Survivor’s Guilt by Julia Mallory is a monumental meditation on grief and the aftermath of loss. These poems and essays are difficult but necessary in a time of digital death archives and extrajudicial killings. The writer is trying to understand what it means to live in a world of pervasive premature Black death.
Grief is universal and still an emotional experience that too few feel they can afford to participate in. Who gets to grieve and for how long? What do we do when people defy our expectations around what they should do with their feelings?
While we may know more about trauma than ever before, what is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to many communities where the trauma is not “post” but instead perpetual and persistent. How does our online connectivity affect our grief? And what do we do with our collective grief?
Born from the author’s lived experience with personal tragedy – her 17 year old son Julian was shot and killed in 2017, three weeks after his birthday, this collection is also an archive of survivorship. Survivor’s Guilt wrestles with the curious reality that parenting while Black has never been a neutral existence. She dedicates 17 stanzas to Antwon Rose II, a 17 year old Black teenager slain by a East Pittsburgh police officer in 2018.
Their eyes say “go ‘head, show your teeth. Prove you ain’t a ghost.
There are elegies for the author’s father and childhood friend – one written in haiju, her own poetic form of 13 lines of 13 syllables with the last line invoking closure or finality. In the essay “Chasing Waterfalls”, she invites the reader into her healing adventure.
Survivor’s Guilt doesn’t let us off the hook. Yet, if we are able to be defiant in the face of destruction and refuse to look away, it will grow and remind us that grief is the evidence of having loved and why we should always remember the love.
Survivor's Guilt by Julia Mallory
Release Date: October 2019
Poetry and Essays
Survivor’s Guilt is a modern classic that speaks to our times with a bravery and naked wholeness that is individual yet transcends, leading us forward to healing and humanity.
These deep and lyrical words that come in the wake of loss are the very reason we come to writing and reading—for books like this. I loved Julia’s writing—her wordmynship and literary references, and these survival texts of poem and essay, of family history and experience, as she follows her artistic path, which vibrates as human truths in a world where we’re too often left reeling in trauma and confusion.
—China Martens, editor of Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines
Survivor’s Guilt will take you through different portals, spiritually, like time-traveling, witnessing cinematic scenes of tragedy, of discovery, of love, self-love...you'll muster up every ounce of anger and hope still left in your body—to fight, to live.
—Derrick D. Barnes, author of New York Times bestseller The King of Kindergarten
Survivor’s Guilt is a stunning reflection on how grief presents itself after loss. Through mediums such as poems, essays, photos, single words, and letters—Julia teaches us about the various expressions of grief. [...] She encourages the reader to embrace the pain and uncertainty that presents itself in the grieving process. Survivor’s Guilt serves as a valuable support for anyone experiencing the devastation of grief. Julia has created a significant contribution to the literature of grief and loss.
—Barbara Biancone, LSW Grief Support Professional
Julia Mallory takes grief head on in Survivor’s Guilt, a meditation on losses both close to home and among the wider Black community. Her work is...honest, locking eyes with despair, isolation, and the struggle to rebuild a life in the aftermath of tragedy.
—Tara Campbell, author of TreeVolution