Our stay at Mile Post 5 has been a phenomenal experience. We have enjoyed having a large space to ourselves in which we’ve been able to not only exhibit the entire (and continually expanding) collection of books, but create a space where we’ve hosted readings, offered writing workshops, provided room for meetings, and enabled writers and artists of color to interact with each other, as well as the local community. Here’s an overview of what' we’ve done this summer.Read More
Summer is dwindling, the air is forest-fire smoke-hazy, the country's news cycle continues to exhaust and infuriate, and we here continue to believe in the (both) urgent and timeless need for books, art, reading, poetry, sharing, and for representation, and spaces that allow us respite - yet through continuing and thoughtful engagement - from/with the chaotic rest of the world. As I write this now, it is an August afternoon and I am sitting in the quiet of our library…Read More
Thanks to the generosity of Artists Milepost, we'll be in residency there from mid May to late July. Our opening event will be on May 12 at 6pm. Through these three months, the exhibit space will be open as a reading library, workspace, and venue for 4 days a week, with the occasional weekend events. We are expanding our archive and hope to have over 500 books available for visitors to read.Read More
It's been a busy few weeks since AWP, but we wanted to share some of the books we brought back to add to De-Canon's growing archive, as well as books we recently received as donations.Read More
This is a conversation interview conducted by Dao Strom, new editor of diaCRITICS, with Viet Thanh Nguyen, author, founder and publisher of diaCRITICS. Read more about what Nguyen has to say about diaspora, identity, and the unique "double burden" of making art as a "minority" person amid or between "majority" cultures.
...I’m of the belief that anything a Vietnamese artist does is inherently Vietnamese, but is also something else–that it can be and should be universal too. The challenge for us is that, as minorities, we always labor under the double burden of our specificity while attempting to prove our universality.Read More
Although De-Canon does not have a formal presence at AWP this year (that is, we didn't invest in a table), we will still have a presence of sorts. If you'd like to chat about the project, discuss past or future post topics for the blog, or want to learn more about how to have your own books included in the archive, stop by Table 1136 in the bookfair to find Neil who is representing Boxcar Poetry Review & Have Book Will Travel.Read More
In this post, we survey the landscape of literary journals and provide a listing of currently operating journals which are helmed by POC editors. In total, we found __ literary journals whose mastheads list a writer of color as their editor-in-chief. Many also feature additional associate editors and staff members who are also POC. Some of these journals have been around since the 70s, but many are newer online journals, having come into existence in the last 5 years.Read More
If we hope to truly challenge or reimagine literary canon, it is not enough to consider the academic programs where young writers are taught and trained. We must look beyond the classroom and the professoriate, past endless reams of syllabi making and remaking what constitutes canon, and consider the practical matter of how these texts enter the field in the first place. In this post, we present a list of POC-helmed presses that are currently in operation.Read More
Although the field of literary publishing is still primarily populated by white editors and publishers, there are some POC-owned and directed publishers and a number of new and well-established poetry book prizes that are judged by respected POC authors and which seek to champion work of writers from particular communities of color. If you're a POC poet with a book manuscript in need of a home, here's a list of upcoming contests you might want to tryRead More
Over the past week and a half, we've been gathering images of POC writers and their libraries, as well as asking readers and writers of color to contribute their thoughts on the importance of building a personal library and how books by other POC writers have impacted their lives.
This post showcases responses from and glimpses into the libraries of Kazim Ali, Francisco Aragón, Jackson Bliss, Genève Chao, Shu-Ling Chua, Oliver de la Paz, M. Evelina Galang, Nathania Gilson, Jenna Le, Gemma Mahadeo, Meera (@ashmeera101), and Brian W. Parker.Read More
On the radar -- Mimi Mondal explores the history of South Asian speculative fiction for science fiction and fantasy publishing blog, Tor.Read More
It's hard to explain exactly why having a personal library is so valuable -- and why it is particularly valuable to a person of color (writer or reader) to build a library for oneself. Here are a few ways of thinking about the value and purpose of a personal library -- and what it can enable in ourselves.Read More
As we explore the topic of alternate routes of mentorship for writers, we will also offer here from time to time announcements and profiles of writer-mentors and their workshop offerings. Below is an announcement of a cyber-workshop being offered by award-winning poet Hoa Nguyen, who was born in Vietnam and currently resides in Canada.Read More
Over the past few months, we've explored POC mentorship at writing retreats and residencies, as well as studied and surveyed graduate creative writing programs in the US to determine where faculty of color are teaching and who teaches where (and what). All of this is helpful if you have the time and resources to invest in attending a program or retreat -- but sometimes that's not always possible. What then? Where do you find a mentor or coach?Read More
Here, De-Canon speaks to Anna Vo, musician, artist, zine-maker and publisher, and community organizer of IntersectFest, a festival from artists of color, which is in its third year of programming and takes place this year from December 8-10, at Ford Food & Drink and other locations around Portland.
