We at Voices Publishing (thanks to the Canada Council, Heritage Canada and the Ontario Arts Council for their generous support) in light of recent events, wish to make clear our writers’ guidelines for all fiction, non-fiction and poetry. We are committed to hearing the voices of Canadian writers and welcome manuscripts of inclusion. Please note:
1. We have a zero tolerance policy for cultural appropriation in all its forms.
2. Cultural appropriation occurs when a writer appropriates the voice or lived experience of a person or persons whose lives are outside the lived experience of that writer by including such a person in their story.
3. To avoid offending any marginalized or oppressed persons no white writer shall include in his or her manuscript any character or situation in which non-white persons are portrayed. For consistency, this same rule applies to First Nations writers, POC writers and foreign born writers. (Note, for greater clarity, we have adopted the time tested “one drop” rule for determining race. If you have a white ancestor or think you might have a white ancestor you will be deemed white regardless of self-identification, lived experience or other extenuating factors. Check your privilege.)
4. There is obviously a huge problem with ageism. Many middle-aged writers submit manuscripts in which characters in their teens or even younger appear as protagonists. We regret that we cannot publish manuscripts in which such ageist appropriation occurs. To that end, we will not be accepting manuscripts in the children’s category or young adult category without positive proof that the mss was written by a child or a young adult. All characters in your mss must be +/- five years of your own age at time of submission.
5. Gender appropriation: many of the mss we are offered are written by men and contain female characters and vice versa. Needless to say we are unwilling to publish mss in which male writers’ attempt to claim the female voice and vice versa. In unusual circumstances, we may allow the visual depiction of a female character by a male writer or vice versa providing always that the character so depicted remains entirely silent.
6. The appropriation of sexual experience: We have been disturbed to receive mss in which hetrosexual authors include homosexual or bisexual characters. And, just as bad, homosexual authors are often guilty of portraying straight characters. These provocations will not see the light of day under the Voices colophon. You’ve made your beds now lie in them.
Many of you may regard these guidelines as simplistic or censorious. Shame on you. For each of our authors there is a simple solution which can ensure that the marginalized and oppressed voices in the great Canadian mosaic are heard. Whenever your story requires white person, a First Nations person, or homosexual, or POC, or female/male, or child/adolescent voice go and find a writer with the correct characteristics and invite them to contribute their voice and lived experience to your book. (We will, of course, require a Certificate of cultural authenticity to accompany such contributions.)
Voices Publishing believes that by following these simple guidelines we can all work together to eliminate the implicit priviledging of the individual author’s voice and build a new, inclusive, Canadian literature.
Thank you for your attention and your commitment to the elimination of the retrograde, individualist, authorial literature which has disfigured so much of Canadian Literature to this moment. Voices Publishing is committed to the celebration of our diversity.