Acclaimed Writing Couple Now Makes Cleveland Home
Hilary Plum and Zach Savich are husband and wife and both are accomplished writers.
She's the award-winning-author of the novel "Strawberry Fields," while he's a prize-winning poet and memoirist.
Last fall the two writers moved from Philadelphia to Northeast Ohio when Plum took a teaching job at Cleveland State University and the position of associate director at the CSU Poetry Center.
Savich and Plum met in graduate school at the University of Massachusetts.
"I first met Hilary and was first electrified by her, by her writing before by the person herself," Savich said.
Their marriage has become an extension of their studies.
"Staying together has been a way to make a relationship like a seminar," he said.
They edit each other's material and often inspire the other's writing.
Plum says their professional relationship has been enhanced by their personal one.
"[Editing] is a conversation that takes place over years and it's a conversation that you're both thinking about having together with all the readers who are out there. So it's really, really nice to get to do that work and that thinking at home with Zach," she said.
Once, Savich encouraged Plum to write about a dream she had the night before.
"I woke up and was telling him about it and he said, 'that sounds like a novel you could write.' So I made all of those things [from the dream] into this book, which took years and years to write," she said.
That dream became Plum's new novel, "Strawberry Fields," about a reporter and a detective investigating the murders of five veterans of the war in Iraq, which won the 2018 Fence Modern Prize in Prose.
Listen to Hilary Plum read from Strawberry Fields:
Savich's memoir from 2016 "Diving Makes the Water Deep" charts his battle with cancer in a poetic style.
When confronted by his own mortality Savich realized he might not have enough time to write a more traditional memoir.
"There's a book that any person might write when brought to such a brink. You have to pull all of your notes together all of a sudden. You don't get ten years to get it perfect," Savich said.
Savich incorporated correspondence with friends from that challenging time into the memoir.
"As much as I love my doctors and I'm grateful for the medical systems I have access to in this moment of science, you need your friends to help you find the meanings to figure out how to get through days outside of when you're a chart at the end of the bed," he said.
Listen to Zach Savich read from Diving Makes the Water Deep:
Their love of writing helped the couple get through the cancer scare.
"Poetry is a survival skill. Poetry gives you tools that were helpful for me at that time. Poetry helps you think about things we don't have language for," he said.
Listen to Zach Savich read from his new book of poetry Daybed: