November 18, 2010

Writing from Galesburg

For Cyn Kitchen, everything comes back to ten. It took her 10 years to write the 10 short stories that make up her book “Ten Tongues,” which was released on Oct. 10.

None of this was on purpose. Kitchen never thought of 10 as a lucky number, but as she put it, “[10] kept cropping up.”

Kitchen, who is a Creative Writing professor at Knox, did not set out to write a book, but after writing each story separately she realized that she had a collection. Since each story has a different place in Kitchen’s heart, she said that picking a favorite story would be like choosing a favorite child, but she eventually did decide that she liked “Tuesday’s Child” best.

Every other story was based on her experiences in one way or another, but Kitchen said “Tuesday’s Child” is her favorite because it “has nothing to do with me.” She based the story, about a mother’s unique way of dealing with a miscarriage, on a story in the news a few years back where a mother was found guilty of burying her babies in her backyard. Although Kitchen doesn’t remember the number of babies found, or how they died, the tale’s absurdity stuck with her and that seed eventually became “Tuesday’s Child.”

Kitchen grew up in Galesburg and her connection to the town had a strong influence on her writing. When Kitchen’s friends read the book, she says they often point out parts of the book and say “that’s Galesburg.”

Although she grew up in town, Kitchen gained a new and more complete vision of Galesburg after attending Knox, where she graduated in 2001. When she met the diverse range of students at Knox, Kitchen was able to compare and contrast her town with the rest of the world.

“I was immersed in Galesburg, and [I] thought of it as normal,” Kitchen said. “It’s not normal, but nowhere is.”

Kitchen describes Galesburg as a very wholesome and rooted town, where “God, family and country” are still at the forefront of people’s lives. That is part of the reason why Kitchen loves Galesburg, although she acknowledges that this mentality can lead to oversimplified views when it comes to the complex issues facing Galesburg and the world around it.

Kitchen says that her dual role as a writer has improved her teaching, and vice versa. “One informs the other,” she said. “There’s a completeness to it.”

Paige Anderson
Paige Anderson is a junior double majoring in computer science and creative writing. This is her second year as co-Mosaic editor. Outside of TKS, Paige has written for Knox’s Office of Communications and for her high school newspaper; her in-depth work won a third-place medal in the Redwood Empire Excellence in Journalism Awards competition. Paige will intern at Amazon during the summer of 2013.

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