Camille Wanliss, founder of Galleyway–an online platform that spotlights opportunities for BIPOC writers–talks with Trish Hopkinson about what inspired her to start Galleyway, the benefits of participating in the literary community, the importance of supporting other writers, and the variety of opportunities available to writers at all stages in their careers. Hear what Camille is up to with her own writing projects, how she’s expanding to in-person events, and what she’s learned along the way.
Trish Hopkinson: [00:00:00] Hello everyone. It’s a beautiful spring day here in Colorado, and I couldn’t be more pleased to be spending some time with my friend, Camille Wallace, founder of Galleyway online platform that spotlights opportunities for BIPOC writers in literature, poetry, television, film, and theater. Camille is a New York-based writer of Caribbean descent.
She is a 2022 Peer Plus Fellow and was selected for AWP’s Writer to Writer Mentorship Program, the NYFA DC and LA city artists Corp grant, and among the winners of 2020 Pigeon Pages Essay Contest. Her work has appeared, implant and mag, raising mothers, anomaly weird sisters among us. Additional honors include the Adrian Schwartz award in women’s fiction.
The Small Acts Literary Prize short list, and fellowships and residencies for Mineral School, Vermont Studio Center and Writing [00:01:00] in the Margins. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing from the City College of New York. So welcome Camille and thanks for taking time to chat with me for the Tell Tell Poetry Submission Interview.
Camille Wanliss: Oh, of course. Thank you so much, Trish. It’s been a pleasure. Thank you.
Trish Hopkinson: It’s so much fun that we get to connect in different ways. Last few years, that’s really been, we keep bumping into each other and having reasons to, to give back to meds. It’s always great fun. And um, so what, I just have always admired.
What you’ve been doing with Galleyway it’s it’s really so professionally done. And I just think it’s a really great resource. It’s so important. So what was the original inspiration for creating Galloway and how did you get.
Camille Wanliss: Yeah. You know, I always say that, um, galley way was like a personal need that sort of like morphed into this like communal benefit.
Um, you know, it’s simply began as [00:02:00] a way for me to keep track of writing opportunities, um, and places for me to submit work to. Um, so I’m, you know, I write fiction. Um, and what I will say that one of the most like difficult things coming out of my MFA program was just trying to find places that would accept my work.
Um, so I’ll say that, uh, you know, I write mainly about like Caribbean identity. Um, a lot of the work that I do is, you know, takes place in, uh, in other countries, um, you know, it incorporates Caribbean dialect and, you know, especially coming out of my MFA program at the time, this was like 2011. There weren’t too many places that were, you know, really accepting that kind of work.
So it was kind of very limiting of where. Um, so send my work to, so a lot of the times I was just trying to find like journals, um, contests and places of [00:03:00] where I could submit my work to. Um, so I kind of just had to start my own like database, um, of where I could, uh, of, of writing opportunities and, uh, and that sort of thing.
Um, and so a few years into that process, and I would say it was maybe around. 2015 or so. Um, I will say like black lives matter sort of came into like this national consciousness. Um, and there was like this. National conversation around like race and racial equity, um, that was sort of like permeating all these different, um, fields, you know, at the time I think, you know, with Hollywood there was like Oscar so white and it was also going into the, the publishing industry, you know?
Um, uh, and it sort of got me thinking as to, you know, what stories were being amplified and through whose lens were these stories being told, [00:04:00] um, That’s the one example I can give you is, you know, at the time there was this huge scandal about, um, and then theology that had, um, published a white poet under a Chinese pseudonym.
Um, and I think if it just hit the justification at the time was like, you know, he felt his work was, um, he had a better chance of being accepted. Um, there’s also a theater in LA at the time that had staged the play by conservative playwright. Um, about the murder of Mike Brown at the hands of Ferguson PD.
And so, you know, clearly these were opportunities that could have gone to like poets and writers of color. Um, And I thought, you know, one of the way to combat, like the co-op thing of stories by people of color and marginalized communities was to sort of reclaim those narratives. Um, And I thought if there was this one theater that was willing to stage this play, then [00:05:00] clearly there were maybe there were five theaters that were looking for playwrights of color, who could, who had scripts that were accurate and authentic.
Um, and so I would scour the internet, you know, like for these. And I found them and I was like, okay, well, these need to be shared with, you know, these need to be shared with the world. And so I realized like, okay, well my little database, can’t just be, you know, there’s a larger need for it. You know, I need to share yeah.
Th this needs to be shared. Um, and I recognize that this wasn’t just, you know, it couldn’t just be for me. Um, and so, so, you know, I launched it in way, it was under a different name actually, but I launched it in 2016. Um, and since then I’ve shared more than 6,000 opportunities. Um, And at the height of the pandemic, I sort of, you know, expanded it to other things.
