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Literary Spotlight: The Offing

Editors of this acclaimed publication seek writing from marginalized voices that ‘challenges, experiments, provokes – work that pushes literary and artistic forms and conventions.’

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In 2019, the digital literary magazine The Offing received a prestigious Whiting Literary Magazine Prize in recognition of the support it offers writers, as well as the connections it provides readers and the literary community.

“It means a lot,” says editor-in-chief Mimi Wong. “We’re out there trying things out, trying to do something a little bit different, and it’s really nice to get that sort of affirmation that what we’re doing is on the right track.”

The publication’s website invites submissions from “Black and Indigenous people and people of color; trans people, cis women, agender, gender non-conforming, genderqueer, two-spirit and non-binary people; intersex people; LGBQA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, asexual/aromantic) people; people with disabilities; and especially people living at the intersections of these identities.”

Tone, editorial content

A diverse group of editors at The Offing looks for essays, fiction, poetry, hybrid works, translations, and humor writing. “We’re very open to things that are a little more outside of the box,” Wong says. “We’re happy to take things that are a little bit more experimental.”

One of these is Chaelee Dalton’s prose poem “Blood Type Personality Theory” (4/13/21), which appears in the “Back of the Envelope” department. “In some Asian cultures, blood type is treated like a horoscope,” Wong explains. “It can indicate different personalities. The writer digs into this idea and unpacks it and explores its deeper and darker history.”

The piece includes a chart compiled by Furukawa Takeji, a Japanese professor who, in 1927, published a paper titled “The Study of Temperament Through Blood Type.” Dalton organizes the poem into categories: A, B, AB, and O. “We love it when writers play with form and bring in something unexpected,” Wong says. “We don’t want to box in any of our writers. We want them to feel free to express themselves.”

The Offing publishes micro-submissions as well10- to 560-character works in any genre, published both on the website and on the magazine’s Twitter account. One of these is Bucket Siler’s piece “Crush” (4/28/21), which begins:

Have I told you about this boy I’ve been dating? He’s never traveled out of the country. Doesn’t drive, doesn’t use email, cries when dogs die in movies.

Contributors

Alex Paik has an essay titled “Ghostface Dumplings” (3/26/21) that particularly resonated with readers after the March 2021 murder of six Asian women in Atlanta. It’s a meditation on Crys Yin’s painting of the same name. Paik writes:

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For many Asian Americans, food is one of the primary ways in which we remain connected to a country that is both our home and not our home. As a child of immigrants, my racial identity was formed not by the memories of a Korea I never knew, but rather by the ghost of an idea of Korea that my parents preserved and created in their minds as they moved across the world.

“His piece is very much related to issues about identity and trying to understand his own Korean American heritage,” Wong says. “We were able to publish his essay as a response to what was happening in the country.”

Writer and activist Aurielle Marie has a monthly essay series that The Offing sends out as a newsletter inspired by the Black Lives Matter protests. Associate editor Nicholas Nichols spearheaded this project as a way to amplify the voices of people on the frontlines who are doing anti-racist work.

Corinne Leong has an essay titled “Simple Disguises: On M. Butterfly and Self-Imposed Archetypes” (4/15/21), which Wong describes as a hybrid of personal essay and cultural criticism. “She does a wonderful reading of David Henry Hwang’s play M. Butterfly while talking about her own journey and her struggle with her identity.” Leong writes:

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Just as [Hwang’s] Song Liling has his kimono, wig, and powder, I have my independence, intelligence, and blameless, solitary fate. I too can convince myself I’m something I’m not by playing a simpler role, a list of qualities acknowledged into existence by others. Because while they view us through a simpler lens than we view ourselves, they may also view us more favorably.

Advice for potential contributors

Writers interested in contributing to The Offing can visit the magazine’s submission guidelines on the website to see editorial needs. Include a cover letter with any information you’d like editors to know about you and about your submissionparticularly if it would represent your first-ever publication.

Wong urges potential contributors to read The Offing, which is available online for free. “We have a straightforward mission statement on our site, and once you read it and some of the pieces we publish, you get a good sense of who we are and what we’re about,” she says. “We’re looking for submissions and also for people interested in volunteering with us. If your values align with ours, that’s more important than how much experience you have or don’t have.”

Melissa Hart is the author, most recently, of Better with Books: 500 Diverse Books to Ignite Empathy and Encourage Self-Acceptance in Tweens and Teens (Sasquatch, 2019). Instagram: @writermelissahart

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