Here at The Offing, we are about the work of doing and curating transformative literary art, and the magnificent body of literature found on our pages reflects this. While this literature must be fresh and thought-provoking work that pushes against old boundaries, it must do more than this. In 2016 our endeavors must include engaging in long overdue transgressions against tradition by actively working with and for people who have long been pushed to the margins, whether through dispossession, slavery, colonialism, erasure or all of the above.
Although they were far too often brutally silenced, we know that marginalized peoples have been continuously engaged in acts of creation. Our task now is to listen carefully to these voices and uplift the superb work that they are producing. I believe that a publication — indeed any organization — that cannot make a foundational commitment to this work does not have the imagination necessary to engage in truly transformative idea generation.
Yet making working for and with people at the margins integral to one’s mission is not a simple task. Anti-Black racism. Transphobia. The gender binary. Orientalism. Anti-Indigenous paternalism and theft. Ableism. These constructs and others like them work to divide us, rendering us unable to see each other’s humanity or respect each other’s traditions. We risk disrupting our ability to see the capacity for creation in one another. The Offing is meant to be an antidote to these destructive forces, and this was a part of the original mission, as outlined by departing Executive Managing Editor Zach Mann in today’s essay introducing The Offing’s newest editors. But to carry out this mission requires careful planning and stewardship.
As readers and supporters learned recently, The Offing, while curating some of the most brilliant literary material you will find in the last year, was quietly experiencing a failure to live its mission inside and out. A disconnect between the former leadership’s vision and its praxis raised real questions about whether the publication could both survive and continue to do the work it purported to do. The publication of Casey Rocheteau’s critical essay in The Offing is a significant reminder that intentions are not enough. We must not just intend to succeed in our anti-isms. We must actually succeed.
To fully confront the issues brought up by Rocheteau and to work on long term viability, The Offing will be slowing down during the summer. We are on a submission hiatus until September 1, and we will be publishing more lightly than usual until then. During this time, we will reconfigure our operations so that we can work sustainably with one another. When we return at full speed in September, we will do what we came to do: publish writing that is beyond the boundaries of tradition, the kind of writing that alters the literary landscape.
We know that change begins at home. The next major change is happening this week. The Offing is in the process of becoming completely independent of the Los Angeles Review of Books. As the founding parent publication of The Offing, LARB in partnership with founding Editor in Chief Darcy Cosper has provided crucial fiscal resources such as server space and payment management that we will no longer be accessing. During hiatus, we will be developing a sustainable funding model, with the mission of not only paying contributors but the editors as well. In the meantime, we must cover the costs of a server that can handle the traffic we receive. We thank you for that readership, and we hope you will invest in us to help maintain what we have built. We especially thank our donors from the Fall 2015 Open Doors fundraising campaign, and by the end of next week, your swag will be in the mail.
While we work out a long term strategy, we need the support of everyone who joins us in the mission of contributing to a literature that challenges and re-envisions our world. If you like what we do, please commit to a sustaining $5/month. Or give us a one time $60 donation in celebration of our independence. We’ll take $10,000 too.
You can donate here. Funds will go toward paying contributors, paying for a server, incorporation costs, administration costs such as billing, and the cost of applying for 501(c)3 status so in future your donations will be tax deductible. Donations above $50 will be given special recognition on our website. Anything raised above what is needed to cover these basics will be used to raise the fees we pay contributors and to pay our all volunteer editorial staff.
It’s an incredible deal, if I’m being honest with you. From U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera to Marilyn Chin to Cole Lavalais, we are curating the voices who are building the future. $5 a month for a glimpse of the future — that’s not a bad deal.
But wait, there’s more! When we return in the fall, we will be debuting a new, groundbreaking department. Tentatively titled Doppler Affect and helmed by a science journalist and a science ethicist, our new department will show that “science” is just as at home in a literary magazine as poetry and fiction. In this deliberately interdisciplinary department we intend to explore the dynamic between science, poetry, fiction, and the people who make up the scientific community, again with an intentional relationship with people at the margins.
We at The Offing are authoring change from the ground up. This space is an incredible opportunity, and we hope you’ll join us in this daring existence. Make a contribution today.