Spotlight on LGBTQ AWP Panels: Writers on Disability & Late Blooming Women Authors

It’s holiday time right now. But before you know it, it’ll be March and thousands of writers will descend on Portland for AWP 2019!

In the lead-up to AWP, we’re going to highlight a few LGBTQ panels that we think you’ll enjoy. Make sure to get out your planners, calendars, or apps and add these to your schedule! Want us to feature your panel? Contact us!

Below, we spoke to Sandra Gail Lambert about a few of her panels.


WHAT’S THE PANEL: “The Strengths of Complexity and the Power of Limitations: Writers on Disability is Friday, March 29 from 12-1:15 p.m. in the Oregon Ballroom 201-202 of the Oregon Convention Center, Level 2.

DESCRIBE THE PANEL: Panel participants include Sandra Gail Lambert, Naomi Ortiz, and Esmé Weijun Wang and it’s moderated by Sarah Einstein.

Sandra Gail Lambert (2)
Sandra Gail Lambert

These authors are diverse in identities and disability, but each of them writes in a way that confronts what is considered normal. Their work includes the resilience of a ferociously ambitious self, the spiritual experience of a day-to-day life that can be a tug of war between chaos and order, the sometimes funny in using a wheelchair, and essential connections to the natural world, as well as an exploration of the intersection between disability, queerness, race, culture, and desire. The reading will be followed by a moderated discussion between the panelists.

My writing is the most productive when I’m in a bed with a view.

WHY DID YOU WANT TO CREATE THIS PANEL: I was approached by AWP and asked to put together a panel on disability and suggest names of other possible participants. Once the other participants were set in place, I read through their work and came up with an event description that would reflect the wide range of our writings in the short space allowed. I sent it off to the participants and to other writers with disabilities for feedback, incorporated their ideas, and now I think we have a kick-ass event ready to go.

WHAT CAN WRITERS/AUDIENCE MEMBERS EXPECT: I’m excited about the moderated panel discussion part of the event. The community of writers with disabilities is not a monolith of thought or experience, and I think the discussion will be a lively example of this.

This panel explores the intersection between disability, queerness, race, culture, and desire.

WHERE DO YOU FIND YOU DO YOUR BEST WRITING: My writing is the most productive when I’m in a bed with a view. That can be from my writing bed at home that’s next to a window that looks out over the yard and street or from the bed I’ve put in the back of my wheelchair lift van. I’ll camp in it at one of Florida’s magnificent state parks and throw open the back doors to watch wild turkeys strut by or crested caracaras fly down to hunt for food among the leaf litter. At more formal writing retreats, there have been beds with views of northern forests, mango trees, or the twisted branches of scrub oaks.

 

Bonus second panel!

WHAT’S THE PANEL: Better Later? Success and the Late Blooming Woman Author is Thursday, March 28 from 4:30-5:45 p.m. in the Oregon Convention Center, B114, Level 1.

I have no idea how much ageism, sexism, homophobia, or ableism played into all those rejections.

DESCRIBE THE PANEL: Panel participants include Ellen Meeropol, Cynthia Bond, Sandra Gail Lambert, Sheila Carter-Jones, and Celeste Gainey.

Cover Image High Resolution A Certain Loneliness
A Certain Loneliness, Sandra Gail Lambert’s memoir.

Women who come to writing and publishing later in life face a landscape tainted with sexism and ageism. How do women, particularly women of color, LGBTQ, or with disabilities, who first publish after 50, favorably negotiate such a landscape? Do we define success differently than younger writers? How does success in earlier careers affect our aspirations as writers? Finally, how does intersectionality further trouble this mix?

WHY DID YOU WANT TO CREATE THIS PANEL: I was invited by the organizer of this panel, Ellen Meeropol, to participate.

WHAT CAN WRITERS/AUDIENCE MEMBERS EXPECT: A form of this panel is offered most years and the audience is known to be large and participatory.

What I have control over is the quality and content of my work.

PUBLISHING IS A DIFFICULT JOURNEY. YOUR PANEL MENTIONS THAT PUBLISHING LATER IN LIFE CAN FACE WRITERS WITH AGEISM AND SEXISM. HOW DO YOU THRIVE AND CONTINUE THE WORK AMIDST THIS: Between agents and publishers, my most recent book, A Certain Loneliness: A Memoir, had 70 rejections before being accepted by the University of Nebraska Press. My novel, The River’s Memory, had over 100 rejections before it was published.

I’m a 66-year-old disabled lesbian with no academic background in writing and who didn’t start writing seriously until I was in my forties. The truth is that I have no idea how much ageism, sexism, homophobia, or ableism played into all those rejections. Of course it must have been part of the mix, along with market concerns and just not being wowed by my writing, but I don’t have any control over that side of things. What I do have control over is the quality and content of my work, so that is what I focus on.


Want us to feature your panel? Contact us!

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