Fall for the Book 2014!

September 12, 2014 by So to Speak · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Announcements, News, Post by: Paula B, Uncategorized 

The sixteenth annual Fall for the Book festival is taking over George Mason University’s Fairfax, Virginia, campus and spreading out onto about two dozen other venues in Virginia, Maryland, and DC, Sept 11 – 18. Check out the following links for a sampling of a promising roster for the reader-writer-human in you.


Novelist and Essayist Roxane Gay @ Grand Tier III, Center for the Arts, George Mason University

Saturday, Sept. 13, 4:00 p.m.

Roxane Gay



An Untamed State. Bad Feminist. Enough said.










Grain Press Feminist Poetry Reading and Book Release Reception, The Arts Plaza Tent near the Center for the Arts at George Mason University

Saturday, Sept. 13, 4:00 p.m.

A reading and reception to honor Anne Lesley Selcer, whose collection from A Book of Poems on Beauty won Gazing Grain’s 2014 poetry chapbook contest, selected by judge Dawn Lundy Martin. This event celebrates inclusive feminist poetry and promotes socially conscious work in today’s literary community.



Everyone Is Gay Founders Dannielle Owens-Reid and Kristin Russo@ Research Hall, Room 163, George Mason University

Tuesday, Sept. 16, 3:00 p.m.

Owens-Reid and Russo



Outreach and empowerment.










Memoirist Dani Shapiro @ Grand Tier III, Center for the Arts, George Mason University

Tuesday, Sept 16, 6:00 p.m.

Dani Shapiro


On writing. On life. Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life









Sociologist Earl Smith @ Sandy Spring Bank Tent, Johnson Center Plaza, George Mason University

Wednesday, Sept. 17, 1:30 p.m.

Earl Smith


Not a game: Race, Sport, and the American Dream






Historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz @ Sandy Spring Bank Tent, Johnson Center Plaza, George Mason University

Thursday, Sept. 18, 12:00 pm

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz


On myths and truths: An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States







Communications Scholar Sheena Howard @ Sandy Spring Bank Tent, Johnson Center Plaza, George Mason University

Thursday, Sept. 18, 1:30 p.m.

Sheena Howard


Infiltrating Comic-Con: Black Comics: Politics and Race of Representation










Women and Gender Studies Scholar Wendy S. Hesford @ The HUB, Front Ballroom, George Mason University

Thursday, Sept. 18, 3:00 p.m.

Wendy S. Hesford


Spectacular Rhetorics: Human Rights Visions, Recognitions, Feminisms





California Senate Passes SB967: “Yes means Yes” Law

Property of The New School

As Americans we like to rage over the outrageousness of news like this summer’s case of a six-year-old in India who was raped by school staff–a security guard and a gym teacher–while on school grounds. It’s a safe kind of rage–much like pretending that longer hems and looser silhouettes protect us from sexual violence, we can huff and puff over treacherous things happening to poor, uneducated, usually dark-skinned folks in some “third” world nation unlucky in their lack of, well, America.

Yet, as a country, we’re still debating whether “no” really means “no.” Especially if the two individuals in question have a sexual history together; especially if she or he “technically” said ”yes” at some point during the act.   Sadly, educated young people and university officials in campuses across the nations are apparently among the really confused still.  In fact, this past May, the U.S. Dept. of Education named almost 60 schools which investigations of sex crimes had come under close scrutiny.

In California at least, the question of what consent is and isn’t could be cleared up once and for all as soon as  September. The state’s senate has passed SB967 and if the governor signs off on it, college students will have to have  true ”affirmative consent” before getting on with getting “some.”

“Affirmative consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual activity and can be revoked at any time.” — SB967

Here’s hoping.

Until then, I leave you with Laura Passin’s “In Stubenville,” published in our online issue this summer. (Haven’t seen our summer issue yet? Click here. Ready to submit your own feminist poetry, prose, or visual art? Click here.)


“In Stubenville”

They peed on her. That’s how you know she’s dead,

because someone pissed on her.

—Michael Nodianos, laughing


The boys have been boys.

They’ve gone to boy jail.


The girl, they thought as good as dead.

You can do anything to the dead:

we only remember them when they are useful.

But the dead girl was not

dead—she was a girl

instead. To be a girl at a party in Ohio

is to be as good as dead.

The boys will be boys

until they are men.

The girls will be dead.


The girls are anatomical

sketches: here

you dissect the body, here is where

the flesh splits clean open.

Here is where the heart used to beat.

Here are the pearls that were her eyes.


The girl was dead.

