Welcome to the first FMF link-up of September!

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Okay you guys . . . We’re in for a real treat this week!

It’s been a long time since we’ve had a guest post here at Five Minute Friday, and this week I am so thrilled and honored to welcome my friend Patrice Gopo to the site to share a five-minute freewrite with us.


patrice gopo


If you’ve been around this community for any length of time, you’ve probably heard me talk about Patrice. She and I met over 16 years ago in Cape Town, South Africa, back before either of us were really writers. Since then, she has become such a dear friend and I’m so grateful to walk this writing journey with her continual support and encouragement.

And this week we’re celebrating big time because Patrice’s latest book launches TODAY! Woo hoo!


Autumn Song: Essays on Absence, a collection of beautiful and thought-provoking essays, is now available!


autumn song patrice gopo


In celebration of the release of this gorgeous book . . .

This week’s FMF writing prompt is: ABSENCE




And now, here’s Patrice with a five-minute freewrite guest post on the prompt, ABSENCE: 


by Patrice Gopo

This past July, I left my plants for a week. Prior to my departure, I poured water over the soil, ensuring they had the nutrients they might need to thrive in my absence. Upon my return, I added water once more. To all my plants, except for a fern plant that I can miss if I don’t walk into the corner of the room. That first week back, I barely stepped into that space, missing what was transforming from a fern in health to a fern in need.

My fern plant is a legacy. A clipping from a clipping from a clipping that goes back to a fern plant my mother nurtured across my childhood. And that fern plant grew from a clipping a Jamaican woman gave to my Jamaican mother in the cold of Alaska. A plant that had crossed water and land from a humid island in the Caribbean to the crisp air of my Alaskan birthplace. My fern is a legacy and a survival story. And within a few weeks of the absence of water—and me—it began to shrivel and fade until a day came when I wandered near it, took in the sight of what was happening, and felt the weight of regret pound against me. How had I missed this? How had I forgotten? How had I not seen?

I added water, added a bit more the next day too. I watched in a state of uncertainty, unsure if there was anything more I could do. Would this legacy end with these parched leaves? Could my presence bring some form of healing? In those uncertain days, my listless plant reminded me that some things we can nurture along, we can care for for so very long. Yet absence is not neutral. Absence may change the shape of what we live.


patrice gopoPatrice Gopo is an award-winning essayist who writes stories steeped in themes of place, belonging, and home. She is the author of two essay collections: Autumn Song: Essays on Absence (University of Nebraska Press American Lives Series) and All the Colors We Will See (a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection). Her debut picture book, All the Places We Call Home, is based on one of her essays. Patrice lives with her family in North Carolina, where she enjoys walks just after dawn and thinks a perfect day ends with ice cream. Please visit www.patricegopo.com to learn more.



Before we go, one final reminder that our next Writing Accountability Group starts on Wednesday!



Hope to see you there!



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