Summer 2021

Dear Readers of So to Speak,

I am absolutely thrilled to introduce you to our Summer 2021 Online Issue. The fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and visual art featured in this collection are incredible, and our team could not be prouder of how this issue came together from an amazing range of intersectional voices and perspectives.

The authors and artists in this issue examine a variety of themes, including finding independence, motherly relationships, and self-acceptance. They call out racism and racist practices and challenge biases about gender and sexuality. Some of these pieces are optimistic, others are angry, a few are grateful, sorrowful, nostalgic, or a combination of these. All of them contain intersections of what it is to be human, told by people whose human experiences vary widely. Put together, the pieces in this issue form a collage of beautiful work by people making their voices heard. We are so grateful for our contributors, their words, their art, and their voices.

We have had a great year at So to Speak, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that has turned the world upside down. We were fortunate enough to have a smooth pivot to online operations, and the resilience of our team and contributors has propelled the journal forward. We are beyond grateful to continue the work of pushing against the historical and ongoing preference in this industry of white, Western, cis-gendered, heteronormative, able-bodied perspectives. There is always more that we can do to help create an equitable writing community, and we strive to work towards that goal every day. Last fall, we were able to offer fee-free submissions to Black and Indigenous writers for our annual contest issue, which was published in March of this year. We held our first ever contributor reading in November thanks to all of our newfound Zoom expertise, and its success led us to host a second reading in April that featured both contributors and outgoing editors. Hearing the work of our contributors from their own voices was a treat that I think we all needed during this time. Each of these readings also raised money for Ayuda, a non-profit in our area that provides legal, social, and language services aid to vulnerable immigrants. We are proud of the contributions our meeting attendees made towards this important organization.

It is not a small job to keep a literary magazine up and running, much less to the standard we hold ourselves to, and I want to thank our amazing team for their endless dedication to this publication. Without the energy and care they bring to their work every day, So to Speak wouldn’t be half the journal it is. They never fail to amaze me with their excitement, dedication, and love for this work. Narrowing down submissions to a final issue is a difficult and daunting task, and the fact that they bring wonderful things to the table every single time is nothing short of awe inspiring. I also want to thank our past and present contributors without whose work we wouldn’t be here now. Every issue brings such light into the world, and I am endlessly grateful that you trusted us with your work. Finally, thank you to all of our submitters and to the indie lit community. We appreciate your support, your trust, and your dedication.

In our last issue, we implored you to keep up your activism, to keep fighting for those facing injustice and inequality. We have seen great changes in our world in the last year, and we have seen amazing activism from communities across the world. Keep fighting, readers. There is so much that has been done and so much more to be done. Your fight makes the world a better place, and we admire all that you do. At So to Speak, we’re continuing to do all that we can for equality, equity, and progress. We see the work you’re doing, and we can’t wait to keep doing it with you.


Amanda Ganus


dream life of night owls

For Sara Zalek   it’s easy to learn three chords on the guitar and sing about the world as if it’s carried around in a


All the love in my life Starts with a Black woman Black girl blink And my heart goes still Black girl breathe And I hold

Taking Care

It’s been three days since she made the man leave, and she has decided she will go to the grocery store.  This is partly because

Not by Halves

I. A month into ninth grade, my first period geometry teacher sets a Tootsie Pop on my desk before class starts. The sucker is grape-flavored

I Am Not a Warrior

I balance the prefilled syringe on my bathroom counter and rub the spot of my soft lower abdomen with an alcohol wipe. I pinch myself


girl—such a small someone sits as she’s told    while I [at her age] kept my foot in the door    comma-hooked & ready   


When I was born, the air was pale and green and gold. They came to the United States to be a bigger highway. They came

Gender Reveal

As a cis woman, gender reveal parties have been little more than an annoyance to me. I’ve always resented the celebration of revealing gender as

Three Pieces by Maddie Hinrichs

Lovers Mural Ripped Off The Deer’s Revenge My paintings combine the two separate realities of South Netherlandish unicorn tapestries and dated midwestern interiors that are

_Lying to Live_ 

Inspired by the 1971 SOUL! Discussion program featuring Nikki Giovanni & James Baldwin  James Baldwin said that he could never lie to the ones he

One Hundred Gates

As if shame were, in fact, a shine in the chameleon’s skin, I took to looking through my camera lens, at stacks of stockings like

Bradford Pear

I wake up to the voice of a stranger in our yard. Through the window, I see an older man inspecting our fifteen-year-old shriveled, diseased


It would take nature five years To replace the city of New York With a forest In twenty, The skyscrapers would start to collapse back

We have summoned a reckoning

force call her molar call her drip call her decades of erosion call her subtle shift in season call her cloud behind moon call her

Women’s Council

My chosen mission is to tell — over and over — the often untold stories about women via abstract portraits. Abstracts have the ability to


tossed my hair on my ex’s doorstep today. deflated like a dark dead cat. left my left less calloused hand and bleeding wrist deep in


I was always braver at night—the middle of the night, like two or three o’clock, but fraught with the anxiety that the alarm would buzz

Mother In Five Portraits 

1. at the kitchen prompting the click-clack of pots & wafting aromas.  2. on the prayer rug bowing day & night to ward off misfortunes. 


The cat surpasses Ash in Instagram followers. She tells herself she doesn’t mind, but she does. Gone is that flighty ping of validation fluttering in