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Writer Christine Stark will read from her debut novel, Nickels: A Tale of Dissociation, at 7 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 23 in Charter Hall 201.
Stark wears many hats. Besides being an award-winning writer and visual artist, she is also a public speaker and advocate for the sexually abused. Her fiction, poetry and nonfiction have been published in a variety of periodicals and anthologies, including the University of Pennsylvania Law Review; Poetry Motel; Feminist Studies; Birthed from Scorched Hearts; The Progressive Woman’s Magazine; Hawk and Handsaw; Journal of Creative Sustainability; Narratives of Modern Slavery; Woman and Earth: An Almanac in Russian and English; and many others.
She is a coauthor of the groundbreaking research entitled “Garden of Truth: The Prostitution and Trafficking of Native Women in Minnesota.” She is also a coauthor (with Rebecca Whisnant) of Not for Sale, an international anthology about sexual violence.
Stark has won numerous awards for her writing, including a Pushcart nomination, a McKnight Award and a Loft Mentor Series in creative nonfiction. She has also won a McKnight Award for her visual art. She lives in Minneapolis with her partner and teaches writing at Metropolitan State University in the Twin Cities.
Nickels: A Tale of Dissociation follows a biracial girl named Little Miss So and So from age 4 into adulthood. Told in a series of prose poems, Nickels’ lyrical and inventive language conveys the dissociation states born of a world formed by persistent and brutal incest and homophobia. The dissociative states enable the child’s survival and, ultimately, the adult’s healing. The content is both heartbreaking and triumphant. For further information, call 507-537-7251.
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Yesterday an article by Kathleen Barry, professor emerita of Penn State University, entitled "Sexual Politics at Penn State--An Inside Look" published on The Women's Media Center website, referred to Christine's novel Nickels:
"To break through the mainstream media’s problematic language and get a sense of the depth of harm the victim experiences in sexual abuse, I suggest reading Christine Stark’s new novel, Nickels: A Tale of Dissociation. The author, also a poet and visual artist, manages to bring the experience of sexual abuse into a present moment reality through the first-person narrative of Little Miss So and So, from age five to twenty-five, from surviving her father’s sexual abuse at various ages to a world of support created by feminists and lesbians.
"Since feminism broke open this best kept secret decades ago, we have been heartbroken and angered by the testimony and memoirs of women who as children fell victim to a father, stepfather, grandfather or uncle. The effects could be so severe that memory might not contain it—until some experience in adulthood provides the trigger and floods of anguish take over. So the story, Nickels, is not new. But Christine Stark has chosen a style and genre—a stream of consciousness novel—that keeps Little Miss So and So in the present tense.
"Her reality is not segmented into sentences or paragraphs; its monologue is born in experience and expressed in a voice authentic to her heroine at various ages. Nothing could bring her reality—the abuse, the doctors, the courts, her escape, breakdown and recovery—closer to our consciousness. The author knows something about survival, about putting one foot in front of the other to move through a situation we are never meant to experience. Little Miss So and So’s present moments yield immediately to new present moments that the reader cannot escape; yet the pace is fast enough to relieve us of the need to “get through it.”
"This book and its empathetic engagement will be a treasure to anyone working with victims of sexual abuse. And if we want to truly understand the failure in the Penn State scandal, we will look closely to its victims."
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I hope to see you on Jan. 23rd for what I know will be a phenomenal evening.