Eric K. Delehoy
of Gertrude Press; presenting a reading with Henry Alley, Janet Buck, and Laura Puryear Finnell, In Other Words bookstore, 3734 SE Hawthorne, Sept. 10 @ 7 pm
After years of submitting his writings to periodicals that largely featured works like love poems "to a leather daddy with a cockring," Eric Delehoy decided that if nobody was going to address the dearth of quality queer literary outlets, he would. And so, in the middle of Colorado, 1999, the magazine Gertrude, a collection of gay-oriented poetry, fiction, artwork, essays, and interviews, was born. Two years later, Delehoy moved the operation to Portland, where the publication has blossomed into the eight-member organization Gertrude Press. In April, Gertrude will begin putting out fiction and poetry chapbooks, with the goal of moving on to full-on books and providing writing workshops for queer youths and elders. This Saturday, Delehoy and Co. celebrate the ninth issue of Gertrude—and their extremely bright future—with notable queer writers Henry Alley (novelist), Janet Buck, and Laura Puryear Finnell (both poets).
Do you have to identify as homo- or bisexual to submit to Gertrude?
One thing cool about the press is that we're one of the very few that publishes men or women, gay or straight, alongside each other. What you'll find in the queer literature world is something like the Harrington Gay Men's Quarterly, which is men only. So we're unique that way. It's pretty competitive, though. In the latest issue, we accepted about 3-5 percent of the submissions we received.
How do you keep editing Gertrude year in and year out?
A year ago I was determining whether or not to just shut Gertrude down completely—it's expensive and it's really hard work. I happened to be in jury duty and some people there were talking about being excited about collecting some signatures for Measure 36. It stuck with me and I thought I had to keep going with it because there just aren't that many places for alternative views and voices any more. There aren't as many small bookstores anymore, and there aren't as many small presses. The big corporate bookstores are really starting to control what is being published.
It seems like you feel rejuvenated now.
In the past Gertrude was something I was just in charge of, with five or six people assisting. But now it's not just my baby—it's an actual organization that's growing. New ideas are coming in and new energy, and we're accomplishing a lot in a short time. Everyone who's been a part of it in Portland has been wonderful, and I've seen more possibilities and more energies directed into new areas. It's cool.