Interview with a Journal: Apogee
Everything You Need to Know About the Biannual Journal Where Marginalized Writers Are the First Priority
In this installment of Interview with a Journal, we sit down with Adrianne Bonilla Stankus, the newest nonfiction editor at Apogee. She is also an Apogee contributor.
The origins of Apogee can be traced back to 2011. A group of writers of color and international students in Columbia’s graduate writing program created Apogee as a way to intervene in conversations about traditional publishing. In 2013, Apogee began operating independently as a biannual print journal. The community of staff and contributors expanded beyond Columbia. An active online hub, Perigee, was concurrently built. The hub featured original content, editorials, interviews, and more.
Apogee‘s growth sparked new initiatives in digital publishing, such as the creation of online folios that were direct responses to emergencies and issues within the literary community.
In 2018, Apogee began its digital transition “with the hope of building a broader artistic community beyond New York City.”
The journal features fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and visual art.
Why do you want to work for a literary journal?
Adrianne Bonilla Stankus: I love the promise of literary journals; that feeling of discovery just around the corner. Of all the literary enterprises, journals are the most accessible to new or marginalized writers. I joined Apogee after hearing they were looking for Nonfiction readers. I had previously published a story with them—a story I couldn’t find a home for anywhere—until they took a chance on me and now I get to do that for other writers.
What makes your journal different from other literary journals/magazines?
ABS: Apogee’s mission and commitment to writers on the fringe. We provide a home for oft-excluded writers and their work. We encourage writing that is socially engaged, and we don’t shy away from difficult topics. At Apogee, marginalized writers are not an afterthought, but our first priority.
What is one of your favorite pieces that you’ve published? Why?
ABS: I am very proud of having published “Yellow Girls & Their Deafening Silence” by Suiyi Tang. Suiyi is a brilliant writer, whose voice is so precise and crushing. Suiyi tells us of the elusive, abused, slippery “voice” of Asian-American women. Her love for this voice, this genre, this group, informs her critique of its portrayal. Her references are vast, diverse, and you sense that behind the carefully chosen few is an enormous knowledge. Our entry into all of this is Wendy, the living embodiment of Suiyi’s literary and social theories. It’s a complex piece that never stops delighting the reader with its charm, its emotional and intellectual heft, and fantastic lines.
How did being on the staff of a literary journal change the way you read?
ABS: Before Apogee, reading was comfort and confirmation and so I rarely read books outside my preferred styles. Now, I now think more of the big picture. The cohesiveness of a piece, its message, whether or not it aligns with our mission. How might our audience react to this line? How is it confronting the issues of today? Does it feel finished, and how can we help it editorially? Being able to give writers a platform, even a tiny bit of legitimacy through publication is such a wonderful thing. I realized how unimportant ‘taste’ is. I’m more interested in a variety of talented voices and unique ideas than my own aesthetic. The goal is to reach many people, and people like many different things.
The publishing and media industries have recently undergone a long-overdue reckoning in how they handle equity and diversity. How can literary journals promote inclusivity without indulging in tokenism? What actions have your publication taken to support equal representation?
ABS: It’s not enough to call yourself inclusive. Inclusivity takes real work, emphasis, a diverting of funds, and often an overhauling of staff. Any barrier to access should be looked at critically, from the editor’s taste/aesthetic, to paywalls. Paying writers, bringing on guest and permanent editors from marginalized communities, and community outreach in the form of workshops would help diversify both the authors and audience.
Apogee continues to deepen ties with our community. Pre-pandemic, we hosted readings, low-cost workshops, and our editors contributed to several panels with the goal of making publishing more inclusive. We transitioned from print to online, eliminated our paywall, and we also pay our authors. Each piece we receive is read carefully, several times, both for its artistry and its alignment with our mission, the basis of which is inclusivity.
Tell us about your submission process.
ABS: We are a biannual journal, with a month-long reading period. We do suggest reading our FAQs and familiarizing yourself with our mission.
To submit, please use the Apogee Journal Submission Manager.
There are no submission fees. We pay our authors $60.00 per piece.
–Adrianne Bonilla Stankus, Nonfiction Editor and Apogee contributor