Joanna Valente - photo credit Brooklyn Magazine

Behind the Editor’s Desk: Joanna C. Valente

By Lauren Eggert-Crowe

We’re reposting last year’s interview with Luna Luna editor Joanna C. Valente, in honor of October and witching season. Luna Luna is open for all Halloween themed submissions now!

Are you a witch?

Do you have a dark, strange story or poem looking for a home?

Are you drawn to the magical, the mysterious, the occult?

Then it’s time to start reading and submitting to Luna Luna. Founded four years ago by Lisa Marie Basile, Luna Luna is a delightfully witchy feminist journal dedicated to all things occult, poetic, and otherworldly. At Luna Luna you’ll find everything from a personal essay on Mexican White Magic to a Berry Lip Stain Spell for Confidence to a rundown of movies about BDSM to directions on how to sew a poppet. The mixture of essays and magickal ephemera is beautiful.

I asked some questions of Managing Editor Joanna C. Valente. Continue reading

WWS Moves to a New Website!

Hello writers!

We are happy to announce we now have an official WWS website! This blog has gone dark, but not to worry! Chapter information, resources, upcoming events, and new weekly content are all waiting for you at our new home, so come and get familiar with all we offer at womenwhosubmitlit.org!

Thank you for your continued readership!

Sincerely,

WWS Leadership

A WWS PUBLICATION ROUND UP FOR FEBRUARY

The month may be short but the list of WWS publications is long. Congratulations to everyone who had work published in February!

From Claudine Burnett‘s “A Look at Bygone Days” at Signal Tribune:

In researching a possible new book on African-Americans in our community, I came across a California State Office of Historic Preservation report (“An Ethnic Sites Survey for California”) that mentioned that most people seemed to believe that, before 1940, there were virtually no African-Americans in the state. But there were.

Also from Claudine, “Lost Love Found” at Long Beach 908:

It was a story that brought many a tear to the eyes of many Los Angeles Herald readers the morning of August 28, 1898. It appeared that Leslie Newlin, one of the crew of the on the yacht Dawn, had found a long lost wife and she a long lost husband.

Congratulations to Lauren Eggert-Crowe who had two poems published at Big Lucks. From “Estivation Offerings:”

Come at me with babies
I am the mutant by the cheese plate
Painted nails like peanut m&ms, I am your bag of gross candy
Counting all the reasons to be tired

From Stephanie Abraham‘s “Indicting the System” at Los Angeles Review of Books:

Khan-Cullors’s new book, When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir, co-written with author and journalist asha bandele, explains the social conditions that led to that moment and the international movement that followed. At one point, Khan-Cullors states, “I’m writing this in sentences but this unfolded over days. Over several really hard days.” Given that this ambitious book explores her experiences from childhood to adulthood, she could just as easily have said, “Over several hard decades.” As a result of the book’s extended focus, the story sometimes jumps around in unexpected ways, but the payoff is worth it.

From “Oxtail Soup” by Tanya Ko Hong at Califragile:

I look at the bruise on my left hand
dark purple

mung—holding in the pain
silence of sorrow
ashes spread on the ocean
settling in layers
palimpsest of lives
like maple leaf

From “Do You Love Me?” by Carol Anne Perini at Post Card Shorts:

She stood in the doorway leaning against the jamb. A smoldering cigarette hung from her pale lips, the lipstick having been eaten off in their kissing. The slender strap of her white slip hung off of her freckled shoulder exposing the top of her perky, altered breast. He could see the nail dust flying from her emery board in the filtered sunlight illuminating her silhouette.

From Carla Sameth‘s “If This Is So, Why Am I?” at The Nervous Breakdown:

How did I get from standing on the bimah for my son’s bar mitzvah three years ago to visiting my son at the adolescent wing of a psych ward? Raphael is here on a 72-hour hold, a “5150.” This is where a social worker from the Psychiatric Emergency Team (PET) evaluates a person under 18 to see if he is at risk to himself or others. This is the first time my son has been put on such a hold related to his escalating drug use.

From Leilani Squire‘s “Wonderland” at The Write Launch:

I stand in the middle of the bedroom and watch her slip into the darkened hallway, then around the corner and head for the back of the house to report to the big young hunk—her just moved-in lover. I’m blinded by the starkness of the white walls painted only months earlier in this newly remodeled house. The space around me shrinks and I feel trapped…. Again.

Finally, congratulations to Elline Lipkin who had three poems – “My Mother, Receding,” “My Seed, My Jewel, My Secret,” and “The Present Perfect” – published in The Cost of Paper!

