'This is a humane, thought-provoking and heart-breaking addition to our understanding of individual and collective suffering. It effortlessly combines unflinching memoir with cultural commentary, literary allusions and exhaustive research.'
—Books + Publishing
'Atkinson takes a fictocritical approach to her story, a technique that marries the arts of the scholar and the poet, bringing a lyrical grace to writing born of deep research. Traumata steers a fragmentary, non-linear course through memories, textual analysis, and Atkinson’s lucid and meticulous explanation of trauma’s systemic, cyclical patterns. This is a great service to readers, as the book also works as a scrupulously careful guide and introduction to many helpful resources, from the academic to the popular.'
—Sydney Review of Books
'Traumata is a sense-making project, or rather the summary of Atkinson's life-long effort at sense-making. Interspersing research into trauma, memory and psychology with explorations of her personal traumata - the plural of trauma - she presents an incisive case study of trauma's effects, how it can compound at an individual level, and how it operates in society. Though it incorporates memoir, research, analysis of current events and even the occasional poem, the book is most accurately a cultural excavation. Its genre-blending makes it tricky to categorise. Call it whatever Maggie Nelson's The Argonauts is...Atkinson's personal narrative comes together in pieces, the way she herself had to piece together her memories as an adult. This fractured approach achieves powerful clarity within page-turning tension.'
—The Weekend Australian
'This is not a dystopic nightmare, but a beautifully written and strangely hopeful book about terrible things. And the hope comes in part from a sense of inexhaustible struggle.'
'It’s an unrelenting, intricate and necessary work. I feel it’s a book written for me, and I don't know how to begin processing that feeling.'
—The Lifted Brow
'Atkinson's exploration is much more kaleidoscopic than the cover suggests. While the familial bonds and betrayal hinted at in these pictures are evident in the book, the author is chiefly concerned with what lies outside the frame: namely, the social forces that shape our lives and our intimate relationships.'
—Australian Book Review
'Atkinson writes beautifully about the passions of youth...with meditations on Nietzsche, Tony Robbins, #metoo, Camille Paglia, 9/11 and much else besides...the book raises fascinating and important issues.'
—The Sydney Morning Herald
'Atkinson has painstakingly anatomised the complexities of her various traumas, naming them with the help of contemporary trauma theory and connecting them to the most urgent social and political questions of our time.'
—The Saturday Paper
‘An extraordinary journey through darkness, Traumata emerges bravely into a landscape of hope.’
‘Traumata traces a light over the dark and recovers a broken world. Inside the burning sentences are feelings that are like tiny illuminating life forms; the writing is alive with compassion.’
‘Meera Atkinson tells a powerful story with unflinching honesty and forensic curiosity.’
—Julianne Schultz AM FAHA
The Poetics of Transgenerational Trauma (2017)
'Atkinson demonstrates a rich sense for affective activity in texts whose very production, considering the position the writer must take on when chronicling trauma, would leave others baffled. The Poetics of Transgenerational Trauma is an insightful companion to be taken up in one’s reading of familial trauma—a book that may shape not only the treatment of texts on this subject but the worlds in which they circulate as well.'
—Studies in 20th & 21st Century Literature
'The Poetics of Transgenerational Trauma offers a compelling argument for the importance of literary testimony in grappling with what Atkinson calls the ‘cyclical haunting’ (22) of trauma.'
'As transgenerational trauma is rooted in patriarchy, Atkinson maintains that literature, particularly that written by women, plays a vital role in not only exposing the trauma that all kinds of violence creates, but also in calling to attention the open wounds that are still raw. ‘Traumatic affect rumbles, spills, bursts forth, erupts, leaks, emits, fumes, whispers, screams, and acts from its restless grave, because at the deepest level it seeks recognition,’ she writes. ‘It demands witnessing and memorial and it haunts until it gets it’ (p. 131).
'... because of the density of the theoretical concepts used, this volume certainly requires attention from its readers, but Atkinson, as a professor of creative writing and a published literary writer, uses her skills to create a powerful and memorable text.'
—Modern Language Review
'Not since For Your Own Good: The Roots of Violence in Childrearing have I encountered a book that politicises familial violence and provides routes into and out of the traumatic and traumatising arrangements of forces, which are routinely part of family lives. The Poetics of Transgenerational Trauma is a feminist experiment and encounter, staging literary testimonies of trauma and relational violence at the dynamic intersection of affect and trauma studies, and subject, text and society. It is inventive, urgent, important and highly original. Meera Atkinson helps to define a new genre of writing that transfigures the lived experience of violence captured in literary testimonies into an urgent political category that captivates and allows the proliferation of new visibilities and intelligibilities.’
—Lisa Blackman, Co-Head of Media and Communications Department, Goldsmiths, University of London, UK
‘Breaking through the collective denial of the social effects of increased family and partner violence, The Poetics of Transgenerational Trauma develops close readings of literary texts that figure the 'cyclical haunting' of familial trauma. Atkinson’s book makes a strong case for using the sensory intimacy of literature as a tool to overcome the communicative impasse of traumatic silences. It mobilizes a feminist perspective to explore the intersections of body studies and affect theory and makes a timely contribution to trauma studies and theory as well as literary studies.’
—Gabriele Schwab, Chancellor's Professor of Comparative Literature, University of California, Irvine, USA
‘The Poetics of Transgenerational Trauma is a theoretically robust, fluently written argument for the importance of ‘literary testimony’ and will quickly establish itself as necessary reading for scholars interested in the relationship of poetics, trauma and witnessing. Its commitment to interdisciplinary reading is a clear strength, showing especially in its engagement with questions of the environment and non-human animals.’
—Jane Kilby, Senior Lecturer in English and Cultural Studies, University of Salford, UK