From Category: Writing for Social Change
Editors say, “Our focus is on communities traditionally underserved by literary programming and underrepresented in contemporary literature. We recognize that the exclusion of so many voices from literary programming limits our understanding of the world in which we live and deprives us all.” They are seeking workshop proposals to bring the project to more communities in the US, with a special interest in the Inland Empire and San Joaquin Valley areas of California.
Kaitlin Curtice is a poet and spirituality writer, and an enrolled member of the Potawatomi Citizen Band Nation. Her book Glory Happening: Finding the Divine in Everyday Places was published in 2017 by Paraclete Press. In this article on her blog, she recommends contemporary books of poetry, fiction, spirituality, and children's literature by indigenous authors. “If you want to break cycles of colonization and assimilation, you must take the time to learn from Indigenous experiences, through our own words.”
Named for iconic lesbian-feminist writer Adrienne Rich, this journal features poetry by emerging and established women writers who identify as queer, lesbian, bisexual, or trans*. Submissions may be on any theme. Sibling Rivalry Press is a well-regarded small press with an interest in LGBTQ literature. Check website before sending work, because submission deadlines are irregular.
Located at Auburn University, APAEP offers classes in the arts and humanities to inmates in Alabama state prisons. The Project has created a travelling exhibit of “Art on the Inside” and also publish an annual anthology of their students' work.
Founded by writer Doran Larson, the American Prison Writing Archive is a free online archive of personal essays submitted by currently and formerly incarcerated people, correctional officers, and prison staffers. The project grew out of an anthology of prison writing that Larson edited, Fourth City: Essays From the Prison in America (Michigan State University Press, 2014). In a 2018 interview in Poets & Writers Magazine, he called the APWA a “virtual meeting place” to “spread the voices of unheard populations.”
Argot Magazine is an online publication dedicated to creative writing, smart analysis, and art across mediums. They publish journalistic essays, cultural commentary, short stories, poetry, satire, comics, illustrations, and photo essays, with a special preference for work by queer creators. This is a paying market. Editors say, “We aspire to be a safe space that centers the feminine narrative—especially the experiences of those at the margins—and to foster community through storytelling and discussion of current events. We're interested in writing and visual art that spans the worlds of queer culture, the feminine narrative, marginalized communities, and politics and culture.”
Disability in Kidlit is a multi-author blog that reviews portrayals of disability in books for children and young adults. In this 2015 essay, speculative fiction author Elizabeth Bartmess surveys common stereotypes and limiting depictions of autistic children in fiction, and how they contribute to mistreatment in the real world. This piece is a must-read for fiction writers in all genres who are developing a neurodiverse cast of characters.
Black Poets Speak Out is a video series launched in November 2014 to protest police violence against people of color. In these videos, contemporary black poets read their own writing or that of their predecessors who have written about blackness and police brutality. Featured work includes poetry by Amiri Baraka, Lucille Clifton, Toi Derricotte, Cornelius Eady, Langston Hughes, and Audre Lorde. Follow them on Twitter at #BlackPoetsSpeakOut or subscribe to this Tumblr blog to be notified of new videos.
Blanket Sea is an online arts and literary journal that showcases creators with mental illness, chronic illness, and disability. The journal is free to read and submit. The editors accept prose submissions up to 2,000 words, but prefer pieces between 500-1,000 words. Creative nonfiction writers may send essays, memoirs, and book reviews in keeping with the themes of chronic physical and mental illness and disability. For fiction submissions, editors gravitate toward contemporary realistic stories about living with illness or disability. The poetry editors look for short, non-rhyming poems with either a narrative angle or a strong message. All submissions must include positive, respectful syntax (see their guide to avoiding ableism and other prejudices). Blanket Sea was the subject of an August 2018 Literary Spotlight feature in The Writer magazine.
Published by Partisan Press, Blue Collar Review is a quarterly journal of poetry and prose whose mission is “to expand and promote a progressive working class vision of culture that inspires us and that moves us forward as a class.” Read sample poems on their website. There is an annual poetry contest with a $100 prize.
