The University of Wisconsin Press
I Hear Voices
A Memoir of Love, Death, and the Radio
With a new chapter and poems
“Blending the spiritual and the profane, Feraca is beguiling.”
Jean Feraca’s road to self-fulfillment has been as quirky and demanding as the characters in her incredible memoir. A veteran of several decades of public radio broadcasting, Feraca is also a writer and a poet. She is a talk show host beloved for her unique mixture of the humanities, poetry, and journalism, and is the creator of the pioneering international cultural affairs radio program Here on Earth: Radio without Borders.
In this searing memoir, Feraca traces her own emergence. She pulls back the curtain on her private life, revealing unforgettable portraits of the characters in her brawling Italian-American family: Jenny, the grandmother, the devil woman who threw Casey Stengel down an excavation pit; Dolly, the mother, a cross between Long John Silver and the Wife of Bath, who in battling mental illness becomes the scourge of a Lutheran nursing home; and Stephen, the brilliant but troubled older brother, an anthropologist adopted by a Sioux tribe. In a new chapter that reinforces and ties together the book’s exploration of the multiple forms of love, Jean introduces us to Roger, a Wildman and her husband’s best friend with whom she, too, develops an extraordinary intimacy. A selection of fifteen of Feraca’s poems adds counterpoint to her engaging prose.
“If the great poet Federico García Lorca had heard Jean Feraca on the radio, he might have said her voice had duende, a dark mysterious bravura power. Now Jean Feraca infuses her brave magic into a series of remarkable, unpredictable—and wickedly funny—essays about life, loss, family, marriage, and the radio. Always intense, always startlingly perceptive . . . Feraca explores the essential attachments of a life with a passionate courage that tears off defenses and leaves the woman as she is: the naked teller of tales desperately true.” —Molly Peacock, author of The Paper Garden
Jean Feraca, Wisconsin Public Radio’s Distinguished Senior Broadcaster, is host and executive producer of Here on Earth: Radio without Borders. She won an Ohio State and Gabriel Award for her Women of Spirit radio series on female leaders in the early Christian Church, and the National Telemedia Council’s Distinguished Media Award for her radio advocacy of people with mental illness, and the 2011 Gabriel Award for Inside Islam, “Muslims, Mosques, and American Identity.” A resident of Madison, Wisconsin, she is author of three collections of poetry: South from Rome: Il Mezzogiorno, Crossing the Great Divide; and Rendered into Paradise. Jean was the recipient of the Nation’s Discovery Award and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a two-time finalist for the Pushcart Prize and a National Poetry Foundation Prize. I Hear Voices: A Memoir of Love, Death, and the Radio was selected as the 2007 winner of the Kingery/Derleth BookLength Nonfiction Award, sponsored by the Council for Wisconsin Writers. It was also named an Outstanding Book by the American Association of School Librarians, and one of the year’s Best Books for General Audiences by the Public Library Association.
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"Beautifully written, and wise, this book manages to be both tragic and funny, a combination hard to wrangle."
—Diane Ackerman, author of One Hundred Names For Love
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Updated September 14, 2011© 2011, The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System