An Incomplete Manifesto for Canadian Women In Literary Arts

By Shannon Webb-Campbell

BECAUSE we count

BECAUSE the “W” in CWILA is always a contested space

BECAUSE women, transgender, two-spirited and racially diverse writers deserve to be taught in every classroom, university and workshop

BECAUSE we won’t go down the hall

BECAUSE truths can be found in fiction

BECAUSE we believe in strong and active voices

BECAUSE language is always evolving and discourse is never-ending

BECAUSE gender and women’s studies departments across North America are closing

BECAUSE our safe places are being shut down, made obsolete

BECAUSE we need feminism

BECAUSE we are grateful, and acknowledge that we live, write, read, and critique on unceded Indigenous land

BECAUSE we don’t want to keep our mouths shut

BECAUSE we know diversity is vital

BECAUSE we are doing real work, not only creating “panicky responses”

BECAUSE we’re not critic bitches

BECAUSE we believe in the transformational power of story

BECAUSE we carry stories of menstruation, family, rape, grief, love, birth, embodiment, sexuality, masturbation, incest, adultery, violence, incarceration, suicide, addiction and recovery

BECAUSE we are made up of an array of different voices

BECAUSE we offer various points of view

BECAUSE we want women, transgender, two-spirited, racially diverse writers and members of culturally marginalized groups to enter the critical fray

BECAUSE criticism isn’t exclusive to a white hetero English boy’s club

BECAUSE we see the value of a rich critical culture that isn’t simply fluff

BECAUSE we don’t care about the canon

BECAUSE we believe in the diversity of criticism

BECAUSE we won’t measure our worth by prizes until they are awarded to women, transgender, and racially diverse people as often as the literary machine grants them to cisgender white men

BECAUSE it’s not only once voice, but all voices count

BECAUSE we constantly strive to become more engaged critics

BECAUSE we are rewriting, reimaging, previsioning, and reshaping the canon

BECAUSE we don’t want to merely address the gender gap, we want to overturn it

BECAUSE we are tired of being othered

BECAUSE we believe in inclusivity

BECAUSE we want to give justice to our complexities

BECAUSE we hold space for silence, confession, truth-telling, secrets, and lies

BECAUSE we pay attention, we are awake

BECAUSE we want to break down human self-delusion and isolation

BECAUSE our books and words change us

BECAUSE poetry saves lives

BECAUSE we honour our ancestors, and are planning for generations to come

 

Read Erin Wunker’s thoughts on reading “An Incomplete Manifesto for CWILA”

Published on October 7th, 2014

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