals and anthologies, including Best American Essays, Fourth Genre, Ninth Letter, and Waveform: Twenty-First-Century Essays by Women. Born and raised in Poughkeepsie, New York, Michele lives in Chicago, where she chairs the English Department at DePaul University.

About the interlocutor: Karen Babine is the author of All the Wild Hungers: A Season of Cooking and Water and What We Know: Following the Roots of a Northern Life, both winners of the Minnesota Book Award for memoir/creative nonfiction. She also edits Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies. She is currently an assistant professor of English at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga.

Event Location: 
Virtual