November 25, 2014

Alt Lit and Rape Culture - Rape Culture Roundtable - Part Two: A Writers' and Editors' Guide to Dismantling Rape Culture

In the time since we finished this discussion, Black Lawrence Press made an official statement about their decision to pull a novella written by Elizabeth Ellen (writer of the now infamous Open Letter to the Internet) from an upcoming anthology. The announcement has generated no end of angry writers fighting about whether the decision was censorship or whether it was a principled--and ethical--stand against rape culture. The discussion below, though it does not directly address BLP's decision, does discuss why editors make the decisions they do--and why we think it is an editor's responsibility to be mindful of who they choose to publish, not just what they choose to publish. As you will see below, the conversation surrounding BLP's decision cannot be treated as simply an academic debate about nebulous ideals. Though it is about ideals, it is also about how even tacit support of rapists and abusers (and their apologists) can silence the abused--can silence real people who have suffered real violence. (Read Part One: Alt Lit Destroys Itself.) --SBB

Rape Culture Roundtable, Part Two: A Writers' and Editors' Guide to Dismantling Rape Culture

SBB: Editors, what factors do you consider when putting together your publication? Writers, what factors do you consider when considering where to submit your work? Specifically, how does diversity affect your actions as a producer and publisher of literature?

D. Dragonetti: I think the top consideration should be prioritizing “outsider” art. Alexandra Naughton and I actually co-founded Empath Lit for that explicit purpose: curating a venue for and by survivors, wherein they may “reclaim [their] narratives.” I also curated a showcase called “In Fear of a Trans Planet” through Be About It Press (another collaboration of Alexandra’s and mine), which highlights exclusively trans artists, including Jos Charles, Joshua Jennifer Espinoza, Manuel Arturo Abreu, and Amarah Selaphiel. I have plans to expand on both projects, because, as I have stated, “I want to cultivate myself as a throne for the marginalized.”I feel it is the responsibility of the editor—and writer—to do just that: if not to specifically gear publications toward “outsider” work, then to acknowledge marginalization and privilege, to be conscientious of perpetuating facets of oppression in their own work (I’m looking at you, "whiteboys"), and to remove themselves from spaces wherein voices like theirs dominate.

Alexandra Naughton: As an editor, I look for good writing and underrepresented writers. I don’t want to publish what everyone else is publishing. I champion the underdog. I welcome those who feel marginalized.

Kia Groom: Well, I started Quaint, with Soleil Ho, because I was tired of hearing that women were under published and underrepresented in the lit world because we didn’t try. I read this article that suggested women just didn’t submit as much, that the VIDA stats were skewed because female identified writers (and by implication other minority writers, WoC, trans* authors) were lazy or frightened or both. I think that’s a crock of shit. We’re not all seized by some collective performance anxiety that intimidates us into silence. We’re just not getting published as much. That’s fucked.

So, Quaint started out, from the very beginning, as a transgressive space muting the dominant male voice. Initially, we defined this as “women” (with a very clear description of what that meant to us, that was, from the very start, hyper-inclusive of transwomen). Soleil Ho, who is the editor who puts in the hardest work, who has from the very beginning done the most for Quaint (along with our designer Alicia), is a WoC, and she’s worked extremely hard from the get go to ensure the voices of those women are represented in equal measure. She solicited Eunsong Kim for Issue 2, and Eunsong is now guest editing poetry for #4. We’re building this awesome network and community.

That said, we’re not flawless, and we fuck up and we make mistakes. That’s probably mostly my fault. I am in a constant state of learning. When my friend and writing partner Mo wanted to submit to issue 3, they brought up the valid concern that, while the female experience was definitely something they were concerned with in their work, they didn’t identify as female. So at that point, we all took a step back and talked out what it meant to draw a line in the sand when it came to gender and about what we wanted to do with Quaint. It became obvious pretty quickly that most of the editorial staff had, for better or worse, not necessarily seen Quaint as awoman’s space, but as a not-cis-white-male space. A lot about the magazine is tied up with the idea of the feminine, yes—we’re interested in “girl aesthetic,” in what it means to transgress and subvert girlhood and womanhood. But we realized we needed to more explicitly embrace genderqueer and nonbinary writers. “Women” were less important to us than “not men.”

