EDITOR'S SPOTLIGHT - Emma Kilbride's "Colors"
Emma Kilbride attends Austin Preparatory School in Reading, Massachusetts, where she is the editor of their literary magazine. Her work has been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. When she is not writing, she enjoys horseback riding, watching awful movies, and consuming absurd quantities of pasta. Her creative non-fiction piece "Colors" was published by The Weight Journal in June of 2020.
Below are the thoughts of one of our editors on this poem, and an interview with Emma Kilbride.
The opening line of “Colors” can be read in two ways. The death of a loved one certainly “changes the way you see the world,” but if, without context, the reader infers the “Death” to be one’s own, then s/he is invited to consider all that is alive from a perspective outside of life, a place outside of the world. This brief alternate reading merges the “tortured” experience of losing another with losing oneself, which is, of course, the point, any way you read it.
Describing “Colors” as lovely might not seem appropriate, given that it is a reflection on grief as something that results in one feeling “broken.” However, this piece is also a testament to the way grief is an active process through which one can move toward healing after loss. There is vulnerability and pain, but there is also a quiet dignity in the act of observing one’s own state and noting the echoes of the loved one reflected in familiar objects and nature. The natural world becomes defined, for a time, by a lack of clear edges and boundaries, a place where colors rise and ebb along with waves of shock, sadness, and regret.
In her muted state, the narrator observes it all, even how the remaining parent wants to shield her from it but cannot; the lesson is that grief in families is communal, a weight that must be felt by all. The narrator turns toward the hopeful by re-imagining the world overlaid with memories of the lost one instead of the person himself. In the remembering, he can once again occupy sound, sight, and space--the “hum” and “crackle” of his life maintained by those who love him.
It is the writing, of course, that weaves these memories together in a tribute to who he was and to the process of grief itself. The narrator’s lovely voice threads memories together, an act to replace the lost opportunity to “trace the lines on his palm with my fingers until they were etched into my mind.” Death brings inevitable change, but the colors of change can eventually also bring comfort.
~ Claire Schomp, Editor
An interview with Emma Kilbride
What inspires your writing the most?
I think this is true of a lot of writers, but I'm most inspired when I'm feeling most intensely. It doesn't really matter what the emotion is, but the stronger it is, the more I want to create something that embodies that feeling and helps me make sense of it.
What does your writing and revision process look like?
My writing process is extremely inefficient, because I essentially edit line by line as I write. I don't move on from a specific sentence or paragraph until it feels exactly how I want it to feel. This makes things frustrating sometimes, and often creates a situation where I'm staring at my computer screen for hours on end with very little output, but it also means that a piece nearly fits my exact vision as soon as the last line hits the page.
What, if anything, do you want to share with readers about the work being discussed?
What I want to share is that I've done a lot of healing since this piece was written, and that this piece is responsible for so much of my growth and progress. It was very difficult to confront some of those feelings I had been harboring, and even more difficult to let others in on them, but it was ultimately something that I needed to do.
What are your writing goals?
I want to continue using my writing as a tool to allow my emotions to exist as they are and to grow from them. Being able to heal yourself with something you have created is a pretty powerful thing, and I'm lucky to be able to do that.
What is one random fact, idea, or statement you want to share with our readers
Sometimes the hardest things in life are the things that teach us the most about ourselves. And sometimes the hardest things in life are just hard, and that's okay, too.