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“So what are we coming down to then? The direct presence of a penis or a vagina?”

By Harriet Staff

Blake Butler, Kate Zambreno, Amy King, and Roxane Gay talk gender trouble in the literary world at HTMLGiant:

Roxane: Different editors are going to have different opinions about what their responsibilities are. I believe it is my responsibility to be as inclusive as possible. While it is “the work that matters most,” as so many editors are fond of saying, I also think it’s more than just the work that matters. I don’t think we, as editors, can ignore considerations about the people who send us that work. I also think that we need to support and promote not only women writers but also look at the entire range of diverse writing and create a publishing culture that embraces difference without exploiting it. Believe me, that does happen, and the exploitation of difference is just as bad as the exclusion of difference.

Kate: Yes, tokenism is in a way more insidious and doesn’t get at the real issue (I like how Lily Hoang spoke to this in the comment stream, and Roxane I really like what you say about embracing not exploiting difference). Any sort of counting like that seems “corrective,” a sort of strange and cleansing term. Blake just guest-edited an online journal that I was in and that seems to be an equal distribution (gah! that sounds so fascist!) of women and men, but in keeping with what Blake likes, Blake seems to be very well read in terms of experimental women writers, I’m thinking his list at the end of the year of what he’s read, and it’s one of the reasons I still go to the HTML Giant site. It’s possible Blake asked me to contribute because I’m a woman but I think probably not. Although Blake did email me and ask me if I had anything worthwhile to submit – should more editors do that? as opposed to relying just on what comes in over the transom? Absolutely.”

Read part two of this conversation here.


Posted in Poetry News on Tuesday, May 4th, 2010 by Harriet Staff.