Plentitude Magazine’s Inaugural Issue: The Autostraddle Review

Issue 1, Fall 2012. Plentitude Magazine. The queer literary magazine’s first-ever published product features writing from Betsy Warland, Alex Leslie, Peter Knegt, and 2012 Journey Prize nominees Trevor Corkum and Nancy Jo Cullen. It’s a little thing – a document a little over 70 PDF pages long, all arranged in landscape, sitting on my desktop. I never even printed it out.

I loved it.

the cover

Plentitude stands out among queer publications by, first and foremost, defining queer literature as literature simply created by LGBTTQI people. I’ve written before about the importance of an ongoing queer conversation, about piecing it all together until we find a good way to define ourselves without leaving out our scratch-off lottery tickets and our favorite sweaters. Plentitude is simply publishing good work by queer people. The topic pool is immediately diversified and expanded and yet, somehow, is still relevant. Maybe we all share the same eyes or the same hearts. Maybe we just share the same vocabulary.

In Issue 1 we talk about dead porn stars we never knew in real life, about driving our sons across state lines in the names of our dead fathers, about drinking coffee with someone we love. We talk about how pissed off we are about the price of Pride and how fucked up we feel leading two lives. We share stories about Craigslist and about brazilian waxes and about our bitchy ex-girlfriends and the new women they love the way we loved them the whole time.

Editor  Andrea Routley and her team used a magical selection process to decide which submissions were selected which provided us with an amazing amount of contributions from women and a beautiful introduction by Routley herself that makes it clear what we’re about to do: experience a queer life.

The writing styles vary. Some pieces really made me wish I was at a slam or a reading or somewhere with a voice out loud instead of just in my head, especially since the voices in my head all invariably sound a little like me. Some pieces made me snap even though nobody was there. Some pieces made me smile and some made me drink more coffee and take a five-minute breather. Each piece was amazing in its own way, and that isn’t even my lip service or my desire to make it sound great to you guys. It’s just the truth.

I hunted first for the poetry. I had to. I found poems about love and loss, which was to be expected and was beautiful anyway. I also found a powerful submssion about the Craigslist personals section, which was a wild fucking ride. And I found my favorites.

It is my fault,
or guilt or alcohol,
my newness,
my body’s refusal of you —
I have done everything wrong, as usual —
all my fault lines.

– Leah Horlick: Fault Lines

Agog in this landscape, loose, whole being eager — tongue.
Every highway we’ve travelled flanked by broom, azure lupines.
This diction amorous. I don’t recognize my life on the page.
Spread and winged, my hand searching the small of your back.

– Emilia Nielsen: Sensorial

Something I found and didn’t expect to experience was Betsy Warland’s “Oscar of Between,” an excerpt that I will keep in my heart forever.

604-681-1111. Yellow Taxi: “I’d like a cab for 9:30 at 1484 Charles Street, please.” The dispatcher replies “For Betsy?” [Oscar on their database] “Yes.” Despite the fact that Oscar is eager for her writing retreat she finds it hard to leave. Oscar could explain this to herself – it’s finally summer in Vancouver, or it’s intoxicatingly peaceful now that the construction is done – but it’s simply that she loves her home; home her closest companion.

The phone rings: the cab’s arrived. When the driver spots her coming, he jumps out and opens the trunk. “Good morning, Sir.” Oscar, who has long ago desisted in correcting people, carries on.

– Betsy Warland: Oscar of Between, Part Seventeen (excerpt)

And I found a breakup essay in Plentitude neatly divided into parts, or I guess really, seasons. Or maybe phases of the moon. It made me remember sitting in bed eating Ramen noodles and knowing that one day everything was going to click and I was going to be okay, even if it wasn’t that day or the next day or even the next weeks. A lot of Plentitude reminded me of that. Of being hopeful. Of sort of a new start, a new day.

You say: I will change for you but instead you only change. Non-adaptive traits include: avatar reliance, radio silence, passive sentences that sit cross-legged under the dark sheets. Pacing is what you were, walking to this. Last things bring back the first, boys and girls marched along the borders, song lyrics doing celestial matchwork, your lost paws, your snakeskin that peeled back from your face like a wool cap in spring. The essentialist tomboy eats her closest enemy for breakfast. When you meet your match two chameleons melt into each other and overlap. Are you here or there. Both and more. This is a found poem. You hold my sentences in the dark.

– Alex Leslie: A Body Changing Hands

In the end I remain amazed, you know? Amazed by how much we have in common and how even when we don’t, your story is so easily my story ,like the pants in Sisterhood. It’s like we’re all able to give each other our jackets when we’re cold, especially when we don’t need them anymore because here in our hearts the sun is rising. Plentitude is a collection of words that scream, “you are not alone,” even in times where you can’t even process how that is true, or why it would be important. We’re queer when we wake up, when we go to sleep, when we throw rocks through windows, when we get jealous, when we use the Internet for lovers and when we lose ours. Plentitude is like a living testament to that fact.

And the best part?

It’s coming again – soon.

But this deception is lovely, just right for the warm spring evening, where you toast to what lies ahead for the bride, try not to remember what she looks like stepping out of the shower, how she always sleeps flat on her stomach, arms and legs flung wide across the sheets she insisted be at least 1200 thread count.

– Theodosia Henney: How Do You Know The Bride?

Readers can receive Issue 1 by subscribing online at Subscriptions are $10 for 2 issues over 1 year.

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Carmen spent six years at Autostraddle, ultimately serving as Straddleverse Director, Feminism Editor and Social Media Co-Director. She is now the Consulting Digital Editor at Ms. and writes regularly for DAME, the Women’s Media Center, the National Women’s History Museum and other prominent feminist platforms; her work has also been published in print and online by outlets like BuzzFeed, Bitch, Bust, CityLab, ElixHER, Feministing, Feminist Formations, GirlBoss, GrokNation, MEL, Mic and SIGNS, and she is a co-founder of Argot Magazine. You can find Carmen on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr or in the drive-thru line at the nearest In-N-Out.

Carmen has written 919 articles for us.


  1. I really don’t know whether the Leah Horlick poem was about what I read into it, but it really felt like me 2 years ago. JOLT

  2. Yay!!! I am so excited to see a review of Plenitude on Autostraddle!! This is awesome. It’s the brand new Victoria queer magazine that could!

    I just reviewed it recently and loved it too! Leah Horlick’s other poem “What I talk about when I talk about fear” was one of my favourites as well. So powerful!

    Marianna, if you’re wondering about Leah’s other poem, you should check out her website: Somewhere there she talks about the importance of talking about abuse in lesbian relationships in relation to that poem.

    • Hey Casey, thanks for that! There isn’t enough poetry in my life at the moment. I’m so busy looking for a job that will combine my interests and earn me enough to do a masters next year that I’m neglecting everything else. Anyways, I stumbled onto your blog from her website, so now I’m following you. Keep it up ;)

      • No problem! I hear you on the needing poetry in your life, wanting a job that isn’t soul-crushing, and trying to finance a master’s. Sounds like we have parallel lives! Thanks so much for visiting my blog! That is so nice to hear! (:

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