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So to

Speak

a feminist journal of language and art

Inaugural Online Issue featuring poetry and art

Summer 2011


Dear Reader, Thank you for taking the time to enjoy So to Speak's Inaugural Online Issue featuring poetry and art. By reading this publication, you are helping us make history—this special edition marks the first-ever summer issue as well as the first-ever online issue of the journal. Within these pages, you will find poetry and art by contributors of various backgrounds and places around the world, representing So to Speak's continued commitment to showcasing the diversity of voices that make up the feminist movement today. We are also proud to offer you, for the first time in So to Speak's 20-year history, the opportunity to engage in our feminist dialogue directly by commenting on blog posts written by our contributors—posts in which they discuss their personal views on feminism and art. These posts will appear on our website, http://sotospeakjournal.org, on Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout June and July. Please use the rotation schedule below to navigate when each artist will be writing, and please consider joining in the discussion by commenting on their posts. Thank you for your continued support and readership, and keep an eye out for our next print issue of prose, poetry, and art, coming this fall!

June Blogging Schedule: Thurs. 6/16: Rita Mae Reese Tues. 6/21: Jen Atkinson Thurs. 6/23: Paul David Adkins Tues. 6/28: Beenish Akhtar Thurs. 6/30: Andy Fogle

Happy reading, Alyse Knorr and Sheila McMullin Summer Issue Co-Editors

July Blogging Schedule: Tues. 7/5: Liz Harlan-Ferlo Thurs. 7/7: Zahra Amirabadi Tues. 7/12: Todd Fredson Thurs. 7/14: Sara Henning Tues. 7/19: Kateema Lee Thurs. 7/21: Dean C Robertson Tues. 7/26: Linda Ann Strang Thurs. 7/28: Janis Sweeney Tues. 8/2: Tonya Russell


So to

Speak

a feminist journal of language and art

Inaugural Online Issue featuring poetry and art Summer 2011


So to Speak Summer 2011 Special Online Issue Subscriptions and all other correspondence may be addressed to: So to Speak, George Mason University, 4400 University Drive, MSN 2C5, Fairfax, VA 22030-4444. <www.sotospeakjournal.org> Subscriptions: $7/sample issue, $12/one year, $22/two years Submissions: All work relating to feminism welcome. No more than five (5) poems at a time; all forms invited. Limit fiction to 5,000 words and essays to 4,000 words. Art should be sent electronically (.tif; .jpg) to STS@gmu.edu. We welcome collaborations. All submissions should be sent electronically through our Submission Manager. For more detailed guidelines and for contest information, visit our website at sotospeakjournal.org. Our reading period is from August 1 through October 15 for the Spring issue and from January 1 through March 15 for the Fall issue. Cover art: Zahra Amirabadi, Organon “No matter how much knowledge you gain, there always is a part of it hiding from you in the dark.” Combination of two photographs, 16” x 12” The editors would like to thank Jennifer Atkinson, all the authors and artists who submitted to our journal, Jacques Moyal, the Phoebe staff, William Miller, the Fall for the Book Festival staff, the editorial circle that founded So to Speak (Jamy Bond, Sara Brown, Leslie Bumstead, Jean Donnelly, Colleen Kearney Rich, Isadora Lector, Stephanie Muller, and Rebecca Wee), as well as all past editors of the journal. So to Speak: a feminist journal of language and art is committed to representing the work of writers and artists from diverse perspectives and experiences and does not discriminate on the basis of race, class, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, culture of origin, disability, political affiliation, marital or parental status, Vietnam-era veteran status, or similar characteristics. So to Speak is published bi-annually at George Mason University. Opinions expressed by authors and editors do not necessarily reflect the official views of the university. All rights reserved. No material herein may be reprinted by any means, recorded or quoted, other than for review purposes, without the express permission of the authors or artists, to whom all rights revert after serial publication.


