book: ‘dismantle’, an anthology of writing from vona creative writing workshop for writers of color

May 7, 2014

There is absolutely no denying the contribution that writers of color have made to the literary world. Writers of color have produced some of the most original and noteworthy work of the 20th and 21st century which have been sources of knowledge and inspiration for many. Though these writers’ contribution is paramount, it still seems as though the work of many is being pigeonholed, strangled, and forced to follow certain criteria in order for it to be recognized as literature. In many institutions, writers of color are still being told that their unique stories are not worth telling. The voices of these writers are being stifled by a society that thinks their experiences are trite and irrelevant, when in reality their work is anything but that. The Voices of Our Nation Arts Foundation, founded by Elmaz Abinader, Junot Díaz, Victor Díaz and Diem Jones in 1999, is an organization aimed at providing writers of color with a platform to share their ideas and experiences without having to apologize for doing so. Dismantle: An Anthology of Writing from the VONA/Voices Writing Workshop showcases the work of these talented writers and it is further proof that we simply cannot let the work of gifted writers of color go unnoticed.

By Damola Durosomo, AFROPUNK Contributor

The poems and short stories that fill the pages of Dismantle are exceptionally raw and authentic, from the aptly titled poem “To the white woman on the plane who doesn’t understand my discomfort when she asks if she can touch my hair” by Torrie Valentine to “The New Cotton”, an expressive poem about the imprisonment of black men by Nikky Finney to “Mixipino” by Anna Alves, a clever piece that likens the mixture of a young boy’s ethnic background to a mixture of music, offering colorful and complex imagery along the way. Dismantle is filled with the work of writers who are genuine and honest about their art and message. Other pieces include “Twinning” by Faith Adiele and “The Castle” by Thandiwe Dee Watts-Jones, two reflective pieces that resonate with me because of their references to West Africa and their focus on women. The beautiful thing about this book is that it is filled with pieces that people from various ethnic backgrounds can relate to in various ways.

It is important that we feel as though our experiences are represented in the things that we read and Dismantle does a great job of sharing the pure, unadulterated art of writers of color and allowing their work to shine. Dismantle: An Anthology of Writing from the VONA/ Voices Writing Workshop is available now, with an introduction by Junot Díaz. Be sure to check it out!