God Is A Woman is one of the many literary works by prisoners hoping to be published in the 57th issue of the Columbia Journal. Founded in 1977 by students in the Columbia University School of the Arts Graduate Writing program, it has featured works from Nobel laureates, National Book Award winners, newcomers, and unknowns. It’s past issues have included writers such as Raymond Carver, Lori Moore, Kara Walker, Mary Karr, and Joyce Carol Oates.
Columbia Journal’s Community Outreach Program aims to maintain and sustain space for those writers from vulnerable and at-risk communities who have traditionally been excluded from the larger literary discussion of art, taste, and scholarship. The outreach program actively questions and challenges today’s formal thinking about what is considered “good writing”, who are considered “serious writers”, and whose stories should be read in literary magazines.
In 2016, Heather Hadke at the Columbia Journal started the Incarcerated Writers Initiative (IWI), as a way to open the student publishing platform to writers in prisons across the United States. This population has been traditionally overlooked, undervalued, and pushed to the margins. The Journal believes the inclusion of these literary voices will enlarge and ultimately strengthen the artistic and scholarly community. Led by students and overseen by faculty advisors, the Incarcerated Writers Initiative is committed to supporting writers from all walks of life.
God Is A Woman is the condensed version of an unpublished short work of fiction by Donald “C-Note” Hooker. It is an original work that was specifically created to be published in Columbia University’s a Journal of Literary and Art, Issue 57. This psycho-drama, love story, begs to answer the question, “What happens to the memories of prisoners who have been locked away for decades?” It takes its name from an Ariana Grande song of the same title, and is based on one of the authors earlier works that predates the lyrics to God Is A Woman, but is of a similar theme. Never published, because the author feared his writing would be perceived as blasphemy.
The print edition of Columbia Journal Issue 57 will be released Spring 2019.
Photo: Donald “C-Note” Hooker
Photo Courtesy of: Peter Mertz Photography