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New VS. Books open call: for BIPOC writers in Canada over 50

New VS. Books open call: for BIPOC writers in Canada over 50

By Arsenal Pulp Date: January 06, 2020 Tags: VS. Books, Vivek Shraya, Shut Up You're Pretty, Tea Mutonji

The call for submissions for the next title in the VS. Books imprint edited by Vivek Shraya is now open, with a twist: a mentorship and publishing opportunity for BIPOC writers in Canada over the age of 50.

While the first two VS. Books mentorships had a focus on younger writers who were Black, Indigenous, or persons of colour, Vivek's decision to shift the third call to older emerging writers came after some personal reflection:

This spring, Téa Mutonji and I joyfully promoted her book, Shut Up You’re Pretty, the first book published under the VS. Books imprint. During our promotional tour, I was repeatedly asked how I had settled on the age limits for eligible authors in the open calls (the range was 18–24 in the 2017 call and 18–28 in 2018).

When asked this question by an older woman at Brampton’s FOLD festival, I responded with my usual comment that my focus was on mentoring youth, and closed by respectfully adding, “Also, what could I possibly teach you?”

She responded, “Many older writers are here precisely because we want to learn from you.”

After this event, I found myself reflecting on this exchange. I thought about how often the parameters of mentor relationships are typically rooted in the assumption that an older person will teach a younger one, even though mentorship is ideally a reciprocal process and youth are important cultural teachers. I also thought about how the resources and opportunities available to artists in marginalized communities, however few, tend to favour youth (and how I myself missed out on many opportunities for queer and trans youth because I came into these identities as an adult).

The opportunity comes with an editorial and marketing mentorship with Vivek, and a publishing contract with Arsenal under the VS. Books imprint.

The first book in the series, the short story collection Shut Up You're Pretty by Téa Mutonji, was a finalist for the 2019 Rogers Writers' Trust of Canada Fiction Prize. The second title, the poetry collection Burning Sugar by Cicely-Belle Blain, will be published in the fall of 2020.

The deadline for applications (which needs to include a completed manuscript) is January 4, 2021. For details, see VS. Books.