29 April 2015

Blogger Seeks Cites for Women-Veterans Bibliography

On her new blog "Presumption and Folly," military writer Jerri Bell, a U.S. Navy veteran and managing editor of the Veterans Writing Project's "O-Dark-Thirty" literary journal, has published a call for examples of women-veterans' writing from all eras, services, and nationalities for inclusion in an on-line bibliography. She has also illuminated a special writing opportunity for women veterans in next spring's "O-Dark-Thirty."

Bell's blog takes its title from a quote attributed to Deborah Sampson, who enlisted in the Continental Army in 1782. Bell's mission statement reads: "Presumption and Folly is a site dedicated to writing by (and sometimes about) women veterans. My goals are to curate writing by women veterans, to bring it to a wider audience, and to encourage more women veterans to write about their experiences."

Bell writes about her project:
The project began in 2013, when I started developing a version of the Veterans Writing Project’s seminar exclusively for women. Our curriculum, Writing War, was full of examples of the writing craft from the work of veterans from Leo Tolstoy to Tobias Wolff; but only one woman veteran—Vera Brittain, a British nursing assistant in World War I—was represented. I decided to find more examples from writing by women veterans. It turned out to be harder than I’d anticipated.

In March 2014, Cara Hoffman (author of "Be Safe I Love You") asserted in a New York Times op-ed that “stories about female veterans are nearly absent from our culture.” Kayla Williams, a former Army linguist and the author of two memoirs about her service in Iraq and her marriage to another former soldier with a traumatic brain injury, responded two months later in the Los Angeles Review of Books with a list of “essential contemporary war literature by women.” Both articles challenged me to go deeper – to attempt a more comprehensive survey of writing by women veterans, to think about what women veterans are and aren’t writing, and to consider how we tell our stories. The blog posts on this site represent that attempt.
In her work as managing editor for the Veterans Writing Project, Bell has also recently issued a special call for fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and other literary writing by female veterans for a special issue of the "O-Dark-Thirty" journal in spring 2016. Deadline is Oct. 31, 2015. According to the guidelines:
The editors will consider short stories (up to 5,000 words; 3,500 and under is better), creative nonfiction/essay (same word limit), poems, and short plays. Excerpts from memoirs and novels are acceptable if the excerpt stands alone as a story in its own right. Please limit submissions to one prose piece or a batch of up to three poems. Work is not required to be on a military theme!

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