UGA’s Educator’s Book Treats Grief With Poetry

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Ed Pavlić’s older sister, Kate, died in 2005. Sifting through her personal belongings, Pavlić found a postcard-sized self-portrait painted by Kate in vibrant hues of red, yellow, green and blue. On the reverse was another self-portrait, a literal reverse done in a monochromatic style of dark purple and muted white.

The paintings eventually became the respectful front and back covers of Pavlić’s elegy for Kate, “Call it in the Air,” which will see its release celebrated with a virtual book launch hosted by Avid Bookshop on October 11. A conversation between Pavlić and fellow author Kiese Laymon via Zoom video conference takes place from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.

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“Call it in the Air” is the 13th book by Athens resident Pavlić, who works as a professor of English, African-American studies and creative writing at the University of Georgia. Pavlić told the Banner-Herald that the text came from 25 to 30 pages he wrote immediately after Kate’s death, but would probably not have been accepted by a publisher at the time.

“(The first draft) was written entirely without interruption, and gave it to a few people I knew to read over the next few weeks”, Pavlić recalled. “They told me it felt like they could barely breathe reading it. It’s the kind of book an author can’t publish until they’ve proven themselves.”

Equal parts poetry, diary and memoir, “Call it in the Air” oscillates between Pavlić’s stream-of-consciousness tales of his past adventures and experiences with Kate and the raw, visceral first-person accounts of being alongside Kate in the intensive. hospital care unit towards the end of his life. The two literary styles are divided by deliberate and somewhat merciful page breaks.

Athens-based author Ed Pavlić's cover art

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Pavlić kept this initial draft of “Call it in the Air” in a drawer as his career as an author and educator progressed, and continued to work on it intermittently over time. The title comes from the text of the book’s haunting final passage, in which Pavlić’s narrator ponders the juxtaposition of healing as a loved one is dying.

Pavlić said he was convinced that Kate would have liked the book and that he hopes others will too.

“If I was a bricklayer like my father, I would have built a shed or something, but I’m a writer and that’s what I do,” Pavlić said. “I felt like I owed it to (Kate) to try to convey something of the reality of her life that I hope 17 years later will make people wonder about the reality of their lives.

To sign up for the Zoom conversation, go to avidbookshop.com/event/virtual-book-launch-ed-pavlics-call-it-air-kiese-laymon.

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