New Lit on the Block :: Ergi Press
Hailing from the UK, say hello to Ergi Press! Publishing zines and anthologies twice a year, they promote themselves as “a down-to-earth DIY press publishing art, poetry and prose from LGBTQIA+ creators from all over.” With a rolling submissions window, reading periods and publications go with the flow, and deadline details for each issue are communicated via their website and social media outlets. Once ready to share, Ergi Press publications are available in both digital and print formats, with zines accessible via BigCartel and anthologies via Amazon.
Editor Imogen says, “Our love for different genres knows no bounds. We accept unpublished work from LGBTQ+ identifying creators on any theme, subject, or topic – this means innovative contributions from poetry to prose and everything in between. Art, photography, and visual poetry, we do it all!”
Ergi Press was founded by a group of MA Publishing students in the historic city of York, in the North of England. “Drawing on local Viking history,” Imogen explains, “we took ‘ergi’ from the Old Norse term for ‘unmanliness’ or ‘doing gender wrong.’ Intrigued by this outdated attitude to queerness, we sought to reclaim this ancient term, because at Ergi Press there’s no way of doing gender wrong!”
To support that philosophy is a whole team of do-righters: Editor-in-chief Kate McCaughey (she/her), a Northern-based writer with an MA in Publishing and Creative Writing; Digital Content Writer Alex Bestwick (he/him) who also edits for Ergi and Ram Eye Press in his spare time, which is generous considering he is currently studying for an MFA in Creative Writing at York St John University (YSJU); Editor Rachael Williams (she/they), a queer author with a Publishing and Creative Writing MA who also penned the short story collection Caedistowe; Content Marketing Specialist and Editor Imogen Davies (she/her) who graduated from YSJU with an MA in Publishing; and Intern Kummi Sandrasagren (she/her), a Shakespeare buff who is currently studying for her MA in Publishing at YSJU.
“The idea of starting up a literary magazine or indie press,” Imogen shares, “cropped up for us back in 2021 as we were starting our MA Publishing course. We love DIY publishing and zine-making but couldn’t find much of a niche for LGBTQ+ publishing in the North, so we decided to fill that space. Plus, the experience of running a literary magazine was a great way to supplement our studies and pick up skills along the way.”
Indeed, part of this learning process continues as Imogen shares the challenges of starting up a lit mag, “The grind of working a full-time job and balancing other life things alongside running the press has been tiring. Publishing burnout is real folks! But,” she adds, “besides the treat of being on the receiving end of a cavalcade of different works, it’s been an amazing experience to build ties with our local community – both York’s LGBTQ+ community and the York literary scene.”
For writers interested in finding a home for their works, Imogen says that “submissions go through a rigorous process, each being read by our team of editors and editor-in-chief across multiple rounds before we come to any editorial decisions. We sift through each very carefully and provide thoughtful comments to those we accept. We offer feedback, but only on request, and aim to achieve a response time of 1-3 months. As of now, our submissions window is closed due to a significant backlog of content, and we are planning a holiday for our hard-working staff for the summer. In the meantime, we’ll be out and about, on the streets and online, shouting about the radical power of self-publishing and our love for queer lit.”
And for readers, the editors promise that “In every Ergi Press publication you can expect to find typography that ‘pops!’, dynamic queer poetry, and playful short stories that get you thinking.”
Some recent contributors include Bri Gonzalez, Clean Flowers, Drew Pisarra, Elizabeth Bell, Elizabeth Gibson, Elyssa Tappero, Hatteras Mange, Laura Jane Round, Marisca Pichette, Mikaylo Kelly, Rachael Williams, Rachek Sadaty-Ellerson, Reanna Valentine, Robyn Power, Sadee Bee, Siobhan Dunlop, and Thomas Kearnes.
In addition to these contributions, Imogen adds, “We’re delighted to announce that our first full-length collection TRICKSTER: an anthology of queer mischief has recently dropped. If you’re as fascinated by trickster figures as us, you’ll love this! ‘Through kaleidoscopic writing, the mythos of the trickster god is wildly reinvented to make room for a new tradition of queer reclamation.’”
Looking forward, Imogen says, “Our goal as a publication, is to show aspiring creators – and especially those with intersecting identities – that there is a space in publishing for you. At Ergi Press, we’re here to champion LGBTQ+ art and uplift the next generation of queer voices. After all, DIY publishing is a beautiful and radical act.”