Um, again, offering, um, virtual writing sessions. So, um, now once a [00:06:00] week I used to do it twice a week, but now once a week, um, I had like a gathering space online for writers of all disciplines who want to just get together, um, and kind of hold themselves accountable to completing projects. Um, I also produced a series call, an audio series called heard word for poets.
Um, a second audio series. So posts will send me their like, like audio of themselves reading their work and I’ll place it on my website. Um, and that’s sort of grown into a, an open mic series that I do now in Brooklyn, New York. I’m also hosting an open mic event tomorrow, which is an offshoot of. Audio series a with a bookstore in Brooklyn called Madonna bookstore.
So it’s kind of like morphed into this like different thing. Um, you know, so it started off as these opportunities, but it’s, you know, I’ve built a community around it, which I’m really, really grateful for.
Trish Hopkinson: Yes. That’s so incredible. [00:07:00] I think that’s, that’s something that’s so important that it it’s, it’s one thing to recognize a need.
It’s another to continue to find those. Blink spots, you know, that that really need to be filled. And it’s really just about. Paying attention. And then once you pick that up, what you see it to, to take those baby steps. Cause it’s interesting how, like some things don’t take all that much work or they can be, they can be spinoffs of things you’re already doing, and that’s sort of what you described and that’s kind of how we design, like what, what are.
Projects turn into and ultimately they do, they change a morph over time, right? I mean, the fact that you turn to this kind of online resource into an actual, you know, community like community programming in person now. Thank goodness. [00:08:00] Um, That’s just awesome. I really love that. So, so much, but I do have to ask you, because I realized I don’t, I don’t know where the name galley way came from.
Camille Wanliss: It’s funny, you know, so, um, you know, like the, what they send you before your book actually becomes. Gets into the world. It’s quite like gal your galleys. It’s kind of like a play on alleyway and galley. So it just, yeah. Sort
Trish Hopkinson: of play on that. It’s the way for your galleys Sally’s make their way into the world.
Camille Wanliss: Yes. Yes.
Trish Hopkinson: That is awesome. And it’s, it’s unique. It’s unique. And it does have a, it does have sort of like a sense of like, Direction about it. Yeah. Which is really awesome and easy to remember. And it’s something that you can apply to all the, I mean, you can use the name in a variety of ways, which is that’s great.
When you come up with [00:09:00] something that, you know, you can apply to whatever project you’re working on. Right. That’s awesome. So what has surprised you most about galley way and your experience with it?
Camille Wanliss: Yeah. Um, I’ll say what surprised me the most is how much it’s resonated with people. Um, especially emerging writers.
Um, I’m always very thrilled when someone reaches out to me and say, you know, I’ve submitted for the first time to an anthology or a journal. Um, and you know, the F and I it’s been accepted. And the first time I saw this opportunity was on galley way. Um, one of the, I’ll say like recently, one of the, there was, uh, one of the attendees who, um, for my virtual writing session, I saw one of her like Instagram posts and she’s like, uh, she has just contributed to an anthology that’s just being published for, um, for Asian writers.
And I was like, oh, that’s great. I would love to, you know, highlight you in one of [00:10:00] Galloway’s newsletters. And she was like, oh yeah, that’s what I said, you know, send me your stuff. And she was like, oh, by the way, you know, I first learned about this, like in 2020 on Galloway. And I was like, oh, okay. Like, that’s like, wow, that’s amazing.
Like, I didn’t even realize the galley way connection. I just thought she had, you know, like this was just. Yes, this was, and so I’m just always thrilled when I learned stuff like that, you know, like that’s, it’s like, oh, okay. So, you know, sometimes I do these things and I’m just like, oh, is anybody even listen?
Like, is anybody even out there, like you just like, you’re, you’re posting these things and they’re just going out into the ether. Like, is anyone, does anyone even care? Um, So when I see stuff like that, it’s like, oh, okay. So what is, so what I, so what actually did see that post, like someone, someone, someone it resonated with someone and someone I’m just really happy that someone does something out of it, you know, like they submitted their work and someone saw it [00:11:00] and someone had got it, got accepted into something.
Um, that like, it makes me really, really happy. Like I’m so thrilled when I see stuff like that. Um, so I’m really surprised. So that’s what. That’s been like the most surprising things like, oh, okay. It’s actually, it’s X, nobody’s actually seeing these things.
Trish Hopkinson: yes, no, I agree that it’s like, secondly, one of the most rewarding things, um, and I, and maybe this happens to you too, but maybe you hear it from some of the markets.
You know, Hey, I’m getting some great work from folks who are seeing it on your website. And you’re like, oh, that’s upset, you know, on both sides of the coin. It’s really great. And you know, really the writing community as a whole is, is a very, um, You know, giving friendly, like everybody’s sort of going after the same thing.
