Autumn Song

Essays on Absence

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Pub Date 01 Sep 2023 | Archive Date 31 Aug 2023

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We all live lives littered with what we leave behind: places we once lived, friendships we once had, dreams we once envisioned, the people we once were. Each new day we attempt to find a way to continue living despite the absences we experience because of loss and disappointment, injustice and inequity, change and the passage of time.  

Autumn Song: Essays on Absence invites readers into one Black woman’s experiences encountering absences, seeing beyond the empty spaces, and grasping at the glimmers of glory that remain. In a world marred with brokenness, these glimmers speak to the possibility of grieving losses, healing heartache, and allowing ourselves to be changed.

We all live lives littered with what we leave behind: places we once lived, friendships we once had, dreams we once envisioned, the people we once were. Each new day we attempt to find a way to...

A Note From the Publisher

American Lives Series

American Lives Series

Advance Praise

“This gorgeous collection of essays about home and belonging casts a spell on me, with its gentle yet sharp observations and evocative sense of place. Like an alchemist, Patrice Gopo transforms ordinary moments into reflections on stillness and process. She investigates the destruction of a historically Black neighborhood in her town and explores the complicated nature of interracial relationships. Underlying these contemplative essays is an urgency to make sense of a world that often feels chaotic and frightening. Autumn Song: Essays on Absence is a necessary book, one I will return to again and again.”—Geeta Kothari, author of I Brake for Moose and Other Stories

“Patrice Gopo deftly plunges the reader into a life that weaves the personal with the political—and spotlights patterns of beauty amid the chaotic and often racist American fabric, both past and present. Gopo’s prose is vivid and gorgeous. I remembered her memories and her family long after I finished the book.”—Devi S. Laskar, author of The Atlas of Reds and Blues and Circa

“Patrice Gopo brings a contemplative eye and heart to the small but poignant details that comprise the miracle of everyday life. Though subtitled Essays on Absence, Autumn Song displays a hopeful focus on what is present and affirming: the warmth of a grandmother’s embrace, the exquisite sound of snow melting, the quiet triumph of a deer shaking itself free after being stuck in a fence. Such observations hold the frequency of the book as the pandemic lockdown shrinks the world and casts events such as the death of George Floyd into stark light. Walking through these essays with Gopo is a profound and gratifying journey.”—Sophfronia Scott, author of The Seeker and the Monk: Everyday Conversations with Thomas Merton

“With startling finesse and unmooring insight, Autumn Song: Essays on Absence will recalibrate your senses to understand there actually is no such thing as void or emptiness at all. Inside perceived absence, there is invitation for seizing, reconsidering, and creating new lexicons of poetic logic. These essays are treasures, tendered by Patrice Gopo’s rare gaze of lyrical precision. Autumn Song is an ode to the artistry of seeing oneself in a world of fast glances and forgotten histories.”—Lisa Factora-Borchers, author, activist, and editor of Dear Sister: Letters from Survivors of Sexual Violence

“This gorgeous collection of essays about home and belonging casts a spell on me, with its gentle yet sharp observations and evocative sense of place. Like an alchemist, Patrice Gopo transforms...

Available Editions

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ISBN 9781496235800
PRICE $19.95 (USD)

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Average rating from 9 members

Featured Reviews

5 Stars - Autumn Song by Patrice Gopo - Each essay I read left me feeling thoughtful and inspired, like I do when I have coffee or a drink with that one friend who inspires me to go home and write, or paint, or make something with my hands.

If you have never explored a collection of essays, "Autumn Song" should be your first. If you love essayists, Patrice Gopo is an author to add to your favorites. The descriptive language was lush and enjoyable to explore and the pacing and sectioning of each piece felt carefully crafted, adding to the reading experience. The authors experiences and perspective were relatable and emotionally rich, but also explicitly and uniquely rooted in her sense of self and her experiences as a black woman in America, Reading each essay was an exercise in self-reflection. The very personal final essay had me silent sobbing on the couch so as to not wake my kids. Not being a frequent book crier made this particular collection an easy addition to the very short list of 5 star reads on my 2023 list.

Lastly, that cover art! It is gorgeous and rich and I'm always guilty of secretly liking a book just a little bit more when the cover is pretty.

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Thank you, NetGalley for the eArc copy of the book!

5 Stars (A full review incoming at a later date)

This was a collection I didn't expect I would enjoy. I gained a tremendous amount of insight and valuable takeaways. Gopo's writing kept me sticking for more and it was beautiful. This is a book I do plan on purchasing in the future. The amount of lines I jot down was too many! There were certain essays where I could relate and there were some that made me think a bit more (which I enjoy).

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The essays are somehow very endearing to read. Very descriptive, very charming, and I enjoy to learn about the essays as I went on. However sadly, this book seems like it is not for me.

Thank you, NetGalley and University of Nebraska Press, for giving me access for this ARC!

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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

This collection of essays is beautifully written and reads, at times, like poetry. I felt some of the time ideas dragged a bit, but otherwise it was an enjoyable read.

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In Autumn Song, Patrice Gopo has presented a collection of essays which reflect her searches and researches in life: her early like as a black girl in Alaska; her finding her now husband in Cape Town; her now home in Charlotte, North Carolina; her life as a mother to two daughters; and running through all of this, her identity as a black woman and writer in a 21st century United States that continues to have major racial issues and difficulty in facing and dealing with them. Her essays are deeply personal while also being very relatable.

One of my favorite essays is “Understanding A Brief Statement on Grace.” In this essay, Gopo describes some of her podcasts and interviews on race and how she reacts to those who ask questions or respond to her. As she provides multiple definitions of grace, she ponders how “gracious” she has been in her interactions and the results of that grace. Truly an interesting and thought provoking discussion of the meanings of grace and how it’s impact on her through her upbringing might impact her work now.

I found much to contemplate as I read and, as a white woman, I wished for an opportunity to be in the audience for one of Gopo’s talks. Better yet to sit and talk with her. She is an observer of nature, of people, of the world around her and is able to create portraits,large and small, of life that I enjoyed reading. The essays run the gamut of subjects but home, family, fulfillment and self knowledge seem to be the center of all. After a few at the start that were slower to engage with, the rest of the collection soared.

Recommended for readers of essays.

Thank you to University of Nebraska Press and NetGalley for an advanced copy of this book in return for an honest review.

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The cover is really beautiful, but the content is not for me.
I don't relate to the story.

Thanks NetGalley and the author for the ARC!

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