Desert Rose, an intersectional feminist literary magazine, has recently been launched. Desert Rose is a platform for women of colour, whose multitude of voices and experiences have often been silenced, warped, or disregarded by the dominant literary landscape.
We are a platform for every member of the BIPOC femme community, especially those of us at the intersections of identity, including disabled, fat, LGBTQ+, and nonbinary/femmes of colour. Though each of us have experienced different forms of violence and oppression under the white coloniser patriarchal system, we hope to promote an understanding of these different experiences and an inter-cultural support system.
My co-founders and I were inspired to create this platform because of the powerful, vulnerable and visionary women of colour we know. Our community’s virtues are innumerable. However, when we try to raise our voices to talk about ourselves, our hardships, and our dreams, the publishing industry often silences, abuses and ignores us.
I have experienced these aggressions first hand. In multiple publishing jobs that I’ve worked, I was one of two people of colour in the entire company. When I wrote a dissertation on the lack of diversity within the publishing industry, the university silenced and punished me for being ‘inflammatory’. When I went to a diversity training course, a roomful of white women tried to defend publishing’s lack of progress in diversity as a result of their being preoccupied with the ‘E-book crisis’.
I wish I could expect these to be the last of such experiences, but they are just a few drops in an ocean. My fellow co-founders and I watched as the top, and most qualified candidates on our publishing course were passed over and pushed out by white candidates who ‘fit the company culture’.
We were tired of hearing the industry tell us that good diverse authors didn’t exist to the same extent as white authors. We know that we’re out here doing the work, that our voices exist and that we’ve always tried to tell our stories – without any comparable reward or support.
Our social reality is built on discourse, and a patchwork of stories. It’s time these stories include us, and it’s time we name our own reality. We are excited for Desert Rose to join the ranks of such magazines as Yellowzine, Burnt Roti, Consented and Token, to work towards building this canon together.
Desert Rose will be published bi-annually, online and in print. Each issue will focus on a specific theme, and will feature a literary prize. All writing will be judged by notable leaders from within the literary and intersectional feminist community.
We are working with these leaders and are endeavoring to ensure that this panel will be as representative and inclusive as possible. We have a powerful inaugural panel of judges including: Joy Francis, Executive Director of Words of Colour Productions; Erika Wurth, author of Crazy Horse’s Girlfriend and creative writing professor at Western Illinois University; Farhana Shaikh, Editor of the Asian Writer and publisher of Dahlia Publishing; and Nora de Hoyos Comstock, the national and international founder of Las Comadres Para Las Americas.
There will be no fee to submit your work, however we encourage applicants to donate a small amount as a contribution to the prize pool.