Open Reading Period, Chapbook & Book Manuscripts by POC

by Jen Tynes

Horse Less got a lot of great submissions this year, for our book and chapbook reading periods, and I’m really excited about what we’re going to get to publish. But we have a big problem with diversity and inclusiveness. Most of the submissions we receive are from white people, and most of the work we publish is by white people, and that’s entirely our fault. As a woman, I have certainly been annoyed and frustrated, hearing male editors who mostly publish other men complain that no women send them work, even when they ask. I have thought to myself, “well, yes, because you’re sending out those calls to your mostly-male community, and women who are still managing to get the word are taking one look at your mostly-male publication and thinking, ‘this is no place for me.’” And yet here we are very obviously making the same serious and stupid errors regarding our voiced commitment to publishing people of color. We are saying we want that, but we really aren’t doing much to make it happen. We’re missing out on knowing and engaging with so many amazing writers because our community is too narrow and small, and that is our fault. Publishing more work by writers of color is a goal, one visible result of a much larger goal: being part of a more diverse and inclusive community. I am thinking about it and I am working on it. I will keep talking about how that’s going. I appreciate any feedback, publicly or privately, on what we could and should be doing differently or better.

One of the many actions Horse Less Press is taking to be part of a more inclusive and engaged community of writers is to have rolling, no-fee submission periods for chapbook and book manuscripts by writers of color. We are interested in poetry and hybrid/cross-genre manuscripts that are around 18-35 pages long (for chapbooks) and 55-100 pages long (for perfect-bound books). In your cover letter, we’d love to hear any ideas you have about the design and marketing of your book and/or the role you’d like to take in the making and promotion of your book.