Jill Salahub

Contact Information

Email: jill.salahub@colostate.edu

Office: 312 Eddy Hall

Role: Faculty

Position: Administrative Professional: Editor and Communications Coordinator

Biography

Administrative Professional, Editor and Communications Coordinator. B.A., English, Oregon State University (magna cum laude); M.A., English (Communication Development), Colorado State University, where she was granted distinction for her thesis, a hypertext entitled Fear, Happiness and the American Way: The Difficulty of a Simple Life.

Jill Salahub started at CSU as a graduate student, and during that time she worked as a tutor in the Writing Center, as a Writing Teaching Assistant, and as a Graduate Teaching Assistant. After graduating, she taught various Composition courses for the English department. From 2004 until 2010, she was the Editor/Programmer for Writing@CSU, acting as a Project Director from 2008 to 2010. She currently is an Administrative Professional: Editor and Communications Coordinator in the English department, working with the department's Facebook page and blog, and acting webmaster of both the Composition Program and Writing Center websites, among other things. She also occasionally teaches CO302 Writing Online, CO300 Writing Arguments, and CO150 College Composition.

Her academic special interests include computers and composition, professional development for teachers using technology and hypertext/hypermedia in the classroom, multimodal composition, creative nonfiction writing, and writing for the Web. She has a long history of mentoring writers and teachers of all skill levels, at each stage of their process, and enjoys helping them develop their voices.

Aside from her work at CSU, Jill is a practitioner of writing, meditation, yoga, and dog. She is a certified yoga teacher and a blogger. She is recently finished an ebook based on her Self-Compassion Saturday series, and is working on two memoirs, one about how she saved herself through practice and another about her own experience with self-compassion.

Education

M.A. English: Communication Development CSU

Publications

All posts by Jill Salahub

President George W. Bush shares a moment with author Harper Lee Monday, Nov. 5, 2007, prior to presenting her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom during ceremonies in the East Room of the White House. Photo by Eric Draper, Courtesy of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum.

Harper Lee (born Nelle Harper Lee) was born in 1926 in Monroeville, Alabama. After attending the all-female Huntingdon College in Montgomery, she transferred to the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa where she pursued English literature.

Lee spent a year working towards the university’s law degree as an undergrad, but decided that writing was her true passion. At the age of 23, Lee arrived in New York City in 1949. In 1956, Lee received a gift from the family of Broadway composer and lyricist Michael Martin Brown, and they supported her in New York for a year. Lee quit her job and began writing full time, working on a manuscript that turned into To Kill a Mockingbird.

Her first novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, was published in 1960 and instantly became a classic American novel. In 1961, her novel won the Pulitzer Prize and in 1998, the Library Journal declared To Kill a Mockingbird the best novel of the 20th century. She was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007 for her contribution to literature.

But following the success of To Kill a Mockingbird, Lee abruptly stopped writing. In a letter sent to Oprah Winfrey’s magazine from Lee, she said that “in an abundant society where people have laptops, cellphones, iPods and minds like empty rooms, I still plod along with books.” Lee stopped giving interviews and returned to a solitary life in Monroeville.

As Telegraph explains, “that detachment is, clearly, necessary to her. It is the paradox of the novel that it could not have been written by someone in love with literary fame; that the fame it achieved and deserved killed off any prospect of a succeeding masterpiece.” It seems that this fame caused Lee to stop writing, and for decades she published no further work.

Back in 1967, Lee had written a prequel for To Kill a Mockingbird that she didn’t publish. The manuscript for Go Set a Watchman was submitted to Lee’s editor in ‘67, not long after the publication of her first novel. Lee believed that the manuscript was lost, explain that “after much thought and hesitation, I shared it with a handful of people I trust and was pleased to hear that they considered it worthy of publication.”

Go Set a Watchman abruptly appeared on bookshelves in July 2015, published by HarperCollins. While some readers were quick to share accolades with Lee about a second novel, others questioned her competence following decades of her reluctance to publish anything.

