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Building a POC literary community

Announcing Building A POC Literary Community, a three-part event series that Aunt Lute Books and POC United have developed in collaboration to build a POC literary community independent from the disproportionately white publishing industry. This series is made possible by funds from the California Arts Council.

The first event in the series is Prepping to Publish with Sonora Jha, a two-day intensive workshop geared towards marginalized writers who may lack access to MFA programs, workshops, and conferences. Participants will leave the course with a formatted manuscript, a critiqued query letter, and a tailored list of editors, journals, and publishing houses that might be a good home for their work. 8 to 12 students will be selected based on the quality of their submissions.

Saturday, February 20, 2021, 12p – 3p; Sunday, February 21, 2021, 12p – 3p

"The publishing industry, by accepting only those stories that elevate race-based trauma or tropes about the exotic other, controls the literary imagination of readers and writers. For the writers of color, the burden is heavy, carrying the imagination of the white gaze in their writing and limiting the stories they tell in order to reach equivalent levels of 'success.' POC United and the writing we encourage is meant to subvert these expectations and reimagine the literary and publishing landscape."
—Pallavi Dhawan, POC United

Creating Our Own "Table" Panel Discussion will feature writers of color who are creating their own publishing tables where centering whiteness is, well, off the table. Panelists include Tara Betts, Tongo Eisen-Martin, and Neelanjana Bannerjee with Black Freighter Press, Kaya Press, and Whirlwind Learning Center respectively.

Wednesday, April 7th, 5 pm PDT

“We want the attendees at these events to see themselves as part of a larger POC literary community. We want to give writers of color the same opportunities and structural supports found in traditional spaces like MFA programs, workshops, and conferences. Our goal is to equip writers of color with the vision and opportunity to connect to a broader literary community and build similar mentoring opportunities within their own networks, carrying the vision forward into traditionally underserved literary spaces.”
—Tamika Thompson, POC United

Reading: Isolation centering writers of color will feature poetry, fiction, and nonfiction on the theme of 'Isolation'. Since the onset of the global pandemic in 2020, isolation has been, for good or bad, a major feature of life for many people across the world. In this 90-minute event, writers of color will share works honoring the pain, joy, injustice, comfort, and trauma of isolation. Readers are to be announced in March, 2021.

Thursday, May 13th, 5 pm PDT

“For 38 years, Aunt Lute has worked tirelessly to empower the voices silenced by patriarchy and racism. These same voices are the ones made most vulnerable by crises such as Covid-19. We plan to continue to share their stories, because if we do not do this in times of hardship, we erase their experiences and perpetuate discrimination. This project is the perfect opportunity to do so and to nurture this arts community.”
—Emma Rosenbaum, Aunt Lute



Graffiti, the debut anthology from POC United—edited by Tamika Thompson, Pallavi Dhawan, and Devi S. Laskar—was published by Aunt Lute in 2019 and was a SILVER Winner of the 22nd annual Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Award for Anthologies. Find it here:

POC United is a literary safe space of creative play far removed from the white gaze, a place where writers of color can focus on one another in solidarity. To showcase multi-genre works by writers of color, POC United created GRAFFITI, a bestselling anthology, which is a Silver Winner of the 22nd annual Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Award for Anthologies.

For more on POC United, please visit


Aunt Lute Books is a nonprofit multicultural women’s press based in San Francisco. For over thirty years, we have been publishing literature that voices the perspectives of women from a broad range of communities. We have published a number of well-known feminist and lesbian authors, including Paula Gunn Allen, Gloria Anzaldúa, Judy Grahn, LeAnne Howe, Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz, Audre Lorde, and Alice Walker.

Visit our website at


Jon Maunder



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