For this month’s April Poetry Month activities, Brain Mill will highlight projects and poets that speak to a mission of widening conversations around inclusivity and recognition. We’ll do this through sharing essays, posts, and poetry, signal-boosting work that matters.
We invite you to enter our annual, fee-free poetry contest. This year in particular, the year of many revelations, we invite you to submit poems that begin, deepen, or continue the necessary but difficult conversations of the past year.
Please submit 1-3 poems per entry. We’re open to any poems, in any style. We’d love to read your full-throated & strange poems, your erasures & formally experimental work, your collaborative & hydra-headed work. We particularly encourage submissions from poets of color, women, and LGBTQIA+ writers.
The editors will select a poem each week beginning April 13 as the editors’ pick, as well as one grand prize winner at the end of April.
Selected poems will be published on the Brain Mill Press website and social media channels. Editors’ pick poets may select a Brain Mill Press print book of their choice. The grand prize winner will receive a full set of published poetry in the Mineral Point Poetry Series and associated broadsides. Poets retain all rights to their work.
Edited by Vanessa Willoughby
“There is nothing new under the sun, but there are new suns.”
― Octavia E. Butler
We tell stories in order to learn how to live. In a publishing world that is overwhelmingly white, stories by minority and/or marginalized voices are often viewed as a way to fill a diversity quota, turning an author’s creative artistry into tokenism or exoticism. Those who are “spared” this type of treatment are either ignored or dismissed. Despite the progressive attempts to combat the whiteness of the industry, marginalized authors still must fight to get their stories properly told.
In a recent response to a New York Times article about the purpose of sensitivity readers for children’s book authors and publishers, author Joyce Carol Oates tweeted, “No one should censor writers--just don't read what offends you. Start your own publishing houses & magazines as many (of us) have done.” For many marginalized and non-white authors such as N.K. Jemisin and Angie Thomas, Oates’s tone-deaf response was a reflection of the systemic racism and discrimination of traditional publishing. Not only does Oates fail to realize that her argument suspiciously echoes segregationist thinking, it also dismisses the fact that the whiteness of the industry impacts accessibility. People of color have never waited for permission from white supremacy to start their own writing and publishing platforms. However, this still doesn’t guarantee the same type of exposure, publicity, and monetary support and funding reserved for white authors. Despite contradicting protests from old guard authors such as Oates, marginalized authors are not competing on an even playing field. The idea that these authors should happily accept the status quo is as regressive as it is oppressive.
Inspired by the unrelenting ambition, perseverance, and trailblazing vision of MacArthur Fellow and sci-fi writer Octavia Butler, Kindred Books aims to put marginalized voices first. The imprint champions and spotlights diverse identities, but also understands that these narratives do not simply end and begin with racial/gender identity and/or sexuality. Fiction Editor Vanessa Willoughby is actively seeking narratives that make readers reflect and question the world around them. She is especially interested in fiction that evokes the stylistic language and themes of authors and writers such as Jesmyn Ward, ZZ Packer, Danielle Evans, Toni Morrison, Hilton Als, Zora Neale Hurston, Zadie Smith, Angela Flournoy, and Celeste Ng. She would be pleased to acquire emotionally raw, coming-of-age stories concerning young people of color, especially black girls and women. Kindred Books believes that diversity in publishing, whether it specifically concerns the authors, agents and/or editors, is a necessity to the lifeblood of the industry.
About Vanessa Willoughby: Vanessa Willoughby holds a BA in writing, literature, and publishing from Emerson College. Following Emerson, she attended The New School and earned her MFA in creative writing. Her bylines have appeared but are not limited to the following publications: Bitch, The Establishment, The Hairpin, Hazlitt, The Toast, and Vice. A full archive of her work is available on her blog.
Guidelines: Your electronic submission of a manuscript pitch and 1-2 sample chapters will be accepted at the Brain Mill Press submission portal at brainmillpress.submittable.com. Up to two manuscripts may be submitted per person. Incomplete submissions and manuscripts, or manuscripts that are discovered to not meet the guidelines of this call, will be automatically rejected. All other submissions will be read by the editor in a timely manner. Authors who have not heard from the editor eight weeks from submission are welcome to inquire about their submission to email@example.com. Form rejection should be anticipated by authors whose submission does not meet the needs of the editor at this time, but comments and feedback may be occasionally offered per the editors’ discretion.
Good luck, and direct inquiries not answered in this call to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Call for Pitches: Essays for BMP Voices Column "Makers on Making"
Brain Mill Press seeks emotional, radically authentic essays of 750-1,500 words to appear on Voices, our online content platform, in the "Makers on Making" column.
Makers on Making features a different maker each month — printmakers, writers, knitters, crafters, painters, photographers, textile artists, and anyone else involved in art — with essays about their process on a particular project. These pieces delve into the psychology of making, the lessons we learn from success and (often more usefully) failure, and what it is to be a human authentically and emotionally involved as a maker in our world.
Essay pitches will be reviewed for suitability by Brain Mill Press staff. If your pitch is selected, you will be given a mutually-agreed period of time to write your essay. You will receive editorial development and feedback on your submitted piece, a contract granting Brain Mill Press the limited right to reproduce your piece in Voices, and payment at industry-standard rates upon publication. You will retain all other rights to your work.
Your essay and profile will be promoted on our social media outlets. Your essay will contain your headshot and bio, as well as information you may wish to include about recent work and your website and social media links. We will also include your profile on our page of Voices contributors.
Brain Mill Press exclusively invites submissions from people of color, women, and LGBTQIA+ writers.
Other interested writers for Voices, please contact email@example.com directly, and we will consider your pitches on a case-by-case basis depending on the response to the original call.
Brain Mill Press publishes “Love Books for Humans” in multiple genres. Find more information at brainmillpress.com.
Contact Brain Mill Press at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.