The member diversity in the WNBA makes our goal of connecting, educating, advocating, and leading possible. As bookwomen, we believe “Books Have Power.” The Bookwoman welcomes Nicole Eiden (WNBA-New Orleans) to the “Power behind the WNBA” interview series!
Tell us about yourself.
I am a poet and filmmaker interested in exploring the challenges and beauty of ordinary life.
I arrived in New Orleans in 1999 from Columbus, Ohio. Though I have never looked to go back, my writing reveals I do often look back.
I hold a Master of Fine Arts degree in film from the University of New Orleans and a Bachelor of Communications degree in video production from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. Additionally, I co-own Windowsill Pies, a Southern-style pie and tart company, and share a shotgun house with my husband and kindergarten-aged daughter.
Why did you join WNBA?
In 2016, after my poem “Mortgage” had just placed in the WNBA Writing Contest and my first book of poems, I Am One of You, was published, a friend encouraged me to join my local WNBA chapter. The invitation excited me instantly. I had been trying to figure out ways to expand my literary community. Though I have always been a writer first, at that time, my public professional life had developed in other areas as well.
The women of the WNBA are equally passionate about the written word but in different forms, genres and career expressions. Members generously share their varied expertise and enthusiasms through official programming and through informal conversations and networking. This leads me to the primary reason I am a member: I revel in being with people who prioritize the literary life in daily life.
What value does the promotion of books bring to your community?
In the larger New Orleans community, the clear answer is that the promotion of books leads to increased literacy which I solidly believe is key to empowering people. I am interested in answering this question, though, not only through the lens of my community but also through my own personal experience shared with my community.
The act of reading a book keeps me hopeful. By taking in someone else’s carefully organized words, I am challenged to ask new questions, to consider another’s experience in depth, to hold the contradictory complexities of the world simultaneously, to expand myself. Such openings keep me orientated toward growth and shape me further into who I am—an expressive, curious human being. These are the kinds of opportunities I want to help form for others.
What’s a book that has had a lasting impact on you?
Immediately, I think of the novels that have kept me up or made me late to events because I couldn’t put them down. But if I have to select only one book with a lasting impact, that book would have to be the sort I find back on my desk again and again. The type that I reach for with this kind of good routine is always a book of poems.
A few of Ranier Maria Rilke’s books, for instance, have been part of my daily life for years. I have read different translations of his work, but, right now, I’m grateful for a new translation of Rilke’s Book of Hours by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy.
Yes, I would have to say Rilke. Definitely Rilke . . . or Naomi Shihab Nye’s Words Under the Words: Selected Poems.
Nye values the truth that is found in careful observation of the up-close experience in a way that consistently keeps me listening and invariably stretches the ways in which I choose to move in the world.
Interview compiled by assistant editor Pam Ebel (WNBA-New Orleans).