Essay

COLOR ONLINE: Celebrating Women Writers Who Make History ~ Vasilly (1330V)’s Models

Hi everyone!

I’m sure most of you are familiar with the fabulous website COLOR ONLINE, a blog that “focuses on women writers of color for adults YA and children,” that is dedicated to empowering young women and children. If not, make sure to click and read away. Color Online regularly features interviews, book reviews, giveaways and essays on literacy and on various cultural issues. It was founded by LaTonya Baldwin, who is also at the origin of Readers Against WhiteWashing (RAWW).

Color Online is maintained by LaTonya and a community of women bloggers that include Doret (The Happy Nappy Bookseller), Tarie (Asia in the Heart, World on the Mind), Ari (Reading in Color), Vasilly (1330V), Ah Yuan (Gal Novelty), Terri (BrownGirl Speaks), and me (though I don’t contribute as regularly as I’d love to, yet).

To celebrate Women’s History Month, it was only natural to highlight Color Online’s work. And what better way to do so than to pick the brain of some of my colleagues? So I asked:

Tell me about a woman writer who made history, whose life inspire you, and/or whom you consider a role model.

Here’s Vasilly‘s answer. *Thanks, Vasilly!*

“There are so many women writers who inspire me to be the best that I can. There’s Emily Dickinson and Audre Lorde. Both women were gifted poets. In middle school I carried The Selected Poems of Emily Dickinson everywhere with me. In high school it was Audre Lorde’s The Collected Poems. Dickinson wrote poetry even though she didn’t have an audience. There was no one to write poetry for but herself. That’s the ultimate love of writing to me. Audre Lorde wrote these fierce poems that demanded readers to open their eyes and see what it was like to be black, lesbian, and a writer. Her poetry demanded that readers see her for who she really was: a soul.

When I became older, it was writers like Mary Karr, Alice Walker, Anne Lamott, and Barbara Kingsolver who I came to love and whose works I would carry everywhere with me. Walker’s collection of poetry, Her Blue Body Everything We Know, was read over and over again from the time I was about sixteen to eighteen. When I was nineteen, Anne Lamott‘s Traveling Mercies, took over and became a memoir I have marked up several times. Barbara Kingsolver‘s collection of essays, Small Wonders, is a book I recommend over and over again while Mary Karr‘s The Liar’s Club is a memoir that is searingly honest and refuses to flinch from the darkness of Karr’s childhood.

I think the strongest writers of any gender are writers who ask the big questions of life, write about it, and does so in a way that commands the respect of readers. Whether they are writing about war or pregnancy, spirituality or love, the writers that inspire me are women who didn’t let criticism stop them. One of Audre Lorde’s most famous quotes is

“When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid”.

It doesn’t get more inspiring than that. :-)”

Vasilly

Edited 3.20.2011: Eva is no longer a contributor for Color Online.
Side Note: Post on relief efforts for Japan updated. There’s a new auction going on. Please, spread the word. Thanks!

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5 thoughts on “COLOR ONLINE: Celebrating Women Writers Who Make History ~ Vasilly (1330V)’s Models

  1. It was interesting to see Vasilly’s progression of authors she enjoyed from middle school to later in life. I also love the quote by Audre Lorde.
    This what Vasilly said also struck me: “There was no one to write poetry for but herself. That’s the ultimate love of writing to me.”
    Maybe a subject for another blog 🙂 Would we write if we knew we’d never have an audience, that no one would ever read what we wrote?

    Like

    1. “Maybe a subject for another blog. Would we write if we knew we’d never have an audience, that no one would ever read what we wrote?”

      Dear Linda, you know you have an open spot here anytime. 😀

      Like

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