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Voicing a Cause: Tavia Gilbert

Let Me Stand Alone Audi0

Honoring the message & mission of Rachel Corrie, narrator Tavia Gilbert’s FREE audiobook Let Me Stand Alone:The Journals of Rachel Corrie is a perfect example of how craft & cause can merge into a marvelous reflection of humanity. If you’ve missed other examples of this occasional focus on Audiobooker, please check out the passion of Dion Graham, Xe Sands, and Debra & Bob Deyan, all members of the audiobook community with causes that matter. I am especially honored to feature Tavia’s reflections on the life of Rachel Corrie during the same week that her audiobook memoir is available for FREE through SYNC – but for one week only, so download now! You can learn more about Tavia, a narrator and a producer of solo and multi-voice audiobooks, in this Audiobooker post. Listen to Edward Asner talk about his experience about narrating the introduction, along with Tavia’s reactions here, and scroll down to the bottom of the interview to see a video of Tavia in the recording booth.

Please tell us about your involvement in this cause, Tavia.

My attention was drawn to Rachel Corrie’s story some years ago when my parents heard Rachel’s parents, Craig and Cindy Corrie, speak about the grim reality of day-to-day life for the Palestinian people, and their daughter Rachel’s tragic and unnecessary death in 2003, when she was crushed by an Israeli bulldozer while working as a human rights observer in the Gaza strip. I became aware that Alan Rickman, the iconic film actor, had edited Rachel’s writings to craft a one-person show called My Name is Rachel Corrie, then discovered that Rachel’s parents had edited and published a book-length collection of her journal entries, written from the age of ten years until just days before her death.

When I learned that the collection of Rachel’s contemplations had never been put into audio, I felt strongly that it must be recorded. Rachel was remarkably clear-thinking from her very earliest years about the privilege of being a middle-class, white, educated American, and she was troubled by the fact that not everyone in the world lived with the safety and abundance she did, and she wrote beautifully, passionately, and intelligently about her meditations on privilege, her feelings of personal responsibility for perpetuating injustice and taking action against it, and her desire to substantively make the world a more peaceful and fairer place. And I felt that I was the right person to record the book, because the parallels between Rachel’s and my life were striking — we were roughly the same age; we both grew up in the West; we were both writers; we had both often felt like outsiders in the culture and community in which we were raised; and from a very early age, we were both very aware of and sensitive to pain and suffering and injustice.

I reached out to the Corries to introduce myself and to ask for their permission to record the book. They were incredibly gracious, grounded, generous, and devoted people, and I was so honored when the eventually agreed to allow me to record their beloved daughter’s words. I asked Ed Asner, a friend and a long-time advocate for Palestinian sovereignty, to record Craig Corrie’s introduction to Rachel’s book, which is called Let Me Stand Alone. The Maine Arts Commission offered me grant funding, and then Blackstone Audio agreed to distribute the book. I am very proud of the work, which I recorded exactly ten years after Rachel was killed. Recording her words on the ten-year anniversary of her death was very difficult, moving, humbling. I felt both the joy of being connected to her unique and beautiful spirit, as well as fresh grief at her loss.

Why have you chosen to go public with your involvement in this effort?

It grieves me to know that had Rachel lived, she would have done notable and powerful social justice work and become a well-known and beloved writer. I think her contribution to the planet would have been enormous, and the fact that her life was cut so short — she was only 23 when she died — was a loss to us all. My work was to bring Rachel’s voice to life and, I hope, to share her magnificent heart and mind and consciousness with new audiences. It was the least I could do to honor Rachel, her family, the people who continue to advocate for human rights, safety, dignity, and justice for the Palestinians, and the Palestinian men, women, and child to whom Rachel was so devoted and compassionate.

How can other members of the audiobook community – listeners, fans, professionals – become involved and help?

The community can listen to Rachel’s remarkable story, Let Me Stand Alone, as well as educating themselves about the surreal and needless cruelty and apartheid inflicted upon the Palestinian people. Those are strong words, but to call the violence against and degradation of the Palestinians anything else would be disingenuous and divorced from reality.

Thank you for sharing your passion for this project, Tavia! Get to know Tavia better in the video below…




About the Author:

Mary Burkey is an independent library consultant in Columbus (OH). An enthusiastic audiophile, she has served on all four of ALA's audiobook award committees as well as the Audies. In addition to writing the "Voices in My Head" column for Booklist, she is the author of Audiobooks for Youth: A Practical Guide to Sound Literature (ALA, 2013). Follow her on Twitter at @mburkey.

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