What is the name of the piece that you have in Grabbed?
What was the inspiration for your piece? What compelled you to write it?
I wrote it when I heard about the term "Flashbulb Memory" as the way we remember trauma. I was young when I was assaulted and yet, I remembered everything single detail as if it had just happened yesterday. It was nice to finally have a term to understand why.
What compelled you to submit your work for this anthology? Was it a difficult decision?
I wanted to submit to this anthology the second I heard about it. What struck me the day of the Cavanaugh hearings was how universal our experiences are as women. And, how women of my generation spoke about what happened to us to each other, but we didn't report what had happened to us because it was so commonplace. I cried all the way to work that day listening to Dr. Ford bravely tell her story because I thought FINALLY someone is telling their story and it will be listened to. But, when her testimony was dismissed and Cavanaugh was appointed to the Supreme Court I felt betrayed. I felt like I will never be silent again.
Why did you choose this particular form or genre for this piece?
I chose to write it as a question and answer to mimic the police questioning I endured just days after the attack.
Can you speak to the evolution of writing your piece? How long did it take you to write this piece, including revision?
I have written many versions of this same poem. It wasn't until I learned about the term flashbulb memory that I felt like I understood how I wanted to approach it.
As a writer, do you feel obliged to share difficult experiences?
Yes. I often write my way through the most difficult parts of my life. In this case, I'm writing about my trauma because I don't want to be silent anymore.
What do you feel the impact of the #MeToo movement has been on your work if any?
It has had a huge impact on my work. I write about women whose stories have been suppressed by androcentric history. The #MeToo movement made me feel even more like the work I am doing is really important.
What would you say to another writer who has been uncomfortable or silent about their experience? How can they begin to share their experiences?
I think we tell our stories when we are able to tell them. I would encourage everyone to tell their truth if only because if we all tell the truth about what has been happening to us then things will begin to change.
How can a publication such as Grabbed help to empower or heal readers?
Readers will feel empowered to tell their own stories, to believe their stories will be listened to.
Iris Jamahl Dunkle was the 2017-2018 Poet Laureate of Sonoma County, CA. Her newest poetry collection West : Fire : Archive will be published by Mountain/ West Poetry Series in 2021. Her other poetry collections include interrupted Geographies (Trio House Press, 2017) Gold Passage (Trio House Press, 2013) and There's a Ghost in this Machine of Air(Word Tech, 2015). Her biography Charmian Kittredge London: Trailblazer, Author, Adventurer is now available from the University of Oklahoma Press. Dunkle teaches at Napa Valley College and is the Poetry Director of the Napa Valley Writers' Conference. Charmian Kittredge London Trailblazer, Author, Adventurer is now available for pre-order.