Introducing Metonymy Press and a Special Open Call for Submissions of Queer, Feminist, and Social Justice Writing

This is a special post where I introduce you to a newish Canadian press and get you writers out there excited about a special open call for submissions! Metonymy is a Montreal-based press that publishes literary fiction and nonfiction by emerging writers. In their words: “We try to reduce barriers to publishing for authors whose perspectives are underrepresented in order to produce quality materials relevant to queer, feminist, and social justice communities.” Recently two of their books—Small Beauty by jia qing wilson-yang and Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars: A Dangerous Trans Girl’s Confabulous Memoir by Kai Cheng Thom—have been nominated for Lambda Awards!


“Gay^ Book Lovers Unite: Call for submissions” is an open call for creative fiction and non-fiction submissions ending April 14th. A jury of fabulous writers, Gwen Benaway, Helen Chau Bradley, jia qing wilson-yang, and Kama La Mackerel, will be reading the work and choosing one manuscript to be published. The author of the jury’s chosen manuscript will receive $500 and a fall 2017 publishing contract with Metonymy Press! The submission fee is sliding scale, $7-25. Check out this page for full details. This is one hell of a rad opportunity. I can’t wait to read the book that comes out of this!

I talked with the publishers of Metonymy Ashley Fortier and Oliver Fugler as well as jurors Gwen Benaway and Kama La Mackerel about this project and why they’re excited about it. If you’re not familiar with the jurors, Ashley gives fabulous introductions to them and their work in her interview. While you’re waiting for the book from this submission contest to come out, you can read all of their work!

Interview with Ashley and Oliver

This is a new way of doing acquisitions for Metonymy. What made you and your co-publisher decide to try this out?

small-beauty_cover_rgbThere are only two of us formally running the press, but we’re surrounded by a strong network of people who support and are in dialogue with Metonymy’s work. By decentralizing an acquisition decision, we’re honouring our commitment to listen and take direction from the communities we aim to reach with our books. It’s also one small way of acknowledging the power inherent to being a book publisher as well as how our own systemic privileges influence the work we do.

How is working with Gwen Benaway, Helen Chau Bradley, jia qing wilson-yang, and Kama La Mackerel going to change your usual process?

We’re a pretty new press, so our “usual process” is still in development. Our first book was written by Oliver; our second (by current juror jia qing wilson-yang) came to us through an open call for submissions; Kai Cheng Thom’s novel, meanwhile, was something we solicited after hearing through the grapevine that she had a manuscript in the works; and our upcoming Canadian release of Trish Salah’s Lyric Sexology Vol. 1 was something she actually pitched to us.

fierce_femmes_final_cover_lammyBut in each of these cases, of course, we made the ultimate decision to publish. This time around, although we’re guiding the logistical side of the Gay Book Lovers Unite process, Gwen, Helen, jia qing and Kama will independently make a collective decision regarding what we publish next. We’ll jump back on board the production process after they’ve made their choice.

What skills and strengths do each of those writers bring as jurors?

It’s a huge honour to be working alongside these four. They bring to the table their diverse experiences as writers, performers, community activists and book buyers, among other things. We’re excited to see how they interpret our broad mandate of publishing marginal voices and queer and feminist stories.

Gwen Benaway_2017.jpegGwen Benaway is a poet based in Toronto who was shortlisted for a Writers’ Trust award alongside jia qing last May. In addition to her two published collections (with a third on the way), Gwen writes regularly for a number of online publications including CBC Books, where she has documented with frankness and vulnerability her experience as a Two-Spirited trans artist in Canada. As a juror, she brings a keen eye, dry sense of humour and generosity toward fellow marginalized writers.

helen chau bradleyHelen Chau Bradley was a member of Montreal’s collectively run Queer Between the Covers book fair for several years. She also works at Librairie Drawn & Quarterly, a longstanding independent bookstore that’s been hugely supportive of Metonymy from the start. When she’s not busy guiding the book choices of queers across the city, Helen performs in a popular dark sequin grunge band called Heathers. We’re delighted she has agreed to lend her curation skills and knowledge of today’s literary trends to this acquisition process.

kama la mackerel (1).jpgKama La Mackerel is a household name in grassroots QTPOC art circles in Montreal and beyond, most notably through her work amplifying art by and for trans people of colour. She hosts a monthly cabaret called Gender B(l)ender, connecting her to a huge network of up-and-coming queer artists. Kama is also a celebrated poet, storyteller, writer, multi-disciplinary artist and performer. Her role as a movement builder brings the strength of a juror grounded in intersectional communities of resistance and resilience.

jia qing wilson-yang copy(1)jia qing wilson-yang published her Lambda Literary Award–nominated novel Small Beauty through Metonymy last May. Her recent experience as an early reader for a nationwide writing contest offers her insight into the selection process. Beyond writing novels, jia qing is a poet, singer-songwriter, youth worker and student. Her work pokes holes in established norms of gender, sexuality and race in Canada, exposing the country’s past and present legacies of racism and settler colonialism with gorgeous metaphor and cutting wit.

If you had one sentence to promote the work of each of your jurors, what would you say?

Gwen: Candid public persona, achingly gorgeous poetry.

jia qing: Unassuming writer and lyricist of spare, hard-hitting prose.

Kama: Community-driven multi-disciplinary femme artist.

Helen: Avid reader, tireless curator + queer grunge musician.


Interview with Gwen Benaway

What motivated you to participate as one of the jurors in this special open call submission?

I think prioritizing diverse Queer voices is critical to building vital literature in North America which reflects the lived experiences of all peoples/communities.

What’s something you haven’t seen (or seen enough of) in queer, trans, and/or feminist writing that you hope to find in this open call?

Intersectionality! I want to see Queer men writing about racialized trans girl hookups, I want to see Indigenous trans girls write about white boy hookups, I want to see POC lesbian stories about poly family triads, I want to see South Asian gay boys write about cultural continuity in mixed race relationships and their love/hate relationship to Bollywood. So basically sex across bodies and races outside of monogamous models and inside our cultural frameworks, not disconnected narratives of sameness.


Interview with Kama La Mackerel

What motivated you to participate as one of the jurors in this special open call submission?

I am a huge literary nerd! I am particularly interested in local & contemporary fiction and poetry. This contest is the perfect way to get to read some local & contemporary pieces, and I cannot wait!

What’s something you haven’t seen (or seen enough of) in queer, trans, and/or feminist writing that you hope to find in this open call?

I crave new voices from the margins. I don’t think we have enough of them anyway. I would love to see queer, trans and feminist writing that is different, that is original, that is not trying to imitate a mainstream “palpable” genre. I would love to see experimental forms of writing that dislocate the English language through playfulness.


I hope this has peeked your interest both about Metonymy and the open call for submissions. If the kind of writing Gwen and Kama are talking about sounds like you, submit! Please share this far and wide!


About CaseytheCanadianLesbrarian

Known in some internet circles as Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian, Casey Stepaniuk is a writer and librarian who holds an MA in English literature. She lives and works in the unceded territory of the Snuneymuxw First Nation (Nanaimo, BC). Topics and activities dear to her heart include cats, bisexuality, libraries, queer (Canadian) literature, running, and drinking tea. She runs the website Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian, where you can find reviews of LGBTQ2IA+ Canadian books, archives of the book advice column Ask Your Friendly Neighbourhood Lesbrarian, and some other queer, bookish stuff. She also writes for Autostraddle. Find her on Twitter: @canlesbrarian. Some of her old reviews, especially the non-Canadian variety, can be found at the Lesbrary.
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