The Wheeler Centre
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Sarah Sentilles: Draw Your Weapons
Sarah Sentilles digs into our world’s most brutal and profound instincts with critic and writer Maria Tumarkin.
Across four books, and the striking Drone Alerts project, Sentilles has plumbed questions of spirituality and absolution, life and death. In Draw Your Weapons, Sentilles turns her eye to art and war; metaphor and survival. How do we create, accept, understand and recover from violence? How do we live with it?
In a deft and genre-crossing exposition, Draw Your Weapons deploys ideas from memoir, criticism, journalism, literature, visual culture and theology. It centres on two people – one a former prison guard at Abu Ghraib, the other a conscientious objector to World War II – and the work of understanding suffering, and rediscovering dignity, through art. In breathless reviews, critics have likened it to Maggie Nelson or Susan Sontag, and labelled it transformative, fierce and brilliant. This conversation may just be, too.
A former theologian, Sarah Sentilles completed her undergraduate degree at Yale and both a Masters and a Doctorate at Harvard. She was a college professor for over a decade before becoming a full time writer and is now a passionate advocate for life lived by peace and principle. She is the author of Taught by America: A Story of Struggle and Hope in Compton, A Church of her Own: What Happens When A Woman Takes the Pulpit, Breaking Up With God: A Love Story, and Draw Your Weapons. She lives in Idaho.
Maria Tumarkin writes books, essays, reviews, and pieces for performance and radio; she collaborates with sound and visual artists and has had her work carved into dockside tiles. She is the author of four books of ideas. Her fourth (and latest) book Axiomatic won the 2018 Melbourne Prize for Literature and was shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Award (US), the Stella Prize, and the Prime Minister’s, NSW and Victorian Premiers’ Awards. Axiomatic was named a New Yorker Top 10 Book of 2019.
Maria is a recipient of the 2020 Windham Campbell Prize in the category of nonfiction. She holds a PhD in cultural history and is a senior lecturer in the creative writing program at the University of Melbourne.