Women have been involved in publishing since the seventeenth century. Elizabeth Glover brought the first printing press to the colonies and opened The Cambridge Press. As a woman, she had to receive special permission to open her business. The eighteenth century introduced Elizabeth Timothy, who is now recognized as the first female newspaper publisher in America. In 1837 she took over her late husband’s newspaper and ran it in the name of her thirteen-year-old son because women were not allowed to run their own business. Glover, Timothy, and many other front-runners in print history began leading the long journey that we still walk today. Hundreds of years later, and through the work of many incredible individuals, women are now at the forefront of many different publications. Here is a brief look at three local publications that are captained by women.
Glimmer Train Press is the brainchild of sisters Linda Swanson-Davies and Susan Burmeister-Brown, Portland locals. This literary “triannual” focuses on fiction from both known and emerging writers. Glimmer Train Press prides itself on being a writer-friendly publication: there are minimal submission fees, all contributors are paid for their accepted pieces, and despite receiving somewhere around forty thousand submissions annually, the editors have guaranteed to read every story personally. That’s right, these two champions of literary short fiction wade through every single submission without using readers, interns, or employees. I know this to be true—I applied and got a personalized letter stating the same thing.
A pioneer of publishing, CALYX has been producing both art and literature created by women for forty years. The literary journal was created by Barbara Baldwin, Meredith Jenkins, Beth McLagan, and Margarita Donnelly in 1976, and eventually it evolved to include CALYX Books, which produces a handful of books annually. CALYX Press is often recognized as the first feminist press on the West Coast, and it has published many powerful pieces by an impressive list of contributors, such as Ursula K. Le Guin, Barbara Kingsolver, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Alicia Ostriker, Haunani-Kay Trask, and Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, just to name a few. As the press celebrates forty years of incredible work, CALYX continues to uphold its original values. The current masthead boasts four women as the editorial collective: C. Lill Ahrens, Marjorie Coffey, Beth Russell, Emily Elbom, and Rachel Barton.
A subsection of the Bitch Media empire, Bitch Magazine brands itself as a “feminist response to pop culture.” Created in 1996 by editors Lisa Jervis and Andi Zeisler alongside art director Benjamin Shaykin, Bitch has been serving up pro-women content for twenty years. The magazine doesn’t just represent women—Bitch is focused on diversity and including many different views on the human experience. The articles featured on their current Books page discuss expanding your reading list to include women of color, queer parenting, and sobriety. What more could you want? Currently Bitch is based in Portland and has an almost entirely female staff.