Professor Wendy Parkins was professor of literature at Kent University in the UK before returning recently to New Zealand. Her newly published memoir, Every morning, so far, I’m alive, offers an intimate and honest exploration of living with depression, phobias and OCD, and how these conditions have affected her in personal, professional, family, and social life. The title comes from American poet Mary Oliver’s 1986 poem, “Landscape”, and is a resonant epigraph for Wendy’s story. Her book is a gift to those who might find support in recognising shared or similar struggles, and at the same time to those who’ll appreciate its broader concerns with how to live in the world, and to live well. It’s also about how to place ourselves in the world, and how place shapes our ‘selves.’
Parkins’ interest in everyday life — in how people live — had informed her earlier academic cultural studies book, Slow Living (2006), co-written with Geoffrey Craig, about the Slow Food movement. They refer to slow living as an “attempt to live in the present in a meaningful, sustainable, thoughtful and pleasurable way”; and to “slow arts of the self” as processes whereby “we can ‘desanctify’ parts of our self-understanding”. In Every morning, so far, I’m alive, the process of ‘desanctifying’ self-knowledge isn’t an intellectual enterprise, or a conscious life-style choice, but an intimate challenge.