Monday, February 27, 2012

A letter about TRAINWRECK

A few weeks ago, the Voices and Faces Project founder Anne Ream wrote a letter to some of the nation's most preeminent rape victim activists about the survivor testimonial writing workshop and TRAINWRECK. I thought I would share the letter below. I apologize in advance that it is a bit long. Thank you for taking the time to read it. (And for those of you interested, I will be blogging tomorrow about my MC Ben at The Lucky 13's Blogspot so please come meet him).


Dear All - I wanted to reach out with some exciting news.    As many of you know, in 2011 The Voices and Faces Project launched "The Stories We Tell," the country's first testimonial writing workshop for survivors of sexual violence, domestic violence and trafficking.   Created by writer R. Clifton Spargo, an Arts Fellow at the Iowa Writers' Workshop, our program brought together a diverse community of survivors, each seeking to write and speak out about sexual violence.  

Over the course of  our reading and writing focused two-day program, which debuted at the Chicago Cultural Center, workshop participants engaged in an innovative series of writing exercises that emphasized fiction, creative non-fiction, memoir, and poetry.   During one such exercise, we asked our participants to write about sexual violence from the perspective of someone of a different sexual orientation or gender.  At that time, workshop participant Christa Desir - a Voices and Faces board member - conceived the idea for a YA (young adult) novel, written from the perspective of a male high school student whose girlfriend is raped at a party - a scenario that those of us working on sexual violence issues have encountered all-too-often.  

When Christa read her piece out loud during the workshop, we knew that she had written something special.  What we did not know was exactly how special:  coming out of our workshop, and with the encouragement of our Voices and Faces Project team, Christa expanded that initial writing exercise into a novel, and subsequently sold her book to Simon Pulse (a division of Simon and Schuster that targets the young adult audience).  "TRAINWRECK,"  a compassionate and candid exploration of the gang rape of a high school student and the responses of her friends, boyfriend and community to that tragedy, is an important and much-needed book - one that will reach high school students "where they are" with a message that they very much need to hear.  It will be published in fall, 2013.   

Books like Christa's have the potential to do more than engage.  They have the power to create change by showing the heartbreaking and all-to-human costs of sexual violence.  In a world in which the media too often celebrates violence against women and girls, we believe that TRAINWRECK will provide a very different perspective - one that can lead to a more compassionate and activist public response to sexual violence.     

For the many of you on this list who helped to make that pilot writing workshop possible, thank you.  For those of you who are interested in bringing the writing workshop to your own communities, I look forward to speaking with you!  I'd welcome the chance to tell you more about our workshop plans for the future, and to detail the support that we are seeking so that we might realize those plans in North America, and beyond.  


With gratitude and respect for each of you,

Anne

16 comments:

Sophia Chang said...

How powerful. It must feel amazing to receive something like this!

Lucy V Morgan said...

Too right. I hope you challenge some closed minds.

Sarah Pearson said...

What a fantastic letter. Well done Christa.

Mandie Baxter said...

I am so proud of you. That is all. :D

KO: The Insect Collector said...

Well done, Christa. I got chills reading it. :0)

Bruce said...

Just when I think that I'm done being proud of you, something like this comes along.

Brinda said...

What a great testimony to what you are doing and the impact it will have. :)

carey farrell said...

this is amazing. i'm so proud of you. <3

E. Arroyo said...

Wow... I applaud you. Working with youth in the foster care system, I've heard way too many stories and they all tear at the heartstrings.

M.J. Fifield said...

What an amazing letter. I really hope your book does create change.

J. A. Bennett said...

This is amazing! You are too awesome :)

Katy said...

Wow! I'm so impressed and proud of you and desperate to read this book. Amazing work, lady!

Jessica Love said...

Wow. I teared up while reading this. I seriously can't wait to share this book with my students.

Medeia Sharif said...

This is a fantastic letter. When I read the book description on your site, before the book deal, it sounded like a special story. And it is one that needs to be told and read.

Amy L. Sonnichsen said...

How awesome. Gives me (good) chills thinking about the possible impact. You go, girl!

Alexis Bass Writes said...

<3 This is amazing. I’m so in awe of all the positive things coming from this book.