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Beyond the Farm: Shay Brawn & Aunt Lute

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We recently had the opportunity to interview Shay Brawn about her work with Aunt Lute Books, a multicultural women's press.

Q: What is Aunt Lute and how have you been involved?

A: Aunt Lute is a non-profit feminist press focused on publishing the writing of people whose perspectives and voices have often been neglected or distorted by mainstream publishing. That means we primarily publish works by women of color and LGBTQ people. By far our most widely known book is Gloria Anzaldúa's Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza (1987).  I was the managing editor from 1996-2018 and have been the Artistic Co-Director since 2005. I do most of the non-fiction editing and take the lead on projects with a more scholarly audience (Joan Pinkvoss, the founding editor of the press, does our fiction editing). 

Q: What have been some of the most rewarding projects you've done with Aunt Lute?

A: The 2-Volume Aunt Lute Anthology of U.S. Women Writers, which I co-edited with an amazing group of feminist literary scholars, was a major highlight. So was getting to work with feminist poet Judy Grahn on her memoir, A Simple Revolution, and with novelist LeAnne Howe on her novels Miko Kings: An Indian Baseball Story and Shell Shaker and her essay collection, Choctalking on Other Realities. Apart from the work on specific projects, the part of working with Aunt Lute I enjoy the most is working with and mentoring the young women who come to the press as interns (and often stay on as staff members).

Q: What future projects is Aunt Lute planning?

A: We have two projects right now: one is a critical edition of Borderlands, which will include draft versions of the essays and poetry from the Gloria  Anzaldúa archive. The other is a really interesting multi-genre anthology series being created by POC-United, a collective of writers of color, who are using the series to create a space for writers of color to write without thinking about having to translate for or accommodate the interests/attitudes/knowledge of imagined white readers.

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