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Saturday, March 20, 2010

gender / minority / tags

there is a blog post up in Big Other that made me ponder on a whole row of editor/author issues. the blog post itself starts with a quote of CL about the disproportional submission quality from women and poc (persons of color), and the quoted follow-up suggestion: "When you go through your back issues/backlist for the big names to list on your website, be sure to put the names of women writers and poc front and center. A publisher/magazine that has a lot of recognizable “minority” names on its website is basically putting out the welcome mat for “minority” writers."

this made Roxane Gay (editor of Pank) wonder: "How on earth can you know someone’s race from their submission? I have no idea, save for a poet who is a friend of mine in real life, who is or is not a person of color amongst the Pank writers."

here the whole post from Roxane: Recognizable Minority Names... Really?

the blog post ends with an invite: "I’d love to hear what other folks think about this."

here's what i posted in repsonse:

my 2 cents from my experience as editor of blueprintreview:
when reading submissions, my main focus is the story quality, and when editing, i try to put together issues that include a wide array of styles and approaches.

one element of this wide array is that i try to include submissions from abroad, and that i try to reach a balanced ratio of male / female contributors for blueprintreview. which now seems to effect the submissions, too, and their gender ratio. i guess it’s only logical that the theme and style / atmosphere of a current issue of a magazine influences the submissions for the next issue. but i don’t put those aims up as a specific note on the starting page, and i think it’s up to each editor to set their outlines for their journal / magazine. (and discussions like this one are surely helpful when it comes to defining those outlines).

“How on earth can you know someone’s race from their submission? I have no idea, save for a poet who is a friend of mine in real life.” – that is a good question. it’s also a point i ran into recently, too, with the book blog i started, Daily s-Press -

the concept of Daily s-Press is to feature books from small presses, and parallel to that, to explore the landscape of small and indie publishers. there are some search functions up already, mainly about the books themselves (fiction/poetry - style - format etc). but there are more options planned. one that is up already is a geographic search: authors / editors by continents - later, with more books up, this will move to the level of countries.

the next tag-search to be included will be a gender search for authors and editors.

but how to include a poc search option? or other options that might be interesting, and also tell about the landscape of authors and editors, for example: age, education.

working on this, i wondered if the gender theme sometimes is in the focus of discussions as it is more visible than other characteristics of authors. not sure. on the other hand, it’s interesting to see that the internet tends to level certain factors: the place where an author lives, the “part of town” or social level he or she belongs to, their age and appereance, their ethnic background (including religion), etc.. – all these factors aren’t visible in submissions if they aren’t explicitly stated in the bio. and even the gender aspect can be removed, either by using initials, or by creating an abstract.

and connected to the fe/male theme, here 2 links to recent virtual notes on gender ratios in the lit scene: "Women & Men" and "indie lit scene gender imbalance".

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