Learning to Breathe and Push through the Darkness

By Noriko Nakada

A few days before 2017 came to a close, my family and I drove through a cold, dark night from Oregon to Southern California. As we sped along that long stretch of freeway, my partner and I took turns driving, while our kids slept in the back seat. I dozed off when I could, and when I couldn’t, I stared out at the dark landscape rushing past us: distant mountains pressed up against the horizon, shadows of hills crouched beneath a starless sky. Occasionally, I’d pull out my phone, and gaze at pictures of friends celebrating holidays with family and friends or news updates. That was when I first caught civil rights attorney Valarie Kaur’s speech, “Breathe and Push.”

In her address, delivered at an interfaith watch night on New Year’s Eve of 2016, she spoke about her Sikh grandfather’s immigration to this country, and the white man who came to his aid, rescuing him from a dark cell. She spoke about the injustices and discrimination that dripped across each generation in her family, and how members of her family stood up to hatred. She spoke about raising her young son to see a world that is magical, but the fear that she is bringing her brown son into a world that is even more dangerous than the one where she grew up. But after examining these dark corners where our nation lurks asks:

“What if this darkness is not the darkness of the tomb, but the darkness of the womb? What if our America is not dead, but a country that is waiting to be born? What if the story of America is one long labor?”

She urges us to follow the midwife’s demand, to breathe and push through this darkness. “Because if we don’t push we will die, and if we don’t push our nation will die. So tonight we will breathe, tomorrow, we will labor.”

I wept into the darkness as we sped down the west coast. 2017 was a tough year, but her words helped me reframe the darkness. I knew what to do: breathe and push.

It’s in this spirit that I launch this column, a space to acknowledge the darkness that surrounds us, and then to look for ways to push our labor, our creative work, into the world.

In this first post, the darkness came to me as I left the middle school campus where I teach. I started my car and on the radio, heard news of another school shooting. Unlike the one a few weeks ago at Sal Castro Middle School right here in Los Angeles, this one took place in Florida, and it was much more deadly. As a teacher and mother, school shootings always shake me, and as I drove through busy LA streets, I listened to the nightmare day that unfolded on a school campus not all that different from mine, my daughter’s, my partner’s and wondered when this darkness of gun violence might find me and those I love.

A few days later, I sat at the page, and urged myself to push something into the world that could make enough of a difference that when my daughter enters high school, maybe we would keep track of the number of years it’s been since there’s been a school shooting rather than counting the number of school shootings so far in a calendar year. And although these few paragraphs and a few social media posts about my solution: someone, please buy back the guns… I looked to two pieces “Dawn and Mary” an essay by Brian Doyle from The Sun and a poem “On the fifth anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting” by Melanie Corning in The Rising Phoenix. Their work reminds us of another dark day and ways we can push toward something better.

I’m not pushing anything more than this small blog post right now, but it is what I’m breathing and pushing out today. And maybe if just a few of you join me, with all of us breathing and pushing, we can move things in the direction of a safer nation for us all.


unnamed-1Noriko Nakada writes, blogs, tweets, parents, and teaches middle school in Los Angeles. She is committed to writing thought-provoking creative non-fiction, fiction, and poetry. Publications include two book-length memoirs: Through Eyes Like Mine and Overdue Apologies, and excerpts, essays, and poetry in Lady Liberty Lit, Catapult, Meridian, Compose, Kartika, Hippocampus, The Rising Phoenix Review, and Linden Avenue.

Our Voices: Adopted People of Color

by Julayne Lee

Several years ago I attended a conference in Minnesota with overseas adopted Koreans. One of the evening events was a spoken word and poetry showcase featuring only adopted Korean artists. I had been to several poetry readings but this was the first one where our perspectives and experiences were centered. My friend who had gone to poetry readings with me leaned over and said, “This is for us.” It was special, unique and amplified our voices and lives.

I moved to Los Angeles a few years ago and participated in Writ Large Press’ first #90for90. When I heard they would host #90X90LA again in 2017, I knew I wanted to curate an event, and I wanted it to center adopted people of color. On a very hot Saturday afternoon in September, we gathered at Cielo gallery, and I hosted Our Voices: A Reading & Discussion with Adoptees of Color. We believe it to be the first ever poetry reading by adopted POC in Los Angeles, which featured Lynne Thompson, Dr. Michael Datcher and Yun-Sook Navarre. I had let the poets know they could read anything adoption related or not but the majority of what they chose to share was about adoption. It was a powerful experience for the poets and the audience, some of whom identify as adopted POC. For some, it was their first time being in an adoptee-centered environment. Continue reading

Six Rules to Write on a Budget

By Lisbeth Coiman

Taking the first steps into writing demands an immediate assessment of your finances. The cost of regularly submitting work for publication, attending conferences, or workshops, subscribing to publications, supplies, and other unforeseen expenses consume the usually limited resources of an unprepared emergent writer. Even those who live on writing have to approach their job with a thrifty mentality. Organization and careful planning are the fundamentals principles of writing on a budget.

