This blog was featured on 07/29/2016
Women Write Out of the Binders
Written by
Cynthia Manick
August 2014
Written by
Cynthia Manick
August 2014

When I was young I had the hardest time learning to tie my shoes. My mother assured me with the wise words of “you know, you could eat an entire bear by yourself. Just take one bite at a time.” Her words helped me leave Velcro behind long ago, but I also thought of them again recently, in relation to my writing life. Writing is a solitary act but it can also be a powerful force in creating community. And when faced with the bear of gender and racial inequity in publishing, think what would happen if everyone in our community took one bite at a time! 

I met Leigh Stein at a Brooklyn Poets workshop, where I fell in love with her apartment, her tailless cat, and her penchant for erasure poems. To encourage the writing community of all women, I talked to her about Out of Binders, an upcoming symposium on women writers today, scheduled for October 11 and 12 in New York City.

So Leigh, what inspires you?

Stories of women who succeed by breaking the mold. 

What is the best thing about being a writer? And creating a community?

I started writing poetry in a notebook when I was thirteen. I hated school, I hated English class, no English teacher ever took interest in me, but I could still write. And my writing felt like the first thing I really owned, because I had created it myself. I started my Livejournal when I was fifteen and that was my first experience being part of a community of other writers: we were young and terrible poets, but we supported each other's work, and those friendships meant so much to me. They still do: I met one of my best friends in NY on Lj when I was a teenager.

Why create Out of the Binders?

The boys' club exists because men help each other up the ladder. Women can do the same; it's already happening online, and this event will give us the opportunity to make even stronger connections face-to-face and climb higher.

How will Out of the Binders help writers?

All of our programming is designed to be inspiring and, most importantly, pragmatic: I want women to walk away on Sunday thinking, "Wow, I can't wait to go home and try X," whether X is writing a new novel or a screenplay or a cold pitch to an editor they thought was out of their league. 

Where will the funds be allocated and how did you decide on the budget?

Space in New York is expensive, and many of the venues we're using have union contracts that require us to use their staff, catering, etc. This conference is entirely volunteer-organized (no one is getting paid), which means we have a team of over forty women donating time, but everything else costs money: venues, AV costs, catered breakfast, security guards and other venue staffing, liability insurance, etc.

Do you think this conference will be a “one-off” or are you aiming for an annual event?

Too soon to tell! We'll have to see how it goes, but I would imagine that the issue of gender disparity in publishing won't be solved in a single weekend. :) 

At the end of the conference, what should resonate with an attendee? What are your hopes for them?

I hope women make connections and set goals they would not have otherwise, and I'll know I've succeeded if after the conference, attendees are itching to get to their desks first thing Monday morning.

Out of the Binders will happen on October 11 and 12th in NYC and those outside New York will be able to watch videos of select panels online. For more information and to purchase tickets to the event, visit: and follow the conference on twitter.

Are there other ways to solve gender disparity in publishing?  If you have stories of eating a “gender disparity” bear, please comment and share!

Leigh Stein is the author of the novel The Fallback Plan, which made the “highbrow brilliant” quadrant in New York Magazine’s approval matrix, and a full-length collection of poetry, Dispatch from the Future, which was selected for Publisher Weekly’s Best Summer Books of 2012. 

Cynthia Manick is a Pushcart Prize nominated poet with fellowships from Cave Canem, The Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts & Sciences, the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop, Hedgebrook, and the Vermont Studio Center. She is also the founder of Soul Sister Revue, a reading series for established and emerging poets who write in the narrative tradition of storytelling. 

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  • Cynthia Manick

    Thanks so much for commenting Mardith. We don't want anyone to feel left out; so select programming will also be filmed and archived online!

  • Mardith Louisell

    Sounds great. I wish I lived closer to NYC. So glad people are putting the time and effort into doing this.