Michael Escoubas of Quill and Parchment Reviews We Will Not Be Silenced

Editors: Christine E. Ray, Kindra M. Austin, Candace Louise Daquin,
Rachel Finch
163 poems, essays and art, 326 pages
Price: $12.99 Print Format, $4.99 Kindle Version
Publisher: Indie Blu(e) Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-7328000-0-7
Library of Congress Control Number: 2018913952
To Order: indieblucollective@gmail.com
Reviewed by Michael Escoubas

The tone is set by Susan Conway’s essay, Bearer of the Sky. She chronicles the terror and long-term trauma of a girl abused by her father beginning at a young age. It is impossible for this reviewer to hold back tears. I use present tense to indicate my reaction as I return again and again to her words. Conway’s essay should be prefaced with, “What you are about to read may be disturbing.” The most telling line among many, “My body is MY BODY, you don’t get to hurt me anymore.” Indeed, this entire collection of poetry, prose and art is specifically designed to be disturbing, and rightfully so.

IMAGES

Poet William Wordsworth has written, “Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.” The remarkable writings contained in We Will Not Be Silenced are the work of skilled poets who have taken the time to feel and think about their pain. As they take pen and journal in hand they write from the overflow of reflective thought translated into some of the most powerful poetry this reviewer has ever encountered. Throughout the work compelling images and other poetic devices drew me in, kept me interested and brought forth the tears alluded to above. As you become absorbed in the pathos of these poems (and you will), look for a “little nest of sparrows,” in Rachel Finch’s The Innocence is Haunting; “little white go-go boots,” in S.L. Heaton’s poem by the same title; “an old sack of bones,” in Secrets, by Hanlie Robbertse. Keep turning the pages until you find the horror of a Back Alley, by Cynthia Bryant and “girls huddled close together like a rack of pool balls,” in Home Safe, by Lesléa Newman. I return to Conway’s “This is MY BODY, you don’t get to hurt me anymore.” So often within these poems, the victim is alone, without resources, with no one she can trust with the telling of her experience.

ARTWORK

We Will Not Be Silenced is punctuated throughout with poems superimposed over pictures which speak every bit as loudly as the poems which accompany them. In Heaton’s The Morning After, a pretty girl is leaning against the window sill seated at her classroom desk. Terrible things had happened to her the night before, things that were not her fault. Even so, she is dealing with “judgmental eyes that watched a slut ride the bus to school the morning after.” This work of art moved me as did the picture of a little girl, not more than four or five, holding her freckled face with both hands in Jamie Lynn Martin’s Little Girls, “she does not want to be the object of your lust.” The volume, as a whole, is laced with the power of words in tandem with equally powerful works of art.

TITLES

Titles in We Will Not Be Silenced stir adrenalin compelling readers to WANT to read every poem. Here is a sampling: The Innocence is Haunting, Not a Comma, Don’t Say a Word, Safety at Age Eleven, Thirteen, When I Say I’m Ticklish I mean I Am Scared of Men, My Body Remembers, Old Man Hands, The Quilt, I hear a Robin Sing, The Pros and Cons of Being this Heavily Medicated. As I read through the entire anthology I noticed strong unifying themes: the victims share ongoing trauma, self-doubt, in many cases self-loathing and isolation. I’ve selected the poem below as representative. It needs no commentary.

When I Told
Cynthia L Bryant

When I told my mother
she said
“Do you feel guilty?”

When I told my aunt
she said
“I’m not surprised.”

When she told her husband
he said
“I wish you hadn’t told me.”

When I told my uncle
he said
“Gee that’s too bad, but that was a long time ago.”

When he told his wife
she said
“Too bad something wasn’t said while he was living,
so he could have defended himself.”

When I told my cousin
she said
“There was a rumor of it in our mothers’ family.”

When I told my husband
my father had sexually abused me throughout my childhood
He held me while I cried.

After reading this poem, your reviewer cried too.

Having grown up free of abuse and the toxic environment that envelops the courageous victims who step up and speak out in this incredibly well done anthology, I am visited by a fresh loathing for those who abuse power and change forever girls and women too vulnerable to fend for themselves. At the same time, I am encouraged by those who walk in light and hope within the community of the redeemed who declare, We Will Not Be Silenced.  

I return to where I began with Susan Conway’s tone-setting essay,

“I have faith, that one day you will emerge into the clearing that is the knowledge that although your abusers tasked you with the charge of holding up the sky, the entire Universe now revolves around you. Blessed Survivors, may you lean into the healing hard, may you step into the magnificence that you are. Bearer of stars, and moons, and mystery; sacred, sacred, sacred you are.”

Big Book Giveaway

In honor of the launch of We Will Not Be Silenced, we are holding an amazing Big Book Giveaway! Two lucky winners in the U.S. or Canada will receive an assortment of six books each, including a copy of We Will Not Be Silenced. A lucky International winner will receive four books, including We Will Not Be Silenced.

Entering is simple! Just sign up for Indie Blu(e) Publishing’s Newsletter here. There is no cost to enter. Winners will be selected at random Winners will be selected at random on December 15, 2018.

WE WILL NOT BE SILENCED LIVE LAUNCH EVENT, PART II

The editors and contributors are ending our week of events honoring the publication of We Will Not Be Silenced: The Lived Experience of Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault Told Powerfully Through Poetry, Prose, Essay, and Art the way we started it- with a Live Event on Friday, December 7th on Facebook. Our first Live Event was well-attended and really terrific- lots of interaction between the attendees, editors, and book contributors.

Our final live event provides a great opportunity to learn more about the book’s origin, purpose, and its contributors and get some sneak peeks of the powerful content.  You will also have a chance to enter some great book giveaways!

Learn more here.

Kristiana Reed Reviews We Will Not Be Silenced

We Will Not Be Silenced is a collection of poetry, prose, essays, and art which shares the lived experience of sexual harassment and sexual assault. It has been pieced together and pioneered by four incredible, courageous women who, in telling their truth, have a raised a chorus of ninety-one other writers and artists. Austin, Daquin, Finch, and Ray have undoubtedly created more than a piece of art. They have blown wind into the sails of change and made a stand which has already altered the lives of many.

We Will Not be Silenced, as the title suggests, paves the way for silence to be shattered. Shame and stigma in society have taught a lesson of ‘stay quiet because no one will believe you’, for too long. The stories in this collection, although difficult to read at times, teach new lessons. Lessons about hope.Lessons about how you are not alone. Lessons about letting your shame fly away in the breeze even if you can still taste blood in your mouth. Lessons about the strength you can find in your scars. Lessons about women and men; about how this can happen to anyone; about how this is not your fault, never was and never will be.

As a piece of art raised from an eclectic collective, the work ebbs and flows with the gentle power of the current downstream; each piece moving the reader in familiar and unfamiliar ways. The editing is thoughtful and allows every writer space to breathe as an individual and yet remain part of the whole; the heart and soul of We Will Not Be Silenced. In fact, I would love to share my favourite pieces but I would end up quoting the whole book.

With Austin, Daquin, Finch, and Ray at the helm, We Will Not Be Silenced is truly something special; a landmark demonstrating how far we have come and how far we are yet to go, with loud, unbroken voices.

Kristiana Reed daydreams, people watches in coffee shops, teaches English and writes. She is a curator on Blood into Ink, a collective member of The Whisper and the Roar and blogs at My Screaming Twenties. She is 24 and is enjoying the journey which is finding her voice.