#47of52 essays but published out of order as there are some more personal essays that need to be published in the new year
The Acentos Review
I had been bugging Rich Villar, Fish Vargas, and Oscar Bermeo about a literary journal for about a year before The Acentos Review started. The final push came out of a meeting of The Acentos Foundation, which was just beginning to form in 2008. The Acentos Bronx Poetry showcase started in early 2003. I started connecting with the community in September 2003 and featured for the first time there in early 2004. While I lived in New York and for many years afterward, Acentos was home for me. When I came to the city, which was pretty often, I would stay with my poetry sister, Maria Nieves in Washington Heights, just a short train ride from the Bronx home of Acentos.
Anyway, in early 2008, a few folks met to establish The Acentos Foundation. By then I was living in Las Vegas, thinking about a move overseas. Eliel Lucero agreed to partner with me on it. I established the website, did our beginning web design with quick tools, sent out the call with Eliel, and with him reviewed submissions via email. We did email submissions for the first 3 or 4 years. When the review transitioned to Submittable, it was one of the best decisions that I ever made for so many reasons.
Since that early start, we’ve had a three editors/co-editors, published over 500 distinct submissions, reviewed thousands of submissions. Until about 2013 or so, I used to give personal feedback on rejections, but after closing in-person conversations with a few who elected to learn more about their pieces one Thanksgiving, I wasn’t able to give personal rejection feedback. On occasion, if there is a submission from a youth writer or writer from a vulnerable population who has never submitted a piece before, I make a small exception, but we just get too many submissions these days. Other cool facts: we’ve published pieces that integrate over 5 different languages; we’ve had 6 guest editors over the years; we are published only online and have always been quarterly although we missed an issue in 2009 (I was really sick that year and my co-editor at the time unfortunately couldn’t help me with the read. It’s one of those things that continues to bother me.).
The Acentos Review is coming on 10 years now. I tried to do a 5 year anthology years back, but I didn’t have the push to get it done … but here we are at another incredibly important milestone. For 10 years, I have financed the review, installed the systems and kept them going, done the editing and website consistently with help from a number of folks along the way: Tara Bettes, Eliel Lucero, Rich Villar, Venessa Fuentes, especially. It’s time to set up some systems for transition.
I’ve been talking about it for about 2 years now: setting up a contributing board of editors, two people per responsibility, so that the journal can go to the next level. I would continue to work on the website and finance that part of the journal for 3 years in anticipation that funds from the anthology would support it for the next 10 years. My hope is to have those who have been published multiple times in the review serve as the first board with support from additional active literary organizers … lots of hopes that I think can come to fruition during sabbatical.
But for the next few months, I’ll be working on getting an anthology together and publishing it and preparing The Acentos Review for transition to the next group of editors.
Truthfully, I could do the review for another 10 years with great joy … but I think it’s time for me to start pulling back on it and allowing for new perspectives and aesthetics to shine. It’s clear to me from the growth of each issue that The Acentos Review has a strong following and perhaps has contributed to the Latinx literary community in substantive ways. While I am publishing more names each issue, they represent between 20 and 25% of submissions continually, which is where we have been for at least the last 8 years. The review is becoming better known as a place that supports our voices. I’m proud to have been a part of that and to continue to be a part of that.
#47of52, #52essays2017, #twt,