Message from Christopher Castellani
Dear GrubStreet Community,
I am writing to you as the Artistic Director of Stage and Convenings at GrubStreet, a place I have called home for more than twenty years.
I wanted to take this opportunity to clarify my role as a writer in the events that led to the New York Times Magazine article “Who is the Bad Art Friend?” and the issues it has raised about artistic freedom, intellectual property, and the blur between our public and private selves. In July 2018, I joined the “Chunky Monkeys” writing group, which had existed since 2012, and which was never officially affiliated with GrubStreet. In personal emails to my fellow writers in that group, I expressed support for my friend, fellow writing group member, and Grub colleague, Sonya Larson, over accusations and legal action concerning her story, “The Kindest.” The members of our group exchanged many emails about the subject, some of which were professional and others of which were clearly not. I wrote some of those unprofessional emails as an admittedly hyperbolic, deliberatively provocative, and highly performative way of supporting my friend and fellow writer.
It doesn’t matter that I never intended my private messages to my writing group to become public. My original intent does not mitigate the impact of my words. What matters is that my comments have evoked a range of negative feelings in members of the GrubStreet community and caused some to question my commitment to our values of mutual respect. Reading them has likely also caused Dawn Dorland personal hurt, which I sincerely regret. Those of you who’ve gotten to know me over the years know that I have built my life and my career on supporting fellow writers; for those of you who don’t yet know me personally, or even professionally, I hope I can earn your trust, as well as your forgiveness.
I plan to remain a part of GrubStreet’s ongoing evolution as one of the country’s most inclusive and pedagogically innovative writing organizations. The story has triggered many questions and conversations about our culture. In the coming months, I will give space to Grub’s leadership as they work through these questions; in the meantime, I will continue to learn from the staff, students, and instructors around me as we interrogate all that’s happened and the lessons we can all take from it.
As with learning, growth is a lifelong process. I look forward to seeing this organization, and myself, grow into better versions of ourselves as we move forward together.
Artistic Director, Stage and Convenings
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