Parents, educators, and teenagers will benefit from the New York Public Library's list of recommended YA books about gender identity, last updated in 2015. These fiction and nonfiction books can help schools create a more welcoming and diverse environment.
A project of the University of California-Davis, the Butterfly Story Collective is a podcast where immigrants share their stories about their experiences living in the United States. Featured speakers include civil rights attorney Hassan Shibly and actor Bambadjan Bamba from the film “Black Panther”.
Climbing PoeTree is a spoken-word performance duo that uses art as a force for popular education, community organizing, and personal transformation. Poets, performance artists, print makers, video and graphic designers, muralists, and new media architects, Alixa and Naima create compelling works at the service of their vision for a more just and livable world. Climbing PoeTree's award-winning performance is composed of dual-voice spoken word poetry, hip hop, and multi-media theatre that challenges its audiences to remember their humanity, dissolves apathy with hope, exposes injustice, and helps heal our inner trauma so that we may begin to cope with the issues facing our communities. Innovative educators, Alixa and Naima have lead hundreds of workshops in institutions from Columbia University to Rikers Island Prison. They are currently developing a multimedia curriculum based of their latest production, Hurricane Season, that employs art and culture to help learners analyze systems of oppression and resistance, and build new leadership essential for fundamental social change.
Accompanying website for the anthology of the same name from Sibling Rivalry Press includes reading dates, contributors' videos, and links to their websites. Featured authors include Ellen Bass, Blas Falconer, Keetje Kuipers, Maitreyabandhu, Carl Phillips, and Amir Rabiyah.
At the blog of the literary journal Ploughshares, Dean Rader offers a syllabus for becoming educated about the heritage and future of Native American poetry. The essay includes links to significant poets, presses, and anthologies. Rader writes, “Reading work by Native writers and poets is important for a number of reasons, but at the very least we should be reading Native writing because it helps tell the stories of America’s original selves.”
Founded in 2014 by poet Caseyrenée Lopez, Crab Fat Magazine seeks to amplify marginalized writers. They publish online monthly issues and an annual print “best-of” issue. Damaged Goods Press is their book publishing imprint. In a 2018 interview with Lambda Literary, Lopez says: “The mission is simple: to provide space for people of color, queer and trans people, disabled people, women, femmes, nonbinary people, neurodivergent people, trauma survivors, undocumented people, and non-Christian people. I want to live in a world that values everyone, not just white cis men, and Crab Fat Magazine is my way of making that happen, even if it’s a small thing.”
Jeannette Ng is a medieval studies scholar and author of the British Fantasy Award winning novel Under the Pendulum Sun. In this article for Medium, she discusses how to write responsibly outside your demographic. Some tips: stop looking for fail-safe rules, think critically about your motives and sources, and compensate the people who are teaching you about other cultures.
Based in Toronto, Demeter Press is an independent feminist press specializing in books about mothering and motherhood. They publish peer-reviewed scholarly work, fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction by and about mothers, mothering and family issues. Demeter Press is the publishing arm of the Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement.
Disability in Kidlit is a multi-author website dedicated to discussing and improving the portrayal of disability in middle grade and young adult literature. They publish critical essays, reviews, and interviews. Their goals are to help readers, editors, and libraries find books with accurate and respectful treatment of disability, and to educate writers and editors about problematic portrayals. All contributors and editors identify as disabled.
The Diversity Style Guide is a resource to help journalists and other media professionals cover a complex, multicultural world with accuracy, authority, and sensitivity. This guide, a project of the Center for Integration and Improvement of Journalism at San Francisco State University, brings together definitions and information from more than two dozen style guides, journalism organizations, and other resources.
Poet, spoken-word artist, and activist Dora McQuaid raises awareness about domestic violence, child abuse, prisoners' rights, and other social justice issues.
F-BOM is a website devoted to promoting feminist fantasy and science fiction writing. They host a quarterly flash fiction contest, writers' forums, and a blog called Her Story Arc where they review current books in the genre.
In this essay from the blog of the literary journal Ploughshares, poet Lizz Schumer surveys foundational works of the disability poetics movement, and what they meant to her self-concept and aesthetic development. Authors cited include Vassar Miller, Kenny Fries, Jim Ferris, Karrie Higgins, and Sheila Black.
