Interviews,  Show Notes

Episode 24: The Literary Life of Sally Thomas

On today’s episode of The Literary Life, Angelina and Cindy interview poet, author and mother, Sally Thomas. You can find Sally and some of her writing at Sally talks about her early reading life beginning with her memories of her family members reading themselves and to her. Cindy and Angelina ask her about her early forays into storytelling and writing. They discuss how literature and story are for everyone, including scientists and mathematicians, not just those who already have a bent toward reading. Sally shares about the influential teachers she had who fed her love of the written word.

Angelina asks about how Sally approaches the balance between the reading life and the writing life. They also discuss how the seasons of Sally’s family life shifted her focus somewhat away from active writing but were still fruitful in other ways. Cindy asks what Sally likes to read as a diversion, and Angelina brings up the topic of how to deal with a reading slump. They wrap up their chat reveling in the reward of homeschooling and teaching their own children, and what a joy it is both to raise readers but to become better readers themselves.

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Angelina will also be in Austin, TX at Christ Church on November 25, 2019. More information is available here.

My Father Drawing in an Upstairs Room

by Sally Thomas

Outside, on a live stirring backdrop of broad-handed green,
The black cat on her branch spreads her back toes and licks, licks, between.

He looks musingly at her, and through her, as if right now he
Saw some mystery imposed on — or being born from — the tree.

On the table, five charcoal-drawn children roughhouse in a whiteness
You might see as empty. You might discern in it the likeness

Of a person who waits and observes, is as happy to wait
Forever for something to happen beyond these five straight

Black figures like capering trees in a cosmos of snow.
In my mind the catalpa leaves roofing the morning still glow

Sun-heavy, alive. These five children he’s caught in their white
Fleet-foot moment perdure, as all shadows survive on daylight.

He’s looking at them, as in this long instant I’ve seen him.
Once more the cat spreads her black toes, once more licks between them.

Copyright 2018, Sally Thomas. Used by permission.

Book List:

Fallen Water by Sally Thomas

Richeldis of Walsingham by Sally Thomas

Sound and Sense by Laurence Perrine

The Intellectual Life by Sertillanges

All the Silver Pennies

The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgeson Burnett

Arms and the Man by George Bernard Shaw


Paradise Lost by John Milton

Marianne Moore

Elizabeth Bishop

The Book of the Red King by Marly Youmans

Mr. Either/Or by Aaron Poochigian

Pattiann Rogers

The Wheel on the School by Meinert DeJong

Brother Cadfael series by Ellis Peters

Sharon Kay Penman

Excellent Women by Barbara Pym

Delta Wedding by Eudora Welty

The Lost Words by Robert McFarlane

Landmarks by Robert McFarlane

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  • Margaret B. Ingraham

    Wow! I just discovered you from Sally Thomas’s post on FB — and I am blown away. I am, also, by the way, that English teacher of hers she mentioned who visited Alan Tate in the nursing home and who (gulp) stood in the trashcan. So, of course, it was wonderful to reminisce with her and to hear how our individual literary lives can feed one another. Surely your podcasts make those opportunities available and accessible in a global way. So thank you, thank you. I’m hooked now and will surely become a regular listener.

  • Ruthie Sheppard

    I loved this conversation. I really needed to hear that about the fallow years. Such encouragement. I didn’t think I’d like the interview episodes at all but now they’re such a treat!

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