Rewriting the Future: Using Science Fiction to Re-envision Justice

Originally posted on thenerdsofcolor:

Originally posted at Bitch Media1

When I tell people I am a prison abolitionist and that I believe in ending all prisons, they often look at me like I rode in on a unicorn sliding down a rainbow. Even people engaged in social movements, people who concede that the current prison system is flawed, voice their critiques but always seem to add, “But it’s all we have.”

For all of our ability to analyze and critique, the left has become rooted in what is. We often forget to envision what could be. We forget to mine the past for solutions that show us how we can exist in other forms in the future.

That is why I believe our justice movements desperately need science fiction. Stay with me on this one. I am the co-editor, along with visionary movement strategist adrienne maree brown, of the anthology Octavia’s Brood:…

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$PREAD: Triumphs & Trials of an Indie Magazine

spread logo

Recently, my husband and I went to an event at Red Emma’s (our local radical bookstore), featuring two of the founders of $pread magazine — the first ever magazine written by and for sex workers.

We went for a number of reasons: A) Duh; this sounds fascinating, and B) because I’ve always been eager to learn more about the processes and trials faced by indie magazines. And while the presentation wasn’t as well put-together as I would’ve hoped (it seemed as though a lot of improvisation was happening on stage), I now recognize that this was the same style and attitude with which the magazine itself got started: People need to know about these issues – There are voices here that need and deserve to be heard – Let’s just run with it. 

I’m beginning to realize that too much (don’t ask me when too much is “too much”) preparatory work may also at some point become its own pretext for never actually trying anything new. After all, the more I learn about the difficulties of starting up a radical project like $pread, the warier and more uncertain I become. What’s more, it isn’t as though these women didn’t have useful background information/experience and networking connections already in place when they decided to try their hand at running their own indie mag (the original founders/idea-women “met while organizing a benefit for PONY (Prostitutes of New York)” and some staffers were still or had been sex workers themselves) (Aimee et al., 17).

By diving in head-first, the women of $pread got a good five years worth of issues out to a community greatly in need of venues willing to provide an honest platform for their stories and voices. The lesson, at least to me, was clear: When it comes to matters of social justice, there’s no time to waste. Once you have what you need to get your feet off the ground (even if for only a little while) in regards to research, understanding, respect, and empathy — then get your damn feet off that ground!

As $pread editors Rachel Aimee, Eliyanna Kaiser, and Audacia Ray explain in their new anthology $PREADThe Best of the Magazine that Illuminated the Sex Industry and Started a Media Revolution: “Probably the most important reason we succeeded was that we didn’t know what we were getting into” (32).

Though $pread is no longer in circulation, they had a strong and deeply appreciated five years of quarterly mag issues, and have left “a legacy of making space for the voices of people who have been silenced” (Aimee et al., 32-33).

Here are a few of the more interesting points (in my opinion) from their presentation:

  • A primary concern for the editors of $pread was that women’s voices be heard regardless of their perspective or political opinions. This, unsurprisingly, wasn’t always a popular stance (especially within the larger feminist community), as it led to many pieces getting published with extremely controversial perspectives. –But this also gets to the real heartwood of editorial work: When your publication has a set mission (like being an honest platform for voices from a regularly silenced community), you can’t let your own political opinions and unique perspective get in the way. This causes many editors to tread a fine line with their authors (and with deciding who gets to become one of their authors), but it’s a vital line. For all you fellow editors out there, don’t forget to always be on your guard against that insidious prick Prejudice.
  • While $pread had its reasons for choosing to go for a print magazine rather than a digital one, many of its editors now regret this decision given how cumbersome and expensive the print version became.

“We entered the arena of publishing at a moment of epic transition from hardcopy to digital. We had been inspired by lovingly handcrafted, desktop-published, and photocopied sex worker zines like DanzineWhorezine, and PONY XXXpress. We were fans and hoped to be the peers of small independent magazines that had real print runs and distribution, like Bitch, LiP, and Clamor. If we had known from the beginning just how hard everything would be, we almost certainly would have been too intimidated to undertake such a lofty project. But we didn’t. So we did.” (Aimee et al., 19)

(Dig it!)

  • Even though $pread eventually became an Utne award-winning magazine, it never managed to make enough money for any of its staffers to be paid.
  • They raised most of their initial funding through benefit parties.
  • Through reader surveys, the editors of $pread learned that their initial audience was composed mostly of white, college-educated women. To address this, they began distributing copies of each issue directly to outreach organizations that focused on women in the sex industry.
  • Many anti-human trafficking bills are used (at least in some part) as smokescreens to get more anti-prostitution legislation passed.

