When the Greensboro Bound Author Selection Committee began meeting in August 2017, we had the conscious purpose of creating a festival which included diverse voices across gender, race, sexual orientation, and economic category.
What does it mean to write, and to read, from within a marginalized community in today’s America? How can writers meet the challenges presented by the publishing industry and world around them? What does it mean to be an artist and a member of these communities?
This series of panels will explore these questions, and more, from a variety of perspectives.
Saturday, 11:15 am Hyers Theater, Cultural Arts Center
“Early in 2015, Marcelo Hernandez Castillo, Javier Zamora, and I founded the Undocupoets Campaign. We noticed that many first book prizes in the United States required their applicants to be U.S. citizens. We started a petition, signed by various people in the literary community, asking that undocumented poets be allowed to apply for these contests. The Undocupoets Campaign did lead to more open submission policies, but it did not put an end to discrimination against undocumented poets in many capacities. There is still work to do.
In the summer of 2015, Southern Humanities Review asked Marcelo, Javier, and me to curate works by undocumented writers for an online feature. This feature celebrates the lives and the resistance of nine undocumented writers from an array of experiences and writing styles. Throughout this feature, there is a grappling with nationhood, assimilation, separation from home and family, love and tenderness and war, resistance and survival.
I have learned so much from the undocumented communities that surround me.”
-from Introduction by Christopher Soto, Southern Humanities Review
Transgender/Gender Fluid Writers Panel
Sunday, 1:00 pm, UpStage Cabaret, Triad Stage
“As a trans writer, I discovered after the publication of my debut novel that I got two general kinds of reader response. The first (and preferred kind) went: Thank you so much for your beautiful book. When I read in the author notes that you are transgender, it put the story into a whole new light. My ______ (a term for friend or relative) recently came out to me as ______ (a label somewhere on the LGBT spectrum), and seeing that you are trans helped me understand my ______ a little bit more.
The second kind of response went: I read your book and enjoyed it, but I wish you hadn’t shared the fact that you are trans. That’s the sort of thing that you should keep to yourself. I bet more people would read your book if they didn’t know you were trans.
These letters seem to me to sum up an impossible dichotomy that the reading public, and the public in general, asks of transgender people: to be hyper-visible and invisible all at once.”
-Transgender writer Alex Myers, Writing While Trans, Huffington Post
Contemporary Muslim Writing Beyond Politics
Saturday, 3:15 pm, Hyers Theater, Cultural Arts Center
“That, however, is not the reason why it is dangerous to begin with the subjective; that danger is seeded in the fact that in writing while Muslim, my commitment to the secular and the rational is already considered suspect. To open with the story of experiencing that “othering” gaze in a Paris Metro years ago can reinforce the idea that Muslims globally are an irrational group, people in need of modernization and secularization, that they cannot make arguments based on reason, and cannot consequently recognize the necessity of the absolute freedom of speech.”
-Rafia Zakaria, Writing While Muslim: The Freedom to Be Offended, Los Angeles Review of Books
Sunday, 3:30 pm, Nussbaum Room, Guilford Central Library
“At first, I wrote to make sense of experiences, like why my father prayed to a candy dish and why I stole money as a teenager and why the brutal death of the transgender teen Gwen Araujo haunted me. Writing provided me with a starting point for unraveling feelings and facts and perceptions and cultural commentaries. And then, while writing, I realized I was also reaching for love y cariño, for a way to love the broken places of my life and my community’s. And by the time I finished the book, I knew I’d done it for my younger self, that 16-year-old girl in New Jersey who didn’t have a book like this.”
– Daisy Hernandez, Interview, The Rumpus
Saturday, 4:30 pm, Hyers Theater, Cultural Arts Center
“…In Whatever Light Left to Us is a collection of poems about the two poets’ [Jacobs’ and Brown’s] marriage. To write that, Jacobs said, she had to understand how she came to be her adult self. So she excavated her adolescence.
There was another motivation, too: Jacobs came to terms with her sexuality early on, she says, but she still recalls the loneliness of growing up gay in conservative central Florida. Even today, she knows young people can have the same isolating experience. She’d like them to have the reading material she didn’t, and to know that everything is going to turn out OK. Beyond that, she knows elements of her adolescent experiences were universal.”
– Jessica Jacobs, Interviewed in Creative Loafing.
View the full program here.