SWWIM (Supporting Women Writers in Miami) is co-directed and co-curated by Jen Karetnick and Catherine Esposito Prescott, two women writers and poets based in Miami, Florida. SWWIM celebrates and promotes women and women-identifying /femme-presenting writers through a year-round reading series held at The Betsy-South Beach and through a digital publishing platform, SWWIM Every Day.
I was honored to be included earlier this year when my poem “Volition” was published on SWWIM for their online Every Day series.
I was curious how and why this literary project began, so I asked director/curators Jen Karetnick and Catherine Esposito Prescott a few questions to find out. See my interview with them and a link to submission guidelines below.
HOPKINSON: Tell me a little bit about SWWIM.
JK/CEP: SWWIM is a local reading series, out of which grew SWWIM Every Day, an online poem-a-day journal which features work by women, women-identifying, and femme-presenting writers. SWWIM stands for Supporting Women Writers in Miami, but we reach out far beyond our region for the journal. The reading series also isn’t limited to just Miami, as it pairs a local writer with a national one who receives a residency at the Betsy Hotel-South Beach.
HOPKINSON: How/why was SWWIM originally started?
JK/CEP: We were thinking about the general lack of representation of women in our literary sphere and decided to do something about that. We’d spoken with other female writers in our community about the unique challenges many women writers face — from raising children to taking care of aging parents and so on and so forth — and how it was a fact that many of us get to a certain age before we can really put down our domestic work and pick up our pens without constantly being interrupted. Just the act of writing, of creating poems, feels monumental at times, and publishing work becomes even more of a challenge. This made us think of writing as an act of defiance and persistence…like swimming upstream. We played around with the concept until we came up with SWWIM. We fell in love with the metaphor and the symbolism (of course), and it stuck.
HOPKINSON: Who is your target reader audience?
JK/CEP: Ideally, everyone.
HOPKINSON: What type of work are you looking for?
JK/CEP: We say we look for work that makes our heads swwim. In truth, we’re want well-crafted poems that speak to us. We’re especially drawn to strong poems about subjects that are under-represented in literature, such as raising children with autism, caring for aging parents, dealing with chronic or mental illness, and working in the margins of society. We love poems about the real issues that women face, struggle through, and transcend on a daily basis — whether it’s the annoyance of being ogled on a subway or the trauma of assault. Having said that, subject is secondary to the work itself.
HOPKINSON: What do you wish you’d see submitted, but rarely comes in?
JK/CEP: We have a predilection for work that employs form. We hardly ever see skillful prosody—rondeaus, villanelles, blank verse, or newer forms like the golden shovel. This is not to say we’re pining for poems with rhyme and meter; rather, we enjoy well-crafted poems, many of which employ a few formal elements. It’s a thrill for us to share a cento or a sonnet or a villanelle. We don’t see too many poems that play with form in a contemporary manner.
HOPKINSON: What are some of your favorite lit mags/journals?
JK/CEP: There’s so much great work out there, it’s difficult to keep current. Right now, we religiously read Poetry, American Poetry Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Cimarron Review, 32 Poems, Poetry East, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, The Missouri Review, and South Florida Poetry Journal as well as anything published by VIDA, Academy of American Poet’s Poem-A-Day, Split This Rock’s Poem of the Week, and Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry.
HOPKINSON: Where can women and women-identifying/femme-presenting writers send submissions?
HOPKINSON: If someone has a question, how can they contact you?
JK/CEP: They can email us @ email@example.com.
NO FEE SUBMISSION DEADLINE: September 9, 2018
REGULAR DEADLINE: Always open ($2 fee)
FORMAT: digitally online
SUBMISSION FEE: Fee-free weeks about every six weeks, regular fee is $2
PAYMENT: SWWIM Every Day is currently a non-paying market (but we’re working to change this). We promote posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and we nominate poems for the Best of the Net, Best New Poets, Pushcart Prize, and other award anthologies where appropriate.