New Topic and New Challenges
“Hence the beauty of an anthology, which is a vessel that collects our voices, a time capsule that seals writers’ imaginations and reflects our hearts’ desires.” -Lauren Cherelle
This summer, I discovered the beauty of anthologies. After reading Kink by R.O . Kwon and Garth Greenwell, I realized how fantastic a collection of texts can be. The way that stories and poems can be collected and organized in a fashion that tells a story itself is almost surprising. After finishing Kink, I started Care Free Black Girls: A Celebration of Black Women in Popular Culture by Zeba Blay. Although it isn't advertised as an anthology, the flow of essays from one to another had meaning, even if this wasn't intentional.
I found myself seeking more anthologies - non-fiction, fiction, and poetry alike. In fact, one of the books that heavily inspired this project originally is Lez Talk: An Anthology of Black Lesbian Fiction by S. Andrea Allen and Lauren Cherelle.
My topic change came very suddenly. I had been reading and researching and collecting my thoughts on two novels and found myself feeling stuck. I wasn't sure why. While doing a class reading, I came across Cheryl Clarke, and I started to look up other Black lesbian literature that could potentially fit into my research. And I discovered Black, lesbian anthologies. I found far more than I would expect, and across almost four decades. It felt right. It was a way to be exposed to more Black sapphic authors than I ever expected. Even further, I think Lauren Cherelle's quote had snuck into my subconscious.
As Cherelle points out, anthologies are a community practice. They reflect not only the thoughts of one author, but a group, and at a specific time. This research project isn't only a research project, but a means for self-discovery. I am already inspired by the reading I've done and I cannot wait to continue to explore the work of Black lesbian authors. My current working title is:
Black Lesbian Anthologies as a Community Practice
And my current book list is:
Lez Talk: An Anthology of Black Lesbian Fiction by S. Andrea Allen and Lauren Cherelle (BLF Press, 2016)
Mouths of Rain: An Anthology of Black Lesbian Thought by Briona Simone Jones (The New Press, February 2021)
Afrekete: An Anthology of Black Lesbian Writing by Catherine E. McKinley (Anchor Books, April 1995)
Experimental Love: Poetry by Cheryl Clarke (Firebrand Books, September 1993)
Living as a Lesbian by Cheryl Clarke (Firebrand Books, September 1986)
Does Your Mama Know?: An Anthology of Black Lesbian Coming Out Stories by Lisa C. Moore (Redbone Press, January 1997)
With a topic change comes challenges - new books to read, new research to do, new subheadings to make. I'm nervous, but passionate, which feels like a good mix. The topic needs to be refined, and I'm not sure how to describe what I really want to say in this project. I know my research methods will have to change. I'm still working on what this is really going to look like. But I'm excited (and again, nervous) to find out! Thankfully, my instincts are right, and I received feedback from my advisor and a grant application that I should and could narrow my topic. I'll keep this blog updated as I refine even more.