July 2016 News

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A Note from the Director ~ Sandy Longhorn

Thank you to everyone who greeted the announcement of the C.D. Wright Women Writers Conference with enthusiasm and support. The Executive Committee has been busy this summer working to establish our Board of Directors. We are gathering a wise, strong group of women to guide us in our planning for November 2017, and we look forward to introducing these women in the August newsletter. 

This month, we begin with an essay by writer and Executive Committee member Stephanie Vanderslice. Following the essay, we introduce two new features: a brief list of recommended reading (with a call for your input) and a takeaway (a piece of writing to inspire and motivate).

As we continue our preparations, we wish you all happy reading, happy writing.

Hillary Clinton, The Toast, and the C.D. Wright Women Writers Conference ~ Stephanie Vanderslice

Once upon a time, two writers, Nicole Cliff and Mallory Ortberg, founded a wildly popular online arts and culture site called The Toast that aimed to create a space specifically for young women by young women. Within months after its launch, The Toast was a success and for three years it continued to grow in popularity, with over two million hits per month. Well-known writers, women and men of all ages, such as Ta-Nehisi Coates, proudly counted themselves among its readership. But then the economic realities of online publishing began to shift. Running the magazine—not just the writing and the editing of it, but all of the business and legal aspects as well—took over the women’s lives, and yet they were afraid that if they turned over the decision making to others or hired more staff who would require more salary, they would forever alter the delicate balance that made The Toast so special. After much agonizing, they decided to close it.  

Fans from one end of cyberspace to the other mourned the loss of this smart, engaging site that published witty, incisive commentary that wasn’t available anywhere else.

One of these fans was Hillary Rodham Clinton. When she heard that The Toast was closing, she asked if she could write something in its honor. The editors agreed and on the last day of The Toast they published a letter from the first presumptive female presidential nominee in history from a major political party.

In this letter, which went viral within minutes, Clinton emphasized “what this space—and spaces like it—mean for women.”  

She spoke of the isolation she felt at being one of 13 women in the Senate in 2001 and how much she was helped by the way other women senators, like Barbara Mikulski, gathered together to make her feel supported and welcome. She spoke of the importance of “women taking it upon themselves to create spaces for other women.”

As I read Clinton’s words, the connections between them and what we seek to do with the C.D. Wright Women Writers Conference became quite clear. It’s right there in our mission: “to provide a venue for participants to explore opportunities, challenges and trends specific to women writers.” To offer these writers a “space.”

Clinton ends her letter by saying, “And if the space you’re in doesn’t have room for your voice, don’t be afraid to carve out a space of your own.” Inspired by our leader, Nan Snow, many of us have seen that even in the early 21st century, there isn’t always room for women’s voices. We’re not satisfied with that status quo. Neither was our conference namesake, C.D. Wright. And so we invite you to join us as we build a conference that will carve out that room, that will construct a foundation where women writers can find the support they need to grow and bloom—and then blaze a path for others. That’s the most fitting kind of ending to the tale of a magazine like The Toast—and it isn’t really ending at all.

Recommended Reading

In each newsletters, we will offer a brief list of women writers whose work has made an impression on our lives. In the future, we will also include several recommendations from readers of the newsletter. If you would like to send us a recommendation for consideration,* email the director, Sandy Longhorn, at Please submit only one recommendation, including the author’s name and one title. Remember, we hope to support writers in all genres and styles from mass market to literary or academic, from bloggers to journalists. Help us spread the word about fantastic women writers of today or yesterday.

*The Executive Committee will make the final decision on which titles to feature.


Shirley Abbott: ~ Womenfolks: Growing Up Down South (Mariner Books, 1998) ~ memoir

Alison Bechdel ~ Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic (Mariner Books, 2007) ~ graphic memoir

Robin Black ~ Crash Course: Essays From Where Writing and Life Collide (Engine Books, 2016) ~ non-fiction

Alice Fulton ~ Feeling as a Foreign Language (Graywolf, 1999) ~ non-fiction

Carla Killough McClafferty ~ Something Out of Nothing: Marie Curie and Radium (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006) ~ middle grade non-fiction

J.D. Robb ~ Naked in Death (Berkley, 1995) ~ fiction, mystery

Vivienne Schiffer ~ Camp Nine (University of Arkansas Press, 2013) ~ fiction

Anne Waldman ~ Manatee Humanity (Penguin, 2009) ~ poetry

C.D. Wright ~ The Poet, the Lion, Talking Pictures, El Farolito, a Wedding in St. Roch, the Big Box Store, the Warp in the Mirror, Spring, Midnights, Fire & All (Copper Canyon Press, 2016) ~ poetry


A Reader for Every Writer
by C.D. Wright

The numbers are dispiriting, certainly from the book industry’s perspective, and it is their sad obligation to track the numbers. Though I’ve never read The Gutenberg Elegies, I have long been afflicted with those post-Gutenberg blues. Yet I am privileged to talk to people almost every day who read deeply and widely, and when I step outside of that special circle, I can get an instant case of the willies, but am propelled in another instant to interact, to attune to the copious dimensions of living. The call of the writer is the same as the call of the reader. Take me to other planes of myself. Agnes Martin said her paintings were for people to look at before daily care strikes. Suppose reading and writing do their best work after daily care has struck (and struck hard).


C.D. Wright, “A Reader for Every Writer” from The Poet, the Lion, Talking Pictures, El Farolito, a Wedding in St. Roch, the Big Box Store, the Warp in the Mirror, Spring, Midnights, Fire & All. Copyright © 2016 by Copper Canyon Press. Reprinted by permission of Copper Canyon Press.

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Stephanie Vanderslice, Executive Committee Member and Director of the Arkansas Writers MFA Workshop
First Conference November 3-4, 2017

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The C.D. Wright Women Writers Conference is supported and hosted by the University of Central Arkansas, with thanks to the University of Central Arkansas Foundation.
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