Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Between the Lines: A Life of Adventure

by Zinta Aistars

for WMUK 102.1 FM
Southwest Michigan's NPR affiliate

Between the Lines is my weekly radio show about books and writers with a Michigan connection. It airs every Tuesday at 7:50 a.m., 11:55 a.m., and 4:20 p.m. (or listen anytime online), on WMUK 102.1 FM, Southwest Michigan's NPR affiliate. I am the host of Between the Lines.

This week's guest: Kathleen Stocking

Kathleen Stocking has traveled the world, and dug deep into her own community in Michigan's Leelanau Peninsula for what she calls a "bone- deep" understanding of people. She's written about her discoveries along the way in a trilogy of memoirs. The latest is The Long Arc of the Universe: Travels Beyond the Pale (Stocking Press, 2016).

“My first book was about my peninsula, the Leelanau Peninsula,” Stocking says. “I was writing then for Detroit Monthly magazine, so a lot of that book was columns published by Detroit Monthly. Then I received several awards and did the next book about my state, Michigan, and a lot of islands, because I was always curious about the offshore islands. Then, with my children being grown, and being very curious about the rest of the world, I accepted a fellowship from the William James Foundation and worked in the prisons of California.”

Stocking says she wanted to understand why so many people in the United States are behind bars. Teaching creative writing inside the prison helped her do that. Stocking relates the stories of inmates, many doing time for murder and other violent crimes. She soon found that the inmates were like anyone else, anywhere. 
Kathleen Stocking in 1975
They broke down in tears speaking of their children and the other loved ones they had left behind. They longed for the simple pleasures of life: a good meal, a long walk in nature. Stocking says writing became the key for many inmates to open up what was locked up inside. Stocking’s stories about working with inmates open her new book of travels beyond her home territory.
“From there, curiosity took me to El Salvador, a couple tours in the Peace Corps, and traveling in between, coming back again and again to the Leelanau Peninsula,” she says. “I just wanted to understand the larger world. I was curious about ... "

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