Priscilla Gilman

Priscilla Gilman Recommends...

Writers Recommend

Posted 5.11.11

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“When I was working on my book, The Anti-Romantic Child, I created a playlist that I listened to over and over again while writing. Some songs transported me back to very specific moments or eras in my life, others evoked moods or stirred emotions in me, and some simply galvanized or focused me. Looking at the playlist now, I'm struck by what a motley assortment of music it is—everything from Pete Seeger singing ‘Michael Row the Boat Ashore’ (in the early days of my discovery that my son, Benj, had special needs, this would both break my heart and hearten me) to Sufjan Stevens’s version of ‘Amazing Grace,’ (a beautiful hymn of hope and thanksgiving), Neil Young's ‘Sugar Mountain’ (a song of paradise lost that I sang at summer camp) to Peter Gabriel's ‘Solsbury Hill’ (a song of my early romance with my ex-husband). ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ and ‘Over the Rainbow,’ quintessential songs of my childhood that I especially associate with my late father, Richard Gilman, and ‘Somewhere’ and ‘Tonight’ from West Side Story, which I sang to my own children, are interspersed with selections from Gerald Finzi's choral version of the great romantic poet William Wordsworth's ‘Intimations of Immortality.’  But what invariably puts me in the best frame of mind to write is singing with Benj himself while he plays the guitar.  Our duets on songs like ‘The Circle Game,’ ‘Box of Rain,’ and ‘Wish You Were Here’ send me back to the computer sometimes elated, sometimes pensive, but always deeply moved and ready to express my thoughts and feelings expansively on the page.” 
Priscilla Gilman, author of The Anti-Romantic Child: A Story of Unexpected Joy (Harper, 2011)