Wednesday, May 30, 2012

back from wiscon 36

l-r: n.k. jemisin, daniel jose older, neesha meminger, ibi zoboi,

saladin ahmed
slowly settling back into life. it's a kind of culture shock to come back to "regular" life after spending several days sequestered among like-minded, brilliant souls, discussing and debating issues of race, gender, class, sexuality, politics, current world events and, of course, writing and reading. but it's also necessary rejuvenation. i feel a renewed energy and motivation to imbue what i've learned into daily life and push forward. got a healthy dose of This Is Why Speaking Up Matters.

this year, i wanted to infuse wiscon with poc energy. not by-accident, default kind of poc energy, but consciously created spaces that were meant to celebrate the work and lives of poc. so i took it upon myself to coordinate a reading, and a launch party featuring authors of color who were releasing new work this year.

the reading went beautifully. since ibi zoboi had curated one last year, i asked her to come on board and help curate as well as read. it was a no-brainer to also solicit the brilliant designing skills of her husband, joseph zoboi, who created the gorgeous poster i put up in my last post.

there was such a lovely, supportive energy in the room during the reading, and i had to take a moment to note that here we were, five poc authors telling our own stories, whether we were traditionally published by a large, mainstream press, or a small press, or independently. we were telling our own stories. in a consciously created space, with a receptive and welcoming audience. what a revolutionary concept.

i had been worried we wouldn't have a good turnout because we didn't get to spread the word as much as i would have liked. but i needn't have. the room was full, even at 10 a.m. on a saturday morning.

the dance party was a resounding success, as well. again, i was worried about everything - would we have enough samosas? was there enough wine? non-alcoholic beverages? would people have a good time?

again, i needn't have worried. turns out that sometimes all you have to do is be the one to say, "let's do it," and others are quick to help take turns at the reins. k. tempest bradford took over the dj station and rocked the tunes all night (after some technical difficulties that kept me just shy of hitting PANIC mode), nora jemisin floated around in her corset dress and then took over clean up detail at the end of the night. mary anne mohanraj, kiini ibura salaam, and saladin ahmed picked up the samosas. alaya dawn johnson, nora, and ibi picked up the beverages and paper goods. malinda lo coordinated a raffle to give away copies of our books. *everyone* pitched in. there was a lot of love and support and joy and gratitude for community.

the party went on 'til the wee hours of the morning and even those who had early morning panels (like me) stayed as long as we could. it was beautiful. we need so, so much more of this.

i have a lot of thoughts on the panels i was on, as well as the ones i went to listen to - but i'll do a separate post for that. interesting concepts were brought up and invigorating debates were had. i especially have some thoughts on a couple of the ya panels and the cultural "inappropriation" panel, but more on that in another post.


Victor Raymond said...

I just want to thank you IMMENSELY for the readings and the party. Having more POC activities at WisCon makes things better for everyone. As Co-Chair, I had my hands full with a variety of activities, including Carl Brandon stuff, so seeing everything that was going on for people of color made me really happy. Thank you!

Neesha Meminger said...

Thank YOU, Victor, for all you do at Wiscon, and beyond! There's no way these events could have happened if you and others hadn't worked so hard to create a space where they could exist. I walked into a Wiscon, three years ago, where people were already knee-deep in the struggle for creating space. That's important history and I honor that everything I'm able to do is because of the continued struggle of others before me. Let's keep it going. :)

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