Thursday, August 25, 2011

Life in the First Person: women's Stories Uncovered

Life in the First Person: Women’s Stories Uncovered
A novelist. A storyteller. A poet. A freelance writer. A performance artist. A creative nonfiction writer. A blogger.

What do they all have in common?

The first person.

Their experiences and their points of view are different, but their pronouns are the same.

Find out what comes after “I.”

Come out to hear life in the first person with Gigi Amateau, novelist; Denise Bennett, storyteller; Tarfia Faizullah, poet; Julie Geen, freelance writer; Shelia Gray, performance artist; Valley Haggard, creative nonfiction writer and Alex Iwashyna, blogger.

Life in the First Person: Women’s Stories Uncovered will serve as the grand finale in the event series, Beyond Barbie: Piecing Together Today's Woman running in conjunction with Susan Singer’s art opening, “Not Barbie: A Celebration of Real Women,”  on Thursday, November 3, at 7 PM at Crossroads Art Center. Tickets can be purchased online at or through  Crossroads Art Center or at the door.   

Gigi Amateau is the author of the young adult novel, A Certain Strain of Peculiar, a 2010 Bank Street College Best Children’s Books of the Year. She also wrote Chancey of the Maury River, a William Allen White Masters List title for grades 3-5. Her debut novel, Claiming Georgia Tate was selected as a New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age.  She recently completed 200-hour yoga teacher training. Visit

Denise Bennett tells personal stories, her original versions of traditional stories and sacred stories often interlaced with harp and vocal music.  She is a member of the Tell Tale Hearts Storytellers Theater in Richmond. Master storyteller Elizabeth Ellis has said of her, “Denise Bennett is a storyteller and a musician of exceptional talent. Her work is timeless, and flawless. Her work reminds us of the love that dwells in the deep heart's core.” Visit her at

Tarfia Faizullah is a graduate of VCU's creative writing program, and the former associate editor of Blackbird: an online journal of literature and the arts. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Southern Review, Crab Orchard Review, Ploughshares, Poetry Daily, Diode, Bellingham Review and elsewhere. She is the recipient of an AWP Intro Journals Project award, the Ploughshares Cohen Award and a Fulbright scholarship.

Julie Geen writes a monthly column for belle magazine and is a contributor to Style Weekly. She has published essays in anthologies, most recently “Tarnished: True Tales of Innocence Lost.” Along with raising children, dealing with pets and her own mind, she teaches creative writing classes through Hanover Parks and Recreation. Currently, she is turning one of her screenplays into a novel, and from there probably into a face book post. She blogs at
Shelia Gray is a graduate of the VCU Crafts Department, focusing in metal smithing, textiles and glass. She is currently involved in creating wearable art and costumes, as well as performance art and body painting for fashion shows, events and special projects. She’s writing a mixed-media graphic novel which incorporates sculptures and performance pieces. A self-employed gardener, she has winters off to do what ever she likes. 

Valley Haggard, the executive director of Richmond Young Writers, teaches creative writing to kids at Chop Suey Books and creative nonfiction to adults at Chop Suey, Black Swan Bookstore and the Visual Arts Center. On the board of the James River Writers, she has written for Style Weekly, Belle, Rhome, V Magazine and Skirt and has published chapters of her memoir in The Writer’s Dojo and Tarnished: True Tales of Innocence Lost. Visit her at or

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in Philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM (stay at home mom), writer and poet before thirty. She spends most of her time on blogging about life, parenting, marriage, culture and her inability to wake up in the morning and not hate everyone. She also writes for, teaches at the Visual Arts Center and manages enough freelance work to guarantee sexy circles under her eyes.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Breaking the Funhouse Mirror: The Distorted Reflections of Eating Disorders

Breaking the Funhouse Mirror: 5th in a series of evening performances around women’s
issues focuses on eating disorders—causes, effects and healing

Can eating disorders be prevented? Can they be healed? How do you live with their effects?
On October 20, an educator and a therapist, along with a local writer and a massage therapist,
bring their experience and expertise to explore those questions and how eating disorders stem
from distorted self-perceptions. The event, Caught in a Funhouse Mirror: The Distorted
Reflections of Eating Disorders, is one of a series of seven evening performances in conjunction with Susan Singer’s exhibition of female nudes, Not Barbie: A Celebration of Real Women, which opens Friday, Sept 16th, at 6 PM at Crossroads Art Center.

The funhouse mirror can be broken. Hear from women who are intimately acquainted with the mirror, its effects and the healing journey toward the authentic self. Kathleen MacDonald believes that eating disorders, chronic dieting and body dislike are preventable epidemics and that educating people about them is integral to the fight to eliminate them. As the education and prevention coordinator for the Gail R. Schoenbach F.R.E.E.D. Foundation, this nationally known expert in eating and body image issues has presented at universities, schools, conferences and many other venues.

Psychotherapist and activist Rachael Stern’s clinical experience encompasses eating disorders (all types), trauma and somatic psychotherapy, couples therapy, self-injury and LGBTQ issues, with a particular interest in activism and social change. Based in Baltimore, where she has recently joined the Pershing Turner Centers, she is the executive director of the Eating Disorder Activist Network and is a registered yoga teacher.

Karen Morris specializes in body contact therapy to counter low self-esteem, body image and/or eating disorder issues, as well as body/touch issues such as those from sexual assault. A board certified massage therapist, Morris brings bodywork and massage to counter issues stemming from eating disorders. Recovered herself from a 30 year battle with anorexia and bulimia she is a member of The Eating Disorder Coalition Junior Board and is an eating disorder Activist.