The girl was a thing

that once, if you looked at it

from just the right angle,

may have been a person. Not  a

boy. The girl was slung

and carried, hands and feet,

trussed animal.

The girl woke up naked, shoeless,

in a basement. Surrounded.


The boys were shocked: they had held her

funeral. The boys had been boys.


The girl raised herself up, Lazarus,

and testified.

She told us what it is like:

being dead.

It is like being a girl

where boys are boys.

It is any basement,



4th Annual Summer Issue Is Here!

Cover Art: 2014 Summer Issue

Fresh from the Issuu presses: the 2014 fourth annual summer online issue is here!

The issue includes all of the genres you’ve come to expect from So to Speak: extraordinary fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and visual art. The editorial staff is happy to introduce you to the work of these feminist writers and artists and invites you to join the conversation. Read the new issue HERE or click on the cover art to the left. Then be sure to check back (great time to subscribe to the blog!) later this summer for posts by our contributing writers and artists, as well as guest writers, on craft and feminism. When you find a blog that resonates with you, engage with the writer via the message board, share the piece widely, and come back for more!

Our blog aims to offer a platform for continuous dialogue on the challenges and successes of our feminisms,  which can be found everywhere. So enjoy reading our latest summer issue, sharing your fave finds, and writing your own contribution to the worldwide dialogue of feminism in action–check out submission guidelines for our journal and blog!

–StS Staff

Here are the writers and artists featured in the 4th annual online summer issue of So to Speak:

Visual Art

Alex Pohl


Allison Amend

Sara Erdman


Catherine Kasper

Eryn Lyndal Martin

Erika D. Price


Jessica Rae Bergamino

Joanna Catonar

Sarah A. Chavez

H. V. Crammond

Donelle Dreese

Geanni Galeazzi

Jessica Glover

Jane Joritz-Nakagawa

Becca J. R. Lachman

Giki Marks

Freesia McKee

Laura Passin

Molly Prosser

Dean Shaban

Meredith Trede

Joy Von III



Post-AWP Withdrawals

It’s now been almost 72 hours since Seattle’s own Sherman Alexie closed the annual national celebration of all things writerly known as AWP.  But writers everywhere, and this writer in particular, remain jetlagged and not just because of the 12-hour trips each way for those of us in the east coast.

(Ahem, if you don’t know anything about AWP check out Peter Mountford’s Guide to AWP for People Who Don’t Know What AWP Is. His Useful Stereotypes are especially on-point: example 1. Earnest Poet, example 2. Mid Level Writer You’ve Never Heard Of. )

This was my second year attending AWP and I have to say I was a little less dazed and confused but just as googly-eyed as the first time.

There was running into my undergraduate prof., Allen Gee, at the top of the fourth floor escalator on registration day, then later in a rather intense panel on Writing Fictional Characters of Another Race led by the phenomenal Randa Jarrar and Mat Johnson among others.  (I chased them both after the panel and hope to feature them on StS soon!)

While womanning the StS table at the bookfair along with StS Asst. Poetry Editor, Alicia P, I saw and invited (manhandled-fawned) over the Great Joy Harjo whom we featured back in November, and yes there were pictures and yes this is us bragging.


There was the joy in Joy Castro‘s packed panel on Family Trouble: Memoirists on the Hazards and Rewards of Revealing Family which offered touching and surprisingly humorous tales of the logistical and emotional negotiations endured when writing about everything from incest and sex addition to adoption and parenting and autism. StS will work tirelessly to bring Joy to you in the near future.

Dorothy Allison was greatly missed at Lambda’s 25 for 25, but at least I was able to see Butterfly Boy’s Rigoberto Gonzalez in action. Then, there was the pleasure of a first-time reading with Chang-Rae Lee and the discovery of the lazy charm of Chris Abani. (You had to be there! Were you? Tell us about it in the comments! But rest assured Abani would approve of my qualifier.)

Finding and sitting next to former StS Blog Editor, Sheila McMullin, at The (She) Devil Inside: Unlikeable Women in Fiction, where Samantha Chang and others referred to Edith Wharton and Claire Messud’s work to illustrate how Likeable = Respectable in literature and in life, was a special treat. And an impromptu reunion with StS featured poet Javier Huerta in the convention lobby and later at a ConTinta/CantoMundo offsite reading moved me so, it’ll have to be its own post.

So l’ll  stop here and not bore you with any more of my literary stalking, or with what could very well have been three George Saunders sightings –Asst. Fiction Editor, Julie D. is my witness–except we couldn’t be sure. We were too tired and either non or under-inebriated to approach him, though he was, we swear, no more than 5 feet away all three times.

