Since Cheryl Pearl Sucher married a New Zealander in 1999, she has been living between two worlds: the Greater New York City area and the Hawkes Bay of New Zealand, two places that are about as far apart on the planet as one can travel. Though she has often felt torn between her very different lives, she has also felt that her life experience and artistic vision has been enhanced by living as both an insider and an outsider in such different but extraordinary places. This interview series is born out her experience between these worlds, and as a published fiction writer, bookseller, journalist, memoirist and avocational musical traveler.
It is fitting that her first interview in this series is with her dear friend, Jill Bialosky, whom she has known since they were both dewy eyed graduate students at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. Not only is Jill a published novelist, memoirist and poet, she is Vice President at W.W. Norton, where she has shepherded and shaped the literary careers of such authors as Akhail Sharma, Mary Roach, Nicole Krauss and Thomas Lynch. Her writing has been informed by the triumphs and tragedies of her own life. The tragic suicide of her sister led to her seminal memoir, History of a Suicide, and her desire for a child led to editing with Helen Schulman the beautiful anthology Wanting a Child. Her numerous works of fiction and poetry have been informed and strengthened by her life experience as well as her tutelage and guidance of other writers. Which brings us to the book that we will be discussing today, Poetry Will Save Your Life, which tells how Jill’s first love, poetry, has given her strength and succor through the erratic, exciting and terrifying ups and downs of her life and career.
Cheryl Pearl Sucher is an award-winning American journalist, essayist, reviewer and fiction writer who lives between Cranbury, New Jersey and the Hawkes Bay, New Zealand. Ka Hua E Wha: The Southernmost Jewish Community in the World, her contribution to Jewish Lives in New Zealand, was published by Random House New Zealand in March 2012. She has been a frequent contributing book reviewer and feature writer for The NZ Sunday Star-Times and The NZ Listener. Her first novel, The Rescue of Memory, was published by Scribner in the United States, and an excerpt from her new novel in progress, Lost Cities, was published in 2013 in Printer's Row, the Chicago Tribune's literary supplement. Her essay The Last Happy Days of Her Life was included in the New York Times-bestselling anthology What My Mother Gave Me, edited by Elizabeth Benedict. From July 2013 to April 2016 she was one of four presenter/interviewers for Hawkes Bay Television's half-hour evening interview program Chatroom. Currently, she is back working part-time as a bookseller at McNally Jackson, where she worked from December 2004 until March 2010. She is endlessly revising her second novel, Lost Cities, and poised to begin a family memoir.
Jill Bialosky is the author of four acclaimed collections of poetry, most recently The Players. Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Kenyon Review, and The Atlantic, among others. She is the author of three novels, most recently, The Prize, and a New York Times bestselling memoir History of a Suicide: My Sister’s Unfinished Life. She is an editor at W. W. Norton & Company where she oversees the Norton poetry list and lives in New York City. In 2014 she was honored by the Poetry Society of America for her distinguished contribution to poetry.