Sun. May 26th, 2024

Image: “Rabbit Heart” by Kristine Ervin Book Cover

On March 26 at 7 p.m., in Philips Autograph Library, Dr. Kristine Ervin, a creative writing professor in the English department, presented her memoir “Rabbit Heart” to a room packed full of current and past WCU students and faculty, as well as friends and family who traveled from all around the globe to join her on her special night. 

“Rabbit Heart,” which was named a most anticipated title by The Washington Post, Kirkus Reviews and more, was published on March 26 — where the reading doubled as a launch party. The memoir is centered around Ervin’s experience grappling with the loss of her mother, who was murdered when she was only eight years old. The Bookstore Bakery sold copies of “Rabbit Heart” at the event, all of which sold out before it started. 

When asked how she wanted the event to start, Ervin said she immediately thought, “I want to hear the voices of my students.” She said she was inspired by the students who shared their stories of previously untold trauma with her in her class, “Breaking Silences: Writing Memoir as an Act of Rebellion.” Three students who had taken this class in the past — Erika Glass, Kristine Kearns and Macyn Bass — presented emotionally impactful pieces they had written in the course at the event. After reading, each student went across the room to hug Ervin before taking their seat again. 

“I’m nervous about putting ‘Rabbit Heart’ out into the world. I’m proud of it, but it’s also a difficult text, and I feel vulnerable,” Ervin said before the students spoke. “And at the times that I felt scared, I think about these stories that my students have trusted me with, and I think about those moments where not only they broke their silences, but they supported each other.” 

Before Ervin read her chosen selections from her memoir, Professor Jacqueline Alnes, a professor of creative writing and a good friend of Ervin who released her own memoir last month, introduced her. Alnes described “Rabbit Heart” as “brutal and beautiful,” as it encouraged her to ask, “What power does language have to harm and to heal?” and “What does it mean to seek resolution when a grief is searing and unending?” 

In addition to complimenting Ervin’s writing, Alnes highlighted her friendship and her devotion to her students. “She is someone who moves through the world making opportunities for warmth, community and true shared joy,” Alnes stated. “I see this in the way that students tell me in class or office hours or in the hall that Doctor Ervin’s classes changed their life.” 

Ervin then took to the stage to share four excerpts of her memoir with the crowd. Most notably, she shared an excerpt from page 18 that explains how the book got its title. The excerpt depicts a touching conversation with Ervin’s father about her mother’s death. The scene takes place only weeks after her mother’s murder, and in it a young Ervin asks her father how he thinks her mother died. “He said, ‘I hope she died like a bunny rabbit would.’ Then he explained how bunny rabbits can get so scared that their hearts stop pumping, long before anything happens to them.” 

After she concluded the reading, she received a standing ovation from the crowd. Looking around the room, it was not hard to tell how beloved Dr. Ervin is and how exciting of an achievement this was for her. The evening concluded with raffles that each included a copy of “Rabbit Heart,” as well as a memoir from one of the four authors who blurbed “Rabbit Heart,” followed by a book signing. 

 


Emma Hogan is a fourth-year English major with a minor in Journalism. EH954390@wcupa.edu

Charlotte Decker is a third-year BSEd. English major with a minor in Creative Writing. CD968493@wcupa.edu

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