Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Call for Submissions

Cornrows, Double-Dutch, & Black Girl Blues:
Words and Images of Black Girlhood in America
Photos by Delphine Fawundu-Buford
Edited by Ibi Aanu Zoboi

From sitting in between Mama's legs holding a jar of grease while she plaits your hair to confronting that new girl at the playground because she was talking about you behind your back, Cornrows, Double-Dutch, & Black Girl Blues will spark the tender memories of girlhood shared by black women across the country. No Shirley Temples and pink laden tea parties here; just sassy attitude, big bold smiles, beautiful brown skin, all rhythm, and sometimes blues. The words will evoke the preciousness and fragility of a black girl, while reminding you of the resilience and determination of a proud, budding black woman. The images will make you wonder at the magic of a black girl's rhythm, the precision of the intricate lines, twists, and turns of her cornrows, and her swift agility as she skips to each beat of the telephone wire jump rope hitting against the concrete sidewalk. The collection will move you to tears as you realize the challenges that black girls in America face, from poverty and violence to negative stereotypes and lack of role models.

Cornrows, Double-Dutch, & Black Girl Blues will feature the beauty, the innocence, and the charm of African American girls. The interviews, essays, stories, and poems will be reflections of women looking back on their girlhood days, girls capturing their own essence, and elders advising their daughters on the importance, the dignity, and the spirit of a black woman in the making.

The editor seeks submissions that speak to the experience of the black girl aged 7 through 12 in America. Currently, this is a closed invitation to women who either work closely with young black girls or writers who can contribute an intriguing memoir. Once we have secured a publisher, an open call will be sent out to young girls across the country to submit short poems.

Topics should include, but are not limited to:

• Playground Culture: rope games ("Jack Be Nimble", "All In Together"), hand games (Uno, Dos, y Trece mispronounced), hopscotch, confrontations, and fights (one-on-one or the ever so taboo "jump").
• Sunday Best : frilly party dresses, Easter bonnets, and patent leather Mary Janes and fold over socks with the laces at the fringes (you just knew you were too cute!).
• Bows, Clips, & Bobos: girlhood hairstyles and accessories (colorful plastic barrettes, bows that were burnt at the ends so they don't fray, and bobos or bubbles that you pulled out from their bands to use them as marbles), hair grease brands (did DAX really get your hair to grow to your shoulders?), wooden brushes (it sure hurt your knuckles when you got hit with it for touching your hair before it was done), and the array of combs with the gunk between the teeth from all that grease.
• Brown Sugar and Hot Spice : sweet sayings and harsh words from mothers, grandmothers, and teachers.
• Honey, I Love: first crushes and famous heartthrobs (Smokey Robinson, young Michael Jackson, New Edition).
• I Am My Sista: images and characters of black girls in the media (Penny, a very young Janet Jackson on "Good Times", Dee from "What's Happening", Rudy from "The Cosby Show").
• Sister to a Sista: best friends, betrayals, bullies, & backstabbing.
• Blossoming: the onset of puberty, fascination with budding breasts, first period, and discovering sexuality.
• Daddy's Little Girl: memories of daddy, the absence of a father and/or a grandfather, or the presence of uncles, stepfathers, or mommy's boyfriend.
• Grandma's Hands: memories of and the relationship with Grandma.
• Mama Says: girlhood memories of and the relationship with Mama.

Length: Essays should be no more than 1,000 words. Poems should be no more than 1 page.

Content: We would like pieces that give snapshots into one of the topics above. Essays should be first person, non-fiction narratives. We want to hear your story. Poems should address one of the topics above. We want to avoid essays or poems that address black girlhood in general. Pieces that pinpoint a specific aspect of black girlhood are preferred.

Format: Essays and poems should be typewritten and double-spaced on white paper in 12-point size. Include all contact information (name, address, telephone number, e-mail address) on a separate sheet of paper with a bio, age, and where you spent most of your girlhood (city and state). Name should appear on the top right hand corner of the first page of your submission.

Please e-mail submissions to:

Deadline: Submissions must be received by April 15, 2006.

Response & Payment: All accepted entries will be notified by June 1, 2006. Payment will be determined once we have secured a publisher. You will be notified when that happens.

About the Photographer:

Delphine Fawundu-Buford has over ten years of experience as a photographer. She has been featured in the photography anthologies Black: A Celebration of a Culture and Reflections in Black: A History of Black Photographers from 1840 - Present by Deborah Willis. Her most notable photograph graced the cover of the companion book to the Brooklyn Museum of Art exhibition Committed to The Image: Contemporary Black Photographers. She has also contributed to magazines such as Vibe , The Source, Essence and Honey. Her works were also featured in the critically acclaimed exhibitions Only Skin Deep at the International Center of Photography and Open: Artist Working in Brooklyn at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. Of Sierra Leone and Guinea, West African parentage, she was born and raised in Brooklyn where she resides with her husband and three sons.

About the Editor:

Ibi Aanu Zoboi is a writer and storyteller born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti and raised in Brooklyn, New York. A graduate of the Clarion West Writers Workshop, her short story, Old Flesh Song, is published in the groundbreaking sequel, Dark Matter: Reading the Bones , a collection of African American speculative fiction. She has received an award from the Women Writers of Haitian Descent for her story At the Shores of Dawn, and was a "Tricky Talker of the Year", an annual tall-tale contest held by the Afrikan Folk Heritage Circle, the New York chapter of the National Association of Black Storytellers. She has been a mentor and workshop provider for girls in Harlem and Brooklyn for the past five years and lives in Brooklyn with her husband, visual artist Joseph Zoboi, and her two daughters.


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