And, you know, once, once someone makes that initial effort, I find that people are so grateful and so [00:12:00] gracious and just want to be a part. They just want to join in, in some way. So sites like yours really make that possible. And especially for people of color, like making that space where. I feel like they can, you know, jump in and contribute and, you know, the.
It’s just important.
Camille Wanliss: Yes. That was my, my mission that has always been my goal from the beginning is to give a voice to, you know, writers of color to let them know, like, there are opportunities, there are many opportunities out here for you. Um, you just have to, you know, especially when I first began, you know, it was like, oh, where do I even look?
You know? Um, No, there, there are many opportunities out here and I want to make that process like really easy for people. Yeah. You know, I wanna, um, I wanna, I just want everyone to be able to just be like, oh, Hey, you know, I can [00:13:00] just, I can go to Galloway on, you know, June 1st or July 1st. And I know like, There’s opportunities there once I sign on, you know?
Trish Hopkinson: Yeah. Cause then you’re not trying to hit certain deadlines. You know, there’s always, there’s a resource where you can go find what’s current. There’s always going to be something that you can do. And I think that was something that I learned really early on when I was sending work out, I just felt like, oh, I have to have to send the in before this deadline, I have to make sure I hit this deadline.
It’s still be true if there’s like, you know, something that’s a really great fit or there’s something you really are looking forward to, but in general, those opportunities just keep coming around.
Camille Wanliss: They’re there. Yes, they are. There’s something always rotating. There’s something always bigger.
Trish Hopkinson: So instead of like, like don’t stress trying to finish, like.
Finish your projects, get your best work done and then go see, well, where’s the place for me to send this now? Like, you know, cause I really did worry about that when I was younger, [00:14:00] I was putting all these dates on my calendar was just like, you know, I did learn, well, I shouldn’t say again, girl, when I was starting this, which was around that same time you did.
So I wasn’t that much, but at any rate, when you’re first getting into this, it can be intimidating, but deadlines can make you feel like you’re going to miss out on an opportunity. And really there’s just so many, so absolutely. Speaking of community, what would you like to see more of in the literary community?
Camille Wanliss: Yeah. Um, I was at, I kind of feel like some of us are ready doing this, which is great. Um, but I think we’ve come to a point where, you know, we have to kind of do so much with so little. Um, and so collaboration for me is like really absolutely vital. Um, the literary community it’s big, but it’s also very small and it can also feel very like competitive.
Um, we’re all trying to get the [00:15:00] attention of the same audience, the same agents. Um, but there’s, uh, A really great quote from ISA Ray about like, not really not networking up, but like networking across which I, which I love. Um, and for me, some of the most amazing things have happened once I connected with, um, and part started partnering and collaborating with, um, other people within my literary spaces, including you, Trish, you have been absolutely vital.
Um, in my life and my, um, my literary career, which is like, I can’t. Thank you enough. Um, so you, thank you. Um, partnering with you, partnering with Rwanda Alban sets from spoken black girl. Um, the woman that I’m partnering with for. The open mic series, um, Darlene OPO at Donna bookstore, glory Edam with well-read black girl, like [00:16:00] these, you know, I noticed that once I started working with them, like no things have changed, you know, and we have to work together.
It’s, you know, It’s it’s, it’s, we’re better off that way, you know, and we can definitely get a lot more work done each other, you know, it’s not a competition. It’s, it’s, it’s a sisterhood, you know, like we, we, we. Let’s collaborate with each other, you know, like let’s help, let’s fell on it. Like it looks at one another.
Trish Hopkinson: I think so too. I think that’s, what’s so important about sites like alleyway is giving people that permission. It’s okay to collaborate it. Isn’t competition that actually isn’t, you know, your word. If you put some effort into it, there’s a home for it. You know? And, and so it’s, it’s not about quality for those people who are really putting the effort in, it’s not, it’s not about quality, it’s [00:17:00] about finding the right fit.
And, and so it isn’t a competition, you know, because your piece is going to fit somewhere where someone else’s piece might not. And you know what, when you. Rejected. It could just be making room for that next best spot. That was actually a better fit. So you have to sort of, you know, go with that and, and understand that those opportunities are they’re going to come to you.
And really they come faster and much more plentiful. If you are collaborating, if you are, you know, sharing the experience with other writers, you know, and like you said, I mean, I’ve crossed, you know, your peers for sure. But also you’ve got, you know, emerging writers, you’ve got those just starting and then somebody has been doing it for awhile and you all have different experiences that can play off of each other.
Camille Wanliss: So. Yeah. I love that all those different levels, helping each [00:18:00] other out, like let’s help each other out, you know? Um, yeah. I I’m totally down for that. Like it’s totally need it’s absolutely needed.
Trish Hopkinson: Yep. I agree. That’s so great. And it brings people to you. It brings you readers. You know, so yeah, I love it. I love it.