So to

Speak

a feminist journal of language and art

Summer Issue Staff Editor Siwar Massanat Managing Editor Marissa Mack Assistant Managing Editor Kate Partridge Summer Issue Co-Editor Alyse Knorr Poetry Editor Summer Issue Co-Editor Sheila McMullin Assistant Poetry Editor Poetry Readers Sarah Provence Katherine Swett Eleanor Smith Tipton Susan Whalen


CONTENTS

POETRY Todd Fredson The Loitererâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Entrance, A Love Song The Sorrow, Like a Wing Birthing Itself

8 9

Jennifer Atkinson Canticle of the Rushes: from The Parables of Mary Magdalene Milk River Canticle of the Bridegroom: from The Parables of Mary Magdalene The Bay

12 13

Kateema Lee Our Hands

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Rita Mae Reese Skate World

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Tonya Russell The First Time

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Andy Fogle One Ring At the Sackler, with Heraclitus & Divorcee

19 20

Elizabeth Harlan-Ferlo The Book of Ruth (Venezuelan Border Translation) Omnes Habitantes in Hoc Habitaculo

21 22

Paul David Adkins Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, 9th Through 11th Floors, Asch Building, New York City, 25 March, 1911 Dean C Robertson Letto di Inferno

10 11

26 27

Sara Henning Tether

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Linda Ann Strang The Snapdragon Peace Accord

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CONTENTS

VISUAL ART FEATURED ARTIST Zahra Amirabadi Organon Nude series Love is Born Idle Youth Janis Sweeney Lucchetti di Amore (Locks of Love), Florence Italy Beenish Akhtar War Paint CONTRIBUTORS

Cover 23 24 25 15 28 31

CONTRIBUTORS BLOGGING ROTATION: Contributor posts launch Tuesdays and Thursdays at sotospeakjournal.org

Thurs. 6/16: Rita Mae Reese Tues. 6/21: Jen Atkinson Thurs. 6/23: Paul David Adkins Tues. 6/28: Beenish Akhtar Thurs. 6/30: Andy Fogle Tues. 7/5: Liz Harlan-Ferlo Thurs. 7/7: Zahra Amirabadi Tues. 7/12: Todd Fredson Thurs. 7/14: Sara Henning Tues. 7/19: Kateema Lee Thurs. 7/21: Dean C Robertson Tues. 7/26: Linda Ann Strang Thurs. 7/28: Janis Sweeney Tues. 8/2: Tonya Russell So to Speak

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TODD FREDSON

The Loiterer’s Entrance, A Love Song She cups her fingers to her mouth to beckon and the dogs fan out at mid-heaven angles. Dad is teaching beauty. Our mother, the hillside, how to survive it. A snare at the lake’s edge, the smell of creosote, obsequious grove… gnats gather on the windowsill like the sun’s morning breath. Sister, yonder wound, origin, tell me what happens with the blade and how we will report it afterward? Humor me. She braces like a brick on the porch. Beyond the hillsides you are made to look beautiful and asleep. Sliver of hair, blue beneath the skin, color of comic book alleys and silhouettes. What will I do with you? Wanting the damage and to keep it past healing. One more drop on either side. Knuckle-shrine – grasp, grasp these vesicles rooted to the socket. Fern-boat, secret-holder, push the iris out.

She traces the lumps of air.

Tell me, which birds spread in the evening? 8

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TODD FREDSON

The Sorrow, Like a Wing Birthing Itself The longer I hold it the more it rustles around beginning to sit up in this vacant trap of a carriage. Beginning to distinguish the dry desert landscape from the road. Hurtling now through the dust, in its own awareness. As if, all at once, everyone is suddenly explaining the last joke left on a dead manâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s heart.

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JENNIFER ATKINSON

Canticle of the Rushes: From The Parables of Mary Magdalene It is like a widow who couldn’t remember. Every day they sent her to the riverbank to cut reeds and canes with a curved knife. At dusk they led her back to eat bread and sleep. Her dreams wove the reeds into baskets, which, before she woke, they sealed with wax and sent off empty, bobbing, on the river. Every day she worked her way closer to the sea, each day beginning just right of the gap, just beyond the place she’d last left off cutting. As she cut, she hummed a song. She couldn’t of course remember the words. As she hummed she sickled down the green canes and piled them neatly on the bank. She worked until they told her stop, eat bread, sleep. She didn’t know she slept to turn what grew into a bearer of what would grow. She never spoke. Her palms, calloused by now, never bled. She didn’t remember them ever bleeding.