The New York Times explains that “in May 2013, her name [Lee] appeared in news reports and when she filed a lawsuit accusing her literary agent, Samuel Pinkus, of duping her into assigning the novel’s copyright to his company after a stroke she suffered in 2007 left her with impaired hearing and eyesight.”

While Lee’s mental competency was questioned, the novel had sold 1.6 million copies as of January 2016. In 2015, it also made the US bestseller list. Preorders alone turned it into an instant bestselling novel.

On February 19, 2016, Harper Lee died in her sleep at the age of 89. For members of the literary community, the release of Go Set a Watchman has not diminished Lee’s impact on the literary community. Today, To Kill a Mockingbird is still considered among one of America’s classics.

Video: In 1964, Harper Lee talked with WQXR host Roy Newquist for an interview in New York. For the first time, that interview is now available to listen to online. The interview is the only known recording of Lee discussing To Kill a Mockingbird, among other topics, and one of the last interviews she would ever give.

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Poudre River, image by Jill Salahub

  • Recently, Tim Amidon presented research at two concurrent conferences in Portland: the Association of Teachers of Technical Writing (ATTW) and the Conference on College Composition and Communication. At ATTW, Battalion Chief Randy Callahan of Poudre Fire Authority joined Tim to speak about the ongoing community based research projects that they have been undertaking in partnership.
  • Harrison Candelaria Fletcher’s flash piece, “Dawn,” was named as a finalist in The Best Small Fictions 2017 by guest judge Amy Hempel. “Dawn” was nominated by the editors of Eleven Eleven.
  • EJ Levy’s hybrid essay, “Natural World,” appears in the most recent issue of Passages North. She will be Visiting Writing at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell on March 22-23, 2017.
  • Sasha Steensen’s chapbook, Thirty-Three Hendes was a finalist for the Tupelo Sunken Gardens chapbook contest. It will be published by Dancing Girl Press this summer.
  • Michael Knisely has a photography exhibit going on in Boulder through April at the Rocky Ridge School of Music in the Lucky’s Market shopping center at Broadway and Spruce. These are performance art photos from when he was the University of Nebraska Dance Dept.’s photographer, plus a few old concert photos (Peter, Paul, and Mary, and Bruce Springsteen).
  • Dana Chellman’s essay “How to Get to Heaven from Colorado” is a winner for the AWP Intro Journals Project, and it is being published in Iron Horse Literary Review.
  • Jennifer Stetson-Strange, Spring 2017 MA candidate in TEFL/TESL, has been offered an opportunity related to her final project, “Needs Analysis and Curriculum Development for Occupational ESP: English for hotel workers.”  Over the past nine months she dedicated over 80 hours to conducting a thorough needs analysis, compiling and analyzing specific language needs of L2 (second language) learners in order to develop a curriculum for workers in the hospitality industry and specifically housekeepers at a local hotel.

    Jenny observed more than 20 participants who worked in the housekeeping department of a local hotel in Northern Colorado.  She found it a rewarding experience to be a part of this project, including building key relationships with participants at the hotel.  At her final defense in March, the majority of the housekeeping staff attended as well as the general manager of the hotel, filling the defense room with 35-40 people.  Jenny was overwhelmed by the attendance and thankful they all were there because, as she writes, “The entire project was about them!”

    Currently, the general manager would like Jenny to implement the curriculum as soon as possible.  She will be teaching the staff once a week until she graduates.  This summer, she hopes to continue teaching the housekeeping staff twice a week.  Her future goal is to implement this program at different hotels and restaurants in Northern Colorado.

