tender journal - by women for everyone
Tender is the all-female, all-beautiful quarterly journal made by women, to be read by everybody. Brainchild of Rachael Allen and Sophie Collins, the journal now to be made into an anthology grapples with the issues that surround women today, and more...
tender journal #4
How has your writing changed as you experience more as a woman?
Rachael: It's easier to think about how my reading has changed and thus impacted and changed my writing. When you start reading it can be hard to find the women writers that you want to read because you are faced with a largely male landscape. It's doubly hard if you come from a background that's not literary. You feel as though you have a lot of catching up to do, not only on what is 'canonical', but also with understanding that there exists writing outside of a 'canon' that is probably more suited to your experience as a woman - being older means having read a certain amount which allows a further, broader reading and a better understanding of constructs.
Sophie: With having read more and experienced more within poetry, I think you begin to feel a little disillusioned with the whole thing. But rather than this being a negative, it can allow for a degree of positive irreverence or subversiveness in your writing. It also allows you to take ideas of 'craft', of an authorised 'poetry style', and the entire poetry industry with a pinch of salt. To stand back a little. Importantly, it gives you the insight to try and make the changes that would have made your experience as a young poet quite different - better, maybe, in terms of the reading material available and publishing opportunities. With Tender I think we've put a lot of energy into making something that I'm sure would have been a really important and inspiring point of reference for our younger selves.
What's the best thing about being a poet?
Rachael: I don't really know what being a poet is supposed to feel like, and I'm not sure how I can know what's good about it because I've always written poetry, therefore anything that's good in my life is inextricable from whether or not I write poetry. People have once or twice seen something that reminds them of one of my poems, which feels nice.
Sophie: As Rachael says, I think the best thing is when readers and other poets begin to take your work seriously - especially when the other poet is one whose work you admire. Otherwise, the idea within popular culture of the romantic poet figure is totally false.
Do you think there are some things only females can write about? On the same side, do you think there are some things only men can write about?
Sophie: I think this is a very tricky question! I have a lot of conflicting thoughts and instincts here. Put on the spot, I'd say probably not, but with the major caveat that it's vital for anyone writing today about another gender/culture to be very aware of how they do so, and to avoid representing others in a way that replicates the dynamics of historical oppression.
Rachael: There's a certain amount of care that writers need to practice when writing outside of their own experience, I think. It can lead to a feeling of inauthenticity, which risks the experience that would usually be subjective to an individual being ironized or undermined, and if this experience is one born from subjugation or side-lining (be that because of your gender, race or class) then at best, the writing wouldn't be successful in trying to communicate an experience to a reader, at worst, be crass or insulting. There are innumerable ways to write out of your own experience, so I wouldn't want to say that there some things only female writers can write about. Saying that, I'd rather read the female experience, for my taste, from a female-identifying point of view.
How has the internet's depiction of gender (female and male) impacted you, both personally and as a writer?
Sophie: Statistically, women use social media a little more than men do, but crucially they are also able to garner more attention (from all genders) than men on the internet - it's a voyeuristic medium and has provided a route through which users are able to view different and usually private forms of femininity. I think there are some women doing really interesting things with femininity online; Amalia Ulman, Bunny Rogers, Diane Marie. Upsides have been visibility and accessibility, anyone with basic web knowledge is now able to establish their own platform and engage an audience. Coming across feminist projects and publications is now a regular thing, which is exciting, go girls! Downsides are few but are mainly to do with the convoluted nature of communication on social media platforms such as Twitter, things that I've said have been (unfavourably) conflated with what others have said, or else I've been misquoted altogether. It's also important to state that, being a woman online, being a feminist online, can attract a lot of negative attention.
What are you biggest inspirations?
Sophie: I find the American poet Eileen Myles really inspiring. When she reads her work to a room, everybody's listening. Same with Kate Kilalea, a young poet originally from South Africa, but now based in London.
Who is your favourite poet?
Sophie: I couldn't pick one. As above, Eileen Myles and Kate Kilalea, also Anne Carson, Linda Kunhardt and Michael Earl Craig, to name a few.
What's in store for Tender? Where do you see yourself in five years time?
Rachael: To continue to publish, move into publishing a number of our pieces in print in an anthology. More events, we recently worked with the Poetry Library on a panel discussion debating women's plane in publishing. So more events that we're able to run alongside our issues to generate thinking and debating.
Sophie: Publishing the anthology, which we've just started working on, will be important for us in terms of reaching a different readership and allowing people to engage with the work in a different way (offline). More events. More collaborations with other feminist projects and publications. The work we've done so far and has generated some really positive responses, and the signs are encouraging, but there's certainly more to be done, and more we can involve ourselves with.
Text Bojana Konzarevic