It was a great privilege to take our oral history project, Phenomenal Women: Twelve Youngstown Stories, to Arkansas in early November.
At the inaugural C.D. Wright Women Writers Conference at the University of Central Arkansas, we were included on a panel of presenters from Indiana, Nebraska and Ohio. The focus of our talk was the ways that literary arts might be used give a voice to women and girls, to create bridges of understanding, healing, and empowerment. Audience members asked several questions about our project.
2. Reaching Out: Organizations and Institutions Using Literary Arts as Outreach with Women and Girls (Karen Schubert, Janine Harrison, Laura Madeline Wiseman, and Colleen Wells) Location: Art Lecture Hall, McCastlain Hall The literary arts are a means for giving voice to women and girls. This panel will discuss several outreach writing projects dealing with such themes as writing resistance to violence; therapy and trauma; empowerment and connection; and bridging gulfs in sociohistorical experience. From readings to roundtables to workshops to oral histories, presenters will expand on the power of the literary arts to create a space for women and girls.
The conference was named for C.D. Wright, a celebrated poet from Arkansas.
From there, we presented at the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith, under the invitation of Professor Christian Anton Gerard. Three Fort Smith students performed the Phenomenal Women staged reading.
Even though the details of the stories in Phenomenal Women are specific to Youngstown, they are well received wherever we take them. The themes of love, loss, work, family, struggle, change and hope are universal, and the poignant, tender and funny storytelling is powerful.