Garth Greenwell on Lambda’s Queer Writers’ Residency
Author: Edit Team
March 27, 2018
I thought I knew what to expect when I headed to Lambda’s Writers’ Retreat for Emerging LGBTQ Voices, where I taught the fiction workshop in the summer of 2017. I was excited–I had read the fiction fellows’ work and knew how strong it was; I knew we were going to have an excellent workshop. But I had no idea how moved and inspired I would be by the community of queer writers Lambda made possible, or by the rigor and ferocious love my students lavished on one another’s work. And the workshop was only part of it. What was thrilling about the Retreat was the cross-genre pollination of ideas that happened outside of workshop, the intense, heated, joyful conversations that began at breakfast and continued late into the night.
The kind of community Lambda creates for emerging queer writers each summer is quite simply life changing. And it’s also absolutely unique: I’ve never encountered any other cultural space like it. I think it’s essential, and I hope that you’ll consider supporting Lambda’s mission with a donation to the Retreat Scholarship Fund.
In one of my graduate workshops at the University of Iowa, a teacher dismissed my writing about a queer community as “just a sociological report on the behavior of a subculture.” This was in 2015, in the rosy light of Obama’s second term, just a few months after the Supreme Court declared marriage equality the law of the land–and in one of the country’s preeminent creative writing programs, the mere fact of a story taking on queer subject matter meant its expulsion from the world of the literary, its demotion to “a sociological report.”
I found myself thinking about that moment again and again during the week I spent at the Lambda Retreat. I remembered it when a fellow in my workshop marveled that for the first time his work had been discussed without the presence of queerness being the subject of constant scrutiny and debate. I thought of it every time I heard a writer talk about being told–still, now, today–that focusing their work on queer lives would consign them to a “gay ghetto.” I thought of it at the end of every workshop session, when I would take stock, amazed, of just how much work you can do in a class, how deep you can get into the real substance of a story, when queer lives don’t have to be justified or explained.
Please help Lambda Literary nurture the future of queer literature with a donation to the Retreat Scholarship Fund. A donation to the scholarship fund will provide a LGBTQ writer a perceptible chance for creative development and professional achievement. Our Lambda Fellows go on to become both accomplished artists and stellar emissaries of LGBTQ literary arts: this year alone several graduates of Lambda’s Retreat were finalists and winners of numerous Lambda Literary Awards.
Your generous gift to the Retreat Scholarship Fund will give these exceptional emerging writers an unequaled opportunity in their careers and empower them to be active participants in the global cultural conversation. You can make a direct, meaningful difference in the life of a writer by making a tax-deductible contribution to the Retreat Scholarship Fund today.
I hope you will consider funding a full scholarship to bring a talented emerging writer to Los Angeles this summer. Please give whatever you can afford-$25, $100, $500-every dollar of which will go directly to help our community’s most promising storytellers.
Author of What Belongs to You
Lambda’s Summer 2017 Fiction Faculty