WRITING UTOPIA co-editors Sally-Shakti Willow & Sarer Scotthorne
WRITING UTOPIA is a manifesto/ritual/anthology that aims to both explore and perform the art of the utopian in contemporary poetics. Thomas More’s original coinage, Utopia, suggests both perfect place (Gk. eutopia) and no place (Gk. outopia). Drawing on this paradox, WRITING UTOPIA invites writers and readers to collaborate in co-creating a space of intersubjective connectivity between self and other that is both the place of equality and communion and the no-place that exists between writers and readers in the space/s of the text/s. Envisioning a better world in which to live – a world without the various forms of violence, oppression, prejudice and injustice that comprise our present global reality – writers are invited to play with the poetic possibilities of multiplicity, simultaneity, interconnectivity, materiality and more, to imagine and anticipate the potential Utopia/s to come. In this way, a space of intersubjective multiplicity is opened and activated in each vor/tex[t] with the potential to perform those utopian possibilities it anticipates.
With an introduction written by Sally-Shakti Willow, distilling the learning from her four-year immersion in the study and practice of utopian poetics, the anthology will include contributions from invited writers and poets to present a broad and heterogeneous collaboration of voices whose utopian visions will resonate, challenge and inspire. Radically and vitally, WRITING UTOPIA does not present one person’s utopia to the exclusion of all others but invites participation in the co-creation of utopian spaces in which disagreement and challenge are as necessary and welcome as agreement and harmony. These utopias will speak to and inform one another: sometimes opening up the discord of productive tensions; sometimes anticipating and precipitating one another; sometimes resonating and balancing each other. Completion and closure is not the aim of this utopian vision. The openness of enquiry, of constant flux and shifting fusion, is what keeps this utopia in the process of performance: creating, opening and yielding to each new reading with each new moment.
Writers are invited to submit innovative and experimental text works that anticipate and/or perform what the utopian means to them. The kind of writing that best performs the utopian resonates with Isabel Waidner’s description of radical innovation in Liberating the Canon (2018): Writing that works ‘across various systems of oppression (intersectionality), across formal distinction (prose and poetry, critical and creative, and the various genres), and across disciplines’. Examples of source texts that perform various elements of utopian poetics: Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Dictee – anticipating and performing the utopian possibilities of non-alienation (communion) and non-oppression (equality) through its linguistic and structural materiality which opens and invites the reader into a space of intersubjective participation (which Cha calls ‘interfusion’); Eley Williams’ Attrib.; Isabel Waidner’s Gaudy Bauble; Nat Raha’s I(9x9) (https://www.datableedzine.com/nat-raha-issue-9); Dolly Dollycore’s Culture Breakdown (https://www.datableedzine.com/dolly-dollycore-issue-9); Paul Hawkins’ Place, Waste, Dissent; Sandeep Parmar, Nisha Ramayya and Bhanu Kapil’s Threads. Works of utopian poetics can also be found in the following places: radical transfeminism zine; Liberating the Canon; Datableed; Zarf and many more.