Episode 80: Concetta Principe

The Small Machine Talks to Concetta Principe, Episode 80, Recorded on Thursday, September 30, 2021

Stars Need Counting – Essays on Suicide (Gordon Hill Press, 2021)

This Real, Pedlar Press, 2017 – a review by Michael Dennis

CW: In this episode, we discuss suicide. If you or anyone you know is contemplating suicide, please reach out to the Canadian Suicide Prevention Service – toll free number 1.833.456.4566. and Suicide Prevention. If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 911.

I had a far-reaching, moving and hopeful conversation with Concetta Principe about Stars Need Counting, and how suicide is depicted in psychology, philosophy, literature, mythology, religion, politics and other areas. We talk about the vulnerability of including personal history, the cover, title, preface as a way for reader to see the scope of the work in case they don’t want to read the work, if it might be triggering. Concetta talks about having written this book with love.

Karen Green, Bough Down

Anna Mehler Paperny, Hello I Want To Die, Please Fix Me,, CBC Story

Concetta speaks about the inclusion of autobiography in the book. I bring up the idea of writing for others. We talk about the way in which Jesus’ death might have been considered a suicide. She talks about what suicide might be communicating and that it is important not to judge.

Concetta will be on Lit Live on April 5, 2022.

She thanked everyone who helped her through this, especially Shane Nielson. She reminds listeners that if you’ve had a triggering effect, you can go to CrisisServices.ca.

Stars Need Counting – Essays on Suicide explores suicide through the lenses of politics, history, psychology, literature, popular culture, mythology, philosophy and religion. Principe weaves autobiographical details of suicidal ideation, depression, cutting, anorexia, and career within the narrative of the book, giving the work a personal and relatable resonance. The book offers a combination of intellectual rigor in its careful and meticulous research, while also being wide-ranging and fascinating. Principe takes the often taboo and often unspoken subject of suicide and treats it with objectivity and care. She doesn’t offer easy and simplistic answers but raises important questions about how those who attempt or succeed in killing themselves are seen and treated in society. The book addresses 9/11’s pilots and those who fell from the burning buildings, along with soldiers who fought in Afghanistan, Antigone, Christ, Sylvia Plath and Romeo and Juliette, among others. Principe doesn’t steer clear from investigating what troubles her because “that trouble is meaningful. “Stars Need Counting is poetic and clear, thoughtful and fair. A book that should be in everyone’s library.

Thanks to Concetta for being on the show, to Jennifer Pederson for help with the intro and outro, to Charles Earl for processing, and to you for listening and sharing the episode. Stay tuned for future episodes with Barrie Tullett, Kristine Snodgrass, the editors of Coven Editions and a final episode of the year about the poetics of film with Jennifer Mulligan.