Thoughts from our 2016 Essay Series Curators

Now that we are halfway through our 2016 essay series, we're taking a small break to give the curators, Liz Blood and P. E. Garcia—both contributing editors with Awst Press, a chance to share their thoughts on this year's theme.

I was honored to help put together this essay series, alongside my old school buddy, P. E. Garcia. We discussed what we’d like the theme to center around, and landed on “Outsiders.”

For my part, I was thinking somewhat about the book by S.E. Hinton (which celebrates its 50th anniversary next year), made famous in film by Francis Ford Coppola, that tells the story of boys—“Greasers”—who grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on the “wrong” side of the tracks. Because the story is told from their point of view, we see these outsiders, vilified for being poor and different, are human—flawed, sure, but full of compassion, dignity, and honor, and deserving of respect.

I also thought a lot about acceptance, and how as we move more towards a culture and world that values acceptance and works at it, there are still those who rail against it, who seem determined to keep the outsiders out.

A few days ago, I read an article in The Atlantic about how a Hillary presidency will likely usher in a new, unprecedented era of public misogyny. It’s depressing, worrisome, etc.—but writer Michelle Cottle offers this: “things can turn really, really nasty on their way to getting better.”

I think this essay series, and Awst Press in general, is a force for making things better. Obviously, this theme has many facets and we couldn’t cover them all. Regardless, I hope you enjoy exploring some of them with this talented set of writers.
— Liz Blood
Personally, I don’t like the term outsiders. It presumes there’s a simple binary to the world, an outside and an inside, and that those considered outside might like to be inside, (when they could be doing just fine outside, thank you very much). The reality is, of course, something much more complicated. This isn’t to deny that there is an outside or an inside, only that they are extremely elastic and relative terms; we step inside one door, only to find ourselves outside another. Or perhaps we simply stand in the doorway, neither being in nor out.

There are a thousand ways to complicate the binary, but that is precisely what makes the concept of an essay series on Outsiders so interesting. I, alongside the extremely talented Liz Blood, approached writers on the inside/outside of many different worlds and asked them to write about being an outsider and what that means to them. As you can see for yourself, they offered a varied array of complex, thoughtful, and necessary responses, each of which, in its own way, beautifully complicates our understanding of what it means to be on the outside.
— P. E. Garcia

More of this year's essay series:

Sonya Vatomsky, Mothertonguetied: The Fantasy of Belonging
Ka Bradley, Naming and Its Discontents
Jayy Dodd, The Impossible Outside (or, A Zumbi's Autopsy)

To see all essays, go here.

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