Friday, January 13, 2017
This week, I've been doing some work on updating wicked alice, that older, yet smaller, sister of dancing girl press--reading submissions, posting some work I accepted before the mini-hiatus. It's rough, the journal gets far less of my attention these days for pretty much the last few years only with occasional spurts of new updates and work. there doesn't seem to be enough time at the end of my days to do even half of all the things I should be doing, and like blogging, and heck, even my own writing, wicked alice falls somewhat low on the priority ladder. I once mentioned to my sister that I was thinking about ceasing publication, to which her response, vested as she was by the recycled art history essay I published by her in our very first issue (mostly because I really needed work to publish and she let me) was "You can't close wicked alice!"
And she's right, of course. wicked alice was the very beginning of everything dgp. In the summer of 2001, I needed to do something. I had recently moved back to Chicago and started working in the library--a job which, given my night-shift tendencies, planted me on the front circulation desk during rather slow, slow hours. I was getting that itchy feeling that I should being SOMETHING writerly related with time, something more useful than staring blankly at the library catalog or internet, and while I was still on a strong streak of writing and just beginning to send work out to the online journals I was discovering, I found I could't really do any sort of creative writing at the desk. I wanted something more.
I was also feeling strangely unfocused and unmoored in a literary sense, having abandoned a teaching career post grad school, abandoned fledgeling PHD plans, and set about looking for stable, bookish type work I could do while focusing on writing. Thus, the library--first an elementary school, then a college. But I still felt like there should be more to it, to my life--than shuffling papers and checking out books--that I should channel all that money and energy I'd spent those years in college and grad school into something more, well, literary, I guess. It didn't seem enough to handle the books, to appreciate them in a museum like way. I needed to make them happen. .
The landscape of online journals was still sort of shiny and new and woefully under-respected in those days.. Because poetry blogs were still in their infancy and social media a brief twinkle in the eye of the internet, there weren't a lot of ways to connect to other writers the way one can now--the online journals allowed this sort of synergy to happen. I'd publish a poem and get more than a couple e-mails from fellow contributors about how much they liked it. Word would spread and writers would follow each other to journals, discovering new venues via contributor bios. Outside of listservs and discussion boards, which were thriving, it was a cool new way of building literary communities (one that has, unlike the others that have dwindled, persists still.)
It seemed sort of obvious that I should start a journal devoted to women-centered work, not necessarily only by women, but with a certain feminist spirit in mind. Armed with angelfire account that still was running ads and had pretty simple templates,I launched our first issue on September 5th of that year, about a week before the world shattered and changed quite a bit. But we went on, and in December, there was another issue, and people actually interested in submitting. Then more issues, and the templates adapted to something less horrible by my burgeoning html skills. . By 2003, we were publishing on the regular and linked up with Sundress Publications, and by the next year, I had started dancing girl press as an accompanying print endeavor.
I am sometimes a very neglectful journal editor. We'll publish spurts of activity and then dwindle to only the occasional post of new work. I moved away from single issues back in 2012, and have doing a blog-like format on tumblr (which allows posts to be easily subscribed to and shared). I'm perpetually horribly behind on submissions for up to a year (though we do allow simultaneous submissions, so I feel less bad about holding work for that long and a lot gets picked up elsewhere before I even get to read it.). I'm hoping to change that this year and get back to a more regular schedule and a bit more content in addition to the creative work, including reading lists, interviews, short reviews, and a whole lot more art. There is regularly a lot of slush in the inbox to deal with, but there are occasional new gems, new authors I've never heard of whose work excites me tremendously. It's also a nice sort feeding pool into dgp--putting authors on my.radar and into the dgp/wicked alice fold-- many dgp authors I find through the journal or find us through the journal, so it's something I can't quite give up just yet.