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Wrestling with Bodies: A Reading and Conversation with Venita Blackburn, Megan Milks, and Casey Plett

Event date: 
Thursday, October 14, 2021 - 7:30pm to 9:00pm

This event takes place on crowdcast, Charis' virtual event platform. Register here.

Charis welcomes three of the most exciting queer and trans writers working today for a conversation about bodies, girlhood, dysphoria, trauma, and so much more.

Megan Milks is the author of Margaret and the Mystery of the Missing Body which reimagines nineties adolescence--mashing up girl group series, choose-your-own-adventures, and chronicles of anorexia--in a queer and trans-coming-of-age tale like no other. An interrogation of girlhood and nostalgia, dysmorphia and dysphoria, this debut novel puzzles through the weird, ever-evasive questions of growing up. Meet Margaret. At age twelve, she was head detective of the mystery club Girls Can Solve Anything. Margaret and her three best friends led exciting lives solving crimes, having adventures, and laughing a lot. But now that she's entered high school, the club has disbanded, and Margaret is unmoored--she doesn't want to grow up, and she wishes her friends wouldn't either. Instead, she opts out, developing an eating disorder that quickly takes over her life. When she lands in a treatment center, Margaret finds her path to recovery twisting sideways as she pursues a string of new mysteries involving a ghost, a hidden passage, disturbing desires, and her own vexed relationship with herself. Megan Milks is the author of Margaret and the Mystery of the Missing Body and Remember the Internet, Volume 2: Tori Amos Bootleg Webring. With Marisa Crawford, they are coeditor of We Are the Baby-Sitters Club: Essays and Artwork from Grown-Up Readers. Born in Virginia, they currently live in Brooklyn.

In How to Wrestle a Girl, Venita Blackburn’s characters bully and suffer, spit and tease, mope and blame. They’re hyperaware of their bodies and fiercely observant, fending off the failures and advances of adults with indifferent ease. In “Biology Class,” they torment a teacher to the point of near insanity, while in “Bear Bear Harvest™,” they prepare to sell their excess fat and skin for food processing. Stark and sharp, hilarious and ominous, these pieces are scabbed, bruised, and prone to scarring. Many of the stories, set in Southern California, follow a teenage girl in the aftermath of her beloved father’s death and capture her sister’s and mother’s encounters with men of all ages, as well as the girl’s budding attraction to her best friend, Esperanza. In and out of school, participating in wrestling and softball, attending church with her hysterically complicated family, and dominating boys in arm wrestling, she grapples with her burgeoning queerness and her emerging body, becoming wary of clarity rather than hoping for it.

Works by Venita Blackburn have appeared or are forthcoming in The, Harpers, Ploughshares, McSweeney’s, the Paris Review and others. She received the Prairie Schooner book prize in fiction for her collected stories, Black Jesus and Other Superheroes in 2017. She is founder of the literary nonprofit Live, Write (, which provides free creative writing workshops for communities of color. Blackburn’s second collection of stories, How to Wrestle a Girl, will be published fall of 2021. She is an Assistant Professor of creative writing at California State University, Fresno.

Award-winning novelist Casey Plett (Little Fish) returns with a poignant suite of stories (A Dream of a Woman) that center transgender women. Casey Plett's 2018 novel Little Fish won a Lambda Literary Award, the Firecracker Award for Fiction, and the Amazon First Novel Award. Her latest work, A Dream of a Woman, is her first book of short stories since her seminal 2014 collection A Safe Girl to Love. Centering transgender women seeking stable, adult lives, A Dream of a Woman finds quiet truths in prairie high-rises and New York warehouses, in freezing Canadian winters and drizzly Oregon days. An ethereal meditation on partnership, sex, addiction, romance, groundedness, and love, the stories in A Dream of a Woman buzz with quiet intensity and the intimate complexities of being human. Plett is also the co-editor of Meanwhile, Elsewhere: Science Fiction and Fantasy From Transgender Writers which won the ALA Stonewall Barbara Gittings Literature Award, and has written for The New York Times, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, Maclean's, and them, among other publications.

This event is free and open to all people, especially to those who have no income or low income right now, but we encourage and appreciate a solidarity donation in support of the work of Charis Circle, our programming non-profit. Charis Circle's mission is to foster sustainable feminist communities, work for social justice, and encourage the expression of diverse and marginalized voices.

We will be archiving this event and adding closed captioning as soon as possible after airing so that it will be accessible to deaf and HOH people. If you have other accessibility needs or if you are someone who has skills in making digital events more accessible please don't hesitate to reach out to We are actively learning the best practices for this technology and we welcome your feedback as we begin this new way of connecting across distances.

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Event address: 
Margaret and the Mystery of the Missing Body Cover Image
ISBN: 9781952177804
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Amethyst Editions - September 14th, 2021

"A delightfully weird and very queer reimagining of 90s YA nostalgia." --Autostraddle

"Queer dynamite." --Kristen Arnett, author of Mostly Dead Things

We Are the Baby-Sitters Club: Essays and Artwork from Grown-Up Readers Cover Image
By Marisa Crawford (Editor), Megan Milks (Editor), Mara Wilson (Foreword by)
ISBN: 9781641604901
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Chicago Review Press - July 6th, 2021

“We Are the Baby-Sitters Club is the ultimate companion guide for a generation of devout superfans. This book revisits the beloved series through grown-up eyes—but never loses the magic we all felt the moment we cracked open a fresh new book.

Slug and Other Stories Cover Image
ISBN: 9781952177842
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Feminist Press - November 9th, 2021

"Carefully considered, successful instances of experimental fiction" disrupt gender, genre, and identity in this deranged, otherworldly collection (Literary Hub).

How to Wrestle a Girl: Stories Cover Image
ISBN: 9780374602796
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: MCD x FSG Originals - September 7th, 2021

A Paris Review Staff Pick and an Amazon Editors' Pick. Finalist for the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence and longlisted for the 2022 Joyce Carol Oates Prize.

Black Jesus and Other Superheroes: Stories (The Raz/Shumaker Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Fiction) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781496201867
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: University of Nebraska Press - September 1st, 2017

2018 PEN America Literary Award Winner–Los Angeles
 Winner of the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Fiction, Black Jesus and Other Superheroes chronicles ordinary people achieving vivid extrasensory perception while under extreme pain. The stories tumble into a universe of the jaded and the hopeful, in which men and women burdened with unwieldy an

A Dream of a Woman Cover Image
ISBN: 9781551528564
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Arsenal Pulp Press - September 21st, 2021

Little Fish Cover Image
ISBN: 9781551527208
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Arsenal Pulp Press - May 1st, 2018

WINNER, Lambda Literary Award; Firecracker Award for Fiction; $60,000 Amazon Canada First Novel Award

A Safe Girl To Love Cover Image
ISBN: 9781627290050
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Topside Press - May 5th, 2014

Eleven unique short stories that stretch from a rural Canadian Mennonite town to a hipster gay bar in Brooklyn, featuring young trans women stumbling through loss, sex, harassment, and love.

Event Summary: 
Charis welcomes three of the most exciting queer and trans writers working today for a conversation about bodies, girlhood, dysphoria, trauma, and so much more.