The Origins of The Black Woman's Latitude

Updated: Jun 29, 2019

So, I was working my summer job in Redmond Archives. I was reading a box of letters with various black women writers. There were interviews and thank you cards and holiday cards and receipts for books. I was witnessing a community of writers rely on each other for feedback and encouragement, and I got jealous. I had just finished my first year at an MFA program, and like most MFA students, I was healing from some isolating and rough workshops.

Christiana McClain is from Houston, Texas. She graduated from Spelman College in 2018 and is currently enrolled in an MFA program for Fiction Writing. Her favorite author is Nikky Finney and favorite book is Their Eyes Were Watching God. Her wildest dream is to edit an anthology.

I was missing the group of writers that I could reach out to like Redmond did with all the other writers. So, I went to Twitter and posted a tweet searching for other black women writers, and it took off. It went viral.

I was only looking for maybe 2-3 writers that I could share my work with, and they could do the same. Instead, I got ten thousand retweets in one night and hundreds of messages from black women wanting a community of writers too.

I was overwhelmed in a good way. I was grateful that so many people needed help like me. That’s when I realized we needed a space for us to connect and communicate. That is why I created this platform.

I named the platform The Black Woman’s Latitude after Nikky Finney’s poem “The Girlfriend Train” where the speaker of the poem recognizes herself in another black woman and the journey it took to find each other. This is symbolic of the journey it has taken me to find these writers.

I’m hopeful that this will be a space for us to share with each other and reach across for encouragement and strength.

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