Building a Woman
by Deborah Meltvedt
The collection of poems Building a Woman is a trajectory of one life from girlhood to womanhood with all the complications of family, the joy of friends, grief and loss, and ultimately finding lasting love. It weaves in experiences of growing up as a doctor’s daughter in California in the 1960s and 70s and the cultural expectations of women (and their reproductive lives) in the past and still today. Building a Woman also gives tribute to how we often find worth within prescribed family lives, but maybe more so through long lasting women friendships.
About the Author
Deborah Meltvedt is a high school teacher who loves to blend medical science and art in both the classroom and in her own writing. Deborah grew up in the suburbs and fields of the San Joaquin Valley whose landscapes and culture form a backbone to her poetry. As a doctor’s daughter and feminist, she feels strongly about women’s health and reproductive rights and respecting the traditional and non-traditional paths women take in their lives.
Her poems and stories have been published in the American River Literary Review, Susurrus, Under the Gum Tree, Tule Review, The Poeming Pigeon, and the Creative Non-Fiction Anthology What I Didn’t Know: True Stories of Becoming a Teacher.
Deborah lives in Sacramento with her funny and supportive husband, Rick Kushman, and their cat, Anchovy Jack, who in his former life used to be a pirate.
Early Praise for Building a Woman:
Building a Woman is composed of poems that showcase Deborah Meltvedt’s unique voice in which she delves into her personal history and offers it like a mirror, exposed and shining, to readers. She draws upon childhood’s wishes, adolescence with all its loves and losses, and womanhood’s strengths and vulnerabilities. Her words ring out like bells and call to us like a friend, urging us to come visit; stay a while; enjoy.
—Anara Guard, author of Hand on My Heart
Building a Woman presents a series of candid poems that tell Deborah Meltvedt’s story of girl-dom, of growing up one of four daughters in California’s central valley, struggling to make sense of family discord, budding sexuality and feminism. She accomplishes this with arresting images and precise language that chronicles a woman’s journey to self-acceptance and love, she writes, that “becomes visible on the backs of/ all of us growing up and almost away.” The poems not only illustrate Meltvedt’s life experiences but also offer unflinching glimpses into the universal challenges and joys of what it is to be female moving from one millennium to another.
—Jan Haag, author of Companion Spirit
Deborah Meltvedt weaves words into magic carpets that transport the reader through imagery, memory, and experience—pulling threads from pain, grief, shame, triumph and joy. Her writing takes my breath and rearranges me—in all of the best ways.
—Jodi Angel, author of You Only Get Letters from Jail and The History of Vegas