Fiction

Transitions

The publication of Drunken Boat 23 is bittersweet for me. This is the last fiction issue that represents the hard work of the former fiction staff, as only myself and Kathryn Henion are staying on. I will particularly miss working with Holly Wendt, who, as Assistant Fiction Editor, helped me learn the ropes when I first came on as Fiction Editor in late 2011. From the beginning I could always rely on her considered and thoughtful feedback on submissions. Since all DB staff are volunteers, it is not surprising that eventually Holly moved on to focus on other projects. I will always be thankful for her patience and insight as an editor, and wish her the best in her future endeavors. Also, I’d like to thank our staff of dedicated readers for this issue, who read each submission with attention and respect: Brett Puryear, Sara Yu, Peter Phillips, and Kathryn Henion. In particular, I’d like to thank former DB Fiction Reader Sreedhevi Iyer who curated the Hong Kong folio for DB 22 last year.

Also, in conjunction with the release of the latest VIDA count, I’m publishing the statistics from our own fiction submissions for DB issues 20, 22, and 23, as I did previously in DB 19 and DB 16. We did not include submission from DB 21 because the Hong Kong Folio replaced the fiction issue for DB 21.

Our count is very basic—UT Chattanooga graduate assistant Jessica Miller counted fiction submissions on Submittable, and then divided the accepted and declined submissions by gender (as they self-identified in their cover letters). As in our past counts, we still get more submissions from men than women, although that gap has narrowed, which is encouraging. For the last three issues, we published slightly more stories by men than women, although because more men submit, a woman who submits is more likely to be published. As we become even more proactive in soliciting submissions from diverse voices, I expect to see parity in publication in future issues.

Declined Submissions (March 2014 - Sept. 2015):
Male: 172
Female: 122
Unknown: 7
Total: 301

Accepted (Issues 20, 22, 23):
Male: 9
Female: 7
Total: 16

What is most notable in this count is the overall decline in submissions once we moved to Submittable and instituted a submission fee to cover administrative costs. For example for 2011-12 we had about 1,000 submissions, but for 2014-2015 we had one third of that. Compared to other literary journals, we have a relatively low number of submissions, although the overall quality of submissions remains high. Interestingly, since 2011, we have worked to decrease our response time, and most submitters hear back from us between one and three months from submitting.

We are now open for submissions and are reading for Drunken Boat 24. I’m excited to be working with an amazingly talented staff: Lisa Ko will be co-Fiction Editor, Piyali Bhattacharya will be Associate Fiction Editor, and Tracy Rose will be Assistant Fiction Editor. Kathryn Henion will remain as our Fiction Reader. You can read their bios here.

With our new staff, we hope to expand our publishing of marginalized and  underrepresented artists. Here are our new guidelines:

Drunken Boat is committed to actively seeking out and promoting the work of marginalized and underrepresented artists, including especially people of color, women, queer, differently abled, and gender nonconforming artists. We recognize that, as Kazim Ali wrote to Aimee Nezhukumatathil: “The notion of an unbiased concept “literary merit” is an inherently and inescapably racist principle. An institution that relies on it is by definition a white supremacist institution.” Drunken Boat recognizes that aesthetics are not neutral, and that difference tends to be marginalized. We provide a platform for fiction that challenges conventions of form and format, of voice and genre. Drunken Boat is committed to encouraging experimentation in the arts. 

Being a Fiction Editor at Drunken Boat has been such a positive experience. I’m excited to be working with such a wonderful and visionary staff. I can’t wait to see what our next issue will bring. But until then, enjoy these five wonderful stories in this issue.

Sybil Baker

Sybil Baker is the author of The Life Plan, Talismans, and Into This World, which received an Eric Hoffer Award Honorable Mention, and was a finalist for Foreword’s Best Book of the Year Award. A MakeWork Artist Grant recipient, she teaches at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and was on faculty of the first international MFA Program at City University of Hong Kong and the Yale Writers’ Conference.