The Unfurling Frond
A Memoir of Belonging and Becoming
Time and space weave the past and present into the story like an unfurling frond holding layers of memories in a single moment.
The land holds a story: of time, of generations. Rebecca Beardsall’s transnational narrative, The Unfurling Frond, investigates land and place as physical space, home, and moments in time. The collection wrestles with the concept of personal transformation through time with the added complexity of settler colonization.
As she travels between her two selves/ two moments in time, her histories/two nations’ histories, Beardsall senses and feels where her physical body aligns with the spiritual, telling her that she is home, that she belongs.
Longlisted for the C & R Press – Nonfiction Award
Longlisted for the Santa Fe Writers Project – Literary Awards Program
“We write to expose the unexposed. If there is one door in the castle you have been told not to go through, you must. Otherwise, you’ll just be rearranging furniture in rooms you’ve already been in.” –Anne Lamott
Atmosphere Press, January 2021
My Place in the Spiral weaves together photography, feminism, and literary criticism. In her dynamic multi-genre, hybrid text that investigates the way our pasts inform our future selves.
The result is an intriguing journey through family dynamics, religion, and mother-daughter relationships. Threads of familial connection come together in My Place in the Spiral, creating an understanding of how our lives mirror a spiral. Bearing witness to experiences reverberating through generations, Beardsall explores the echoes of time between the present and the past, family and self, rootedness and displacement.
What people are saying about My Place in the Spiral:
“I am here. I once was here. I will return here. The here always remains,” states author Rebecca Beardsall in her part memoir/part photo album My Place in the Spiral. In the author’s insightful and intriguing journey to research and spiral back to two women ahead of their times
—her grandmother Ruth and great-grandmother Mary—Beardsall forges for us a path of understanding. Comparing faces, mannerisms, conversations, houses, educations, beliefs, superstitions, and dreams, she leads us from her New Zealand and Western Washington homes back to her Pennsylvania German heritage.
We, too, are in these pages, detectives uncovering clues to better understand, perhaps, our own identities. Mennonite upbringing re-stitched with feminism and literary theory? The future superimposed with sepia-toned photographs? Yes. In My Place in the Spiral, “the past…[serves as] a vision of [the] future….[t]he gyre of memory… looping back again.” In these pages, Rebecca Beardsall gives us the people we love alongside the ancestors we may never have met. In doing so, she encourages us to rediscover in them our present and future lives.
–Marjorie Maddox, author of the prose collection What She Was Saying
Atmosphere Press, January 2021
“At its best, the sensation of writing is that of any unmerited grace. It is handed to you, but only if you look for it” – Annie Dillard
Beyond the iconic landmarks of Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell is the Philadelphia the locals know. The gritty waterfront district, the vital farming suburbs and the immigrant communities of Germantown and Kensington are all part of the hometown face of Philly.
From the bustling streets of the downtown of today and yesteryear to the bingo halls of Allentown and the Middletown Grange Fair, this collection takes the reader on a nostalgic journey through the cityscapes and suburbs. Sixteen of Pennsylvania’s finest creative nonfiction writers share their stories of taking SEPTA buses, riding the Wanamaker’s monorail and kayaking the Schuylkill. This collection of vignettes masterfully reveals the unforgettable histories and colorful traditions that make up the City of Neighborhoods.
Beyond Mount Rainier and the Space Needle is the Western Washington the locals know. The majestic Cascades, the vital farming suburbs and the communities of transplants from around the country are all part of the evolving life of Washington.
From the bustling streets of the downtown of today to the slower pace of the Northwest Washington Fair, this collection offers a nostalgic journey through the cityscapes and suburbs. Sixteen well-established and emerging creative nonfiction writers share their stories of spelunking in the Ape Caves in Mount Saint Helens, walking the trails of Bellingham and surviving the Depression in Tacoma. This collection of vignettes follows the I-5 corridor to reveal the unforgettable histories, colorful traditions and pioneering spirit of Western Washington.
From the busy streets of Pittsburgh, to the sandy beaches of Lake Erie, to the rolling hills of the Alleghenies, the landscape of Western Pennsylvania shapes its residents in unforgettable ways. With this locally colored collection of vignettes,
readers will be recalled to summers on Presque Isle, Thanksgiving in Paradise and the thrill of a Steelers touchdown. Sixteen of the state’s finest nonfiction writers reminisce about their distinct ties to the region, sharing their experiences of brickyards and steel mills, hunting and skating, farms and cities. Pennsylvanian charm touches the bumpiest of roads, makes “antique” a verb and colors historic church windows in this new keystone for the commonwealth.