Our riveting team is proud of this pioneering little magazine. It’s not been easy gathering this selection of translated queer poetry and prose from around Europe, not only because of the continuing (and, in some European countries, dangerously growing) political, cultural and social hurdles, but because there actually isn’t that much contemporary queer fiction translated into English. Maybe we can inspire more. Producing this magazine has also been difficult because this is our second Riveter magazine where we have been unable to raise additional funding to match our grant from Arts Council England – to whom we are, as ever, profoundly grateful. If our beloved Riveter magazine can be produced on a shoestring, as this one has been, imagine what we could do if we were ‘to win the lottery’.
When Anna Blasiak and West Camel – both writers themselves, and my Eurolitnet team-mates who happen to be queer – proposed this magazine to me, I immediately said YES! I trust their instincts and love their writing. The time was right. A magazine of queer writing in English from Europe did not exist: could we do it? When the very excellent queer literary icons Paul Burston, Lawrence Schimel, Jacek Dehnel and Lilja Sigurðardóttir then agreed to contribute, I knew we would be able to create something relevant and exciting. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading their poetry and prose, not because it’s queer but because it is good literature. But yes, also because it provides an insight into the challenges of being queer today in a literary world dominated by the stereotypical straight, white, middle-class male.
We live in queer times, we really do. No, I’m not talking about how odd Trump and Brexit are (both arguably anti-queer) but rather about the positive debate round sexual orientation and identity. Fifty years after the Stonewall riots, thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, LGBT+ issues are part of a wider topical discussion around human rights, sexual identity, equality, prejudice and political struggle. All these are reflected in literature, as our magazine demonstrates, and literature provides a mirror, escape, outlet and insight into often marginalized, threatened individuals and communities – if you read our items from, for example, Russia and Poland, you’ll understand. Understanding, explaining, naming, shaming and labelling are important today as we strive for legal recognition and visibility. I say ‘we’ because I write as a white, middle-class, stereotypical (sic) woman who has woken up to the fact that I too have been marginalized and abused over the decades by teachers and employers – and I am angry. We are in this together and – in the same way as everyone working on this magazine – I want to make a difference.
However, if, like me, you are also occasionally tired by the constant campaigning, labelling and zeitgeist-shouting and would prefer to celebrate what we have – then I believe we’ve been able to celebrate too: there’s some beautiful work in this magazine which is quite simply great, riveting writing. The Queer Riveter has made me read and think more expansively. It is a proud validation of modern times. Thank you for reading.
By Rosie Goldsmith
Read The Queer Riveter in its entirety here.
Rosie Goldsmith (aka Rosie the Riveter) is Director of the European Literature Network and Riveter-in-Chief.