• KarenChaseBy Jacob Robbins - Berkshire Edge

    Great Barrington – Polio. Just the mention of it would spark fear in the hearts of teenagers and parents alike. Its eradication, due to the formulation of a vaccine by Dr. Jonas Salk in 1953, is well documented within history books and is embedded in the collective minds of a generation. But while polio carried such a heavy weight for one generation, its effect has been completely lost to a newer, more connected generation that receives updates and spreads data faster than a disease itself.

    Local author and poet, Karen Chase, hopes to share her experiences as a writer and polio survivor. She is the author of Polio Boulevard, a memoir that recounts her childhood as she experienced polio. (For an article about Polio Boulevard, click here.)

    The Advanced Placement Language and Composition classes at Monument Mountain Regional High School read Ms. Chase’s book, and invited her to come to the high school’s library and speak not only about her experiences with polio, but also about the writing process as well.

    “Although the book centers around my experience, having with polio, it’s really a coming of age story from an unusual perspective,” said Ms. Chase.

    From the moment she took the podium, the class was silent and focused. Hearing the author recite the written words the way they were supposed to be read is a sobering experience that sheds light on nuanced techniques employed.

    “Ask me anything,” she said. “Even the things you think shouldn’t ask, ask. I have nothing prepared, so fire away.”

    From there on a group of aspiring writers did fire away with questions ranging from personal questions to stylistic ones to writing itself. While one student would ask about specific plot points, another might ask about structure or diction or memory itself. It was revealing conversation for both sides.

    “How did you recover from such a debilitating illness?” one student asked.

    Read the rest of the article on the Berkshire Edge: