From Category: Writing for Social Change
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.
Microcosm Press specializes in nonfiction DIY (Do-It-Yourself) goods that focus on the reader and teach self-empowerment. They publish books from people with both expertise and lived experience, on topics such as magic and herbalism, punk music and culture, queer erotica, travel, self-care, comics journalism, and "the bicycle revolution". Illustrated work is strongly encouraged. Browse sample titles on their website and send them a pitch that follows their detailed guidelines. Editors say, "We do not publish books that would primarily be described as poetry, fiction, travel stories, or memoirs, unless the work is more substantially about a nonfiction topic than the author's life and experiences. If your book contains more than 20% personal stories, we are not the right publisher for you."
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.
Noname Book Club is an online and in-person community dedicated to uplifting POC voices. Each month they discuss two books written by authors of color, and send copies to incarcerated comrades through their Prison Program. They make their book picks available to local libraries so that the club can be financially accessible.
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.
Outspoken is an online archive of Steven F. Dansky's video interviews with leaders and elders in the queer community. Its goal is to preserve the grassroots history of LGBTQ life and the battle for equal rights following the Stonewall uprising of 1969. Writers will find this useful for historical fiction and nonfiction research.
peculiar is a bi-annual queer literary journal publishing poetry, fiction, essays, art, and photography. Co-editor Jack Garcia says, "Based in Provo, Utah, the title is a nod to the Mormon claim of being a 'peculiar people' because, let's face it, being queer is far more peculiar!" Read an interview with him at Trish Hopkinson's writing resources blog.
For over 40 years, PEN America, a prominent arts and advocacy organization, has sponsored a Prison Writing Program that pairs incarcerated writers with mentors on the outside. Their annual free Prison Writing Contest accepts poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and dramatic works.
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.
Based in Canada, Plenitude Magazine is an online literary journal publishing poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, graphic narrative, and short film by queer creators. No submission fees. Editors say, "We define queer literature and film as that which is created by LGBTQ2S+ people, rather than that which features queer content alone...Plenitude aims to complicate expressions of queerness through the publication of diverse, sophisticated literary writing, art and film, from the very subtle to the brash and unrelenting."
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 & Writers magazine compiled this list of racial justice resources to support protesters against police violence in the summer of 2020. It includes links to anti-racist books, bail funds, activist groups, and author fundraisers.
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.
To support black civil rights activism in the summer of 2020, feminist literary publisher Kore Press is offering an online thematic presentation/installation of work from their 2018 anthology Letters to the Future: Black Women/Radical Writing, edited by Dawn Lundy Martin and Erica Hunt. New selections will be posted from July through November 2020, in various media (print-based text, audio clips, and visual art). The first theme is Legacy, which lays the ground for the arc of the series, followed by Horror, Activism, Joy, and Future. Contributors include Harryette Mullen, Sonia Sanchez, and Yona Harvey.
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.
Prism Comics is the leading nonprofit, all-volunteer organization supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersex, asexual and LGBTQIA-friendly comic books, comics professionals, readers and educators. Prism awards an annual Queer Press Grant to help an independent comics creator publish their work of interest to an LGBTQIA audience. Prism also publishes anthologies and hosts panel discussions at comics conventions around the United States.
Co-founded by journalists from USA Today and CBS News, Prison Writers is a nonprofit organization that advocates for prison reform through sharing true stories by incarcerated writers. The group's goals are to encourage prisoners in learning marketable skills and to educate the public about life on the inside. Volunteer screeners give feedback, edit, and publish work by prisoners on the website. All contributors receive $10. There is often a large backlog of submissions, so more volunteers are always needed.
A project of the Durland Alternatives Library, Prisoner Express promotes rehabilitation by connecting prisoners to a community through literature. Prisoner Express began as a program for sending donated books to inmates. In addition to this service, they also coordinate pen-pal and distance-learning programs, and publish prisoners' writing on their website and in an anthology.
The Prisons Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC that promotes the arts and education in prison and alternatives to incarceration. Visit the gallery page of their website to view and purchase original work by incarcerated artists.
This graphic novel is a collaboration between poet and playwright Vikas K. Menon, artist Dan Goldman, and filmmaker Ram Devineni. The provocative story portrays an Indian female super-hero who fights against sexual violence in a Hindu-inspired mythic reality. The comic's creation was prompted by the December 2012 gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old student in Delhi. The story can be downloaded for free from the website, which also features videos and information about supporting anti-rape activism.
