Founding Mother of Headmistress Press

Hexmistress Jess is the name I gave myself in 2013, after I had been kicked out of the press I co-founded and named: Headmistress Press.

At the time I came up with the name ‘Hexmistress Jess’ for myself, I was twenty-eight years old and had just been kicked out of a publishing company that I invented by two fellow lesbian writers. They had created a business plan that left me high and dry while using me as a sort of start-up for their company, of which I was led to believe I was a member. I believed their overtures and thought I was an equal co-founder and co-operator of the press, but I was wrong. I had been misled and exploited by my former cohorts; my creativity had been used, my ideas had been stolen, and eventually I was discarded.

Eventually, after a short period following this experience, I decided to focus my attention on the path ahead, not behind, and was able to conjure my way toward restorative justice. I gave myself the name Hexmistress Jess, Our Lady of Substitutive Lesbian Justice.

Head is the key word here. Because Headmistress Press, literally, came from my head– my imagination. The concept of a Sapphic school and the concept of literary Sapphic mistresses –and the playful, flowery headmistressy concepts that defined the press came from my head. I created and built the foundation of the press. HP was my brainchild, taken from me by my unfortunately ethically deficient former cohorts. Thus, I had to use my head to take back my brainchild while allowing the crooked cohorts to shirk responsibility and move on without me.

And so: Head became synonymous with Hex and Jess (my name) became an obvious and poignant substitution for Press.

I decided to substitute Hex for Head, and continued the radical substitutive linguistic practices that I started long ago, the ones that are the foundation of the Headmistress Press that Mary Meriam and Risa Denenberg are now running and profiting. My part in the history of the press will not be erased.

“Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” (Dylan Thomas)

Headmistress Press came from within me, and a literary mother has literary birthrights. The press was created with the goal of combating, via linguistic art, the erasure of lesbian lives and histories, which is certainly ironic, given that in some quarters, the lesbian who invented HP has been virtually erased from its history (herstory).

The persona of Hexmistress Jess developed over time, eventually resulting in performance art and fiction and the ‘Language of Hex’ — hex-wife, hex-nuns, hexuality studies, hexology, cliterary theory, cliterature, and nun-fiction: a genre I invented in ’15.

My substitutive practices are most closely linked to two lesbian writers of definite genius, both of whom I respect: Gertrude Stein and Mary Daly.

I was never a visiting mistress at Headmistress Press, as they at times have indicated on their website. That was not my role. “Visiting Mistress” was a name that my former cohorts gave me after in an attempt to create a false narrative about my role. Not at all a ‘visiting mistress,’ I am actually the one who conjured Headmistress Press into existence. I am the inventor of the name and idea of Headmistress Press and a co-founder/creator of the press. I spent eight months of my life, close to the time it takes to grow a child in one’s womb, devoted to getting HP on her feet because it was a labor of absolute love and Sapphic devotion for me. It was not a business venture for me nor was it a way to make a profit; it was a way to give birth to ideas that were in my head.

I named Headmistress Press after someone in my life that I admired, loved, and wished to honor, as well as based on Sappho of Lesbos– mostly, based on the conflation of the two sources. I am a lifelong student and teacher of Sapphology (a term I began using in 2013), a writer, a performer, a conjurer, a neologism whiz, a nun sympathizer, a mother raging with love and devotion, and a social justice Sapphologist with Hexpertise in The Sapphic Arts.

My name is Jessica Lowell Mason, co-founder and former co-operator of Headmistress Press, co-founder of Madwomen in the Attic (MITA), and graduate student in the Global Gender and Sexuality Studies PhD program at the University at Buffalo.

I created this website to honor my herstory, and to honor the herstory of Headmistress Press – as well as to continue the work I was starting when I created HP in 2013. This site will be used as my personal website. Here, I will honor the spirit of Headmistress Press by sharing some fragments of my life and work.

exiles 022
Mother of Exiles
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3 Comments Add yours

  1. epicfutures says:

    All power to you, Hextastic One. If you would do me the honour of writing a guest post for me sometime, I would be enthralled. If you would write for a cis male / but also gender rebellious blogger. I operate by the principle of 13, which is itself a hex on patriarchy. This hex principle is that of every significant 13 I work with, 7 at least will be non-male and only 6 at most can be male. Similarly, out of every 13, 7 at least will be non-white and only 6 at most can be white. Over time, as my projects increase in power, so will this subtle hex increase its magick. Look out for Ninjin on my home page. Ninjin is not developed yet, but Ninjin will be way beyond the 13 hex. Ninjin will be radical female culture geographically located…all-female towns, cities and regions or at least such that are 80% or so female. Something I predict to happen before 2100, so I may as well support it and help facilitate it, even though I be male. Also, check out the post on Jesus I just wrote.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello, Friend, Thank you for your comment, and especially for your use of hextastic. I would be glad to collaborate linguistically with you in some way. Let me know if you wish to engage in further discourse. I am finding your website difficult to navigate because of the combination of the red background and the dark blue writing. It is very difficult to read and gives me a headache (I do enjoy a good head+ache now and then, and now again, metaphorically, but it makes it literally eye-ache inducing and difficult to concentrate and hard to see). Colors appear differently on certain screens. My suggestion is for a lighter text color– or, if you must, a different background color. I appreciate the symbolic choice of wine-red, life-giving menstrual blood-red for the background, but I think the text has to be adjusted if you wish for it to be accessible to others. I also could not contact you or communicate with you in any way via your site, hence my decision to respond here to your comment. There was no avenue for contact– no way to leave comments, etc. This may be something you will want to address. I enjoy your predictions about radical female culture. I’ve often longed for Lesbos for this reason. A safer space for women that protects them against the male violence of this world. Problems of violence, and virtually all threats against our survival on the planet, would be decreased radically with a disruption in the role of testosterone and with a dismantling of the imperialist construction of manhood. My best wishes, and thank you for visiting my site. At some point, please reveal your identity to me. My Sapphic Best, Hexmistress Jess

      Liked by 1 person

      1. epicfutures says:

        I agree about text. Was working on it. Also there is a contact form under ‘Engage’; a bit hidden I know. I’ll make more accessable. My name is Matthew Leveret but I want to change my name soon to Tehanu, who is a girl in a Le Guin book who is also a dragon. I will reply properly soon.

        Liked by 1 person

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