I first saw Julia speak in an intimate setting, after the other twelve writers and I read her book in preparation for a week long conference: “Writing to Change the World.” I didn’t have the book on me for her to sign because I had already given it away to my mother for her to consider teaching at the local community college.
The faster I hand off a book, the more you know I like it. Julia’s lasted in my home less than 24 hours after I finished it.
Her work is unique in that she is the only voice I have read about poverty from someone currently experiencing poverty. Usually we hear from those who work with people in poverty or those who were once in poverty but have since gained middle class status. I knew my mother’s students would resonate with the frankness from which Julia Dinsmore discusses her situation and the forces at work to keep her there.
Here is the thing you have to brace yourself for, if you are going to meet Julia Dinsmore in the flesh: There isn’t an ounce of shame on her. She tells you this in her book, but it is something you really have to experience. I don’t know that I have ever met someone so fully at peace with themselves. She laughs and cries and sings and tells stories with abandon. That first time I met her, the person who arranged the meeting asked me what I thought of it. I responded from the gut, “it is just so rare for me to be in a room with a person who has feelings as big as mine.”