Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Editor's Preferences

I took down the other post because I got allot of stupid emails. So I will rephrase here. I think that editors of journals or book presses and even websites have an obligation to tell people their biases aesthetically or gender or race.

I get this email earlier in the week which by the way was not blind copied so I get to see the hundreds of local literati that were getting it and it is an open call for a "chicago" issue of some magazine.

Then 10 minutes later I get an email where someone says but the editor is really interested in Women's writing but might take some men if they are appropriate.


I am not arguing against anthologies or issues based on gender or race. I am editing
Aufgabe's Brazil section in the fall and we have gender and racial diversity and equity. This is a great value to me as it should be to all poets and editors. What bothers me is to when editors misrepresent what they are doing as unbiased.

If you want to do an anthology or issue on Chicago women writers great. I would love to promote that kind of book. Just look at what Jen Hofer's Sin Puertas Visibles has done for Mexican women's writing. I think that SPV is one of the great anthologies of the past five years. But don't pretend to be open to everyone and have poets waste their time submitting to a call that has strong biases. Let people know beforehand.

When Bill and I launched Cracked Slab Books we told people up front we wanted Experimental Work. no mainstreamers need apply, and we still got all this narrative and neo formal crap but that was their problem since we were clear.

But lately allot of these anthologies have been made up of misrepresentations. Just look at that new anthologies edited by Cate Marvin, I think it is called Dangerious liaisons (LOL). It is packaged as the anthology of new poetry. really it is an anthology of the editor's friends and excludes so many interesting poets who are under 45 that it is almost crazy.

I guess what I am arguing for is critical distance. Admit your biases and your agenda, hell we all have them, but don't continually move the goal posts and expect people to take you seriously as an editor and if you want to publish your friends that is ok but admit what you are doing and stop pretending to be an editor.


At 11:36 AM, Blogger Kerri said...

hey ray, what's the magazine that's soliciting Chicago women without an suppressed recipient list? just curious.

i can see your point that editors should be as forthcoming as possible so submitees can assess whether or not it's worth their postage and energies submitting. it seems to me there are frequently so many unknowns in the submitting process (unless the editor is a friend, they're already familiar with your work, perhaps have asked you outright for a submission, etc. which is -i think- a kind of benign part of the picture that accounts for some of the phenomena of published chums).. like what if i send my poem about unicorns and the unknwon editor happens to have a scorching personal bias against unicorns- i'm screwed.

At 1:20 PM, Blogger Ray said...

email me and I will send the notice

At 3:34 PM, Blogger Larry Sawyer said...

What's the image, Ray? Are those biased editors dancing in celebration after throwing inappropriate submissions into the bonfire? No seriously, editors should have the courage to state editorial guidelines clearly if they plan to enforce some sort of agenda. Otherwise poets will be subjected to "scorching personal bias" rather than the indifference we may be more familiar with. It seems that some editors tout their anthology as being this or that as if there was some kind of objectivity at work behind the decision-making process, but the reality is that many anthologies are nothing more than rosters made up of members of some insider clique. Time is the great equalizer, though. I do believe that anthologies with artistic merit will be long remembered and the other sort merely become the object of derision.

At 9:30 PM, Blogger Ray said...

I think the issue is truth in advertising.

Chicago has some great innovative poets- but there are also a large group of syncophants and poetic novices.

Many 'editors' are simply using publishing ventures as ways to publish their friends.

There is nothing wrong with this if you believe in the work, Bill and I are publishing a book of Garin's and he is a friend but I believe in the work.

But too many anthologies and critical works are simply collections of friends rather than real editorial statements.

A good example of a pub that is doing right by their submitters is 26 out of SF. I am in the next issue and the collection of poets is varied geographically and racially but aesthetically the poets are all sympatico with one another.

I think that this is the issue for me. But I get very tired when the editors are not genuine and frankly lie to submitters.

I also think that the loser quotient is high among poets.
So many poets crave affection and acceptance that they try to ingreatiate themselves with submiters. This colors their editorial sense.

At 9:12 AM, Blogger Kerri said...

for ray/anyone/all,
do you think journals with a board of editors like 26 are more open to a range of work, have a less predictable/insular/whathaveyou aesthetic by nature?
also, i wonder how many editors do a blind reading of all submissions? i reckon it's kind of hard with cover letters, return email addresses and stuff glaring at you.
since the poetry universe is relatively small, i think it's reasonable to see the network manifest in table of contents. a lot of people start publishing ventures because they find themselves surrounded by talented writers who haven't gotten their due and these publishers "believe in the work," much like you and bill.

At 6:55 PM, Blogger brandijay said...

Hi guys,

I am the person that sent the email Ray is discussing and therefore I'd like to address a few things.

First, the editor of the journal had nothing to do with my sending the email around, I (as someone unaffiliated with the journal) decided on my own accord to send it.

Therefore, making any claim or reference about what the journal's editor decides to disclose or not disclose does NOT apply in this case.

If you want to start a discussion about editorial intent, that's fine, but the argument is just not valid here.

Second, I sent the email as a person, first, to her poetry friends and acquaintances who I thought might be interested in submitting, with the intent of just making them aware that this event was happening. I assumed, pretty correctly I think, that almost everyone on the list was aware of who Kristy was and what Wicked Alice is. (Kerri, I haven't had the chance to meet you yet, and am looking forward to it. Please don't be offended at not being included on the list as I don't know you personally. And also, you should submit ;)

I didn't suppress the list because I didn't realize I was addressing "literati." I didn't think that there were paparazzi knocking down anyone's door. No one cares about this poetry shit but us and if we can't support each other then I think we're all in pretty sad shape.

I'm sorry if people are offended that I let other poets see their email addresses, I really am.

Ray, you needn't worry about me making any such mistakes again, as I won't be copying you on any more emails.

Also, you should know that I received a considerable number of emails from other "literati" apologizing for YOUR behavior.


At 12:59 AM, Blogger wickedpen said...

As the editor in question apparently, perhaps some clarification is in order.

Unlike the “Chicago Women Poets” issue I did two years ago , I realized later I was remiss in not including a number of awesome local men poets and planned to do so this time. Since the call on the webpage did not specifically call for women authors, I assumed it'd be understood as inviting submissions from all genders, as the journal does for every issue.

While yes, wicked alice is a women’s centered journal, typically the “women-centered” comes in relation to my aim for the journal as a feminist publication, not the gender of individual authors. We also readily admit this every chance we get. Not like I'm harboring some secret women-only man-hating agenda. I’d be willing to admit to certain aesthetic biases, but hardly one based on gender.

I believe the initial e-mail contained a link to the submissions page which clearly states who and what we are and what we are looking for.

And could someone please tell me who these "local literati" are--I just thought we were all poets. Happy to hear about cool stuff we might be interested in being involved with. (Thank you, Brandi, for spreading the word regarldless...)

Kristy Bowen
editor, wicked alice

At 6:56 PM, Blogger Kerri said...

Thanks Kristy and Brandi for setting things straight.


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