Apogee is a journal of literature and art that encourages the thoughtful exploration of identity and its intersections, including but not limited to: race, gender, sexuality, class, and ability. We pay tribute to the black feminist Combahee River Collective in our recognition that “the major systems of oppression are interlocking,” and to that end, work to combat the domination of white, cis-heteronormative, patriarchal voices in our literary landscape.
Our staff is composed of writers, teachers, activists, organizers, and nonprofit workers who are predominantly people of color, LGBTQ, women, and/or femmes. As the marginality of our identities and commitment to social justice deeply inform our work, we recognize the inseparability of the personal and political, and hold ourselves to a standard that seeks to move beyond representation for its own sake.
We feature fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and visual art. Our goals are threefold: (1) to publish fresh work that interrogates the aesthetic and political status quo (2) to provide a platform for underrepresented voices, prioritizing artists and writers of color (3) to intervene in critical conversations about publishing, acknowledging its legacy of exclusion.
The word “apogee” denotes the point in an object’s orbit that is farthest from the center. Our approach to both art and political activism operates with the same motivation to elevate underrepresented artistic voices from the political margins. We want to affect change on multiple levels: to transform ideas, to extend possibilities for writers’ positions in art and literature, and to impact policy.
In 2011, a group of writers of color and international students in Columbia’s graduate writing program created Apogee as a space to intervene in conversations about traditional publishing. Recognizing the ideological and ethical limitations of publishing under the umbrella of a large institution, Apogee began expanding its community of contributors and staff beyond Columbia, operating independently as a biannual print journal. Alongside the print journal was an active online hub, Perigee, which featured original content, editorials, interviews, and much more.
As Apogee grew, we decided to explore the capabilities of digital publishing, putting together online folios bringing together voices responding to emergency events. We have published collections that speak out in support of Black Lives Matter protests in Ferguson and beyond, call out abusive figures in the literary sphere, express solidarity with the #NoDAPL movement, and more.
Alongside our publishing work, we grew deeper connections to our local communities, especially New York City. We curated readings and open mics, including annual celebrations of our issue launches and readings, and participated in the Governor’s Island Poetry Festival and Brooklyn Book Festival. We hosted low-cost writing workshops (Writing in the Margins, Writing Resistance) sponsored by the Brooklyn Arts Council. Our editors contribute to panels, interviews, and editorials about making publishing more accessible and equitable. To explore these conversations, see:
- “Editorial Power Means Blowing Up the Machine from the Inside: Nine Women Editors on Sexual Discrimination in the Literary World”
- “FROM THE EDITORS: The Politics of ‘Blind Submissions’ Policies”
- Andrés Cerpa, Cyrée Jarelle Johnson, and Adjua Gargi Nzinga Greaves on Resistant Spaces, Plant Life, and Instrumentality (moderated by Zefyr Lisowski)
- “Publish, Perish, Other: A Talk-back” (a conversation between Joey De Jesus and Muriel Leung)
- Women Who Submit’s “Behind the Editor’s Desk: Muriel Leung”
We recognized the potential of both site-specific and digital activities, but realized that by focusing on an all-online publishing platform, we could extend our reach in new ways. In 2018, Apogee began to transition towards an all-online presence with occasional print projects, with the hope of building a broader artistic community beyond New York City.
While we initially began with a subscription model for access to our biannual issues, we eventually lowered the paywall. In making our digital issues free for all to access, we also introduced a new membership program that allows our community to support us at multiple donation levels, with incentives that include manuscript consultations, VIP access to our programs, and more.