Writer’s Voice Spotlight: Peg Alford Pursell

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Peg Alford Pursell is an award-winning author, editor, and publisher. She has published multiple short stories, as well as two books–the 2017 Indies Book of the Year Show Her a Flower, a Bird, a Shadow, and her most recent book A Girl Goes into the Forest, which has been referred to as “sharp and disturbing” (Publishers Weekly) and “dexterous in anatomizing the relationships between mothers and daughters, emulating Henry James-like restraint to articulate that which is left unsaid between them” (San Francisco Chronicle).

In an interview with Litstack, Pursell who founded Why There Are Words (WTAW) Press spoke of her hopes for publishing, “I want to publish books that are unforgettable. Books that challenge, that evoke and provoke, that immerse readers. Books that confront issues, and by that I don’t mean books that must shock or that are in-one’s-face, necessarily. I value nuance and subtlety and beauty. Essentially, I want to publish books that endure.” Peg Alford Pursell is dedicated to fostering creative voices, supporting and helping to create a better and thriving literary community. She recognizes that in order to produce and publish works that endure the method is “quite simply, to publish the best books we can find.” Their publication embraces all voices regardless of cultural or socio-economic background. 

Her most recent book A Girl Goes into the Forest (Dzanc Books) is a collection of 78 individual short stories, most of which are but a couple of pages long. Yet, all of which showcase her incredible ability to create atmosphere, and to carve out intimate and sophisticated relationships. In truth, in just the first pages of her book, I was savoring every word of her prose and jealous of the talent she was able to display within merely one paragraph. And it is in my own humble opinion that her stories are universal and will endure the test of time.

In the story “Old Church by the Sea” the story begins with a mother and her teenage daughter visiting an abandoned church by the sea, and slowly and subtly blossoms into a short but poignant meditation on the relationship between the mother and daughter from the very beginning: “Having and wanting at the same time—that’s what it was to carry my daughter inside me. After, I was emptier than I could ever have imagined, I thought then.” Her prose is direct, effective, and leaves just enough unsaid to inspire the minds of the reader to contemplate emotions that are curious but also utterly familiar. 

Please join us for a thought-provoking evening with Peg Alford Pursell on Wednesday, October 30th at 7:30 pm in Colusa Hall Room 100B. Thanks to contributions made by the Department of English and the College of Humanities and Fine Arts, Writer’s Voice readings are free and open to the public.

Author Website: https://www.pegalfordpursell.com/

WTAW Press: https://www.wtawpress.org/

Sample Work: https://themuseumofamericana.net/a-man-with-horses-flash-fiction-by-peg-alford-pursell/

Written by Nicholas Shi