Glory Edim on Expanding the Canon of Black Girl Coming-of-Age Stories
In Conversation with Maris Kreizman on The Maris Review Podcast
This week on The Maris Review, Glory Edim joins Maris Kreizman to discuss her new collection, On Girlhood: 15 Stories from the Well-Read Black Girl Library, out now from Liveright.
Subscribe and download the episode, wherever you get your podcasts.
On continuing to evolve:
I was really determined to focus in on the “Girl” in Well-Read Black Girl. I think of this anthology as a love letter to my little self. The characters in each story are making mistakes, they’re complicated, they’re messy, they’re imperfect, they’re beautiful, and they’re all just figuring shit out. I think that is, at the end of the day, what I’m doing constantly. I’m constantly trying to figure out who I am, whether that’s me at 18 or me at 30; I don’t have this ceiling of growth. I want to continue to evolve. And I see that same evolution in the organization. I don’t want anyone to feel like they can’t join in and understand themselves a little more, to ask questions and be curious. I’m good for telling people I don’t know. I don’t know how it happened, I don’t know how I got here, but I’m figuring it out. I think that allows me to take more risks and not worry about messing up or failing, because I know I can learn through it and grow from it.
On coming-of-age stories:
I want that connection between the story and the characters and the reader. I want it to feel like everything is interconnected and they’re having a whole experience. Because that’s what my process is when I’m reading a book. I’m losing myself in the story, but I’m also very mindful of the things that I’ve experienced and how [the book] can help me become more aware of the world around me. I don’t think there are many coming-of-age stories that don’t fixate on Black girl trauma and pain, and I wanted it to be wider. More love and tenderness and vulnerability. That’s a common theme through each of the stories in the collection. There’s a level of vulnerability and openness, and there’s a lightness.
On books as archives:
Because the internet is moving so fast and we’re so hooked into these platforms, I want to make sure that we’re archiving in an appropriate way. Unfortunately we don’t own Facebook or Instagram, there’s no guarantee that these things will be available in the next decade. So having a library, having a physical book that we can hold and read together, is so important for our cultural archive and our history. I love going to estate sales and used bookstores and reading the marginalia or finding old newspaper clippings in books. The beauty of that cannot be experienced on the internet, so to find ways to connect those two worlds is important to me: encouraging people to go to public libraries, and support civic engagement and also independent bookstores. Making sure that we give back to our communities and support local authors is so essential to the work I’m doing.
For Brown Girls With Sharp Edges and Tender Hearts by Prisca Dorcas Mojica Rodríguez · What’s Your Story?: A Journal For Everyday Evolution by Rebecca Walker and Lily Diamond · Keep Moving by Maggie Smith · Unbound by Tarana Burke · Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong
Glory Edim is the founder of Well-Read Black Girl, a book club and digital platform that promotes Black literature and sisterhood. She won the Innovator’s Award at the 2017 Los Angeles Times Book Prizes. Her latest anthology is called On Girlhood: 15 Stories from the Well-Read Black Girl Library.