Arts & Culture / Mosaic / October 22, 2009

Ann Laughlin speaks about lesbian literature

Caxton Club and Common Ground co-sponsored author Anne Laughlin on Monday, Oct. 19 in the Alumni Room of Old Main. Laughlin is a lesbian writer who is also an alumnus of Knox College. After she read from her book, she did a workshop where she talked about the queer publishing industry and what it is like to be a lesbian author.

Laughlin and Common Ground first came into contact last spring in Chicago. Senior Ellie Poley, the President of Common Ground at that time, went to support a friend who is a lesbian author. Poley went up to Laughlin after her reading at the Night of Lesbian authors, and asked whether she would like to read at Knox. According to Poley, Laughlin responded that she would love to visit her alma mater again.

Poley said that her main interest in bring Laughlin to Knox was to diversify the literary professionals being brought on campus.

In her talk, Laughlin explained that the queer publishing industry is smaller than the mainstream publishing industry and has less bureaucracy. The queer publishing industries are still succeeding where the mainstream publishing industries are starting to struggle. Mainstream publishing companies are less likely to take on stories that feature lesbian and gay aspects because they view those as risks.

Poley said that Caxton Club is experienced in bringing literary professionals to Knox, so they used their experience to help everything run smoothly. She also said that Caxton Club was eager to bring someone that was less traditional than their usual guests. Poley said that the reading did not include the most beautiful sentences that she’s ever heard, but the writing was good.

Laughlin’s new book, Veritas, will be out in November. Since the queer publishing industry is small, selling 5,000 copies would be a huge deal.

“I think it is good to remind us that writing is supposed to be fun and doesn’t have to be ground breaking prose,” said Poley of Laughlin’s writing.

Jennifer Lloyd

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