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(Photo by Candace Braun)

A FAMILY GIFT: Joyce Lott and her daughter, Suzanne Greenberg, recently presented their works at the Princeton Public Library as part of the library's Writers Talking series. Ms. Lott is the author of a book of poems, Dear Mrs. Dalloway, and Ms. Greenberg is the author of Speed-Walk and Other Stories.

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Writing From the Heart: A Tale Of Mother and Daughter Authors

Candace Braun

Rocky Hill resident Joyce Lott and her daughter, Suzanne Greenberg, would seem to write on opposite ends of the spectrum. Ms. Lott's poems can move readers to tears while Ms. Greenberg's stories attract smiles and laughter.

When mother and daughter shared their writings with the audience at the Princeton Public Library on July 28, however, they both read from the heart.

Ms. Lott's book of poems, Dear Mrs. Dalloway, is drawn from memories of her husband's battle with cancer and eventual death. Gary Lott was a teacher for more than 30 years at Princeton Day School, where his stepdaughter Ms. Greenberg was a student.

A creative writing teacher at South Brunswick High School, Ms. Lott took the name for her book of poetry from the Virginia Woolf novel, Mrs. Dalloway, whose title character Ms. Lott views as "life-giving" in the face of "aging and death."

Dear Mrs. Dalloway's meditations on the many experiences she had with her husband before and during his illness received an emotional response from the audience.

"I realized how pain can somehow be beautiful," said Ms. Lott, whose poems also reflected on the heartache she experienced after her husband died, and her appreciation for the time she was given with him.

Ms. Lott is also the author of A Teacher's Stories: Reflections on High School Writers.

A Touch of Humor

Ms. Greenberg is celebrating the recent success of her story collection, Speed-Walk and Other Stories, which was awarded the 2003 Drue Heinz Prize, and was also recently named a finalist in the 2004 John Gardner Fiction Book Awards. A resident of Long Beach, Calif., she also authored a chapbook that was featured in the New Short Fiction Series at the Beverly Hills Public Library, where actors performed staged readings from her stories.

In the title story, the author transforms everyday elements into an amusing fictional reflection of the absurdity of life. Like all her stories, "Speed Walk" was written "in and around and from the very tasks involved with being the mother of three young children."

The library audience also heard Ms. Greenberg read "The Cheap Clown," which begins with a mother holding a birthday party for her son and concludes with the pregnant clown taking a nap in the mother's bed and later complaining about the difficulties of her life and her job.

Ms. Greenberg is an associate professor of English at California State University. Like her mother, she teaches creative writing.

Ms. Lott's book of poems was published this summer by Finishing Line Press. Both books are available at the Princeton Public Library and area bookstores.

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