Monday, August 31, 2009

Tired, bitchy, drunk...race, women, writers...

I haven't written here for a while, 2 and a half weeks ish - it's hard to find time lately and it seems that when I do write I always seem to be tired, bitchy, or drunk (or as of right now, all three.) Oh, whatever, it's not an exam, it's just my blog. On with the blethering!

I am loving PANK right now. Love Roxane Gay, love some of the work she's choosing, love her blog. She recently began a debate on "Awkward Stuff, Race, Women, Writers, Editors"
which was fascinating. I rather wanted to join in but was ensconced in an Oxford hotel that deemed blogs, facebook and twitter as unacceptable!

I have been to a few literary events and found them to be uncomfortably chock full of white, middle class British people and then realised that actually I easily pass as just that. I can fit in there. I won a short story competition whose prize was complimentary tickets to a very expensive event held in grandiose halls and surrounded by lush countryside. There was only one black woman there; she came from my area (East London) and we struck up conversation. One very tweedy woman asked her where she came from, and when she replied "Leytonstone" the woman said "No, originally." The response "Erm, West London" had me spluttering with mirth, embarrassment, anger, incredulity.

Not sure what this tells you.

I think writing should be about anyone, anywhere, communicating with words. And an editor can't see if you are young, pretty, black, gay, dyspraxic, whatever - so if the words are what count then why aren't there a more diverse group of people being published. Is it down to economics? Education? Expectations?

I helped out at my twins school for a while, trying to teach/encourage reading. I think reading is the foundation of everything else and yet many of the kids I sat with came from backgrounds where books weren't part of day to day life. Seeing little children learn to sound out words and garner meaning from the bizarre mish mash of shapes on a page is a triumph. But it's with practice that confidence comes.

Personally I get pissed at the whole cool boys club I see sometimes. I deliberately seek out fabulous women writers that I can aspire to, but also I just soak up good words which is how I am able to admire the work of some men who are sometimes utter twunts. I'm not sure if I am going to manage to make a point here (the whole bottle of wine thing) but I shall try. I like words, all words. I will use the word "cunt" as I enjoy its power to shock. It's just a word, and I subscribe to the Germaine Greer idea that it is kinda quaint that one of the few remaining words with the power to shock is actually merely a vulgar word for a vagina. Who has the power now boys? Dick/cock etc just doesn't pack the same punch! What I hate though is the mysoginistic "I'd like to stick a carrot in your vag" attempt at edgy literature that I have been seeing rather too frequently. Not edgy, clever, subversive at all guys, rather it's tiresome, insulting, juvenile and lazy.

So, erm, the point I was making is...sigh, not sure, gonna go and sleep this off...

; )

5 comments:

WOMEN RULE WRITER said...

Women RULE!

Aron Ranen said...

Please take a moment to check out my documentary film BLACK HAIR

It is free at youtube. 6 parts including an update from London, England.

It explores the Korean Take-over of the Black Beauty Supply and Hair biz..

The current situation makes it hard to believe that Madame C.J. Walker once ran the whole thing.

I am not a hater, I am a motivator.

Plus I am a White guy who stumbled upon this, and felt it was so wrong I had to make a film about it.

self-funded film, made from the heart.

Can it be taken back?

Link
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p96aaTSdrAE

Michael Logan said...

Hey Sara,

The whole "Where do you come from originally?" thing happened to my wife all the time in the UK. Her reply was always "Cumbernauld", which threw them off. People would even wish her a pleasant holiday in the street.

She still gets the question in Nairobi when she says she comes from Scotland, but this is more of an ownership thing. Most Kenyans think she is Kikuyu and seem to want to trace her roots back there.

Sara Crowley said...

Hi WRW - Sure do!

Hey Michael - I think that it's maybe about belonging, so if a group of white british women ask a black british woman where she's from originally the tag line seems to be "because you are not from here" whereas if Kenyans see your wife as "belonging" the intent feels far friendlier.

Tedious innit?

Michael Logan said...

The intent is definitely friendlier, although it does lead to a lot of confusion when people start talking to her in Kiswahili or Kikuyu and she doesn't understand!

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