WILLA seeks to explore critical and cultural perceptions of writing by women through meaningful conversation and the exchange of ideas among existing and emerging literary communities.
WILLA (Women in Letters & Literary Arts) was founded in August 2009 to address the need for female writers of literature to engage in conversations regarding the critical reception of women's creative writing in our current culture.
The need for WILLA was made apparent by the overwhelming response to a single email (reproduced below) written by co-founder Cate Marvin in August 2009. This email, which called for the need to create an independent forum for women writers of literature, was passed from person to person, from website to blog, with all indicating an immense enthusiasm for the ideas and call to action that Marvin had expressed in her letter. This remarkable outpouring of interest and support inspired Marvin to seek the input of poet Erin Belieu, who would then help her co-found the organization.
WILLA's structure is "grass-roots." The individuals presently involved in creating WILLA are spread across the country, represent different identities, work from within a range of aesthetics, and share the common goal to create a forum at which all women writers may engage in much longed for conversations about literature being produced by women and its reception by the larger culture.