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4.07.2005

emerging label talk

Chief Cupcake Lauren Cerand and the hardest working man on the interweb Dan Wickett hosted a conversation last week called "Emerging Southern Women Writers and Bloggers Discuss Labels" with Carrie Frye, Tayari Jones, Quinn Dalton and me. (Yeah, I'm the odd one out.) It'll be published on April 19, featuring an introduction by no less than Shannon Ravenel. You'll be able to find it over at the Emerging Writers Network site, but you can also sign up for the EWN and have it delivered straight to your mailbox. (And you should sign up anyway; tons of great interviews, reviews and panel discussions will come your way.) I make no promises for what I had to say, since I was in the throes of the effects of several sleepless nights, but everyone else had fascinating, funny things to say.

A snippet:

Dan Wickett:

Was there anything else specific that any of you wanted to bring up in regards to labels?

Tayari Jones:

Here is something that I think: I think that labels would be more interesting, and even subversive, if we used them on people who are not normally labeled.

Carrie Frye:

You are a genius! Like "so and so is a New York City writer."

Gwenda Bond:

Labels are infuriating, narrow, terrible, but they can also be useful and interesting, sometimes all at once. That is a GREAT idea.

Tayari Jones:

Jonathan Franzen, a well-known male writer.

Dan Wickett:

Hey, didn't that happen with the National Book Award this year?

Gwenda Bond:

Speaking of which, and labels, how hard did the National Book Award ladies get slammed with that one? “Five women from New York City.”

Gwenda Bond:

(Great minds, Dan.)

Gwenda Bond:

A well-known middle-aged white male writer!

Dan Wickett:

Hey, toss in “reviewer” instead of “writer” and “not” for “well” and you've described the EWN…

Tayari Jones:

Remember when Colson Whitehead called Updike "An old white male writer" in response to Updike's description of Whitehead?!!

Dan Wickett:

I thought that was brilliant when Whitehead did that.

Quinn Dalton:

Really – agree, Dan.

Carrie Frye:

Doesn't Everett avoid labels, Dan?

Dan Wickett:

Everett does his absolute best to do so, yes, and he doesn't much like it when you ask him about labels.

Gwenda Bond:

Christopher (my husband) and I have a running joke. I will pick up whatever science fiction magazines we have and say, “Look, old white man, old white man, one woman, old white man.” When there is more than one story by a woman in an SF magazine, I feel like I should write a letter in praise of the editor.

Tayari Jones:

But here's the thing: if you avoid the label is it a sort of "passing"? What I mean is this...if someone doesn't "know" that I am black, then does that mean they assumed I was white?

Quinn Dalton:

Yes, T.

Tayari Jones:

So, if I avoid the label, does that mean that I am encouraging the idea that I'm not black? So is that okay?

Quinn Dalton:

They might assume you're black because your characters are for the most part.

Dan Wickett:

Or does it just mean that you're a writer?

3 Comments:

  • At 1:44 PM , Blogger Heather Shaw said...

    I do the same thing with science fiction magazines, Gwenda! It's always amazing to me when there's not even one woman published in a given issue. Drives me batty.

     
  • At 1:46 PM , Blogger gwenda said...

    I have seriously contemplated adding a feature where I break out the TOC for each of the big SF mags each month on gender and racial diversity. I don't get it.

     
  • At 5:10 PM , Blogger Dave said...

    You should do it. Seriously!

     

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