tender, a quarterly journal made by women aims to challenge the representation of women in literature. Launched in April 2013 by Rachael Allan and Sophie Collins, the UK journal is currently published three-four times a year as a carefully curated PDF, with a print anthology to follow shortly. With its beautiful illustrations and engrossing writing by female-identified writers and artists, we here at SheRa Mag are totally hooked. I spoke to Sophie about poetry, the state of women in literature, and what’s next for tender.
Why did you and Rachael decide to start tender?
We decided to begin tender because of the disappointing (to say the least) representations of women in literature, both in terms of the quality of representations of female characters in writing (by men), and the gender inequity in publication statistics, reviews, prizes, and lists.
Can you tell me a bit about yourself?
I grew up in North Holland and moved to London when I was 18 to study literature and creative writing at Goldsmiths, University of London (where me and Rachael first met).
I’m very boring. I don’t really go out when I’m not travelling for research/poetry events. I watch a lot of films, write, and make things. I’m currently researching a PhD on poetry and translation, so that takes up most of my time. I enjoy it a lot though—my thesis is split into creative and critical components (which naturally bleed into each other), and for the former I’m working on an anthology of experimental translations that will be published towards the end of next year. So I get to read a lot of great texts under the guise of research.
My pet peeves are lateness/being kept waiting, being talked over, ignorance, arrogance, solipsism, a lack of curiosity, and the reluctance to challenge preconceptions in all/any areas. That thing when men only look other men in the eyes when speaking to a group of people.
I love your covers. Are they works by emerging illustrators and artists?
They are always works by emerging illustrators, artists, and designers. Sometimes these are commissions, as with the covers of the first, second, and fourth issues, and sometimes, I’ll come across a piece by an artist I just have to use, as with Klara Lindahl’s piece on issue three and the cover of our forthcoming fifth issue.
Which pieces that you have published have you particularly liked/been affected by?
I guess I would have to say Linda Kunhardt’s poems in three and Eileen Myles’ poems in two. These are poets whose writing I’d admired for a long time, and so I was delighted and kind of amazed by their generosity in sending us new work. I am also really into Roxane Lumeret’s artwork in four and Alicia Rodriguez’s in the first issue. As with a lot of the visual work, I’m not sure I would have ever come across it had we not received a submission from the artist/sought them out via online networks. Since starting tender, I’ve generally been a lot more active in seeking out visual art both for personal enjoyment and with a view to publishing it in the journal—I guess the two are synonymous.
What do you think about the current state of women in literature?
It feels like attitudes are changing at the moment, and a lot of very exciting texts by women are drawing huge readerships, which is great. But we only have to look at the VIDA counts or the Gallery Tally to see that this sense of a renewed political consciousness is going to take a lot longer to affect dominant power structures.
When do you accept submissions?
We usually open up submissions a few weeks after the publication of a new issue. They’re open for about a month at a time. Check our website for details.
What’s next for tender?
We’re making plans to publish a print anthology of our favorite work from past issues. It will also include new and commissioned material. We’re keen to reach as wide an audience as possible and to experiment with the ways our readers engage with the work we publish. We also hope to find the time to put on more readings and other panel events.
Download the latest copy of tender here.
Main image shows Sophie Collins.