Following recent world events, when Cara Bentley, Editor in Chief of Epoch Press, got in touch a couple of weeks ago, I was intrigued by what she told me about this brand new initiative and so I asked her to explain a little more in interview here on the blog.
An Interview with Cara Bentley of Epoch Press
Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag Cara. Tell me about Epoch Press
Epoch Press is a brand new, independent creative nonfiction press that seeks to publish stories that explore every corner of our society. Because our volunteer staff lives around the globe, that ‘society’ is simultaneously local and international.
That sounds a very innovative view of ‘society’. Your focus is marginalised voices. What made you decide to move into this area?
One of the most powerful things about creative nonfiction is the way it makes us see the world around us— not only through the lens of someone else’s perspective, but also through the way it ties together narrative, research, and lived experience.
Society centres privileged identities, and that bias is reflected in publishing. That’s something we’re conscious of, and our goal is to disrupt that pattern by publishing and paying underrepresented writers and artists.
That sounds a brilliant idea.
So much of our literary canon consists of work by straight, white, non-disabled men—and usually, these guys had a lot of money supporting them. Representation is a powerful force for change. We want to look beyond that one corner of society, to seek out and amplify the voices that don’t have that privilege. We’d like to see marginalised voices become the standard, not the exception to the rule. As a new journal entering into this industry, we feel a responsibility to implement the changes we’d like to see. We’re still figuring out the best ways to do this, but it’s a goal we’re committed to for the long term. We welcome submissions from everyone, but we particularly encourage submissions from writers and artists who have been marginalised on the basis of identities such as race, ethnicity, disability, sex, gender, sexuality, education, or age.
I think this is brilliant Cara. When I was teaching English many moons ago, most of the texts we were supposed to teach featured straight, white middle class men – most of whom were dead too!
You sponsor charities too. Which have you chosen and why?
Creative nonfiction writing is entwined with the world around us, and because of this, we believe that we have an obligation to use our platform to promote charities and campaigns that work to better our society.
Two weeks after Epoch Press launched, my home country, the United States, erupted into what is now a global civil rights movement. Vulnerable groups, including people of colour and trans women, are under attack. The COVID-19 pandemic was already in full swing at this point, with more and more people being displaced and endangered. I wanted to do something to support both of the countries I call home, but like many others, I didn’t have much in the way of funds. But I realised I could use Epoch as a platform to amplify important causes.
Our team decided we’d guarantee free advertising space in each digital and print issue for up to five charities. Each charity will have a full page in colour to do with as they see fit, and we’ll also include their details and donation links on our website’s homepage.
So far, we’ve reached out to five charities doing important work we believe in, and three are currently live on our website: The Bail Project, Scottish Women’s Aid, and Mermaids. We’re in talks with two other important charities, and hoping to announce more details as soon as things are official.
I know readers can find out about the work you’re doing here.
Tell me about your Kickstarter campaign.
Our Kickstarter campaign goal is quite modest. Currently, we’re hoping to raise £3000 so that we can launch Epoch as a printed literary journal. Every backer will be included as a named contributor in our first issue unless otherwise requested. There are other exciting rewards for supporting us, so please visit the campaign and take a look!
How best can Linda’s Book Bag readers get involved?
Linda’s Book Bag readers can best get involved by backing our project on Kickstarter, supporting our charity partners, and sharing our posts on social media with their friends and family. They can also submit creative nonfiction and artwork to be considered for our first issue, on the theme of ‘Beginnings’—we’re accepting submissions through 1 October 2020.
This sounds such an exciting initiative Cara. I wish you every success with Epoch Press.
About Epoch Press
Contributions to Epoch’s Kickstarter campaign begin at a mere £3 and you can find out all you need to know here.