Jeanne Guillemin-Meselson, medical anthropologist and author, was Professor of Sociology at Boston College and Senior Advisor at the MIT Center for International Studies. In addition to many publications in her field but unknown to anyone until after her death in 2019, Jeanne also wrote poetry. The 79 poems in this book, remarkable for their emotional power, complex intelligence, and beauty of the words, are selected from nearly twice as many found by her husband among her papers and in her notebooks after her death. An answer to why the poems had been kept secret may be found in the poems themselves. Some express love, profound or light-hearted, and uncommon wisdom. But others express the loneliness of love sought but not found. Some tell of happy childhood times with her beloved maternal grandmother, an adoring uncle, and friends from school. But others tell of an autocratic father, an unloving older sister, a lonely first marriage and a terrifying divorce. Despite the torment never entirely gone, Jeanne made a remarkable decision—to follow the path of love and kindness, so clear in these lines from “The Heel of August”: … hoist up a skein of scars and love, hoist up the family bones heavy with anger, until they are luminous. Cure the blood with kindness, unrelenting gentleness…” Love and kindness, unrelenting gentleness–and also a wild heart, a free spirit. You can see it in the poems and photographs of Jeanne in this volume.
If I Were Going to Stay is one of the first books to be composed in Goluska, a new typeface from lettering artist Rod McDonald, Canada’s foremost designer of printing types. McDonald named his latest design in honor of his longtime friend Glenn Goluska, who was for decades a mainstay in Toronto’s letterpress printing scene, and who delighted in printing books of poetry. McDonald also cites the Boston type designer and artist W. A. Dwiggins as an inspiration for his design. Goluska is destined to become a classic for use in the composition of beautiful books.
Penmor Lithographers printed the book on acid-free Mohawk Superfine paper; Superior Finishing provided the binding, using traditional Smythsewn construction and all-cotton Cialinen cloth woven in Italy. Bruce Kennett planned the design and typography, with assistance from Sally Brady and Matthew Meselson.