URI lecturer’s advice: Remember Love

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KINGSTON, R.I. –March 18, 2008 — Jody Lisberger of Exeter, interim director of Women’s Studies Program at the University of Rhode Island, knows something about love. Count the ways and they’ll add up to at least 10–the same number of short stories in her collection, Remember Love, just out from Fleur-de-Lis Press.

Remember Love, Lisberger’s first book, reveals different kinds of love– searching, wishful, deluded, young, old, aching, discovered, honest, and enduring. Betty Cotter, managing editor of South County Independent, said: “The best of these stories leave the reader almost breathless. Lulled by Lisberger’s simple, rhythmic prose, the reader is suddenly stunned by the epiphany of the moment, when a character’s comment takes on new meaning.”

Lisberger doesn’t have a favorite. “A story like ‘Bush Beating,’ which is not a pretty story, still feels very powerful to me,” she says. “‘In the Mercy of Water’ grabs me for its soul-bearing drama. ‘Don’t Let the Bastards Grind You Down’ seems very daring. Then there are stories like ‘Remember Love’ and ‘Point of Distraction’ whose lyricism and attention to love also make them my favorites. The other stories have funny or sly moments in them, too. So they are all my favorites, I suppose, but for different reasons.”

Written over the last decade, the stories aren’t biographical, but Lisberger suggests that all stories have traces of the writer in them. She doesn’t keep a journal although she did when she was younger. “As I see it now, we each have a limited number of words in us, and a limited time for writing, so I don’t want to expend my words or time in doing any writing other than fiction,” she says. “I’m reminded of a renown French jazz pianist who once stayed at our house. When I asked her how many hours she practiced, she looked up from her seat at the keyboard and said, ‘Practice? I never practice. I always play!’”

Her story ideas flow from diverse directions. For example, last year, Lisberger remembers a woman on a public bus boasting to the bus driver, “I make a lasagna that could kill a horse.” “What a great line,” she says. “I’m assuming it’s a good lasagna! You’ll see that line somewhere in my novel because it’s just too good to pass up.”

But once she starts writing, Lisberger focuses on character development. The plot will then take care of itself.

Born in Stamford, Connecticut in the 1950s, Lisberger grew up in Ithaca, N.Y. She began writing in earnest in 1995, four years after earning a Ph.D. in English from Boston University. In 1997 she started a low-residency MFA in Writing Program at Vermont College. At the time, she was teaching full-time in the Expository Writing Program at Harvard. Before coming to URI, she taught literature, drama, feminist theory, fiction and creative nonfiction at Holy Cross, Tufts University, Harvard University, and Brown University.

She also currently teaches in the Brief-Residency MFA in Writing Program at Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky.