By The Seventh Wave

At The Seventh Wave, intentionality and accessibility are at the heart of everything we do. Ever since we began in 2015, we’ve endeavored to be as inclusive as possible in our offerings, staying nimble to respond to the ever-changing literary landscape. As a BIPOC- and queer-led organization, we are committed to meeting folks wherever they might be in their creative journeys, and we’ve continued to evolve in order to find a sound and sustainable way to do so. To give you an idea of where we began and how we’ve grown, here is a little timeline of our organization’s history:

2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
2019
2020
2021
2022
2023

At The Seventh Wave, intentionality and accessibility are at the heart of everything we do. Ever since we began in 2015, we’ve endeavored to be as inclusive as possible in our offerings, staying nimble to respond to the ever-changing literary landscape. As a BIPOC- and queer-led organization, we are committed to meeting folks wherever they might be in their creative journey, and we made these decisions because we are committed to creating community in the digital space and knew we needed to find a sound and sustainable way to do so. To give you an idea of where we began and how we evolved over the past seven years, here is a little timeline of our shared history:

  • November 2014, we began as an idea: four friends from The New School met for coffees, and began dreaming about the possibility of a digital publication dedicated to real-life conversations.  
  • February 2015, The Challenge Grant: shortly after thinking of the name, The Seventh Wave, we came across The New School’s Challenge Grant — a $10K to new ideas from grad students — and applied with seconds to spare. We applied with only a logo and an idea, and we not only won the public vote contest — amassing 2,500 supporters in two weeks without publishing a single piece — we were also finalists for the grant. Though we didn’t win the monetary support, we felt buoyed by our community. This gave us the inspiration to see our magazine into being.
  • March – October 2015, Incubation: we spent the first half of the year becoming a non-profit organization, creating an initial strategic plan, crafting our first call for submissions for Issue 1, which became “Perception Gaps, and continuing to build community by hosting intimate roundtable gatherings, rooftop gatherings, and spaces for artists, writers, and activists to engage and exchange with each other.
  • November 2015, First Issue + Launch Event: We published Issue 1: Perception Gaps with a traditional launch event at 61 Local (which has since closed), giving our contributors the stage to read from their work. Over 120 folks gathered on the second floor of this Brooklyn bar to welcome TSW into being. You can see an album of pictures here taken by Dania Bdeir.
  • 2016, the year of three issues: we hit the ground running in 2016, publishing 3 issues — Issue 2: Labels, Issue 3: Who Gets to Belong, and Issue 4: You Are Politics — and hosting events for each one. One of our favorite events was for Issue 2: Labels, where we hosted a spoken word performance at The Nuyorican Poets Cafe, putting our contributors onstage alongside other local NYC-based writers and performers. We published half of Issue 4: You Are Politics before the November 2016 US Election and half after, knowing that this election would alter the direction of histories. The result of the election reminded us of the power of narratives and importance of publishing voices from marginalized communities. 
  • July 2016, First Rhinebeck Residency: in early 2016, we were offered the opportunity to host a staff retreat at The Crystal Cottage in Rhinebeck, NY by our now-Board President Tatiana Serafin. Learning that the property is set on 27 acres and accommodates 8, we asked Tatiana if we could instead host a writing residency, bringing 4 writers and artists to join our 4 staff for 4 days of quiet collaboration. She says yes, and this becomes our first in-person residency. At this time, the residency brought 4 of our issue contributors together, allowing us to work with 25% of the people we would be publishing in the upcoming issue. 
  • Winter 2016, shifting toward a residency-based magazine model: with the introduction of our Rhinebeck Residency, we began ideating on ways to bring our online conversations and issues to life by offering in-person programs and opportunities for writers and artists. From 2016 – 2018, we hosted our Rhinebeck Residency annually, bringing 4 writers/artists from those issues together.  
  • July 2017, introduced Birches LitFest + annual fundraising campaigns: the following year, 
  • 2018, the year in which we went bicoastal: at the end of 2017, two of our cofounders moved to Seattle, WA. As they began setting down roots on the west coast, TSW naturally started to became a bicoastal organization, which solidified when local author Steph Jagger offered her property to us to host a Rhinebeck Residency equivalent in the Pacific Northwest. In 2018, we partnered with local organizations like Open Books: A Poem Emporium, The Collective Seattle, Hugo House, The Seattle Public Library, and Elliott Bay Bookstore.   
  • January 2019, received our first grant: TSW received its first grant from ArtsWA — the Washington State Arts Commission — to launch its first-ever Bainbridge Residency at The Bloedel Bunkhouse. This grant provided funds for the operational costs of the program, allowing us to now have a resideny on both coasts: Rhinebeck Residency in upstate New York and Bainbridge Residency, a ferry-ride away from Seattle, WA.
  • February 2019, held our 1st Bainbridge Residency: by adding our Bainbridge Residency, we now had two residencies per year: Bainbridge in winter and Rhinebeck in summer. At the same time, we decided upon a cadence of two digital issues per year, each of which was tethered to one of our residencies, which meant that we were able to work with 25% of the people we published. 
  • February 2020, TSW brings on 10 new staff: after settling into what felt like a concrete editorial and operational model, with 2 issues and 2 residencies per year, we spent 1 year planning on scaling TSW. In February 2020, we brought on 10 new stipend-based staff members, adding roles like Events Director, Arts Director, Director of Advocacy, Interviews Editor, and more, but this new energy was short-lived, as the pandemic put the entire world on pause.
  • March 2020, pandemic hits: when the pandemic hit, we knew there was no going back. We had to pause our newly-developed bicoastal residency program. Knowing that the pandemic could last years, we built a virtual residency, which we called our “Editorial Residency,” as a placeholder. This was a five-month, $500-grant opportunity for 4 writers and artists. From 2020 o 2022, we hosted 4 cohorts of this program, providing grants to 16 writers and artists during the pandemic.
