Continuing on from yesterday’s post, and the conversation Rachelle Cruz and I are having in that post’s comments section, I wanted to think about publishing venues for women of color. I also want to think about publishing venues by women of color for women of color. Rachelle brought up Aunt Lute, the multicultural women’s press, not specifically a WOC venue, nor is it run by WOC. BUT. Aunt Lute gave us Gloria Anzaldúa’s Borderlands/La Frontera, and I can’t imagine this world without this volume in it. Aunt Lute and Gloria Anzaldúa also gave us Making Face, Making Soul, and I am wondering about the current viability of a volume of creative and critical WOC perspectives.
Aunt Lute, Nick Carbó, and Eileen Tabios also gave us Babaylan, the first major book in which I was ever published. This was a big deal. A Really Big Deal. At the time, I did not know whether I was publishable (At the time, I didn’t even know if I could graduate from college), nor did I know whether my work was teachable. The thing about anthology is that being included in one, you tend to feel as if you’re a part of a community. I know anthology is all about politics. I know anthology is also derided, because it’s about politics. I know that if I were to propose any kind of anthology now, it’d be rife with politics. I don’t know how to get around that but to try my best to be clear about those politics and inclusion and exclusion. I also know for sure, that as an emerging writer back in the day, I needed the kind of validation and/or affirmation that came with being included, and published in Babaylan.
Now, speaking of woman of color publishing venues, what ever happened to Norma Alarcón’s Third Woman Press, which is one of the early presses that gave us Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Dictee, as well as This Bridge Called My Back, edited by Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa.
First, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the two presses I mention here are/were both Bay Area based. That’s my bias; but it also reminds me of my undergrad years at Berkeley, and being surrounded and so intimidated by this woman of color movement, so angry and radical! So uncompromising! And I was so reticent, insecure, and intimidated (also very tiny and very goth), precisely because I needed that movement in my life in a major way, personally, politically, poetically. I needed these women and their works to smack me (figuratively) into standing up for myself, and speaking for myself.
Also, I wonder who is doing this now in publishing, publishing both creative and critical writings by WOC, about WOC, for WOC. If no one, then can we do this? Or has this time passed? Are we WOC all subsumed into other spaces, or too diverse or too divided to come together now?