Gretchen Cherington – Poetic License

Poetic License

I really enjoyed talking to Gretchen Cherington, daughter of Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Richard Eberhart. But it was difficult because I know and admire his poetry, so as a fan it was sad to discover the side of him unknown to the public.

Gretchen faced a dilemma: Should she protect her parents’ well-crafted family myths while continuing to silence her own voice? Or was it time to challenge those myths and speak her truth―even the unbearable truth that her generous and kind father had sexually violated her?

It is a powerful memoir. Beautifully written -- lyrical and heartfelt -- it creates an emotional experience for the reader. That she grew up around words and knows how to use them is not surprising. Even as I was reading this book, I kept thinking to myself: Go girl! You're not the only one with writing chops in your family!

Her father’s extensive archives at Dartmouth College and interviews with some of her father’s best friends gave her the insights into the man who was able to write poetry, but beyond the words was unaware of the damage he was doing to his daughter's life.

Gretchen is candid. Sometimes painfully so -- I'm sure for herself and for the reader. Not all of us would have the courage that it took to write this book. But after thirty years of consulting work with powerful executives and because of the #MeToo Movement, she decided that writing Poetic License is a way to stop the pain. Not just for herself, but for others who would see that one woman’s story of speaking truth is the beginning of the change that needs to be made. It brings healing.

She a brave woman. And I know there are many more books in her, because she has talent.

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Praise for Poetic License

"Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Richard Eberhart was a close friend of many years, a beloved colleague. I loved his genial personality and admired his unique poetic gift. He was a generous man but, as his daughter shows, a difficult and complex person as well. This is a vivid memoir, flaws and all, and Gretchen Eberhart Cherington has crafted a narrative worth reading closely."
--Jay Parini, poet, novelist, critic, and author of The Last Station: A Novel of Tolstoy's Last Year

"A timely and powerful debut. . . . Cherington writes about her past fluidly and with grace . . ."
--Paperback Paris

"In writing her memoir, Gretchen Cherington has stepped out of the long shadow cast by her late father, revered poet Richard Eberhart, and into the brilliant light of her personal truth. In riveting and honest prose, she invites us to look beyond her seemingly gilded childhood and adolescence to glimpse the realities that defined her family and the painful secret that shaped her way of living in the world. By sorting through the complex remnants of her father's life and revisiting her own memories, Cherington loosens the binds of the past and releases her own courageous and powerful voice."
--Melanie Brooks, author of Writing Hard Stories: Celebrated Memoirists Who Shaped Art from Trauma

"Poetic License is a great achievement that will move powerfully into the world. This is a riveting portrait, in elegant prose, of a once adoring daughter able to reflect as a mature woman, how she searched for her own truth, and freed herself from her father's dominating presence."
--Elizabeth Garber, poet and memoirist, author of Implosion: A Memoir of an Architect's Daughter

"Gretchen Cherington has written a courageous and enlightened memoir of the lifelong impact of sexual molestation. Cherington dives deep into the murky legacy of her father's life to understand what love between a father and daughter should be, how that ideal could be spoiled, and what she had lost. This well-articulated journey gives us the tools we need to take command of our own lives and move into the person we want to become."
--Laura Waterman, author of Losing the Garden: The Story of a Marriage

“At its core, this powerful memoir covers Cherington’s decades-long search for truth and the shaping of her authentic self. Sometimes funny, sometimes sad, but always clear, empathetic, and entertaining, Cherington writes about coming to terms with trauma brought on by a celebrity father with deep flaws. All of this comes with intimate glimpses into the psyches of celebrated poets, including T.S. Eliot, Allen Ginsberg, Dylan Thomas, Donald Hall, Robert Lowell, and Anne Sexton. A great read! I was enraptured.”
―Ernest Hebert, author of thirteen books including the seven novels of the Darby Chronicles and the award-winning historical novel, The Old American

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