  • 2020, the year of never-ending change: as a digital magazine, change was something we were used to. We felt prepared: we paused our in-person residencies and created a virtual one within a month of the pandemic first hitting; we launched a 40-week reading series, Seven at Seven, that featured 40 writers during the first stretch of the pandemic; we launched a Mind Capsule Project, which followed 40 individuals (our quaranta, as we called them) throughout the first 10 weeks of the pandemic, and even published our first print anthology, We Keep Beginning, which was an anthology on process, showcasing 28 of our contributors from 10 issues and 5 years of publishing.  
  • July 2020, TSW receives Literary Art Emergency Fund: we were thrilled to be one of the national literary magazines to receive emergency funding by CLMP, as 2020 was the year we first went into the red, as our fundraising model was disrupted (we used to bring in 75% of our funding through an in-person gala and silent auction).
  • August 2020, TSW publishes first anthology: we printed our first anthology, We Keep Beginning: an anthology on process, designed by Bianca Ng, our 2020-2022 Artist-in-Residence. We created TSW’s first online store for this anthology, selling tote bags, artist series postcards, and more. The anthology showcased 28 past TSW contributors across 10 issues and 5 years of publishing.
  • July 2021, TSW named Finalist for CLMP Firecraker Award: TSW was honored to be a Finalist for the annual CLMP Firecracker Awards for General Excellence: Magazine. We were among some of our favorite outlets that year, and were being recognized for the two issues we published in 2020: Issue 12: Actionable Storytelling and Issue 13: Rebellious Joy.
  • Winter 2021 – Spring 2022, introduced first cohort of One Time Talks: we launched a new digital series, our One Time Intimate Talks, which have since rebranded to One Time Talks, which bring readers within arms’ reach of their favorite writers. Our first cohort in Winter 2021 – Spring 2022 included Melissa Febos, Donika Kelly, Ruth Ozeki, Kaveh Akbar, Destiny O. Birdsong, Jane Wong, Callum Angus, Elsa Sjunneson, and Kristen Millares Young. This first run of the program was a part of our community fundraiser in 2022, but this program is being reintroduced in 2023 as a standing program, which allows us to make it more consistent and accessible to our community. See One-Time Talks for more info.
  • July 2022, resumed and reimagined in-person residencies: with in-person events and programs feeling more possible, we reintroduced our Rhinebeck Residency in July 2022, but not without reimagining it: we turned this 4-day residency into a 2-week residency, opening it up to past TSW contributors only, giving folks the time, space, and place to work on longer-length manuscripts and work. You’ll see more below on the other changes that went into this shift in programming, but you can also read more about our in-person residency programs here.
  • August – December 2022, TSW presses pause for first time on publication: in the pandemic, we saw some of our favorite outlets shuttering. It was, and still is, a difficult time for art nonprofits and digital magazines. We are no different: in 2022, we reached our own breaking points, and for the first time since 2015, we paused publication to regroup with our staff and brainstorm on a more sustainable business model for our arts organization. While we were receiving annual grants to help TSW survive, we were barely breaking even, and the pace at which we were publishing was not sustainable. We spent six months ideating on changes to TSW that would allow us to function more holistically. 
  • January 2023, TSW begins rolling out new model: beginning in 2023, we have three clear channels to our business operations: our annual literary magazine, our residency programs (in-person and digital), and our community platforms (community anthologies, Well-Crafted, #TSWIRL and more). Some of our programs fund people (our magazine pays our contributors), some of our programs cost money to partake (our Digital Residency program costs money to attend), and some of our platforms are subscription-based (#TSWIRL, which launches in 2024). We have created these programs and offerings as equitably as possible, keeping in mind the value of arts on both sides of the publishing process. 
  • March 2023, TSW hosts key events for AWP: with AWP coming to Seattle in March 2023, it was a moment for us to host events in our now hometown. We were thrilled to partner with CAM and The Sorrento Hotel to bring two signature events to life, both of which brought together 50+ people for evenings of art and conversation.
  • May 2023, TSW partners with Seattle City of Lit: we hosted a second Bainbridge Residency this year in May 2023 (we usually only host one in February of every year), as it was a special partnership with the Seattle City of Literature that brought an international writer, Claudia Klingenschmid, to Seattle and our 4-day writing residency. 
  • June 2023, TSW launches new website: a year in the making, TSW launches its new digital home, showcasing its magazine, digital programs, and platforms in unparalleled ways. We are indebted to Meg Sykes, our Art Director, for building us this website after 7 years of publishing. This website, which is our center for storytelling, has enabled us to create new programs that will help elevate twice as many writers and artists per year.
  • June 2023, TSW launches Community Anthologies program: we are thrilled to introduce this new, cohort-based storytelling program, which gives 4 Editors-in-Chief the editorial keys to TSW. Working alongside each other in a cohort, these EICs will be curating their own mini-issues, showcasing the work of 7 individuals. Get to know our 2023 EICs and more about this program here
  • June 2023, TSW launches Well-Crafted column: for the first time, TSW now has a community column, called Well-Crafted, our behind-the-scenes bulletin, where we share all things craft and curation, events and announcements. Keep an eye on this space, as it will share our secrets and insights to applying for residencies, announce opportunities for submissions, and much more.
  • Fall 2023 and beyond, TSW continues to grow: we are excited to sink into this new era and model of publishing, and can’t wait to see our anthologies, Well-Crafted column, Digital Residency, and #TSWIRL Club can do for the literary and arts communities near and far. Sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date on all things TSW.

We look forward to seeing where we go, and grow, together.

Upcoming
  • MARCH | Call for 2024 Community Anthology EICs opens
  • MARCH | Application for Digital Residencies opens

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