  • Mary Crow has had eight poems from her collection Addicted to the Horizon translated into Spanish by Silvia Soler-Gallego and Francisco Leal and published in AEREA: Revista Hispanoamericana de Poesia along with the English originals. This literary magazine is a joint publication of the University of Georgia and the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Institute.
  • James Work’s novel The Contractor was voted First Finalist in the annual Spur Award competition of Western Writers of America. His first novel of a projected series of “cozy” mysteries has been accepted by FiveStar Publishing. The title is Unmentionable Murders and the main character of the series is a RMNP ranger in the 1920s. Lots of gangsters, flappers, bootleg hooch and, of course, mysterious murder.
  • Cedar Brant has a sculpture in the CSU Art and Science Exhibition in the Curfman Gallery in Lory Student Center.  http://source.colostate.edu/celebrate-creativity-csus-art-science-exhibition-march-24/

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Caleb Gonzalez
First Year M.A. Student, Creative Nonfiction
Graduate Teaching Assistant for CO150

How do you spend most of your time in Eddy Hall? I spend my time in the computer lab on the third floor, doing my homework, printing out stories for my classes and getting ready for my CO150 classes.

What’s your favorite English class or teacher? Debby Thompson. It’s really fun to go to her office and gripe about the current political situation with her, as we have very similar views about the world. She just gives really good feedback, especially on the current “Cheese” essay that I wrote for workshop.

Tell us about the “Cheese” essay. I’m very excited about it! It’s my newest essay that I wrote based on a prompt in Debby’s class. Cheese is a metaphor for identity, class, race, and individual growth as a person.

Describe Eddy Hall in one word. Unpredictable. Also, my favorite word is “whimsical.”

What’s your favorite author or work of literature? One of them is Russian Journal by Andrea Lee. It’s a creative nonfiction book about her and her husband living in Russia as academics. She uses her experiences to make sense of the former Society Union and its relationship to the United States, as well, which is interesting. She was a staff writer for The New Yorker and has done a lot for the New York Times Magazine. Russian Journal was published in 1981.

If you were to give advice to incoming CSU grad students, what would it be? Trust yourself. Have confidence in your own writing. As hard as it might be, learn to be a part of the community.

Caleb’s mug says “I’m not saying I’m Batman, I’m just saying nobody has ever seen me and Batman in a room together.”

What’s your biggest goal or priority right now? I’m going to be facilitating Rekindle the Classics, and it will be on Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude. So my biggest goal is to read that work and do a good job facilitating that work.

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Margaret Sanger was a feminist, nurse, activist, writer, and national and international advocate for women’s access to contraception.

Sanger was born Margaret Higgins to an Irish-American family in 1879; she had ten siblings. She studied to become a nurse practitioner and began working toward a registered nursing degree at White Plains Hospital, but her education ended when she was married in 1902. She and William Sanger had three children but later separated, and Sanger remarried James Noah H. Slee in 1922.

While living in New York City with her first husband and children, Sanger became very interested in living conditions for working-class women and particularly the burden of frequent pregnancies and large families on these women.

At that time, a federal law called the Comstock law forbade the distribution of information about sexual health and contraception, which was considered obscene. Sanger repeatedly disobeyed this law, first publishing a column about sexual health in the New York Call titled “What Every Girl Should Know” and later publishing and distributing a periodical titled The Woman Rebel. It was this publication which coined the term “birth control.” In 1914, Sanger was indicted for violating the Comstock law.

To evade imprisonment, Sanger lived in England for about a year until charges against her were dropped. After returning to the United States, she continued to resist the law, opening a birth control clinic. Police shut the clinic down after 9 days, and Sanger was arrested and imprisoned for thirty days.

Despite these setbacks, Sanger’s work was gaining increasing attention and support. Sanger went on to found a medical journal called the Birth Control Review and later the Birth Control Clinical Research Bureau. Because even the words “birth control” were considered too explicit at the time, the organization later changed its name to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

Sanger continued to advocate for birth control throughout her life. In the 1950s, she worked with the International Planned Parenthood Federation and was a primary advocate for the development of the first birth control pill. Sanger died at 86 years of age in 1966.

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CSU’s own Professor Camille Dungy is an award-winning author of four full-length poetry collections and the editor of three poetry anthologies. Her first collection of literary essays, Guidebook to Relative Strangers: Journeys into Race, Motherhood, and History, will be published in June.

