Posts Tagged ‘Anya Achtenberg’

  • Anya Achtenberg: “The Disobedient Writer”- A Writer Who Dares

    Date: 2017.11.28 | Category: How Dare We! Write a multicultural creative writing discourse, Writers Who Dare | Response: 0

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    “If my house were burning down, I would grab artwork, my book, and the notebooks I wrote

    in Anya’s classes. If you’re looking for an average writing teacher or editor, go elsewhere.

    Anya resides in the upper stratosphere of creativity and, if you let her,

    will lift your writing to heights you never dreamed possible.

    I won the 2006 New Mexico Discovery Award, first prize in non-fiction,

    for a story I began in Anya’s class. I divide my writing into two phases:

    pre-Anya and post-Anya. There is no comparison.”–Amy Fisher




  • Writers Who Dare! Write, photo by Charissa Uemura

    Date: 2017.10.09 | Category: How Dare We! Write a multicultural creative writing discourse, Writers Who Dare | Response: 0

  • How Dare We! Write: a multicultural creative writing discourse (Modern History Press, May 2017).

    Date: 2017.03.23 | Category: How Dare We! Write a multicultural creative writing discourse, Writers Who Dare | Response: 0


    How Dare We! Write: a multicultural creative writing discourse (Modern History Press, May 2017). Sherry Quan Lee, editor.

    Poet and editor Sherry Quan Lee challenged 24 multicultural writers to respond to the question, “How dare we write?” The resulting personal narratives and examinations of craft reveal how and why we write, uncovering the challenges—linked to culture, race, class, religion, gender and/or sexuality; and the intersections among these factors—presented to us by the very structures and institutions of U.S. society, which create the always pressurized and often toxic environment in which we write. Mainstream teachers and publishers may not recognize or understand these narratives, their forms and voices, as valid or worthy, but they must work to do so in order to provide multicultural writers with constructive feedback and a path toward publication. This book will centrally be of use to writers who experience the same kinds of challenges, but also to those teachers and publishers opening up their work to diverse communities of writers and readers.

    Each narrative in How Dare We! Write (ISBN 978-1-61599-330-7) includes a creative writing exercise, which may be used as a personal or group writing prompt, or the framework for college, high school, or community writing workshops.

    Cherise A. Pollard, PhD, Professor of English at West Chester University extols: “How Dare We! Write offers a much needed corrective to creative writing pedagogy. The collection asks us to consider the following questions: what does it mean for an indigenous, or black, or Latinx, or Asian, or Middle Eastern, or LGBTQIA+ (or a combination of these identities) American to become a writer? …What does it mean to work through resistance from supposed mentors, to face rejection from publishers and classmates, to stand against traditions that silence you, to stand in your truth about your identity so that you can claim, fearlessly, your history, your trauma, your joy…”

    Contributors include: Gabriella Anais Deal-Marquez, Marcie Rendon, Marlina Gonzalez, Michael Kleber-Diggs, Lori Young-Williams, Jessica Lopez Lyman, Luis M Lopez, Sagirah Shahid, Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay, Tou SaiKo Lee, Anya Achtenberg, Ginny Allery, Wesley Brown, Kandace Creel Falcón, Olive Lefferson, Christine Stark, Isela Gomez, Bell Brown, Brenda, William S. Yellow Robe, Jr, Ching-In Chen, Sweta Vikram, Hei Kyong Kim, Sherrie Fernandez-Williams, and Taiyon Coleman.

    Sherry Quan Lee is a writer, teacher, literary editor, and mentor. Love Imagined: a mixed race memoir was a 2015 Minnesota Book Award Finalist. She has also authored two books of poetry: Chinese Blackbird, and How to Write a Suicide Note: serial essays that saved a woman’s life.

