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Online Literary Magazines and their (Intense) Diversity Problem

by Gabino Iglesias

“I’ve never felt the need to begin an essay with a clarifying note, but there’s a first time for everything. I’ve been writing reviews for Electric Literature since 2014, always trying to focus on indie presses and authors. The venue has been good to me and I think they’ve built a superb platform. The fact that this piece uses them as an example shouldn’t be taken as a critique of them alone; I’m using EL in order to start a much larger discussion that affects most online literary magazines. Furthermore, I’ve already expressed my willingness to continue writing reviews for them as long as we focus on POC, indie presses, women, and books by members of the LGBTQ community. Now let’s get to it….

…That brings us to my main point: most big literature sites are cultivating an utterly bland, painfully homogenized, ridiculously celebratory, and shamefully plastic version of literature. In a recent interview, Bookslut head honcho Jessa Crispin said there “seems to be less and less underground” nowadays. She’s wrong. The underground is now bigger and better than ever, but the lit sites everyone reads are purposefully not paying attention. The discourse has always been whitewashed, and they refuse to change. Go to your favorite lit site and look at the masthead. Doesn’t that shit remind you of The Brady Bunch? Now go to the homepage and see how many pieces in there are by white authors or folks with MFAs. Sure, if you dig into the archives you’ll find some pieces by POC, but not nearly as many as you should. Literature is supposed to be a mirror, and most of these lit sites are not letting everyone get close enough to be reflected.”

Read the full article at Dead End Follies

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Filed under: Community News, Essays, Featured Creatives

About the Author

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Jeremiah Walton is wary of bios, but there's the current sign they're flying: “Jeremiah Walton is founder of Nostrovia! Press & traveling bookstore Books & Shovels. They’ve featured at the NYC Poetry Festival, Oakland Beast Crawl, San Francisco Lit Crawl, Death Rattle, the Kansas City Poetry Throwdown, Cleveland’s Guide to Kulchur: Snoetry, among other lit fests, street corners, & living rooms across the country. They loath-themselves, & are struggling to find a healthy extension of the poem that incorporates publishing. Consistently confused, & trying to make space for compassion for the parts of myself I hate.” That feels like tattooing "love me" across my neck, but hopefully you get to know me thru my poems, not the accolades that are nothing more than memories to let go of.

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