Dungy was born in Denver in 1972, but her family moved frequently around the country when she was a child. She attended Stanford as an undergraduate and later received an MFA from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro.

When Dungy’s first collection of poetry, What to Eat, What to Drink, and What to Leave for Poison, appeared in 2006, it was widely praised. It was a finalist for the 2007 PEN USA Book Award and the 2007 Library of Virginia Literary Award. In 2010, Dungy published two additional poetry collections: Suck on the Marrow and Smith Blue. The collections’ recurring themes include African American identity and history, as well as nature and the human relationship to nature.

Noticing the scarcity of African American writers in canonized nature poetry, Dungy edited an anthology titled Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry, which was published in 2009.

In a 2010 interview on National Public Radio, Dungy spoke about the complex relationship the anthology explores between African Americans and nature, saying, “there has always been promise and survival in the natural world” for African American people.

Dungy also collaboratively edited Gathering Ground: A Reader Celebrating Cave Canem’s First Decade in 2006 and From the Fishouse: An Anthology of Poems That Sing, Rhyme, Resound, Syncopate, Alliterate, and Just Plain Sound Great in 2009.

Dungy’s work has appeared in numerous literary journals and eleven anthologies to date, including The Best American Poetry and The 100 Best African American Poems. She has received fellowships and honors from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Virginia Commission for the Arts, the American Antiquarian Society, Cave Canem, the Breadloaf Writers’ Conference, the Djerrassi Resident Artist Program, Yaddo, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the Norton Island Artist Residency Program. Her work has received the Dana Award, the Sustainable Arts Foundation Promise Award, and two Northern California Book Awards. She has twice been a finalist for the NAACP Image Award in 2010 and 2011.

Dungy’s most recent collection, Trophic Cascade, was released on March 7 of this year. On Sunday, March 5, friends, family, faculty, and students gathered at Forge Publick House in Old Town for the book’s release party, eager to hear Dungy read from her newest collection.

The gathering also honored recently-published poetry collections by Colorado poets Eleni Sikelanios (Make Yourself Happy) and Julie Carr (Objects from a Borrowed Confession).

Like many of Dungy’s previous works, Trophic Cascade explores and illuminates the natural world, but motherhood also features prominently as a theme. As Dungy stepped up to the microphone to read, her daughter clung to the hem of her skirt, not wanting to sit quietly with her father and grandparents while her mother read. In fact, Dungy had collaborated with her daughter in choosing poems about their relationship to read for the event. One poem dwelled on a quiet moment reading books with the infant girl; another answered a “frequently asked question” about whether the author plans to have another child. (She doesn’t.)

Camille and her daughter at the March 7 reading

The collection’s title poem, “Trophic Cascade,” was first published by the Kenyon Review in 2015. “Trophic Cascade” traces the re-introduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park and the interconnectedness of lives and species evidenced by it; the wolves affected deer, trees, bears, birds, weasels, berries, and even insects. Throughout the collection, the reader witnesses again and again the impact one life has upon another.

Dungy has a second publication coming up this year; her first nonfiction collection, Guidebook to Relative Strangers: Journeys into Race, Motherhood, and History, will be available on June 13.

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Luci Tapahonso is a Navajo poet and a lecturer in Native American Studies. Born in 1953, she was raised on her family farm on the Navajo reservation in Shiprock, New Mexico with her eleven siblings. English was not her first language, but rather something she learned second to her native Navajo language, Dine. She learned English at home before starting school, which she attended in the area, graduating from high school in 1971.

Tapahonso was a a journalist and investigative reporter before beginning her studies at the University of New Mexico in 1976. She intended to study journalism there, but met faculty member, novelist and poet Leslie Marmon Silko, who convinced her to switch her major to creative writing. She went on to earn her MA in creative writing, and then to teach.

Silko helped Tapahonso publish her first story, “The Snake Man”, in 1978. Her first collection of poetry, put together when she was an undergraduate, was published in 1981. Several more collections followed, as well as individual poems published in various journals. Her 1993 collection Saánii Dahataal (the women are singing), written in Navajo and English, was the first collection to bring her acclaim and recognition, which continued with her 1997 blue horses rush in. Her book of poetry A Radiant Curve was awarded the Arizona Book Award for Poetry in 2009.

