Brattleboro Literary Festival 2021-Archive Brattleboro Literary Festival 2021-Archive
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Poetry, Identity, and Coming of Age

Diana Whitney
You Don’t Have to be Everything

Diana Whitney writes across genres with a focus on feminism, motherhood, and sexuality. Her first book, Wanting It, became an indie bestseller in poetry. Her new bestselling book is an inclusive poetry anthology for teen girls, You Don’t Have to Be Everything, which was published in the spring. Her essays have appeared in the New York Times, Glamour, the Washington Post, and many more. She was the longtime poetry critic for the San Francisco Chronicle. A feminist activist in her Vermont hometown and beyond, Diana works as an editor and a yoga teacher. Diana holds a B.A. from Dartmouth and a M.A. from Oxford, where she was a Rhodes Scholar, and she attended the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers. 

Thursday, Oct 14, 5:00-6:00 & Sunday, Oct 17, 2:30-3:30 -- Panel-Register for Poetry, Identity & Coming of Age - Leslie Marie Aguilar, Joy Ladin, Lynn Melnick, Diana Whitney & Are We Having a Moment? Writing poetry in the time of the pandemic and poetry’s resurgence in the culture

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Leslie Marie Aguilar originally hails from the heartland of Texas. She has served as the Poetry Editor of Harbinger Journal of Literature and Art and the Poetry Editor of Indiana Review, where she previously worked as Associate Genre Editor and Web Editor. 

Leslie’s poetry has been awarded a National Society of Arts and Letters Chapter Career Award, the David E. Albright Memorial Award, and was chosen by D. A. Powell as the recipient of the 2014 Washington Square Poetry Award. Her poems were also finalists for the 49th Parallel Poetry Award, New Letters Poetry Award, Alice James Award, Four Way Books Levis Prize, and the Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize. She received her MFA from Indiana University and is a Fine Arts Work Center Fellow. 

She currently works as the Managing Editor for Studies in English Literature 1500–1900 at Rice University.


Joy Ladin
Book of Anna

Joy Ladin (formerly Jay)is the author of a memoir, Through the Door of Life: A Jewish Journey Between Genders, and six books of poetry, The Definition of Joy, Forward Fives award winner Coming to Life, Transmigration (a 2009 Lambda Literary Award finalist), The Book of Anna, and Alternatives to History,  and Psalms

Her poems and essays have been widely published. She holds the David and Ruth Gottesman Chair in English at Stern College of Yeshiva University, where, in 2007, she became the first openly transgender employee of an Orthodox Jewish institution. She has given many talks on writing, literature, Judaism, and gender identity. She is a member of the Board of Directors of Keshet.


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Lynn Melnick
Landscape with Sex and Violence

Lynn Melnick is the author of Landscape with Sex and Violence and If I Should Say I Have Hope. A former fellow at the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, she teaches at the 92nd Street Y and Columbia University and serves on the Executive Board of VIDA: Women in Literary Arts. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.


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Diana Whitney’s inclusive anthology for teen girls, You Don’t Have to Be Everything: Poems for Girls Becoming Themselves, was released by Workman Publishing to critical acclaim and became a YA bestseller.The poems in this collection speak candidly about rage, shame, desire, depression, sexual violence, body image, self-love, gender identity, and much more.

In this virtual event, four poets from the anthology—Leslie Marie Aguilar, Joy Ladin, Lynn Melnick and editor Diana Whitney— read their own poems and talk about the project. They’ll discuss how poetry has been a path for self-discovery and self-acceptance of their younger, and now adult, selves; how poems can facilitate empathy for self and others; and the important role poetry plays in allowing us to re-imagine and re-write our identities and stories.