Changing Hands Bookstore (300 W Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85013 will be featuring best-selling author Jacqueline Woodson on Friday, September 30 at 7pm. Moderated by fellow poet Natalie Diaz, the event will focus on Woodson’s novel, Red at the Bone, which follows the story of 16-year-old Melody and the role of her birth and life in the history, community, and overall union of two families from different social classes. Exploring sexual desire and identity, ambition, gentrification, education, class and status, and the life-altering facts of parenthood, Red at the Bone examines how young people must make long-lasting decisions about their lives–even before they have begun to figure out who they are and what they want to be.
Jacqueline Woodson, named Young People’s Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation in 2015, is the best-selling author of more than two dozen award-winning books. Her most famous works include 2016 New York Times-bestselling National Book Award finalist for adult fiction, Another Brooklyn as well as her New York Times-best-selling memoir, Brown Girl Dreaming, which received the 2014 National Book Award. Woodson is also a a four-time National Book Award finalist, a four-time Newbery Honor winner, a two-time NAACP Image Award Winner, and a two-time Coretta Scott King Award Winner. She lives with her family in New York.
Natalie Diaz is the author of the poetry collection When My Brother Was an Aztec. Her many honors include a MacArthur Fellowship, a USA Fellowship, and a Lannan Literary Fellowship. She teaches at Arizona State University and will be publishing a new collection, Postcolonial Love Poem, in March 2020.
The event itself is free and open to the public, but you can purchase a copy of Red at the Bone and learn more about the event from the website.
Today we are pleased to feature Catharina Coenen as our Authors Talk series contributor. In this podcast, she invites her nephew, Christopher Van der Meyden, to discuss her nonfiction essay, “Stain,” published in SR’s Issue 23.
“Stain” explores Catharina’s need to clean up the shattered eggs someone had thrown at the garage and driveway of her neighbor who was recently arrested by the FBI. As she reflects on this event through her writing, she notices the strong connections between her actions and the history of her family and country.
Catharina explains that she had a difficult time understanding her physical and emotional reactions to seeing the arrest: shaky knees and hands, circular thoughts, and a feeling of anger and fear despite not having any immediate threats. She says, “I started writing as a way to help myself understand why I was experiencing these physical reactions and mental confusion.”
Christopher and Catharina also take a closer look at the way the essay uses family stories organically throughout the piece as “a way to ground [Catharina] in the present—to come back from a traumatic past that explained the inner turmoil to the present tense where there was no physical danger to [Catharina] or anyone else in that moment.”
As a biologist, Catharina also makes connections between the structure of her essay and recent developments in our understanding of the biology of trauma. Although “physical responses to trauma can be encoded across generations,” Catharina explains, “storytelling and an anchoring of the person in the present” can undo this transgenerational trauma. Catharina notices her essay mimics this necessary healing process, allowing her to understand and process her reactions.
Today we are pleased to feature poet Jessica Mehta as our Authors Talk series contributor. Mehta talks about her poem “Bars and Planets” and how her writing is connected to her childhood and family history. Mehta mentions in her talk “everything I write stems from my perspective and my lens of growing up in an abusive household, in a household full of substance abuse, as a Native American woman, as someone who has seen these very specific traumas,” which provides a “marker” of her work.
Jessica Mehta’s poem appears in Issue 21 of Superstition Review.