Feminist writer and editor Caseyrenée Lopez is today’s featured writer. Check out what she has to say:
Fem: You’re the Editor-in-Chief of Crab Fat Literary Magazine. How did you get involved with Crab Fat? What inspired you to get it started?
Caseyrenée Lopez: I started Crab Fat as a means of finding community, building experience, and giving a voice to the voiceless. I want to be involved in the preserving of LGBTQ lit—and represent minorities and opinions that might not find validation in larger, mainstream publications. It’s important for me to know that I’m working to help writers find a home for their work whether it be queer, feminist, experimental, or hybrid. At my ropes end with rejections from both publishers and employers, I needed experience and people I could relate to in the literary world. Starting Crab Fat has changed my life and my outlook for the better. Every day I’m floored by the quality of work I receive—the gut wrenching short fiction, or the mind twisting poetry. It’s all beautiful and every day I’m a better reader, writer, and editor because of it.
Fem: You also have always shown a clear dedication to representing queer voices within Crab Fat. Do you think that it’s important to represent queer voices in writing?
CL: Yes! It’s extremely important, not only for me personally, but for the queer community at large. There are so many different perspectives and cultures out there, but more often than not, the queer community is overshadowed. I believe in queer writing because it’s deeper than skin color and upbringing, it represents a wide range of people from all backgrounds. Queer can have so many different meanings, in the LGBTQ community, in the individual, and in the writing itself. The far-reaching meaning of queer connects people in ways you’d never consider. To me, queer is “the other,” and we have so much otherness to share.
F: Tell us a little bit about your own writing experience.
CL: I started writing seriously as an undergrad. I worked on an English degree with a creative writing concentration, and initially thought I wanted to be a fiction writer. I wrote a chapbook length collection of flash fiction under the guidance of my mentor/advisor, Dr. Aaron Sanders, but after graduation, I realized that my real passion was in poetry. I love poetry, and once I realized that I could write about anything, my writing and confidence really took off. I’m still a young writer and have lots to learn, but my style and approach to verse is really starting to take shape. My literary voice is developing every day, and I hope to complete a full-length collection before 2015 ends.
F: What has your experience been like as a queer writer?
CL: Hard, living in the Deep South hasn’t made it easy to explore my queerness. I’ve had trouble with the idea of letting go of any preconceived notions about how people will respond to my writing and me. I’m a fairly private person when it comes to the nitty-gritty, but once I finally found a comfortable place with myself, and my writing, I’ve started to include more of my identity into my work. As I get more comfortable with expressing myself, my work is increasingly more open and telling. I believe that my best work thus far is a product of my experience with friends and family, marriage, education, coming into adulthood, and embracing who I am as a unique individual.
F: Has anyone ever been offended by your writing?
CL: Yes, I’ve offended my fair share of people. I’ve been told that I’m “too abrasive and in your face”. Typically, I just laugh because if I can upset people with my words they’re the ones with the problem, not me.
F: What makes you want to publish a piece?
CL: I send my work off when I genuinely feel proud of it. After working on several drafts, and playing with formatting and other things, if I can sit back from the monitor and smile at what I’ve made, I know it’s ready. I write all the time, does that mean it’s publishable? NO! When I feel like I’ve really made something valuable—that’s when I send it off. When I think that my words can elicit an emotional response from readers, that’s when I know it’s ready.
F: How do you personally define feminism?
CL: Feminism is owning my sexuality, my identity, my thoughts, and myself and not hiding who I am because I am a woman. Feminism is wearing a dress to feel pretty, and wearing pants because you can. Feminism is cutting your hair short because it’s cute and growing your hair long because every woman is Lady Godiva riding naked on horseback, owning her body and sharing it as she sees fit.
F: What makes a piece of writing feminist?
CL: Feminist writing is anything that gives women and gender minorities a voice. It’s writing that draws attention to the way men have, for centuries, undermined women’s intellect, and autonomy. It’s writing that doesn’t objectify women for men, and allows them to be complete in their selves without the help of external forces or people to make them whole. It attempts to provide an equal playing field—one sex is not superior to the other.
F: You recently started a micro-press, Damaged Goods Press. What was the driving force for this creation?
CL: I want to publish work, namely poetry and flash fiction chapbooks, by trans* and queer writers only. When I first started Crab Fat that was my intention, but to reach a wider audience I expanded the scope. However, with Damaged Goods, I plan to stick with my original plan—I want to work solely with queer and trans* writers and show the world what beautiful things are happening with these writers.
F: How are things going with Damaged Goods Press so far?
CL: Things are slow for now, but that’s to be expected. The intent for Damaged Goods isn’t meant to be very wide—I’m realistic and understand that I’m seeking niche writing. I only plan to print about 3 books a year, possibly 4 or 5 a year later down the line, and so far I have 2 works that are under serious consideration, and will likely be published between now and September. I’m loving the opportunity to work with these writers that offer so much of their selves in their writing. It’s always a pleasure to read and be a part of their lives.
Caseyrenée Lopez is a queer writer living with her queer family in Deep South, USA. She is a poet, editor, and student who loves cookies, coffee, & Promised Land chocolate milk. She is the founding editor of Crab Fat Literary Magazine and the publisher for Damaged Goods Press. Her recent work has appeared in The Outrider Review, Visceral Uterus, Crack the Spine, and Foliate Oak.