Happy New Year! We at VIDA hope that everyone’s 2016 is off to a strong start. We’re celebrating by spotlighting recent content and content to come!
Please check out our two new columns, VIDA Voices & Views hosted by Melissa Studdard with an inaugural interview with Rita Dove (https://www.vidaweb.org/rita-dove-vida-voices-views/), as well as VIDA Reads with Writers. So far, we’ve been lucky to feature feminist media activist and storyteller , the executive director of Women, Action & the Media, and writer at Rookie Magazine https://www.vidaweb.org/vida-reads-with-writers-jamia-wilson/, as well as Pushcart-winning writer Morgan Parker, Poetry Editor for The Offing, co-curator of Poets with Attitude, and with Angel Nafis she is The Other Black Girl Collective https://www.vidaweb.org/vida-reads-with-writers-morgan-parker/. Wilson and Parker share their current subway reads, the authors they love, what they’re working on next, and more.
Keep an eye out for a new Voices & Views with Don Share this month.
Lisa Lee’s “Report from the Field: Racial Invisibility and Erasure in the Writing Workshop,” and Monica Sok’s essay, “On Fear, Fearlessness, and Intergenerational Trauma,” are also soon to come.
Take a look at what’s new on the site right now—
“I’m nothing, if not”: An Anecdote of a Jar
To discuss my own entry into writing and publishing, I must admit a contrary relationship to publication, one probably not unique to myself. I feel that I have made exhaustive attempts to publish, and yet I also feel that I have not tried hard enough. I have never tried as hard as Michael Derrick Hudson, who was included in Best American Poetry 2015 under the Chinese name Yi-Fen Chou. Hudson admits that appropriating an Asian female name has been a successful strategy for “placing” unplaceable poems sent out under his own workaday Anglo name. I placed a jar in Tennessee. He writes, “I am nothing, if not persistent.” I never have been so persistent. I have been “unplaceable.” –Vidhu Aggarwal
Report from the Field: Moving through the Webs
My ex-husband used to keep an unframed photo of me on his desk. The photo, bent against a brass lamp, shows me hunched in his grey hooded sweatshirt writing in a journal at Charles Dickens’s London home, or maybe it was Thomas Carlyle’s, I can’t remember. What I can remember is feeling engulfed in my solitude, connected through my imagination with the ghost of a long-dead man by persisting alone among the living. That’s how I existed as a writer then: surrounded by the obscured support of living and dead men but ultimately engulfed in my own solitude, ultimately isolated, ultimately hunched alone over a page of private words.
Years later, my sister Emily and I … decided we’d use the month of June to prompt each other daily and by the end of each day she would craft a poem and I would craft a short play. We named our scheme “Project MAE” (“Maria and Emily”) and so launched what I thought was my first real partnership as a writer. –Maria Brandt
The Audacity to Dream: On Asian Women, Feminism, and My Grandmother
I’d wager every immigrant family story begins with someone with enough courage and defiance and persistence and wit to navigate through the difficult waters of making a new life in this often unwelcoming country. Still, I never thought twice about what my grandmother must have endured….My attitude probably belies something else I take for granted, something my family has inadvertently instilled in me through the telling and retelling of our histories: that anything is possible. The idea that my grandmother’s race or gender might ever have held her back was one that never occurred to me, not at least, until very recently.
Earlier this year, a white male journalist took to Twitter to rant against feminists. I read his stream with mounting rage, not just because of the expected misogynist crap he was spouting, but because, in the process, he offered his “Asian wife” as a counterpoint. (That’s how he referred to her: “My Asian wife.”) Don’t marry a feminist, he warned men. Marry an Asian woman. In other words, his submissive Asian wife was no feminist, and that was his secret to a happy marriage. –Karissa Chen
Report from the Field: Gone from My Heart: Violence and Anger in the Poetry Workshop
It’s the first week of the poetry unit in my introductory creative writing class. “Raise your hand if you wrote poems in high school,” I say. Over half the class holds up an arm. “Keep your hands up if you wrote because you were angry. I’m talking poems about unfair expectations, poems about mean friends and unrequited crushes, poems about injustice.”
Without exception, the hands stay up. –Anya Groner
We are proud and delighted that Melissa R. Sipin’s essay, “TANGENTIAL DIVAGATION: Notes of an Immigrant Daughter,” is on the list of “Autostraddle’s 215 of the Best Longreads of 2015—All Written by Women”
Since my mother pushed me out into the world, I felt I have always been running away.
In so many ways, I followed after my mother, who left me a year or two after I was born. When I was a young girl, unable to understand or control the surge of emotions barreling through my tiny body, I would act like “I was running away from home,” hide in the shoe closet beneath my grandmother’s clothes, bend into fetal position, and throw my wet face between my knees. Sometimes I would escape the house instead, pack a Minnie Mouse backpack with Filipino salty crackers, and get as far as the neighboring liquor store, unsure of where to turn to. After hours, when the sun finally touched the horizon, sunk beneath the wall of cacti that covered one side of my house, I would, eventually, turn back. I always returned home.
It is ironic, then, that years later, when I am finally an adult, when I am old enough to understand that my girlhood runaway stories were not born out of cute, childish impulses but the need to escape the trauma that barreled and festered in our home, I run away from my family a few months after I eloped—I run away for good, I run away for a full five years, refusing to look back—until I turn twenty-seven, when despite having every bone in my body needing to flee, I return back home because of the same reasons I had in my youth. It is simply what I have always done: when I had nowhere else to go, I always returned to my family.
Maybe this is what Dr. Edith Tiempo, one of the mother poets in Philippine literature, calls tangential divagation.
With preparations for the 2015 VIDA Count gearing up, we are working hard to raise funds. VIDA is 100% volunteer-run by committed people who believe in VIDA’s mission and give their time freely to make it happen. Through donations, people like you enable us to do our work. We appreciate donations of any amount, so if you would like to support women in the literary arts, you can visit our donate page (https://www.vidaweb.org/donate-now/) and become a part of the movement. Thank you so much!’