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By: Gail Obenreder
In a recent artistic shift from creating her nationally recognized and widely published works of fiction, Mary-Margaret Pauer has begun to delve deeply into the process and challenges of writing creative non-fiction. Mirroring her father’s searching restlessness that she so emotionally explores in “Loop de Loop” (the work on which her current award is based), Pauer sees this working in this new field as the ability to acquire “another skill, another way of using the word, the story, the universal experience in another form.”
Though she and her sister grew up in New Jersey – and Pauer has worked along the East Coast over the course of her career – the Bridgeville writer has lived in Delaware for more than thirty years. She has always been a writer, fueled in her younger days by the fact that she was an avid reader. Pauer was especially influenced by the evocative and dramatic short-form prose of Joyce Carol Oates and Shirley Jackson. As a girl, she was also a fan of “my mother’s Perry Mason mysteries, which I ‘stole’ from under her bed and read with a flashlight under my covers.”
Excerpt from Loop de Loop (2018)
In 1966, my father left for Vietnam as a civilian engineer. He was forty-seven years old and I was sixteen years old. He worked in the jungle, near Cambodia, and trained mechanics, on site, in the field, with a small device, to detect imperfections in the helicopter blades manufactured by Boeing-Vertol. This application apparently eliminated the necessity to remove blades, ship them to Saigon for inspection, and endure the long wait for them to be sent back upcountry to the remote air bases for reinstallation. And it avoided the expense.
Writing is solitary, time-consuming work, and Pauer finds that it can sometimes be lonely, so she is particularly (and gratefully) inspired these days by her community of fellow writers, with their “generosity, creativity and willingness to take risks.” Always seeking to make her sentences “sing and sound aloud the way I heard [them] in my head,” Pauer also finds herself centered most clearly and deeply in the natural world, especially as she cares for her horses. She writes for nature journals and is immersed in her current equine project – the rescue of an abused eleven-year-old quarter horse.
A speaker for the Delaware Humanities Forum, Pauer also facilitated the DHF 2016 Pulitzer Prize discussion series. She has been “honored and humbled” by receiving two previous Division Fellowships, and she plans to use this year’s award to expand her current practice, begin work on a specific creative non-fiction project and grow her series of private invitation writing workshops.Fellowship Home