1) In a few words, what is IntersectFest?
... It is an effort to center the narratives of people of color in Portland, and exhibit the work of artists of color from Portland and elsewhere. It is a refusal to submit to a narrative of whiteness being centered in Portland. ...Read More
A couple years ago, I went to see a reading at Powell’s bookstore on Hawthorne, in my hometown of Portland, Oregon. The reading was for the debut novel of an acquaintance and colleague I’d been in shared circles with for years through an organization called Diasporic Vietnamese Artists Network (DVAN). I also was a contributing writer to an arts and culture blog this novelist had founded.
At Powell’s that night, myself and the friend I’d invited were the only Asian people in attendance and there were not more than fifteen people total in the audience. The novelist, a university professor specializing in topics having to do with cinema and the Vietnam War, showed a montage of clips from famous American movies depicting the Vietnam era, then went on to critique the dehumanizing representation of Vietnamese (and other Asians) in such movies. The scene he read from his novel satirically depicted said dynamics. It was discomfiting, a little, to witness this presentation being given in front of a small crowd of mostly white people, but I was glad to see it being done. ...Read More
Our August exhibit at UNA Gallery featured 334 books by writers of color, 270 of which were purchased for the collection or donated by authors or presses, and the remaining 64 were loaned to the collection for the exhibit by Dao Strom, Neil Aitken, and another local writer. The following list is not intended to be final or exhaustive, but instead to offer a snapshot as to where we are -- and hopefully inspire others to try some new titles or revisit old favorites. We will continue to add to our archive and will provide updated lists in the new year.Read More
August 2017 Closing Thoughts:
De-Canon: A Visibility Project launched in August 2017, with a month-long popup library exhibit at UNA Gallery in Portland, Oregon. We held events every week throughout the month and were joined by many other artists, writers, and artist groups in our community, all artists and writers of color. Our month of events and happenings showcased the multiplicity of voices, talents, views, and the sheer creativity and strength of the POC creative community in Portland. We are proud, grateful, humbled, delighted to have had the chance to create space for these interactions.
We owe thanks to many for contributions: Precipice Fund Grant/PICA; UNA Gallery (brilliantly run by Mercedes Orozco and Blair Crissman); book donations from Wave Books, Tin House, Octopus Books, Sundress Publications, YesYes Books; to Kevin Sampsell at Powell's for featuring a De-Canon display shelf in the bookstore; and to all the authors who donated their own books (Hoa Nguyen, Stephanie Adams-Santos, Cindy Williams Gutierrez, we will keep adding names here...); and to the contributors who helped us create our "de-canonizing" lists. We will be assembling those "de-canon" lists of contributors on the De-Canon website soon. We also appreciate the press and blog posts by the Mercury, Portland Monthly, Literary Arts, Oregon Arts Watch, and AWP Writer's Notebook.
Gratitude and recognition to all the presenters and participating artists and writers: Moved By Words; White Noise Project; Unlearning Podcast (Béalleka, Jeff Jaeckle); Physical Education (Taka Yamamoto, Lu Yim, Allie Hankins, keyon gaskin); and all the poets, asemic & visual artist-poets, and musicians: Samiya Bashir, Sam Roxas-Chua, Roland Dahwen Wu, Stacey Tran, Jonathan Raissi, Stephanie Adams-Santos, Christopher Rose, Jake Vermaas, Neil Aitken, Shayla Lawson, Trevino Brings Plenty, Anna Vo, Tron 444, Dao Strom, Amy Temple Harper, Claudia F. Savage, Skyler Reed, Consuelo Wise, Amy Lam, Alyssa Ogi, Rachel Springer.
We had such a powerhouse lineup of artists sharing their creative gifts in this space with us in August, and all of this is testament to the currents running through us all :: thank you thank you.
& a very special thanks to Kyle Macdonald, who designed and built all of our book boxes, all from recycled and reclaimed wood.
The poem "Thoughts On a Summer Exhibit" was made for De-Canon by Sam Roxas-Chua, inspired by our opening night event. He has kindly given us permission to re-print it here.
We will soon post a book index listing the books that were part of our August exhibit.
AWP: Compiling a list like this is a big commitment of time and effort. What compelled you to take on this work?
Neil Aitken: In some sense, this felt like the natural next step in the series of posts I’ve been writing and compiling for De-Canon: A Visibility Project. After compiling last month’s list which assembled all the books, articles, essays, and lectures I could find by writers of color on craft, I began wondering how many (if any) of these texts were being used in graduate creative writing classrooms—and who taught in those classrooms?Read More