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.