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The Feministing Five: Kayla E. of Nat Brut

Earlier this month, we were excited to see an infographic that connected well-known feminists with those emerging feminists who inspire them. The creators behind that infographic were literary and arts magazine, Nat. Brut.  This week, spoke to Editor-In-Chief Kayla E. to learn more about Nat Brut’s commitment to equality, diversity, and inclusion in literary arts.

Kayla E. portrait

Kayla E.

Nat. Brut is challenging the way traditional literary and art magazines view equality, diversity, and inclusion. Not only that, but they are creating some amazing works throughout the process. Along with their gorgeous online journal and stunning print issue, they have recently moved over to platforms like Medium, where they highlight the voices of emerging feminist creators.

Kayla’s (by extension Nat. Brut’s) excitement, enthusiasm, and willingness to try to new things is fantastic. It is exactly what you need as you launch a new type of feminist project. If you are interested in getting your hands on a print copy of Nat. Brut Issue 6 or want to support their mission of making literary and arts publishing more inclusive, you should check out their current Indiegogo campaign.

And now, without further ado, the Feministing Five with Kayla E.!

Suzanna Bobadilla: What is Nat Brut and what its mission? 

Kayla E.: Nat Brut is a biannual journal of art and literature. It started out as an online publication that featured emerging artists, sort of a “Best Of” feature and would often pair well-known contributors with emerging contributors.

Because of my background (I’m queer, half-Mexican, and come from a working-class background), I can’t help but project my own desires on what a publication should look like and aim for. When I took over Nat Brut in 2014, I completely transformed what Nat Brut should look like and types of voices it should highlight.

Now Nat Brut is also available in print and we specifically aim to advance equality and inclusivity in all creative fields. It’s very interdisciplinary. For example, we have a comics section that is almost a mini-anthology. It’s beautiful. For our newest issue, the comics section is all non-male cartoonists, which is really rare and exciting. Online, we always have a short film that we release with animation. We have massive art, full-color features. We are also super committed to sustainability and we try to minimize our carbon footprint with recycled paper. Every issue that gets made goes into the hands of a loving reader. The house that Nat. Brut is run out of runs on green energy and I’m a vegan!

Our goals are to look like a ‘normal literary magazine’ like you might see on the stand, but ultimately we are not drawing from the same white, heteronormative sources that constitute the status quo for art and literary publishing. The idea is to normalize ideas of inclusivity and diversity within the mode of mainstream artists and writers.

SB: One of the reasons why Nat Brut is so exciting to me is because you are bridging these various media cultures, print and online; literary and art magazine and more social-media oriented feminist commentary. How has that process been like so far? 

KE: We are relatively young and we are still figuring this out in our trial and error phase of our existence. For example, after the release Issue 6, we are going to be moving back more towards an online format and publish a “Best of Anthology” once a year.

At the same time, we aim to try out new interdisciplinary projects. For example, we released this infographic that went viral a little over a week ago and it was our first experience in reaching a real audience. We reached tens of thousands of people and the content that we produced meant something to them. We are also publishing these pieces on Medium where we asking feminist creatives to recommend and amplify other feminist creatives who may not yet have a lot of attention.

This type content is successful and it’s bringing more viewers to the meat-and-potatoes of Nat. Brut — the poetry, the fiction, the long-form features. We are excited to continue to figure out how we fit in with other feminist publications, however we continue with our print / digital hybrid.

SB: Speaking of, the recent infographic was a hit. How are you feeling about the way it was received? 

KE: We are really happy! Going into it, we didn’t have the intention of being that popular. We really wanted to amplify really bad-ass women who were doing important things. We hoped that it would mean something to them. Getting it spread so far and wide was a complete shock for us. No one on staff had dealt with that before.

We realized how thirsty the young emerging feminist community is for recognition, just to be told that you matter, what you are doing is important, and that others see you. I think that’s why the infographic was so successful, because it filled that need and provided a great support system.

Feminist Twitter is a great thing, but sometimes it can be difficult to bring in feminists of different backgrounds and have us all sit together and encourage one another. One of the great things about the infographic was that it was a intersectional display of women. Unfortunately there were no trans women on the infographic, but we will be producing another infographic and we will be sure to feature more LGBTQ voices.

We realized that although our magazine features a diversity of feminist voices, it can be hard to visually notice, and the infographic did a great job of highlighting those new voices.

SB: How can new writers or readers get more involved with Nat. Brut? 

KE: Oh hell yeah! Submissions are open twice a year and they will open up again this winter. We would love submissions from anyone (they are free!). We are always open to people who want to get involved with producing Nat Brut and joining our team as well.

Of course, if people want to support our Indiegogo, they are also welcome to and that would be amazing. They will get a copy of Issue 6 and it’s really, really good. Our best one yet! I’m very proud of it. You can follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

SB: You’re stranded on a desert island and you can take with you one food, one drink, and one feminist. What do you choose? 

KE: For my food, pinto beans. Beans make being vegan easy; also, a cup of beans a day apparently adds four years to your life! For my drink, citrus flavored Kombucha. I buy these by the case at a discount grocery store in south Dallas — I’m addicted. And for my feminist, I’d bring one of my all-time favorite feminist heroes: Siuox writer and activist Zitkala-Ša.

Header image credit: Daniela Yohannes

San Francisco, CA

Suzanna Bobadilla is a writer, activist, and digital strategist. According to legend, she first publicly proclaimed that she was a feminist at the age of nine in her basketball teammate's mini-van. Things have obviously since escalated. After graduating from Harvard in 2013, she became a founding member of Know Your IX's ED ACT NOW. She is curious about the ways feminists continue to use technology to create social change and now lives in San Francisco. She believes that she has the sweetest gig around – asking bad-ass feminists thoughtful questions for the publication that has taught her so much. Her views, bad jokes and all, are her own. For those wondering, if she was stranded on a desert island and had to bring one food, one drink, and one feminist, she would bring chicken mole, a margarita, and her momma.

Suzanna Bobadilla is a writer, activist, and digital strategist.

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