In January, David H. March Library and the student book club teamed up to host alumna and author Palmer Smith ’13 to read excerpts from her first book, “The Butterfly Bruises.”
“The Butterfly Bruises” is a meditation on miscommunication, childhood, culture, nature, and technology. Since its publication in May 2021, the book has won the Literary Titan Gold Medal and been a finalist in the Travel and Essays category for the Best American Book Awards.
During her visit, Smith read aloud a few excerpts of short stories as well as several personal essays from her publication. After the reading, students had a chance to ask questions about being an author and the publishing world.
“Students must know that their creative writing matters, whether they would like to be published one day or not. Creative writing is a mode of expression crucial for teenagers,” Smith told us. While back on The Holy Hill, Smith had the chance to catch up with Mary Robert Carter ’13, fellow writer Mackenzie Nichols ’11, and James Lilley ’14. “For us to re-experience campus together brought back formative and good memories.”
Librarian Miranda Selover said, “The students were very enthusiastic and excited about having an alumna visit the book club. Since the book is personal essays and poetry, I think they were motivated to read and hear artistic work from someone who has also experienced life at EHS.” Banks Krause ’23, president of the book club, agreed: “It was really nice because Palmer is an EHS alumna, so we could see how Episcopal helped her find her path and how it influenced some of her writing.”
Krause was thrilled about the success of the event. “Everyone had come in having read her book and we were able to ask questions about her writing process, how she chose which poems she wanted to include, and how she got into writing,” she said. “A big thing about book club is that everyone there loves to read and many of our members also love writing, so talking to a published author was exciting and beneficial to all of us.”
While back on campus, Smith fondly remembered faculty members who inspired and motivated her at EHS and beyond. “Mrs. Pugh helped me hone essential academic writing skills. Mr. Ebel carved out time and space for us to focus on our creative writing in a judgment-free environment. Mr. Epes helped me focus on the historical context of literature and taught us that research is fundamental to good writing. I took Latin and French throughout high school and college, and I love tying in other languages into a poem, which I owe to Mr. Amos and Mr. Streed and their wonderful passion for language.”