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JENNIFER ATKINSON

Milk River                                   after Agnes Martin Even-handed, steady at a distance, Unlike the Milk or any other river, Her lines abjure eddy, spill & snag. Impersonal, de-natured, the afterImage of riparian green, this Milk Is an anti-river: not an abstraction As such; distraction from suchness Is more like it, the very picture of Riverlit calm, how it feels, fine sand Underfoot, eyes closed undreaming, Swept        clean         of          self.

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JENNIFER ATKINSON

Canticle of the Bridegroom: from The Parables of Mary Magdalene It is like the ten girls who took their lamps and went to wait in the dark all night for a husband. All grew drowsy: five blew out their lamps and slept, four trimmed their wicks to brighten their flames—they read to pass the time—and one stood up, snuffed her lamp, and walked out into the night. The stars, unchallenged by lamplight, shone. In the air a rich fragrance of figs. The one bride plucked a ripe fig and ate. All night the bridegroom never arrived. In the morning he called at the house of the wise and foolish. Look! Here is your bridegroom! Come out! Open! But nine girls had risen, as always, at dawn to draw water. They were away at the well. The tenth, having returned from the well before daybreak, spoke through the closed door. Truly, I tell you, she replied, I don’t—none of us knows you.

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JENNIFER ATKINSON

The Bay after Helen Frankenthaler, 1963 Never not liquid its deep blues map an alter-Atlantic, an unseen idea of bay as unlike the actual body of water as water is like a body. When the teacher pulled down her scrolled-up map of the world, no one mistook its blue wash for land or the pale yellows and greens—our own state pink—for the sea. By six, we’d learned oceans are blue though we knew with our bodies (we lived by the bay) the ocean’s surface sheen is closer to silver than sky and from inside the waves the water roils with browns and muddled greens. A dizzy pummeling otherworld. This painted bay might be a sea undizzied: a translation of a translation of turbulence, Five thousand miles of wind and unbounded main arrested and framed as a square— six by six—something the size of something knowable, even known. Except The Bay isn’t the bay. It barely references the sea. Its effect Is its subject, is more like the lulling roll of waves out beyond the surf, ... So to Speak

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JENNIFER ATKINSON your body afloat, loose, looking up, calm in the vastness, dreaming. The bay is disappearing inward: wash by wash, brushed on or poured, nine liquitex blues override the visible to sound the depths of the felt.

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JANIS SWEENEY

Lucchetti di Amore (Locks of Love), Florence Italy Oil on canvas, 30” x 48”

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KATEEMA LEE

Our Hands after Lucille Clifton’s “won’t you celebrate with me” When I look at my hands not yet gnarled by time, I think of my mother’s hands shaping curls, crafting confidence in her kitchen beauty shop, my grandmother’s pale hands not white enough for the south or black enough for herself, the hands of women birthing other women in the dust and dark of shoddy back houses, hands mending hopes with worn out thread, hands, rough like stony roads, grasping newly sculpted hands, hands that refuse to be broken by the weight of work and waste, women’s hands that ache from restraint but are strong enough to carry us all, hands holding her up, hands holding me up, hands holding us up.

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RITA MAE REESE

Skate World We went round & round, human needles on a wooden record girls thin and pale, glistening with Love’s Baby Soft & lip gloss watched over by two half-grizzly-bear/half-boy brothers, their hearts over-inflated balloons even then. They’d play “Ladies’ Night” & “Endless Love,” make the human boys stand outside the ring with their palms out waiting for some circling girl to smack her hand into his. Another song & the bear brothers would watch the still-stinging hands rest on a shoulder, cup the air that sleeps in the small of a back. Outside of the bears’ kingdom was a city where music couldn’t make anyone stop or go. We skated under our moon of broken mirrors, through the small lights drunkenly orbiting while the bears sat in their booth, keeping their growls in their throats, tears glistening their fur. When we were almost too far gone into each other, they’d light up the sign for the Hokey Pokey & watch the boys retreat to the concession stand, to the warm certainty of pizzas & corndogs, blind or just numb to the outside world where God strikes young mothers dead & long empty nights couple to each other like boxcars on a train that keeps you idling your entire life. With each loop, the skaters tightened the center but still it shifted and multiplied. A thousand other worlds shot our world full of holes & the light coming through pricked our skin & burrowed deep inside of us though none of us felt a thing, not then. So to Speak

