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Through Feminist Eyes: Carmen Gimenez Smith

On Wednesday, Sept. 13, I attended the first lecture in the "Through Feminist Eyes" series, which is sponsored by the Women’s and Gender Studies program at Virginia Tech. The series will continue until November and will feature three lectures, each held at 7 p.m. in Fralin Auditorium, given by female faculty members.

The first speaker was Carmen Gimenez Smith, who recently joined the faculty of the English department’s creative writing MFA program. Gimenez Smith is an accomplished poet who graduated with an MFA in creative writing and has published four collections of poetry and three chapbooks.

Gimenez Smith runs the small publishing company Noemi Press, which is now housed at Virginia Tech. Her lecture, titled “Feminism and Small Publishing,” focused on the history of small publishing companies, especially those led by women and minorities.

She discussed the importance of promoting the work of female and minority writers and of giving them the creative freedom to express themselves. Gimenez Smith also reflected on her childhood and her introduction to the world of publishing, which she first felt she wouldn’t belong in as a Hispanic woman.

Since I knew relatively nothing about independent presses and small publishing before this lecture, it was eye-opening to learn about the history of the practice. It gave me hope to know that a variety of voices, including women and minorities, can now shine through presses like Gimenez Smith’s, although many voices are still marginalized.

I also learned about techniques that allow publishers and editors to help writers improve their work without compromising or losing their voices, particularly when sensitive or personal topics are broached. I believe this advice will be useful to me in the future, no matter if I decide on a career in publishing or not.

The next lecture in the Through Feminist Eyes series will be held on Oct. 17 by Dr. Shannon Bell, an associate professor of sociology. It is titled “Fighting Fire with Fire: Fossil Fuel Industries and the Gendering of Public Relations Strategies.”

On Nov. 8, Dr. Ashley Reichelmann, an assistant professor of sociology, will present the lecture “Using Magic to Reimagine Womanhood: Gender, Witchcraft, and Identity Politics” to finish the series.

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