amongst books

amongst books

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

a few thoughts on CWILA

"CWILA (Canadian Women in the Literary Arts) is an inclusive national literary organization for people who share feminist values and see the importance of strong and active female perspectives and presences within the Canadian literary landscape." (1st paragraph from the About Us section of the site)

I've been puzzling over the new CWILA organization. not its existence so much as some of the reasons that have been put forth for its existence. Canadian women, apparently, are not writing critically or sharing their critical work or being allowed to share their critical work in public.
part of the rationale for the founding of this organization came from a blatant example of gender disparity in the National Post poetry reviews written by Michael Lista. I'm not going to rehash all that, but it was a clear example of bias, whether intentional or not.

I have nothing very profound to say on the subject. if there are women who are writing critically & wishing to share that writing in a public space, I wish they would do so. I would very much like to read it. so often reviews, in my opinion, are mostly showcases of the reviewer's erudition or rather thinly disguised personal attacks or wee sound bites with a few hyperbolic phrases of praise or vitriol. they are seldom in-depth engagements with the text, which is what I would like to read & what I would like to write, what i try to write.
print newspapers & literary journals have space limitations & hence are prone to the short review. to me, it is on line where there is room for the critical engagement. the internet is the wild west; anyone is allowed to write whatever they please. there are fewer authorities guarding the doors to protect their own biases & versions of the truth. it's all out there.

as (fallen) angel of AngelHousePress, I give space thru an online essay series for people of all genders, races, sexual orientations, ethnicities, geographies & tastes to share their thoughts to the public. while the readership is not of the size of a newspaper, it is serious & the series is well-followed by art & culture enthusiasts throughout the world. & I have no idea how many people read the reviews in any national newspaper anyway.
if it floats your boat to share your work in some kind of mainstream public institution, then do so, go for it. that is not my way. I want to share my work with readers who will care, who actively seek out critical work & who will respond in an intelligent manner; all being well with an essay of their own. please don't tell me i'm wrong or timid for wanting to do things my own way.

as an aside: I don't believe for one minute that women are not sharing their critical work in public institutions because they are timid. never in my life have I heard so many insulting generalizations directed at women as of late & mostly by other women. I prefer to take the high road & believe in the indomitable spirit of my fellow women. I see their strength every day. But this strength often appears as independence, as a tendency not to be part of the status quo, especially in contemporary literature. this is the time to rebel against the status quo, not to join it.

CWILA, I believe is an example of that independence. it seems like a very fair & thorough organization & I wish the organizers well. never underestimate the power of women to be creative & to think outside of that boring mainstream box. They have a wordpress blog. Check it out.

1 comment:

Pamela Mosher said...

Thanks for sharing this, Amanda. I am definitely going to check out the website more thoroughly, later on today.

Those stats on the gender of writers reviewing books, and writers of reviewed books, are really intriguing.