Fearless Girl statue. Photo credit: CC BY-ND 2.0/Flickr user Shinya Suzuki.
At the Rochester Fringe Festival earlier this fall, Arianna Miller ‘18, Isabel Owen ‘19, Jennifer Galvao ’19, and Jasmine Cui ‘20 read a set of poems and a short story. Their performance set, “Write Like a Girl,” was selected for its overarching message of empowerment and strength.
Kristen Gentry, associate professor of English, spearheaded the group’s performance. According to Gentry, female writers are often stereotyped for being overly emotional and dramatic. Gentry and her students wanted to challenge this notion. “I think writing like a girl means you write honestly,” Gentry said. “You write with vulnerability, not in the sort of weeping way that is often associated with women, but a vulnerability that indicates strength.”
The pieces written by the four undergrads were hard-hitting and diverse, highlighting women’s range of voices. “My poetry focuses on sexuality and the female identity,” Miller explains. “Almost all of the pieces I read involved what it means to be a woman.”
According to the latest VIDA Count, an annual assessment of gender disparity in literary publications, women make up only 35 percent of published authors. Geneseo women’s participation in the Fringe Festival is important because it gives female writers an opportunity to dispel negative stereotypes and provides them an opportunity to get their work—and voices out there. This is an ongoing struggle for females in the industry and encouraging young students to change that is essential for the future.
Gentry said she’s excited about students “having opportunities to read in the community, outside of Geneseo, and especially at a huge arts festival.” Sending students to share their work with a broader community is very beneficial.
Galvao believes that reading Fringe Festival allowed her the opportunity to take herself seriously as a writer. It’s “especially important for girls to have a platform like this, to be unapologetic and take pride in their work, and to fight against the conception that all girls write in the same way.”
The Geneseo English department has participated in Fringe Festival for the past three years, however, this was Gentry’s first year facilitating the performance.
Author: Heather Molzon '18