The Riveter is a magazine of narratives and longform journalism by women. In this August 2017 piece, magazine co-founder Joanna Demkiewicz interviews poet Amy King about her work with VIDA, an organization launched in 2009 to track gender disparities in the top literary publications and book reviews. VIDA has since expanded its surveys to break down the data by race, ethnicity, sexuality/gender, disability, and neurodiversity.
Qommunicate Publishing is an imprint of Qommunity Media LLC, which is also the parent company of Qommunity: The Queer Social Network, a one-stop media source, marketplace, and social network for the LGBTQ+ community and straight allies. This small press has open calls for themed anthologies on their website year-round, with such topics as erotica, queer faith, humor, and queer family life.
The Queer Comics Database is an online guide to contemporary graphic narratives with LGBTQ content or creators. It is searchable by author name, genre, ethnicity, queer identity, art style, and tone (from "action-packed" to "tranquil"). Find your next good read here.
Queer in Color is a site to showcase fiction books featuring LGBTQ characters of color. The founders are romance writers but the site is open to all genres. They will add books to the website for free, and charge a small fee to promote them on social media.
Award-winning Mojave poet Natalie Diaz curates this bimonthly feature of selected poems by contemporary queer indigenous women. The first installment includes work by No'u Revilla, Janet McAdams, Lehua M. Taitano, Deborah A. Miranda, and Arianne True.
Writer and critic Bogi Takács highlights lost classics of queer speculative fiction in this biweekly column on the website of Tor.com, a leading publisher of diverse voices in sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. Their goal is to counteract the cultural mechanisms of erasure and suppression of minority writing. Takács explains, "QUILTBAG+ is a handy acronym of Queer, Undecided, Intersex, Lesbian, Trans, Bisexual, Asexual / Aromantic / Agender, Gay and a plus sign indicating further expansion." Launched in 2018, the column will feature pre-2010 work either by QUILTBAG+ authors (where this is known) or with QUILTBAG+ themes, with a special emphasis on identities that are less-discussed, such as trans, intersex, asexual, and bisexual writing. Read more of Takács' reviews and critical essays at Bogi Reads the World.
The Radical Copyeditor is a blog and editing service that keeps writers up-to-date on respectful ways to write about marginalized communities. Tips include recognizing biased reporting, a style guide for referring to transgender and nonbinary people, and unpacking the politics behind buzzwords like "alt-right" and "politically correct".
Launched in 2008, the Rainbow Book List is the American Library Association's annual recommendations of LGBTQ books. A related project of the ALA's Rainbow Round Table is GLBT Reviews, a book review blog.
SeatUp is a vendor of luxury home theater seating. Their blog features numerous articles on entertainment and the arts. This post briefly surveys changing attitudes toward the LGBTQ community as portrayed in the media, followed by a helpful guide to inclusive language and links to activist organizations. A good starting point for reflecting on how your writing depicts sexual and gender diversity.
In this 2017 essay in LitReactor, K. Tempest Bradford shares tips for creating a diverse cast of characters and avoiding stereotypes in fiction. Bradford teaches classes on "Writing the Other" with Nisi Shaw, co-author of the foundational book on the subject. This article includes links to related anthologies and essays.
Erotica writer and social issues blogger Xan West maintains this list of contemporary books on transgender and non-binary themes, with links to reviews by transgender and non-binary readers. West created the list because cisgender reviewers are not always in a position to recognize whether a book's portrayal of trans and non-binary experience is misinformed or offensive. Authors creating gender-variant characters would do well to educate themselves by browsing the relevant reviews.
Richard Jeffrey Newman is a contemporary American poet and essayist, trauma activist, and translator of classical Persian literature. His blog discusses such topics as feminism, healing for male survivors of sexual abuse, literary criticism, and the relevance of classical Persian poetry to our contemporary lives. He is also a contributor to the current affairs blog Amptoons.
Poet, workshop leader, and activist Robert McDowell writes and teaches about the spiritual side of creativity and reclaiming the divine feminine. McDowell's books include Poetry as Spiritual Practice and The More We Get Together: The Sexual and Spiritual Language of Love. He has edited anthologies on topics as diverse as cowboy poetry and the postmodern poet-critics of the 1980s.
Founded in 1982, Safer Society Press is a nonprofit press dedicated to providing resources for the prevention and treatment of sexual abuse. Their titles include fiction for youth and adults, and memoirs by abuse survivors, as well as scholarly books and clinical pamphlets.