Eunsong Kim: I think tremendously about where I am going to place my work. I’ve had some horrendous experiences with editorial directions and have had to pull several pieces from journals for these reasons. However, I do not consider visibility to be some grand answer to the serious misogynistic world of publishing. The equation isn’t: “More of feminist me will make less one less of misogynistic them.” It always seems to be: “One of me means they’ve met their WoC quota.” So I am less interested in visibility questions (one is a token, and two is never enough), and more concerned with structural placement, structural shifts. One way to do this is to look at Mastheads and then to challenge them, to write about it (I call this strategy “rogue counting”). I look at the publishing record of the journals. I search and search for a place for my poems—this I realize, is more work for the WoC writer. But most spaces aren’t safe for us—let’s tell each other about the spaces that aren’t safe. They will not care for us—they keep proving that they don’t care. So I can’t support them and I will not be weaponized for their agenda. And I want to say all of this out loud so we know how to navigate such terrains.

Jos Charles: Questions of representation and access to power—money for writers, who is featured where, who is on the editing staff—ought to be central to any publication. For THEM, a trans lit journal I co-edit, we don’t just say, “shit a lotta white binary trans guys submitted, how do we fix this” but also “is this a helpful narrative or scene or thought or whatever to put out into the world as associated with (in this case) a trans journal.” Recognizing a journal has fucked up representation, i.e. lots of white dudebro, is a valid critique. But having perfect liberal diversity doesn’t put you beyond critique. For me, I like to make sure I have a core of solicitations from writers I know will turn out solid work, make sure they know they can, if comfy, ask others to submit, and so on. Ultimately, I try to be vocal about fucked shit, be material, proactive, and responsible to critique, but aware at the end of the day I’m just another white US baby and it’s super valid for peeps to distrust the hell outta that.

SBB: Jos, I love that—allowing others to distrust you as part of the process. We always talk about checking privilege, but rarely talk about what comes after that. Being open to critique—to letting others call out your blind spots—is necessary to opening doors and righting wrongs.

Sarah Certa: My relationship with Sherl ended in May, so I’ve spent most of the previous months recovering—not writing a whole lot, and definitely not submitting anywhere, since what I was writing was so new to me, so raw and terrible. Empath Lit is one of the only places I felt safe in sending that work. And before that, during the relationship itself, there was ZERO time for writing or submitting. I approach all of this so differently now and it will be interesting how to navigate from here on out. I wait for solicitations or send to spaces that have demonstrated support for victims and a dedication to being a part of this discussion. Or I just self-publish on my blog. My full-length manuscript is coming out with University of Hell Press—they are good friends with Write Bloody, who still holds one of Sherl’s titles, although I do think they will drop the title when I ask them to do so (because I am going to ask them to do so). And honestly, if they refuse to drop his title, I will pull my manuscript. I will just have to. University of Hell Press and Write Bloody are sharing a table at AWP. Obviously I cannot and will not take part in this if they don’t drop the title. And I’ll make sure everyone knows about it.

Kat Dixon: I’ve reached the point where I very rarely submit anywhere. I’ve said in the past that I am more concerned with producing longer work now, work that isn’t well-suited for the kind of submitting I’ve done in the past, which is partially true. But the larger truth is that sniffing out publications—and editors—that feel safe is a tremendous burden—and one that I am not always emotionally equipped to undertake. I began seeking publication at 17, and in the seven years since, I have received just about every form of sexual harassment or attempted sexual manipulation from one editor or another. That alone would be enough to deter me, but the list of things to be wary and aware of when considering a potential submission has only gotten longer. Now it’s a matter of: does this publication have a female editor? If so, will she be the one I am in contact with? Has this publication previously published or promoted work by my abuser? If so, has it disavowed its relationship with him? Has this publication published or promoted the work of any outed abuser or rapist in the community without disavowing its relationship with that person(s)? Has this publication published or promoted content that promotes or normalizes violence against women? Does this publication allow open commenting? What is this publication’s gender ratio? It goes on and on, and the list of publishers I would trust gets smaller and smaller. Anyway, I get exhausted from it more often than not, so I mostly wait around for solicitations from people or places I know are safe.

