Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.

Her Addiction-An Empty Place At The Table: Book reading with Mary Sexon

September 24 @ 2:30 pm - 4:30 pm

Join us and author Mary Sexson for a reading of her new book of poetry “Her Addiction, An Empty Place at the Table.”
“The book is a collection of poems that came to be written in response to the family problem of addiction. I feel that the poems are a chronicle of the fear, shame, and anger we went through as a family, during the years of our daughter’s active drug use and addiction. I wrote these poems over the course of almost 10 years, as a way to cope with the pain of it, the absolute fear of it, which I processed and filtered through the lenses of these words. My husband and I were also taking care of our daughter’s young son during this time, because she was unable to care for him. I knew we were not alone, that the dark secret of addiction was present within many families. I wanted this book to be some sort of acknowledgement that yes, this happened to us. Maybe it happened to you. So we need to talk about it openly, to tell the truth about it, to let go of the secrets and the shame. Writing these poems helped to free me from those feelings, and ultimately helped to heal me from within. I want people to have a healing process reading these poems, even just to know that they’re not alone. And I want to acknowledge that the incredible road to recovery my daughter has journeyed on is also a part of that healing.”–Mary Sexson
Mary Sexson is author of the award-winning book, 103 in the Light, Selected Poems 1996-2000 (Restoration Press), and co-author of Company of Women, New and Selected Poems (Chatter House Press). Her poetry has appeared in Tipton Poetry Journal, Laureate, Hoosier Lit, Flying Island, New Verse News, Grasslands Review, and Last Stanza Poetry Journal, among others. She has recent work in Reflections on Little Eagle Creek, Anti-Heroin Chic, and Last Stanza Poetry Journal Issue #7. Finishing Line Press will publish her manuscript, Her Addiction, An Empty Place at the Table, in 2023. She has three Pushcart Prize nominations. Sexson’s poetry is part of the INverse Poetry Archives for Hoosier Poets.
“This is a poetry collection that will break your heart, but also make you grateful you read it. Mary Sexson tells the story of her daughter’s addiction(s) honestly, sometimes painfully, with grace and love. The first time I read the powerful and moving manuscript I sensed it could be a challenge for her to find a publisher. As the author of a book of poems about surviving abuse by a priest, however, I also had faith that some wise publisher would admire a poet who confronts difficult topics and stories like the one that Mary Sexson has the courage to tell about herself, her family, and their struggles. Sometimes she is patient, sometimes frustrated, impatient, exhausted, angry, but always she is honest. Remarkably, her love of, and loyalty to, her undependable daughter is everywhere evident.
The most moving part of the story is her and her husband’s having to raise their grandson, a toddler, while his mother, in her thirties, is in and out of treatment, somewhere in an alley looking for a fix, causing a traffic accident, or temporarily back home before relapsing again. Sexson makes it clear that for everyone in the family there is “a heavy toll to pay.” At first, the grandson is unaware of what’s going on, but eventually his grandmother observes him playing “The Dinosaur Game,” with “a family /of triceratops,” then realizes, “I buy him the dinosaurs / he configures / into the family he does not have.” Later the little boy asks his grandmother a series of questions, including: “Why is [my] mommy not here?” On his bedside table, a “Big Ironman” stands, whose job is “to keep him safe / until her return.”
It’s no surprise that the grandparents find it difficult to share this painful story with others, which makes the telling of so much truth in these eloquent poems noteworthy. “The price we all pay / for this level of intimacy is staggering,” Sexson admits. “I ache for monotony…the comfort of it.” In “Map of My Fears,” she says: “Your addiction draws lines / on my face, deep and distinct.” She becomes “tired of writing about [her] in my head.” Finally, the grandparents start to “whisper” the story of their daughter’s addiction, telling others the “facts / bare and ugly as they were.”
In the last poem, “The Words,” Sexson reveals all that she would like to be able to tell her daughter on her 37th birthday. The last message is this: “Tell her / that you learn the truth about love / every time you are with her.” The poet is too wise to tell us, directly, what that truth is – the poems in this outstanding collection deserving of a wide audience have already made us see and feel it. Mary Sexson’s exquisite artistry makes forgetting her family story impossible.”
–Norbert Krapf, Former Indiana Poet Laureate
“I’ve always appreciated the variety Mary Sexson brings to her writing. In the past she’s given us humor, other times practical advice, and often wise words. But more than anything she gives us herself. Mary is never afraid of letting us see the most sensitive moments of her life and now is no exception. She welcomes us into her private world where we can see “The indigo sky, color of my heart / today, blue tattooed across it. In this new book Her Addiction, An Empty Place at the Table, Mary has taken us into the nightmare of her daughter’s drug addiction. With these riveting poems we feel the weaving together of love and pain as she navigates the all too often calamities families suffer as the result of addiction. At the same time we feel her palpable longing for the coming of relentlessly gained joy in her daughter’s recovery.”
–Joyce Brinkman, Indiana Poet Laureate 2002-2008


September 24
2:30 pm - 4:30 pm
Event Categories:


Tube Factory artspace
1125 Cruft St.
Indianapolis, IN 46203 United States
+ Google Map