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Patrice Gopo essays reveal her personal ‘Colors’
Author talks friendship Aug. 9 at Park Road Books
Published Wednesday, July 25, 2018 10:36 am
by Ashley Mahoney | The Charlotte Post

Charlotte author Patrice Gopo wrote "All the Colors We Will See," a collection of personal essays. Gopo, a 2017 North Carolina Arts fellow, will read excerpts from the book Aug. 9 at Park Road Books.

Patrice Gopo sticks with you.

A Charlottean for eight years, her global perspective as a native of Anchorage, Alaska, as well as time living abroad in places like South Africa brings voice to her writing that earned her the 2017 North Carolina Arts Council Fellowship in Literature.

Gopo’s collection of personal essays titled “All the Colors We Will See” hits stores on Aug. 7.

“Some people feel like it’s this thing that they need to move through very slowly, and absorb each essay and the ideas,” Gopo said. “I have also seen other people who have read through the whole thing in an afternoon, because they’re just anxious to hear the next thought. It just depends on a person’s style of reading. What I do think is true is that the ideas that are presented in the essays are things that are going to linger for a long time.”

Gopo will read excerpts from her book on Aug. 9 at 7 p.m. at Park Road Books (4139 Park Road). She and her friend Lindsay Rich will lead a discussion on race, friendship and additional topics afterward.

“One of my really good friends here in Charlotte is going to be joining me, and my friend is white, and we’re going to have a conversation just about the nature of friendship, and how race enters into the nature of friendship,” Gopo said. “One of the things I felt when we thought about doing this thing at Park Road Books is that a lot of people are looking for ways to engage in discussions about race relations and racial justice, but the reality is we often don’t have close friends with whom we do that.”

Having such dialogue with those closest to us can feel like navigating a mine field.

“It can be kind of awkward, and it can be challenging,” Gopo said. “There’s a lot of reasons why that happens. My friend Lindsay and I thought this would be kind of a gift to the community to create a space where people can see, what does this actually look like when you really are truly close friends and still engaging in these very tough topics and awkward discussions, and how do you continue to maintain your friendship even when there might be challenges there.”

Gopo noted the misconception that some have regarding race relations, or at least their discussion feeling easy at some point.

“One of the things, when people think about race relations is I think sometimes they feel like we should get to a point where it feels easy—so we work hard enough, and then it’s easy,” Gopo said. “What we want to offer is that there is a lot of hope, but we’ve been friends for years now, and it’s not always simple. It should be an encouragement to people that actually entering into these spaces might be challenging, but it’s so well worth it, and it’s so important.”  

“All the Colors We Will See” will evoke different experiences based on the reader.

“For a black woman like myself, you would read this book and you would feel like your story has been affirmed,” she said, “that I have written things about growing up as a black woman in this country that people would be nodding their heads and saying, ‘yes. Me too. I understand that.’”

Gopo’s voice steps into a void often unheard in mainstream literature.

“In the literary world, there’s not as many books and things that we as people of color can look to and see the affirmation of our stories,” she said. “This is a way to offer that to the world, but I also think of readers who may not have some of the experiences I’ve written about, what they’re going to take from this book is there’s going to be moments of connection—where they connect with different parts of the story that I share. Those moments of connection are going to allow them to enter in more deeply to the story, and then understand something different about someone else’s experience.”

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