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TONYA RUSSELL

The First Time The truth is I loved it, how his hands edged me to cheeks welted as mountains, the small wombs of ears deaf as burning bells. I loved to stare from the puff and tear of things and see God, feel the hallow he had made my bones, how my flesh could open into trenches where feathers would fit.

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ANDY FOGLE

One Ring Back when phones still had bells inside them and plugged into walls, back when we were tethered to the box, weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d get home from Poppieâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s, and Ma would call, let it ring once, and hang up. This gone all-clear signal, a call cut short, unanswered, no talk, and the worried father an hour away could listen, count, and breathe easy at the nothing that followed a little.

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ANDY FOGLE

At the Sackler, with Heraclitus & Divorcee 1 Notice the blue hair, the open, almond-shaped eyes, the enigmatic object, shaped like a heart, or a peach, and the head as a fragment clothed with images of beings from all realms of existence. 2 Silence, healingâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; Deny yourself the making as much noise as sound at all let distances' soft squalls a new bit of eye shadow yes it becomes you

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ELIZABETH HARLAN-FERLO

The Book of Ruth (Venezuelan Border Translation) They came for her father but he wasn’t there so they reached for the daughter, María José. The mother said to the men from the jungle, si llevan la niña mi llevan a mí. Do not press me to leave you Or to turn back from following. Perhaps, she later told the reporter, to avoid getting into a loud shouting match, they kidnapped us both.

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ELIZABETH HARLAN-FERLO

Omnes Habitantes in Hoc Habitaculo Ode on chasuble in New Spain (Friar) I cut the boning out, the missing body, slid through slits to let the dress binding fall. I cut off her sleeves. They call it poncho here. I, chasuble, my ‘little house.’ (Doña) I send the dress into nothingness; the world drops off at the edge. Still, we all eat this God, each wife to gone-hidalgo. (Friar) I dream I am naked, roofless. My hands, rough, catch. I pray for the fall of mankind––my sursum corda hems every sanctified in with the cursed. How, O Lord, do I map this place? (Doña) At night, his body burns against ghost-skin inside my dress made man. I move per ipsum et cum ipso et in ipso. (Friar) My hands touch silk—España, mea maxima culpa, This embroidered morning bud by bud, I labor to build your shape. Maria, your dress new-worldly stained, transfigured, Maria, your whiteness to clay. (Doña) Priest, swing open the door and raise up your womb of blood and bread. Sew my Christ with mud and gold.

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ZAHRA AMIRABADI

Nude Series Acrylic, pastel and colored pencil on canvas, 18” x 36”

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ZAHRA AMIRABADI

Love is Born

Clay base colored with bitumen and polish, paraffin and coffee candle, 4” x 4” x 10”

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ZAHRA AMIRABADI

Idle Youth Combination of two photographs, 12” x 16”

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PAUL DAVID ADKINS

Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, 9th Through 11th Floors, Asch Building, New York City, 25 March, 1911 A fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist garment plant killed 146 workers, mainly women. Many of them participated in the Womenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Factory Strike of 1909, demanding improved safety measures in sweatshops, where hundreds died each year due to faulty machinery, lung disease, fires and other hazards. Onlookers mistook the first leaping lady for a cotton bale until they unwrapped the bundle, saw a face. From smoking windows soon bloomed dozens of smoldering skirted girls screaming like bullets to earth. Bosses chained the doors each shift to discourage rest-breaks. The single unlocked exit opened inward. A crush of women sealed it shut. Those who could smashed window glass. They took their chances, chose the air, their sashes trailing like the snipped twine of plummeting kites.

