BitterSweet Review 2
Delivered to Stack subscribers in  Sep 2023

by Steve Watson in October 2023
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The self-titled “literary magazine for queers and their friends”, the second issue of The BitterSweet Review is themed, ‘I Started a Joke’. Focusing on the places where humour overlaps with queerness, it covers a wide range of laughs, “from the sardonic to the acerbic, the absurd to the tragicomic, the melancholic to the sanguine”. But it’s never just empty clowning, or as they put it, “Don’t worry, there’s no Comic Sans in sight.”

Benoît Loiseau

Job title
Founder and editor

What is The BitterSweet Review?
The BitterSweet Review is a regular anthology, a “literary magazine for queers and their friends,” as we like to call it. Each issue features fiction, non-fiction, interviews, poetry and artistic contributions. So, in many ways, it is indebted to the tradition of literary reviews (for example The Paris Review) but, in its aesthetics and modes of production, it is closer to queer zine culture. We also produce artists’ limited editions, which helps us fund our publications.

Who makes it?
The core team is made up of three editors: Kole Fulmine, Louis Shankar and myself, and a graphic designer, John Philip Sage. Then, of course, there’s the many contributors we’ve had the privilege to feature.

What makes it different from the rest?
There isn’t really a regular literary publication that is dedicated to queer writing and culture. There are a number of great indie publishers and zines, but nothing as comprehensive as what we do, in terms of genres and geographical scope.

Who reads it?
Good question! Queers who like books and, I hope, anyone interested in contemporary literature, art and ideas.

Why do you work in magazines?
Personally, I’ve worked in journalism and publishing for some time, so this kind of initiative comes somewhat naturally to me. (I made my first zine when I was 12, though I don’t think many people read it, aside from my parents.) My co-editors met while doing their Masters in Creative Writing at London’s Royal College of Art. It’s just nice to have a platform to share the works of writers and artists we like. Nerds will be nerds, you know.

Aside from the print magazine, what else are you involved in?
We’re all involved in academia. I recently finished my PhD in comparative literature, and I’m currently a postdoc researcher in Gender Studies at the University of Geneva. I also regularly write about art for newspapers and magazines. Louis and Kole are both finishing their PhDs this year, in Art History and Creative Writing, respectively. Oh and Kole is also a personal trainer – they have many lives!

What would you change about The BitterSweet Review if you could?
We’d love to publish it more regularly. Aside from that we’re pretty chuffed with it.

Where do you see The BitterSweet Review in five years?
We’d love to expand and do more writing workshops, limited editions and digital stuff. But independent publishing is tough enough as it is, so we take it day by day, one thing at a time.

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