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Professor publishes first book ‘Keeping Me Still’

Austen Travers

Renee Emerson, assistant professor of English, wrote “Keeping Me Still” that was released into stores and online April 15. There was also a release party in the Hardeman Room of the Livingston Library at Shorter on April 15.

The book is a collection of Southern free-verse poetry. The main focus of the book is about motherhood and being a wife and daughter. Emerson said her own life experiences inspired her writing in the book. She channelled her own experiences as a mother, daughter, wife and sister for this book.

“My own personal experiences throughout my life had a big influence in my book, as well as a lot of biblical influences,” said Emerson.

According to Emerson, her family was vital in her life and they were a major inspiration for her. She was able to translate the lessons she learned from her family over into her book as well. Some parts reflect her loved ones more than others, she admits.

“My family gave me a lot of inspiration in the process of this book. I can especially see their influence in the baby poems,” said Emerson.

Emerson was also impacted by several passages in the Bible for her book. She found that the story of Jacob especially impactful.

“The biblical story that had the most influence in my book was the story of Jacob and his marriages to Rachel and Leah,” said Emerson.

The story of Leah, Rachel and Jacob is found in Genesis 29. This story describes the troubles of Jacob’s marriage. After seven years of working for Rachel, Jacob did not get her hand in marriage. Instead, he was tricked into receiving Leah’s hand. Emerson noted Jacob’s perseverance of how he worked another seven years to finally marry Rachel.

According to Emerson, many people served as inspiration in writing the book, one of which was Louise Glück, one of her professors at Boston University.

“Louise Glück is a major inspiration for me, and I love her writing,” Emerson said.

When she was eight years old, Emerson began to read profusely. This sparked her passion for writing, and ever since she has wanted to write a book. Emerson has published several chapbooks, which were cheap printed books found in Early Modern Europe and multiple journals. She is ecstatic that she was able to produce a book so early in her academic career.

“It has always been a dream of mine since I was young,” Emerson said, “and now that it has happened, I cannot explain how great it feels.” The book can be purchased locally at Dogwood Books on Broad Street and online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Winter Goose Publishing’s.