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
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
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
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
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
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
Here's the third and final post detailing the graduate faculty writers of color teaching in MA, MFA, and PhD programs in states Texas to Wyoming. As before, if I've missed anyone whose permanent faculty at in a graduate creative writing program, please let me know and I'll add them in. These posts are largely meant to help us all have a better perspective of what's out there, who's teaching where, and where you might go if you're hoping to work with a creative writing mentor who is also POC.Read More
This post continues our project of identifying who is teaching where when it comes to permanent creative writing faculty in MA, MFA, and PhD programs across the United States. As noted earlier, there's a good chance I've missed a few people (and possibly programs) -- please feel free to notify me if there are any glaring errors or omissions. This is intended as a snapshot of the current state of things (as of June 2017) -- people do move around and programs will hire more POC creative writing faculty, but at the very least we can get a glimpse of what's going on -- and hopefully this will be a good resource for anyone considering doing graduate work in creative writing.Read More
I think a big challenge for many writers considering an MFA or a PhD is trying to figure out where to go and who to study with. Often a young writer of color does not have easy access to information about programs or faculty who might be a good fit. Given the sheer number of possible programs, finding potential faculty mentors of color can be exhausting and discouraging. In an effort to remedy this in some small way, I've spent the last few weeks researching graduate creative writing programs, trying to build a snapshot of who is teaching where, and what genres are being covered in different programs.Read More
The desire to seek out a mentor is an old one. One of the classic tropes in Tang dynasty poetry is the scholar-official's unsuccessful attempt to visit a recluse, often with the intent to discuss poetry and/or enlightenment. In most of these cases, the seeker's encounter with absence becomes the occasion for relaying a conversation that never takes place. Rather than viewing such missed encounters with disappointment, the tone of these poems tends toward a strange peaceful reverie in the poet's momentary brush with enlightenment (see Paula S. Varsano's excellent critical piece on this tradition). Somehow in not finding the hermit, the seeker finds something else awakened and revealed in the awaiting silence.
For most of us, the failure to find the mentor we are seeking rarely translates into an epiphany about what we are trying to do or become as writers. Instead, silence sometimes begets more silence. Absence, further absence. The missing mentor leaves a void that cannot be adequately or satisfactorily filled with the surrounding white noise of the world.Read More
“I often wonder what I’d do if there weren’t any books in the world.”
― James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room
A few weeks ago I was thinking about how Junot Diaz often comments on the fact he’s almost never asked to speak about craft, and instead always is asked to talk about race, identity, and the immigrant experience. And it’s true — when I think about all the books on writing craft I’ve read or heard about over the years I’m struck by how few POC-authored books on writing I’ve seen. Are they really that rare? Or are the books and essays out there, but we don’t know where to find them?Read More