The story of Laura Goodman Salverson (IR# I22876736) as performed by Karen Gummo
By Beth Finnson
This was by far my favorite session at the recent Icelandic National League of North America (INLNA) convention held in Banff. I wasn’t certain what “torment and triumph” we were going to hear about, but I knew that if Karen Gummo was the presenter, it would be interesting. Karen was the featured presenter about a year ago at the Icelandic Roots Samtal Hour and I was instantly impressed by her ability to enthrall an audience and “tell a story”.
Ms. Gummo describes herself as a storyteller, artist, and writer. She has researched and created performances based on the lives of many local Canadian citizens of note.
And Karen’s presentation did not disappoint. The stage area was set for an old-style kitchen. She entered dressed in period clothing as Laura Goodman Salverson (1890-1970) and started talking while making a vínarterta!
I felt as if I was in Laura’s kitchen as she spoke about her life story. It seemed as if she was speaking directly to me! I was instantly mesmerized. Karen’s version of Laura was so much more compelling than someone giving a lecture behind a podium. I learned about Laura, the child of Icelandic immigrants in Canada and how that influenced her life. I learned about Laura, the wife and mother, and how she struggled to balance those roles with her literary aspirations. Finally, I grew to admire Laura, the woman and author. She had no formal education beyond high school. She helped to support her family financially. And, yet she published several books, short stories, and poetry for which she won many awards.
By the time Laura Goodman Salverson had finished her vínarterta, Karen Gummo had completed Laura’s life story! I was so impressed.
Thank you to the INLNA for inviting Karen Gummo to be a speaker for this conference. Her presentation inspired me to research more about Laura Goodman Salverson (IR# I22876736).