Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Off the Top of My Head

Below are some online poetry magazines that don't appear to have a problem finding good women poets to include. Now I didn't go through counting and compiling percentages, some likely have a slight male contributor tilt, I don't care about that -- they're just magazines that don't strike me as utterly narrow -- and I confess I do not know how these magazines get their women contributors, it's entirely possible they do so with large monetary bribes or threats of bodily injury. This is in no way a complete list, just some examples I quickly came up with of magazines I regularly read:

Action Yes
Caffeine Destiny
La Petite Zine
Pilot Poetry

This is why I don't buy the "women don't submit" argument. Through my own personal experience as an editor and reader of magazines like the ones above.

I do believe that some magazines don't receive many submissions from women, but that's something different. It does not mean women aren't trying to get their work published. Women poets seeking publication are not an endangered species.


At 7:01 PM, Blogger Nicholas Manning said...

True Reb, "women poets seeking publication are not an endangered species", in any sense. Thank heavens.

However, at least in the case of The Continental Review, the statistics bear out a discrepancy which I want to redress: from 56% of total initial invites having been sent to women poets, we ended up with 70% of current material being by men.

Unsatisfactory, yes, but what's the cause of this? This is not a rhetorical question. Is the video medium to blame? Is the fact of the chief editor being male? These reasons seem mildly to very ludicrous.

I'm concerned that if we accept your idea of gender discrepancy in submissions being in fact a mere myth, then there is automatically the suspicion that a male editor who declares a "lower percentage of submissions from women poets" is simply being ingenuous, or worse, surreptitiously biased.

I do think, from current experience at least, that discrepancies in submissions is a real, unfortunate phenomenon. I just want to know why it perhaps occurs, in order to address it.

At 7:55 PM, Blogger Reb said...

Nicholas, I'm not sure if the video medium is a factor or not. At first I thought perhaps there could an economic factor, but video cameras aren't especially expensive these days -- although perhaps more men own them than women? Of the people you invited to submit, do you have any idea how many of them have the equipment to make videos? Have you noticed an age discrepancy as well? There's a time factor of putting together a video that perhaps allude some women who are primarily responsible for childcare, but I don't think that is a sufficient enough explanation either. I definitely do not think it's has anything to do with you being a man (unless you have some kind of reputation, which I'm not aware of).

I don't think I said or implied that the discrepancy between submissions is a "mere myth" -- but a phenomena that is not across the board. In the Continental Review's case, there may be additional factors. I'd be interested if any one else had any ideas why that may be.

At 8:25 PM, Blogger Didi Menendez said...

Nicholas has a different medium than the one being discussed. I know I am going to get hit over the head with what I am going to say but women are more technically challenged than men. Okay. I could technically prove this becasue of the submission process involved with mipoesias regarding sending in photos...just sending in a photo sometimes is challenging...much less a video........ This can also be said for older men or both genders that are still more apt to send in their submissions to a print publication (possibly because they are actually still using a typewriter).

Look at Diana DiPrima. She will not submit to web based magazines. Diana DiPrima who is considered one of the few Beat Women Poets does not submit to web based magazines. I am not going to assume the reason behind this only that I find it fascinating that she of all the women in the world would say no to something innovative and new.

Okay I am ducking now.



At 8:36 PM, Blogger Didi Menendez said...

P.s - the remark I made above is from personally receiving an email from here telling me sorry charlie.


At 8:37 PM, Blogger Didi Menendez said...

and also some women are notorious for

I meant her and not here above.


At 8:43 PM, Blogger Reb said...

Hmm, I don't know Didi -- a number of men have trouble sending online submissions to NTM -- and all that involves is cutting and pasting into an e-mail.

When No Tell was starting out and we were soliciting a lot of work, a number of men (not particularly "old" -- late 30's and early 40's), turned down our invitations -- saying online publishing wasn't their bag -- and these guys weren't nearly as well known as DiPrima. I tend to cut a lot of slack to the over 60 crowd -- mostly out of karma, I'm a little terrified of what I'll be expected to figure out in 30 years.

At 8:47 PM, Blogger Didi Menendez said...

Yes -- there are also men with the same problem in the submission process but it leans more towards the women.

Now lets not even get started with audio. Lord. Lets not go there....

At 12:04 PM, Blogger Radish King said...

women are more technically challenged than men

Oh, yeah, and boys are better at math and science. Jesus. Way to slam us backwards fifty years.

At 2:34 PM, Blogger Elisa Gabbert said...

Is anyone saying that "women don't submit"? I may have missed something, but I thought the claim was about proportions, not absolutes, i.e., men submit more (at many journals, at least). This holds true for Absent, both for slush and solicitations. But I'm a woman and I submit all the time, so I'm not placing fault on women poets.

I do think that journals that have been around a long time, consistently publishing women, are more inviting to potential women contributors, as are journals with women on the editorial side.

At 3:40 PM, Blogger Reb said...

Elisa, male editors have told me in general many women don't submit -- as the explanation to why they don't publish many women. I think that's an easy excuse.

How long is a "long" time for a journal to be around? NTM has been around for 3 years, but we never had a shortage of women sending in work -- and we never made any special attempts to bring women in -- and I know other magazines don't have that problem either -- so what I'm saying is that there's other factors -- and to be clear, that's not a put-down of the magazines/editors who are receiving few submission.

At 3:57 PM, Blogger Nicholas Manning said...

I think Elisa's right that some journals are "more inviting to potential women contributors" than others, but I also think that it's up to the editor to build that editorial trust.

Why does that editorial trust exist in the first place? There must be a reason.

As for technology Didi, I think it's maybe a very minor factor, but not all that consequent in the end: around 4 men have said "sadly no" to TCR because of technical concerns, and around 3 women. The problem for us has more been that of the "no response", or women poets who have said "yes", and then in the end nothing has been sent.

In all honesty, in our case I think the reason may be a larger cultural one: I suspect it's true that women are judged more by appearance than are men. The fact of recording a video reading thus comes weighted with different pressures perhaps.

So yes Reb, "women don't submit" is an easy excuse, not because it's not true percentage-wise for some publications, but simply because the editors of these publications could start sending out some goddamn invitations to female poets whose work they respect.

In the end then, I think there is an editorial obligation which is a type of "affirmative action". Which is what we're attempting to do: three more have been sent out today.

At 4:20 PM, Blogger Reb said...

Nicholas, I'd send you another video, but I have nothing to wear. (wink) I do own a video camera, but we hardly use it -- I think I hate the sound of my voice.

The Continental Review is still pretty new, maybe it's more a matter of time. I am really glad to hear that you haven't just thrown your hands up.

At 5:43 PM, Blogger Elisa Gabbert said...

Hi Reb,

I agree that if it's an excuse, it's a poor excuse. Absolutely. But I think in some editors' cases, it's not an excuse, just a statistical observation. And hopefully those editors will question why it's the case that they're not getting more submissions from women (as I do). And figure out ways to change that.

Three years strikes me as a pretty long time for an online journal to have been around. Especially since NTM publishes every week day, rather than in issues. With other journals, I don't know, mags that are getting up close to and over issues in the double digits strike me as feeling relatively established.

At 5:46 PM, Blogger Elisa Gabbert said...

(And maybe that's irrelevant in your case, but I think a history of publishing women does go toward building the editorial trust Nicholas mentioned.)


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