Cecile Goding is from a small county in South Carolina, where she worked for the adult literacy movement before moving to Iowa City to attend the Univ. of Iowa's Nonfiction Writing Program and the Iowa Writers Workshop. She is also from New England, Saudi Arabia, and the Silicon Valley. For her poems, she has won the Theodore Roethke and Richard Hugo prizes, a fellowship from the SC Academy of Poets, and a Bread Loaf scholarship. Her poetry, essays and short fiction have appeared in journals, newspapers, and on small screens. Goding's chapbook, The Women Who Drink at the Sea, won a first-place prize from State Street Press. Recent projects involve a memoir, a collaboration with a Sudanese writer on a fiction collection, and a sci-fi opera. Previously an adjunct instructor at Mount Mercy University, she has taught for the Iowa Summer Writing Festival for many years.
Wordsworth's "Nuns Fret Not at Their Convent's Narrow Room" values the "brief solace" that comes from surrendering to a form——like "the Sonnet's scanty plot of ground" or a paragraph of exactly 200 words—while pushing against its borders. I write in order to find out what is possible within the limitations of my art. All I have to work with is language. That's my raw material, and it's enough.
I write in order to understand what it feels like to be another person. "Sometimes you have to get out of your own skin," a friend said to me once, when I as a teacher was overwhelmed with helplessness. Writing, and of course reading, pull me out of my one narrow mind and body, expanding those elements of my existence I most want to nurture: comprehension and compassion. Writing out my memories helps me back into the skin of the person I once was, for I am her no longer. Working within the limits of English, I strive to comprehend her, interrogating her motives, her missteps, her mutterings. I believe that this exciting, always surprising work has made me a different person, a better one.