Communication program instructor Melissa Matthewson celebrated the release of her new book, Tracing the Desire Line, with readings in Jacksonville and Ashland earlier this month.
Matthewson joined the Communication faculty this year to fill in for Professor Erik Palmer, who is on sabbatical until 2020. She previously taught in the University Seminar and Honors programs at SOU, and the University Seminar Green House. She holds an M.S. in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana, and more recently graduated in 2015 with an M.F.A in Creative Writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Melissa is currently teaching Interpersonal Communication, Media Literacy, and Multimedia Writing here at SOU. Next, she will teach a new Communication course titled Environmental Journalism. “I love teaching at SOU!” Matthewson says. “My favorite parts of teaching are when a spark of new knowledge fires for a student or when they follow their own curiosity and interest. I very much like to be an active part of the learning process for a student and inspire them to grow and expand their own knowledge and values. It’s an honor to have a role in a student’s development and growth.”
Tracing the Desire Line is written in the form of memoir-in-essays; it follows Matthewson’s journey not only as a writer, but as a woman, wife, and mother. She explores identity and sexuality through essays as she narrates the transition into an open marriage with her husband. As Melissa, herself described, the book looks closely at what happens when the narrator runs the edges of desire by questioning the nature of monogamy and freedom within a conventional marriage while detouring along the way to explore music, religion, love, and wildness.
“I love teaching at SOU!” … “My favorite parts of teaching are when a spark of new knowledge fires for a student or when they follow their own curiosity and interest. I very much like to be an active part of the learning process for a student and inspire them to grow and expand their own knowledge and values. It’s an honor to have a role in a student’s development and growth.”
Matthewson penned the first essay for Tracing the Desire Line in 2012, not knowing it would become a book later on. As she pursued an M.F.A. in 2015, her life became more hectic and the essays allowed her to express those emotions in an artistic way. In an interview published by the Bend Bulletin, she described the motivations behind being so authentic. “It’s been interesting to put the book into the world as it does make me feel very exposed in terms of my personal life, but what I hope for the book is that the personal becomes universal, and that readers will find points of connection, beauty, and art within the book that will resonate.”
The book has already received glowing reviews, being described as “a gripping and lyrical look at marriage, motherhood, and desire” by Jill Talbot (The Way We Weren’t), “luminous, smart, and lyrical” by Robin MacArthur (Half Wild), and “the debut of an important literary voice” by Cari Luna (The Revolution of Every Day). Tracing the Desire Line is currently available for purchase online through Split Lip Press and on Amazon.