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Sponsored Post: Zora&Alice Founder Ope Bukola Launches Online 'Zine

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Literature is everywhere and not just in books. Take Zora&Alice, the brand new online zine for women of color. Besides the fabulously bookish title (keep reading for the inspiration), the magazine aims provide a full-range of content for women that want to look beyond lipstick and labels.

We spoke with founder Ope Bukola (also a SheReads vet) about the novels of  Zora and Alice, African literature and Black media.

Uptown Literati: How did you come up with the name Zora&Alice?

Ope Bukola: The name was inspired by a book I read called I Love Myself When I Am Laughing. It’s a collection of works by Zora Neale Hurston that was edited by Alice Walker. I think the relationship between Hurston and Walker is really fascinating. Hurston was one of the best writers of the 20th century but, for a number of reasons, her literary contribution was fairly ignored until Alice Walker wrote an essay about her in 1975. Walker spent years unearthing Hurston’s legacy, including literally finding her lost grave site. To me, it underscores how black women to take the initiative and responsibility to tell our past and current stories and make sure that they don’t get lost.

UL: Tell us more about the site.

OB: We hope to provide an online community for young black women to read/write/talk about anything we want. We have a daily blog where writers sound off on the latest news, events, thoughts, and whatever else. We also publish an online magazine where there are more in-depth personal essays, interviews and features. We just launched the first magazine issue. As we build up, we’re hoping the magazine will go to bi-weekly then weekly issues very soon!

UL: You’re obviously a fan of both Zora Neale Hurston and Alice Walker. What are your favorite books by either or both of those authors?

OB: My favorite of Hurston’s is probably The Complete Stories. I personally love short stories and essays and this is a collection of Hurston’s shorts. What I like about it is how prolific she is and the range of things she writes about. It’s a huge window into her life and the times during which she wrote. And of course Their Eyes Were Watching God – but you could probably have guessed that. For Alice Walker, I’m going to again go with a collection of shorts, In Search of Our Mother’s Garden. Most of the essays discuss black women and the ways in which we’ve maintained our creativity throughout years of oppression. It

UL: You did a SheReads post and noted that people should look beyond Chinua Achebe for African authors. What other African writers and/or writers of African descent are on your radar?

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author of 'Half of a Yellow Sun'

OB: Oh goodness – so many! I guess if we’re talking about “classic” authors, in addition to Achebe, we could probably stand to read more Wole Soyinka or Buchi Emecheta who has written a lot of great books on the African female experience. Also, Moses Isegawa’s books paint such an incredible picture of Uganda in Idi Amin’s regime. Then of course the younger, more contemporary authors like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I’m really excited right now for Maaza Mengiste who is of Ethiopian descent and recently published her first book, Beneath the Lion’s Gaze, which is a great read.

UL: How will literature factor into Zora&Alice?

OB: A lot of our writers are also huge readers (as I think most good writers are) so it will be a huge part. We’ll do book reviews frequently and attend literature events. Right now, on the blog, we have a series of reflections by author Jessica Lynne who attended the 10th National Black Writer’s Conference last month. We’ll also have a Summer Reading issue in June which should be full of good stuff for readers! And we hope to move very soon into hosting literary salons and events that connect our readers off-line. So yes – there’ll be lots of bookish stuff because we’re those sorts of people.

UL: Who do you see as being the ideal Zora&Alice reader? Why do you think this reader is underserved in the media?

OB: Well I invite anyone and everyone to read! But our target audience is really today’s Black woman who feels the media is speaking to and about her in a way that doesn’t make sense. Me, my sister, and many of my friends fall into this bucket. So much of what is written about us is homogenous and stereotype-driven. For example, the big media “angle” right now is to portray educated black women as sad, lonely people who are spending all their time lamenting singlehood. To me, it just seems like a story that is being way overblown by mainstream sources. All the young black women I know single or otherwise, are not waiting around. They’re getting degrees, building careers, starting businesses and just keeping it moving. It’s just easier sometimes for mainstream media to pick up a “single story” about a group of people and keep telling it.

UL: Is there anything else about Zora&Alice that you’d like to tell readers?

OB: Readers should know that our goal is to build a Web space that represents us in our diversity. So we welcome your comments and feedback. We want to have debates. But we also want to have fun! So please be part of the conversation and help us build something great. And I can always be reached at my email.

Zora&Alice launched their first issue today! Beginning in May, the magazine will publish every other week while the site will continue to be updated daily.

Editorial Disclaimer: Zora&Alice is a sponsor of Uptown Literati and this is a sponsored post.

–Whitney Teal

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Written by whitney teal

April 7, 2010 at 12:16 pm

Posted in Lit Talk

Tagged with ,

One Response

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  1. Ok site though I was expecting a literary site since they named it after two wonderful authors.

    goddesspt2

    April 18, 2010 at 12:15 pm


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