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Chelsea Werner-Jatzke and James R. Gapinski share their panel picks

Two of our editors share some panels they’re excited for. Naturally, we’ll be spending a lot of time at The Conium Review table (#2025). But there will be three of us at AWP (Chelsea, James, and Uma), so hopefully we’ll all get to attend our panel/presentation wishlists.

Chelsea Werner-Jatzke’s top five eight panels (because lists of five or ten are just too neat and tidy for a badass like Chelsea):

  • Thursday, 9:00am to 10:15am. History, Speculation, and Invention in Long Form Fiction. (Christopher Robinson, Jan Elizabeth Watson, Jaquira Diaz, Melissa Falcon Field, Sebastian Stockman). Room 200 D&E, Level 2.
  • Thursday, 1:30pm to 2:45pm. The Hybrid Book: Publishing Poetry and Art Together. (Allison Campbell, Henry Israeli, Bianca Stone, Ben Fama, Elizabeth Clark Wessel). Room M100 B&C, Mezzanine Level.
  • Friday, 9:00am to 10:15am. The Ethics of Book Reviewing. (Eric Lorberer, Stephen Burt, Carolyn Kellogg, Brian Evenson, Rusty Morrison). Auditorium Room 1, Level 1.
  • Friday, 1:30pm to 2:45pm. Word Meets Image: The Video Essay. (Ned Stuckey-French, Eula Biss, Kristen Radtke, John Bresland). Room 101 F&G, Level 1.
  • Friday, 1:30pm to 2:45pm (competing against the previous panel for attention). Music in Prose: Crafting the Lyric Sentence. (Pearl Abraham, Hanna Pylväinen, V.V. Ganeshananthan, Stephanie Grant, Will Byrne). Room 200 H&I, Level 2.
  • Friday, 3:00pm to 4:15pm. Where We Begin to Revise the Poem. (Keetje Kuipers, Erica Dawson, James Harms, John Hoppenthaler, Peter Campion). Auditorium Room 1, Level 1.
  • Friday, 4:30 to 5:45pm. Let Us (Not) Teach You a Lesson: A Pleiades Writers’ Symposium on Moral Fiction.(Phong Nguyen, Bayard Godsave, Christine Sneed, Seth Brady Tucker, Michael Kardos). Room L100 D&E, Lower Level.
  • Saturday, 1:30pm to 2:45pm. Rock and Prose: Musician/Fiction Writers Reflect at the Crossroads. (Steven Ostrowski, Steve Yarbrough, Lynne Barrett, Joe Clifford). Room 208 A&B, Level 2.

James R. Gapinski’s top five panels:

  • Thursday, April 9th, 3:00pm to 4:15pm. How I Taught Then, How I Teach Now. (Joseph Scapellato,  Derek Palacio,  Cathy Day,  Matt Bell,  Jennine Capó Crucet). Auditorium Room 1, Level 1.
  • Friday, April 10th, 9:00am to 10:15am. Four Writers of Experimental Fiction Disagree. (Jeff Jackson,  Kate Bernheimer,  Susan Steinberg,  Alan Michael Parker). Room 211 C&D, Level 2.
  • Friday, April 10th, 3:00pm to 4:15pm. The Uncanny Reader: the Art of Unease in the Short Story Form. (Marjorie Sandor,  Karen Russell,  Kate Bernheimer,  Steve Stern,  Kelly Link). Room 101 H&I, Level 1.
  • Friday, April 10th, 4:30pm to 5:45pm. Fail Better: Successful Writers Talk About Failure. (M. Molly Backes,  Roxane Gay,  Megan Stielstra,  Dean Bakopoulos,  Rebecca Makkai). Auditorium Room 2, Level 1.
  • Saturday, April 11th, 1:30pm to 2:45pm. Weird Science: Strategies to Encourage Innovative Writing in the Workshop (Andrew Altschul,  Lucy Corin,  Eric Puchner,  Melanie Rae Thon,  Deb Olin Unferth). Room 200 B&C, Level 2.