SBB: Reading Sarah and Kat talk about the burden of publishing after surviving trauma—specifically, trauma at the hands of influential writers and editors—is exhibit A in why this conversation about literature and rape culture matters. As D.wrote, the rape becomes manifold. That past trauma would inhibit a writer is both totally obvious and completely obscured from public view, as editorial decisions about who gets published and who doesn’t occur in a black box.

SC: Yes, most definitely. It was great news earlier this week to hear that Write Bloody did indeed drop Sherl’s title from their press. And I didn’t even have to ask them—someone associated with the press, I think, or maybe just an avid reader, clued Derrick Brown in on the latest news re: Sherl and that day Write Bloody dropped the title. And since then my editor at University of Hell Press has personally reached out, supporting me in my work on this issue and offering help. They follow my Facebook posts and Tweets on the matter and fully support me, and that’s so important. I couldn’t work with them if they had any qualms about the activist work I’ve been doing or wanted to be hush about it in any way.

SBB: What is an editor’s responsibility when it comes to creating spaces free of oppression and equal to all comers?

JC: I’m very annoyingly material about these sorts of things, if a publication isn’t less than ~30% white men and more than ~20% women of color I side-eye the heck outta it. If there are no trans people I am gonna distrust it. I get there are extenuating factors, no one journal should be scapegoated for the whole system, and blah blah blah. But really, at a certain point, if a US journal can’t achieve demographics even close to that of the US’s demographics then jesus try harder. Again though, having on point representation means nothing outside of itself—it says nothing about access, distribution of capital, empowering of victims, etc.

KD: For marginalized people, no place is safe by default. Every editor worth her job title has the obligation to create as safe a space as possible, and that starts with refusing to publish outed abusers and rapists, refusing to publish content that promotes or normalizes the oppression of marginalized groups or violence against them, refusing to publish content that exploits marginalized groups, and refusing to allow user or reader commentary that does any of the above (looking at you, now thankfully defunct HTMLGIANT). It also means making sure that a publication is as diverse and representative as possible, whether that’s done through solicitations or open submission periods for non-majority groups or some other means. It’s no longer acceptable for editors to just “take what they get” in terms of the submission-to-publication process. I’d encourage any current or would-be editor who isn’t willing to put in the work—or to take such a definite stance—to consider another field.

KG: I think it’s difficult not to appear tokenistic. I think a lot about those “ALL WOMEN” issues that seem to have become kind of vogue recently. The intentions are good--I do believe that—but it shouldn’t be a case of “here is our one bumper issue of women/transwriters/PoC . . . and now back to our regularly scheduled programming.” Underrepresented writers are not marketing tools. It’s not okay to jump on the bandwagon for a month and a half because intersectionality is de rigueur right now. I also understand where editors are coming from, when they worry that choosing not to publish material that might be offensive to some readers could constitute censorship.

It’s a hard line, it really is. I don’t have the answers. And as an artist, I do believe that you should be free to say what you want to say. The catch is you also need to be prepared for the fall out. Like maybe don’t write a book that appropriates people’s names and identities, and places them in a sexual context without their consent, if you don’t want to damage your reputation and possibly face legal consequences. Tl;dr: I guess it’s up to the editor to decide what they want their publication or press to be, and how much responsibility they want to take for their own brand, their own image.

DD: I think good editing recognizes complicity and seeks to curate that “space.” The most clear-cut example I can think of is the decision whether or not to publish a known abuser—topical always, but especially considering the recent endorsement of abuser/rapist Gregory Sherl by Oprah Magazine. I would say the responsibility there is to not publish said abuser. I can imagine there are a lot of “gray area” situations though, with transgressions that are less obvious, but I still think it falls on the editor to screen the work for unethical content and reject/publish accordingly.

