Preservation & Progress Volume 29, Issue 2 11 pushing down the same road that cattle are driven towards town. one soldier shelters another with his arm against the fence rails as a team of six careens past with a cannon, the man mounted at the front screaming the horses on. To be faithful unto death — the tin cups clatter on the tub as he turns to fill the pails again, and Mary runs across the yard, loaves heaped in her apron, so fiercely hot she can barely handle them as she passes them to the men on the road. This is my body . He pours fast, and the water comes alive in the tub as cups plunge in and come out. A hand clasps his, dripping water, firm as the hand that welcomed him back from that little death into the new world.” Julie also took the time to sit down with us to share a little bit about herself. Are you an artist full-time? My “regular job” is a library specialist for the University of Arizona Poetry Center. We have a unique library. It’s one of the largest collections of contemporary poetry in the country. As an artist, it’s pretty close to a dream job for me. During your poetry reading, you had to take several sips of water to get your voice warmed up mentioning you weren’t used to talking to other people. Has this experience been isolating? It’s gone through waves. When I first arrived, I was a bit overwhelmed with being alone and I’ve been away from my husband for three weeks, so that’s been an adjustment. I’m used to interacting with people all day long. But, surprisingly after about five days it became normal, and kind of exciting, actually. I realized there’s all this space in my head that I never realized was there. I’ve done more writing than usual because of that space and having time to just think and be alone. I grew up in Phoenix and lived in Tucson, so I’ve always lived with lots of people around—it’s very different being in the country. But, I got over that, too, within a few days. I enjoy the peace. This morning, for example, it was amazing to just look out the windows of the Klingel house and see the beautiful morning light all over everything. What else drew you to the Sherfy Family? The fact that they returned home and stayed in the area after the battle spoke to me, especially considering that they literally returned to bloodstains in their house. As pacifists, they might have experienced this as viscerally clashing with their values. But rather than leaving, the Sherfy family made a new life for themselves and even welcomed soldiers back in the years after the war. This ability to invite people in even after experiencing unthinkable devastation is inspiring to me. Tell us a little about your time as the Artist in Residence. Any advice for artists thinking about applying? It’s been incredible. I hope it won’t be a once in a lifetime thing; but it has been a once in a lifetime thing! I have never been in a position when I’ve just been an artist. I’m either working full time or even when I was a grad student I was teaching and juggling my classes, so it’s been so exciting just being an artist. I’ve accomplished so much creatively and that’s been amazing. I would advise anyone to be a little freaked out at first—just from being alone. But, stick with it and it will become normal. I’ve also loved having access to all the archival materials and everyone here in Gettysburg has been so helpful. Especially always working in a library it’s been such a treat to be on the other side of it. I’ve had the great opportunity to get out and explore the park and other sites in the area. Any literary idols you have that inspired your work here? During the residency, I’ve been reading a lot of American poet, Rita Dove, who was once poet laureate of the Library of Congress. She did an amazing job writing about history, both family and on a bigger scale. She has an incredible use of simile and metaphor that makes me see things in a different way. Did she inspire the poems you wrote here? She inspired by use of the close third person—not taking on someone’s voice, but sort of imaging close to them. Sum up your experience in one sentence. The immersive nature of this residency is what makes it so rich—the resources and place itself have been such a gift to me as an artist and I’m so grateful for it. To learn more about Julie and her work visit, visit www.julieswarstadjohnson.com . JS JS JS JS JS JS JS Left: Julie in the Klingel house, Gettysburg National Military Park. Photo credit: George Swarstad.