Debra Di Blasi to Speak at &Now

24 Sep

&Now 2013, a conference held to discuss writing as a contemporary art form, will be in Boulder, CO this week, and Debra Di Blasi, owner and Publisher-in-Chief of Jaded Ibis Productions will be speaking there about writing as the ultimate medium to break social mores.  Specifically, Di Blasi will address the idea that writing across genders or race is taboo, as the empathy required to take on another’s perspective effectively is difficult to achieve.  The assumption here is that writers feel pressure to write within their own race or gender, and need encouragement to write outside of their comfort zone.

This is actually an interesting idea. I’ve never thought about social mores when writing from the perspective of men or women of any race or sexual orientation. I just go with whatever the character happens to be. All of these things seem inherently fluid to me, as an author is basically writing a character’s psyche and soul from the ground-up. The characters can adhere to social mores or not.

This subject, worry about appropriating another’s perspective, may actually be an off-shoot of privilege. I can understand someone in powerful sociological standing being cautious about crossing race or gender lines. I know I am particularly scathing when a man writes women as weak, or as damsels-in-distress, or only use them as plot points (lookin’ at you, Robert Kirkman) because they haven’t enough empathy to build them as viable characters.  And, granted, I am especially livid when another white-man/woman-saves-inner-city/native-inhabitants-from-other-white-folk/encroachment/themselves movie or novel comes out that makes the white man/woman the main character and makes little to no attempt to build out the socially disadvantaged characters. This is called BAD WRITING.

What Di Blasi will be speaking about is the fact that the only way to get better at writing is to practice. If writers feel discouraged from venturing into these scary transgressive waters, then writers cannot grow in their craft.  We, as a society or at least as writing and reading community, must encourage, and maybe even be a bit forgiving (I know I need to work on this part), when writers attempt these jumps in social strata. Publishing houses would do well to follow Di Blasi’s lead, and allow writers to stretch their fingers out into this dark and troubled abyss knowing they have some support.

Perhaps as a woman, and a Black woman, I feel absolutely no pressure whatsoever to write only from a black female perspective. Sociologically, in America, I am under the boot-heel of the social hierarchy. It will not be considered condescending for me to “write up” about other races. But coming the other way – well, I guess I wouldn’t want to be the person to do it.

&Now (@andnowfestival) is a bi-annual conference held by University of Colorado celebrating writing as a contemporary art form. Di Blasi’s talk is on Friday September 27th and is entitled “Break On Through to the Other Side: Writing Across Race and Gender as a Transgressive Act.”


Debra Di Blasi, Break On Through to the Other Side: Writing Across Race and Gender as a Transgressive Act:

And Now Festival, 2013:


One Response to “Debra Di Blasi to Speak at &Now”


  1. Jaded Ibis Productions, A Recap | Exploration in Digital Publishing Innovations - November 12, 2013

    […] exhibit mentioned above, during the time I followed Jaded Ibis there were appearances at LitQuake, &Now, multiple events in New York City, and at swissnex San […]

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