beestung is a project of Sundress Publications and a new quarterly online micro-magazine for non-binary and two-spirit writers and readers, with an emphasis on intracommunity sensibilities. Their next issue launches on May 20 and you can read issues one and two currently on their web site to get a feel for what types of work they publish.
A 501(c)3 non-profit literary press collective founded in 2000, Sundress Publications is entirely volunteer-run, publishes chapbooks and full-length works in both print and digital formats, and hosts a variety of online journals. Their mission is to champion great work—especially by persons under-represented in literary publishing—and they welcome writers and artists regardless of race, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, disability, religion, class, veteran status, and educational background.
I wanted to know more about this new Sundress lit mag, so I asked Editor-in-Chief Sarah Clark some questions to find out. See my interview with Clark and a link to submission guidelines below.
HOPKINSON: Tell me a little bit about beestung.
CLARK: beestung is an online micromagazine for two-spirit writers and artits and writers and artists who fall under the non-binary umbrella. We publish quarterly, and only include 7 writers or artists per issue. The magazine is very digestible this way — short enough that you can read it on the bus, or as a little oasis in your day.
I’m very interested in what happens when a space is explicitly curated for two-spirit and non-binary writers and artists. Is there a “non-binary aesthetic?” A “two-spirit aesthetic?” Maybe we’ll see. Or maybe we’ll see what it looks like when community comes together.
Providing a validating, welcoming space is also a big priority. When I was first coming out as two-spirit and also non-binary (they’re not synonymous, I just happen to be both!), I learned a lot about myself by reading the writing of other two-spirits and non-binary folks. Whether it was writing I couldn’t relate to, wanted to relate to, or related to so much I cried — all of these words mattered so much to me. Hopefully, I can repay that favor to someone out there.
HOPKINSON: How/why was beestung originally started?
CLARK: When I first started thinking of starting beestung, I was frustrated with debates over whether the phrase “women and non-binary writers” implies that non-binary people are really women, or are “women-lite” — in other words, practically women. Some people use “women and non-binary people” this way. The same goes for “womxn.” Some people also use it, but really mean women and people who aren’t assigned male at birth. And that’s terrible.
But not all people use this phrase that way, and I think it can be a valuable way to describe the specific way people who aren’t binary men are treated under the cisheteropatriarchy. Especially when it comes to writing and publishing. The bottom line is that we’re not binary cis men, so we’re going to be discounted.
Magazines that center or exclusively include non-binary and women writers are some of my absolute favorites. We hear from the patriarchy incessantly — I need a break, and these magazines help.
Still, I felt like there needed to be better ways to break away from the flattening that can occur with the phrase “women and non-binary writers.” And I thought that one way to do this was to create a space just for two-spirit and non-binary creators, the same way there are spaces just for women writers. A place where we’re not an afterthought, where we’re always centered. I started realizing how affirming this space could be, so I wanted to make it happen.
It’s also important to me that we’re writing for each other, and not for a cis audience. That we’re not a spectacle embedded in a publication run by a cis person. We’re not someone else’s entertainment or Other.
HOPKINSON: What type of work are you looking for?
CLARK: Work that’s on the experimental side and work that’s so candid it knocks the air out of your body. I’m not interested in “trauma porn.” I never want people to mine their negative experiences just to get published. Taking care of yourself when writing about grief and trauma should always come first.
I also like to be surprised. If you read an issue and think a piece might be a good fit, I’d love to read it.
HOPKINSON: What do you wish you’d see submitted, but rarely comes in?
CLARK: Really, I love the writing that’s come in so far! There’s nothing more I could hope for in that regard. I’d love to see more art.
HOPKINSON: What are some of your favorite lit mags/journals?
CLARK: This is a tough one, and I’m going to forget several dozen of my favorites! I love Shade Magazine, Nat. Brut, Rigorous, underblong, the felt, Screen Door Review, Vulture Bones, Apogee Journal, Yellow Medicine Review, About Place, diode, Anthropoid, Fence, Foglifter, The Wanderer. The Wanderer enough to say it twice! Peach Magazine, The Puerto Rico Review, The Margins, As Us, Waxwing, Newfound, sip cup, Guernica, Crab Fat Magazine (one of the first mags to take on work exclusively by trans and queer writers), Lammergeier, Red Ink, Yes Poetry, Grist, Foundry, The Boiler, and Kweli.
And of course, I love Anomaly (www.anmly.org) because I also edit there. And my partner’s games writing magazine, CapsuleCrit. Because I love everything she does (and also because it’s genuinely amazing).
HOPKINSON: Where can we send submissions?
CLARK: All of the information about sending in work can be found at www.beestungmag.com/about. We handle all work over email, and provide a $20 honorarium to all writers and artists who are published.
DEADLINE: Always open
SPECIFIC DEMOGRAPHIC: creators who fall under the non-binary umbrella or who are two-spirit
SUBMISSION FEE: None
PAYMENT: $20 honorarium
FORMS: poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, hybrids, and art
SUBMISSION METHOD: Online form