Contributor Spotlight: Siwar Masannat
During my time as a student at George Mason University’s MFA program, I had the chance to work for So to Speak: a feminist journal of language and art. The perks and challenges of producing a high quality literary journal that focuses on themes of feminism and aspires to publish well-crafted, socially conscious work was all consuming—in the most positive ways. Having had the chance to work with an excellent editorial team of my peers, and to organize and participate in literary events across the country, from AWP/Chicago to DC, I started thinking about my interest in publishing feminist chapbooks. Two of my dear classmates and fellow editors, Alyse Knorr and M. Mack, had similarly inclusive, yet different, definitions of feminism, as well as great literary publishing ambitions and work ethics. As writers and feminists, we noticed a gap in the publishing landscape: we saw many excellent women’s and LGBTQ presses out there, but not many (if any?) feminist, all-inclusive presses who accept submissions from all genders and sexualities. We were also interested in continuing to promote our notion of a “feminist” work ethic focused on collaboration and transparency, in lieu of a stricter editorial hierarchy. We took these ideas to William Miller and Kara Oakleaf, who manage the Fall for the Book literary festival, and they very kindly and generously supported and sponsored it. And so, Gazing Grain Press was born on June 1st, 2012!
We welcome submissions from feminist writers of all identities and believe in inclusive and broad definitions of feminism. We are interested in socially-conscious work that explores ideas of identities as connected to gender, sexuality, class, race and ethnicity, and ability. What I am most personally interested in as a Jordanian feminist writing in English are the differences and intersections in feminisms across cultures, especially in notions of representing “otherness.”
At Gazing Grain, we strive to uphold a feminist work ethic in producing this publication. Our reading philosophy is based on both the non-discriminatory nature of blind reading as well as reading for/through identity. In the first round of screening we will be reading manuscripts blind and choosing the first round of finalists. In our second round of screening, we will be looking at bios, as we believe that writers’ identities, in conjunction with their writing, might have a bearing on the feminist context of their work. A book does come with a short bio, and we’d like to get to know the writers whose work we admire! Finally, in the third round, our contest judge, the wonderful poet Brian Teare, will choose a finalist from a maximum of 20 manuscripts.
If any of these ideas appeal to you, delight us with your poems. Visit Grazing Grain Press here. * Siwar Masannat is a Jordanian poet living in Virginia. She holds an MFA in poetry from George Mason University. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in New Orleans Review, The Journal, and Gargoyle, among others. Hayden's Ferry Review was the first print journal to pick up Siwar's work, and therefore is extra special to her. Visit her here.