Kathleen Cecilia Nesbitt was raised in the suburbs of Chicago until she was
old enough to escape the façade of welcome wagons and white picket
fences, and flee to the big city. Always enmeshed in a book as a child, her
love of imagery, metaphor, and story drew her to study photography, fiction
and poetry writing at Columbia College. It was there in the Story Workshop
classes that the voice and persona of June in Sentencing Silence first
Upon receiving her BA, Kathleen faced the daunting proposition of
becoming an adult and getting a real job. Not knowing it was her childhood
experiences that she was really fleeing, she chalked refusing to write blurbs
for tampons or real estate brochures up to “not wanting to bastardize her
art.” Instead, she spent a year backpacking around Europe, returned to
Chicago, still felt the need to continue boarding trains, and ended up on a
fishing boat on the Bering Sea. After a year, and upon returning to Chicago
again, she still could not plant her feet. So she loaded up a truck and headed
west. In response to a former lover’s statement, “You’ll never be able to
compete,” when she told him she might just paint houses for a living, she
began her own house-painting business in the temperate months, and
refinishing antiques in the winter months. In the interim – or in-between
several abusive relationships – she wrote and published poetry, as well as
continuing to explore personas, first-person narratives, voices, if you will, of
characters who reached into the darkness and searched desperately for
something to grasp. Sandy, with a voice in deep despair, evolved during
Kathleen’s long and painful stints flat on her back from herniated discs.
When, finally, her back was so wrecked and prevented her from working at
all, she followed her true desire, applied, and was accepted to Goddard
College’s MFA in Writing Program.
In her small suitcase, Kathleen carried the notebooks filled with the
voices of the personas that had been her companions, her comfort, and her confusion over the past fifteen years. Characters that spoke so deeply of their own confusion, frustration, and isolation, but had no mode of transportation, no narrative arc. “What is the plot?” she begged of them. In her second semester at Goddard, another persona burst forth from the page with an insistent, raucous voice and a clenched fist. This was Reni. By some miracle, Kathleen realized that these were not three separate characters that needed to jump in a car and go on a road trip. They were different aspects, facets like the sides of a gemstone, of the same unintegrated character. Their narrative arc was indeed at stasis while they were each mired in, and emerging from the resultant stages of the grief of a traumatic childhood. The plot, they whispered, was to experience each stage as they communicated the frustration of denial, anger, and depression until they slowly realized that remaining silent about the experience that deformed them would forever confine them.
Kathleen graduated with her MFA, with what was really only the first draft of Sentencing Silence – the expression of her need to understand the repeating patterns in her own life. The healing and transformation that occurred over that period writing from June, Reni, and Sandy’s perspectives was so remarkable that Kathleen became passionate about the benefits of writing and the power of words. She went on immediately to study and receive a Masters of Arts in Transformative Language Arts from Goddard College, and developed a writing model that approaches human development on personal, spiritual and universal levels – Writing From the Chakras.
Kathleen also holds a Certification from Amherst Writers and Artists Institute and received a Certification in Poetry Therapy from the National Association for Poetry Therapy. Over the next twenty years, she worked assisting incest survivors, domestic abuse survivors, incarcerated women, homeless teen mothers, and veterans with PTSD break their silence through the healing power of the written word. And, twenty years later, she finally finished Sentencing Silence.
Kathleen Nesbitt’s poetry and fiction have appeared in No Exit, Big City Lit, 20 Pounds of Headlights, Mojave River Review, Threads, Dagda, Dead Beats, and Whiskey Island Review. She is currently working on her second novel, but more often can be found walking her beloved old English Cocker Spaniel, learning to cook like a boss, gardening, scuba diving with her husband, and dancing the Argentine Tango. She lives in San Jose, California. She is a survivor.
& Community Work
Recognizing that victims of childhood sexual abuse lose their voice and often times indulge in self-destructive patterns, Kathleen Nesbitt developed, and has received grants to conduct expressive writing programs and workshops for many disenfranchised and mainstream communities. Write Stuff – creative and expressive writing for self-exploration and empowerment for homeless teen mothers at The Teen Parent Program (TPP), a program of Open Pantry Community Services, Inc., Springfield, MA; Voices From The Inside – expressive and transformative writing for women incarcerated due to drug and alcohol abuse at The Western Massachusetts Recovery and Wellness Center; Untitled – Women Reclaiming Their Lives – expressive writing for women in a re-entry program at Weston Rehabilitation, Holyoke, MA. Cancer Stories – expressive writing for women with breast cancer at Baystate Regional Cancer Program, Springfield, MA. Reclamation of Self, Voice and Spirit I & II – Ecumenical and Inter-faith expressive writing group at Genesis Spiritual Life Center, Westfield, MA. The Posture and the Pen – expressive writing through the chakras in conjunction with yoga classes at Southwick Yoga, MA. Voice Of The Vet – expressive, creative, and memoir writing workshops for veterans with PTSD from the Vietnam through the Iraq/Afghanistan War Eras. Chicago IL. Writing Across the River and Writing From The Chakras - on-line, Montana, Massachusetts, and Chicago area – private Transformative Language Arts practice for groups and individuals. Kathleen is the recipient of three MA-LCC Grants to teach poetry writing to families, two NAPT “Poetry Alive” grants, and five grants to continue her work with Homeless Teen Mothers. She taught literary genres at Bay Path College, Longmeadow, MA, and was a guest teacher of literary fiction and creative writing at The Montana Academy, Marion MT - a residential therapeutic boarding school for the developmentally delayed and at-risk youth.