Megan Bayles and Achy Obejas
Winter Fellows, 2010
Megan Bayles is a doctoral candidate in Cultural Studies at the University of California - Davis. Her dissertation analyzes contemporary exhibitions of human medical specimens in three science and medical history museums in the United States. She is interested in the histories of bodies on display, and in the status of bodies as objects in museum collections. Together with Achy Obejas, she edited an anthology of short fiction by immigrants, forthcoming from the Great Books Foundation in early 2014.
Achy Obejas is the author of the critically acclaimed novels Ruins, Days of Awe and three other books of fiction. Her poetry chapbook, This is What Happened in Our Other Life was both a critical favorite and a best-seller. She edited and translated, into English, Havana Noir, a collection of crime stories by Cuban writers on and off the island. Her translation, into Spanish, of Junot Díaz’ The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao / La Breve y Maravillosa Vida de Óscar Wao was a finalist for Spain’s Esther Benítez Translation Prize from the national translator’s association. Her newest translation, Everyone Leaves by Wendy Guerra, made its debut this fall. She is a founding member of the Creative Writing faculty at the University of Chicago, a member of the Editorial Board of In These Times, the editorial advisory board of the Great Books Foundation, and a blogger for WBEZ.org. In the fall, she’ll begin a two-year appointment as the Distinguished Visiting Writer at Mills College in Oakland, Calif.
For more information on her work and projects visit: www.achyobejas.net.
For their Fellowship Bayles and Obejas will create an anthology of works by 21 Chicago women writers, musicians and performers under 40, writing about the breadth of the city – from South Chicago to Albany Park, Austin to the lip of the lake – and life as we know it in the 21st Century. The anthology would focus on the written word as foundation – regardless of whether it plays out on the page, the stage, cyberspace or yet other format. The writers will be both established and emergent, represented whenever possible by new work – writers whose talent is such that, while too young to be included in the canon now, might well be recognized as such later, and that, as women artists, can be offered as representative voices in the construction of that canon.
The project works to ignite discussion, draw attention to young women as new writers and artists, showcase a wide diversity of women’s voices from the city’s varied cultures, and develop new, broader audiences for those works.
They hope to highlight voices that can speak to an updated textual canon. By shifting the criteria for accepted work, Bayles and Obejas seek to create a more complex understanding of the types of work that are being created today. The shifts in creativity and identity, particularly in terms of gender, that have come to distinguish the 21st century demand a new vision. The project works to encourage both contributors and readers to explore the complexities of what comprises textual art.
The Fellows will utilize new media for publishing such as online literary magazines, news sources, and other publications which will enable them to explore new possibilities, at lower costs, with wider reach, and to a greater multitude of demographics than traditional publishing. Utilizing technology inherent online, an anthology can be created which brings together various forms of creative textual production. The online format opens up new possibilities for the presentation and dissemination of these works. So far the 21/21/Chicago Anthology has received over 80 submissions.