At this year’s AWP conference in Seattle, Evan Fallenberg officiated over a panel entitled “Pigeonhole or Portal?” He introduced the panel by asking: “Black writer, gay writer, Jewish writer, Asian writer, woman writer, sci-fi writer. These are just a few of the labels that readers, editors, or publishers assign writers, or that writers themselves assume. But exactly what do such labels do to us? Do they shut or open doors for what we write and publish?”
In the series that follows, three of the esteemed authors from the panel provide their response. Sarah Van Arsdale discusses whether or not being a lesbian was ever her “important subject.” Matthew Shenoda wants to know if you meant to sound like Columbus when you said you “discovered” a writer from another country. And Xu Xi investigates how the concept of nationality fails to define a writer born between continents.
—Aisha Sabatini Sloan for Guernica
Aisha Sabatini Sloan’s essays have appeared in Ninth Letter, Identity Theory, Michigan Quarterly Review, and The Southern Review. Her first book of essays, The Fluency of Light: Coming of Age in a Theater of Black and White (Sightline Books) was published by the University of Iowa Press in 2013.