The wonderful and wicked smart, Mel Wells, sent me some interview questions. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to talk about Unchaste.
“What was your inspiration for the creation of Unchaste Readers?’
‘I’ve always wanted to be involved in a community of women artists, but I’d envisioned living on the land in yurts and having composting toilets. Running a reading series is a lot easier and just as fun. I’m also dead serious.” Read the rest of the interview here.
Learn more about Mel Wells here.
From this interview in the Paris Review. I know the Paris Review has done some unjust, unfair things, sure. They also did this interview with Elena Ferrante, and these words are words to consider when considering women’s contributions to literature and literature, in general.
Do you think female fiction is constitutionally weak?
Not at all. I’m talking about my adolescent anxieties. For obvious historical reasons, women’s writing has a less dense and varied tradition than male writing, but it has extremely high points and also an extraordinary foundational value—just think of Jane Austen. The twentieth century, besides, was a century of radical change for women. Feminist thought and practice set in motion the deepest, most radical of the many transformations that took place in the last century. I wouldn’t recognize myself without women’s struggles, women’s nonfiction, women’s literature—they made me an adult. My experience as a novelist, both published and unpublished, culminated, after twenty years, in the attempt to relate, in a writing that was appropriate, my sex and its difference. But if we have to cultivate our narrative tradition, as women, that doesn’t mean we should renounce the entire stock of techniques we have behind us. We have to show that we can construct worlds that are not only as wide and powerful and rich as those constructed by men but more so. We have to be well equipped, we have to dig deep into our difference, using advanced tools. Above all, we have to insist on the greatest freedom. Writers should be concerned only with narrating what they know and feel—beautiful, ugly, or contradictory—without succumbing to ideological conformity or blind adherence to a canon. Writing requires maximum ambition, maximum audacity, and programmatic disobedience.
This is the interview link here
Women have been censored by the right wing and the left, by religious men and by revolutionaries, by the violent and the anti-violent.
Here’s to reading our minds.
Samiya writes, “Literary activism, to me, looks like opportunity. Looks like loving attention, like curiosity, like inquiry. Looks like the supportive sharing of eyes, ears, hands, minds, hearts, and tools. Looks like being willing to be wrong, to be outdated, to be educated, to learn something new from someone different and strange. There are so many important voices who never get the chance to find their greatness, shut down as they are by the insistence upon a dominant aesthetic even when we all know that mimicry can be deadly.”
Click the link to read more by her and other distinguished writers.
These words are important. This work is important.
Photo Courtesy of Bonnie Ditlevsen
Thanks to the Portland Observer for this write up of Unchaste!