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Way to Go, Ladies! A Noteworthy Fluke at Armchair/Shotgun

By Harriet Staff

It’s not often that we get to share news about women dominating a corner of the literary world, so we’re happy to point out that Armchair/Shotgun, a Broooklyn-based literary magazine, has published an all women issue–without intending to do so. From their website:

Armchair/Shotgun has an anonymous submissions process. When a piece of work arrives in our inbox, we strip the author’s name and biography off of it and assign it a number. This number identifies the story or poem throughout the editorial process–from assembling the packet, to assigning volunteer readers to help identify outstanding pieces, to the final editors’ meeting at which we choose the works that will make up the issue. We don’t know who wrote a piece until after the final vote, when we go back to our database and match up numbers and names.

For our first two issues, this process resulted in issues that were made up roughly 50/50 of men and women. When we de-anonymized the pieces we’d accepted for Issue 3, we saw that it had resulted in a set of stories and poems that were all by women. Fifteen pieces by eleven women.
Why is this noteworthy?

Because as the VIDA count demonstrates each year, many more men than women get published in literary journals, reviews of books, and other lit-type magazines. More short stories by men, more reviews by men, and more male-authored books that get reviewed. The only category in which women tend to have the edge is poetry.

There are a lot of discussions about why this might be. One theory says that a lot more men than women submit their work–either because there are more male writers or because they are more aggressive at self-promotion. That’s certainly plausible. Could our all-female issue just have been a fluke of submitter demographics?–did vastly more women than men submit their work to us this time? Nope. When we looked back at all the submissions, we saw a lot more traditionally-male names there than female.

The women’s work was just better this time.

Fancy that. Check out Armchair/Shotgun here.

Posted in Poetry News on Tuesday, October 9th, 2012 by Harriet Staff.