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.
We feature fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and visual art. Our purpose is 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 model more radical conversations and practices regarding equity and publishing.
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 center 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.
Our staff is composed of writers, teachers, activists, organizers, and nonprofit workers. We identify predominantly as people of color and LGBTQ folks. We recognize that the personal and the political are inseparable. We seek to move beyond representation for its own sake. The marginality of our identities and our commitment to social justice deeply inform our work within and beyond the journal.
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 operating independently as a biannual print journal in 2013. It expanded its community of contributors and staff beyond Columbia, operating independently as a biannual print journal, concurrently building 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 that responded to emergencies. We published collections that speak with 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 deepened connections to our local communities, especially in 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 contributed 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” (Lit Hub)
- “FROM THE EDITORS: The Politics of ‘Blind Submissions’ Policies” (Apogee Journal)
- Andrés Cerpa, Cyrée Jarelle Johnson, and Adjua Gargi Nzinga Greaves on Resistant Spaces, Plant Life, and Instrumentality (moderated by Zefyr Lisowski and Crystal Yeung) (Apogee Journal)
- “Publish, Perish, Other: A Talk-Back” (a conversation between Joey De Jesus and Muriel Leung) (Apogee Journal)
- “Behind the Editor’s Desk: Muriel Leung” (Women Who Submit)
After exploring the potential of both site-specific and digital activities, we decided to focus on building an all-online publishing platform. In 2018, Apogee started its digital transition with the hope of building a broader artistic community beyond New York City.
While we started with a subscription model for accessing our biannual issues, we eventually eliminated the paywall. In making our digital issues free for all to access, we also introduced a new membership program. This program allows our community to support our work at multiple donation levels, with incentives that include manuscript consultations, VIP access to our programs, and more.