Deadline: 1 May 2012
On 27th March 2012, modern poetry lost one of its true giants. Adrienne Rich — poet, essayist, feminist, activist, thinker — passed away at the age of 82 following a period of illness. Rich was one of America’s most decorated and celebrated poets, the winner of a MacArthur Fellowship, the Wallace Stevens Award and a Griffin Poetry Prize Lifetime Recognition Award, among many others. She was also one of the fiercest and bravest voices poetry has ever seen. Described as “a poet of towering rage,” she wrote for women’s rights, for gay rights and for human rights and confronted sometimes vicious challenges from the literary and political establishment. Her poetry is angry, graceful and timeless, and her writings on women artists and female literary tradition vital. I have no doubt that her work will continue to chime with writers — female or otherwise — for as long as it is read.
One of my all-time favourite essays of Rich’s is the pseudo-manifesto — which Rich referred to only as a series of “notes” — Women and Honor: Some Notes on Lying (1975). In this piece, Rich observes just some of the many lies women have been told over the course of history; she notes that many lies have been so socialised into women that we become willing vessels for them ourselves. She points out the unnerving result of accepting and socialising these lies.
To lie habitually, as a way of life, is to lose contact with the unconscious. It is like taking sleeping pills, which confer sleep but blot out dreaming. The unconscious wants truth. [...] This is why the effort to speak honestly is so important. Lies are usually attempts to make everything simpler — for the liar — than it really is, or ought to be.
Rich believes that only women can possibly take hold of the key to this problem of socialised lies. They must pass through what Virginia Woolf called the “dark core”, and speak the truth — the ugly, difficult, freeing, empowering truth.
When a woman tells the truth she is creating the possibility for more truth around her.
That is what Read This Press is asking you to do. We want to create an anthology of writing by women — women of all ages, nationalities, and walks of life — on the theme of truth. Tell us a truth you’ve never told anyone. Describe what it feels like to tell a lie. Write anything you want on this theme, and send it to us. There are no rules beyond these:
1. You must be female-identified. (We recommend that anyone who finds the concept of an all-female creative space in any way upsetting move quickly away from this blog.)
2. Your piece must be in some way recogniseable as poetry or short fiction. (We don’t want to impose word-limits, but bear in mind, this’ll be a chapbook publication, so if you send us something very long we may ask if you’d be willing to excerpt it or work on cutting it down.)
3. Please write on the theme. (The theme is Truth. Interpret that however you like.)
The final chapbook will be entitled Creatrix: Women Writers on Truth (for Adrienne Rich). It will be published as a limited edition chapbook by Read This Press, and edited by Claire Askew. Contributors will each receive one free copy of the chapbook.
To submit, please:
1) Email up to five pieces to claire [at] onenightstanzas [dot] com
2) Do this before midnight GMT on 1st May 2012
3) Include a few sentences of biographical information about yourself
4) Point out if any of the poems you’re submitting have been submitted or published elswhere
Please note that there may be a public launch for this book, or some other kind of promotional reading (or there may not — we’ll see), and we might ask you to read. Just a heads-up.
You can also email claire [at] onenightstanzas [dot] com with any questions. Please do pass on this submissions call to anyone you think might be interested in submitting — and feel free to spread the word on your blog, Twitter, Facebook or anywhere else you fancy.
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For submissions: firstname.lastname@example.org