Filed under: Announcements, Art, Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry
The Fall issue features our annual Fiction contest. For more information on how to enter our contests, please see the contest submission guidelines.
We only accept submissions through our Submission Manager. Please submit your work electronically. Simultaneous submissions are acceptable as long as we are notified if a submission under current consideration is accepted elsewhere.
How to Submit
Please use our online Submissions Manager and send a submission that provides:
- A single .doc or.docx document (excepting art submissions) that contains your Cover Letter, followed by your work. Please read the Genre Guidelines for information about formatting your work.
- Your Cover Letter should include your name, address, phone number, email address, how you heard about So to Speak, and brief bio describing your background as a writer or artist and any applicable awards or publications.
- Any applicable contest fees will also be paid online.
We will also notify you about the status of your submission electronically.
- Please send up to 5 poems at a time, not exceeding 10 pages total.
- Poetry submitted during the August 1 – October 15 reading period will be considered for our Spring annual poetry contest & must be accompanied by a $15 reading fee. See contest guidelines.
- Poetry submitted during the January 1 – March 15 reading period will be considered for our Fall issue & requires no reading fee.
- Please submit one prose piece at a time, not exceeding 4,500 words.
- All fiction submissions should be double-spaced with numbered pages.
- Fiction submitted during the January 1 – March 15 reading period will be considered for our Fall annual fiction contest & must be accompanied by a $15 reading fee.
- To enter, submit a manuscripts not exceeding 4,500 words (with double-spaced and numbered pages) and a cover letter through our Submission Manager.
- All entrants will receive a free copy of our Fall 2013 issue.
- Judge: Asali Solomon
- We welcome submissions of personal essays, memoir, profiles, and other nonfiction pieces not exceeding 4,500 words.
- All nonfiction submissions should be double-spaced with numbered pages.
- Nonfiction submitted during the January 1 – March 15 reading period will be considered for our Fall Issue & requires no reading fee.
- Fall 2013 Art Contest: The “Hybrid” Book
- Visual Art submit from January 1-APRIL 15
- click here to view full 2013 contest guidelines.
- Jurors: Helen Fredrick, Alice Bailey, Brigette Reyes.
Failing Feminist or Oversimplified Ideology? Lucy Green Writes on Love and Loss and being a Feminist
I am honored to have my essay “Melt” included in the Spring 2013 issue of So to Speak. I’m also surprised that it found a home in the pages of a feminist journal. When I shared an early version of the piece with a handful of fellow female writers, they bristled at my depiction of my relationships with men. One scrawled on the final page, “= too much like relationships in artifacts.” Another pointed out that it enforced traditional gender binaries, adding, “We meet the narrator almost exclusively in the kitchen, where she prepares and serves food to, for, and provided by men. I would sympathize with the narrator more if I had a sense of her agency. At no point in this story does she assert any sort of claim on her own independence and self-worth.”
Those well-intentioned critiques made me second-guess my identification as a feminist. I chastised myself: An empowered woman would have put up a fight when her husband left her (or better yet walked out on him). A real feminist would have experienced an ecstatic sense of release at the close of a difficult marriage. A strong woman would have felt better off without the bastard. Instead, after the collapse of my nine-year relationship, I felt deprived of some vital organ, felt a fraction of myself. And my cognizance of this reality convinced me (for quite some time) that I had failed as a feminist.
That misguided conclusion underscores the dangers of a rigid and oversimplified feminist ideology. I recognize the value of stories in which women lose (or leave) men and find themselves, stories in which women subvert oppressive conventions, and stories in which women discover meaning in roles traditionally reserved for men. We need those stories. We need them to inspire the bound, abused, exploited, and inhibited among us (and their advocates). But we also need to consider the limits of these narratives. When these are the only valid plotlines, we force women with nonconforming narratives into a place of shame. To feel a void in the wake of a partner’s leaving—to feel paralyzed, lost, shattered—isn’t anti-feminist, it’s human.
And choosing to inhabit my kitchen, to prepare and serve food to my beloved, is not a betrayal of my feminist foremothers or a rejection of the freedom they worked so hard for. It is an expression, in my case, of creativity and love. Coming to this understanding has not been easy. Last summer, I wrote an essay in which I grappled with my guilt about the role cooking played in my romances. A dear friend’s response to that piece gave me the permission I needed to accept this aspect of my relationships. “The impulse to cook for someone else is so lovely and such an act of generosity in its purest sense,” she wrote. “One of the saddest things about ‘feminism’ to me is how it asks us to question such impulses even when they don’t obviously spring from a place of subjugation.”
I feel grateful to be part of a community of artists and friends who challenge me to refine and deepen my feminist identity. I thank So to Speak for the privilege of sharing my thoughts with a broader circle of creators, thinkers, and doers. And I ask you, my fellow feminists, to join me in engaging this question: How might we complicate the feminist canon so that it reflects the nuanced lives of today’s women and affirms their varied approaches to independence, wholeness, and fulfillment?
