About Place Journal is an online literary journal “published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society.” You can read all the issues online to get a feel for the type of work they are accepting for publication. They publish bi-annual issues of poetry, fiction, essays, creative nonfiction, other prose, and audio/visual artwork. The forthcoming issue is based on the theme: Works of Resistance, Resilience, exploring the questions: “How do we live and work towards a long-term dream for the continuation of our planet? How do we change our relationship to our earth; to each other to reflect social and economic equality?”
I wanted to know more, so I asked Managing Editor Michael McDermott some questions. See my interview with McDermott and a link to the submission guidelines below.
HOPKINSON: Tell me a little bit about the About Place Journal.
MCDERMOTT: About Place Journal is the on-line literary publication of the Black Earth Institute (BEI). Each issue is edited by one of the BEI Fellow with two assistant editors chosen by that Fellow. The editor chooses a specific theme for that issue. We just published our 21st issue.
HOPKINSON: How/why was About Place Journal originally started?
MCDERMOTT: The Black Earth Institute was founded in 2005 by my late wife, Patricia Monaghan and me. Patricia, who passed in 2012, was a poet, scholar of female deities, an author of books on Ireland and a mentor to many. I was a lifelong activist and retired physician. We started BEI in response to the second election of George W Bush, and the reactionary politics he stood for and continued. We thought that an arts organization dedicated to the connections between spirit, earth, and social justice in society would help to chart a better path to a world based on these values. We wanted About Place Journal to provide a voice for expressing these connections and values and build a community where artists concerned for protecting the earth and all its parts as well as an inclusive spirituality and path for social justice could promote their work to audiences also interested in these connections and values. From the beginning, Patricia and I recruited artists to serve three-year terms and BEI is now hosting its 5th group of Fellows. Each issue reflects the call and outreach of the issue editor and thus both material and contributors vary widely depending on the theme and connections of each issue’s editors. Our Fellows are a diverse group and their choice of themes is also quite varied. Imagine the Future Differently, South, Rewilding, Voices of the Human Spirit, Trees, and Practices of Hope, the current issue, are but a few examples. Each draw upon submitters responding to a particular call, the BEI community, or to the editors themselves.
HOPKINSON: Who is your target reader audience?
MCDERMOTT: We have a regular audience depending on previous issues and from those promoted to in the current issue. We hope the nature of each issue with its broad approach to engaged or political art selects readers. Different themes and editors often shape the audience. For example, Tammy Gomez’s Rewilding issue brought contributors from the US/Mexico border and beyond area and readers from or interested in this were often the audience. Building on what we have we need to yet target a younger audience.
HOPKINSON: What type of work are you looking for?
MCDERMOTT: We see engaged or political art in a very inclusive way, from referrals to life or nature to overt struggles of resistance and social change. We seek work speaking to protecting the earth and all its parts as well as an inclusive spirituality and path for social justice.
HOPKINSON: What do you wish you’d see submitted, but rarely comes in?
MCDERMOTT: Currently, I would like to see more short prose, flash prose, and shorter poems. I have noticed that very long prose pieces or long spoken word/musical pieces without visual images are rarely read or enjoyed by audiences to completion. This is not to say that we do not accept longer pieces, but I would love to publish more pieces that appeal to audiences so that our message is heard and appreciated. So please send us your shorter work!
HOPKINSON: What is your favorite part of being on staff with About Place?
MCDERMOTT: Seeing how different editors and their chosen themes come alive in so many different genres. I also take joy in publishing emerging and younger artists who then get their work out into the world for a broad audience.
HOPKINSON: Where can we send submissions?
MCDERMOTT: Submissions go through Submittable during the open periods. The guidelines are here: https://aboutplacejournal.org/submissions/. Note that submissions for the pending issue are open only to Aug. 1.
HOPKINSON: If someone has a question, how can they contact you?
MCDERMOTT: The best way is through email@example.com.
DEADLINE: August 1, 2020
THEME: Works of Resistance, Resilience
(Read their detailed description of the theme and a poem for inspiration by Jayne Cortez by clicking the link for submission guidelines above).
SUBMISSION FEE: None
FORMS: poetry, fiction, essays, creative nonfiction, other prose, and audio/visual artwork
SUBMISSION METHOD: Submittable