“We need to create alternative habitats for writers” – Oregon Humanities

To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Oregon Humanities, we’re posting interviews with forward-thinking Oregonians about what the future holds for our region. Read more of these stories here.

Lidia Yuknavitch, award-winning novelist, short story writer, essayist and founder of Corporeal Writing, an in-person and online writing workshop, offers her vision for a new kind of community art space in Oregon as well as her thoughts on creation. savings and more equitable forms of writing. His latest novel, Thrust, will be published in June 2022 (Riverhead Books), and his memoirs, The chronology of water, is developed into a film by actor and filmmaker Kristen Stewart.

Celebrate alternative genres

“The dependence on literary realism in this country is an obstacle to a world literature that is deeper and more meaningful than us. could be able to participate. Addiction to capitalism and its relationship to art and literature is also a kind of disease. In the future, maybe these addictions will end; I certainly see evidence of the cracks and cracks in the mighty monoliths of patriarchy and capitalism. One of the last things Ursula K. Le Guin told me before her death was that I need to continue working towards a fundamentally more humanistic condition to interrupt empire building with the stories I write. I will keep trying, even if the changes don’t happen in my lifetime. What we are trying is what creates the electrical circuit that we must not give in or give up. “

The body as a vase of history

“When my daughter passed away on the day she was born, in loss and grief, there was something alive. I realized that my body was carrying everything that had happened to me – that my body had knowledge and experience – and that my body was a walking story vessel. I started to explore what this could mean. This exploration led me to write The timeline of water, and from there I tried to invent practices for people who are also interested in working outside of the literary traditions that we have inherited.

“I have been at the bottom of the ocean of sorrow, the ocean of loss, the ocean of pain, the ocean of abuse. I’m still here, which must mean I’ve found a way to come up from the bottom of the ocean and come back to the surface. I learned to do this with my body. And I know how to show others how to find their own embodied stories. A lot of people have had a tougher fight than I have. But having life and death run through my body at the same time has reorganized my DNA, so I know how to look for others in the world who are seeking liberation.

Support Oregon Authors

“If we don’t create and insist on alternative economies, only the more sophisticated get the oxygen or the empowerment, and only the already wealthy publishers and business leaders get the goods. How is it good for the art and the heart? I can’t live with this. There are hundreds of economies under and alongside dominant markets and power structures. We must support them together. We need to create alternative habitats where a writer can still have value, vision and mobility even if they are not in the “big five” publisher or earning billions of dollars. I started my literary life as a freelance author. And my heart still lives in independent art. It is very important for me to support the authors of Oregon because Oregon made me grow up. For the best or for the worst. Getting the books to the hands is the least we can do. When books circulate from hand to hand, from hand to hand, a strong economy is born from human resources. I also leave books in public spaces, so anyone who wants one can find one. “

Art spaces for all Oregonians

“In 2011, I started working with people who wanted to write but didn’t have access to universities, mentors, or sophisticated writing programs. I was still a faculty member at Mt. Hood Community College, working full time, raising a son, and living in the woods. I have worked one-on-one with incarcerated women and youth, as well as recovering people, drug addicts and homeless people, for free. While doing this work, I met a lot of other people who work with vulnerable populations, and I started to see that maybe I could create a space for people who can’t or won’t follow. the traditional path to becoming a writer or bringing artistic expression into their lives. Since then, I have mostly left academia and used the money I earn as a writer to fund body writing.

The writing revolution

“I’m an atheist. When I look up I see the cosmos, and my questions are about our relationship to all living matter and energy. The motto of Corporeal Writing, ‘We are the rest of you’, reflects my hope that he could be able be possible to interrupt our cultural fixation with experts and gurus by writing in community and listening to each other. We’ve tried to build halls and realms where we invent our own artistic events in the face of a dark, weird, market-driven system that creates celebrities and worker bees.

“I am incredibly privileged to have any space to speak. It doesn’t matter if I got out of a rough start; I stand in a sort of rarefied space. It is not enough to say things like “I am using my privilege to amplify others”. I try every day to smash down walls, windows and doors so that others can come in or pass or even blow past me. As long as I can, which of course is over. Sometimes I screw him up. Other times I’m helpful, I think.

“None of us can do it all. But each of us can do our little jobs that turn into bigger efforts that might become something useful in the future. “


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