Flamingo Rampant is an independent publisher of feminist, racially diverse, LGBTQ-positive picture books for children. They publish six titles a year, which must be ordered as a box set. Other forthcoming projects include resource sheets for parents and educators.
Pushcart-nominated poet Saeed Jones, author of the chapbook 'When the Only Light is Fire' (Sibling Rivalry Press), blogs about writing, contemporary culture, and the potentialities and limits of the “black gay poet” identity.
By Leah Horlick. This breathtaking lesbian-feminist poetry collection breaks the silence around intimate partner violence in same-sex relationships. Jewish tradition, nature spirituality, and archetypes from Tarot cards build a framework for healing. This book is valuable for its specificity about the dynamics of abusive lesbian partnerships, which may not fit our popular culture's image of domestic violence. Horlick shows how the closet and the invisibility of non-physical abuse make it difficult for these victims to name what is happening to them. The book's narrative arc is hopeful and empowering.
Heartspark Press is a collectively-run printing press that exclusively publishes the literature and oral history of transgender women and assigned-male-at-birth (AMAB) nonbinary people. They publish children's books, anthologies, and the biannual literary journal Hate Male. The press also offers affordable editing services. Read a 2018 interview with publisher Amy Heart at Lambda Literary.
Hedgebrook's motto is “Women Authoring Change”. This retreat for women writers is located on Whidbey Island near Puget Sound, 35 miles from Seattle, WA. Each year, the retreat hosts about 40 women writers from all over the world for residencies of 2-6 weeks, at no cost to the writer.
Brooklyn-based Honeysuckle Press is a small literary press affiliated with Winter Tangerine Review. Their mission statement says they are “committed to expanding and redefining human truths by prioritizing the narratives of unsung communities.” The press accepts queries year-round for full-length poetry collections and short story collections, and also offers a free contest for prose and poetry chapbook manuscripts.
This 2018 post at LitHub offers a sampling of protest literature by Palestinian writers on the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, the destruction of hundreds of villages and displacement of 750,000 Palestinians when the state of Israel was founded in 1948.
Ink From the Pen is a nonprofit website that accepts submissions of inmates' artwork and sells prints and T-shirts to benefit the prisoners and their families. Writers who work with prisoners may find this a useful resource to encourage their creativity.
ICORN is an association of cities and regions around the world dedicated to protecting freedom of expression by offering refuge to writers fleeing political persecution.
Kartika Review publishes creative writing (poetry, fiction, nonfiction) from Asian Pacific Islander American perspectives and creative writing that engages with Asian Pacific Islander Americans in thoughtful ways to challenge Orientalism, Yellow Peril, racism, xenophobia, American Empire, colonialism, and other forms of oppression. Accepted work will be published in the online journal and in a print-on-demand annual anthology that can be purchased at cost. Submit only once per genre per calendar year.
Based in Philadelphia, the Leeway Foundation offers grants to women and transgender artists in the Delaware Valley region who are creating social change.
Julie R. Enszer, editor of the long-running lesbian-feminist literary journal Sinister Wisdom, maintains this free digital archive of poetry chapbooks, pamphlets, anthologies, and out-of-print journals of lesbian writing.
Dahlia Adler, author of several Young Adult and New Adult novels including Under the Lights, writes this book review blog that spotlights queer-themed fiction for teens and adults.
Lodestar Quarterly was an online journal of gay, lesbian, and queer literature, published 2002-06. Contributors included S. Bear Bergman, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, Jane Rule, Susan Stinson, Michelle Tea, and Emanuel Xavier. Complete archives are available on the website.
The Prison Creative Arts Project at the University of Michigan publishes this annual journal to showcase the talent and diversity of Michigan's incarcerated writers.
Edited by literature professors Catherine Savini and Beverly Army Williams, the online journal MotherShould? is a place to explore the complex experience of choosing, not choosing, or losing the chance to choose parenthood after the age of 35. The site accepts submissions of personal essays, Q&As and reported pieces about the choices women make to/or not to be a mother.
