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|'As We Are' essay collection hopes to explore Deep South's LGBT stories|
|by Ryan Watkins|
|November 28, 2011 13:11|
Brit Blalock, an Alabama poet, hopes to fund the publishing of a collection of essays written by LGBT Southerners and donate copies of the collection to libraries across the Southeast. “As We Are” is a planned collection of 15 to 20 essays written by gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender authors who grew up in the so-called “Bible Belt” of the Deep South.
“I was writing a poetry collection and my poems were mostly about the overlap of growing up gay and being a child of the South,” Blalock, who identifies as queer, said by phone. “I really wanted to see what it was like for other people. I know there's a wide variety of experience.”
Blalock began looking for works but was unable to find a similar collection. An idea took shape and Blalock began accepting submissions from authors across the region over the summer.
Blalock turned to Kickstarter, a web-based service that allows individuals to fund businesses, ideas and projects similar to “As We Are,” to fund the book's initial publication. Blalock hopes to raise enough money to distribute 200 copies of the book to libraries across the region and pay the authors for their stories. The Kickstarter goal is set at $12,000. If that goal is not met, all the money promised to the project, $1,360 as of today, will be returned to those who pledged. Much of the $12,000 would be used to print and distribute copies to libraries, Blalock said.
“I still wanted to wait on the funding to see how many submissions I can accept. I want to pay everyone for their work. I want to make sure they get paid like any other author would,” she said.
With just 20 days to go before she must reach her goal, Blalock said she's hopeful for a few more entries, particularly from bisexual and transgender authors.
“That's the one thing I've struggled with – trying to get a representative sample. I've got lots of great essays to choose from. Transgender authors being the most difficult to find. That's another reason why I haven't solidified the authors,” she said.
Collecting, reading and editing the submissions has been an eye-opening experience for Blalock, who said she was inspired by the stories contained in many of the entries.
“More than everything, I've discovered how strong many of these people were. I came from a family with fairly moderate parents. Many of these essays are from people rejected from their families outright. It's been inspiring, especially since my road wasn't as difficult.”
If funded, “As We Are” will be published through Amazon's CreateSpace, an on-demand service that prints physical copies only when someone makes a purchase.
For more information, please visit http://aswearebook.tumblr.com.
Top photo: Brit Blalock (by Patrick Mclendon, courtesy photo)
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