June 13, 2012 in Announcements, Latest News

Canadian Women in the Literary Arts – launch


June 12 2012

 Canadian Women in the Literary Arts


“Editors and reviewers make choices. That’s their job. And for better or worse the choices they make matter deeply, not only to the public trajectory of individual authors and books, but also, and more importantly, to the quality and tone of our national conversation about the arts.” ~ Gillian Jerome, CWILA

There is a dramatic gender imbalance in the discussion of literature in English-speaking Canada. Canadian Women in the Literary Arts (CWILA) was founded in the Spring of 2012 to address the lack of critical attention given to women’s writing in the Canadian media. Currently over 70 poets, novelists, scholars and critics from across the country are CWILA members, and our numbers are growing.

In the United States, the VIDA Count has tracked the gender disparity in American and British literary criticism. Each year, they have examined several major publications and have counted the number of articles and book reviews written by men vs. those written by women. They have also tracked the number of reviewed books written by men and women respectively. Despite the Canadian media reporting on the VIDA Count, no one has counted the numbers in Canada—so CWILA has done its own count for 2011.

CWILA examined book reviews in fourteen Canadian literary publications—including The Globe & Mail, The National Post, The Walrus, Quill and Quire, The Literary Review of Canada, and Geist—and some startling gaps were found. This despite the fact that Canadian men and women are publishing books in equal numbers. The results have been assembled on the CWILA website, and where possible comments and interviews from the editors of the publications in question have been included. We encourage other outlets to respond to our call to engage in what we hope will continue to be a productive, positive dialogue.

CWILA’s mandate is to close the gender gap in our review culture by encouraging more women to take visible roles in the community and by asking our existing editors and reviewers, male and female alike, to attend more closely to the gendered nature of the choices they make. To this end we have, in addition to the count, created a critic-in-residence position, which will pay a Canadian female or genderqueer writer a $2000 stipend to be the CWILA critic-in-residence for a calendar year. We are currently accepting donations to that fund here.

CWILA is interested in developing a critical community welcoming of all marginalized voices and sincerely hopes to contribute to the attainment of equality in the arts in Canada. We welcome you to CWILA and encourage you to join the conversation.

Media Contacts for CWILA Launch

For more information please contact:

Gillian Jerome                          Lorna Crozier          Sue Sinclair                            Laura Moss

gillianjerome@hotmail.com      lcrozier@uvic.ca      sue_bluemoon@yahoo.ca     mossl@exchange.ubc.ca

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