We’re super excited for our inaugural Feminartsy Ideas Fest 2017, a day of feminism and creativity being held on Saturday 20 May at Gorman Arts Centre. Over the coming weeks, we’ll be catching up with our Ideas Fest speakers so you can get to know them a bit better. First up, meet Jo Langdon…
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I write poetry and fiction, sometimes reviews and scholarship. My doctoral thesis was on magical realism vis-à-vis elegy, trauma, and the politics of the ‘unspeakable’. My first collection, a chapbook of poems titled Snowline, co-won the 2011 Whitmore Press Manuscript Prize and was published in 2012. My second book of poems, Glass Life, is forthcoming with Five Islands Press. I currently teach Literature and Writing as a casual academic, and am an editor for the journal Mascara Literary Review.
Do you identify as a feminist? Why?
I do, for many reasons – to name some of them: the rates of domestic violence and the horrific number of women killed by their partners or ex-partners in Australia (and indeed, worldwide); the women caught up in our government’s system of indefinite detention, who’ve come here seeking safety and asylum; the ways in which structural and systemic discrimination and oppression tend to make women particularly vulnerable; because of the insidiousness of misogyny, how often invisible and easily internalised it is.
How do you think creativity can influence or support our advocacy and activism?
The ability to rethink things, to challenge the status quo, certainly requires creativity – requires original and innovative thinking and action.
I also think humans are intrinsically creative, often in everyday, ‘ordinary’ ways – and of course, some modes and expressions of creativity are recognised and valued more than others. But platforms for, and discourses around creativity need to be inclusive and attuned to their inherent power dynamics and the realities of social privilege, too. A writer might raise awareness, or use their profile to exert a positive influence – but it’s also important to make space for a range of voices and experiences.
What is one impact you’d like to have on the world?
It perhaps sounds trite and simplistic to say, but to be kind (which I don’t think is necessarily the same thing as being ‘nice’!) – though maybe it’s truer to say actively kind and compassionate: I hope I can work to make the spaces I am in – or the spaces I have access to – equal, just and inclusive.
What are you looking forward to about the Feminartsy Ideas Fest?
The ideas! To being surprised and challenged, motivated and inspired, and to meeting some brilliant artists.
How did you first become involved with Mascara, and why do you think it’s important to have publications like this?
Initially as a writer, then in recent years by helping Michelle Cahill with some of the editorial work – first as a reviews reader, then a co-editor. I’ve admired Mascara for so long so it’s a joy and honour to have the opportunity to assist a publication that’s so supportive, and that’s especially instrumental for its commitment to culturally and linguistically diverse writers.
Jo Langdon will be speaking at the Feminartsy Ideas Fest in a session about diversity and cultural inclusion through creativity. Find out more, and book your ticket here!