Fran Abrams’ poems have been published online and in print in Cathexis-Northwest Press, The American Journal of Poetry, MacQueen’s Quinterly, Delmarva Review, The Raven’s Perch, Gargoyle, and many other journals, as well as in over a dozen anthologies. In December 2021, she won the Washington Writers Publishing House Winter Poetry Prize. Her autobiographical book of poems, titled I Rode the Second Wave: A Feminist Memoir, was released in November 2022. Her chapbook, The Poet Who Loves Pythagoras, was released in early April 2023. She read at the Kensington, MD, Day of the Book Festival in April 2023 and will read at the Gaithersburg, MD, Book Festival in May 2023. Please visit franabramspoetry.com for details.
Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?
During the months I spent writing the poems in this collection, it was titled “A Life in Context.” I realized that those words did not say in the context of what. The phrase “the second wave” was constantly on my mind as I wrote and the last poem in the book ended up being titled I Rode the Second Wave of Feminism. After completing that poem, I realized I had found my book title and it became I Rode the Second Wave: A Feminist Memoir.
How did it feel when you first saw your book cover? Or when you first held your book in your hands?
When I saw my book cover, I admit I cried with joy. The cover designer brought to life what I was thinking about in my head. I was thrilled that he had made it even better than I dreamed. And I was even more excited when I had the book in my hands.
Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?
This book is a memoir based on my life. For many years, random people told me I had such an interesting life that I should write about it. But I didn’t feel confident about doing that until I started to learn how to write poetry at the age of 73. I have been studying and writing poetry ever since. It was the experience of writing poetry that convinced me I could and should write about my life. I grew up in the 1950s when most women were expected to be homemakers and by the 1970s I had become a woman with a career, a marriage, and children. This book was published when I was 78.
What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?
My background and training is in art, architecture, and urban planning. I retired in 2010 from my professional career as a nonprofit administrator and became a visual artist. I showed my work regularly in galleries in the D.C. Metro area.
What was the most rewarding/meaningful part of publishing your book?
Showing my artwork was rewarding, but the only people who saw my work were those who attended an exhibit where it was shown. It is so rewarding to think of all the people who are reading my words even if they live nowhere near me. And it is rewarding to think that they may learn a bit about women’s history and the barriers that women have overcome to obtain careers.
If your book had a soundtrack, what are some songs that would be on it?
Rock Around the Clock (1954) – Bill Haley
Blueberry Hill (1956) – Fats Domino
Until the Twelfth of Never (1958) – Johnny Mathis
What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?
I hope that readers will understand there is still much work to be done to assure opportunities for women to pursue whatever they want for their lives.
What new writing projects are you currently working on? Or, other projects that are not writing?
My second book, a chapbook titled The Poet Who Loves Pythagoras was just released by Finishing Line Press. I am working on several other poetry chapbooks that I hope to have published in the future.
How was working with Atmosphere Press? What would you tell other writers who want to publish?
My experience working with Atmosphere Press was and continues to be stellar. I feel supported and heard. And my book looks and feels so good, I know I can be very proud of it. I tell other authors that publishing with Atmosphere is a good route to go. The staff at Atmosphere are not only publishing your book, but teaching you the publishing process. It’s a terrific experience.