Launched in 2014 by the Lambda Literary Foundation, Nepantla is an online journal of poetry by LGBTQ writers of color. The journal's name is an Aztec-language word for the space between worlds, or liminal space. For guidelines or other questions, contact the editors at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NuWine Press aims to provide fresh perspectives on the Christian faith without alienating any of Christ's followers because of their gender, ability, political affiliation or sexual orientation. They publish fiction, nonfiction, resource books and scholarly works. NuWine Press was founded in 2007 by Aimee Maude Sims, a multimedia reporter and music writer.
Open Minds Quarterly is a publication of The Writer's Circle, a project of NISA/Northern Initiative for Social Action. Open Minds Quarterly is dedicated to writers worldwide who have survived depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and other mental illnesses. The journal publishes fiction, book reviews, poems, and first-person narrative accounts, and sponsors the annual BrainStorm Poetry Contest for mental health consumers and survivors.
Based in Western Massachusetts, Paris Press publishes groundbreaking yet overlooked literature by women. Their catalog includes both contemporary and rediscovered writers, such as Bryher, Susan McCabe, Adrian Oktenberg, and Muriel Rukeyser. Editor Jan Freeman says, “The press values work in all genres that is daring in style and in its courage to speak truthfully about society, culture, history, and the human heart.” Their blog Spiraling, launched in 2015, features original poetry and short prose.
Pentimento publishes poetry, short fiction, essays, and artwork by writers with disabilities (including children), and authentic, well-written essays and poetry with a disability-related theme. Submissions may be by a individual with a disability or an individual who is part of the community such as a family member, educator, therapist, etc. Please indicate in your submission which category you are in. “Pentimento” is the term for an underlying image that shows through the top layer of a painting. The journal's name reflects their mission of “seeing beyond the surface”. Currently a print magazine, with an online edition in the works.
Founded in the 1970s, this independent small press in Austin, TX publishes poetry and literary prose. Editors say, “Our books result from artistic collaboration between writers, artists and editors. Over the years we have become a far-flung community of activists whose energies bring humanitarian enlightenment and hope to individuals and communities grappling with the major issues of our time: peace, justice, the environment, education and gender. This is a humane and highly creative group of people committed to art and social change.” Query by email first, and wait for a response before sending the full manuscript. Email queries should include a link to a website that features a selection of your work and information about you, or a short selection of work pasted into the message (no attachments).
By S. Chris Shirley. This funny, heartfelt, and enlightening YA novel follows a Southern preacher's kid on his journey to accept his sexuality without losing his faith. When 17-year-old Jake ventures outside his Alabama small town for a summer journalism program at Columbia University in New York City, he learns that the world is more complex than he imagined, and maybe God is too. Refreshingly, he doesn't reject his family and traditions, but instead takes on the adult responsibility of teaching and transforming them.
Palestinian poet Hiyam Noir launched this website to bear witness to the suffering of Palestinians in refugee camps and work towards an end to Israeli occupation.
'Poetry of Resilience' is a documentary by Academy Award-nominated director Katja Esson about six international poets who individually survived Hiroshima, the Holocaust, China's Cultural Revolution, the Kurdish Genocide in Iraq, the Rwandan Genocide, and the Iranian Revolution. These six artists present us with a close-up perspective of the “wide shot” of political violence. Each story is powerful, but the film's strength comes from its collective voice: different political conflicts, cultures, genders, ages, races – one shared human narrative.
Poets for Living Waters is a poetry action in response to the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico begun on April 20, 2010, one of the most profound human-made ecological catastrophes in history. See website for instructions for submitting your poems by email. Previously published work accepted.
The Pratt MFA in Writing is a new and unique two-year program specifically designed to support and encourage intellectually rigorous and inspired writing practices that are philosophically, culturally and politically informed. The premise of the program is that writing can be transformative at all scales, from the personal to the social, and we aim to incubate such radically cosmopolitan, resolutely local, pleasure-filled, and potentially revolutionary poetic practices. Pratt is located in the historic Clinton Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY.