I live in sight of two oceans: in Berkeley, California, the Golden Gate and the Pacific beyond; at Gotts Island, Maine, Blue Hill Bay and its scattering of other islands. I spend most of the year at the former, but I have known the latter far longer. My husband and I were the parents of a young family when we became summer residents on the small island that was to become a constant center in otherwise peripatetic lives.
As for the Pacific coast, from my westward facing windows I also can see the UC Berkeley campus, where, having completed a PhD in English and several years teaching and publishing in the field of eighteenth-century literature, I became founding associate director of the Townsend Center for the Humanities. At Berkeley I had the pleasure of helping to build a new institution, and more specifically of promoting humanities research through advising faculty with research proposals, writing regular columns on issues in the humanities at Berkeley and nationwide, and editing the Center’s Occasional Papers series established to publish the texts of outstanding Center-organized events.
In the 1990’s, following the death of my son in a bizarre accident, I became particularly engaged with strategies linking medicine and humanities, focusing particularly on issues related to aging, death and dying. At this time too, the island in Maine, so associated with the life of my family, became a site of consolation and the motivation for a series of essays that appeared in journals as diverse as House Beautiful, Raritan, and the Island Institute’s Island Journal. These interests led to my 2008 book, Writing on Stone, and then to the recent Where Edges Don’t Hold, a meditation on living with edges that, like the tides, are ever in motion.
In general, my work has continued to demonstrate how the knowing of place derives from the land (and sea) itself and from history, memory, and the stories of others. “Frost,” published in Bellevue Literary Review, was designated a “notable essay” in Best American Essays, 2010; “Waiting for the Dark,” published in Southwest Review, was similarly listed in the 2015 edition.
Christina Marsden Gillis: email@example.com