My Awesome Place by Cheryl Burke
The Autobiography of Cheryl B

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The Autobiography of Cheryl B
A rare authentic glimpse into the electrifying arts scene of New York City's East Village during the vibrant 1990s, My Awesome Place is the chronicle of a movement through the eyes of one young woman working to cultivate her voice while making peace with her difficult and often abusive family.

"A posthumously published autobiography from New York-based poet, journalist, performer and playwright Burke (known professionally as Cheryl B), who died last year at age 38. The author first became well-known as part of the New York spoken-word performance scene of the 1990s, and she remained a vital voice in the downtown literary world, contributing to many magazines and journals such as Bust and Go Magazine, as well as several anthologies. After her death in 2011, her partner, Kelli Dunham, and members of Burke's writing group helped put together Burke's working draft of her autobiography. Born in 1972 and raised in New Jersey, Burke had a difficult childhood, dealing with obesity and her psychologically and, in her father's case, physically abusive parents. Her escape to New York to attend NYU allowed her to blossom into an artist--reading poetry onstage helped her access her "awesome place"--but her new freedom came with other problems, including drug abuse, a series of unhealthy relationships with women and men, and later, a severe alcohol problem. Burke eventually got sober and regained a handle on her life. In a touching afterword, Dunham describes Burke finally finding stability in a relationship, only to be blindsided by a diagnosis of Hodgkin lymphoma in 2010. A rare and unchecked complication of her treatment irreversibly damaged her lungs, leading to her death the following year. While this memoir gives readers a rounded picture of Burke's emotional life, as well as a nuanced portrait of her dysfunctional family, her art gets relatively short shrift. Barely any of her poetry appears in the text, and she writes almost nothing about her creative process or her views on her own art or that of others. Bracingly honest and insightful throughout, particularly about family relationships and what it felt like to be young in NYC in the '90s." - Kirkus Reviews
 

About Cheryl Burke

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CHERYL BURKE is the only professional dancer to appear four times in the finals of ABC's top-rated show Dancing with the Stars; she is a two-time back-to-back champion. She owns two dance studios in California.
 
Published October 23, 2012 by Topside Signature. 250 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Gay & Lesbian. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for My Awesome Place

Kirkus Reviews

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A posthumously published autobiography from New York-based poet, journalist, performer and playwright Burke (known professionally as Cheryl B), who died last year at age 38.

Sep 25 2012 | Read Full Review of My Awesome Place: The Autobio...

Lambda Literary

(When Burke enters his room in her same clothes from the day before, he remarks, “You look like a $2 whore on sale for $1.50.”) And when Keith is diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, readers will feel a stab of irony—here’s the sister disease that will lead to Cheryl’s end, although none of the...

Nov 05 2012 | Read Full Review of My Awesome Place: The Autobio...

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