Quail Bell Magazine is an online feminist publication currently open for prose/poetry submissions from Black writers for their Black Lives Matter anthology (final title pending). The deadline for the anthology is July 15. Quail Bell is otherwise open year-round for submissions of art, writing, and multimedia.
I wanted to know more about this magazine and community, so I asked them a few questions. See my interview with founder Christine Sloan Stoddard, executive editor Gretchen Gales, and anthology guest editors Lashelle Johnson and Taneasha White.
HOPKINSON: Tell me a little bit about Quail Bell.
STODDARD: Quail Bell Magazine is a feminist publication and community for real and unreal stories from around the world. We have a special love for the imaginary, nostalgic, and otherworldly. Our bent may be the imaginary, the nostalgic, and the otherworldly, but we are also forward-thinking and socially engaged. We care deeply about personal narratives, diverse voices, and expanded notions of creative expression.
I founded Quail Bell while a student at VCUarts in Richmond, VA and continue to develop it with Gretchen Gales, executive editor, Ghia Vitale, senior editor, and the rest of the Quail Bell Crew now that I live in Brooklyn. I also run Quail Bell Press & Productions for our books, films, art shows, poetry readings, and other creative projects. Quail Bell creations have appeared in the New York Transit Museum, the Queens Museum, the Brooklyn Public Library, the Queens Botanical Garden, the Poe Museum, FiveMyles Gallery, and elsewhere.
HOPKINSON: How/why was Black Lives Matter anthology idea originally started?
GALES: Christine, senior editor Ghia Vitale, and I have been talking about creating more anthologies after Her Plumage and definitely wanted a Black writing anthology in the future. And the future is now.
STODDARD: It was a direct response to the George Floyd protests. Since we had already started the conversation of curating another anthology, we didn’t have to stretch our imaginations much for a theme. But we did know that we needed to invite guest editors since Gretchen, Ghia, and I are not Black. We tapped Lashelle Johnson, our former non-fiction editor, Taneasha White, and Lana C. Marilyn for the job. They will be shaping the anthology creatively; Gretchen, Ghia, and I will be providing the platform for the work. Just wrangling the logistical details will keep us busy! We’re still settling on a title (NOT just “Black Lives Matter anthology”), coordinating our fundraiser, and more.
HOPKINSON: Who is your target reader audience?
GALES: Anyone who appreciates the beauty of the intersection of reality and fiction, what lies above and beneath the surface, and sometimes something silly and cute.
STODDARD: We hope that long-time Quail Bell fans and newcomers alike will gravitate toward the anthology because they’re interested in genuine and beautifully crafted work from a Black perspective. Honestly, this anthology is for anyone and everyone.
HOPKINSON: What type of work are you looking for?
GALES: Thoughtful works of all kinds from Black writers.
JOHNSON: I think I’m most interested in seeing fiction and non-fiction that center Black women and Black joy. Often, when putting together works of Black people, the most lauded tend to be explorations of trauma. I’d love to publish works that challenge the notion that for Black art to be valid it has to be traumatic. More Afro-futurist short fiction, please.
WHITE: I’m super interested in seeing different styles of poetry and lyrical essays. As far as content, we need truth tellers. I love when folks feel empowered to share their truths without being worried about being palatable. I’d also add that because there isn’t a specific theme, we get some pieces on love and sexuality—preferably from folks of all genders/sexualities/abilities—and that folks don’t feel pigeonholed to only talk about their trauma. I hope we can get a healthy mix of subject matter to serve as a holistic showcase of Black voices.
HOPKINSON: What do you wish you’d see submitted, but rarely comes in?
GALES: For the magazine in general, more nonfiction! We’ve had an uptick recently, but we’d love to see more reviews, cultural criticism, your feminist musing. BIPOC and LGBTQ+ are especially encouraged to submit. Also, as a disabled writer, I’m also always ready to read more pieces by other disabled writers.
STODDARD: I would also love for Quail Bell Magazine to publish more film and video work, as well as photography sets. This can include everything from short films to music videos to animation to fashion shoots and more. We will even take Zoom recordings of poetry and play readings. We’ve definitely published such work in the past and I currently direct much of the video and photo-based work we publish more. But nothing beats a surprising unsolicited submission! Send us your best: email@example.com.
HOPKINSON: What are some of your favorite lit mags/journals?
WHITE: Bitch, Electric Literature, Zora, and Pulp Mag are some of my top favorites right now. And of course, I have to list UnSung Literary Magazine since I founded that one!
JOHNSON: Barrelhouse, Luna Luna Magazine, Occulum Journal, Watermelanin Magazine (full disclosure: I founded this one).
GALES: I’ve been on a journalistic and personal nonfiction kick lately, so Creative Nonfiction, Rooted in Rights, Narratively, Catapult, and Bitch. For the more spellbinding or experimental stuff: Moonchild Magazine, TERSE, Black Telephone, and The New Southern Fugitives.
STODDARD: If you asked me next week, my answer would probably be different, but right now: Whurk, The Feminist Wire, The Social Justice Review, Feral, Maintenant, and CURA.
HOPKINSON: What is your favorite part of being on staff with Quail Bell?
JOHNSON: Quail Bell has always been a welcoming home for me, first as a reader and a friend to a couple editors, then as a writer and the non-fiction editor. It’s a very open environment where experimentation is welcome and people are happy to answer your questions on anything, including the minutiae of the publishing world. Without Quail Bell, I would not have had the courage to start my own literary magazine, nor would I have known what it feels like to be in a truly supportive writing community. Working with Quail Bell is always a dream.
WHITE: This is my first time working with Quail Bell and I’m excited to be involved with a group full of womxn focused on elevating other womxn and marginalized voices and identities. This is an all-volunteer led staff, so the dedication to both the written word and uplifting feminism and now the Black perspective is evident, and I’m stoked for this project.
HOPKINSON: Where can Black writers/poets send submissions?
HOPKINSON: If someone has a question, how can they contact you?
ANTHOLOGY DEADLINE: July 15, 2020
SUBMISSION FEE: None
SUBMISSION METHOD: Email