    For more information, contact:

    Victor Volkman, Publisher

    Modern History Press,

    5145 Pontiac Trail
    Ann Arbor, MI 48105-9627
    Toll Free USA/Canada: (888)761-6268

  •  OBSESSIVE BEHAVIORS: writing the same story over and over again

    Date: 2016.01.21 | Category: Book in Progress 2016 | Response: 1

    OBSESSIVE BEHAVIORS:  writing the same story over and over again


    I started writing in second grade, a jingle.  I was paraded from room to room in Standish Elementary School to persuade my peers to give money to public television, or some such cause.  In fifth grade, some of us were cool enough to be poets and produced a mimeographed collection of our rhymes.  Seventh grade was more serious.  Our journal contained stories and poems.  In high School, for me, it was cool to be in the Creative Writing Club and hang out with intellectuals, not that I was one (but there was that one boy I had a crush on).  However, skipping past more solitary and juvenile attempts at writing, my epiphany came when I was in my thirties.

    I980s: I attended community college, enrolled in my first Women’s Studies Class (Women in Literature) and my first academic class in the writing of poetry.  The Women in Literature class required us to go to a bookstore.  I went to Amazon Bookstore, Minneapolis’ independent bookstore, the first lesbian/feminist bookstore in the U.S. according to Wikipedia (  With curiosity, I examined categories of books, naïve, but on a mission, it dawned on me— I was missing. 1980’s and a mixed-race-passing-for white-woman was not on the shelf.  I went home and wrote, basically a chap book of poems, about me.

    My self-interest  peaked as I continued my college education , a stop and go experience that began when I was eighteen and ended, at least formally, at 48, to learn all I could about race, gender, sexuality—and oppression.  The more I learned the more I wrote.  But for the most part, I wrote the same story over and over again.  But my undergraduate advisor said that it’s okay.  That most of us have one story we’re obsessed with, one that we can’t stop writing.

    Don’t stop writing yours.  Because you will not be writing it to death; you will be writing it to life.  The more you write the story you’re obsessed with, the more it will evolve. Eventually your story will answer questions you didn’t know you were asking; eventually your story will connect, once it’s out in the world, with other people’s stories and an even larger realm of understanding can take place.

    Also, the more you write that story you’re obsessed with, the better your writing will become.  Better because you will know your story so well that images and words will return time after time, but each time, perhaps in a different context, perhaps surrounded by fresh words that sing or singe.  Richard Hugo acknowledges he uses numerous words repeatedly, so do I.  Mine are:  Chinese, Black, mixed race, passing, Mother, mahjong, white rice, South Scandinavian Minneapolis, virgin birth, conjure, and love.

    I do get tired of writing my story over and over again, the story of a Chinese Black girl passing for white, but after forty some years of repeating it, in poetry and in prose, I may have discovered who I am, and I may have finally relinquished the need to know more.  But, maybe not.  Maybe I’ve just found a couple of new obsessions to sidetrack me for awhile: aging and autism.  But they, too, are stories within my story.

    I keep telling myself I’m not a narcissist.  Just because I’ve written about myself for forty some years, doesn’t make me a narcissist-it makes me an activist, according to my friend, Anya. My story, like your story are stories that will help us identify with each other, even if your story is about aliens or robots I think we can find familiarity and hope-as we also acknowledge difference.  As always, I return to Nikki Giovanni:

    “and if ever i touched a life i hope that life knows / that I know that touching was and still is and will always / be the true / revolution”–Nikki Giovanni, “When I Die”


    Exercise:  What story are you obsessed with?  What words are you obsessed with?  Keep writing the story; keeping using the words and images that might be haunting you.


    ©Sherry Quan Lee, January 21, 2016

Artist Statement

Sherry Quan Lee approaches writing as a community resource and as culturally based art of an ordinary everyday practical aesthetic. Lee is a Community Instructor at Metropolitan State University (Intro to Creative Writing, Advanced Creative Writing), and has taught at Intermedia Arts, and the Loft Literary Center. She is the author of A Little Mixed Up, Guild Press, 1982 (second printing), Chinese Blackbird, a memoir in verse, published 2002 by the Asian American Renaissance, republished 2008 by Loving Healing Press, and How to Write a Suicide Note: serial essays that saved a woman’s life, Loving Healing Press, 2008.





Septuagenarian by Sherry Quan Lee


Goodreads Book Giveaway

How Dare We! Write by Sherry Quan Lee

How Dare We! Write

by Sherry Quan Lee

Giveaway ends June 09, 2021.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

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Love Imagined book by Sherry Quan Lee


Chinese Blackbird Book by Sherry Quan Lee


How to Write a Suicide Note by Sherry Quan Lee

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