Showcasing the Diversity of Latino Writing

Want to discover new Latino writers? Subscribe to Palabra, a Latino literary journal.

By Marcela Landres
Published on LatinoLA: February 4, 2010

Showcasing the Diversity of Latino Writing

While there are hundreds of literary journals, very few are by and/or for Latinos. Palabra magazine, launched in 2006, provides a much-needed opportunity for Latino writers to publish their work and for readers to discover new voices. Support the Latino literary community by subscribing to Palabra; expand your own platform by submitting your work to Palabra. To learn more, read this month's Q&A with founding editor Elena Minor.

Elena Minor is founding editor of Palabra: A Magazine of Chicano & Latino Literary Art. She is an award-winning writer with work published or forthcoming in RHINO, Mandorla, Hot Metal Bridge, OCHO, Quercus Review, Diner, Passager, City Works, Vox, Poetry Midwest, 26, Segue, BorderSenses, and The Big Ugly Review, among others. She is a past recipient of the University of California at Irvine's Chicano/Latino Literary Prize and she teaches creative writing to high school students. For more information, visit http://www.palabralitmag.com

Q: What inspired you to create a literary magazine?

A: I wanted primarily to create a vehicle for Latinos who write outside the box to get their work published. Although there exist more than 800 literary magazines (online and print), most don't regularly feature Latino writing, and of those that do, it had been fairly confined to an aesthetic and an ethos that define our work through an Anglo American perception of who we are and what we should be writing. To a large degree that still exists. Latino writing that doesn't follow conventional literary form, that flows back and forth from English to Spanish to Spanglish and that doesn't speak to subject matter that is predefined for us, rarely gets to publication.

Q: You're an award-winning writer of fiction, poetry, and plays. How does your own writing background influence how you run Palabra?

A: I'm not a conventional writer, have never been truly successful at it, and don't really want to be. But I am interested in the possibilities of language--in experimenting with its form and structure without forcing it. So I'm always on the lookout for work that is out of the ordinary and that shows an understanding of the possibility of language. I enjoy a well-told story or finely crafted poem as well, but they have to show a spark, something that engages me and stays with me after I've read it.

Q: Beyond its focus on Latino writers, what makes Palabra different from all the other literary journals out there?

A: It's purposely eclectic--designed that way to showcase the diversity of Latino writing, especially unconventional writing. We don't all write in the same way or about the same things. It will take risks and publish something that isn't necessarily polished or award-worthy but which shows some real ganas.

Q: When submitting their work to Palabra for consideration, what one thing should writers do to catch your eye? What one thing do you consider a turn-off?

A: Write organically but with discipline and focus. My major peeves are sloppy work and not reading the submission guidelines.

Q: Knowing what you know now, what advice would you offer to someone who is thinking of launching a literary magazine?

A: Be clear about why you're doing it and for how long you'll commit to it. Know that it will take time away from your own writing. It will always cost something.

About Marcela Landres:
Marcela Landres is the author of the e-book How Editors Think. She is an Editorial Consultant who specializes in helping Latinos get published and was formerly an editor at Simon & Schuster.
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