I'm very pleased to finally see my article, "What It Means To Be An Inclusive Literary Journal", up on Literary Hub. The piece was inspired by Casey Rocheteau's urgent essay announcing her decision to leave The Offing. The piece exposed the many issues behind the scenes at the journal, which is dedicated to "work by and about those often marginalized in the literary conversation, including those who are people of color; trans women and men, ciswomen, gender non-conforming and intersex people; LGBQA people; people with disabilities; and especially people living at intersections of these identities." As Rocheteau revealed in her essay, the journal's former leadership was clearly at odds with this mission.
I spent much of the past few years of my life on the labor of love that is Apogee. Founded as part of Columbia University, my colleagues and I spent many, many hours of unpaid time establishing the journal and getting it to where it is now. The Offing benefited from its association with the Los Angeles Review of Books, an institution that--like Columbia with Apogee--stood in opposition to our mission statement in more ways than one. As The Offing is doing now, we made the difficult decision years ago to disassociate with Columbia, and thereby forfeited the benefits of our sponsor institution. When I read Rocheteau's essay, I felt a pang of recognition, and an impetus to respond.
In the two days the piece has been up, I've received messages from people who also felt similarly, thanking me for speaking out. Such a response is always encouraging, and in this case, a relief, because airing criticisms of an institution always involves risk. That risk remains, but I'm happy that, for some readers, my efforts have been meaningful.
In the spirit of the essay, I want to take time to shed some light on my relationship with Literary Hub. Almost two years ago, I received an email from a good friend, Emily Firetog, who asked me to write for a new site that would be an aggregator for all things books, a Huffington Post for literature. I had little idea what it would be, but I believed in Emily, having served under her as Fiction Editor for Columbia Journal, and together founding the amazingly-named (thanks to Heidi Julavits) WTF! Writers Talk Feminism group at Columbia's MFA program. It was a no-brainer at the time: I needed money and exposure, and I knew I was in good hands with Emily.
Emily introduced me to Jonny Diamond, who lived in the Hudson Valley, where my now-husband and I had just moved. Jonny asked me to organize a feature to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the murder of Michael Brown. On the heels of the success of that piece, they asked me to sign on as a Contributing Editor.
I've heard occasional criticisms of Literary Hub that come from communities of color, and from readers in general. I've considered all of them carefully, and while I have seen the value of some of them, others I have not. None of them have been so egregious as to compel me to leave. To my mind, Literary Hub publishes the widest variety of perspectives on literature available today, and is able to take more risks than traditional outlets precisely because of this range. Whenever there is a large volume of work, it will fall on a wide spectrum. I'm grateful for such an outlet, and for their near unwavering support of my work. Ultimately, I think they are a force for good in the literary world, that they strive to publish what is new and relevant, and that they are always working to be better.