Vanessa Mártir, our nonfiction editor for February and March, is a NYC based writer, educator and mama. She is currently completing her memoir, Relentless, and chronicles her journey in her blog: vanessamartir.wordpress.com. A five-time VONA/Voices fellow, Vanessa now serves as the organization’s Workshop Director and the newsletter editor. Her essays have appeared in The Butter, Poets & Writers Magazine, Kweli Journal, As/Us Journal, Thought Catalog and the VONA/Voices Anthology, Dismantle, among others. Vanessa has penned two novels, Woman’s Cry (Augustus Publishing, 2007) and The Right Play (unpublished). In 2011 she created the Writing Our Lives Workshop through which she’s led hundreds of emerging writers through the journey of writing the personal essay. Most recently, Vanessa was accepted to Tin House’s Winter 2016 Nonfiction Workshop where she will be working with Lacy B. Johnson.
Why be an editor for The James Franco Review?
As a writer of color, I’ve written at length about the importance of our stories and our voices, especially in a literary landscape that keeps telling us, directly and subliminally, that we are not worthy and our stories don’t matter; so, of course, I love JFR’s commitment to diversifying literature, and their focus on increasing the visibility of underrepresented artists and narratives. I think it’s brilliant and novel to tackle this mission by changing up the editors every two months.
What really caught me was that with the invitation came these instructions: “our main request is that editors heed Edwidge Danticat’s call to ‘read dangerously’.” I’ve reread Danticat’s words several dozen times since reading the essay collection a few years ago: “Create dangerously, for people who read dangerously. … Writing, knowing in part that no matter how trivial your words may seem, someday, somewhere, someone may risk his or her life to read them.” I’ve read the work of so many authors whose work reflects this credo but their work isn’t widely published. I want to help change that and JFR is giving me this opportunity. I’m taking this challenge on with gusto, humility and a great deal of responsibility.
What have you read lately that’s excited you?
I just finished Roxane Gay’s Untamed State, and Diosito mio, that woman can write! I’ve been a fan of her essays for a minute now, but hadn’t read her fiction. I’m glad I did. She’s an incredibly dexterous writer, and I love her badassness and willingness to cover and dissect taboo topics that people are afraid to talk and write about.
I’m now digging into Dorothy Allison’s Bastard out of Carolina because after reading her essays, especially her Tin House essay, “Place,” I think she’s the shit and want to read everything she’s ever written. I love that she’s unapologetic about what she writes and how she approaches her material.
Both of these writers wow me with their perspectives and distinct voices. They fully (and unapologetically) embrace the notion that the personal is political. As a woman obsessed with all things autobiography, I am so with that.
Submit your nonfiction to Vanessa here.