1. Track every penny

I start my year with an expense tracker on an excel sheet. If your income this year barely makes it above poverty level, be thrifty and watch every penny. If you decide to report your writing as a business, it is mandatory that both income and expenses be carefully recorded for tax purposes. A spreadsheet is easy to prepare and must include mileage, supplies, gasoline, submissions, memberships, subscriptions, and can even cover charge to attend poetry readings. For a complete list of tax deductible items for writers see. Here is another. Continue reading

A WWS PUBLICATION ROUND UP FOR JANUARY

The year in publications has gotten off to a great start for Women Who Submit! Congratulations to everyone who had work published in January.

From Soleil David‘s “Seoul in October” at Cleaver:

If I could be anywhere
………..in the Fall
it would be Korea

walking rubberized pavement
………..to the top of Namsan Tower
surprised by snow in October

From Melissa Chadburn‘s “The Wounded Parts of People” at Shondaland:

Nobody needs to warn me about the wounded parts of people. There was that time I worked at a Level 12 residential treatment center for adolescent boys. It was called Mid-Valley Youth Center — a home for boys who stopped smelling like children. Some of us were fooled by this change in scent, by the wild sprites of hair off their face. Some days, we thought they were men. Their crude gestures, or refusals to eat, or to follow direction — we thought we were in a power struggle with them. Some judges even forgot they were boys, and gave them sterner sentences in places for men. The deal was, they could do more time at the treatment center with less restrictions, or less time at juvenile hall.

From “Never” by Li Yun Alvarado at Black Rabbit Review:

On the subway, three perfect
poofs frame flushed cheeks.
Lips pucker, sweet as stolen
fruit snacks. I make the rules

printed on purple sleeves.

From “Skin in the Game: An Open Letter to the Mostly White Parents in My Hometown on How to ‘Be the Change’ in 2018” by Hazel Kight Witham at Integrated Schools:

Many “What school are you sending your child to?” conversations start when the kids are just babies, or even before, in prenatal yoga classes or over dinner with friends. I imagine that by the time all those parents tour their local schools and glance at test scores they may have already made up their minds based on what someone else said. When or if they visit classrooms they may secretly they feel there are not enough kids that “look like my kid” attending the local traditional public school.

From “Spaghetti Western” by Lisbeth Coiman at Rabid Oak:

I never saw Henry Fonda kissing Claudia Cardinale in those dubbed spaghetti westerns of our Sunday afternoons, when the constant rotation of the fan made my father sleep with his eyes partially open and one of us always accidentally tripped on his foot and woke him up. Startled, he would reprimand in a loud voice: “Dejen de joder que estoy viendo la película.”

From Anita Gill‘s “Remaking the Rules: What a Nonfiction Writer Can Learn from a Novel” at The Woven Tale Press:

As a memoir writer, I’m embarking on a form more nascent than poetry and fiction. I cling dearly to the scant rules in this ever-growing genre, absorbing them as immutable commandments. Phillip Lopate, Vivian Gornick, Sven Birkerts, and others have established craft books on the memoir form. But here’s the challenge about relying on these writers and memoirs with literary acclaim: these craft books on writing originate from a homogenous Western group. We hold these craft rules to be self-evident, but what if they’re not? How do writers who do not hail solely from Western nations negotiate craft rules while still staying loyal to their voice?

From “Why I Read Books by Women of Color” by Noriko Nakada at My Lit Box:

These books by women of color showed me how to defy convention and call out to a world in a new voice. These are the books I want to read, and these are the books I want to write. In early morning hours, written my own stories of growing up multiracial in rural America with a trilogy of memoirs, and with my reading, I’ve settled on a more reasonable 24 books per year. When I select titles, I consciously lean toward women of color.

From Kelly Shire‘s “The Great Unknown” at the Coachella Review:

Mostly, I’m excited by these hours alone with my dad, by this weekday break from the routines of eighth grade. I call myself a daddy’s girl, feel a lick of pleasure whenever I annoy my mom by taking his side when she or my grandparents mentions his name. Besides the rock stars I dream of dating, he is my favorite person in the world, and he’s finally back after nearly a year of being gone, of being somewhere out in the great unknown. 

Last but not least, check out Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo reading her poem “Las Peregrinas” on the BWOMS podcast!