In 2013, Tapahonso was named the inaugural poet laureate of the Navajo Nation. Announcing the appointment at a press conference, Elmer Guy, president of Navajo Technical College, said that the goal of designating a chief poet is “to encourage other Navajo poets, writers, film makers and artists to realize how important their work is to the continuance and growth of Navajo contemporary culture. Luci represents the best of what it is to be Diné, honoring our traditions, while at the same time forming a contemporary voice that speaks beautifully to all people.”

Tapahonso continues to teach; has served on various boards, committees, and commissions; and is a sought after speaker. She received the 2006 Lifetime Achievement award from the Native Writers Circle of the Americas and a Spirit of the Eagle Leadership Award for her key role in establishing the Indigenous Studies Graduate Studies Program at the University of Kansas. The Native Writers Circle of the Americas named Tapahonso the 1999 Storyteller of the Year. She has also received a Kansas Governor’s Art Award, and Distinguished Woman awards from the National Association of Women in Education and the Girl Scout Council of America.

 

Video: a 2013 interview with Luci Tapahonso

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Suffragists Protest Woodrow Wilson’s Opposition to Woman Suffrage, October 1916

Earlier this month, we featured Sojourner Truth, an abolitionist and women’s rights activist. Today we are featuring a few other early women involved in similar issues: Lucretia Mott, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Lucy Stone.

Lucretia Mott

Lucretia Mott was an American Quaker, abolitionist, a women’s rights activist, and a social reformer. Her speaking abilities made her an important figure in these movements. Mott helped form the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society in 1833. When slavery was outlawed in 1865, she advocated giving Black Americans the right to vote. She was was among the founders of the American women’s rights movement, and remained a central figure in both the abolition and suffrage movements until her death in 1880. Mott’s feminist philosophy was outlined in her Discourse on Women, in which she argued for equal economic opportunity and voting rights. After helping to establish Swarthmore College in 1864, she served as head of the American Equal Rights Association.

Harriet Beecher Stowe

Harriet Beecher Stowe was an American abolitionist and author. She published over 30 books, but is best known for her novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin. She wrote children’s text books, advice books on homemaking and childrearing, biographies and religious studies. Stowe began her formal education at Sarah Pierce’s academy, one of the earliest to encourage girls to study academic subjects and not simply ornamental arts. As a student there, Stowe followed the traditional course of classical learning usually reserved for young men. She eventually became a teacher, until her success with Uncle Tom’s Cabin allowed her to write full time. The book was a best seller in the United States, Britian, Europe, Asia, and translated into over 60 languages. Stowe’s writing career spanned 51 years.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Elizabeth Cady Stanton was an American suffragist, social activist, abolitionist, feminist, writer, editor, and leading figure of the early women’s rights movement. She helped organize the world’s first women’s rights convention in 1848, and formed the National Women’s Loyal League with Susan B. Anthony in 1863. Seven years later, they established the National Woman Suffrage Association. Stanton wrote some of the most influential books, documents, and speeches of the women’s rights movement. In support of her argument that the Bible and organized religion played in denying women their full rights, with her daughter she published a critique, The Woman’s Bible, which was published in two volumes. She also wrote her autobiography, Eighty Years and More, and many other articles and pamphlets about female suffrage and women’s rights.

Lucy Stone

Lucy Stone was a prominent American orator, abolitionist, and suffragist, and a vocal advocate and organizer promoting rights for women. She supported the Women’s National Loyal League, and in 1866 helped found the American Equal Rights Association. She also organized and was elected president of the State Woman’s Suffrage Association of New Jersey, and spent her life serving the cause. Stone wrote extensively about a wide range of women’s rights, publishing and distributing speeches by herself and others. She was the first woman from Massachusetts to earn a bachelor’s degree, paying her own way through school and graduating in 1847 with honors. She had a career as a public speaker, speaking out about abolition and women’s rights, at a time when women were discouraged and even actively prevented from public speaking. While Stone did live to see the end of slavery, she died 30 years before women were finally permitted to vote.

