NFN Panel Discussion: “What We Talk About (Or Don’t) When We Talk About Guns”

It was such a pleasure to present on a panel at the NonfictioNOW conference in Phoenix the other day. The other panelists and I have all written about, or are currently researching and writing about, some aspect of gun violence. While our presentations and the conversation were wide-ranging, we are all looking for new ways to tell the personal and larger narratives of gun violence, to elevate the stories of the victims and those who have been silenced by the threatening stance of the gun lobby.  We all happen to be women, which should, perhaps, come as no surprise, considering that the gun world has been a male-dominated one, so new perspectives on these stories will most likely come from groups whose opinions in this sphere have been historically marginalized.

Below are the bios to the other panelists and links to their websites. I’m honored to have been in conversation with them here in Phoenix!

Poet and essayist Heidi Czerwiec is the author of the recently-released poetry collection Conjoining, and of the forthcoming lyric essay collection Fluid States, selected by Dinty W. Moore as the winner of Pleiades Press’ 2018 Robert C. Jones Prize for Short Prose, and is the editor of North Dakota Is Everywhere: An Anthology of Contemporary North Dakota Poets. She lives in Minneapolis, where she is an Editor for Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies and for Poetry City, and mentors with the Minnesota Prison Writing Workshop.

Jo Scott-Coe is the author of two books: MASS: A Sniper, a Father, and a Priest (Pelekinesis) and Teacher at Point Blank (Aunt Lute). Her essays on themes of gender, sexuality, women’s testimony, and violence have appeared widely for the past fifteen years. Bylines include Tahoma Literary Review, Catapult, Salon, Talking Writing, American Studies Journal, Pacific Coast Philology, Assay, Ninth Letter, and Fourth Genre. Scott-Coe is an associate professor and assistant chair of English & Media Studies at Riverside City College, where she was named 57th Distinguished Faculty Lecturer in part for her work to document the epistolary history of Kathy Leissner, murdered by her husband Charles Whitman hours before his UT Tower rampage in 1966. Scott-Coe’s first-ever portrait, “Listening to Kathy,” was a Notable in Best American Essays 2017. She is currently at work on a life in letters for Kathy Leissner as well as a collection of essays about victims and survivors in Catholic tradition.

Julija Šukys is a writer and an associate professor of creative nonfiction at the University of Missouri, where she has taught since 2013. She holds a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Toronto (2001) and is the author of three books (Silence is Death, Epistolophilia, and Siberian Exile), one book-length translation, and of more than two dozen essays and articles. Her essay “There Be Monsters” appears as Notable in Best American Essays 2018. Šukys draws on archives, interviews, bibliographical research, and observation to write about minor lives in war-torn or marginal places, about women’s life-writing, and about the legacy of violence across generations and national borders.