Two new books by Flinders University’s Dean of Graduate Research, Professor Jeri Kroll, Vanishing Point and Workshopping the Heart, will be launched next Thursday (14 May) by the poet and speechwriter, Aidan Coleman, at the SA Writers’ Centre.
Vanishing Point, a crossover verse novel that follows a young woman’s struggle with anorexia and bulimia, and eventual recovery through her connection with horses, draws on Professor Kroll’s own experience of eating disorders and her great love of horses.
The work has already been adapted for the stage in the United States at George Washington University, directed by Professor Leslie Jacobson, who held a Senior Fulbright Fellowship in Drama at Flinders University, where she first met Professor Kroll.
Subsequently, it was one of eight winners selected for full production at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival in January 2015.
An optimistic work, Vanishing Point sees its central character, Diana, confront and eventually overcome some of the most dangerous symptoms of anorexia and bulimia.
“It’s a hopeful story in which its central character breaks out of a self-destructive cycle,” said Professor Kroll. “She moves from adhering to a self-imposed mythology of physical perfection, through anorexic and bulimic behaviours, to a place where she understands that she can only be emotionally happy and healthy if she is also physically healthy.
“Diana needs to learn to respect her body. Her childhood love of horses is reignited by an Irish racehorse trainer and her adult experiences with them help her to heal.
“Diana’s problems are exacerbated, if not caused, by pressure from her parents, who are oblivious to her self-harm simply because they don’t expect it or are too quick to choose to see her as happy because it suits them.
“Her older brother, who suffers from Down Syndrome, is both a source of love and frustration.”
Back in the real world, Professor Kroll hopes Diana’s story will connect with people suffering from eating disorders. Professor Tracey Wade, Dean of the School of Psychology, and an international expert on eating disorders, will speak at the launch.
“I believe that young people, as well as adults with eating disorders, will be able to identify with some of Diana’s behaviours, and understand why she chooses to control the only thing she feels she can – her body,” Professor Kroll said.
“Although this is not a happily ever after story, I hope that it realistically portrays some of the challenges facing young people and adults suffering from eating disorders and that they will respond to it.”
“That said, as a writer I want readers to be able to simply enjoy the language and story of Vanishing Point.”
The second publication, Workshopping the Heart, a collection of new and selected poems by Professor Kroll drawn from six previous books, begins with Death as Mr Right, which won second prize in the 1982 Anne Elder Award for best first poetry book in Australia.
Workshopping the Heart, published by Wakefield Press, and Vanishing Point, published by Puncher & Wattmann, will be launched on Thursday 14 May, from 6.00 pm to 8.00 pm, at the SA Writers’ Centre, 187 Rundle Street, Adelaide.
Special guest, Professor Tracey Wade, Dean of Psychology at Flinders University, will talk about eating disorders at the event. RSVP is essential by Monday 11 May via phone: (08) 8352 4455, or by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include ’RSVP Jeri Kroll launch’ in the subject line. Books will be on sale and wines will be served courtesy of Fox Creek Wines.