Well, this is awesome. I could seriously talk for hours. I think we know that about each other already, but, um, so what, I mean, we’ve talked about a lot of things. We’ve kind of given a lot of advice. Do you have, is there any other advice that you would specifically give to our telltale poetry lists?
Camille Wanliss: Um, yeah, I would say you’re never done learning.
Um, I would say. You know, for me, uh, you know, I was one of these people that was like, oh, as soon as I was done with my MFA program, I was like, oh, I know everything. I know, I know [00:19:00] absolutely nothing. Uh, you know, definitely attend, you know, writer, Roche workshops, poetry workshops, continue learning. Um, Retreats residencies, um, constantly work on, on honing your craft, um, and build a community.
Um, yeah. Especially for me, like writing is, uh, is often a really solitary process. Um, and it’s really vital to connect with other like-minded individuals. So like join a writing group, um, apply for a mentorship program, you know, sign up for that open mic. You’ve always wanted to, you know, like that’s a really great way to, um, to build community, you know, that’s, uh, you know, especially for me, I’m.
When these people who I like to call it like a extreme introvert, but I will say that Galloway was, has been one of these really great things that has kind of like pulled me out of that show. Um, and I wouldn’t necessarily, have you told me two years ago that I [00:20:00] would be hosting events or speaking in front of people?
Um, I wouldn’t, I would not have believed it would not have believed you, you know what I mean? But. But finding, finding like-minded people, you know, building community, these are ways to not only grow your brand, grow yourself, you know, expand, expand who you are as a person as well.
Trish Hopkinson: No, I love that. I feel, I mean, I think our journeys have been very similar.
Of course, you know, I feel, I feel very much the same way, and what’s really been amazing about this process. And I think if I were to kind of sum up both of our journeys is that, you know, Um, what we’ve done to sort of give back or feel fill a need was really just an extension of ourselves. Not realizing that we were going to get so much back, so reporting and are.
Oh, why do you call yourself [00:21:00] selfish poet? And I’m like, well, cause originally I just did this for me. Like
it was going to help all these and then once it started helping, you’re like hooked. You’re like I’m addicted to this. It’s so rewarding. It’s really, and people, like I said, are so gracious and they’re so grateful and it’s really just it’s it’s not a bad break to be in the community. Oh,
Camille Wanliss: I totally agree. I totally agree.
And that’s just, that’s exactly how it was for me. It was like, oh, I’m going to do this for me. And then it was like, oh no, This is for, this is for everyone. It is for everyone.
Trish Hopkinson: I love it so much. Um, so tell us a little bit, what are you working on right now? Can you share a little bit?
Camille Wanliss: The main, main thing which I call like sort of the bane of my existence. This manuscript that I’ve been working on [00:22:00] for an extremely long time, but, uh, but I love it as well, um, to see a historical novel set in 1960s, Jamaica, um, and it follows a family over the course of a year. Um, You want a sugar plantation?
Um, and some tragedy happens and they have to like tie the come together, but there’s kind of like family jealousy and family secrets that come out. Um, so yeah, so it’s, I’m still working on it. It’s, it’s a bear. It’s a it’s it’s, I’m trying to get through it, but, uh, so that’s, that’s the main thing I’m working on.
Um, and then I also have the, the workshop series that I do the submission process workshop series. And so I’m kind of adapting that into like a four week workshop series right now with Hugo house. Um,
Um, on June 23rd, [00:23:00] um, online, um, because you know, for many writers, they feel really overwhelmed with where to submit. Like I was saying before, where to submit to for journals and fellowships and grants. And residencies. So my goal is to mainly to like demystify that process. Um, so I’m going to share resources on where to find opportunities, um, and just tell people how to get the, you know, share how to get the most out of their, um, application process from where to, um, you know, find opportunities to develop strong Biles and artist statements and project proposals.
So, yeah, that’s excellent.
Trish Hopkinson: That sounds awesome. All right. Great. So how can writers sign up to get updates from
Camille Wanliss: Galleyway? Sure. Um, writers can go straight to the website galleyway.com. Um, it’s spelled like alleyway with G at the beginning. Um, and, uh, you can also sign up for the newsletter. I have a [00:24:00] biweekly newsletter that I send out, so the first of the month and then middle of the month, um, and you can sign up on the website as well.
Trish Hopkinson: Excellent. Excellent. Well, thank you again so much. Thank you. Cause I said, I could just talk to you for hours. Uh, but I think this was going to be really, really helpful for our listeners and it was just such a pleasure to have you, and I’m sure we’re going to find reasons to connect. Virtually and hopefully in person someday, but definitely, uh, great to connect with you today.
And I hope you have a wonderful holiday weekend.
Camille Wanliss: Thank you so much, Trish. We’ll talk to you soon.