Owens OutComm Student Media

Owens OutComm Student Media

Owens OutComm Student Media

Author Toni Jensen Engages Owens Community College with Powerful Discourse on Survival and Gun Violence

Jen Hazel
Author Toni Jensen speaking in the Center for Fine and Performing Arts on the Toledo-area campus on April 25, 2024.

On April 25th, Owens Community College welcomed acclaimed author Toni Jensen for a thought-provoking discussion on her latest book, Carry: A Memoir of Survival on Stolen Land. Jensen’s visit, organized by Owens’s BIG Read, provided students and faculty with an opportunity to delve into the complex themes of indigenous identity, trauma, and gun violence explored in her work.

During the event, Jensen discussed the genesis of Carry: A Memoir of Survival on Stolen Land and its exploration of everyday struggles with gun violence. “The book talks about out everyday struggle with gun violence,'” Jensen remarked, underscoring the importance of broadening the discourse surrounding gun violence beyond mass shootings. She emphasized the pervasive impact of everyday violence in American society, challenging audiences to rethink their understanding of the issue.

“If you think that since someone has survived something and that it’s finite, then you’re wrong, since it’s not finished in your mind,” Jensen shared during her talk, prompting moments of introspection among the audience.

In Carry: A Memoir of Survival on Stolen Land, Jensen offers a poignant reflection on her experiences growing up as an indigenous woman in rural Iowa, navigating a landscape marked by both personal triumphs and profound loss. Through a series of interconnected essays, she explores the intersection of indigenous rights, environmentalism, and the enduring legacy of colonial violence.

Jensen shared insights into her creative process and the importance of reclaiming narratives of resilience and survival. Following the discussion in the Center for Performing Arts Theatre on the Toledo-area campus, attendees had the opportunity to meet Jensen during a book signing session in the rotunda. Later in the day, the author hosted a writing workshop for students, before heading to the Findlay-area campus for a talk and to sign books.

Students at the Toni Jensen Writing Workshop. (Cory Hoover)

Jensen’s visit left a lasting impact on the Owens community, inspiring continued dialogue and action in the pursuit of justice and healing. For more information regarding Toni Jensen’s work, visit her website here.

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About the Contributor
Jen Hazel
Jen Hazel, Faculty Editor
Jen Hazel has been a Professor of English at Owens Community College for 16 years, and she hopes to be here for at least another 16!   In addition to her role as a Professor, she has led many projects and initiatives such as revamping the advising program; creating a new student orientation experience; developing campus student mentoring; leading a team in the creation of a co-requisite Composition I course with workshops for educators; and most recently, in conjunction with the manager of tutoring, implemented an embedded tutoring pilot Jen designed; created the Oregon Road Film Series, which includes the ORFS Film Challenge, where Rob Thomas is the co-pilot; leads a team of faculty to publish The Silo, a creative work journal for students and faculty, every spring; and finally, with the Library Director, developed and leads The BIG Read, which raises awareness of different perspectives through literature and accompanying activities across campus and in the surrounding communities. Jen is also the Humanities Department Program Director and designed three brand new certificates that began last fall--one of which is the Media Influencer Certificate! Even with all these projects, according to Jen, nothing is more amazing working with students to help them find their “Ah-ha!” moment. 

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