Excerpts from Christine Friedlander’s hybrid manuscript, AVANT GAUZE, a finalist for the 2015 TS Book Prize.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Christine Friedlander is a writer, student support specialist, and sexual assault survivor advocate living in New Jersey. She holds an MFA in poetry from the University of Minnesota and is a founding member of the Twin Cities-based poetry collective OUR FLOW IS HARD. In the event of a water emergency, she can also be used as a flotation device. Her work has appeared in Big Lucks, Gigantic Sequins,Fugue, The Pinch Journal, Radioactive Moat, The Hairpin, and elsewhere. Follow her at christinefriedlander.com
I often appear in fragments. Because I am thought to be fragmented, I am given literary prescriptions on how to recollect myself, to make myself more reliable, whole. Such advice is odd to me because I never chose to be fragmented. This label was thrust upon me once it was determined I experienced / witnessed trauma. As a sexual assault survivor advocate, I’ve noticed how often victims are asked to be “reliable” witnesses to their own attack, as if they had some choice in the matter. I expect this sort of pressure from our justice system because it is a flawed system. We are told to tell the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God. But when the vernacular of the creative writing workshop bleeds into the process of statement collection and vice-versa, I start to question everyone’s motives for advocating narrative repair. We are naturally full of holes, but that has never stopped writers from trying to fill mine. When you tell me that WRITING WILL HEAL YOUR WOUNDS, you are applying metaphorical gauze to the wrong wound. When you tell me to WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW, I take that as a threat. You can fill my mouth with gauze to stop the bleeding, but you can also fill my mouth with gauze to shut me up. I’ve had enough of that gauze, thanks. I took the material and made it into something completely and utterly useless for your purposes. I wrote this book to bleed myself out.
More gauze, including two gauze pieces included in this excerpt, can be found in red lightbulbs.