Lots o’ talk in e-world re: VIDA article on gender disparity in various aspects of the publishing industry. As a general rule, I agree that women are underrepresented. More so, I believe women of color are underrepresented in the publishing industry. Much has to do with falling through the cracks, or being compelled to choose between alliances: of color or woman?
In truth, I haven’t participated as a student or attendee in any of these summer writing programs and community arts workshops. When I first heard of VONA, many years ago, I wanted to apply, but then, never could afford it. I understand we budget and prioritize what is most important. At that point in my writing life and education, finishing college and working at my job full time were on the plate. Then I found myself in grad school, which I attended unfunded. And then I was pulled into a whirlwind of author events, discussing process and publishing, teaching poetry in various workshops and academic settings, so my time as a student ended abruptly enough. This summer, the Foothill Writers’ Conference at Foothill College on the peninsula didn’t happen due to funding issues; I am really sad about this. It was, for students, very affordable, CA community college rates, and small enough to have that one on one time with the instructors. For one of my manuscript workshops, I had one student show up, a young Pinay, and so she and I worked on a couple of her poems and rapped about what to read, and about being Pinay in poetry for 90 minutes or so. I thought this was awesome. As well, the professor who’d invited me in the first place had told me the students had such positive feedback for me as an instructor.
It’s been a learning process, entering so many different classroom spaces; I am very interested in attendees’ and students’ lines of questioning,what they make apparent as their concerns, what things in my presentations they hone in on, even the energy in a classroom into which I am brought as a guest speaker, and what the writing fellows and teachers of various writing programs have to say about their experiences there. What I am learning is that there is so much apprehension and anxiety about entering into the publishing world. Let me step back and first say there is so much apprehension and anxiety about entering into workshop spaces. It’s the sharing of writing in progress, or the admission that the writing is not yet fully realized that I think lends to this apprehension and anxiety. How to deal with criticism, how to sort through it in order to figure out what’s helpful, what will fortify and refine, finish the writing, how to do this and not forget the original impetus behind the writing.
On the Poetry Foundation blog, Craig Santos Perez has conducted a great interview with John Murillo, who is the author of Up Jump the Boogie, newly released by Cypher Books, whose growing catalog I’ve really been enjoying. Here is a noteworthy excerpt from the interview:
There are several formal poems in your book, and I was especially interested in your sestinas. What draws you to this form?
… In general, form is a way for me to learn. Each form has the potential to teach something about composing that you couldn’t get anywhere else. Sonnets, for instance, teach you how to pace, how to turn and pivot, set up and reveal, an argument or narrative. You learn about line and compression and waste when you have only a few syllables to work with. A set meter. Haiku teaches compression as well, integrity of image. Pantoums and villanelles teach you to respect the line as unit–if you write one bad line, it’ll come back at least once to bite you in the ass–and so on. Finally, I consider it part of the necessary apprenticeship one must serve–that one should feel honored to serve–in order to enter into this guild. I really do consider this a sacred tradition, this being a poet. One should want to study.
My 14th post is up at the Poetry Foundation blog. Actually, I’ve happily given over the space to Craig Santos Perez’s review of Tara Betts’s debut poetry collection Arc & Hue. An excerpt:
The funniest poem is an interactive piece titled “A Survey on Enjoying Verse.” One of the survey questions asks where the reader last heard poetry read aloud (“please mark YES or NO” with a “No. 2 Pencil only”):
4. Alone in a smoky bar while wishing your sorry ass lover would take you back.
5. At a poetry slam since that’s how you get to go on tour and hawk the CDs you just burned and the chapbook with your picture on the front.
6. At a respected literary organization or conference so academes, publishers, and editors know you’re a REAL poet. (77)
I’ve never seen Betts alone in the smoky bar that I usually hang out in wishing my sorry ass lover would take me back; Betts’s picture nests modestly on the back cover of the book beneath blurbs by Martín Espada, Annie Finch, and Wanda Coleman; does anyone really consider AWP a “respected literary organization or conference”? For real, all one has to do is read Arc & Hue to know that Betts is a REAL poet. Not only does she write about a diverse range of expansive themes, but she also grounds these themes in her past and present experiences. The poems illuminate the smallest domestic moments (whether filled with violence or love) alongside larger cultural issues. While Betts writes mostly in free verse, this collection contains many well-crafted sonnets, a villanelle riff, a sestina, and a vibrant canzone.
OCHO 16: MiPOesias Magazine Print Companion
Guest Edited by Barbara Jane Reyes
Featuring: Tara Betts, Brian Dean Bollman, Ching-In Chen, Sasha Pimentel Chacón, Linh Dinh, Sarah Gambito, Jessica Hagedorn, Jaime Jacinto, Nathaniel Mackey, Craig Santos Perez, Matthew Shenoda, Jennifer K. Sweeney, Truong Tran, Dillon Westbrook, Debbie Yee
Cover Art: “Imperialism, 24″ by Juan Carlos Quintana.
Buy your copy here.