I actually disagree with the idea that publications should be “equal to all comers,” because minority artists are already disadvantaged by canonical/industry standards, and thus should be prioritized in any context. I do also think that soft exploitation and its various facets (Kia mentioned tokenism) can present problems, but I feel that these won’t arise if the editor seeks to defy oppression/promote “equality” in earnest. I, for example, don’t run into that so much because I curate spaces specifically for marginal writers. But there are always limitations, and as Kia wrote, it is “up to the editor to decide what they want their publication or press to be.” Maybe if the publishing industry weren’t so oppressively cis, het, white, and male, the responsibility would be different.  

EK: Well as many many critical race theorists have pointed out: equality isn’t justice. I don’t want equality—I want justice. Justice might mean that white, cis men stop privileging their desires via expression and instead actively maintain safe spaces for new narratives. Justice might mean, as Enough is Enough pointed out, Burning Bridges. It might mean that editorial responsibility entails actively banning certain writers. This isn’t suppressing or oppressing male identified writing—this is the only way to create spaces for new female, non-binary narratives to emerge.

SBB: Yes! As I learned teaching special education, "equal” is not necessarily “fair.” Also, suppressing (ignoring, rejecting, etc.) male-identified writers should not be construed as a threat to their freedom of speech—an argument I can hear forming in the minds of some people reading this. As writers and artists, we are all absolutely free to say what we want, but that doesn’t mean a publisher has to give us access to their platform.

EK: It’s really important not to frame oppression as freedom. So much of literature and literary publishing has privileged patriarchal-focused, oppressive imaginations. This isn’t freedom, it isn’t equality—it’s oppression. I don’t think we need to coddle those who wish to KEEP a certain version of literature in tact. The oppressor will not give up his tools voluntarily—as Paulo Freire has articulated, he will protest the “loss” of his freedom to oppress every step of the way.  

SBB: As a reader, which publications do you love? Why? Who out there is using their platform to push back against the dominant culture of literature—which is to say, the patriarchy as a whole? What do you think they are doing to help promote underrepresented voices?

KG: Well, first off, if you haven’t checked out Topside Press, you should probably do that like yesterday. We hosted them for a reading a couple of months ago, and it was completely incredible—they’re a trans* only press, which is completely vital, and the work they put out is stunning. There’s also Instar Books, helmed by Jeanne Thornton, who is the guest fiction editor for Quaint’s 4th issue. Not only are they committed to diversity in publishing, they’re also doing interesting stuff with mixed media and really pushing the boundaries of contemporary publishing. I lovelove our friends at Room Magazine. Not only are they women-focused, they’re also Canadian, so they’re DOUBLY marginalized (I jest). I just purchased their Sci-Fi issue and I can’t wait to read it. Minerva Rising are great, too, as well asPersephone Magazine and Bone BouquetCalyx have been doing their thing for ages, and they put out incredible work. I also want to give a tiny plug to my friend Lily Duffy’s journal DREGINALD. They’re not strictly women’s only, or queer only, but I guess these days I look for editors whose aesthetic sensibilities and politics I know to be aligned with...can I get away with saying “the forces of good”? Because yes. The forces of good. FENCE put out some weird but totally badass shit, too. Obviously I also love Empath Lit—particularly, I admire that a space is being carved out specifically for survivors of abuse. I like the platform with Empath, too. It feels like a community, rather than a freaking arena, as publishing so often can.

DD: I love THEM Lit and Jos Charles, I love Maanta Mag. Publications like these are subversive and “promote underrepresented voices” in the sense that they are made for “underrepresented voices.: THEM is the first trans literary journal in the United States, and Maanta is “dedicated to fostering a critical space for Somalis of the diaspora.” I’m trying to run my own publications by emulating places like these. I also appreciate spaces like VIDAThe New InquiryHuman Partsand Luna Luna Mag, all of which seem to be at least open to more critical pieces and marginal narratives, though they definitely have their failings, as Eunsong discusses  below. But I feel like any publication that gives space to minority voices is noteworthy in the “push-back” for that alone, because that is a basic/direct subversion of dominant culture of literature.
I also want to give credit to the writers I love in more or less the same way: Jos Charles, Manuel Arturo Abreu, Safy-Hallan Farah, Lauren Traetto, Sarah Certa, the list goes on.  

