[NF] Hedge Coke, Allison Adele: Rock, Ghost, Willow, Deer: A Story of Survival

[NF] Hedge Coke, Allison Adele: Rock, Ghost, Willow, Deer: A Story of Survival

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Poet, educator, anthologist, and activist Allison Adelle Hedge Coke is the editor of ten anthologies and author of seven books of poetry and one memoir: Rock, Ghost, Willow, Deer: A Story of Survival (2004). She wrote the first draft of her memoir—about her mother’s mental illness, the physical abuse Hedge Coke suffered, and her own substance abuse in youth—during a residency at MacDowell Colony. She says of that experience: “I wrote myself into really deep PTSD.” She credits the Veterans Administration medical care she was able to access, as the child of a World War II veteran, with her recovery. Her editor cut huge swaths from her manuscript, telling her the material would be too painful for readers. Hedge Coke warns aspiring memoirists: “You can write yourself into a very dark place.” In our discussion of Hedge Coke’s brilliant memoir, we will consider how to write through the darkness, how to face the hardest stories, and how to keep ourselves healthy as we do so. The author will visit for a Q&A during the class session.