Wednesday, February 25, 2009

AWP panel

Long, long time, no activity. But after some births in the families of our founding circle--congrats to new mom for the second time, Bridgett Davis, new grandma, Alison Meyers, new dad Chris Jackson and new mom Eisa Ulen, we're back (me, I'm not having any more kids--I adore the two I've got but two's my limit!)

On Friday February 13th, Chris, Bridgett, Alison and I presented a panel at the 2009 AWP called "Forming Ringshout: A Place for Black Literature" I briefly spoke about how we got started: the article I wrote, the huge response in the blogosphere and the desire to turn it into something more. Bridgett spoke forcefully about an issue that she raised in her piece on The Root some months ago: the need for us to embrace the term "literary" fiction and to make clear demarcations in the types of writing that's out there by African-Americans. And finally Chris Jackson spoke brilliantly (if chillingly) about what lies ahead for publishing. Basically, as he put it, any industry that relies on "people to pay for words" is in grave danger right now and it's up to us to figure out how we're going to meet this challenge. And like always--if it's tough for white folks, it's tougher for us.

Again: here's our mission: Founded in 2007 by a group of writers, editors and booksellers,ringShout: A Place for Black Literature is dedicated to recognizing, reclaiming and celebrating excellence in contemporary literary fiction and nonfiction by black writers in the United States.

What we’re not: A litmag, a writer’s conference, a prize. What we hope to be: a new paradigm that primarily uses the internet to promote our mission (see below). Through a website ,a Facebook group (join up!) and public events, we want to give those of any race, creed or color, who are interested in contemporary African-American literature of quality a place to find the blogs, connect with others who share their interest, find titles they don’t know about (and buy them! Form book groups and salons to read and discuss them!) and hopefully, invite a larger community to become more aware of the richness there as well as strengthen our own ties.

Also critical is that it not just be the four of us in the founding circle throwing events in NYC and holding forth. Ringshout is you! If you have an idea for a salon or panel, if you want to form a book club using our mandate, if you want to curate an event write to us at and if it fits our mission, we will get the word out via our facebook page and our website. We want to become the go-to area for African-American literature—a place that’s both real and virtual.

What do you think? What are your ideas? Let us know. And look out for Chris and Bridgett's thoughts about this going forward.

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