EK: there are some publications listed above that haven’t always been friendly to WoC or PoC—and I point that out not to be contentious, but as Kimberlé Crenshaw reminds us, race, among others, adds an entirely different dynamic to spaces. With that being said, I really appreciate Action Books recent releases (Don Mee Choi, Lucas de Lima), and Coconut Books. They are platforms that are actively centralizing decolonial theory and pushing for a decolonial poetics.   

SBB: At the risk of asking the oppressed to explain their oppression, Eunsong, can you expand on how race adds another dynamic to publishing?

Eunsong: This is such a big question. Certain spaces that have been great for women have not been as accessible, aware or responsive when it comes to race and writing—this is to say that our current spaces are never neutral and filled with complicated dimensions. I know certain female focused organizations have accused poets of color of playing up their "identity politics" and derailing the unification against patriarchy project–as if racialized writing and politics are side games deployed to mess the revolution up. Language is racialized and gendered and we don't know how to read non white cis male writing very well—and white publishers really like sloppy yet strict categories, or the ones they've already created. Often times POC who "write" like "white guys" get published. And "racialized" poetry gets the big "identity politics" sticker. (Sidenote: no one advocates for identity politics. Angela Davis has said that WoC formations were supposed to be the chance for IDENTITY to be BASED on POLITICS rather than politics based on identity. So this framing is totally weaponized and we need to protest it every step of the way.) Anyhow, here is one article that talks about this.

SBB: Here’s a big one: How do we use writing and publishing to challenge and dismantle the privilege of the white, cis, straight, male writer? Can art be enough? What else do we need to do?

KG: Art is the beginning. Art is always the beginning, right? Being conscious of your own privilege is the first hurdle, and just about everyone can stand to do that—D’s essay on Whiteboy Poetics is a great example of that—it’s important to acknowledge that just because we’re marginalized on one level or another, that doesn’t mean we’re immune from fucking up. And you know, the first step to acknowledging our own privilege and minimizing harm in our own work is just listening. Just listen. You write a poem or a story, and somebody tells you that it was offensive or that you need to consider it from another angle? Fucking listen. It’s your work, of course. And your right as an artist to ignore the feedback you’re given. It’s your right to proceed with problematic rhetoric if that’s what gets you off. But at the very least, listen. Shut your mouth for a second and let other folks speak.

Key to this, I think, is creating a space where non-dominant voices can speak. This has to happen in publishing, but it has to happen elsewhere too—particularly within the academy. So many writers are choosing to go and get MFAs, and I think, yeah, wow, that’s awesome. But it’s not all that awesome if their entire graduating class is middle-class white folks, if their entire faculty is middle-class white folks, if the books they’re assigned to read for their lit courses are by middle-class white folks (often dead middle-class white folks). There needs to be a conscious effort at every level to embrace diversity. And when it comes to studying the canon, that can be hard. Maybe we just give the canon the middle finger and be done with it. Aren’t we all a little bit tired of Ezra Pound by now, anyway?

JC: I’m not always sure what anything does outside of the immediate and local. I don’t know if THEM, by being a journal of trans authors, “makes a difference in the world.” That’s so big. I do know publishing *this* author over *that* author at least makes the difference between the two. Representation isn’t the revolution, but it allows revolutionary words and bodies a place of visibility. It allows certain possibilities that wouldn’t otherwise be allowed. Publishing “radical” writing is at least telling the story of white supremacy, capitalist exploitation, colonization, transmisogyny, patriarchy. It puts those stories out into the world, laying that violence bare, over and above other narratives that could be affirmed—the ones that so often can obscure—the love story, the loss story, the sex story, the community story, the grief story. Publishing people systemically disempowered forefronts their voices and bodies—bodies of color, trans’ bodies, women’s bodies--over and above the reinscription of white guy bodies and the labor and oppression assumed to uphold their position as normal. If at the end of the day all I did was present an author with a typical trans narrative in the place of a “thinking about my dead dad while holding his watch driving through a field of wheat Best American Poetry typical white boy grief poem,” well, at least I did that, and that’s something.

