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Sister Vision Press

Photograph of Sister Vision Press

(1985- )

Publisher

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Toronto's Sister Vision: Black Women and Women of Colour Press was co-founded in 1985 by Makeda Silvera and Stephanie Martin. The press was born of the faith and enthusiasm these two woman from Jamaica ("sistahs") had for their "vision" of publishing innovative, challenging and provocative works by Canadian women of colour.

Having been a writer herself in the 70s and 80s, Silvera had experienced first-hand a resistance by both mainstream and alternative publishers to take the risk of publishing her book entitled Silenced : Caribbean domestic workers talk with Makeda Silvera, stating that the language was not easily understood. Determined to facilitate putting into print the words of women like themselves, Silvera and Martin set about founding their own press.

Despite tremendous obstacles including limited funds (Sister Vision started out of a cardboard filing box), lack of awareness in society about the place for publishers of books by women of colour, and reluctance and fear among the black literary community in supporting a press run by a lesbian couple, Silvera and Martin managed to sustain the energy, commitment and fervour required to keep their vision alive. To date, Sister Vision's more than 50 publications have given a voice to Caribbean, Asian, First Nations, African and mixed-race women on many themes and issues including those which have traditionally been silenced such as lesbianism, bisexualism and oppression.

Martin and Silvera list as some of their successes the many anthologies they have published which have provided space to a large cross-section of women who might otherwise never have been in print. Their book Piece of my heart : a lesbian of colour anthology was a finalist in the American Library Association [Gay and Lesbian Book Award], the gay category. Also, The very inside : an anthology of writings by Asian and Pacific Island lesbians and bisexual women was nominated for a prestigious American book award.

As their press has matured, their vision has been given renewed energy through collaborative work with feminist women's organizations in the Caribbean, Britain, Southern Africa, India and other countries as well as in North America. One such collaborative effort with CAFRA (Caribbean Association for Feminist Research and Action) of Trinidad and Tobago resulted in the publishing of Creation fire : a CAFRA anthology of Caribbean women poets (1990). This book brought the poetry of Caribbean women in the Caribbean and the Diaspora together and included all the languages of the Caribbean - English, French, Creole, Papiemento, Dutch, Spanish and others.

In 13 years, Makeda Silvera and Stephanie Martin have built a strong and vibrant community of women of colour writers, and Sister Vision Press represents a new and forceful voice in publishing which will ensure that their words are sustained.

Resources

Black girl talk. — Edited by the black girls. — Toronto : Sister Vision, c1995. — 157 p.

Mandiela, Ahdri Zhina. — "Speshal rikwes." — Toronto : Sister Vision, c1985.  — 60 p.

Maracle, Sylvia. — Onkwehonwe-neha : "our ways." — Toronto : Sister Vision Press, c1994.  — 23 p.

Miscegenation blues : voices of mixed race women. — Edited by Carol Camper. — Toronto : Sister Vision, c1994. — 389 p.

Montague, Masanie. — Dread culture : a rastawoman's story. — Toronto : Sister Vision Press, c1994.  — 189 p.

Returning the gaze : essays on racism, feminism and politics. — Edited by Himani Bannerji. — Toronto : Sister Vision, c1993. — 266 p.

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