Juncture Workshops

Paper Talk
Paper Talk
Episode #123: Beth Kephart

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Beth Kephart, a National Book Award finalist, is the award-winning author of some 40 books in multiple genres, an award-winning teacher of memoir, a widely published essayist, and a women who loves paper. Her new book is My Life in Paper: Adventures in Ephemera (Temple University Press). 


We talked about the book, and how it came about.

From the book:

Paper both shapes and defines us. Baby books, diaries, sewing patterns, diplomas, resumes, letters, death certificates—we find our stories in them. My Life in Paper is Beth Kephart’s memoiristic exploration of the paper legacies we forge and leave.

Kephart’s obsession with paper began in the wake of her father’s death, when she began to handcraft books and make and marble paper in his memory. But it was when she read My Life with Paper, an autobiography by the late renowned paper hunter and historian Dard Hunter, that she felt she had found a kindred spirit, someone to whom she might address a series of one-sided letters about life and how we live it. Remembering and crafting, wanting and loving, doubting and forgetting—the spine and weave of My Life in Paper came into view.

Paper, for Kephart, provides proof of our yearning, proof of our failure, proof of the people who loved us and the people we have lost. It offers, too, a counterweight to the fickle state of memory.

My Life in Paper, illustrated by the author herself, is an intimate and poignant meditation on life’s most pressing questions.


Around the time that the book came into view, Kephart also delved into book arts and is now an active maker, creating books, paper and paper art. Kephart co-runs Bind-Arts with her husband William Sulit, where they sell his ceramics and her paper work.

L to R: double cyanotype, with handmade paper weaving; William Sulitclay animal; handmade paper, gelli print cyanotype with machine-sewn stitches.

Enjoy our meandering conversation about Kephart’s letters to Dard Hunter and how they led to her book, and her research in special collections libraries, Dard Hunter’s home and studio, Mountain House, and the Robert C. Williams Museum of Papermaking (home to Hunter’s collection).

Kephart and her husband also run Juncture Workshops, which delivers memoir workshops and resources to writers from around the world, group critiques, a master’s level program, and individual consulting.


Beth Kephart’s recommendations:


Visit Beth Kephart’s website to learn more about her work, and you can find her on Instagram too.


Music featuring excerpts of Makin’ Paper folk song by Peter Thomas. Listen to the full song and find out about other paper and book arts folk songs.

Gary A. Hanson did the sound editing for this episode. He practices and refines his skills in audio production while making his own podcast I’ll Have a Beer and Talk, a show about tech news, culture, weird animal stories and of course, beer. Gary is also the Deckle in Pulp & Deckle, a Portland-based community hand papermaking studio.