By William Tissane, Staff Writer
Catherine Reid pulled from years of writing in her book, Falling Into Place – An Intimate Geography of Home, which was released on February 4th. The book contains a collection of twenty essays, the oldest of which were published about twelve years ago in Isotope, a journal of literary, natural, and scientific writing. The most recent essays were completed in the weeks just before the book was sent out to the publisher. Some of the essays in the collection were written and published outside of Wilson, while others were written during her time at Warren Wilson College. All lead back to her home in Massachusetts.
Reid grew up in Greenfield, MA and is currently the Director of the Undergraduate Creative Writing Program at Wilson. She came to Wilson in 2006 and teaches creative nonfiction and environmental writing courses and is currently teaching a literature and writing class as part of the new Appalachian semester. Reid completed her undergraduate degree at Goddard College and her PhD at Florida State. She received a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Maine.
Since its release, Falling into Place has already garnered a lot of attention and received very positive reviews. It was featured on Oprah Winfrey’s website as well as in the print edition of O, Winfrey’s magazine, in Oprah’s list of “14 Riveting Reads to Pick Up in March 2014.” The essay After a Sweet Singing Fall Down was selected by the National Endowment for the Arts to receive a Creative Writing Fellowship in Prose (fiction or creative nonfiction).
“Author-naturalist Catherine Reid writes with an uncommonly enthralling acuity and grace. A major contribution to the re-vitalization of the essay and lyric nonfiction short form, Falling into Place creates groves of contemplation in a reactive world,” Mary Cappello, author of Called Back and Swallow, said.
In addition to Falling Into Place, Reid is the author of Coyote: Seeking the Hunter in Our Midst and of various essays that have appeared in journals such as the Georgia Review, Fourth Genre, Bellevue Literary Review, and Massachusetts Review. Though Reid’s previous works have incited substantial acclamation, she was surprised at the amount of attention Falling Into Place has received.
“Well, I’m accepting it. I don’t know quite what to make of it,” Reid said referring to the book’s positive reviews. “It’s an incredible joy [to finally have it published]. It’s also quite surreal because essay collections are usually very quiet affairs, and this has gotten some surprising buzz.”
On March 5th, Reid celebrated the book release and the positive reviews it has already received by reading a selection from the book to an enthusiastic audience of students, alumni, professors, and friends in the Wilson library. She was introduced by friend and professional colleague, Gary Hawkins. Hawkins is a fellow undergraduate writing professor and Associate Dean for Faculty at Wilson. Hawkins began the evening with a personal introduction and was then followed by Reid, who delivered her graceful and heartfelt selection. Reid captivated the crowd in the small, cramped room. She chose to read a piece called Song Heart Rail, the first essay in Falling into Place, a transitional letter to her father, written in Shelburne Falls, MA.
“I would say there is definitely a connection between the essays,” Reid commented after the reading. “I’m fascinated by how we’re shaped by place and how landscape is just steeped in story. It matters to me know to know that and to know how it has informed me and the people I love.”