Penny Guisinger, author of Shift, in conversation with Charles Coe

Porter Square Books is delighted to welcome Penny Guisinger for the release of Shift: A Memoir of Identity and Other Illusions! Poet Charles Coe will join Guisinger in conversation. This event will take place on Friday, March 29 at 7pm at Porter Square Books (25 White St. Cambridge, MA 02140).

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Penny Guisinger was not always attracted to women. In Shift she recounts formative relationships with women and men, including the marriage that produced her two children and ultimately ended in part due to her affair with her now-wife. Beginning her story as straight and ending as queer, she struggles to make sense of how her identity changed so profoundly while leaving her feeling like the same person she’s always been. While covering pivotal periods of her life, including previous relationships and raising her children across the chasm of divorce, Guisinger reaches for quantum physics, music theory, planetary harmonics, palmistry, and more to interrogate her experiences. This personal story plays out against the backdrop of the national debate on same-sex marriage, in rural, easternmost Maine, where Guisinger watched her neighbors vote against the validity of her family.

Shift examines sexual and romantic fluidity while wrestling with the ways past and present mingle rather than staying in linear narratives. Under scrutiny, Guisinger’s sense of her own identity becomes like a Mobius strip or Penrose triangle—an optical illusion that challenges the dimensions and possibilities of the world.

Penny Guisinger is the author of Postcards from Here and the forthcoming Shift: A Memoir of Identity and Other Illusions. Her work has appeared in Fourth Genre, River Teeth, Guernica, Solstice Literary Magazine, and others. Pushcart nominated, a Maine Literary Award winner, and a three-time notable in Best American Essays, she is a co-director of Iota Short Forms and a former assistant editor at Brevity. Penny is a graduate of the Stonecoast MFA Program. 

Charles Coe is the author of four books of poetry: All Sins Forgiven: Poems for my Parents, Picnic on the Moon, Memento Mori, and Purgatory Road, all published by Leapfrog Press. Charles Coe: New and Selected Works will be published by Leapfrog in the summer of 2024. He is also author of 2014’s Spin Cycles, a novella published by Gemma Media that tells the story of a homeless man surviving on the streets of Boston. 

Charles was a 2017 artist-in-residence for the city of Boston, where he created an oral history project focused on residents of Mission Hill. He has been chosen as a “Literary Light” by the Associates of the Boston Public Library. He is an adjunct professor of English at Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island, and at Bay Path University, in Longmeadow, Massachusetts, where he teaches in both MFA writing programs. He serves on the Steering Committee of the Boston Chapter of the National Writers Union, a labor union that serves freelance writers.

Event date: 

Friday, March 29, 2024 - 7:00pm

Event address: 

Porter Square Books
25 White St.
Cambridge, MA 02140

RSVP Form: 

Shift: A Memoir of Identity and Other Illusions (American Lives ) By Penny Guisinger Cover Image
ISBN: 9781496238900
Availability: In Stock: Click Title to See if it's in CAMBRIDGE or BOSTON
Published: University of Nebraska Press - March 1st, 2024


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