Katherine D. Morgan, author of “No Self-Respecting Woman,” has been published in many media outlets such as the Huffington Post, LitHub, The Rumpus and HelloGiggles. She visited Sacred Heart University through Zoom to read from her catalog of work and answer questions concerning writing, publishing and networking through social media.
The Department of Languages and Literature hosted the event in the Michelle Loris Forum, located in the Martire Center for the Liberal Arts, on Nov. 3.
Prof. Amie Reilly, lecturer in the Department of Languages and Literature, said, “Katherine’s work is bold in its vulnerability—a difficult balance to strike in any genre, but perhaps especially in creative nonfiction.”
The first piece read by Morgan was “On Being Seen by Toni Morrison,” previously featured in the online literary magazine The Rumpus. It dealt with the narrative of her racial identity as a bBack woman inspired by Morrison’s debut novel “The Bluest Eye.”
“As a child, I’d wait until my sister was asleep to crawl to my windowsill and pray for God to make me beautiful,” said Morgan in the context of praying to fit into societal beauty expectations shaped by the stereotypical European features.
Morrison’s novel brought Morgan a therapeutic release.
“I cried for the little girl who once sat at her windowsill and wept when the moonlight shone through the window and cast a glow onto her brown skin. She thought that she was so ugly when really, there was nothing ugly about her. Not one damn thing,” said Morgan.
“Reading Katherine’s work is like you are having a conversation with her. She is so transparent and comedic, and it shows throughout, but she also has the ability to reach your inner child,” said sophomore Ayasha Cantey, who attended the event.
In community college, Morgan had her first experience writing creative nonfiction. She wrote an essay commenting on how her grandmother pleaded with her mother to choose a generic name with no Black roots for Morgan to have an easier life.
The encouragement and praise from friends and teachers on the openness of the piece left her finding a place in writing.
“I think my heart knows where I want to write,” said Morgan.
The second piece, also read by Morgan, comments on body positivity and was featured in HuffPost: “I’m A Plus-Size Woman Of Color. Posing Nude In Front Of Strangers Helped My Self-Esteem.”
“Growing up as a young Black woman, my then-size 2 body was the subject of many uncomfortable conversations,” said Morgan in the context of her childhood self-esteem.
At the end of the story, she was forced to see herself through the eyes of the artist when posing naked for a figure drawing lesson after seeing the finished product.
“The more imperfections I saw, the more I liked them. It was the first step that I ever took toward being gentle with myself,” said Morgan.
“As a young writer, I find it hard to write with vulnerability. Katherine recommended choosing which parts of yourself to make vulnerable,” said Cantey on finding inspiration from the event.
Morgan has re-edited past pieces to have an updated perspective of her writing style and reflection of her thoughts, such as with “I’m A Plus-Size Woman Of Color. Posing Nude In Front Of Strangers Helped My Self-Esteem.”
“My feelings have changed toward it. It’s just a different person who wrote it, ended with a bow, and it is very nice and very cute,” said Morgan.
Dr. Nidhi Shrivastava, professor in the Department of Languages and Literature said, “Her talk reminded me of the Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s ‘The Danger of a Single Story,’ which emphasizes how crucial it is that we have representations in literature (and popular culture) that show a person’s multiple stories to break the stereotypes that exist about them or their culture.”
“I think for the most part, if I’m writing a piece, whether or not it gets published, it’s always for me,” said Morgan on her writing.