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A brand-spankin’-new Brevity issue, titled “Ceiling or Sky? Female Nonfictions after the VIDA Count.” Edited by members of VIDA’s Creative Nonfiction GAC - Barrie Jean Borich, Joy Castro, Susanne Antonetta. Check it out here.

A brand-spankin’-new Brevity issue, titled “Ceiling or Sky? Female Nonfictions after the VIDA Count.” Edited by members of VIDA’s Creative Nonfiction GAC - Barrie Jean Borich, Joy Castro, Susanne Antonetta. Check it out here.

Blog Post: On Politics, Art, and Gender | Special Issue: Ceiling or Sky? | Brevity: A Journal of Concise Literary Nonfiction

Nuria Sheehan: This project can best be described as rigorously inclusive. In reading submissions, we all worked hard to question our points of view– to examine ways in which our biases toward or against certain subjects or aesthetics may have been influenced by a male-dominated publishing landscape. And this commitment to self-examination made the editorial process deeply collaborative, giving us a shared language and purpose as we discussed any differences and disagreements.

"In most parts of the country, including my home state, it’s legal to discriminate against transgender people in employment, housing, treatment in public accommodations. If I couldn’t learn to present myself as a woman, I risked a lifetime of unemployment, assault, and homelessness."

- Joy Ladin | Writing as a Woman | HER KIND

Lisa's comment on: My Writing Projects Will Wait . . . | HER KIND

I love being with my kids, but I do wish sometimes, that our culture allowed moms to be moms – at home, working, single, married, whatever – and found ways to encourage them to find a way to pursue things like writing. The only way to do this is through a greater sense of community, I think. Community is hard to find. Families do not always live in the same state, let alone the same neighborhood. So, how do we create a supportive community? I think writing mothers have to figure that out, which isn’t easy since what little free time we have, we spend at our laptops or with notepads in hand trying to squeeze in a few minutes of writing.

Tonya Cherie Hegamin's comment on Girl Talk: On Valuing Teen Girl Voices & Creating Community | HER KIND

Thank you so much for this! I was just thinking today how when other girls were dreaming about having babies I was dreaming about having books. I “wrote” my first book when I was only six as a part of a literacy program at West Chester University where I told the story to a grad student (I only remember her having a brown ponytail), who copied down my words verbatim and then I illustrated it and then we bound it together. I still have it.

Alison Bechdel magnifies this connection of mothering and writing in her comic drama, Are You My Mother? A must read! The journey of the woman writer is valuable in so many symbolic and concrete ways– simply helping us to explore, appreciate and smirk at our inner mothers.

I’ve been privileged to birth books and to facilitate young people to write, explore and mother their own creativity. My mother didn’t have that. She is creative in her own way, but was not validated for it as a young brown girl in 1950s Philadelphia. I am, perhaps, the first generation in my family to be empowered by a literacy program that combined creativity and was taught by women. This is why we need more arts programs in the schools!

Jonah Lehrer throws it all away | Roxane Gay | Salon

Jonah Lehrer is part of a system that allows magazines, year after to year to publish men, and white men in particular, significantly more than women or people of color. He is part of a system where the 2012 National Magazine Awards have no women nominees in several key categories. He is part of a system where white editors belabor the delusion that there simply are few women or writers of color who are good enough for their magazines because said editors are too narrow in what they want, what they read, what they think, or just too lazy to work beyond their Rolodex of writers who look and think just like them. He is part of a system that requires an organization like VIDA to do an annual count that reveals a disheartening, ongoing and pervasive practice of a certain kind of writer predominantly gaining entrance to the upper echelons of publishing. He is part of a system that exhausts itself denying these problems exist or that these problems matter.

