Wednesday, May 10, 2006

An Open Letter

May 10/2006

In response to recent events in which Angela Rawlings has been publicly slagged, we the undersigned wish to vehemently express our love and respect and admiration, both personal and professional, for Angela and our opposition to personal attacks against members of our literary community.

For all of us, the lexiconjury reading series and the lex list have been vital elements of our Toronto writing community. The labour, vision, connectivity, and generosity donated by Angela over the past many years have touched all of us personally and contributed greatly to our practice as individual writers.

Angela, we love and respect you, your community-building impulse and pro-activism, and your brilliant, brave, truly inspired writing project. You inspire and teach us how to build positive community and to lead an integrated artistic life.

Angela deserves our thanks and protection when some among us engage in misguided bitter shallow sarcastic and often sexist behaviour which seems aimed only at finding negative attention and inflicting cruelty.

We also wish to commend Jay Millar, who has found himself in a difficult position as publisher and blog host, for navigating what has been a confusing week.

We realize this letter may provoke general curiosity and concern from those in our community whose backs instantly go up at injustice. We would like to confirm that recent defamation against Angela by specific individuals in the experimental writing community is the tip of an iceberg that we've all observed melting down for some time, and that there have been other targets of abuse as well.

This defamation has taken the following forms, among others: Colleague writers have mocked and/or attacked other writers maliciously and ongoingly in public spaces -- including at readings, and on blogs and websites; and, Colleague writers have colluded in the sexist parodying of the body and private person of female members of the literary community, including at a public reading and on blogs and websites.

Let's ask that we all pay attention to how we treat each other, and if there are future occasions on which we see our colleagues being slagged, that we stand up to it and challenge it directly and openly and quickly. The lex list can be a space of discussion and social justice, which does not mean that we reduce our critical polylogue. Perhaps it means we take ourselves more seriously as writers and humans, read each other's artistic production and, instead of lampooning the generalized idea and quality of our artistic projects, we give it the substantive consideration it deserves.

The below list of signatories is not intended to be exclusive. We believe and know that our concerns are shared by many others in the community. We welcome responses and further dialogue, and we invite you to post this Open Letter on your blog and website to publicly support Angela and others who have recently experienced harassment and to promote equity and collegiality in our community.

Signed,

Sandra Alland
Gary Barwin
derek beaulieu
Gregory Betts
Christian Bok
Brea Burton
Stephen Cain
Margaret Christakos
Jason Christie
T.L. Cowan
James Dangerous
Beverley Daurio
Carmen Derkson
Kate Eichorn
Chris Ewart
ryan fitzpatrick
Jay Gamble
Jocelyn Grosse
Nadia Halim
Sharon Harris
Jill Hartman
Kevin Hehir
Maggie Helwig
Neil Hennessy
Bill Kennedy
Jani Krulc
Sandy Lam
Camille Martin
Colin Martin
danielle maveal
Lynn McClory
Jordan Nail
Katherine Parrish
Andrea Ryer
Jordan Scott
Natalie Simpson
Natalie Zina Walschots
Alana Wilcox
Rachel Zolf

5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Harmony or Coercion?

Social relationships in "the community" are typically depicted as harmonious and equitable. But as Wignaraja (17) so correctly points out however, this model must be demystified because it ignores power relationships within communities. 'The assumption of harmonious communities in a conflict-free social framework for change has no basis in reality, whether at local, national or global levels."

Also, and in sharp contrast to the positive language, communities at times can be coercive. Coercion is required to ensure threshold levels of community commitment. Efforts to enhance community cohesion must also be continuously reinforced, otherwise the group disintegrates with little chance to reach its goals, whatever they might be. As Pearson (18) states, 'To earn the appellation "community," it seems to me, groups must be able to exert moral suasion and extract a measure of compliance from their members. That is, communities are necessarily -- indeed, by definition -- coercive as well as moral, threatening their members with the stick of sanctions if they stray, offering them the carrot of certainty and stability if they don't.'

Importantly though, as soon as communities solicit commitment, they become exclusionary, at least to some degree. Of interest is this question: At what point does the necessary coercion or exclusiveness of a community become oppressive?

4:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Harmony or Coercion?

Social relationships in "the community" are typically depicted as harmonious and equitable. But as Wignaraja (17) so correctly points out however, this model must be demystified because it ignores power relationships within communities. 'The assumption of harmonious communities in a conflict-free social framework for change has no basis in reality, whether at local, national or global levels."

Also, and in sharp contrast to the positive language, communities at times can be coercive. Coercion is required to ensure threshold levels of community commitment. Efforts to enhance community cohesion must also be continuously reinforced, otherwise the group disintegrates with little chance to reach its goals, whatever they might be. As Pearson (18) states, 'To earn the appellation "community," it seems to me, groups must be able to exert moral suasion and extract a measure of compliance from their members. That is, communities are necessarily -- indeed, by definition -- coercive as well as moral, threatening their members with the stick of sanctions if they stray, offering them the carrot of certainty and stability if they don't.'

Importantly though, as soon as communities solicit commitment, they become exclusionary, at least to some degree. Of interest is this question: At what point does the necessary coercion or exclusiveness of a community become oppressive?

4:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love your website. It has a lot of great pictures and is very informative.
»

9:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice colors. Keep up the good work. thnx!
»

2:42 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home