MEET THE AUTHOR
I’ve been thinking about the problem of
scale—specifically, the ways in which my
life feels quite small and insignificant
against the backdrop of the astonishing political times we live in. How does the life of
any ordinary person matter? At our house
we have solar, we compost, we have an
e-car, yet the Amazon is on fire as I’m writing this, and the effects of climate change
are accumulating more rapidly than even
the dourest scientist predicted. Similarly, the rise of authoritarianism
in the United States and across the world troubles me. As world leaders
erode the rights and dignity of individuals, how does my life—working,
parenting, caring for chickens, a dog, and a horse—matter?
In 2016, I first read the work of Natalia Ginzburg, novelist, essayist, and activist. Although she edited an anti-Fascist newspaper during
World War I, most of her work was concerned with family life. I admired the calm with which she faced extraordinary events, including
the death by torture of her husband under the Fascists. Reading her,
I felt challenged to reexamine my own domestic life, particularly my
worst moments as a mother. Now the children are away at college, and
I have hens. If I was going to learn something from Ginzburg’s close
observations of the domestic, then I had to take the chickens more seriously.
I’m glad for the inherently amusing things about chickens. They offered some lightness as I explored uncomfortable territory, which in the
end was the work: to understand my role in the world I live in.
Emily Sinclair’s work has appeared in River Teeth, Colorado Review,
the Normal School, and many other journals and has been recognized
by Best American Essays. She holds a degree in fiction from the MFA
Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. Emily lives with her
husband, their dog, Buckaroo, and six chickens on an apple orchard in
Golden, Colorado. She teaches for Lighthouse Writers.