Conor Logan’s audio recording of the workshop –

Kind Writers Are Exactly That!     By Marsha de la O

Kind Writers, a new publishing company with the goal of building literary community between writers and publishers, held a virtual workshop on Jan. 30th sponsored by the Ventura County Poetry Project. Their editorial staff attended: Sophia Apodaca, founder and jack of all hands, Sam Aleks, art editor and fiction editor, Shayleene MacReynolds, non-fiction editor, Annabelle Bonebrake, poetry editor, and Jacqueline Molina, web design, art direction and blog editor. They spoke out on their guiding beliefs.

“Our core value is to put writers and community first,” said Sophia Apodoca. “We ask ourselves: how can we help more writers get a voice?”

They got into publishing as writers first, honing their own work, sending it out, and experiencing the world of literary journals. That led them to their foray into publishing. They wanted to create a place without the negativity they had experienced, a place where the publishers are as kind as the writers who entrust them with their work.

When asked what literary journals inspire them, they answered that they are inspired by journals that make their space accessible and non-hierarchal. They look for fearless journals, unafraid to be who they are. These journals are often smaller and in places where the community is being built. They are not necessarily working with themes, but looking for work that surprises, that doesn’t play it safe. They agreed that they’re interested in new narratives, in stories that haven’t been told. For example, poetry editor, Bonebrake, is interested in journals that publish experimental pieces that feature raw emotion.

The discussion turned to the role of literary magazines in the turmoil of contemporary life. MacReynolds remembered her graduate level workshops where a solid group of students wrote beautifully in a classical narrative style that hewed close to convention, but what she wanted was to work outside of conventions, to work with new ways of speaking. “I felt like they were clinging to the conventions,” she offered, “and they rejected my writing.”

Molina said that the role of journals now is to provide a platform for new narratives, new stories – journals can carry that forward for all of us culturally; to get out the new voices. To build community, we need to hear from the entire community. We need the stories that haven’t been told. There’s no going back to the conventional.

Aleks pointed out that the purpose of art is to help us understand ourselves better, both individually and culturally. A journal that focuses on diverse voices helps us all to experience in a safe way what can happen to people. Some of the literary works that inspire the speakers and attendees both: Louise Erdrich, Ilya Kaminsky, Ocean Vuong, Diana Khoi Nguyen, Bruce Beasley, Maggie Nelson, Nathan Ballingrund in North American Lake Monsters, and Ottessa Moshfegh in Homesick for Another World.

Kind Writers are very welcoming to everything that writers and artists can create. Check out their website at



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