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August 2016 News

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A Note from the Director 


Announcing our first Board of Directors

The C.D. Wright Women Writers Conference is pleased to announce the founding of our first Board of Directors: Nan Snow (Chairperson), Shirley Abbott, Barbara Barg, Eliza Borné, Kelly Forsythe, Janis Kearney, Carla Killough McClafferty, Rebecca Mills, Darcy Pattison, Shelley Russell, Ann Prentice Wagner, and Angela Webster. We hope you will click through to the website and learn more about the accomplishments of our members. These talented women will work hand-in-hand with the Executive Committee to create our first conference.

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

~ Sandy Longhorn, Director of the C.D. Wright Women Writers Conference

On the Corner ~ Mara Leveritt

 

A conference for women writers? Why? We have a woman running for president. Miss Teen dropped swimsuits for sportswear. J.K. Rowling rules. What’s the problem?

Those changes are all triumphs. Yet, even by recognizing them as triumphs, we acknowledge that they defy the status quo. The problem for women writers is that their status quo is not the same as it is for men.

Like all writers, women contemplate, comment on, and create from the social sea around us. That’s the joy and privilege of writing. Like all writers, women work both on and within that sea; it is that sea in which we need to be published. But here’s the difference: there are attitudes adrift that are specifically toxic to women.

Here’s a sample from my own career. While in college I worked briefly as a TV news intern. One day, I was riding with a photographer to some routine assignment when the photographer got a call from the station to speed to the scene of a multiple murder. But first, the news director told the photographer, put the girl out on a corner. He didn’t want me to be exposed to a situation that we all knew would be grisly.

Over my protests the photographer did as he instructed. He put me out and drove to the crime scene without even an intern reporter along. The call wasn’t his to make any more than it was mine. The news director made his split-second decision based on what he considered appropriate for a young woman to witness—or not. I feel certain he believed he was acting in my best interest. I was twenty-seven years old. I knew what was in my interest better than he did. And I knew that that situation would not have unfolded as it did if I had been a man.

I have since written deeply about murder. After I got a newspaper job, I drove to a prison and interviewed the man convicted of the murders that I hadn’t been allowed to cover a couple of years before. The decision to put me out of the car that day still stung. It denied me access to the first part of an important story just because I was “a girl.” As someone who considered herself a serious young reporter, I found it humiliating to be left standing on a corner, waiting to be whisked back to somebody else’ idea of safety, while the story developed without me. That corner could have been a crossroads for my just-forming career. No one understood that but me.

Writers—men and women—face adversities enough. The beauty of a conference for women writers is that it strengthens women’s spirits—as well as their practical abilities—to overcome the often subtle adversities that are special, just for them. More essentially, though, by being itself “special, just for them,” a conference for women writers recognizes and confronts many of the ways women are still put out of the car.

Recommended Reading

 

We offer here 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 slonghorn@uca.edu. 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.

 

Kim Addonizio: ~ Tell Me (BOA, 2000) ~ poetry

Emma Cline ~ The Girls (Random House, 2016) ~ fiction

Annie Dillard ~ Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (Harper Perennial, 2013, reprint) ~ non-fiction

Janet Evanovich ~ One for the Money (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2006, reprint) ~ fiction

Ellen Gilchrist ~ The Writing Life (University Press Mississippi, 2005) ~ non-fiction

Joumana Haddad  ~ I Killed Scheherazade: Confessions of an Angry Arab Woman (Chicago Review Press, 2011) ~ non-fiction

Audre Lorde ~ The Cancer Journals (Aunt Lute Books, 2006, reprint) ~ non-fiction

Mary Oliver ~ American Primitive (Back Bay Books, 1983) ~ poetry

Patti Smith ~ M Train (Knopf, 2015) ~ non-fiction

This Month's Takeaway

 

Instructive Fable for the Daughter I Don't Have
by Catherine Pierce

Walk into the woods and keep walking.
The tall pines swing like curtains in the moonlight;
the moonlight swings like a drunk man on a ship.
Search for the place the jewels are hidden, a.k.a.
the dark-furred hollow. Search for the mirror
in the old oak. Search for The Stag Who Can Speak
to Girls Like You (his voice, the stories say, is like a river—
low, and full of deaths it can’t help). Small animals
will serrate the silence with their chatter. Underfoot,
roots will crack like bones. Wear your hair uncovered.
Wear your mouth unset. You may not find
the jewels, the mirror, the stag. But you may find
a bare possum skull. You may find some eyeteeth
in a damp log. You may find a berry patch, but
with bullets in place of berries, silver sparks
in the nightgleam. Put all these things into your pockets
and keep walking. The grackles will tell you
This way out, this way out. Don’t answer. Don’t be turned.
You entered the woods lost. Leave that way.

 

Catherine Pierce, “Instructive Fable for the Daughter I Don’t Have” originally published in The Colorado Review. Summer 2016. Reprinted by permission of the author.

Mara Leveritt, Editor, Journalist, Activist, and Author of The Boys on the Tracks, Devil’s Knot, and Dark Spell

Read more at maraleveritt.com
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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.
Copyright © 2016 C.D. Wright Women Writers Conference, All rights reserved.


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