Episode 584 – Emily Raboteau

Virtual Memories Show 584:
Emily Raboteau

“The flipside of despair about everything we could lose from climate change is there’s so much worth saving, so much beauty, so much precious.”

After a ~10-year gap, Emily Raboteau rejoins the show to celebrate her amazing new essay collection, LESSONS FOR SURVIVAL: Mothering Against “The Apocalypse” (Holt). We talk about her sparkbird and the Audubon Mural Project in Washington Heights that center the book, her transformation into a climate activist, the joy of the flaneuse, her scavenger hunt for Justin Brice Guariglia‘s environmental art, and the idea of pain with a purpose. We also get into the differences between mothering & motherhood, the reason she put “the Apocalypse” in quotes in her subtitle, how COVID lockdown made her realize her kids’ lives had been overscheduled (and how lockdown gave them some room to breathe), and the nor’easter-battered book-event in Princeton that corroborated her book’s community-thesis. Plus we discuss her dream of interviewing Vivian Gornick, how we need to overcome pandemic-amnesia, the place her children really want to visit, how she’s changed as a writer since we last talked, what the difference is between surviving and living, and a lot more. Give it a listen! And go read LESSONS FOR SURVIVAL!

“During the early pandemic, a lot of New Yorkers got into birding. The air was full of two sounds: birdsong, and ambulance sirens.”

“The book is about this altered world that our children are inheriting and that our parents weren’t able to prepare us for.”

“We should all think about mothering as a kind of action, an example of radical nurturing care that is required to meet the moment we’re in.”

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes!

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About our Guest

Emily Raboteau writes at the intersection of social and environmental justice, race, climate change, and parenthood. Her previous books are Searching for Zion, winner of an American Book Award and finalist for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and the novel The Professor’s Daughter. She is a contributing editor at Orion Magazine and a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books. Her essays have appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times, New York Magazine, The Nation, and elsewhere. She is a professor of creative writing in the English Department at the City College of New York (CUNY) in Harlem, and lives in the Bronx. Her new book is Lessons for Survival.

Follow Emily on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at Emily’s home on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 microphones feeding into a Zoom PodTrak P4 digital recorder & interface. I recorded the intro and outro on a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Zoom PodTrak P4. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photo of Emily solo by Rachel Eliza Griffiths. Photo of the two of us by me. It’s on my instagram.

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