Will continue AWP-detoxing  for weeks to come. Bear with us.


Looking Back at StS’s Hispanic Heritage Month Series

Color Guard and Mariachi at the John F. Kennedy Center this past September (Larry French/Getty Images)

The past few weeks So to Speak has devoted the blog to “Hispanic Heritage Month,” the official national recognition and celebration of the contributions made by generations of Latino/Hispanic Americans in the United States.

With a population totaling over 50 million, we at StS are aware that unique political, economic, educational, cultural, and linguistic dynamics are at play in each individual community within this broad classification. In our series we featured the voices of three Americans we felt represented significant segments of the Hispanic/Latino population in the nation.


The Exiled American

George Mason’s very own Women Studies professor and professor of English at Montgomery College, Cuban American Dr. Elizabeth Huergo, entered the United States with her parents  a political refugee as a young child in the 1960’s. Huergo talked to StS’s blog editor, Sheryl Rivett, about how exile negates choice.

“Immigration can be very difficult, but at least there is some degree, however small, of choice. Exile obliterates choice. We are separated from everything we know (family, friends, homeland, language, culture), elements of our lives that deeply shape our identity. And exile also does great damage to our sense of agency in the world. The regaining, the reconstruction of identity and agency becomes the work of a lifetime, and that is not the easiest sort of work. Though if you can manage to endure, to persevere, there is a certain degree of joy to be experienced in that process of reconstruction—if you can come out on the other side.”


The I’ve-been-here-all-along-American

U.S.-born Frances E. Valdez, a Houston-based immigration attorney and activist, reflected on how she seems to frustrate people who ask her where she’s “from” and why she “cares” about immigrants when she hasn’t had relatives in Mexico “since the Mexican revolution around 1910.”

“Where were you born?  Houston, Texas. Where were your parents born?  El Paso, Texas.  Where were your grandparents born?  El Paso, Texas, Balmorhea, Texas and Ft. Davis, Texas. That is when people usually start to get frustrated and ask, Well, where is your family from originally? The actual meaning behind this statement is, you are a brown-skinned woman and brown-skinned women are not native to the U.S.” As to why she cares about immigrants: “Anyone who has ever experienced the feeling that you will never truly belong because of your gender, sexuality, skin color, ancestry, disability or a myriad of categories that differ from mainstream society, can develop sympathy for the immigrant struggle. When we recognize the similarities amongst oppressed communities, we realize that by fighting for justice for immigrants we fight for equality for all oppressed groups.”


The American Son of Undocumented Immigration

Poet Javier O. Huerta, a doctoral candidate in English at UC- Berkeley, identifies as a “Chicano poet from Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas [Mexico] who lived as an undocumented immigrant in Houston, Tejas from 1981 to 1981.”  We asked Huerta what it meant to him to be a 21st century feminist male and he told us of his work on a collection of poems inspired by the actress Lupe Ontiveros who told the New York Times that she played the role of maid 150 times.

“At the center of the poem is the problem of a double translation: “aspirar” as “to aspire” or as “to vacuum.” This is not really a choice for many poor women of color who for generations have had to turn to domestic work to support their families. Ontiveros claims she portrayed every maid she ever played with dignity and respect, so the 150 verses are my way of thanking her. The diversity of roles available to Latina actresses is definitely an important issue but one that should be tied with the more crucial issue of real life roles available to young Latinas. To be a 21st century feminist man means to support efforts that offer women more freedom of choice in their careers and in their lives and to oppose efforts that attempt to limit that freedom.”

Although the terms “Latino” and “Hispanic” are used interchangeably by media and interest groups, the decision to self-identify as one or the other is less a point of debate within the community (who tends to default to country of origin), and more a challenge for those outside who attempt to homogenize multi-ethnic, multiracial, astoundingly diverse millions. Since the surge of popularity of  “Latino” in mainstream media especially, however, the umbrella terms are lately perceived as less contentious, and as such their use is now on the rise over what some feel are the more alienating “Mexican/Cuban/Dominican/Salvodorean American” labels.

“I think we should be cautious about the use of “Latino” because it is being used to target us, as voters, as shoppers, and as readers,” said Huerta when asked about the rising popularity of the umbrella terms. “The more specific the better is what we teach our students.”

You don’t need to be a feminist to know the risks of engaging in sweeping, simplified generalizations, even and especially if, these are deemed the norm or “official.” We are proud to have introduced these three stories of feminism in action to the So to Speak community.  As American feminists and world citizens, it is imperative that we learn to recognize and value the myriad of experiences lived in Latino/Hispanic America.




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