Katerina Stoykova on Culture, Gender, and Identity
Submitted on October 23, 2019
The Jo Shoop Lecture Series, sponsored by the Department of English, Women’s Studies, SWAGS (Student Women and Gender Society), and Sigma Tau Delta, began nearly two decades ago and each year provides the opportunity for students and others in the community to hear and engage fantastic authors.
On Tuesday, October 22, Georgetown College welcomed Katerina Stoykova to campus as the fall entry in the series. Stoykova, originally from Bulgaria, immigrated to the United States in 1995. She writes in both Bulgarian and English and has been published and won numerous awards in each language. Her first book of poetry The Air Around the Butterfly / Въздухът около пеперудата won the Pencho’s Oak Award, one of the most prestigious prizes in Bulgarian literature.
Her most recent book, Second Skin, details the horrors of growing up in and around domestic violence and focuses on the long-term effects of this upbringing. Heavily focused on how this violence, along with culture and gender, has defined her identity, Stoykova did not shy away from the harsher realities of domestic violence.
“The thing that is the most difficult to talk about is something we must talk about,” she said. Stoykova read several poems from Second Skin, each revealing a subtle truth from simple interactions, everyday objects, or intense memories.
The focus on domestic violence coincides with October being National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Stoykova’s work, both brave and candid, fully enraptured the audience throughout her reading and illuminated some very difficult truths on the subject.