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caption: Author Carmen Maria Machado at Town Hall Seattle 
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Author Carmen Maria Machado at Town Hall Seattle
Credit: Courtesy of Libby Lewis Photography

In the Dream House: A writer’s journey through and past abuse

“What kind of relationship did you have to have with who you used to be, who you are and who you are becoming?”

The writer Carmen Maria Machado floated that question on her recent visit to Seattle. It represents the kind of depth she braves in her work.

Speakers Forum featured Machado two years ago, reading from her acclaimed short story collection Her Body and Other Parties. She’s out now with a memoir, In the Dream House. It tells the story of an abusive romantic relationship that marked her past, and the silence around domestic violence in queer relationships. The work weaves between the depths of her personal experience and the cultural landscape that shaped and allowed it.

“I am proud of this book. I think it’s a good book. Time and other people will tell of it’s an important book, and if it’s meaningful to even one person then I’d like to think this has all been worth it, but I hate this book. I know that’s a shocking thing to say. It’s like saying you hate your own child. But I don’t know what else to say about a book that reminds me, often, of a terrible past, of the hamster wheel of pain that some younger version of me ran around until she collapsed. I want to run to her, hold her, tell her it’s gonna be okay, but I can’t, and this book reminds me of that fact.”

Much of this talk and conversation steers toward Machado’s writing process, an artistic life, and how, with difficulty, she came to write about her abuse.

Carmen Maria Machado is the Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania. Seattle Arts & Lectures presented her talk as part of their Women You Need to Know (WYNK) series at Town Hall Seattle on January 24. Seattle author Kristen Millares Young moderated the discussion. Marina Chen read her poem Valentine to open the program. KUOW’s Sonya Harris recorded the event.

Please note: This recording contains unedited language of an adult nature.