This May, Literary Arts, Ooligan Press, and The PSU English Department celebrated their 3rd publishing event specifically for writers identifying as Black, Indigenous, and/or people of color. Although Ooligan Press and Literary Arts have been partnering since 2017 to host the Writer of Color Showcase, the model of this partnership shifted in 2021, when due to lockdown, the hosts of the Showcase decided to explore a new way of serving BIPOC writers that was both safe and a better fit for the Zoom model.
And so, the BIPOC Publishing Event was born in the Spring of 2021. The first time the event was held, it consisted of a virtual workshop by Fiona Kenshole, a virtual Q&A panel featuring local publishing professionals, and virtual pitching sessions, in which writers could sign up to pitch their projects to local publishers.
After the success of the first event, Ooligan Press and Literary Arts decided to offer the event biannually, calling the second event the “Fall Session” of the BIPOC Publishing Event. Thanks to participant feedback, the organizers have made it a goal to offer workshops and panels that meet writers at every stage of their publishing journey. While still upholding the importance of demystifying publishing and offering “Intro Level” content, they have also designed programming that addresses more specific skills relating to publishing, like writing query letters and pitching.
This year, the Publishing Event consisted of a virtual Writer’s Panel with Janice Lee, author of Separation Anxiety (CLASH Books, 2022); Nicholas Buccola, 2020 Oregon Book Award Winner in General Nonfiction; Michelle Ruiz Keil, author of Summer in the City of Roses (Soho Press, 2021); Genevieve DeGuzman, 2022 Oregon Literary Fellowship recipient; and Jonathan Hill, Literary Arts Board Member, and author of Odessa (Oni Press, 2020).
The panel invited each writer to talk about their unique journey to publishing. Although they each came from different genres and backgrounds, all panelists touched on the importance of finding your writing community, taking the shame out of promoting yourself and your work, and honoring and protecting your writing practice.
Even more reason to celebrate—this year, for the first time since its inception, the BIPOC Publishing Event also had an in-person component, in which writers could sign up for 15-minute meetings with local publishing professionals and ask any question relating to the publishing process. This opened the possibility for more casual conversation between writers and publishers, without the expectation of a finished manuscript from writers. Writers were able to meet with professionals from Tin House, Pomegranate Press, Microcosm, Ooligan Press, and Illuminate Literary Agency.
The BIPOC Publishing Event will be back this fall! Stay tuned for more information, or email firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved.