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Pocketmags Digital Magazines
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In conversation

Speaking with valued colleagues, Whitney French and Alicia Elliott share personal insights into their new essay collections

Whitney French, interviewed by Makeda Silvera

Toronto writer and educator Whitney French is the driving force and editor behind Black Writers Matter (University of Regina Press).

The anthology features a broad showcase of Black writing in Canada from the likes of Angela Wright, Chelene Knight, and Scott Fraser.

There was no doubt in French’s mind that she wanted to talk about Black Writers Matter, and the legacy of Black Canadian writing, with the author and activist Makeda Silvera, who contributed an essay to the collection about her time as co-founder and managing editor of the feminist-driven Sister Vision Press – the irst indie publisher in Canada run by a collective of women of colour – which operated in Toronto from 1985 to 2001.

“Makeda submitted a really powerful piece, but I think, more importantly, she is someone I look up to,” says French. “I don’t think I would be remotely in the position I’m in now if it wasn’t for her trailblazing work. Also, I find it’s very rare to see intergenerational conversations between writers and publishers, and especially Black women in the writing ield.”

Whitney French: I’m pretty enamoured with the legacy of Sister Vision Press, which I irst encountered as a young reader in late high school or in my early 20s. I’m not home right now, but if I was, I could look at my bookshelf and look at all the spines and see all the Sister Vision titles. I’d never had brand loyalty before, or thought of publishing houses having such a clear mission.

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Kidlit Spotlight: A new generation of Munsch Illustrators, #ownvoices debuts, and more; Alicia Elliott and Whitney French on their new books