SC: On a personal level we have to first examine our own privileges and all the shit we have absorbed—D. did an excellent job of this in that piece about whiteboy poetics—and how that seeps through in our writing. Are we contributing to rape culture? I know I have, and I had to pull a poem from my book because of that. That poem is a problem and I have to make sure it doesn’t get into the world (unless I were to dissect it & explain why it is a problem, like D. did). So first we must challenge & dismantle ourselves. And we must do this over and over. We also need to support spaces like Quaint Magazine & Empath Lit—publications dedicated to dismantling the current system in place by promoting the voices of marginalized writers, helping victims reclaim their narratives, DECENTERING the white cis straight male writer’s voice.

On a personal note, I am so burnt out that I don’t even know what to say about art anymore. It hasn’t been a thing that I’ve been able to engage with very much. Or, I am a vastly different person than I was a year ago, and so maybe it is new forms of art that I just haven’t come across/had time to engage with. I am not easily moved. I cannot be touched. And this is how I know that art is not enough. Maybe I used to think art was enough, but art has never been enough. I see that now. Art can be a medium for discovering ways to break things open, ways to dismantle, ways to reclaim narratives, ways to heal, too—art can change the ways we think, which, essentially, can change the way we structure our world. But art alone will not rewrite our laws. Art alone is not strong enough to push back against the deeply rooted histories of oppression upon which our society has been built. Art can be a vehicle for figuring out strategies for this pushing, but the art itself is not strong enough to do the pushing. Unless you become the art, become the dismantling by dismantling even yourself.

But, like everything, there has to be a multi-faceted approach because we are steeped deep inside of layers upon layers of oppression, and, to echo Eunsong, the decentering is not enough—we have to decenter, yes, but we have to actively centralize what has been historically made other. If we don’t actively centralize, what is taking place of what we’ve decentered? If we don’t actively centralize it seems easy to let a pseudo-decentralization take center. Slip back into center. Or, remain center. Meaning, nothing has really changed (thinking now of mainstream feminism). And now I’m back to thinking about Alt Lit—it maybe seemed, and was, alternative in some ways, but not fundamental ways, not in ways that challenged systemic oppression. At its roots Alt Lit was nothing more than a pseduo-decentralization.

DD: Well, for one, we can stop publishing the white het male writers. We can remove their omnipresent voice from spaces and start soliciting—and paying—marginal artists. We can use those spaces and their reach to prioritize “outsider” voices and critical work that dismantles and defies. We can introspect and deconstruct the influence and insulation of privilege and oppression in ourselves. (Thank you to Kia and Sarah both for referring to my piece as an example of this.) We can stop silencing and start listening. Of course, art is a gear in a greater system, a stepping stone to “progress,” but you work with what you have, and the ties to media and the “human condition” concept are significant. It presents a matrix conducive to advocacy, through which larger culture can be changed.

AN: We keep working. I don’t know what else to do other than keep at it and not let them shut me up.

EK: Art is never enough—but let’s use it to dream. I’m so tired of art that’s suppressed by our reality: We need more. Whiteness and maleness will continue to be at the center as long as power remains intimately connected to whiteness and maleness. However, dismantling white supremacy and decentering power will never be enough: Centralize and affirm Blackness. Let’s start there and never stop—

KD: Art isn’t enough, and I think that is in part due to the false separation that has been created between art and artist. If we allow men who hurt women or otherwise abuse their privileges to continue creating art, then we are allowing them to continue dictating our culture. It’s impossible to reclaim what was never ours, but we can try like hell to use our writing to burn what’s been given to us and start new.

SBB: What does the future of alt lit—and literature in general—look like? What do you hope it looks like?

DD: I think it isn’t as much a consideration of “alt lit”—which, for all intents and purposes, has no future—as it is the future of the “alternative,” as in, prioritizing marginal, i.e. truly “alternative” voices, as opposed to using the “alt” veneer to reify oppression. I don’t know what the future of literature holds—probably, in truth, more of the same. Sarah Certa and I have discussed advocacy as eternally blazing the trail. But I certainly hope that it is non-canon and non-male.

