You’re Gonna Write! Work It, Girl.

Whoa! It’s already August! And, as promised, we are kicking off our monthly writing group. Do you have questions? We have answers!

1.) Basic reporting, please?! Where, when, who, what, how?

Where and When: Monday, August 13th, 6:30-8:30pm at the Bridgeport Cafe, on the corner of 31st and Morgan. AND! The Cafe is conveniently located across the street from one of our favourite bars, Maria’s, so we’ll head there afterwards to relax after all of our hard work.

Who: You! And Us! You know, We!

What: You know what they say: the best way to be a writer is to sit down and write! But we know from our own experience that it can be hard to make space for that in a busy life, so our hope is that we can encourage you to join us for a very casual sit down and write session. The goal: write SOMETHING!

How: Just do it.

2.) What do you mean by “writer?”

We mean anybody who is hoping to get something out of their brain/heart onto a page/computer screen: a poem, a novel, a grocery list, a play, a manifesto.  And we’re not prejudiced against other kinds of artists. If *you* think joining up with us will help you sketch, compose, dream up your perfect street performance, come on in! (We will be in the “quiet-get-some-work-done” room, though, so use your own discretion.)

3.) Do I have to share what I write?

Nope. This is by you, for you! Of course, a group of amazing mujeres is an amazing braintrust, so if you WANT to share for feedback, advice, support, or celebration, go for it!

4.) Wait… “monthly writing group?” Do I have to come every month?

Nope!

5.) I’m in! What do I do?

Show up! It would also help if you dropped us a comment, an email, or a tweet so we know how many to expect.

6.) Will it be fun?

Probably. The chisme box might make an appearance, and she’s always a good time. The important thing, though, is that it will be a space for you to think about what you need to think about and write what you need to write! You deserve that, don’t you?

See you there!

 

Where is Proyecto Latina?

The third Monday of the month has come and gone, and for the second month in a row, we opted not to host our usual open mic. Don’t worry. We’re not getting lazy and Proyecto Latina isn’t going away! In fact, we’ve been busy making plans to revamp our whole project, to boost our online content and to create a workshop series designed to help Latina artists build skills and new material.

 

We started Proyecto Latina 7 years ago, as a way to provide a place where Latina writers could come together and share their work in an encouraging and accepting environment.  We believed then–and still believe now–that whether you are writing books or scribbling your thoughts on papelitos whenever you can grab a minute, that Latina voices matter.

 

In the past we’ve featured artists on the whole range of the professional spectrum, and we’ve expanded our mission well past writers. We’ve featured playwrights, performance artists, curators, visual artists, academics, activists, actresses, and organizers. We’ve created a website that helps us with our goal of amplifying Latina voices. And we’ve collaborated with other reading and performance series to help build community and networks.

 

And in all of that time, with all of that growth, our live format remained the same: a featured artist and an open mic. As much as we loved these monthly events (80 in total!) we started to wonder if this format was the best way to serve Latina artists? So our live events are on a brief pause as we strategize new ways to be a resource and a home for Latina women. In the meantime, you can still find us posting online and make sure to like us on our Facebook page and follow us on twitter so we can share resources and ideas with the Latina community.

 

In August, we’ll kick off a monthly writing group (followed by drinks and chisme), and we’re collaborating with FMEL on an event that highlights the work of Mexican artist Amanda Gutiérrez.  In January, we’ll start a brand new workshop series, based on your feedback and ideas. Oh! Speaking of your feedback and ideas… in the next few days, we’ll be sending out a brief survey. Please take a few minutes to answer, and we promise – we’ll pay attention! And if you’d like to help us with our revamp, let us know! We’d love to work with some new collaborators!

 

As for the chisme box, don’t worry about her. Ole girl has a few secrets up her sleeve….

 

 


 

Make Your Life a Writing Residency…


Amores, I just got back from a two-week writing residency at Ragdale. If you’ve never been to an artist colony before, here’s a basic rundown of how it works: you apply to the residency, usually by submitting work samples and an artist statement. While you’re there, the residency provides space to sleep and space to work (mine was the same space – a cute room with loads of books and a desk between two windows) as well as food, all for a nominal fee.  Sometimes they’ll want you to present work in progress, sometimes they won’t. Usually, there are a handful of other artists around, which affords ample opportunity to share ideas, tips, and experiences – personally, I found this to be one of the most rewarding parts of my stay. Can you believe I actually made friends with a journalist/novelist who writes about war and violence against women and who grew up traveling all over the word because her parents were anthropologists? My soulmate!

Okay, the residency was great (if a little too quiet for my city-loving self) but realistically, I know that going away for 2-6 weeks isn’t an option for many of us here at Proyecto Latina. I mean – I have one of the MOST flexible jobs on the planet, and I still found it stressful to clear my calendar. So… I’ve spent the past few days thinking about residency “take-aways” – how to incorporate what was most useful about the residency into my everyday life. Here goes: (more…)

Todas Somos Putas?

The first time I heard about SlutWalk Chicago, I raised an eyebrow.

In general, I’m not a fan of reclaiming oppressive language. I’ll never, for example, call one of my friends a bitch, and I’ll never call anyone a ho. I don’t call myself a spic, and you won’t catch me greeting someone with a hearty “what’s up N*****!” I do use the word queer, mostly because I think it is more inclusive than lesbian or that alphabet soup LGBTQQA. So… SlutWalk? My initial response was to roll my eyes. No matter how many people I roll around with, I am not about to go around calling myself a slut or puta. As far as I’m concerned, sleeping with one person or 100 people is a private matter, not up for public judgement.

Except… the public judges all of the time,particularly when it comes to sexuality and violence. For years, I worked as an educator at a rape crisis center, where I obsessively stressed the message that no one asks to be raped or sexually assaulted: No Matter What. Clothing is not an invitation, being drunk is not an invitation, being alone is not an invitation. And yet, people constantly asked me what a woman expected was going to happen if she dressed a certain way, drank so much at a party, or went home with someone she hardly knew. I can think of no other crime where the general public so solidly blames the target instead of the perpetrator. The reality is that the only person responsible for a sexual assault is the person who makes the choice to assault someone. And people all around the world are sexually assaulted every day, regardless of what they are wearing, where they are, or who they’re with. I’ve worked with clients who were grandmas, clients who were men, clients who were children, clients who were wearing sweats and doing laundry when someone attacked them, and way way WAY too many clients who were attacked by family members and people they trusted to keep them safe. Conversely, I can think of dozens of guys I know who would never even consider forcing sex on another person, no matter how they were dressed or how drunk they were.

Which is what SlutWalk is all about. The project started in Toronto, as a response to a police  representative of the Toronto Police Service who was quoted saying, “Women should avoid dressing like sluts in order to not be victimized.” The marches are designed to bring people together to challenge victim-blaming and to “encourage a revised cultural attitude towards assault and rape.”

I may not personally identify as a slut, but that hasn’t stopped other people from calling me one. SlutWalk isn’t necessarily about reclaiming a term; it’s about challenging one – about working towards a culture that places the blame for sexual violence solidly where it belongs: on the people who commit the crime.

That’s something I can get behind.

Slutwalk Chicago is this Saturday, June 4th from 12-3 pm. For more information, including the march route, visit their website or check them out on Facebook.

 

Niñas Buenas y Mujeres Modernas

I grew up in a strange family. My parents were (are) leftist radical multinationals who believed, at least in theory, in overturning dominant structures. For example – my mother doesn’t support gay marriage. This isn’t a homophobic stance–she loves me and my partner– but an anti-institution-of-marriage stance. Never mind that she’s been married twice… that’s another story!

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