Local writer and editor Christine Ennulat is not an expert in eating disorders, nor has she suffered from one—directly. She shares her own experience of and continuing healing from an eating disorder in her world.

Beyond Barbie: Piecing Together Today’s Woman runs weekly at Crossroads Art Center from
September 22 - November 3. Caught in a Funhouse Mirror: The Distorted Reflections of
Eating Disorders takes place Oct. 20 at 7 p.m. at Crossroads Art Center, 2016 Staples Mill Rd,
RVA 23230. Tickets may be purchased online at For more information please go or call Crossroads at 804-278-8950.

Contact: Karen Morris,

Friday, August 19, 2011

Listening and Observing: The Power of Birth in Story

Listening and Observing: The Power of Birth in Story

Childbirth may be one of the most powerful events that women experience in life. The sharing of women's personal experiences of giving birth provides an opportunity for greater understanding about how birth shapes and is shaped by our self-perceptions, our culture, and the trajectory of our lives. This evening will provide a safe space to experience the art of listening as we share our personal stories of birth in a way that honors the unique experience of each storyteller.

A part of Beyond Barbie: Piecing Together Today’s Woman – a series of performances and talks about issues important to women today
and in conjunction with Susan Singer's Not Barbie: A Celebration of Real Women 
which opens Sept 16th at 6 PM at Crossroads Art Center.

Who: Women and the people that love them are all invited to participate and/or observe.

When: Thursday, October 27, 7:00 - 9:00 PM

Cost: $10 or $50 for the entire 7 evening series.
Tickets may be purchased on-line at, through Crossroads Art Center or at the door. For more information please call 804-278-8950 or email

Further information:
Birth is a transformative event, an everyday act that marks one of life’s most sacred passages. Pregnancy, birth, and becoming a parent are experiences that can empower us to become more than we thought we could be. For many women, telling the story of their child’s birth is an important part of this transformation. In the last decade, birth stories have become an emerging cultural narrative form.
While birth stories can be windows into individual women’s souls, they also have the capacity to enlighten, educate, and entertain. Sharing our stories shines a light on the many ways birth takes place in our culture, helps us transcend fears and perceived limitations, and empowers us to learn from our collective experience. Telling our stories can also strengthen women’s trust in their ability to do the hard physical, emotional, and spiritual work of birth.
For this evening, women are invited to listen to, and participate in, the telling of stories of childbirth in a safe, respectful environment that allows each woman’s tale to unfold without interruption. Stories of home births, hospital births, cesarean births, water births, parking lot births, adoptive births, singleton, twin, and triplet births, births of healthy babies, births of challenged babies, and births of stillborn babies are all welcome. The audience will listen to a variety of birth stories in the first person, then break into small groups where stories may be shared and observed in an intimate setting. At the end of the evening, there will be time for reflection on the experience as a whole.

We are especially interested in the moments during your birth when you faced a fear or learned something significant about yourself or about life. What helped you move through the experience? What made you laugh, what made you cry? What did you learn that might help the next woman walking the path toward motherhood?

Thérèse Hak-Kuhn is the mother of 6 and has been involved in birth both personally and professionally for over 30 years. The Executive Director of toLabor, an international birth doula training and certification program, an attendant at over five hundred births and a facilitator of a variety of birth circles, she understands the necessity for women to able to tell their birth stories and having them truly heard.

Leslie Lytle, MS, CMA, RYT500 is Director of OmMama, LLC which offers prenatal and postnatal yoga and evidence-based childbirth preparation in the Richmond area, and prenatal/postnatal yoga teacher training programs nationally. She has worked with expecting women and new families for over 19 years, and has witnessed firsthand the power of storytelling in transforming women’s experience of birth.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Through the Fire: Reclaiming Lost Power After Trauma and Abuse

Through the Fire: Reclaiming Lost Power After Trauma & Abuse
 Thursday, October 13, 7:00-8:30 pm

“Understanding the complexity of abuse, and recognizing unhealthy patterns in our relationships,” says program director Dawn Flores, “we are better able to seek and accept support.”  Two award-winning storytellers, MeganHicks and Linda Goodman, will be sharing the stage with shameless survivor, Lisette Johnson. 

By grace and grit, Lisette transformed the horror of being shot by her husband into healing for herself and her children.  She will be reading three of her poems— Hidden, Exit Here and Rough Road Ahead

Linda Goodman will share The Marriage Contract from her performance showcase, Shattered Silence Linda retraces the violent heritage from which she was spared to tell her parent’s love story.

Megan Hicks will perform Just Another T.N.D., the centerpiece of her show Gutsy Broads.  It is the story of her neighbor’s tragic event, which was her personal wake-up call.

The evening's performance will be followed by a brief question and answer period with the artists, who will be joined by experts from the community in offering resources, information and advice. 

DawnFlores, creator of Goddess Dance and The Juno Cards, will speak about trauma and our bodies’ response to it.  Dawn will be joined by Elli Sparks, Mama Gena Graduate and Nia instructor, who will address the importance of digesting difficult information with our bodies through movement. 

SusanBuniva, a therapist who specializes as a Collaborative Law Divorce Coach, will be available for those interested in an alternative to the traditional adversarial model of divorce.

Stacie Vecchietti, Community Organizing Manager for Safe Harbor, will be accompanied by Community Outreach and Education Team Member, Caitlin Zettl, in answering questions related to local services that are available to anyone who has been impacted by intimate partner and/or sexual violence. 

For more information on Through the Fire contact Dawn Flores at