After spending 15 years researching how literature can help people to better understand and empathize with others, Professor Kimberly Karshner was excited when a publisher solicited her after a conference, asking if she’d ever considered working on a book about the use of storytelling to heal sexual trauma. Teens are at the highest risk of being sexually assaulted, Karshner said. In her 23 years of teaching creative writing, Karshner had many students who were victims of sexual assault and had written about it in her classes. One of the main components of sexual trauma for survivors is feeling silenced or feeling that they don’t have a voice. Literature and writing empower survivors by providing a means to begin an active healing process.
“I feel like writing is a huge component of moving through [the healing process], moving through feelings,” Karshner explained. “Creative writing can be a great way to work through feelings, and not only those related to sexual trauma or abuse.”
The book is titled, “Voices From the Wreckage: Young Adult Voices in the #MeToo Movement,” and includes chapters written by many contributors. When she put out a call for papers, Karshner was overwhelmed by the response she received from scholars who wanted to contribute something on this topic. Each of the chapter authors in the book introduced different perspectives, and several focused on LGBTQ characters and voices that are newly emerging in young adult literature. The #MeToo movement was very vocal during the time that this book was being written and focused on survivors finding their voices and identities as well as their right to speak out about sexual trauma.
Karshner serves as an editor for North Coast Review, a literary journal that publishes writing and artwork by students, faculty, staff, and alumni of Lorain County Community College. It was there that she came across Alexandros “Alex” Nicolaou’s “Birdie,” and knew immediately that it would be the perfect cover for her book. The subject appears pensive and the colors set a somber tone, while the lighting of the portrait portrays the potential for hope and healing.
“Birdie” is a self-portrait that was Nicolaou’s final project for his Figure Drawing class at LCCC. He worked on this project from home during the COVID-19 pandemic and explained that he wanted to capture the feeling of hopeless optimism in “Birdie.” Nicolaou’s passion for art took off during high school and he loves that he can create anything that he can think of. He started off by drawing people and likes to work on projects where he can use his artwork to make people laugh. Art helped him with his critical thinking skills, particularly in software development courses, because it isn’t easy to translate an idea into art and doing so forces you to find solutions to complex problems, he said. Alex Nicolaou graduated from LCCC with an Associate of Arts.
Kimberly Karshner received three degrees from Bowling Green State University: an undergraduate in Art and creative writing, a master’s in Scientific and technical communication, and a master’s in literature. Karshner will be teaching another creative writing class this fall, and there are a wide variety of art classes available this summer and fall.
Voices From the Wreckage will be available through the Bass Library as an e-book, and a print copy has been ordered for circulation. More information on the book can be found at https://vernonpress.com/book/1684 and the book is available on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Voices-Wreckage-Young-Movement-Sociology/dp/1648896057
Support services are available through LCCC’s Advocacy and Resource Center (ARC) to help students with advice, resources, and connections for a wide variety of challenges that students face. The ARC office is on the first floor of the Bass Library building and additional information is available at https://www.lorainccc.edu/support-services/arc.