Electric Literature Announces New Editor-in-Chief

Denne Michele Norris is the first Black, openly trans woman to helm a major literary publication

Denne Michele Norris, photo by Hilary Leichter

Electric Literature’s new editor-in-chief is Denne Michele Norris, who previously served as Fiction Editor at Apogee Journal and Senior Fiction Editor for The Rumpus. She co-hosts the popular podcast Food 4 Thot, which was recently named one of four “Dating Podcasts To Make You Feel Better About Your Life” by the New York Times. Norris is the first Black and openly transgender woman to serve as editor-in-chief of a major U.S. literary publication. 

“It’s a dream come true to lead and represent a publication with such an impressive history,” said Norris. “Electric Lit has long been a platform for stories that are rarely told, and even more rarely amplified. I look forward to keeping Electric Lit at the forefront of the literary zeitgeist and publishing work of the highest caliber that critically and beautifully examines our ever-evolving cultural context.”  

Norris is a proven champion of new and emerging voices. As Fiction Editor at Apogee Journal in 2017, Norris selected and edited “Eula,” the first published story in Deesha Philyaw’s acclaimed 2020 short story collection, The Secret Lives of Church Ladies. As Senior Fiction Editor at The Rumpus, multiple stories she edited were awarded the PEN Robert J. Dau Prize for Debut Short Stories. An accomplished writer, she has been awarded fellowships from MacDowell, VCCA, Tin House, and the Kimbilio Center for African American Fiction, and her own stories have appeared in McSweeney’s, and American Short Fiction. 

“Denne is certain to electrify our mission to make literature exciting, relevant, and inclusive,” said executive director Halimah Marcus. “There are so many people already having important conversations outside the literary establishment—Electric Literature is a home for those people, and they will feel even more welcomed with Denne at the helm.”

“I’m thrilled to have Denne’s unique combination of editorial acumen and stylish wit as head of the Electric Lit team,” added board member Meredith Talusan. “That she also has intimate knowledge of many marginalized communities both within and outside literary circles makes her the perfect person to invigorate EL’s editorial priorities.”

Founded in 2009, Electric Lit is an independent publishing nonprofit with an annual readership of five million. Everything we publish is available for free online, including two weekly literary magazines and daily book coverage. Work published in Electric Lit has been recognized by Best American Short Stories, Essays, Poetry, and Comics, The Pushcart Prize, and the PEN/O’Henry Prize, among others. Authors published in Electric Lit range from the debut and emerging to the critically acclaimed, and EL has been an early champion of writers such as Marie Helene Bertino, Clare Sesnovitch, Kiik Araki-Kawaguchi, Helen Phillips, Riane Konc, Kawai Strong Washburn, and editor-at-large Brandon Taylor.

Among our most influential articles are: the essays “Men Recommend David Foster Wallace to Me” by Deidre Coyle, “There’s Nothing Scarier Than a Hungry Woman,” by Laura Maw, and “What I Don’t Tell My Students About the Husband Stitch” by Jane Dykema; an interview with Ted Chiang about the sci-fi elements of the pandemic; the #metoo short story “Someone is Recording” by Lynn Coady; and a genre-bending interview/performance piece with and by Carmen Maria Machado. Our readers also look forward to an annual list of books by women of color by R.O. Kwon, an advice column by Elisa Gabbert and John Cotter, and investigations of unfinished literary works by Kristopher Jansma.

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