Feminist Resource Feature: Minerva Rising

I discovered Minerva Rising Literary Journal while browsing Duotrope.com, looking for new feminist literary journals that could be a good home for my poems. What drew me to the journal was its mission of creating a welcoming space (in print and online) for everywoman to be creative.

Minerva Rising Editor-in-Chief Kim Brown read somewhere that stories authored by women were “small” compared with those written by men. “That troubled me,” she said. “It devalued the work of women writers and the overall experience of being a woman.”

Then, after receiving a series of rejection letters for her own fiction, she began to wonder if it were really true ––that women’s stories were viewed as less important than men’s. “I lamented to anyone who would listen that there needed to be a literary journal for women that was interested in publishing and promoting the stories women write and want to read,” Kim said. “And then I remembered another quote, this one by Toni Morrison, ‘If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.’ ”

Because I was so taken with the journal’s mission and focus on women, earlier this year I reached out to Kim and asked her if she had any staff openings – and she did. After a few great conversations, I joined the journal as its media director and a poetry reader. One thing that I love about Kim at the helm is that she encourages us to work with emerging writers to get their piece just right for publication; in that way, while we publish established writers, we also give voice to new ones. We’re committed to developing all of the women artists who join our community, and our staff takes pride in the personal attention we offer to the high volume of exceptional material that’s entrusted to us month after month. And, as most of the staff are writers, we recognize the importance of funding our contributors; we pay writers $50 for fiction or nonfiction prose and $35 for poetry that we select for publication.

Minerva Rising has published five gorgeous, hefty themed issues. Here, I’ve handpicked some pieces that speak to our themes: Issue 1: Beginnings (“To the Left is the Beach” illustrates how sometimes a beginning comes after a devastating loss); Issue 2: Winter (we reflect on the parallels between a blizzard and our inward struggle of determination in “Storm”); Issue 3: Rebellion (one woman reclaims her body after a devastating diagnosis in “Naked Pictures”); Issue 4: Mothers (in the poem, “My Mother was Dead,“ a daughter walks the streets in Poland retracing the steps of all the Jewish mothers who came before her); and Issue 5: Turning Points (“Learning to Let Go” chronicles the journey of a woman who rediscovers life after the death of her long-time partner). Forthcoming this year are two more compelling volumes –– Issue 6: Food and Issue 7: Wilderness.

On MinervaRising.com, the journal’s newly-designed website, we foster a community for women to share and showcase their writing and art, which includes “The Keeping Room” blog that features contributors’ thoughts on life and art, along with weekly blog entries from staff members, plus news and other women-focused literary magazine reviews. Join us on facebook.com/minervarising and Twitter, @minerva_rising.

Minerva Rising also supports women’s independence by donating to charities like Women for Women International. In addition, we’ve created the Owl of Minerva grant, which awards $500 to provide financial support to one woman writer or artist who would otherwise not have the financial means to pursue her creative endeavors. The annual award is given in March during Women’s History Month. This year, Chelsey Clammer, whose first collection of essays, There is Nothing Else to See Here, is forthcoming from The Lit Pub, was selected to receive the Owl of Minerva Award. Chelsey is using the funds to organize a women’s writing retreat in Colorado.

A portion of the proceeds from the sales of our chapbooks goes toward funding the Owl of Minerva Award. Two White Beds by poet Laura Cherry is the winner of Minerva Rising’s inaugural “Dare to Be” chapbook contest. It’s a collection of poetry that tells the story of two young Victorian women, Sam and Millie, who fall in love during “months as a laudanum haze” and “dark nights that breed strange illusions.” The pair navigate this unfamiliar and exhilarating terrain. In “Millie Afire,” Millie says, “I can’t recall/ what underlay my days/ before this thrall.” They also take risks with their affair. In “Millie’s Vision,” Millie says to Sam, “You always called me brave/We’ll see of what I’m made.” These characters embody the women Minerva Rising publishes and supports: strong, daring, risk-takers.

This year’s “Dare to Be, Dare to Write, Dare to Dare” chapbook contest will be judged by poet Heather McHugh, a MacArthur Genius Grant recipient and winner of multiple Pushcart Prizes for Poetry. When Minerva Rising Poetry Editor Emily Shearer asked Heather to judge this year’s contest and she said “yes,” the entire staff was thrilled to be working with such a prolific, supportive and wise poet. If you’re writing creative, deep-rooted poetry, consider sending us your chapbook (open to any form of poetry) between September 15 and November 15.

Minerva Rising wants to give voice to everywoman –– to proclaim her triumphs and struggles. From Lauren Lockhart Brown’s poem, “Wolf’s Milk” (Issue 3), this excerpt speaks remarkably to the journal’s mission of making women stronger – and heard:

From now on

nothing will invade me

and I will not be funneled into the city

by the warm fuzzy fun of a manufactured life.

May all greed dissipate from the hearts of men.

May all women be free.

***

Nicole Rollender’s poetry, nonfiction and projects have been published or are forthcoming in The Adroit Journal, Alaska Quarterly Review, Best New Poets 2014, Creative Nonfiction, PANK, Ruminate Magazine, Salt Hill Journal and THRUSH Poetry Journal, among others. She’s the winner of the 2012 Princemere Poetry Prize for her poem “Quickening,” as well as the 2012 Janet B. McCabe Poetry Prize for her Pushcart Prize-nominated poem, “Necessary Work.” Her poetry chapbook Arrangement of Desire was published by Pudding House Publications. She received her MFA from Penn State University and currently serves as media director for Minerva Rising Literary Magazine and editor of Stitches Magazine.

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