May 1, 2015
Dear Intrepid Readers,
Let’s take a moment together. Let’s just be quiet for a minute, together. Let’s take a deep breath, close our eyes, and just be still and silent. I think that we can all agree that this has been a particularly hard week for everyone. And that’s saying something, because it’s feeling like this hard week is just one in a series of increasingly hard months, that are all doubling back into hard years, hard decades—we were supposed to be progressing, weren’t we?
When Zoetic Press was formed, we decided on the name the NonBinary Review for our first imprint because social justice is a concept that we believe in—even if we can’t quite define it, because the theory of what social justice actually means is both subjective and constantly in flux. But even if we can’t pin down what social justice actually is—we’re pretty clear on what it’s not: binary thinking leads to injustices and inequalities. Binary modes of thinking and belief are the building blocks that throw up walls between us as humans, which create the disparity between joy and loss, privilege and disenfranchisement, power and marginalization. These binary modes of thinking are no place for art—they are rigid and inflexible, they cater to one standardized “norm” and shun all deviation from that norm. Binary thinking leaves no room to celebrate difference; it fears the unknown, and it endeavors to quiet the voices of the marginalized. As working writers, we reject the binaries that keep our stories centered on only one narrative, which refuses to tell everyone’s story.
As editors, not only do we reject this, but we believe that we can be the change that we want to see in the world. We believe that stories, poetry, and art all have a transcendent, transformative power—when wielded correctly, this power allows us to build bridges between our own experiences and the experiences of humans from other backgrounds. Literature, poetry, art—these are things that break the borders of the binaries. Language, culture, politics, race, religion, power, privilege, positionality—our stories allow us to understand each other in ways that are nonlinear and allow for our minds and hearts to open up and not just listen, but to truly hear. We aren’t naïve enough to believe that by simply hearing each other’s stories that the world is going to change. But we don’t think that you should be so naïve as to believe that it’s not a solid start, a step in the right direction, a door left ajar that we can kick down later.
Last week, we launched a blog—Rhizomatic Ideas—the opposite of binary modes of thinking and the values that such binary ideas place on art, literature, and the microcosm of our literary communities. Our blog posts thus far have begun to explore some of these firmly-held beliefs and hold them up to the light in a different way. Whether we’re talking about something as light as what we’re actually talking about when we talk about fanfic, weighing the pros & cons of the academic path of writing through MFA programs versus the “working writer” route of experience minus the degree or stressing the importance of getting out into your literary community to read your own work and listen to the work of other working writers—what we’re talking about, at the core of it all is an idea better phrased by Paulo Coelho: “No matter how you feel today, get up, dress up & show up.” Show up to your stories. Show up to your poems. Show up in your art. Because it’s only when you show yourself that you can be seen. And being seen is one of the ways that we believe literature has the power to change the world by changing the worldviews of the people living here.
We choose our themes for each issue of NonBinary Review with the idea that a story should make the world get bigger, not smaller—one author starts a snowball of a story, and we are asking our contributors to help us start an avalanche. We step away from what is generally considered to be the traditional canon of literature. When we opt for a theme that can be considered canonical work, we actively seek contributors that remodel the source text into something more inclusive, something transgressive, something that reflects back a truer snapshot of our modern world, in all of its conflicts, beauty, and contradictions.
This week we closed our window for the King in Yellow issue—and as we make our final decisions about the pieces and authors who will make up this issue, we’re excited to see an inclusivity that isn’t traditionally seen in the genre of cosmic horror. Today, we’re opening up the reading period for NonBinary Review #7, The Woman in White, and we’re hoping to see work that not only takes on the detective element of a mystery novel, but also work that addresses the social justice subtext of the narrative: economic disparity and the extraordinary lengths the disenfranchised will go to in order to gain autonomy over their own lives and destiny.
This week, we challenge you to get out into the world. Listen to some stories that you might not ordinarily hear. Stay quiet and just listen—don’t just wait for your turn to talk; just stay quiet and listen. Get up. Dress up. Show up.
And then tell us a story.
We’re posting new content weekly on our blog, Rhizomatic Ideas, and we encourage you to send us pitches and 300-500 word guest blogs to continue the conversation: firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re also on Facebook (Zoetic Press, Lithomobilus), Twitter (@ZoeticPress and Litho) and Pinterest, and whenever possible, we post audio/video of our contributors’ work on our YouTube channel. If you’re interested in hearing more from us, sign up for our monthly newsletter. We’re serious about your privacy, and promise not to flood your inbox. If you haven’t already seen what we’re about, download the app and get to reading—it’s free, and available for your iPad and iPhone.
Until next week—
Allie Marini Batts, Managing Editor