Natalie Harris

Natalie Harris

 

Natalie Harris is an Associate Professor of English and Creative Writing at Colby College in Waterville, Maine. She has in the last decade shifted from teaching courses in American literature to teaching workshops in creative writing, both fiction and nonfiction. Her writing, too, now takes the form of short stories and personal essays. She has been a fellow at the MacDowell Colony and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Her stories and essays have appeared in Southern Review, LaurelReview, North Dakota Quarterly, Christian Science Monitor, Chronicle of Higher Education, Eclipse, Red Rock Review, The Carolina Quarterly, Ascent,Witness (forthcoming), and PMS: Poemmemoirstory (forthcoming). She recently completed her first collection of short stories, The Pressure of Blood, which was selected as a finalist for this year’s Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction and for the George Garrett Fiction Prize.

My Fulbright came at an exciting time: It was during 1980-81, the time of Solidarity’s ascent under the leadership of Lech Walesa. I remember the currents of exhilaration along with waves of anxiety swirling in the air. So many changes were happening so quickly. And at the same time there was daily life: the quest to purchase bananas in an increasingly depleted marketplace, the appearance of meat from a generous and helpful friend or acquaintance (unasked for, but always welcomed), dinner parties that were bountiful despite the shortages, filled above all with high spirited conversation and fun. Jurek Kutnik and Jurek and Joanna Durczak offered endless hospitality and help to us as we stumbled along with our handful of Polish words, and I remember with gratitude Jurek’s friend Staszek, who helped us repeatedly with the car repairs that we seemed all too often to need. I corresponded for some years after returning to the States with several of my graduate students in American literature and culture at MCSU, who were not only dedicated to their work, but also lovely people, generously inviting my husband and me into their homes. While the political events of the time were enormous in scope and resonance, what stays with me the most after thirty years are the warm feelings I have for the people we were so fortunate to meet in Lublin, people whose generosity and hospitality I have not—even with my increasingly leaky memory—forgotten.

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