Author and Munich bookstore owner Lisa Yarger will visit Eastern Mennonite University March 14 as part of the Writers Read series. She’ll read from Lovie: The Story of a Southern Midwife and an Unlikely Friendship (University of North Carolina Press, 2016), a book 20 years in the making. The event begins at 7 p.m. in Martin Chapel in the seminary building.
“Anyone interested in rural health care, women’s economic empowerment, race relations in the southern United States, female friendship or theological angst will find this book compelling,” said Professor Marti Eads, who first met Yarger as an undergraduate student at Wake Forest University.
In 1996, Yarger began interviewing an aging nurse-midwife to inform an exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of History, where she worked as a folklorist. An interview became a series of visits which became a “peculiar, lopsided sort of friendship,” as she told Wake Forest Magazine.
Lovie was the first nurse-midwife in North Carolina, and delivered around 4,000 babies from 1950-2001. After years of chats, reflection and writing, Yarger published Lovie to tell the health pioneer’s story and Yarger’s experience of their interactions.
Lovie begins the story: “God gave women this wonderful functioning system … He put the baby in there, and I fully believe he’s capable of getting it out. And here menfolks who’ll never have a baby have taken all the rightness out of it. They took all the naturalness out of it and turned it over to men and insurance companies …”
Yarger takes over the narration as the reader’s guide to learning more about an almost larger-than-life woman who lived “with the absolute certainty that she was doing the work she had been put on earth to do.”
Yarger grew up in North Carolina, and has worked as a museum curator, oral historian, journalist and editor. She graduated from Wake Forest in 1989, then earned her master’s in folklore from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. In 1999, she met her future husband John Browner in a bookstore in Durham. Six years later, they packed up their lives and four-month-old daughter and moved to Germany.
In Munich, Yarger and her family run an English-language secondhand bookstore, where she organizes children’s and social justice events and writing workshops.