RELEASE: Burnt out female creative director launches anti-colonialist indie press, because why the fuck not

creativeonion Press celebrates outsider voices with release of first two black-authored titles, forges ahead where mainstream publishers fear to tread

“There’s something freeing about having little left to lose,” says creativeonion Press founder and publisher, Marjorie Steele. “For me, starting the press wasn’t so much a conscious decision, as it was something I couldn’t NOT do. I’d failed at just about everything else in my career: being an in-house creative director, starting my own agency, founding a nonprofit arts journal. And none of those were my own vision. Now I’m just too tired to do anything inauthentic. That means publishing the books I want to read. It just feels inevitable. Like Thanos.”

Thanks to a broad network of fellow writers from years of writing on Medium.com, and through her work in arts, human rights, and cannabis journalism, Steele says she’s developed a robust cabinet of potential authors — the vast majority of these, she says, are emergent authors. Many have no formal training, being entirely self-taught.

“Some of the work I’ve come across on Medium over the years is absolutely phenomenal. Entirely fresh,” says Steele. “But there’s never any space held in the digital world for creative writing–longform memoir, poetry, and fiction–the kind of material which actually engages the human psyche at a subconscious level, tapping into our collective subconscious’ love for stories. I knew my colleagues’ work needed to be shared with the world — their knowledge and viewpoints are critical to breaking the barriers between us, and to raising our collective consciousness as humans.”

Clearly, Steele notes, there’s a massive gap in the publishing industry for so-called “non-traditional,” non-academic voices from lower socioeconomic classes and racial minorities. Black, indigenous, and lower class white voices make up the lion’s share of the US population, yet remain the least represented in print, let alone presented in their original vernacular. To the former SEO copywriter and chronic entrepreneur, Steele sees not only a moral imperative to make the industry more equitable, but also a serious business opportunity.

“People are sick of the same old tone, and rehashed true crime drama and fiction which voyeuristically glorifies violence and abuse,” Steele says. “They want stories about magic, and ancestors. They want a spiritual revolution. They want fresh philosophies. They want that weird shit. And so do I.”

Getting the press off the ground has been slow going, unfortunately, despite a strong professional and personal network. CPTSD-level burnout from over a decade of fast-paced white collar and independent contractor work has left Steele handicapped, making basic productivity and communication a struggle for the ambitious entrepreneur.

“I don’t even want to talk about my most recent batch of failures,” Steele says. “Most days, checking email is like facing the Balroc of Moria. But what the hell else am I going to do? Give up? Lay down and let my and my colleagues’ talents go to waste because I let my trauma get the best of me? No. I’m going to fucking do this, and trust that my mind and body will heal as I continue to do authentic, meaningful work.”

To date, that work has culminated in creativeonion Press’ first two titles: Songs for the Cleveland Avenue Warriors by Gary E. Moore, and SOUL COLLECTOR, by Duvay Knox. Works of poetry and fiction respectively, both are authored by black men who are publishing in print for the first time.

Songs delivers an alternative view of urban gang violence and black masculinity, and levies heavy critiques at the imperialist capitalist systems which have embedded trauma into black and native ancestral memory. A father and inner city schoolteacher, Moore’s poetic debut is witty, poignant, and stunningly authentic.

Soul Collector, described by the author as “urban folklore,” takes its anti-authoritarian musings beyond the grave, in a page-turning novella that makes Meet Joe Black feel like a suburban white kid’s bedtime story. Knox is scathing, hilarious, irreverent, and speaks in an unfiltered dialect all his own.

creativeonion Press is also the publisher of COSGRRRL, a nerd literary magazine. Issues 1 and 2 of COSGRRRL: The Elemental Series are currently available, with issues 3–5 slated for release in 2022.

An anthology of lower class memoirs by popular Medium essayist and outsider soothsayer Brian Brewington is also slated for release by the press later in 2021. Several works are already lined up for the press’ next round of publishing, Steele says.

“It’s an incredible privilege to represent these works,” Steele says, “And we’ve got much more where that came from–Lord willing and the creek don’t rise.”

All titles published by creativeonion Press can be purchased at creativeonionpress.com, through major online retailers, and through bookstores. Retailers and libraries may purchase titles through Ingram Content Group. Media issue requests and submission questions may be sent to kyle@creativeonion.me.

About the Publisher

Marjorie Steele was born in a barn, raised by an agnostic conspiracy nut, and grew up reading fantasy novels in the woods of Michigan. With a bachelor’s of arts in creative writing and anthropology from Western Washington University, Marjorie has spent the last decade doing commercial creative work as an independent contractor, the last five years teaching adjunct at Kendall College of Art & Design, and has been an independent journalist for national publications such as Leafly and Belt Magazine, covering topics ranging from native plants to homelessness to fine art. Marjorie is politically independent, and she identifies as a female, chaotic good, gnostic druid. Tl;dr–sometimes she hugs trees.

About the Press

creativeonion Press is a brand new, independent publisher of cross-genre literature, focused on fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, spirituality, and divergent cultural perspectives. Woman owned and operated, creativeonion Press is the love child of Medium.com dropout Marjorie Steele and the myriad of unpublished, outsider authors who have inspired her. Anti-colonialist at its core, the Press welcomes voices from a diverse range of socioeconomic perspectives, and its titles are selected to stimulate and intrigue readers in underserved markets such as black literature. creativeonion Press is also the publisher of COSGRRRL, a nerd literary magazine founded in 2017. Books for purchase and more info are available at creatvieonionpress.com.

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marjorie steele

poet, educator, hillbilly gnostic pagan. teaching business to designers.