Hello to you, community of readers, writers, and beyond

On Monday of this week, I wrote a misguided attempt at satire using base stereotypes. My rush to defend AWP lacked careful thought, hurting those on all sides. I am truly sorry for my words and the hurt I have caused. It was never my intention to dismiss anyone or their concerns, or to cause anger or pain. I am humbled by the knowledge I have gained by those who have read and spoken out about this piece.

It has been recommended by many that I not write this personal message, that I let my initial retraction stand in its place. But I did not become a writer to stay silent. I was raised in—and escaped from—a cult that enforced child abuse, silence, and ignorance upon its members, and I have since dedicated my life to diversity in publishing, to making voices heard that were not heard before. I am grateful for the calls for action, for diversity, for underrepresented voices, for empowerment.

What I can do is tell you how truly dedicated I am to diversity. This is not an empty promise, but a record of twenty years of publishing that reflects this dedication and lifelong mission; a record that stands not for itself, but pushes me forward into projects already in the making to improve and expand on this diversity. I have read your comments, and I am learning, striving to be better, to change, to more fully understand the weight that words can have. Moving forward, I will do my best to make sure my words always reflect and advocate for marginalized voices in the literary community.

I acknowledge that the allegations of prejudice against AWP are issues that need to be addressed. Institutional prejudice needs to be addressed worldwide, countrywide, and perhaps especially in the literary community, where our words mean so much, and spread so far. AWP is not perfect in this vein, but it has made significant efforts to rectify these issues by increasing its diversity of panelists, of panel choosers, of its accessibility to people with disabilities. AWP is a big name with a small staff, working tirelessly for its members to create a conference where all voices and people can be seen and heard. Change is not overnight, it is a process of continuous attempts to break patterns, to acknowledge often overlooked perspectives, to listen, learn, and grow. AWP is attempting to grow as quickly as it can. I, too, am pushing myself to keep learning and growing.

I will continue to champion diversity in publishing. I will continue to champion marginalized writers, students, teachers, publishers, organizations, writers, and readers. I will continue to write. I am grateful for the patience, forgiveness, and support I have received from so many. I am grateful for the passion, anger, and calls to action that I have received from so many. I am grateful to have learned so much from all of you, and I intend to translate this learning into action.

Thank you for reading,
Kate Gale

Published in: on August 27, 2015 at 2:12 pm  Comments (10)  

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10 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Thank you, Kate. I so appreciate this apology. I know a great good is unfolding here. The energy of change is here. Let’s use it.

  2. Wow. A truly raw yet ripe piece of writing. Bravo.

  3. Interesting how you published only supportive comments but left those critical of you in moderation. You’re not sorry. Nor do I buy a word of this “sarcasm” excuse.

    • My comment which was polite but said I was glad she apologized was never approved.

  4. “Satire” — sorry. I meant to write that word.

  5. Let me tell you what it’s like to have a disability in the lit world:

    Editors will add the words “I imagine” in front of your sentences because they cannot believe your experiences are real.

    Editors will call your experiences “daydreams.”

    Editors will say, “I loved this, but can you cut the parts about epilepsy?”

    Editors will call your work “brilliant” in the same breath that they reject it for being too disturbing and/or tell you to seek psychiatric care.

    You will have essays win prestigious awards or be included as “Notable” in Best American Essays, and your MFA Program will not even congratulate you, even though they congratulate other students on awards and honors by touting them in Facebook posts. It is the same way you were treated in the program.

    MFA professors will joke about the causes of your seizures.

    You will be published in special issues of literary magazines and not be invited to the readings. In fact, despite prestigious literary awards and consistent publications, you will not be invited to *any* readings. Ever.

    You will not be able to attend conferences and retreats because they are not accessible or you are flat broke (either from low income or high medical bills or both) or sick, and then people will accuse you of “not trying hard enough” for your career.

    You will see call after call for “diversity” that doesn’t mention disabilities.

    You will lose your teaching job because the accommodation you seek is not acceptable to your department director and you get bullied out of the position … and you will be advised that suing will leave a mark on your permanent record, and you will never work again.

    Even though your writer friends will email you privately to say they loved a piece, they will not share it on social media, even though you regularly share their work.

    Online lit mags that do publish you will fail to promote your work the same way that they do other people’s, even when they privately tell you it was an amazing piece.

    Agents will tell you that they are concerned about whether you can handle having a book published or whether you would be able to promote it.

    You will have important research you want to do, but you won’t be able to figure out the logistics of travel.

    You will speak up against ableism and able-bodied gatekeepers will refuse to approve your comment even while approving the comments of others.

  6. Please let writers with disabilities speak. We will not be silenced anymore.

  7. Hi Kate, Since you are listening to comments, I had some questions. I could actually see the piece as satire gone bad. I am a dense reader, so if it was satirical, I could easily see it going over my head. But why do you think others did not catch that? I am curious what circumstances led you to write such a piece? How does empathy and support fit into it? Also, I think the problem with AWP is much much larger than AWP, so I am curious. As a press, how many writers with disabilities have you published? Are your readings in accessible locations? Is your website accessible to blind or low vision readers? In you MFA classes, do you teach literature by disabled poets, activists, and thinkers? Why, since the primary controversy is around disability, did you chose to not directly include it in your “satirical” article? I see this as an opening for people who have presses to be honest about why they don’t include disability when 20% of Americans have one!

    PLEASE RESPOND! There is nothing in this post that is cruel or even critical. You say you are open to diversity, so let’s have a dialog, why not?

  8. […] More from Kate Gale […]

  9. […] was raised in a cult, I was abused, I am an addict, many injustices have been done to me.” Look, apologizer, many injustices have been done to all of us. Blaming your survivorship is offensive to survivors. […]

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