By Carley Crain
On Tuesday night in the Harold C. Smith Learning Commons, the Springfield College community welcomed Angelique Stevens, who is a Six-Nations Native American, as well as a distinguished writer and author. Stevens is a New York native who writes about her experiences with addiction, suicide, foster care and getting out of her comfort zone.
Stevens has been recognized at the national level for her numerous writing pieces from prestigious organizations such as Lithub, The New England Review and The Chattahoochee Review.
The focus of the night was her reading a chapter from the novel she is currently writing about her sister’s death. The evening was then followed by a question and answer session. Tuesday’s event with Steven’s was a part of the William Simpson Fine Arts Series, which is an event series sponsored by the college that showcases art and literature from the outside community.
Stevens’ calm and clear voice helped the audience connect with her heartbreaking story about growing up in upstate New York. Her childhood was far from normal. Her sister went missing when she was young and was forced into sex trafficking. Her parents also had a rocky marriage which resulted in going on food stamps, homelessness, and foster care.
Stevens’ mother spent time in a local hospital for many years because of her struggles with mental health. Her sister, later on, would also struggle with her own mental health, ultimately resulting in an overdose suicide. Stevens and her sister were only 10 months apart, but yet they were very different. She spoke about how her sister got passed down the “unlucky” genres and society’s role in assisting people who need help.
“My sister and I are 10 months apart. She died from a suicide overdose,” explained Stevens. “I am a college professor. She won this horrible genetic lottery, and how is it possible for me to live this way? Essentially the book plots those trajectories.”
After she finished reading a chapter from her novel, Steven’s took questions from the audience, which consisted of a mix of students, teachers, and faculty. She explained the process of writing a nonfiction book about such a personal, intimate moment in her life. Steven’s expressed the challenge of this, as she wanted to honor her family but also be honest about what happened.
“People say that we never know how things will work till we write through it and the more that you process what is happening the more that it helps.”
Stevens is still in the writing process for her novel but has loved the sense of freedom and adventure writing has given her so far.
Photo Courtesy angeliquecstevens.com