A Conversation with Dean Kostos, author of “ Learning to Levitate: A Memoir of Bullying, Suicide & Survival”, May 2, 2013
I’ve known Dean for many years so when I heard he’d started an Indiegogo project to raise money to finish his memoir I knew I wanted to get him back on Graffiti to talk about it as soon as possible.
Last Fall when he was on the show to talk about Rivering, his most recent volume of poetry, I asked him what was next he told me that he had another book of poetry that was very near to completion and the memoir he’d been working on for some time. At the time I remember thinking what could Dean possibly have to tell folks in a memoir. He is one of the most even-keeled, gentle people I know. So it was a bit of a shock when I opened up the link to his Indiegogo project and read the book’s title: Learning to Levitate: A Memoir of Bullying, Suicide & Survival.
Here’s an excerpt:
I didn’t know what made them hate me, but knew it was my fault. I studied myself, trying to identify what despicable thing I said, did, or gave off like an odor, so I could stop doing it. I could no longer simply be, like other kids. Unchecked, my revolting behavior—my crazy-germs—would make kids attack me. And who could blame them? I tried to uproot everything wrong with me. But even when I thought I’d succeeded, my behavior and voice provoked mockery and threats.
Listen tonight as Dean speaks with great candor about an incredibly difficult period in his life and about the need to keep the discussion about bullying and teen suicide open and active.
Here is a segment from Dean’s Indiegogo site:
Why this book is needed
Week after week, month after month, the faces of bullied teens who have taken their lives appear in the news and then, seemingly, vanish. I am haunted by them; their wraithlike faces won’t let me forget them. Although adolescent suicide has reached epidemic levels, we as a country still turn our backs on this problem. Nothing important has ever changed in our society without dialogue; this is no different. My memoir will act as a catalyst for dialogue to bring an end to this ongoing tragedy, which remains as urgent now as it was when I was a teen. According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “For youths between the ages of 10 and 24, suicide is the third leading cause of death. 81% of the deaths were males and 19% are females.”
Another report from the CDC asserts:
LGBT youth are also at increased risk for suicidal thoughts and behaviors, suicide attempts, and suicide. A nationally representative study of adolescents in grades 7–12 found that lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth were more than twice as likely to have attempted suicide as their heterosexual peers.
However, the characters in Learning to Levitate are neither statistics nor sound bites. They are compelling personalities who will lodge in the reader’s heart, making the reader care about them, and by extension, this crisis.
Let’s help Dean push past his goal.