James R. Gapinski’s AWP Bookfair table/booth picks

With over 700 presses and organizations represented at AWP, it’s difficult to see them all. Naturally, I need to start with a self-serving plug: your first stop should be Table #2025: The Conium Review.  After that, explore as many new presses and publishers as possible (that’s my gameplan). But it’s good to have a few specific tables in mind—beacons amid the storm.  Here are my top ten exhibitors (in order by table number):

  1. Table #226: Gold Line Press / Ricochet Editions
  2. Table #324: Small Beer Press
  3. Table #343: Fiction Collective 2
  4. Booth #415: NewPages.com
  5. Table #422: NANO Fiction
  6. Table #439: The Review Review
  7. Table #925: Juked
  8. Booth #1007: VIDA: Women in Literary Arts
  9. Table #1122: [PANK] / Tiny Hardcore Press
  10. Table #1837: Two Dollar Radio

So if you’re a bit lost, maybe use these tent-poles as your guide too.  But don’t get stuck on lists and favorites; the most interesting conversations often come from presses you’ve never heard of.

About the Author

James R. Gapinski is The Conium Review‘s managing editor. He holds an MFA in creative writing from Goddard College and teaches writing at Bunker Hill Community College. His work has appeared in theEEELNANO FictionHeavy Feather ReviewJukedAtticus Review, Word Riot, and elsewhere.

The Conium Review 2014 “Count”

The 2014 VIDA Count comes out tomorrow, revealing which big-name literary journals have increased gender parity and which continue to marginalize women’s voices.

Ahead of the big count, The Conium Review is proud to announce that we’ve dramatically improved our numbers. In 2013, we published 15 women and 37 men, for a year-long ratio of 29% women and 71% men.[1] In 2014, published 14 women and 8 men, for a year-long ratio of 64% women and 36% men.[2]

Conium count graphs

These numbers are organic, with each submission bubbling up from our normal submission process.  We didn’t set a quota. Furthermore, all the work we published in 2013 and 2014 was unsolicited. We didn’t change our standards from one year to the next—in fact, Vol. 3 may be our strongest issue yet.

Basically, when a publisher says their VIDA numbers are low because they don’t want to sacrifice editorial standards, you can officially tell them that the excuse is bullshit. Publishers can increase gender parity without any such sacrifices, and to suggest otherwise is insulting to every female author who write kickass fiction.[3]

Change isn’t easy, though.  Individually or in clusters, our editors put their boots on the ground—attending workshops on feminist theory, reading plenty of gender studies books, discussing the VIDA Count with other editors, and nursing an uncontrollable addiction to Roxane Gay’s Twitter feed. Then we reached out to a number of women’s groups. Among the groups we talked to, we were especially glad to work with the Submission Bombers[4] in 2014. Conducting deliberate outreach helped increase the overall number of submissions from female authors, and increased publication ratios followed suit.[5]

Changing our gender ratio wasn’t a fluke. And that’s the point here. Things don’t change unless magazines and presses change. We need more outreach, and we need more editors who are willing to have real conversations about gender.[6] Next time you hear an editor give some lame excuse or a boilerplate line like “we publish the very best submissions,”[7] call them out. Ask if they can remember the last time they stopped rattling off excuses in exchange for real reflection on the VIDA Count and discrimination in the publishing world.

[1] In 2013, we published two volumes. Vol. 2, No. 1 featured 6 female authors and 19 male authors, for a ratio of 24% women and 76% men. Vol. 2, No. 2 featured 9 female authors and 18 male authors, for a ratio of 33% to 66%.

[2] In 2014, we published one volume and began featuring work online. Vol. 3 included 5 female authors and two male authors, for a ratio of 71% women and 29% men. The Conium Review Online Compendium featured 9 female authors and 6 male authors, for a ratio of 60% women and 40% men.

[3] Probably some kickass poetry too, but we’re a fiction journal, so let’s leave it there.

[4] An online collective of marginalized writers, spearheaded by Weave’s Laura Davis

[5] See, you don’t need to set quotas! If you get more women submitting, somewhere in that huge pile of submission are several fantastic stories. Some publishers may insist that their raw submission pool skews male, therefore they publish more men as a result (and we used to be one of these guilty publishers), but if they are doing absolutely nothing to reach out to women, then they are complicit in the problem.

[6] We look forward to having more of these conversations at the upcoming AWP Conference in Minneapolis, MN. Stop by table number 2025 if you’re attending the event.

[7] Some editors who say “we publish the very best submissions” don’t really mean it; they actually mean to say “we publish the very straightest-whitest-malest submissions.”