Spotlight on LGBTQ AWP Panels: We’re Here and We’re Queer: LGBTQ Women Tell Their Stories

Ready for another installment of LGBTQ panels to look out for at AWP 2019?! In the lead-up to AWP, we’re highlighting 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!

Below, we spoke to Patty Smith about a really awesome panel she was a part of setting up.


WHAT’S THE PANEL: We’re Here and We’re Queer: LGBTQ Women Tell Their Stories” is Thursday, March 28, 2019 from 9-10:15 a.m. in D139-140 on Level 1 of the Oregon Convention Center. I’m the moderator and the panelists are Chelsea Johnson, Nicole Dennis-Benn, Imogen Binnie, and SJ Sindu.

We all need to see ourselves in books.

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Patty Smith

DESCRIBE THE PANEL: Queer people — and queer women especially — have long been marginalized in literature. What are the stories being told about queer women? And who is doing the telling? Four authors with very different backgrounds discuss their books and characters, the stereotypes they fight against, and the truths and lives they reveal. What are the various identities queer women navigate in real life and on the page? What untold stories remain hidden?

WHY DID YOU WANT TO CREATE THIS PANEL: We all need to see ourselves in books. And in 2019, it shouldn’t be a surprise when a reader picks up a book and discovers queer female characters. But sadly, that’s still all too true.

Queer people — and queer women especially — have long been marginalized in literature.

VIDA continues to present findings that point out the lack of female representation in publishing generally and describes “an unabashed war on women, alongside the systemic erasure of non-binary and trans people.” This panel seeks to discuss the problems with that erasure and to offer alternatives and hope. It’s crucial for me to be part of making queer writing/writers visible to everyone and especially to offer hope for young writers.

What are the stories being told about queer women? And who is doing the telling? What untold stories remain hidden?

WHAT CAN WRITERS/AUDIENCE MEMBERS EXPECT: We will be talking about our works and our paths to publication, the challenges we face(d) as queer writers, as writers of queer narratives, as tellers of queer stories.

WHERE DO YOU FIND YOU DO YOUR BEST WRITING: I do my best writing first thing in the morning. I’m a full-time teacher at a high school for the arts, so my writing time is from 5-6:30 a.m. on weekday mornings and then whenever I can fit it in on weekends and vacation days.

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