Growing with Ghosts: An Update on Allison Green

It’s a big day for Ooligan Press: The Ghosts Who Travel With Me, written by Allison Green, is going to press. It’s also the day of the Lambda Award Ceremony. Often referred to as the Lammys, they are arguably one of the most important book awards in the industry. It is a great honor to be nominated, and Ooligan is immensely proud to count two of our authors among this year’s finalists. Karelia Stetz-Waters’ Forgive Me If I Told You This Before is a finalist in the Children’s and Young Adult category, and Ghosts author Allison Green was one of 16 contributors to Outer Voices Inner Lives, a finalist in the Anthology category.

I’ve been on the project team for The Ghosts Who Travel With Me since Allison’s proposal came through acquisitions, and it has been an incredible experience to grow with this project since its very beginning at Ooligan Press. I was one of two students who initially evaluated the proposal, and I have been with the book through every phase since. There’s still quite a bit to be done prior to our launch, however. The project team for Ghosts is just starting the final proofread of the manuscript, and we were able to give Allison her first bound copy of the book during the AWP Conference and Bookfair. She says of the experience:

At AWP, Abbey gave me a copy of the bound galleys; there’s nothing quite like holding an actual bound book in your hands. I carried it around with me at the conference and showed it off to my friends when I ran into them. The bound galley reminded me, again, of how much time and careful attention you all have put into this project. I can’t tell you how grateful I am. It also makes me reflect on the journey I took writing it – how I started writing with no idea where the work would take me, how I struggled at times to define and organize it, and how it eventually began to cohere into something that, I hope, will be meaningful to readers.

I have learned so much from this book, and it seems fitting that quite a few members of our project team (myself included) will be graduating from the publishing program the day before the launch party. That week will mark the high point of two long but rewarding journeys.

The Ghosts Who Travel With Me releases today. The launch party will be on June 15th at The Elliot Bay Book Company in Seattle.

Launch of Untangling the Knot: Queer Voices on Marriage, Relationships & Identity

On March 5, 2015 at Portland State University, Ooligan Press celebrated the launch of its most recent publication, Untangling the Knot: Queer Voices on Marriage, Relationships & Identity, a compendium of personal and political essays by twenty-six modern LGBTQ writers. Editor Carter Sickels, Lambda award-winning author of The Evening Hour, moderated a series of breathtaking readings by seven of the contributors to Untangling the Knot.

Carter Sickels introducing Untangling the Knot

The essayists read excerpts to a rapt audience of over one hundred guests, who afterward asked the authors questions ranging from whether they felt compelled as authors in the LGBTQ community to be activists, to whether terms now used to describe the LGBTQ population are reductive or expansive, and what it was like to publish as a collective of voices on LGBTQ experiences.

The authors’ answers to guests were both universal and diverse. Judith Barrington, whose essay “When Outlaws Marry” describes her experience living through the feminist movement of the 60s, explained, “Thirty years ago, these [essays] all would have been coming-out stories. Now, that’s part of our stories, but that’s not all there is to it.” A.M. O’Malley responded, “When I think about labels, I think about postmodernism. We as a people are ready to be past generalizations. I don’t identify as a queer writer, I identify as a writer. I am out as A.M. O’Malley.”

Judith Barrington reading her essay from Untangling the Knot>

Trans author Everett Maroon, executive director of an HIV nonprofit in Walla Walla, Washington, drove five hours with a head cold and two toddlers to be at the launch. In response to the question about activism, he said, “Many of us do activist work because when people aren’t so focused on surviving, they can do creative things like write.” In his essay “In a Small Town, Nothing Goes Wrong,” Maroon writes about doctors who today still refuse to treat HIV-positive patients. “LGBTQ health care reveals all that is weak in the US system of health care,” he says.

Everett Maroon reading his essay from Untangling the Knot

The anthology was a unique challenge insofar as it is the first book of its kind at a time when many books seek to align with or against the marriage equality movement. Against that landscape, Untangling the Knot attempts to advance the conversation on equality. Contributor Ben Anderson-Nathe spoke to the risks of publishing his view on the shortcomings of marriage equality. In his essay “We Are Not ‘Just Like Everyone Else,’” he writes, “I do not support the further fracturing of queer communities such that only two-person monogamous relationships are granted validation.” At the launch, he explained, “I fully anticipate backlash from my essay. I anticipate it coming from misunderstanding of the point I’m trying to make, which is not opposition to marriage but that granting marriage to a few more people signals some kind of equality. As long as the rhetoric is predicated on sameness, we aren’t making progress.”

Ben Anderson-Nathe

Untangling the Knot approaches the debate surrounding marriage equality head on. In the anthology, the authors share their personal identities, sexualities, and gender experiences growing up in modern America, and question how the current progress on marriage equality reflects the true diversity of the meanings of family.

The authors’ points of view are as personal as they are political. Pamela Helberg read from her essay about the pain of coming about growing up lesbian in the small town of Pocatello, Idaho: “Coming out isn’t a one-time event. Coming out happens over and over and over again, every day, every week, every month.”

Contributor Mel Wells’s partner, Ashley Brittner, attended and commented, “The book will be so important for younger people because they can see their own personal stories in the authors’ stories. This book is one way this community can really connect. Mel’s story—so many people’s stor[ies]—unfolded that way. Knowing that kind of support exists can be a lifeline for people. When I grew up in Montana, we didn’t have anything like this.”

What was evident from listening to the authors at the event was that progress toward expanding LGBTQ rights in America can be made by understanding the diversity of the people in that community. That diversity is present on the pages of Untangling the Knot.

To see more photos from this event, please visit our Facebook page.