We are kicking off our blog with two editorials from one of our editors, Megan Otto. Her clear voice has guided much of Awakened Voices in the past half year. Her knowledge and skillful dedication to writers and survivors of sexual violence has gently helped The Nightingale find its wings. Enjoy hearing directly from Megan, as a writer and editor, as she helps The Nightingale kick off the ground in the Review category of the blog.
Review Editorial: New and Noteworthy
by Megan Otto
Within the Reviews topic here at The Nightingale, we’re hoping to have a community where we can have conversations about the things we read, see, hear, and how we feel about them. Artists often learn and heal from observing other art as much as they do by making their own, so what better way to encourage healing than to share the works we find that inspire us? (And what better way to grow than to discuss how books and films that have failed us in some way could have done better?)
I’m always excited to learn about new publications, so here are a few noteworthy books that came out in 2018. They’re all written by survivors and/or about the topic of sexual violence, and each one challenges and builds upon the larger narrative of work that we’re already familiar with.
Poetry: Written on the Body, an anthology edited by Lexie Bean
This collection of poetry houses letters addressed to body parts, all by trans survivors of sexual violence. By addressing their bodies directly, the poets are able to engage with their experiences in a way that fosters new emotions and discoveries. The beautiful language and scope of experiences within the collection are a superb platform for healing, both for the poets and the readers.
Graphic novel: Speak: The Graphic Novel illustrated by Emily Carroll
This new adaptation of the treasured YA novel tells the story of a high school girl, Melinda, who experiences a sexual assault. If you’re at all familiar with novels about sexual violence, you’ve likely heard of Laurie Halse Anderson’s novel of the same name, but this visual retelling gives the protagonist an entirely new way to find her voice and share her story. Melinda’s art, that features so prominently within the novel, comes to life in Emily Carroll’s illustrations and makes the narrative all the more powerful.
Memoir: Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot
This memoir covers more than an experience of sexual violence: it also delves into experiences of racism, addiction, and mental health. Mailhot’s language stuns as she takes her readers through her experience of revisiting repressed traumatic memories after a difficult childhood. It’s a noteworthy story of pain and healing, and the skill with which she crafts and takes ownership of her narrative is incredibly powerful.
Essay: Not That Bad edited by Roxane Gay
A powerful anthology of stories about rape culture, the collection includes essays from 29 diverse contributors who share their personal experience with sexual violence. Although it does not shy away from its subject matter, the collection is so necessary for our present moment. The truth of these experiences translates into a meaningful call to action, to pay attention and believe those who have survived sexual violence.
Have you read any of these books? Have you read others that you’d like to recommend (or critique)? Let us know! Leave a comment below, or if you’d like to write a full review to be published with The Nightingale you can view our submission guidelines here.
Megan Otto is delighted to be a part of Awakenings as the Editor of The Nightingale and as a Literary Intern. She is a graduate of Kenyon College with a B.A. in English and Creative Writing, and she is now based in Chicago. When she’s not daydreaming or making a run to the library, she can be found drinking lots and lots of tea.