The following is a guest post by Lynn Casteel Harper, author of Playing the Numbers, nonfiction contest runner-up.
As a woman, an ordained Baptist minister, an interfaith chaplain, a feminist, and a writer, I believe irony and paradox are fundamental. The confluence of faith and feminism may strike some as odd or even contradictory. Others may be well-acquainted with feminists of faith or even count themselves among them. I appreciate this opportunity to share a little about my faith and feminism, and to offer a few words on my essay, “Playing The Numbers.”
I am a Christian—gripped by Jesus’ life and teachings and claimed by the tradition that claims him. I strive for the integration of personal piety and social justice, for a deeper understanding of how personal beliefs and practices shape and are shaped by larger structures of power. I am worried about people pushed aside—the most vulnerable among us: the poor, the widow and orphan, the undocumented. I am worried by beliefs, practices, and policies that perpetuate injustice, and by my own complicity in these systems. I am worried, but I am also hopeful that fear does not have the final word, that we can do and be better.
My faith, oriented toward those on the margins, serves as my perpetual compass.
It points me back again and again to message of the Hebrew prophets, the Sermon on the Mount, and even parts of Paul. It points me to the blessings and curses of history. It points me to my own experiences of being pushed aside and of pushing aside others. It points me to investigate these experiences and chart a more honest and compassionate course. Feminism is a tremendous ally on this journey.
My first sustained encounter with feminism was in divinity school. Feminist theologians like Elizabeth Johnson and biblical scholars like Phyllis Trible helped me better understand oppressive power structures in sacred texts and traditions. Feminism offers resources to resist the particular ways patriarchy damages the humanity of women (and men) and to recognize and celebrate the resistance found in other eras. Feminism also calls us to construct more egalitarian ways of thinking and relating. This dynamic between resistance and construction—so endemic to feminism— actually strengthens my faith. I feel better equipped to tear down unnecessary dividing walls and to build up something different and, I hope, better.
It’s no secret that Christian traditions have been too-willing host bodies for the patriarchal parasite—tragically giving the “divine stamp” to misogynist thought and practice. I choose to resist and build from within the tradition, because, ironically, it is this same tradition that has shaped my passion for resisting injustice and continues to fuel my passion for building a world of equality and peace. I am grateful to feminist friends, mentors, and scholars who have helped me to at-once critically re-examine and deepen my faith.
My essay “Playing The Numbers” considers the complexities and effects of certain destructive conceptions of power. When we gain a little power and success, how readily we slip into narcissism—how quickly we align the divine will with our own sense of entitlement. This isn’t just a theist’s problem. Any time those of us with a measure of privilege feel that we are uniquely immune to trouble—or that our education or income level keep us especially safe, or that we are particularly entitled to ease—then we’ve embraced this sort of insidious exceptionalism. And it is often so unconscious, so internalized, that we do not even notice it. When this sense of exceptionalism came rushing to the surface in me, so ridiculously and forcefully, I knew I had to write about it. I had to be honest.
My own sense of chosenness led me to believe that the divine will would bend the randomness of the lottery to my favor. All of the other hundreds of thousands of ticket holders could not have been as worthy, as pre-ordained, as me. So I decided to cast my lot along with the others—convinced the lots would ultimately fall to me. It’s laughable and tragic to root our worth in a sense of singularity and specialness. The UN spectacle that surrounded Danica’s birth as the “seven-billionth baby” was a snapshot of this first-world narcissism, writ large. Danica and her family were plucked out of “the masses” of Pacifica, held up for the rest of the world to see—like the “catch of the day”—and given a miserable little cake. The whole thing felt like a spoof on sustained concern for justice: it was deemed a good occasion to talk about “population problems.”
When we perpetuate exceptionalism—or, as my friend calls it, “terminal uniqueness”—we end up blind to the potentialities of casting our lots with one another as humans equally sharing this spinning plot. Living feminism and faith with integrity means telling the truth about our own struggles with just uses of power, our own potential for marginalizing others—as well as the potential for traversing a more excellent way.
“Wading into the shallows, I break the surface of Shoshone with my ankles, my hips, my breasts. The water is icy but familiar, welcomed; I grew up swimming in Lake Superior. I walk in the water with long, slow sweeps of my arms and legs. I don’t swim. I keep my toes on the stones and my head toward the sky. When I stand motionless, the lake’s surface appears still, but I am embraced by subtle swells, pulsing.” excerpt from Shoshone
The following is a guest post by Lauren Koshere, author of Shoshone, 2013 Spring nonfiction honorable mention piece.
Nature writing: What is it? Whose is it?
