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Aunt Lute Asks: Joan Pinkvoss

Aunt Lute Asks is a series that features voices in our Aunt Lute family. Today we are excited to bring you this interview with Joan Pinkvoss, the Executive Director and co-founder of Aunt Lute Books. Take a look at Aunt Lute's history in this very special chat.

Why did you start Aunt Lute?

So I started Aunt Lute in 1982 with my friend Barb Wieser. We started it in order to make it possible for voices of women who were outsiders, so to speak, either lesbians or women of color, for some reason or another who probably had no access to publishing at the time.

How do you see literature's role in the social justice fight?

Historically literature's had an amazing ability to change minds and move large masses of people towards a different opinion about things. I'm not sure that's as true anymore as it used to be because of all the other media, but we certainly found that with our book Borderlands that it started a whole movement almost thanks to Gloria Anzaldúa. The belief I have in literature, the whole reason I wanted to stay in literature and work in that field is because I think it changes people's minds in a way. Storytelling always is a different way for people to access, change, difference, opinions.

Who was your Aunt Lute?

Actually it wasn't my aunt Lute, it was the co-founder Barb Wieser's great aunt Lute and she was a very interesting independent woman. Never got married, went off and did interesting things like teaching in Hawaii without going with the Christians. Just doing things for for her age, that would be in the late 1800s, was pretty unusual for a single woman to be doing. We tried to come up with other names and it wasn't that easy. Somehow we landed on that and I kept saying, "Barb, we're gonna have to spell it every time we talk about it on the phone." Sure enough, that's often the case, but the good news is at some point Aunt Lute will be so well known that we won't have to spell it anymore.

What is your favorite part of radically reading or radically writing or both?

I went to the University of Iowa Writers Workshop in the '70s and it was, it just felt so staged and so stayed and so New York voice, and I think that I was always much more interested in the rawness that voices could bring to deeper understanding.

I would say my favorite part is to work with authors who've never published before and finding the exchange from it. From that exchange I benefit more than they do probably because I learned about their cultures in such an intimate way. Always the trick is to not put your own voice on top of theirs, and I think that's also part of what interests me is how you back away from being an editor in the usual sense of the word.

What are your Aunt Lute memories?

As part of our anniversary celebrations we'd love to hear your Aunt Lute memories. Whether it's a book that meant a lot to you or an event that you can't stop thinking about, share with us here.

We'll be sharing these memories as part of our anniversary celebrations.


Author's Name Removed from Film Credits

Geling Yan, author of White Snake and Other Stories, is asking that her name be put back into the credits of "One Second," a film that has previously included a line crediting her. As the film is distributed globally, Yan and her team are working to raise awareness about her name being censored due to her criticism of the Chinese government, campaigning for platforms and festivals to in some way acknowledge the author. You can learn more about the ongoing case in this New York Times article or this ABC post.


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