Thursday, October 18, 2007

writing as a political act

This week, I received a letter concerning a recent blog post, in which I described our editorial tastes by mentioning a preference for the concrete over the abstract, and for language that is inventive and lyrical rather than "political."

I'd like to add a bit of clarification for anyone who might be interested. I believe that all writing is--by nature--political, in the sense that speaking and writing are political acts. What I meant (and probably could have explained a bit more clearly) is that as editors, Melissa and I have a preference for a certain style of poetry (and prose). As a general rule, we are a bit turned off by work that is highly abstract, preachy or didactic. We like work that shows us something, rather than tells us. We adore subtlety. We are not offended by overtly political poems and prose; however, these kinds of works tend to use broad abstractions that are simply less interesting to us than work that appeals to the senses.

That is not to say that there is not a place for this kind of work; we're merely explaining that it's not our style.

We love writing that is unexpected. We are not necessarily stating certain topics are "off-limits" so much as asking that writers consider work that describes women's experiences without limiting themselves to topics that seem inherently (or perhaps stereotypically) "female."

In response to another question raised in this letter, I also want to mention that I don't have a problem with topics relating to the female body per se (in fact, I am very interested in work about the body); however, I don't want writers to limit themselves to work about anorexia or menstruation only because we get a number of submissions about this kind of thing, and we like variety.

Overall, we are very open-minded in terms of both style and subject matter. If you have a knockout piece about any topic you think relates to women's lives and experiences, by all means, send it!

Over these last few months, we have received a good deal of quality poetry and prose. As a literary journal, our primary aim is to promote the work of some wonderful contemporary writers and poets. To all those who read, write and submit their work for publication, thank you!


Melissa said...

Excellent clarification! I'll post a little something when I get home from class as well!

Erin O'Brien said...

I have been writing for years. I get in trouble all the time. Ever since I've been doing it professionally, people have been trying to get me fired, shut me up, and make me repent.

To hell with them.

I also shine the brightest light possible on my critics, linking their critical letters and quoting their comments on my blog.

I take the First Amendment seriously all the time, even when I don't like what's being said.

It never ceases to amaze me how the liberal (and I'm as liberal as they come) set can turn into instant censors when they dislike the content.

My advise is: Hear all voices, publish the best--to hell with what offends.

Susan said...

Melissa--as always, thanks!

Erin: Thanks so much for the advice. I read your blog all the time, and admire your fearlessness.

And while I may, on occasion, question my need to repent, (damn that Catholic upbringing!) I will probably never be able to shut up :)

It's just not in my nature.