The Nightingale Anniversary

December 2019

We are 1 year old!


We’re celebrating the one-year anniversary of The Nightingale!

When we created The Nightingale, we wanted to cultivate a space that would publish survivor work every month of the year, with frequency that would allow us to engage with our literary community in new and exciting ways. We hoped the blog could be a continuation of the Awakened Voices magazine and that it could be an ongoing conversation, an ever-expanding dialogue.

Since launching the blog in December 2018, I have felt such appreciation for every writer who has submitted. Your words, collected here, make up something truly special. This library of insightful, powerful, survivor stories is a resource that has made a difference – the world wouldn’t be the same without your writing in it.

You are teachers, artists, healers. By telling your stories, you are helping readers understand what it is like to be a survivor, which means you are not alone. And by reading these stories, you are proving that they matter.

The writing collected here holds a wide scope of experiences, all of them powerful. There are authors who have mindfully and compassionately shared their pain:

“I realize the scariest part of this experience is what my big sister said on the phone. I play her words on a loop in my head. ‘This is normal, it happens to girls your age all the time.’” – Allison Linne, “This is a Normal Bus Ride

“When I was twelve years old, the drop of tar that makes up the word rape got stuck to my skin like a rubbery black suit.” – Nilsa Rivera, “The Word Rape is Made of Tar

 “Antibacterial soap still makes me think of that summer day and those shorts in my bathroom sink, judging me. Some days, I can walk away from the memory and tell myself it was not my fault and that I am not to blame, but other times, well, other times I remember the smell better than I remember myself.” – Jorie Ann Rao, “Kills 99% of Germs

 “I have never told anyone about this experience until today. Over the years I have occasionally wondered if I dreamt this up. But the phantom of the sensation of his thumb and forefinger moving up my thigh never goes away.” – Ann Casapini, “My Black Shoes From Paris

“You started small, trimming my branches, taking those low hanging twigs to stoke your fire. I was more than happy to give you those things you wanted, to keep that fire going. I gave you everything, and when that wasn’t enough, you started to take things, things I didn’t say you could have.” – Taylor Finn, “I wanted to feel your warmth

And there are still more authors who have shared so much about how to heal:

“You have the right to live. You have the right to love and be loved. You have the right to feel everything. You have the right to yell and scream. You have the right to cry and grieve. You have the right to honor your preciousness. For you are a precious person.” – Reverend Dr. Barbara Edema, “Reclamation

“Hazel is who I tell myself to be when I wonder why…. She will go on and accomplish the most incredible things. Not because of what happened to her, but because she survived it.” – J. Askew, “Let me tell you about Hazel

“Too many times have I blamed myself for being shot rather than those who shot me.” – D. A. Simants, “Vulification

“I was silent for a year. But that silence ended. I’m not afraid to cry anymore. I’m not afraid to tell my story.” – Karissa, “In November

“It was quieter than isolation, louder than fear. It sighed within my spirit: ‘You are not tainted, you are redeemed. You are not undesirable, you are irreplaceable. You are not broken, you are under reconstruction.’ And I caught myself aching to believe.” – Mary-Elizabeth Meagher, “Truth Found Me in the Trauma

“‘No,’ said the girl. ‘These are for my sisters, for the other women still trapped in the fields. I must help them find the way out.’” – Cassondra Windwalker, “Girl with the Wooden Helmet

 “Flight comes from fight. We cannot rise up unless we have been down. Even the strong people have had weakening experiences. Victims can rise up to be victors. I knew I was a warrior the day I dropped that letter in the mailbox. Nothing could hold me down anymore.” – Kimberly Cunningham, “Held

“Hanging our words, paintings, drawings, sculptures, music, and every other creative endeavor in which we document our sexual injury in the open is the very thing that will help prevent it from happening to others. And that in itself is healing—a very spiritual thing.” – Bobbie Groth, “Out of the Night That Covers Me

“With so many Me Too stories being shared, I ask how do we take the pain of remembering with us? In our memories, bodies, our cells and for me, in my DNA. It’s pieces of the whole that make us – a fact I have to come embrace as I have become older.” – Catharine Jones, “Once Greek, Always Greek

 “The secret power of Philomela’s transformation is this hope – hope that does not die, but lives on – an immortal hope. Though Philomela was raped, and wanted to die, she was not “born for death.” She was born to survive and even thrive.” – Jane Beal, “The Secret Power of Philomela’s Transformation

It’s a lot to hold within yourself, but thank you for holding it with and alongside us.

Whether you’re a writer or a reader of The Nightingale, your love and attention have power, and you are making the journey to healing better and easier for survivors. Those who you encounter online in our digital space and those who you might encounter in your lives are bolstered by your time here, simply because you have chosen to engage with survivor stories with compassion.

Thank you to our authors: Taylor Finn, Kelsey May, Kate Gezi, Sandra Shaw Homer, Reverend Dr. Barbara Edema, Ann Casapini, Catharine Jones, Wendi White, Nilsa Rivera, Rachel Litchman, Erica Avey, Bobbie Groth, Allison Linne, Kimberly Cunningham, Jean Beal, Jorie Rao, Alana Zucca, Cassondra Windwalker, Silver Damsen, Addison Post, D.A. Simants, Karissa, Carly Noble, Kim Conrey, Jackie Bluu, J. Askew, Mary-Elizabeth Meagher, Jean Cozier, Charity Marie, Danielle Hark, Meredith Lindgreen, Ami J. Sanghvi, Katherine Page, C. Christine Fair, and to all who have read their stories.

It’s been a very special year with all of you – here’s to the next one!



With gratitude,

Megan Otto
Editor of The Nightingale