Diane Freund

Lately, I’ve been thinking about one of my first mentors, Diane Freund (pronounced Friend), who died of brain cancer in 2010. And I guess I want other people to think about her, too. So, here she is.

Diane Freund

My dear friend, Robbie, introduced us at a small writing conference in Southeast Arizona, where Diane was a frequent presenter. I wasn’t actually attending the full conference that year. I’d had a baby the week before and had slipped away for an hour or so to hear Diane speak.

Later, she agreed to work with me on my novel, offering what turned out to be two years of invaluable critique and encouragement. Her own first novel, Four Corners—the frightening, beautifully-written story of a young girl’s life after her mother is admitted to a mental hospital—won the Pirate’s Alley/Falkner Prize but was ultimately overshadowed by the events of September 11, 2001, four days prior to the book’s publication.

Still, Four Corners eventually aided her in receiving an NEA fellowship. When I wrote to offer congratulations, she gave me this:

This was the third time over the course of six years that I’d applied. When I was denied the grant in 2005, it came on the same day that I was diagnosed with cancer, so it seemed especially hard to receive that news. Now I realize that it wouldn’t have been a good time. I was sick and heart sick. This is just to say that I know how hard it is to be passed over, but you must persist against all odds. I am certain that with your incredible talent, you’ll one day be recognized for your achievements, that the stars will align just so, over your house.

During our first interaction, moments after we’d only just met, she gave me a book—a guide to writing poetry. A gift. She made me feel important. Special; of course, this was her true gift—she made everyone feel special.

At her memorial service, a familiar gathering inside a Bisbee restaurant, I looked around at her friends: a group of poets and artists and activists, each one hunted out from beneath the rocks of this remote small-town cluster in the desert. Diane’s power was drawing out beauty from every well.

*To donate to the Diane E. Freund Memorial Writing Celebration Fund—offering financial assistance to writers unable to afford the referenced writing conference—click here and specify Diane’s name in the donation scholarship space.

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8 thoughts on “Diane Freund

  1. Diane did have a knack of making all around her feel special. I miss her, and hope in some way, we all can give back to the universe that special gift she bestowed upon us.

  2. Thank you for honoring my beloved mother…it is a great comfort to know she continues to touch the lives of others.

    • Yes she did. Near the Court House on top of the hill. Wolf Street, in 1985 if I recall correctly. Thank you all for you kind words about my mother. We all miss her dearly.

  3. While re-arranging my bookshelf, I came across “Four Corners” and wonder if Diane had written any new books. I Googled her name and discovered her death. I took a writing class from Diane at Pima Community College in 1992 as a pre-requisite for Dental Hygiene School. Her class was the most difficult and rewarding class I have ever taken. She changed the way I approach reading, writing. I am so sorry to hear of her demise. I will re-read “Four Corners” tonight.

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