 

 

 

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Author and cartoonist Alison Bechdel was born in Beech Creek, Pennsylvania, to Helen and Bruce Bechdel. Bruce, her father, operated a funeral home part time, which Alison and her brothers, Bruce and John, called the Fun Home.

At the age of 19, she came out to her parents as a lesbian. A later conversation with her father revealed his intimate past with other men. This discovery brought more questions than answers when Bruce committed suicide shortly after, although Bechdel says “there’s no proof [just] some suggestive circumstances.”

Graduating high school a year early, she attended Simon’s Rock College before transferring to Oberlin College in Ohio. In 1981, she received her degree in studio arts and art history.

Bechdel first garnered success for her comics with the strip Dykes to Watch Out For, first published in 1983 in the feminist newspaper WomaNews. Her comic strip ran until 2008, becoming one of the first representations of lesbians in popular culture. The strip follows a group of diverse characters, most of them lesbians, as they experience life, love and politics. As Bechdel explains on her website, the comic “became a countercultural institution among lesbians and discerning non-lesbians all over the planet.”

Her closeted childhood was the basis for her autobiographical cartoon Fun Home, released in 2006. Fun Home chronicled Bechdel’s childhood, including her father’s obsession with restoring their Victorian Gothic Revival house and her journey to discovering her identity as a lesbian. Fun Home was then turned into a musical in 2013. Two years later, it won the Tony Award for Best Musical. Bechdel was also the recipient of the 2014 MacArthur “Genius” Award.

Bechdel is known for “the Bechdel test” for spotting gender bias in literature or film. To fulfill this test, the work must feature at list two girls/women who talk to each other about something that’s not a boy/man. Only about half of all films meet this requirement, calling attention to the gender inequality still present portrayals of women in literature and film.

Alison Bechdel become a voice for lesbians and the queer community, drawing attention to gender bias and the lives of LGBT people. Her autobiography provided the literary world with one of the first detailed coming out narratives, something that continues to help and inspire others.

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(Left to Right) Tiffany, Mackenzie, Emily, Danny, Leah, Katherine, and Kiley

Today’s Humans of Eddy doesn’t feature one person, but a group of humans who make their home in Eddy. These lovely individuals are some of Eddy’s own Writing Center consultants. The Writing Center is made up of 17 consultants who are both undergrad and grad students with various degree backgrounds.

Where are you located?
The CSU Writing Center is located in the basement of Eddy, room 23, Monday through Thursday.

What does the Writing Center do?

Our consultants can assist writers at all stages of the writing process, including brainstorming, drafting, revising, and polishing. Our clients come from all types of disciplines, with writing that ranges from research papers and essays to lab reports, resumes, and applications. There are three types of consultations: face-to-face appointments, online draft submission, and synchronous video conferencing for online and off-campus students. As our website says, we work “to help create better writers, not just better writing.”

How can a student make an appointment?
Visit our website at writingcenter.colostate.edu and click “Make and Appointment.” If you don’t already have an account, you can quickly register for one to access our availability. Or feel free to stop by our office for any questions or assistance. We have coffee and tea and great conversation!
Favorite words from various consultants:  
Resilience
Schaderfreude
Superfluous
Create
Mommicked

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~from Communications Coordinator Jill Salahub

Disclaimer: I’m completely obsessed with Roxane Gay right now. I finally started Bad Feminist recently, which I’d been wanting to read ever since that time a few years ago at a department picnic when I asked Antero Garcia (who at the time was a CSU English department faculty member) about his t-shirt, which said “Bad Feminist.” I didn’t get what I thought was the joke of his shirt, and he explained to me it was a book. I went home and googled Roxane Gay, but it would be two more years before I’d read any of her books.

