Author discusses violence research

Lisa Gomez

A writer’s voice is transformed through words to develop animatedly on a page their passions, beliefs, ideas, and lessons. The influence of author, poet, playwright, and social critic, Susan Griffin’s printed statements have been comprehended by Quinnipiac freshmen. Her book titled “A Chorus of Stones: Private Life of War,” is a requirement for all English 101 classes. Students were able to participate in the experience of hearing a pre-read author speak publicly, as Susan Griffin discussed her writing and research on the causes of violence at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 29, in Alumni Hall.

Griffin discussed three major topics that she tackles in her work: compassion, denial and dissociation. She began her lecture in which she spoke not only of the ideas presented in her work, but of the actual operational process she goes through as she constructs her pieces by saying, “The arts require compassion.” She incorporates this notion of achieving compassion throughout most of her work, but specifically in her social autobiographical writing she demonstrated in “A Chorus of Stones: Private Life of War.” The reason this writing style achieves such an intense level of power for Griffin. “I know myself very well. I have thoroughly explored that territory, and I can examine my psychology to intertwine it with history,” Griffin said. Her sensitivity to compassion enabled her to write about such a concentrated and severe topic as nuclear warfare, which she predominately focused on in her lecture.

“My greatest love is preservation of the world and denial oppresses the truth,” said Griffin. Griffin became terrified and appalled when she learned how many weapons the United States possessed after visiting a nuclear workshop during the cold war. “It began inhibiting my dreams, nightmares, and written work,” Griffin said. She explained however, that she was unable to truly understand the suffering of others when she was denying her own secrets. The notion of dissociation plays into the domineering theories of denial as a strategy for enabling the physical, emotional, and unconscious make-ups of humans to become detached when they should be connected.

This self-revelation inspired her courage to confront her and her family’s denial about the existence of one of her grandmothers that had been deleted out of their lineage after committing adultery through her writing passages. By combining these seemingly polar opposite subjects, Griffin is breaking personal barriers and those of society, while creating and experimenting with an innovative writing style.

While such a writing procedure may seem complicated and intricate, Griffin spoke of how she starts with just a few words and then allows them to weave through the twists and turns of her creative non-fiction and poetry. “I work with a lot of imagery and metaphors. Often times metaphors choose to be in the story,” Griffin said.

The lecture was co-sponsored by the Albert Schweitzer Institute, the College of Liberal Arts, the Freshmen Writing program, the Office of Academic Affairs and the Office of Multi-Cultural Affairs. Christine Ross, director of the Freshmen Writing Program was pleased that students were present at the heavily attended lecture and that many University English professors made it mandatory for students to be present. “For students to have the opportunity to hear and talk with real writers, especially one as diverse and embarking on provocative and challenging projects as Griffin is extremely powerful.”

Ross said that this lecture was an experiment and that she felt it was extremely helpful for students in the freshmen program who were also going through the process of making connections between their own thoughts and the world around them through their writing. After examining the event she hopes these types of lectures could be implemented annually into the curriculum.

The Albert Schweitzer Institute hosted a reception following the lecture for the artist who believes that writing should not be a process of the imagination but should be striving to “break the divide between public and private life.”