Virtual Literary Conference: Taking Care in Writing, Publishing & Building Community (Day 3)


As  COVID sweeps across the planet and through our lives, we continue to confront our vulnerabilities, both public and private. Hard truths about our nation are in sharp focus. How do we carve out purpose, chart a meaningful course, through troubling times that don’t seem to end?

Taking care of ourselves and others is one answer, and it can take many forms. Sometimes this means learning to dismantle oppressive systems and interrogate received ideas, as Mary-Frances Winters explores in Black Fatigue and Sejal Shah confronts in This Is One Way to Dance. Margaret Gibson inspires perspective with, “let the stones be read aloud, so that a human voice/might widen its reach, floating off among the stars like the ringing-through/of a great bronze bell like the audible layers of birdsong gradually moving west as dawn/brightens, or used to/and the great earth turns”

We hope you agree that engaging with and making art are transformational experiences that can offer solace, release, self-knowledge, and solidarity. It is in this spirit that you’re invited to join us for Taking Care in Writing, Publishing & Building Community. 

“We can train ourselves to respect our feelings, and to discipline (transpose) them into a language that matches those feelings so they can be shared.”  ― Audre Lorde, Poetry is Not a Luxury

Early Bird Rate: $195 (valid through January 13) | January 14 – 23: $225
Need-based Scholarships Available
Pitch Sessions: $20/Each (ineligible for scholarships)

SUPPORT THE CONFERENCE Your $195 donation will pay for a scholarship. Your gift in any amount makes a difference!  

CORPORATE SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES. Email Laura Hamilton at [email protected]

Registrants will have access to recorded events for 90 days following the conference.



Four panels curated by Sejal Shah
In 2020, Sejal Shah was awarded a grant from the Disability Visibility project to support creating an accessible virtual literary event. Working with Writers & Books, she has designed a day of panels, described below, that speak to this theme. Her grant underwrites Writing Illness and Beyond the Black and White Binary, offered admission-free to the public.

11:30 am – 12:45 pm

Writing Illness: Mental Health, Chronic Pain, & Disability
Free to the public | ASL Interpreted
How do we write authentically about illness or disability—both our own and those in our families and communities? Four writers explore different approaches to writing about and through illness—both visible and invisible—with care; and discuss writing as care work, advocacy, and activism in the time of COVID.
Panelists: Sopan DebCarley MooreSejal Shah.
Moderator: Sally Bittner Bonn

Free Ticket

1 – 2:15 pm

Translation as Activism & Taking Care
Though historically sidelined by mainstream publishers, translated literature flourishes at small presses and magazines. Listen in as three activist translators read brief excerpts from their recent work, then discuss the importance of bringing into the center of cultural awareness transformative books that disrupt received ideas perpetuated in North American popular culture.  
Panelists: Jenny BhattWendy CallRajiv Mohabir.
Moderator: Jenny Kellogg

2:30 – 3:45 pm

Letterpress, Activism, Zines, & Community-Based Collaboration
The bound volume is not the only, or even the appropriate, platform for inviting others into your creative process and achieving unexpected results. Extrapolating on the tradition of the samizdat, today’s artists, writers, and scholars are subverting received forms, working collectively, and jumpstarting provocative conversations with ephemeral productions that are free or inexpensive to produce and acquire.
Panelists: Kate MarinerStephen J. West.
Moderator: Purvi Shah

4 – 5:15 pm

Beyond the Black and White Binary
Free to the public | ASL Interpreted 
Four writers of color discuss ways of resisting and challenging the black-and-white binary that often dominates conversations and frames how American culture and the publishing industry imagine race. Panelists explore how to forge and foster collaborations between Black and Brown writers through solidarity and a politics of community-building with a focus on both craft and content. Sejal will show a short clip of a performance by internationally renowned modern dance company, Garth Fagan Dance, one of her foundational artistic influences. 
Panelists: Valerie BoydAnjali EnjetiSejal Shah.
Moderator: Steve Majors

Free Ticket