I’m almost done with Bad Feminist. It rests on my kitchen table, and anytime I sit down there, I read another essay or two. I know I’m late to the party, but this book is brilliant in the way that it merges academic critique, pop culture commentary, and personal experience. The only “failure” of the book is that I can’t sit down with Gay at my kitchen table after I read any of it to talk with her further. To say it is “thought provoking” doesn’t even begin to cover it. The book was a New York Times best-seller, and a Time magazine reviewer called it “a manual on how to be human.”

I just finished Difficult Women and An Untamed State, and am almost done with Ayiti. They are on my Kindle, which I use mostly to read in bed at night after my husband and dogs are asleep. Over the past month, I’ve spent many a night falling asleep in its glow because I try so hard to stay awake, want so badly to keep reading even as my body shuts down. Difficult Women in particular had a haunting effect on me. Days after reading a particular story, I’d still be thinking about it. There were a few of the stories that held me in such a fugue that when I got to the end, I momentarily couldn’t remember what I was reading or who had written it — because I’d been so thoroughly IN it, lost in the story completely.

Harper Collins says of her upcoming Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body,

With the bracing candor, vulnerability, and authority that have made her one of the most admired voices of her generation, Roxane explores what it means to be overweight in a time when the bigger you are, the less you are seen. Hunger is a deeply personal memoir from one of our finest writers, and tells a story that hasn’t yet been told but needs to be.

And finally there is World of Wakanda, a spin-off from Marvel’s Black Panther title, making Gay one of the first black women to be a lead writer for the publisher. She’s also published multiple essays, stories, commentaries, and articles in various publications and collections.

Roxane Gay is an American feminist writer, professor, editor and commentator. She was born in Nebraska to Haitian parents. Her family moved around a lot when she was younger, so she found solace in books, started writing when she was four. “I was a loner, shy and awkward,” but she was close with her two siblings, two younger brothers, and had a happy childhood. It ended with a violent sexual assault by a group of boys when she was 12, a subject she’s written about both in fiction and non-fiction. She says that what happened, “was as bad as you might expect. I came home a completely different person.” In her 2015 TED Talk, Gay said,

There was an incident. I call it an incident so I can carry the burden of what happened. Some boys broke me, when I was so young, I did not know what boys can do to break a girl. They treated me like I was nothing. I began to believe I was nothing. They stole my voice, and in the after, I did not dare to believe that anything I might say could matter.

But — I had writing. And there, I wrote myself back together. I wrote myself toward a stronger version of myself. I read the words of women who might understand a story like mine, and women who looked like me, and understood what it was like to move through the world with brown skin. I read the words of women who showed me I was not nothing. I learned to write like them, and then I learned to write as myself. I found my voice again, and I started to believe that my voice is powerful beyond measure.

Through writing and feminism, I also found that if I was a little bit brave, another woman might hear me and see me and recognize that none of us are the nothing the world tries to tell us we are.


Video: Roxane Gay’s TED Talk, “Confessions of a Bad Feminist”

In her mid-teens, she went to an exclusive boarding school, where a teacher saw in her writing both a promising talent and a very troubled person. He facilitated her getting help and encouraged her as a writer. “He taught me craft, and he also taught me discipline. He told me to write every day. I was very impressionable, and so I write every day.” Gay wrote erotica in her early 20s, before shifting to literary fiction and non-fiction as she completed her graduate degrees and started her teaching career. “Although she obviously wishes the rape had never happened, she knows it has shaped her as a writer. ‘I don’t think I would have a fraction of the fierceness in my writing if I hadn’t had to endure that, and the aftermath,’ she says,” (Roxane Gay: meet the bad feminist).

For Gay, writing is a way, “to think through what it means to be in this world.”

I definitely write to reach other people, but I write for myself first. I don’t mean that in an arrogant way. It’s just that this is me trying to make sense of my place, and how did I get here, and why am I so lucky in some ways, and so unlucky in others? So it starts with me, and then I move beyond the self, as much as I can.

As an adult, besides being a teacher and a writer, and a popular speaker, Gay is also a competitive Scrabble player.

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