Dear So to Speak readers,
It’s my pleasure to introduce you to our Summer 2022 online issue. We have a stacked line-up this time, including writers and artists from a wide variety of perspectives. I’m glad to say that with this issue, we’ve furthered our mission to present art through an intersectional lens.
Despite the continued challenges of the pandemic, it’s been a big year for So to Speak. In the past year, we hosted our first hybrid reading with phoebe, and we joined forces with Peatsmoke for a virtual reading during AWP. We also launched our Young Writers Initiative, which publishes work from emerging writers ages 13-18 (Check it out on our blog!). We’ve also continued to offer fee-free submissions for Black and indigenous writers, which we believe is a key part of making the literary world more accessible for everyone. Overall, we’ve continued to weather this challenging period while connecting with an ever-broadening community of writers and artists from around the world.
This issue is a testament to our intersectional mission, but it’s more than that: What strikes me about these pieces is that through the political and personal, the topical and the timeless, it all works as art. It can be very challenging to balance meaningful messages with strong craft, but our writers, artists, and editors have pulled it off. These works take on difficult topics, including abortion, gendered violence, and racism, yet they also inspire with their clarity and creativity. It’s often said that the best art is simultaneously singular and universal, and I feel that these writers and artists are great examples of that principle. I’m grateful that they’ve chosen to share their work with us, and that we have the opportunity to share it with you.
I’m also immensely grateful to our editorial team, who’ve proven again and again to be reliable, knowledgeable, and overall brilliant. I was so impressed by the enthusiasm they brought to launching the Young Writers Initiative, attending AWP, and reading submissions. Selecting our final pieces is one of the most challenging parts of creating an issue; it’s a time-intensive and surprisingly emotional process. With that in mind, I’m so thankful for our team’s passion, vision, and good taste. They’ve put together something truly wonderful!
I’d also like to thank you, reader. As our journal continues to grow, know that your views and comments–and yes, retweets–help sustain our work and intersectional mission. In addition to reading, we hope you’ll consider attending one of our live readings (virtually or in person!) or even submitting a piece of your own.
I also encourage you to champion equity and inclusion in your own life. This year has presented immense setbacks: the overturning of Roe v. Wade, mass violence, as well as continued backlash against the intersectional feminist and Me Too movements (among others). These developments may make you feel discouraged and exhausted—that’s natural—but remember that we see you, we appreciate you, and we’re fighting with you. Remember that while human minds can be easily lead astray, especially in troubled times, human hearts are overall good. I think this issue is a testament to that principle, too.
Ivan Moore, Editor-in-Chief
Beneath the Break
CW: substance abuse We marry under a blue October sky, on a bridge over the Mississippi River. We vow to love, and to be soft.
Elisa Contemplates the Dictionary
after The Shape of Water My mother taught me to use my hands instead of my tongue to compose feelings, draft
CW: internalized homophobia I’m twenty-five. Mei Li and I are in a bright white Ikea showroom. Her hair is long and dark brown, streaked with
Syrena Contemplates the Question “Do you talk?”
after Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides I speak as the water lily, perennial nymph blooming on the tannin-blue pond. I could list the
Recent Paints by Aluu Prosper
Untitled This Little Light of Mine What Game Changers Look Like Artist’s Statement: Afrocentrism and Panafricanism I am a multidisciplinary self-taught visual artist creating
For the First Time
CW: sexual assault, physical abuse, genital mutilation, violence Woman. Virgin. I chew gum. The number 217 glides across the rectangular neon monitor. Matches the number
The Things She Swallows in Her Sleep
CW: vomit, pica After her first apparent spell of involuntary sleep disruption, he tells her a story about a spider crawling into his mouth. Pulling
CW: mentions of sexual assault, violence after Michael Bazzett The thing everyone remembers about him is that he was considered a girl at birth and
Self Portrait with Mealworm
Mrs. Ripa hands out mealworm larvae for us to parent into darkling beetles. Goldenrod inches, they squirm and climb in clear plastic cups—their inadequate forests.
My chest catches tight like a robin’s breast. We all shrink down to a point of unnatural redness sooner or later—one form of bodily betrayal
Border Crossing (1963)
Laurie Bow Kerchee marked the twenty-third big red X on her calendar and was just about to sit down for a good cry when the
When He Defines Me
CW: stalking, abuse predator n. 1a the nondescript sedan appears as a flash of distant movement, brief and benign, in my rear-view mirror; nothing out
vast to me and terribly warm
The bedrooms smelled of cow urine and buttery corn. The shed was a nest for spiders with the faces of children. The sun a
Parable of the Sower
(Matthew 13:1-23) Radiation has done its magic for now—my flesh, fallow ground, not hard like winter’s soil, but barren like earth salted and
WE ARE HERE
Melancholia We Are Here Tomislav Šilipetar was born in Zagreb. In 2014 he graduated from the Igor Rončević Painting Department in the Academy of Fine
Self-Portrait as Iphis Born According to Her Father’s Wishes
(Dear reader, you may not be as familiar with this one, so please, bear with me.) In this version, Iphis is the baby boy her
CW: Death I died five hours ago. I can’t see my body, but I know it’s there, hastily buried under a bundle of branches, doused
CW: mentions of suicidal ideation, descriptions of violence I’d heard from a girl I used to wash dishes with that ranch work was the worst
The Holy Intersex
Much of the Trans and Intersex community are simultaneously treated as sources of sexual desire and of shame by others. “The Holy Intersex” is a
Latrophobia (Induced by Internalized Fatphobia)
Dog teeth severed the flesh of my cheek— a quick pet and before I could blink, Loretta had sunk her canines into the meat of
CW: racial slurs My mother has seven children. The first three are white children from her first marriage. The last three are mixed, Black and
At the Wall of Infinity
Prayers for Magic Waiting at the Wall At the Wall Asleep at the Wall Crowman at the Wall Artist’s Statement:
When he left, I felt the slow unraveling of relief, the same relief I’ve felt when approaching the broken body of an animal in the