GBWC Featured Profile

Carol Dine

Wheaton Class of '65

by Jessica Benjamin '99
July 2006

Initially I was quite nervous about interviewing Carol Dine. Her emotional and honest memoir, Places in the Bone, had awed me and I wanted to make sure I did the author justice in my interview. I thought long and hard about questions I wanted to ask. But in the end it was Red Sox that broke the ice. After our initial introduction, I questioned how much time she had so I wouldn’t keep her too long. She replied, “As long as I don’t miss the opening pitch for the Sox game, I have as much time as you need.” With a response like that, I knew that we would have a great conversation!

While at Wheaton, Carol majored in European History with a concentration (equivalent to a minor) in English. While Professor Knapton was her favorite teacher, at Wheaton because of his passion of French history, English classes were her favorite subject. I asked Carol if English was her favorite, why did she not start writing until her 30’s. She explained that because of her childhood and upbringing, her creative self had been stifled. The thought of writing poetry and sharing it with classmates was terrifying to her.

Carol Dine wrote her first poem at the age of thirty and in essence hasn't stopped writing since. She explained that writing for her is therapeutic, helping her through an abusive childhood, a strained relationship with her son and three bouts of cancer. These are all topics she reveals in her book, Places in the Bone. After reading her book you know intimate parts of her life, to which she describes that since the publication, the book has become a part of her life, not her entire life. Carol further explains that there is life beyond cancer and abuse. She has moved onto to believe that she is a survivor, teacher and writer.

Carol is a professor of creative and memoir writing at Suffolk University in Boston. She enjoys teaching memoir because it allows her to see her student's wider story. Memoir writing is about language and image, not only confession, as poetry sometimes can be. While she uses her own book to illustrate examples of memoir writing, she encourages her students to think of their own lives and what inspires them.

Outside of teaching, Carol attends writing retreats, which she says have been extremely helpful. The ability to get away from her daily routine and totally focus on writing allows her creativity to stay in peak form. Sharing with other writers, artists and musicians gives her a chance to not only work on her new work but also explore other mediums. Because writing isn't linear, there are no guarantees regarding what a writer produces. Before publishing her work she wrote poetry, but with her books she feels validated as a writer. Carol states that she writes because it's like breathing; it's who she is. Regardless of if she had been published, she would have kept writing.

Carol's current project is writing a manuscript in the voice of Vincent Van Gogh. With a grant, she was able to go to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam to view the original letters the artist wrote to family and friends. From this experience she was able to create a collection of poetry reflecting Van Gogh's voice to describe his process of creating his artwork.

Carol Dine is an extremely busy, successful and happy alumna. With two books of poetry and a candid memoir published, Carol is looking forward to the publication of her new manuscript. She continues to speak at cancer awareness events, giving personal accounts of her own battles with breast and bone cancer. Carol feels that Wheaton gave her a sense of self by intellectually stimulating her. She also is proud to say the Wheaton taught her the value of friendships. My time spent talking with Carol was enjoyable, enlightening and most importantly, we got done in time for the start of the baseball game!

For more information please visit: http://placesinthebone.com/caroldine/.