Reference: Dash, Joan: The Womenâ&#x20AC;&#x2DC;s Factory Strike of 1909. Scholastic, NY, 1996, pps. 140-14 26

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DEAN C ROBERTSON

Letto di Inferno Nadia repeats an old story to herself, hums a psalm. Every time she hears nail to wood she thinks coffin. It’s easier to understand by descent. Nadia, close your eyes & open them. Flip your pages from back to front. Doesn’t it sound like ghosts, like tears echoing in your chest? Nadia, give a chunk of yourself. It’s easier to understand by giving. Beating heart cadaver, you feather, you ice queen, you cloven silhouette. (All the while, a tempest rages thick in her ribcage, metal opera all for Nadia.) A silver-link corset, piercing in its curve, models frozen. It’s not just you—when I see icicles, I think prison too. It’s easier to understand when incarcerated. Over the course of the day, the woods will approach with caution, then retreat. The wind will spindle branches, weigh them down in pharmaceutical grief. Feel the soil between your toes, roots collecting beneath your nails. This is your box, Nadia, your dome, your viewing room. Here, Nadia, take this pamphlet, this guide—take a look: think prison, think coffin, think my bed in hell.

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BEENISH AKHTAR

War Paint Photograph, 9.4” x 12”

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SARA HENNING

Tether Connie Culp (age 48) is the first ever United States recipient of a face transplant, performed at the Cleveland Clinic in December 2008. Pellet and bone splinters in my faceâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s loam. Nose, cheeks, jaw, eyeâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;gutter-bound origami that dirties the water. It was not until another woman died that my bones swallowed her death, her bones, nerves, skin the glue of the mosaic I wear as a prize pelt, loose garment surgeons must scissor straight, angle and frame, slick where the scarring takes it. I lie now as though with a lover, body shifting over its old ego, the tether:

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LINDA ANN STRANG

The Snapdragon Peace Accord South Africa, 1974 In prison, Mandela becomes a secret mandala. The lemon trees have bumpy leaves. My grandmother brushes unbaked scones with milk, her hands all flour and age spots. B.J. Vorster lifts his index finger. Sweet peas climb the chicken wire. Grandmother bottles ginger beer and draws a hand across her forehead. Sharpeville revs its cutting engine. There are violets around the birdbath. Grandmother unties the knot of her homemade apron; cancer is the upstart in her uterus. Two children sing “Ring O’ Rosies”, fall down in the garden laughing, unbitten by snapdragons. The wooden fence has rickets; it marks the end of the universe.

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CONTRIBUTORS PAUL DAVID ADKINS grew up in Florida and lives in New York. BEENISH AKHTAR is a 25-year-old senior at George Mason University majoring in graphic design. She was born in Louisiana, raised in the DMV area, and her inspiration comes from all the people that sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s been honored to interact with throughout her life. ZAHRA AMIRABADI was born in 1982 in Tehran, Iran. She entered art school in 9th grade and started her academic studies in illustration and painting following her passion for art, at which time she experienced a variety of media from darkroom analog photography and silk-screen printing to wood carving and leather art. Zahra finished her associate degree in visual communication followed by a B.F.A in graphic design, and while working as a graphic designer for numerous companies, had a chance to exhibit a number of her sculptures, photographs and self-portraits before coming to the United States in the fall of 2009. JENNIFER ATKINSON is the author of three collections of poetry, The Dogwood Tree, which won the University of Alabama Poetry Prize, and The Drowned City, which won the Samuel French Morse Poetry Prize and, most recently, Drift Ice from Etruscan Press. Her individual poems and her nonfiction have appeared in The Cincinnati Review, Poetry, Field, The Yale Review, The New England Review, Threepenny Review, Shenandoah, The Iowa Review, Image, Witness, and elsewhere. Both her poetry and her nonfiction have been honored with the Pushcart Prize. She received a B.A. in English from Wesleyan University, and an M.F.A. in poetry writing and an M.A. in creative nonfiction from the University of Iowa. She taught in Nepal and Japan, at the University of Iowa, and at Washington University before joining the faculty of George Mason. ANDY FOGLE is the author of four chapbooks, most recently The Neighborhood We Left, forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. Born in Norfolk, VA, and raised in Virginia Beach, he received his M.F.A from George Mason University, lives in Saratoga Springs, NY, teaches English at Bethlehem Central High School and Skidmore College, and is a doctoral student in Curriculum & Instruction at SUNY Albany. TODD FREDSONâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s poetry and non-fiction appears or is forthcoming in journals such as 42 Opus, American Poetry Review, Gulf Coast, Interim, Poetry International and West Branch. His collection, The Crucifix-Blocks, won the 2011 Patricia Bibby First Book Award. He lives with his partner So to Speak