As a graduate of the environmental writing track in the University of Montana’s environmental studies M.S. program, I am often asked how I define “environmental writing.” The genre is broad—and expanding. It can include natural history, calls to political and social action, science writing, and urban nature writing, to name a few possible directions. But while environmental writing takes many forms and is evolving in the 21st century, common associations conjure ideas of early nature writing—a body loaded with masculine experiences of nature.
We remember famous images from the canon of American nature writing texts: Henry David Thoreau planting beans, Spartan-like, near Walden Pond; John Muir riding out a Sierra Nevada windstorm from the top of a Douglas Spruce; Edward Abbey sliding down waterfalls in Havasu Canyon. In these early and classic examples of wilderness experienced solitaire, the individual’s sojourn in nature is often marked by extreme conditions, danger, and rugged self-reliance. And the individual is often a man.
The main character of “Shoshone,” and Falling in Yellowstone, the book of which it is a chapter, by contrast, is not a man with nothing between him and the harshness of the Sierra Nevada but his boots and some bread. In this collection, I am the main character—a young woman working in Yellowstone for the summer, doing what young people do: exploring, falling in love, messing up, growing. My writing is rooted in the wild nature of Yellowstone, but my essay about the journey of a backpacking trip around Shoshone Lake probes my social, not solitaire, experiences in the Park. Exploring the social nature in relationship to the wild nature of my seasons there, I share how my relationships with others influenced, and were influenced by, my relationship to place—in this case, the stunning landscape of America’s first national park.
Terry Tempest Williams has offered that our relationship to the land is our relationship to each other. This focus on connection, I believe, is a powerful way to imagine a fresh, perhaps more feminine, experience of nature. And as “Shoshone” explores, no natural element reminds us of our connection to earth and to other women more deeply than water and all its processes—drainage, flow, convergence.
Contribute your definitions of and experiences with “environmental writing” in the comment box below!
To learn more about Lauren Koshere, visit her at floword.wordpress.com
Filed under: Announcements, Art, Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry
Happy Spring Issue! We are proud to announce the arrival of So to Speak‘s Volume 22 No. 1! This issue features cover art by Susan Cutts. StS is honored to announce Lucy Bryan Green‘s Melt as our nonfiction contest winner, and Lauren Koshere‘s Shoshone and Lynn Casteel Harper‘s Playing the Numbers as our nonfiction runners-up chosen by Julie Marie Wade. We are also pleased to honor Rebecca Dunham‘s “Glass Armonica” as our poetry contest winner, and Laura Grothus‘s “Baba Yaga in Conversation with Her Home” and Caitlin Cowan‘s “Every Creeping Thing” as our poetry runners-up chosen by Danielle Pafunda.
So to Speak
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Look forward to guest posts by our awesome feminist contest winners beginning January 28th! Show them your love and spark conversation by commenting on their blog posts!
And while you’re in the typing on the computer mood, consider submitting your best art, fiction, nonfiction, and poetry through our Online Submissions Manager.
This issue will feature the winners of our annual art and fiction contests, along with our open reading periods for poetry and nonfiction. For more information of open submissions and contest details please visit our Submit Page and Contest Page. We are excited to see your work!
This year’s fiction contest judge is Asali Solomon, the author of Get Down: stories. She is the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award and was one of the National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35″ in 2007. Her work has appeared in The Kenyon Review, O the Oprah Magazine, Essence, Vibe and in the anthologies Philadelphia Noir, Naked: Black Women Bare All About Their Skin, Hair, Hips, Lips and Other Parts and Heavy Rotation: Twenty Writers on the Albums that Changed Their Lives. She has a PhD in English from the University of California at Berkeley and an MFA from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. She is a Visiting Assistant Professor of English at Haverford College near Philadelphia.
To enter, submit a manuscripts not exceeding 4,500 words (with double-spaced and numbered pages) and a cover letter through our Submission Manager. The reading fee is $15 and can be paid through our Submission Manager. All entrants will receive a free copy of our Fall 2013 issue.
Art Contest: The “Hybrid” Book
In our 2013 visual art competition we seek entries in all media which the makers consider to represent – in any and all ways – the book experience.
We welcome submissions to this competition including performance, digital and new media, photography and all 2D and 3D visual art forms, as well as sculptural book and artist’s book objects, whether or not incorporating text.
Increasingly digitalized, culturally iconic in its historic codex forms, valued always from Kindle to library as an experience, is the book. What that actually means to each reader/viewer/handler is at a time of highly fluid interpretation. Art, object, and installation as “book” also is a rapidly expanding area of contemporary art.
All entries must be received on-line only (with a cover letter) through our Submission Manager. The submission fee is $15 and can be paid through our Submission Manager. All entrants will receive a free copy of our Fall 2013 issue.
All entries must be in jpg or tif formats at 300 dpi. Please submit individual entries as LastName_Title, and include dimensions if applicable, the materials used as applicable, a brief description of the submission, and a brief artist’s bio. One submission per artist, please.