On Navigating Words and Life

by Anca Szilagyi

Fetch: noun:  The distance traveled by wind or waves across open water; the distance a vessel must sail to reach open water.

Kathlene Postma’s performance of “Fetch” is this Thursday at 7 pm, at the Hollow Earth Radio performance space. The story’s title comes from a nautical term (definition above) and is one of several terms that organize the story. I asked Kathlene about it in anticipation of her reading.

AS: How did you come to use nautical terminology as headings for the sections of “Fetch”? Did the terms come before the story? Did the story call for the terms?

Kathlene Postma: Great question! The nautical terminology and the story “Fetch” grew up together.  My husband and I are both teachers, and we have three school-age daughters.  Every day at least one or more persons in my house are memorizing terms or figuring out how to explain them.  In this story Georgia, the central character tries to understand something as mammoth as Lake Superior while also struggling with the results of a terrible car accident.The funny thing about words and their definitions is the way in which a person comes to comprehend them.  Our lives are layered with seemingly random but powerful impressions and events–a car accident, a new town, a shattered foot–and those can saturate abstract words or principles we might be memorizing in school.  If you teach, you spend most of your time organizing knowledge for a group of students, but what happens creatively within that organization is unique to each student.  You can’t control what an individual does with the information you provide or the way it integrates into who she or he is becoming. There is a magic in how that works.  With this story I try to explore the illogical beauty of the process.  For Georgia, the nautical terms are peripheral–she merely learns them to help another teacher–but they help organize for the reader the direction her life takes.

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