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Meet Your Neighbor

Emma Garrard/Sierra SunJune Sylvester
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How long have you been in the area?I moved out here from North Carolina in the mid-1980s. I moved into a little house in Sierra Meadows in 1987.What brought you out here?Its kind of the same old story. I came out with a bunch of ski bums; a couple are still here. And I came out basically to learn how to ski Id never skied before. And then I just never went back home.So youre a writer, tell me about that.I write poetry and short fiction. This summer I had my first full-length collection of poetry published and its really exciting. I guess you could say Im a little bit of a late-bloomer. Now Im working on a book of short fiction. After editing that book of poetry so intensely, Im ready to turn to a new genre for a while.What kind of poetry?The book is called Altars of Ordinary Light and the whole idea is its about ordinary things the sacred quality of ordinary things, of ordinary experiences we all have.How did you get into writing?I dont have that many talents (laughs.). From an early age I liked reading and I liked writing, too. Being from North Carolina, theres a strong storytelling background. It was one of those things Ive always enjoyed and still enjoy, so thats the focus my education took on. I ended up getting a [Masters of Fine Arts] in creative writing in my early 20s. I cant explain those years of why the book took so long.Whats the theme of the short stories?Its going back … to my roots. All of them are set in the rural South. Theres a character that shows up in a lot the stories, sort of coming-of-age stories.What was the last good book you read?I just love Eat, Pray, Love. Its such a knack to be able to write so well about your ordinary experiences.That book is a lot about traveling. Do you like to travel, too?I love to travel! And I dont get to travel enough. This summer I took my son with me when I was invited to speak at an international conference in Paris. Id like to go to Italy. And one day before I die, Id love to go to Africa.Do you like to write about traveling?I havent done a lot of travel writing. As a concept I think I would like it.What are you reading right now?Im re-reading Taming of the Shrew because Im teaching it.So youre a professor at Sierra Nevada College?I started in 1987, the same year I moved to Truckee. I get to teach everything basically from very entry-level freshman composition to graduate-level literature courses and a lot of things in between. I love teaching Shakespeare. I teach as many classes as theyll let me; also British literature and creative writing. I think that one of the most exciting things lately has been being able to teach in my own community. I just started last fall teaching night classes at Sierra College.

Whats the appeal of teaching in your own community?Theres a lot more variety. The very first class I taught I had Truckee High students, I had people working in the police department, I had young Hispanic students, I had women whose children were off to college. I feel connected to this community so I felt connected to a lot of these people.What do you teach there?I teach a few classes American Film History, we get to watch Citizen Kane and film noir movies, and I teach English composition and last semester I taught a creative writing class there.What was the last great movie you watched?I really have enjoyed quite a few. Little Miss Sunshine was really hilariously funny. I just saw one, a British movie that was touching and wonderful Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont.You have a family?I have my son and my husband. My sons at Truckee High School, hes a junior.What else do you like to do?I like wandering down to the Truckee River and just walking down the foot paths. I, of course, love to laze about in my hammock. At heart Im a very lazy woman.Do you still ski?Actually, my son told me I was too old to snowboard so I took up snowboarding just to prove him wrong. I like the boots a lot better.Do you have any heroes?Martin Luther King, Jr. Id put him at the top of the list. People who gave us examples of ways to stand up for whats right even if it might technically be going against the social grain or even breaking laws for a higher good. I think thats one of those valuable lessons.Anything else we should know about you?I have a reading and a book signing coming up, in Prim Library at Sierra Nevada College on Sept. 28 at 7 p.m. First theres a reading and 8 p.m. is a book signing and social time. Its free and open to the public.The Sierra Suns Joanna Hartman interviewed Saraceno for this weeks Meet Your Neighbor. Please send suggestions for Meet Your Neighbor to jhartman@sierrasun.com.


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