Sampsonia Way is an online magazine sponsored by City of Asylum/Pittsburgh celebrating literary free expression and supporting persecuted poets and novelists worldwide. Each issue contains author interviews, critical essays, and excerpts from literature from many countries. Featured authors have included Toi Derricotte, Lynn Emmanuel, Horacio Castellanos Moya, and Nancy Krygowski.
Scott Woods Makes Lists is a librarian's blog about African-Americans in popular culture, literature, and current events. This list and its 2016 precursor recommend children's picture books with black protagonists "that aren't about boycotts, buses or basketball". Woods says he wanted to showcase stories outside the familiar civil rights narrative, "featuring Black children doing what all children do: play, make up stories, learn life lessons, and dream."
Screen Door Review's subtitle is "Literary Voices of the Queer South". Launching in Spring 2018, this quarterly online journal accepts submissions year-round of unpublished poetry, short stories, flash fiction, and comics. Editors say, "The purpose of the magazine is to provide a platform of expression to those whose identities—at least in part—derive from the complicated relationship between queer person and place. Specifically, queer person and the South. The topics of your work do not have to be queer or southern in theme, but we do ask that you as a contributor belong to the queer community and also identify as southern."
Launched in 2017, Serendipity is a new literary journal specializing in poetry, prose, and art that engages with issues of race, gender, sexuality, class, ability, and intersecting identities, produced by the conveners of North Carolina's Black Lesbian Literary Collective. There will be two online issues and one print issue per year. Editors say, "Serendipity seeks work that explores, celebrates, and interrogates all aspects of our identities; and work that delights and beguiles our readerly sensibilities... Our goal is to publish exciting work that amplifies marginalized voices, particularly that of same-gender loving women of color."
Founded in 2010 in Little Rock, Arkansas, Sibling Rivalry Press is a well-regarded independent publisher of poetry and literary fiction. In addition to publishing award-winning poetry collections, SRP is home to Assaracus, a journal of poetry by gay men; Jonathan, a journal of gay fiction, and Adrienne, a journal of poetry by queer women. Writers of all identities are welcome to submit to the press. Authors in their catalog include Wendy Chin-Tanner, Collin Kelley, Megan Volpert, and Julie R. Enszer.
Sistah Scifi promotes speculative fiction by black women. Site founder Isis Asare says, "Sistah Scifi is a cauldron of all things afrofuturism; afro-mysticism; Black sci-fi; and voodoo casting spells to uplift literature written by Black women."
Founded by Callum Angus (author of the story collection A Natural History of Transition), Smoke and Mold is a literary journal publishing transgender and Two-Spirit writers on themes of nature, the environment, and the climate crisis.
In this blog post from Queeromance Ink, a site for promoting LGBTQ fiction, romance and erotica author Sharita Lira gives advice on writing non-stereotypical African-American characters, from her own experience and that of the romance readers and writers she polled.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has published this free online guide with suggested scripts for compassionate, appropriate conversations to interrupt prejudice and bullying in everyday social settings. Topics include becoming aware of our own biases, responding to prejudiced comments in the workplace or family gatherings, and ways to fight structural inequalities like racial profiling and discriminatory corporate policies. For writers, this guide will also be useful for correcting stereotypes in our own work, and writing dialogue for characters who are dealing with these issues.
This 2020 article by Brent Moeshlin on the website of Quality Comics, a comic-book store and collectors' resource site in Alabama, gives a useful overview of "firsts" in superhero representation beyond white straight men. (Did you know Batwoman was a Jewish lesbian?) The storylines mentioned in this piece are a good place to start expanding your imagination as a comics creator.
In 1619, the first ship of African slaves arrived at a port in the British colony of Virginia. This series of feature articles from the New York Times Magazine surveys the far-reaching legacy of black people's enslavement. These pieces aim to show how America's unique economic and political dominance was built on the wealth extracted from slaves and the racism that underpins our social structures. The full text has been made available for free on the website of the Pulitzer Center.
Founded in 2017, The Bare Life Review is a literary biannual devoted entirely to work by immigrant and refugee authors. Though the impulse behind its creation was political—to support a population currently under attack—the journal's focus remains wholly artistic, publishing work on a wide variety of themes. Submissions are accepted August 15-November 30. Contributors must be foreign-born writers living in the US, or writers living abroad who hold refugee or asylum-seeker status. Translations are accepted. This is a paying market.