Lise Saffran’s creative non-fiction balances personal, deeply felt and vividly described moments that illuminate questions of broader concern (social justice and inequality, death and dying, community responsibility) with scientific evidence, close observation and reflections on literary texts, including poetry.
Her essay In the Presence of Being (Poets and Writers 2011) includes the following passage: “What had made me think there was a difference, I wondered then, between the love that we had for each other and the words we used, or tried to use, to express it? It was the searching for words that was so uniquely human and precious—it was the very audaciousness of trying to capture feeling into something as tangible as a poem or a story that meant so much.” A reflection on creativity and public health (On the Issues 2012) expands on the theme of human effort, creativity and mutual responsibility with the passage: “A novel may be experienced like a dream, but only if the writer has spent the necessary hours revising under a bright light. The mechanisms that protect the air we breathe, the water we drink, the land we occupy and the food we eat require an equally clear-eyed vigilance; they can begin to unravel if we neglect them.”
Work in Progress: Safe in These Bodies: Collected Essays about Life, Death, Creativity and Community. An excerpt from that collection can be found here: