McKeithen, Madge 1955-
McKeithen, Madge 1955-
PERSONAL: Born 1955, in Fayetteville, NC; divorced; children: Isaac and Nicholas Levy. Education: Graduate of the College of William and Mary and Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies; Queens University of Charlotte, M.F.A. 2006.
Blue Peninsula: Essential Words for a Life of Loss and Change (memoir; essays), Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 2006.
SIDELIGHTS: In her memoir, Blue Peninsula: Essential Words for a Life of Loss and Change, Madge McKeithen tells of the transformation she underwent due to a mysterious illness afflicting her son Ike and how she turned to poetry for consolation. Ike’s symptoms begin with leg stiffness that soon causes him to lose the use of his legs. As times passes, Ike’s illness worsens until he beings suffering from blood irregularities and dementia. The book follows the first eight years of Ike’s illness and McKeithen’s attempts to deal with her child’s problem. Eventually, she begins to compulsively read poetry as a way to escape and maintain her emotional equilibrium. The author also opens each chapter with a poem that has affected her deeply. Karen Campbell, writing in the Boston Globe, commented: “For [McKeithen], poetry has offered both flights of fancy and moments of profound truth.” Campbell also noted: “McKeithen’s is a sobering yet compelling story,” adding that “the writing is vivid, sometimes eloquently metaphorical, other times blazingly direct.” A reviewer writing on the BookPage Web site, called Blue Peninsula“an unusual hybrid of health memoir and ‘favorite poems.’” A Publishers Weekly contributor noted: “Readers will come away reminded of poetry’s powerful ability to enlighten personal struggles.”
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES
McKeithen, Madge, Blue Peninsula: Essential Words for a Life of Loss and Change, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 2006.
Boston Globe, July 3, 2006, Karen Campbell, review of Blue Peninsula.
Publishers Weekly, February 27, 2006, review of Blue Peninsula, p. 43.
New York Times May 23, 2006, Dinitia Smith, review of Blue Peninsula.
BookPage, http://www.bookpage.com/ (December 31, 2006), review of Blue Peninsula.
Literature, Arts, and Medicine Database, http://litmed.med.nyu.edu/ (February 16, 2007), review of Blue Peninsula.
Madge McKeithen Home Page, http://www.madgemckeithen.com (December 31, 2006).