All in all, it ended up being just as I expected: a fascinating presentation that challenged many of my own preconceived notions and opinions, and that gave me a better look at the work involved in bringing a terrific, radical idea to life. Thank you, $pread! And thank you, Red Emma’s!

Further Reading:

Final Disclaimer

A Schedule of Poetry Chapbook Contests

Katherine C. Mead-Brewer:

Thank you, Drugstore Notebook, for sharing this list!

Originally posted on The Drugstore Notebook:

Bookinfo2

As I am finally feeling ready to send out a small collection of my recent work for publication, I’ve been on the hunt for as many poetry chapbook contests as I can find. The good news is that there are many. The bad news is that they all charge. Even those that “don’t” require you to buy a book from their catalogue.

I have to admit that I am not altogether against these charges though, especially when payment buys you a poetry book. How else are these small presses going to survive? From the throngs of people lining up to buy poetry books written by unknown authors? Unlikely. But, I

It is up to us writers of poetry to not only support small presses, but also to promote our work as best we can so that if and when we do get published, our books sell.

So, for all writers of…

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Punctuating Yeats and reading writers’ minds

Originally posted on Sentence first:

‘Yeats’s handwriting resembles a mouse’s electrocardiogram,’ writes the late Daniel Albright in his preamble to the marvellous Everyman Library edition of W. B. Yeats’ Poems, which he edited.

Albright goes on to give a similarly forthright account of the poet’s spelling and punctuation, excerpted below. While acknowledging his debt to Richard Finneran, who oversaw a different collection of Yeats’s poems, Albright parts company from him in two ways:

First, he is more respectful of Yeats’s punctuation than I. He supposes […] that Yeats’s punctuation was rhetorical rather than grammatical, an imaginative attempt to notate breath-pauses, stresses, and so forth; and that the bizarre punctuation in some of Yeats’s later poems is due to the influence of experimental modernists such as T.S. Eliot and Laura Riding. I suppose that Yeats was too ignorant of punctuation to make his deviations from standard practice significant. Although Yeats surely wished to make his…

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Spring is Here! Let’s Get Inspired

At long last, Spring has officially graced our stage once more.

To celebrate, let’s spend some time getting inspired so that we can approach our art refreshed, energized, and full of thoughtfulness.

Just a few things to get you started:


From jsglogoa different Nick Cave…

SOUNDSUITS

by

NICK CAVE

Nick Cave is an artist, educator and foremost a messenger, working between the visual and performing arts through a wide range of mediums including sculpture, installation, video, sound and performance. He says of himself “I have found my middle and now am working toward what I am leaving behind.” Cave is well known for his Soundsuits, sculptural forms based on…


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Stephen King — ALWAYS!


Angela Davis is a woman of and for the Imagination

Powerful Activist, Scholar and Author, Dr. Angela Davis delivered the keynote address in honor of Black History Month

“We should constantly remind ourselves that another world is indeed possible.”

– Angela Davis


TWIXT by Francis Ford Coppola — this films never fails to inspire me


And last — but never least — the photography of Blue Lion Photos; it always serves to inspire me and my writing

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Blue Lion Photos

by John Mead

Spring Reads!

 

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Be sure to check out Cleaver Magazine‘s freshly published ninth issue — it’s true that, as an editor with Cleaver, I may be biased, but I truly do think it’s a great place for anyone on the hunt for some interesting new reads in poetry, short fiction, short nonfiction, and multimedia works.

And, though it’s all worth checking out, a few of my personal favorites of the issue are…

THE HURRICANE
by Gemini Wahhaj

(short story)

At the time of the hurricane, they were both still working. A few days before the hurricane hit, Lila was getting on a plane to New York for an oil and gas conference. They called it Hurricane Ike on the radio, and people laughed when they heard the warning, since it followed warnings about so many other hurricanes that season that had failed to materialize. But this time it was real…


HOLIDAY
by Kim Steele 

(short story)

I do not feel the Jet Ski as it crashes into my head. Or I do—it is a Jet Ski and it is crashing into my head after all—but it does not register as pain. I feel it only in the way I feel a fly that lands on my thigh or a strand of wet hair on my cheek…


TONY
by Elizabeth Alexander

(flash story)

We were running through the Shepherd’s Woods down by Yalloway Creek and across from the schoolyard. We were running because…


HUSH, PUPPIES
by Catherine Nichols

(flash story)

The vet returned my call as I was rolling the last wineglass in bubble wrap. In counterpoint to my curt hello, he sounded upbeat, even jovial. He explained that when Mags had been spayed last month…


CERTIFICATE 

by Suzanne Cope

(creative nonfiction)

The name was the easy part, as was age and date and place of birth. The address provided, it was decided, would be his mother’s, despite the fact that…


 

A strange journey through the worlds of writing and publishing

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