amongst books

amongst books

Monday, June 20, 2016

why create a close reading service for new women poets?

AngelHousePress: Announcing A Close Reading Service for New Women Poets 

WHAT:  I will read five pages of your free verse or prose poetry, offer editing suggestions and possibly suggest poetry to read;

WHO:   new poets, not yet published with a press (chapbook or spine), who identify as women; must be avid readers of contemporary poetry;

HOW:   send poetry to amanda@angelhousepress.com; name a contemporary influence (poet, work of poetry);

WHEN:           anytime; work read on a first come first served basis, one poet per month;

WHERE:         wordwide;

WHY:             lack of chapbook submission by women; an attempt to encourage and mentor;

COST:             free.

FURTHER INFO: AngelHousePress.com

The creation of this service may come as a surprise for anyone who follows me on social media or knows me personally. I despise stereotyping & prejudice of all forms. I have always seen the act of publishing based on gender as a form of prejudice, regardless of which gender. But I have also always believed in welcoming voices that are little heard in the mainstream. So those two ideals have been in conflict for me & I’ve struggled with them. Recently though, the evidence of a lack of women writers’ voices has hit home & I’d like to try, in my own small way, to do something about it.

Since starting AngelHousePress in 2007, our mission has always been to create a space for outsiders, those not published or published rarely in mainstream publications, who don’t win awards or get invited to be part of official verse culture. To offer a space where writers dared, a place where they could be free to try out oddball stuff, to risk. I believe creating an outsider space for rebellion against convention is what small presses are for.

I put out an open call last year for long poem/poem series manuscripts. I received 30 queries/manuscripts & only three were from women. I also put out calls for NationalPoetryMonth.ca & for our essay series. I received a lot of work from men, but almost nothing from women. I had to send out individual requests to get women to send me stuff for NPM & for the chapbook series, even after sending out requests to women whose work I admire, but who aren’t well-published in the mainstream, I still didn’t get chapbook submissions.

When I asked some women why they didn’t submit chapbook manuscripts, I was given a variety of reasons, such as wanting to reserve the publication for spines, being too busy with work, children, etc, but the one that particularly stood out for me is that some women didn’t think their work was ready for publication.

I’m concerned about the lack of submissions from women. & I am fully aware that this is a problem for larger spiny presses as well. If a reason that women aren’t sending work out is because they need to receive more feedback, more encouragement, more mentoring, then perhaps I can help with that. I’ve been running Bywords.ca for more than a decade. It’s given numerous poets a chance to have their work published for the first time. I’ve been running AngelHousePress since 2007 & am always on the lookout for art & literature from voices all over the world.

Now, given the lack of women writers sending us work, I’ve decided to make that a priority, so I’ve started this close reading service for new women poets.

Not because I’m some kind of authority on poetry, but because I also hear that little voice inside too, the one that says my work won’t be good enough, that I have no business putting it out there. I see women in ball gowns & men in tuxedos live streamed at literary award galas or receive invitations to pay money to hear polite talks in fancy hotels by well-published poets.  I don’t belong in that world. AngelHouse, & its transgressive prose imprint Devilhouse, is for people who don’t belong. So I’m reaching out to women who also feel like outsiders, who feel that their work has no place in the world & I’m telling you that it does. I’m going to find ways to support you & to mentor you. The reading service is one way.

I’m hoping that I’ll discover some new voices & that AngelHousePress will be able to share those voices with kindreds by means of our chapbooks, our online magazines & our essay series.

After a day, I’ve received only one query so far. It is possible that no one will send anything, I suppose. But I hope the service resonates for some out there.

Thanks to all who have retweeted the announcement. Please continue to do so. If this is of interest to you & you fit the criteria, please send me your work. If you don’t fit the criteria, please share the announcement

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