Fem Editors Talk Back: Literature as Resistance

Q1: How is literature a means of resistance?

AMY [poetry]: This takes me back to the medieval mystics. Testimony to experience is a means of resistance. Storytelling and song and poetry that come from people who are being silenced is resistance. Amplifying the words of those who are erased and elided from popular imagination, from political influence, and from public discourse is resistance.

JASMINE [spoken word]: My people were never supposed to know how to read or write. From the moment we were dragged to this continent, illiteracy has been used as a tool to keep us oppressed mentally, socially, economically, and many other ways.

ANC5ACJ7V0-2

But moving a community requires language – every revolution uses graffiti and pamphlets and code words and chants and songs and stories. (Amy)

MAI [social media]: To me, writing is a tool to share the unheard stories of my family and my people. Writing the stories of my family and my people in English is sort of my way of using the English language, once and still a tool of colonization, instead as a tool of decolonization.

SUSANNAH [fiction]: There’s this assumption that I keep seeing recently that only marginalized groups can use literature as resistance, because it’s seen as resistance to the status quo. But I also think there is a larger way in which literature is always resistance. A resistance to mortality, a resistance to silence, a resistance to letting what is already written be enough.

Startup Stock Photos

I also think there is a larger way in which literature is always resistance. A resistance to mortality, a resistance to silence, a resistance to letting what is already written be enough. (Susannah)

AMY: Is literature enough? No. But it is sustaining. And reframing. And when you can see yourself in created words, in crafted language, and when you can see an other – more clearly, perhaps for the first time – that’s revolutionary and powerful.

JASMINE: To me, literature has an intrinsic connection to freedom. The fact that I can produce and devour literature at all is a form of resistance.

0TW4AS1G7D

Every time I read a book or write a poem or get on a stage and speak, I spit in the faces of white supremacy and those who aim to paint me ignorant and sub-human. (Jasmine)

SUSANNAH: There’s the internal resistance, resisting the temptation of thinking that your version of things doesn’t matter, asserting artistry and the importance of words and language and story to being human. I think most literature with staying power has in it that quality of resistance.

MAI: By sharing our stories, legends, and history – both with displaced Vietnamese communities that are being forced into assimilation and with Western society – we have the ability to reverse some of the effects of colonization.

Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset

Writing the stories of my family and my people in English is sort of my way of using the English language, once and still a tool of colonization, instead as a tool of decolonization. (Mai)

JASMINE: Every time I read a book or write a poem or get on a stage and speak, I spit in the faces of white supremacy and those who aim to paint me ignorant and sub-human.

MAI: Too, literature has become so much more accessible. The literary scene is becoming less and less elitist, though elitism still persists. The more accessible, the more people can use literature to resist.

hand-vintage-old-book-large

AMY: You can’t kill song. Individual resistance can be purely physical. But moving a community requires language – every revolution uses graffiti and pamphlets and code words and chants and songs and stories. Literature can grow from and build resistance.

This is the first in a series of interviews/discussions curated by co-founder Rachel to give insight into the way that the mission of The Fem manifests within the thoughts and actions of our staff.

Advertisements

Respond to this piece.

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s