MFA Alum Nicole McCarthy publishes her first book, A Summoning
Nicole McCarthy’s (MFA 2017) first book, A Summoning, has just been published by Heavy Feather Review. An expansion of McCarthy’s MFA in Creative Writing & Poetics thesis, “Manor of Memory,” the book asks Can we re-write a memory? Can we purge those that are a danger to us? Mudding the line between fiction and nonfiction, poetry and prose, text and image, the book is fragmented but fluid, weaving in and out of different forms to show how malleable and unreliable memory can be; how it manifests in the body, mentally, physically, emotionally; how it mutates and betrays as we age. Through a series of scientific and historical essays, poetic meditations, and memory experiments, McCarthy invites the reader to encounter her attempt at rewriting moments of trauma while coming to terms with a family member in the early stages of memory loss.
“This book would not exist without the dedication and generosity of Renee Gladman, Amaranth Borsuk, Rebecca Brown, and many others in the MFA program. I’ll be forever grateful for the guidance and constant support I’ve received,” writes McCarthy. While working with thesis advisor Renee Gladman, McCarthy started building out memory blueprints, visuals built with texts, encompassing memories she felt locked in her body like different rooms of a house. When she shared these with Gladman, McCarthy says, “She told me I was on to something and to keep pushing on this exploration of memory, and that’s when I felt my book begin.”
McCarthy wanted to create a conceptual nonfiction book about how unreliable memory can be as it lives in our bodies, and about the desire to change certain memories: painful ones from an abusive past relationship, fresh ones to protect, even memories she didn’t have but wished she did. That’s when McCarthy decided she would experiment with her own memories through exercises in the book and through the process of frequent recall, with the idea that over time her memories will have adapted to some of the changes that appear in the text. The scientific and historical micro essays woven throughout the book serve as the foundation to support her theory that memories can be permanently altered.