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CONTRIBUTORS and their two sons in the Skokomish Valley, a small farming valley in Washington State. He is the Director of Programming for the McReavy House Museum of Hood Canal. ELIZABETH HARLAN-FERLO received her M.F.A in poetry from the University of Oregon, where she taught in the Walter and Nancy Kidd Tutorials and served as a Graduate Teaching Federation union steward. In 2006, Elizabeth was a member of the Community Arts grant panel for the Regional Arts and Culture Council in Portland, Oregon. While an undergraduate at Oberlin College, she helped to found a group that supported student-led writing workshops. Elizabeth’s poetry has appeared in numerous publications, including Poet Lore, Burnside Review, and Anglican Theological Review. In 2009, her essay “Gathering Anyway” was a finalist for Oregon Quarterly’s Northwest Perspectives contest.  She teaches in the Religion and Philosophy department and serves as a chaplain at Oregon Episcopal School. SARA HENNING received her M.F.A from George Mason University.  A former Vermont Studio Center resident, she has poems published or forthcoming in journals such as American Letters and Commentary, Verse, Room, Fence, and The Southern Poetry Anthology, Volume V:  Georgia.  She currently instructs in the first-year composition program at the University of Georgia. KATEEMA LEE is a Washington, D.C. native. She earned her M.F.A in Creative Writing at the University of Maryland, College Park. She is a Cave Canem Fellow, an associate editor for the Potomac Review, and an English instructor. She also teaches Introduction to Women’s Studies for the Women’s Studies Program at Montgomery College. Her poetry has been published in print and online.   RITA MAE REESE has received a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, a Stegner fellowship, and a “Discovery”/The Nation award. She is a graduate of the M.F.A program at University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in journals and anthologies including The Normal School, Imaginative Writing, From Where You Dream, Blackbird, New England Review, The Southern Review, and The Nation. Her first book, a collection of poetry entitled The Alphabet Conspiracy, is available from Arktoi Books/Red Hen Press. She is currently working on a novel about the 19th-century sculptor Edmonia Lewis. 32

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CONTRIBUTORS DEAN C ROBERTSON was raised in Phoenix, AZ and currently lives and writes in San Diego, CA. He is a contributing editor with Poetry International and his book reviews can be found at Web Del Sol. TONYA RUSSELL has a B.A. in writing and French from Plattsburgh State University. She will begin teaching English in the Republic of Georgia in September. This is her first publication. JANIS SWEENEY, a California native, is pursuing her B.F.A in Painting at George Mason University. She is primarily a contemporary realist oil painter but she also does work with mixed media and print. Along with her personal studio work, she is a member of the GMU School of Art (SOA) Honors, a collaborative of eleven artists selected by a SOA faculty board and lead by New York artist, Selena Kimball. She is also a member of a collaborative group, re:Collective, which is currently exhibiting installation art in the Washington D.C. area. Her current home and studio are in a suburb of Washington, D.C. LINDA ANN STRANG lives in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Her poetry has been published in many journals around the world and her first collection, Wedding Underwear for Mermaids, is available from Honest Publishing. In 2007, Alan Botsford of Poetry Kanto nominated her work for a Pushcart Prize.

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So to Speak Summer 2011