Click through to see photos from our June 18th benefit at the Brooklyn Brewery - many thanks to Riverhead Books for a fabulous evening. All photos by Jaclyn Rachel Green-Stock:

Click through to see photos from our June 18th benefit at the Brooklyn Brewery - many thanks to Riverhead Books for a fabulous evening.
All photos by Jaclyn Rachel Green-Stock:

A prestige-free zone | Laura Miller |

Prestige is a poorly articulated and barely understood phenomena. It’s also a powerfully motivating one. Prestige is what Jennifer Weiner and Jodi Picoult were complaining about when they launched a thousand commentaries by griping about Franzen’s press coverage on Twitter. It’s what the diligent and tenacious VIDA (Women in the Literary Arts) is attempting to calculate when, every year, it counts up the book reviews and bylines in a dozen or so highbrow journals to determine how well women writers are represented. And it’s what Nathaniel Hawthorne was bitching about when he wrote to his British publisher in 1855, “America is now wholly given over to a damned mob of scribbling women, and I should have no chance of success while the public taste is occupied with their trash.”

Marisa Crawford | Girl Talk: On Valuing Teen Girl Voices & Creating Community | HER KIND

Girls are so often socialized around what not to do; what they shouldn’t be; what they’re already doing wrong. Organizations like Girls Write Now, WritersCorps, and Urban Word NYC challenge negative messages aimed at girls, and they show young women that writing can be so much more than cathartic and brooding, journaling alone in their bedroom—that it can be silly, scary, bold, angry, surreal, dramatic, playful, experimental, interactive, and—above all—empowering.

Joy Ladin: Lady in the House Questions | HER KIND

So contrary to the Huffington Post’s title, I never “decided to become a woman.” I decided that rather than live as a man until I killed myself (I was counting down the days), I would follow my internal sense of who I am into the void and live as a woman. Live as, not “become”: I present myself as a woman, walk the world as a woman, risk abuse as a woman, get cheated by auto mechanics as a woman, exchange smiles with others as a woman, am condescended to as a woman. Whether or not women identify with me, I identify with women: except when I present myself as trans (hardly a badge of honor in this world), my social status is shaped by the same forces, the same inequities and prejudices, that shape the lives of those born and raised female.

"Men are freer than women to meet their expected role, as breadwinner, or not, to be a good father, or not, to keep their yard neatly trimmed, or not, to write, or not. Women are given “freedom”, i.e. “permission” to write, as long as their houses are well kept, their children are well cared for, and their spouses are given attention."

- Elisa A. Garza | My Writing Projects Will Wait … | HER KIND

"These are writers who also happen to be people of color. This is not a token list of writers to go to when you need someone to write about race—these writers write about a wide range of subjects."


We Are Many. We Are Everywhere. | Roxane Gay | The Rumpus

Dear editors, publishers, agents: at The Rumpus, Roxane Gay has created a list of writers of color.

Lucy Biederman | After All This Time: Revisiting Poetry First Loves | HER KIND

It’s popular to talk about the importance of publishing a wide diversity of voices, but, as VIDA’s 2011 Count starkly shows, few editors of high-circulation literary magazines publish nearly as many women as men—and anecdotal evidence suggests minority authors are similarly under-represented. Those editors do us all a terrible disservice; they restrict even our inner worlds. When I was a beginning as a writer, scanning around for useful tools and methods, sure, Merwin and Ashbery spoke to me, but they didn’t show me. For that, for me, there was and is Nickole Brown’s Sister; Matthea Harvey’s Pity the Bathtub Its Forced Embrace of the Human Form; Mary Szybist’s Granted; and Honoree Fanonne Jeffers’ The Gospel of Barbeque.

Study tracks rise of feminine pronouns | Hillel Italie | AP

The new study confirms women’s great advances in education and in their success in getting published, says Erin Belieu, an award-winning poet and co-director of VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, a nonprofit organization founded in 2009.

"Women have certainly increased their ‘literary output’ in the last two decades particularly," she wrote in an email to The Associated Press. "And women fiction writers specifically have been able to achieve a large economic impact within the publishing industry."

But as VIDA has demonstrated, more books by women does not mean more books are getting reviewed or more women getting to write for literary publications. For the past two years, VIDA has released studies showing that such magazines as The New Yorker and The Atlantic devoted far more space to male writers than to women, a ratio that led New Yorker editor David Remnick to acknowledge “We’ve got to do better.”