People Design Writing

STICKY FINGERS & SWEET SELF-EXPRESSION: Honey Literary Disrupts in Style

online publication and nonprofit org co-founded by UWEC’s Dr. Dorothy Chan will release fifth issue in early 2023

McKenna Scherer |

OH, HONEY. The BIPOC-focused literary publication and nonprofit is bustin' a move while it busts down barriers. (Photos via Honey Literary's social medias)
OH, HONEY. The BIPOC-focused literary publication and nonprofit is bustin' a move while it busts down barriers. (Photos via Honey Literary's social media, the above from its website)

Honey Literary was created during the height of the Black Lives Matter protests in Minneapolis in 2020. Born from feelings of anger and anguish with the goal and hope of creating something better in the literary space, co-founder and editor-in-chief Dr. Dorothy Chan cut out the middle-man in their search for a BIPOC-rooted and focused publication, creating Honey Literary

Founded by and its masthead made up of women and femmes of color, Honey Literary is both an online journal and nonprofit organization, focused on platforming work by other BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ individuals. With four issues under its belt, Honey recently closed its window of submissions for its next release, set for Valentine’s Day in 2023. Honey publishes written work like poetry, essays, interviews, “rants and raves,” hybrid pieces, and more. 

Chan, known in the area for their many accomplishments and work as a professor of English at UW-Eau Claire – also recently being awarded the Poorman Award for Outstanding Achievement on Behalf of LGBTQ+ People –  is also widely recognized for their renowned publications, including their four poetry collections (Chinatown Sonnets, Attack of the Fifty-Foot Centerfold, Revenge of the Asian Woman, BABE).



co-founder and editor in chief

Honey Literary, though, is something Chan had only dreamt of for some time. The beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States and the BLM protests perhaps signaled the end of their time of waiting for something like it. “I believe during that time a lot of people and companies were performing performative activism or allyship, especially on social media,” Chan recalled. “During that time, I was very angry, and I was thinking a lot about my industry.”

Chan has been an editor for about a decade and has now served on mastheads of various literary journals, and is able to recount numerous uncomfortable situations where they were the only person of and/or woman of color, having to argue why other folks of color’s work was “quote-on-quote, valid.”

Honey Literary is a disruption of all that. I was like, ‘Why can’t we just cut out the middleman and have all people of color on staff? Why can’t we create this so-called paradise?’ So, I essentially did that.” 

Alongside their partner Dr. Rita Mookerjee (current Poetry and Sex, Kink, and the Erotic Editor), they founded Honey Literary. Since then, the masthead has grown to include Christina Giarrusso (Animals Editor), Zakiya Cowan and Diamond Forde (Interviews Editors), Eugenia Leigh (Valentines Editor), Nabila Lovelace (Rants and Raves Editor), Stephanie Tom (Hybrid Editor) and Aja St. Germaine (Essays Editor). 

“(Having an editorship of) all women of color and queers of color, everything’s a lot easier because, at the very root, you’re not arguing with someone over these fundamental principles. Instead, we can talk about, ‘Oh, I love this piece because’ … and that just makes everything a lot easier,” Chan said. 

Aja St. Germaine, a UW-Eau Claire graduate and Chippewa Valley local, was a mentee of Chan’s as they studied Critical Studies of Cultures and Literature in English and interned at Honey Literary this past summer following their graduation. As Honey’s Essays Editor, they curate each essay's section with pieces that overcome white-centered work and break stylistic boundaries, mixing media and “queering the rules,” they said.

“I witnessed the impactful advocacy of Chan as a queer of color writer, editor, and professor,” St. Germaine recalled. “Their intermediate poetry class changed a lot for me: for the first time, I could fully conceptualize what it meant to selfishly seek my passions as a queer mixed student, and it is so deliciously liberatory.”

Having grown up in Eau Claire, St. Germaine has a unique perspective on the kind of access the average child and student has to content like Honey’s – of which, there was not much, in their time. “A kid like myself in Eau Claire needed to be reading Honey Literary and that becomes a reality when QTPOC literature is as accessible as possible,” they explained. “I often describe the impact Honey Literary has, but I never do it justice … we are publishing works that are underrepresented in the literary realm, writers that people need to be reading.” 

Honey Literary being an online publication also heightens its accessibility, something Chan and St. Germaine noted. Free to view and free for creators to submit to, Honey is representative of the tides of writers and artists no longer accepting white-centric bounds previously set before them, and it is doing it in an intensely individual, and arguably sexy, liberating way. 

Read Honey Literary’s first four issues online today until its fifth issue is released on Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2023. 

Visit to learn more and read Honey Literary's previous issues and follow them on Facebook and Instagram