Thoughts . . . by Mark Rich

. . . scribbled . . . scrawled . . . trimmed . . . typewritten . . . grubbed up . . . squeezed from circumstance . . .

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A Timely Prompt

Yesterday I finished work on an essay about speculative poetry, and what women writers might be bringing to the form. At one point in it I wondered if I might be granting women poets privileged status when I encountered their works——or if those women writers did write a poetry that could be distinguished from that written by men.

The essay never arrived at an answer to this question of mine——for it took its shape, in large part, from memories of and notes about two different panel discussions about women's speculative poetry, in 2008 and 2013; and those memories and notes led me in a different direction.

This morning I read a blog posting by Julie Crisp, editorial director at Tor UK, entitled "Sexism in Genre Publishing: A Publisher's Perspective." Her notes reminded me of a thought that has crept into my mind, now and then through the years: that, yes, in my years editing speculative poetry magazines in the 1970s, '80s and '90s I did give poetry submissions from women a different level of attention——because fewer such submissions came in, compared to the number from men.

You may well call this sexist: for women poets stood at an advantage even before I opened the submissions envelope.

Crisp, I should note, professionally judges submissions on the basis of intrinsic manuscript quality. The great value in her posting lies in the fact that her editorial team actually counted numbers of manuscripts from women and men writers, over a period of months. Their findings echo what other genre editors have noted anecdotally.

Essays by their nature seem to leave some matters unresolved: for sometimes we fail to see all the issues involved until we have written out our thoughts and revised them repeatedly to a state of finished completion.

Doors must shut before you can reopen them.

In any case, Crisp's notes brought back to mind old thoughts ... a timely prompt, from an unexpected direction.

Cheers ...

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