THE NEW SENT(I)ENCE seeks poems that do one or more of the following:
- That in some way address current and/or historic human-animal relationships;
- That imagine or urge new ways of relating to animals;
- That acknowledge or enact the animal’s capacity as a change-making being, possessed of its own creative agency;
- That engage with animals on their own terms;
- That pay attention to animals as individuals, each “the experiencing subject of a life,” protagonists of their own unfolding dramas rather than mere backdrops or props for our own;
- That explore our own animality as connected to non-human animals;
- That exhibit empathy toward the plights of animals;
- That demonstrate awareness of the minds and emotional lives of animals;
- That demonstrate concern for the harms humans cause to animals;
- That interrogate the ways humans relate to, conceive of, and treat non-human animals.
In the same spirit in which we seek better and fuller representation of nonhuman animals in literature, we are also committed to more inclusive representation of human voices in literature. We welcome and encourage submissions of poetry from marginalized groups, including authors of underrepresented race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, and ability.
We also wish to express our support of Black Lives Matter and the Movement for Black Lives, and our commitment to seeking out and including Black voices and other voices of color. Additionally, we affirm that solidarity with Black Lives Matter entails a commitment to the belief that Black life matters, a distinction and extension helpfully articulated by writer Syl Ko in the book (co-authored with Aph Ko) Aphroism: Essays on Pop Culture, Feminism, and Black Veganism from Two Sisters. Syl writes:
“[W]e live in a society (and world, for that matter) that either erases, rejects or diminishes the value of contributions offered by black people, which entails the erasure, rejection or inferiorization of family and community-life represented and treated in many of those contributions. In other words, we live in a society that culturally or symbolically eliminates black Life. We might even call it a US tradition: black Life does not matter.”
This phenomenon of disinterest in black Life and the activity of erasing our contributions, voices and perspectives play a central role in making possible our physical, literal erasure. If the very thing that makes us ‘really alive,’ the contributions that make our existence possible and worthwhile as social beings are regarded as nonexistent, pointless, inferior, or not worth even acknowledging, then we have already been killed. If our artistic vision, our theoretical endeavors, our constructs are completely without value and have no place in the world, mere flesh and blood will never convince anyone that we have a rightful place here. What exactly are the grounds to prove that our lives matter when our Life doesn’t matter to the world at large?”
“You can be a diehard activist, shutting down highways with your protests against police killings and still be a part of the problem if you fail to take seriously black art, black theory, black perspectives. You can be the president of the committee on diversity and still be an enemy to true diversity if your only concern is to recruit black and brown bodies instead of black and brown ideas.”
We thus commit to affirming that Black life matters— and that Black ideas and voices matter— not only in literature but in all realms of life.
In addition to a diversity of voices, we are also interested in a wide variety of styles, approaches, and themes, and not only poems where an animal or animals are the central subject. Please see our Featured Poems to get a sense of (some of) the sorts of poems we believe are meaningfully engaging with animals and animality. See also Allison Davis’s excellent short essay, Writing About Animals, on our website.
Please submit for consideration new or previously published poems to firstname.lastname@example.org.