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New Lit on the Block :: Bloodletter

If you thought you weren’t interested in horror, it’s time you read Bloodletter. Founded by filmmaker and writer Ariel McCleese, the mission of Bloodletter is “to reimagine the horror genre in feminist terms.” McCleese explains, “The delineation ‘feminist horror’ invites themes which marginalized groups are often compelled (or demanded) to repress—including rage, violence, psychological fear, and generational trauma. Our publication empowers women, trans, and non-binary writers to reframe their own historical victimization through the singular power of language and redefine the horror genre collectively.”

Even the name offers readers a new view of the genre, as McCleese shares, “I was trying to find a word that connected horror and literature. I wanted the name to be evocative, to stir something in people. When I finally came to Bloodletter, it felt like the perfect meeting point of the horrific and the literary. I also loved the connection to the history of bloodletting, the idea of bleeding to let go of something. It feels connected to writing and artmaking; these forms of expression allow us to release and transform horror into healing.”

A Home for the Offbeat

Publishing a maximum of twenty pieces per issue biannually online, Bloodletter accepts all forms of writing based on that issue’s theme, which is designed to be “generative, never restrictive,” McCleese says. “We select themes that suggest many meanings and are open to submissions that approach the theme in radically different ways. We hope our themes will spark our contributors’ imagination and inspire them to create new work or remind them of a piece that was a little too offbeat to find a home elsewhere.”

The publication also hosts a Featured Artist who creates artwork in response to each of the written works, “thereby defining the visual language of the issue.” The artist receives a stipend, and Bloodletter works to extensively promote the artist with each issue. All 2D art mediums are welcomed.

Expertise Throughout

Managing these submissions is a skilled and dedicated staff. Ariel McCleese, Founder and Editor-in-Chief, is a feminist horror writer-director based in Los Angeles who holds an MFA in Fine Art with an emphasis in Critical Theory from University of California Irvine. Her shorts have screened at global festivals, and she has published her writing and screenplays widely. Joining her is Associate Editor Anna Laura Falvey, a Brooklyn-based poet and performer and currently a teacher and administrator at the CUNY CityTech Writing Center. Falvey received a BA from Bard College specializing in Greek tragedy and poetry.

There are several others who participate in the process, as McCleese explains, “Submissions go through three rounds of selections. In the first round, selections are made by Development Associate Viva Wittman, Director of Community Development Halee Bernard, Associate Editor Anna Laura Falvey, and the Editor-in-Chief [McCleese]. The second round of selections are made by Anna, and final selections are made by Anna and myself. We provide feedback to submitters who request it. After the submission window closes, submitters will be notified of publication decisions within three weeks.”

A Constellation of Viewpoints

“Practically,” McCleese notes, “I wanted Bloodletter to function differently from other digital lit mags. Our website was designed to resist the grid structure of the internet and is formatted non-hierarchically, so readers can expect the unexpected when they visit Bloodletter.

“We offer a constellation of viewpoints on horror that is ever-evolving. Change is so fundamental to our magazine that it is literally built into the code of our website. Every time you visit Bloodletter, the order of the pieces change. Each issue of our magazine is illustrated by a different artist, resulting in a new visual language with each issue. And the writing we publish is so multifaceted and diverse that it’s nearly impossible to define. Bloodletter is chimeric, created collectively by our community.”

Recent contributors include Nancy Huang, C. Bain, Megan Kenny, Rebecca McCallum, Ygraine Hackett-Cantabrana, Sarah Esmi, Tori Potenza, Stephanie McCullough, Buffy, Kiera Johnson, Alex Nolos, Mo Fowler, Claire Orrange, Shelby Heitner, Jennifer Trudrung, Linda Wojtowick, Rah Gerg, Maxwell Van Cooper, Tamsin Bloom, and Eva Recinos.

“Another aspect of Bloodletter that sets us apart,” notes McCleese, “is that we offer long-lasting support to our contributors, providing subsequent publication, lecture, and reading opportunities. At its heart, Bloodletter is not just a magazine but a community, bonded by the alchemic capacity of storytelling to transform horror into liberation.

From Start to Future

“Starting this magazine has reinforced the immeasurable value of community. I started this publication on my own, and had no idea that it would grow so big so fast. I now work alongside a team of six women volunteering their time, passion, and incredible talents to this magazine. I couldn’t do it without them, and would never want to.

“In a few months we will be unveiling a new section of our website dedicated to collaborations, partnerships, and events. Beginning this summer, we will be partnering with feminist horror film festivals to offer reviews and responsive poetry from our contributors. We are also organizing academic conferences on the horror genre, and will begin offering skill-sharing workshops.”

Visit Bloodletter today and allow yourself to be surprised that you, too, can appreciate horror.

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