September 4, 2015
Dear Intrepid Readers,
While I wouldn’t exactly say the dust has settled from last week’s explosions in the literary scene, things are at least calmer than the fever pitch we reached last week. And while I’m usually noting where we need to work harder as a community to make safer spaces for writers of all backgrounds, this week, what I’d like to talk about is the importance of community and allies. While we still have a lot of work to do as a community, I think we’re allowed to take a moment to celebrate the many, many ways that we came together as authors, editors, publishers and most importantly, allies.
In the face of overwhelming hostility towards marginalized voices in writing and the subsequent yelling match about what constitutes freedom of speech vs. hate speech cloaked beneath the label of art, we did pretty well. The community banded together to scrap the notion that freedom of speech means you can write whatever you wish and call it art, but if someone uses their own freedom of speech to criticize, deconstruct, or reject that work, they are censoring the work instead of discarding the ideals that the art stands for.
By banding together as a community, we also managed to gain some leverage and stand our ground against the largest, most influential literary organization in the country. While the apologies issued over the past week have been conciliatory at best and “sorry for the consequence, not the action” at worst, it’s at least a starting point from which real change can come. In past years, member disenfranchisement has been understood but unaddressed, and we’ve accepted non-inclusivity as the status quo instead of an imbalance we can rectify. These small steps are important as the start to our long journey towards inclusivity, diversity, equality, and the death knell for all the –ism’s that plague progress.
While the reasons we were all working together last week were completely demoralizing in a Why are we hanging out in 1950, when anyone who isn’t a white, cis-gendered hetero man has the same amount of voice as a box of laundry detergent? kind of way, the manner in which people from different corners of the literary world began to connect and work together throughout the week was a thing of beauty to watch. Writers who had never met connected to each other through social media to join their voices to the voices of the people who had been affected by the systematic marginalization, which came to a head last week. Writers from divergent groups formed up like Voltron to demonstrate that one group’s problem is every writer’s problem and allies came out in droves to demonstrate that not everyone born to privilege wants to use it, or sees the privilege as the baseline of “normal.”
What’s the takeaway here? For me, it’s that shitty things are never going to go away entirely. There are always going to be big organizations that want to exclude some voices from the conversation but refuse to acknowledge that by doing it, they’re keeping old paradigms and stereotypes alive. There will always be authors who think that the only way to succeed is to tear down the work of their peers; authors who think that a level playing field for all will somehow compromise their chances; authors who believe that their own failure to launch is because authors who have traditionally been marginalized now have some sort of secret advantage; and authors who write hateful, hurtful things and call it freedom of speech. Those authors and their associations are never going to disappear entirely. And maybe that’s a good thing, because they keep the rest of us in check, make us walk the walk of being good allies, and show us that when we come together and work together, we are legion. That’s something worth knowing, even if it’s a bitter lesson while we’re learning it.
This month, we’re dropping the next issue of NBR and following shortly thereafter, the first Zoetic Press full-length offerings, as well as new blog posts and fresh book reviews. We also launched the newest installment of Unbound Octavo last week—we’d love to see some new submissions coming in, and can’t wait to roll out the next chapter in this story!
But before the new issue of NonBinary Review launches, make sure you’re all caught up on the five issues that we’ve brought you over the past year and a half. Download our app for iPhone or iPad and enjoy each issue of NonBinary Review, completely free. Want to keep up with what’s happening on the blog? Follow us on Facebook (Zoetic Press,Lithomobilus), and use our daily links to read new blogs, book reviews and Alphanumeric features! We’re also on Twitter (@ZoeticPress and Litho) and Pinterest, and you can even see some of our authors reading their work on ourYouTube 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. Want to be a guest writer for Rhizomatic Ideas, or to profile one of our contributors? Send us a pitch firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a book you’d like to tell the world about, or know a writer that everyone should know?Send us your reviews and author interviews!
Until next week,