Sunday, September 19, 2010

To Be Or Not To Be . . . Political, That Is

Fellow Deb, Sarah Ockler, put up this beautiful review of SHINE on the YA blog, The Contemps. It brought tears to my eyes because Sarah contextualized SHINE within the recent controversy surrounding the "Ground Zero Mosque" and Quran burning hoopla. And this resonated, especially, because I've been noticing, clearly stated on some agent sites, that those particular agents prefer not to work with authors who have "political" blogs, or who write "politically polarizing" posts on their blogs.

But here's the thing. For some people, being "political" is not a choice. Stating that racism, sexism, homophobia, classism, etc., exist - to some folks - is simply stating a reality, while others have the luxury (privilege) to choose not to address it, engage with it, or even acknowledge it. I'm not really sure what a polarizing political post is - maybe a call to action? But I do think it's good for agents to state their preferences, just as I think it's good for writers to continue stating their views. Because, really, there are no apolitical views.  The political runs through our day-to-day lives, whether we choose to acknowledge it or not. Choosing not to write political posts IS a political act. Choosing not to see "colour" or race IS a political act. Choosing not to engage in discourse around power and privilege is exercizing that very privilege, and it is most definitely a political act.


olugbemisola said...


Karen Strong said...

Wow, didn't realize that some agents prefer not to work with authors who have "political" blogs or "politically polarizing" posts -- whatever that really means.

Hmm...maybe it's best to know that from the start.

I also feel that some people associate the word "political" with "troublemaking."

Off to read Sarah's post.

Neesha Meminger said...

@ Karen: I know, I was very surprised to read it, myself - on *three* blogs. It wasn't anything like, "we will NOT read submissions by people who write political blog posts." It was more like a, "this is a turn-off." And that's valid. I can respect that this is a preference for some agents. And like you, I like knowing these things from the start, so in the end I think it's a good thing. But it's something I needed to address - the very idea that anything could be non-political is a complete fallacy.

Marjorie said...

Is this the "politicising" of the word "political"?!? Turning away from these issues pertaining to human rights does not make everything hunky dory and comfortable. At the end of the day, it means that you can't look yourself in the eye, let alone those who need stronger voices to speak out for them.

Anonymous said...

Neesha, you're awesome, and exactly.

Personally, I would not want to work with agents who don't want writers to make "political" posts, so I agree that it's good they make clear their preferences, but really? Really? Ew.

sarah mccarry said...


It's interesting to me too that most (or most as far as I can tell) agents who don't want to work with 'political' writers rep largely genre fiction--i.e. YA and romance. "Literary fiction" is more "serious" I guess? So it's okay for "real" (read: male) writers to have politics, whereas the ladies must quietly refrain from commenting on injustice? I don't have any real concrete thoughts about it yet but it's something I have been chewing on.

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