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Women’s writing

The literary group Las Juanas is celebrating its tenth anniversary. This celebration needs to be seen in the context in which women’s writing takes place.

 

Mabel Encinas

 

Historically, women’s writing has been ignored, and not even acknowledged as a field of study until recently.

This is the result of the idea that products of women’s pens are inferior in quality and deal with non-relevant themes in a still male-dominated literary world.

Women’s writing has only been acknowledged in the last fifty years despite having existed from the beginning of time.

The group Las Juanas, whose original name was Hispano-American Women Writers on Memory, was created because we wanted to develop our craft and share our work with a wider audience.

Memories live in our bodies, but need to be converted into words, and words are born to be shared. Memories merge the ‘I’ and the ‘we’. When we tell our herstories we are deliberate, we define ourselves instead of being created by the fantasies of others.

We are not what they think we are, and we stop being ‘them’, ‘immigrants’, ‘other’.

Thanks to memory, we map the territory and resist the repetition of history in search for new lands. Memory is dynamic and travels with us. It is accessed in our present existence, and it emerges with a different colour. Our memories recount death, fractures, crises and recovery of lost worlds via nostalgia. Our memories also recount happiness, love, and celebration of life. Thanks to memory we have empathy with the suffering of other people.

We write because we need to. This is why we create poetry and prose. Writing entails a commitment for changing ourselves and our world. As Gabriel Celaya said, poetry is a weapon loaded with future. In our poetry, we chant to difference to pave the path to equality.

Our epic poems talk about our journeys as women and as women who came to this country due to exile and migration. Our lyric poems bring heart and head together to make sense of our experience of what happens.

The personal is political. We feel because we are alive, and writing makes us more alive. And kicking. We do not believe in official ‘truths’. We do not believe in ‘truths’ that discriminate and oppress. Through our feelings, we know and learn.

Our fiction depicts the big pandemics of the world, that we resist.

Not only the virus, but the pandemics caused by humans: violence against women, state violence and repression, imperialism, racisms and other forms of discrimination.

We have survived and we believe, with the guide of Audre Lorde, that silence will not save us. We heal ourselves as we speak, we seek and find the possibilities of the past and build better possible futures.

We are aware that we received the torch from Black and Latinx feminists. We have hope.

We are committed to create social justice and inclusion. We celebrate human rights through poetry, visual arts, and songs. In these ten years, we have produced written word and performance events of poetry, short stories, and music. We have also facilitated creative writing workshops with Spanish and English-speaking communities, in London and outside London.

We have been a collective of six or seven women. Nine in total. From Latin American and Spain.

We have cooked together, we have travelled to have our tertulias, as we could call our get-togethers, and to participate in our retreats. We have shared our pain.

We have been writing, creating together, reading each other’s work, encouraging while being critical, producing new understandings rooted in our hearts.

We have laughed together with our texts and jokes made on the spot.

We have found our commonalities and have had our differences, understood each other, apologised when needed, understood again and forgiven.

We have bridged the gap between our ideals and the concrete realities of doing. We are far from perfect, and fully human. We have endeavoured to be caring and supportive with each other. We have found friendship. We thank each other for our sorority.

We have been together for ten years. Ten. One syllable and numerous experiences. We women. Women writers.

 

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