KD: I’d like to see big publishing make a more concerted effort to publish and promote intersectional feminist texts. I’d also like to see an alternative literature wherein the “alternative” doesn’t just mean that the power has been shifted from old white men to young white men. In short, I’d like to see a literary world in which alt lit cannot exist.

SC: I think the more immediate future is a more broken up literary “community”—already, in my own spaces, I can sense it. I’ve no doubt lost many connections and “friends” since speaking up about abuse and being so relentlessly vocal on basically a daily basis. Though of course this isn’t a loss at all because in the place of these pseudo-supporters I have found my way to people like the ones here, at this table. But it’s definitely feeling less “buddy-buddy” out there. There’s more division. The fence-sitters are sort of retreating into their safe little circles. And because so much systemic change still needs to happen, the future looks like a bit of a war zone—or, at least I hope it does. I hope people continue to speak up. I hope conversations like the ones we are having here make their way towards the center. But I’m not hopeful in that being an easy or quick thing to happen. I hope for a future of more critical thinkers. A future of empathy. As Kat said a more concerted effort towards intersectional feminist texts. A future of dismantling.

EK: The future of literature looks like Don Mee Choi. And Claudia Rankine. And Dionne Brand. Pretty please. Poetry without poets—

KG: The first thing that came to mind was an animated gif of a majestic rainbow unicorn cantering into the sunset. Can it look like that, please?

JC: I hope we grow out of the idea of literature as privatized. I hope we grow out of the idea of literature as private. I hope we grow out of the idea of literature. I hope we grow out of the idea. I hope we grow out. I hope we grow. I hope we. I hope.

Have something to say? Email comments, questions, responses, and links to relevant articles and literature elsewhere to: rapeculture.and.altlit [at] gmail [dot] com. For background and the original call for submissions, see here. To read all the responses in the series, click here 


Sarah B. Boyle is a poet, activist, mother and high school teacherHer work has appeared in or is forthcoming from Menacing Hedge, Sugar Mule, Cheat River Review,and elsewhere. She has an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College. 

Sarah Certa was born in Germany in 1987. She is the author of the chapbooks RED PAPER HEART (2013) and JULIET (I) (2014). Her first full-length poetry collection, Nothing To Do With Me, is due out from University of Hell Press spring 2015. Find more online at

Jos Charles is the founding-editor of THEM – a trans literary journal.  They have poetry published (and/or have publications forthcoming) with BLOOM, Denver Quarterly, The Feminist Wire, EOAGH, Metazen, boosthouse’s THE YOLO PAGES, as well as variously online.

Kat Dixon is the author of the full-length poetry collections TEMPORARY YES (2012) and BLACK RACKET OCEAN (2014), the novella HERE/OTHER (2014), and four chapbooks. She lives in Seoul and online at

D. Dragonetti is an angel boy, creator of Post-Alt, and co-founder of Empath Lit. He has written for SalonFanzine, and published a chapbook of poetry, Tangier (2012). Find him online @aliteralwerther on Twitter and @angelboyangelboy on Tumblr.

Kia Groom is founding editor of Quaint Magazine and an MFA candidate at the University of New Orleans, where she teaches freshman composition and works as associate poetry editor for Bayou Magazine. Her work appears in Westerly, Going Down Swinging, and Curbside Splendor, and she tweets @whodreamedit.

Eunsong Kim is​ writer and educator residing in ​southern California​. Her ​poetry and writings on contemporary culture have appeared or will be forthcoming in Minnesota Review, Interim, Coconut Magazine, Iowa Review, Seattle Review, Tinfish, Denver Quarterly ,​ AAWW's The Margins​, The New Inquiry, Model View Culture ​​amongst others. She tweets occasionally @clepsydras.

Alexandra Naughton is the boss at Be About It press and zine and co-founder of empathlit. She wrote a book called I Will Always Be Your Whore and writes things for different things and for herself.

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