Goodwill and Gratitude: Twelve Years with Poets & Writers

by Jamie Asaye FitzGerald

For the last twelve years, I’ve worked for Poets & Writers, Inc. Founded by Galen Williams in New York City in 1970, and guided for over thirty years by the steady hand of executive director Elliot Figman, P&W is the nation’s largest nonprofit organization serving creative writers. Its mission is to foster the professional development of poets and writers, to promote communication throughout the literary community, and to help create an environment in which literature can be appreciated by the widest possible public.

I was hired as a program assistant in 2005, and have directed the California branch office of P&W and its Readings & Workshops (West) grant program for the past three years with the help of program coordinator and fellow poet Brandi M. Spaethe. I didn’t understand at the beginning how foundational the organization’s mission and key values of service, inclusivity, integrity, and excellence were, but over the years these tenets have seeped into my bones and informed my work and my life. I consider my time at P&W as post-post-graduate work—my unofficial PhD in literary community.

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Why Write About the Hardest Things

by Antonia Crane

My mom’s aggressive cancer returned the same week I got into an MFA program for writing— a terrible idea considering the recession of 2008. Mom insisted I “Get that degree!” so I enrolled even though I had no way to pay for it. I’d lost my personal assistant job, and my sugar-daddy-once-removed, a stout, Mexican man who was missing part of his thumb, suddenly disappeared for good.

A few weeks into grad school, I drove up the California coast to Humboldt where redwoods cast long shadows and the icy ocean raged silently while I euthanized my mother. I immediately plunged back into sex work. There’s no pamphlet on how to keep showing up for class when your favorite person dies. It’s like waking up without arms or feet. I floated in the fog of her absence and I wrote about her frail limbs and her moans of pain when I took her off the morphine for a few hours those final days. I wrote about her peeing the bed. Spilling milk on the floor. Choking on water. I wrote about her writing her own obituary and her cobalt blue vases filled with her orange azaleas. I wrote about meeting men in motels off the 405 to jack them off—how I was usually one hand job away from being homeless. I wrote about my mom’s feeding tube and her pastel fuzzy socks I slid off her feet before they took her body away. In my mind and on the page, my mom’s dying body merged with mine going through the motions of sex work. I couldn’t separate the two because they were braided in my mind. I kept Cheryl Strayed’s essay “The Love of My Life” (The Sun, # 321) close at hand because it gave me permission to write about my specific raging body grief and how I hurled my pussy at the world and dared it to keep me safe. Continue reading


April showers bring May flowers…and Women Who Submit publications! Congratulations to all the women who had work published this month.

From “Cliff Side” by Arielle Silver at Jet Fuel Review:

Echoed against the cliff walls of the ragged coastline, the bark of two elephant seals. Aaark, one calls, then moans like the creak of old redwood. Even through closed lids: the periwinkle grey of dawn. I open my eyes at the fifth cheer-up-up from a nameless bird in dialogue with its mate. A moment later, my husband opens his.

From Antonia Crane‘s “Three Financial Dominatrixes on How Their Clients Get Off From Simply Handing Over Cash” at MEL Magazine:

“…a man has to have a lot of power to squander it away on the findom playground: an appendage of BDSM that caters to educated, successful guys who yearn to be coerced into parting with their cash by a draconian mean-girl they will likely never have sex with or even meet in person. It’s an emotionally complicated erotic transaction with real financial consequences — a guilt hangover in the form of blood-curdling debt.”

From Muriel Leung‘s “This Is to Live Several Lives” at Nat. Brut:

Once, when I was very, very young
I studied the curious
lives of bees –

Congratulations to Muriel who was also accepted to the VONA/Voices Workshop! Continue reading

Kaya Press catalog screenshot, from

Behind the Editor’s Desk: Neelanjana Banerjee

by Lauren Eggert-Crowe
Chances are you know about Kaya Press. Perhaps you recognize the name Nicholas Wong, Lambda Literary Award winning author of Kaya Press poetry title Crevasse. Or maybe you’ve heard of Ed Lin’s books This is a Bust and Waylaid. You might have listened to that 99% Invisible podcast episode about Thomassons but didn’t know that Kaya Press reprinted Genpei Akasegawa’s book on the subject. And in 2015 you might have seen all the positive press for Sam Chanse’s hybrid tour-de-force Lydia’s Funeral Video. Over the past two decades, Kaya Press has built a catalog of fresh, innovative work and has established itself as an organization at the forefront of independent publishing.
In their own words, “Kaya Press is a group of dedicated writers, artists, readers, and lovers of books working together to publish the most challenging, thoughtful, and provocative literature being produced throughout the Asian and Pacific Island diasporas. We believe that people’s lives can be changed by literature that pushes us past expectations and out of our comfort zone. We believe in the contagious potential of creativity combined with the means of production.”

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WWS Poetry Submission Blitz

By Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo

In honor of National Poetry Month, Women Who Submit is hosting a Poetry Submission Blitz on April 9, 2017 from 12pm-3pm at the Arts District Brewing Company. A submission blitz is a call to writers to submit their well-crafted and cared for work en masse to tier one literary journals that historically have shown gender disparities in their publications. A submission blitz is a call to action.

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Congratulations to all the Women Who Submit who have had work published in March!

From “The Iridescence of Our Sins” by Ashley Perez at Lost Balloon:

The children appear from the edges. Their faces set. Their bodies are covered in iridescent powders that shimmer in hues that could only be seen in dreams. We have been gathered in the square to wait. Our kin have been gathered to watch. The children walk around us in a pack, sniffing, running towards us and back again to their circle. Worn, brown leather pouches hang around their necks, swaying with their movement.

From Lisbeth Coiman‘s “Abundance Guilt” at Nailed:

Along the wide corridors of the wholesale store, I look for the basic ingredient of my favorite dish, Pabellón Criollo. Flank steak is a piece of lean meat that once cooked can be shredded like strands of yarn. The refrigerators burst with a large variety of large meat cuts. My shopping cart bumps into others. The shoppers mutter apologies; try samples of hot tamales, Italian sausage, and Indian curry. Hips of fresh fruits and vegetables seem to smile from across the vast space. It’s almost repugnant to see so much food. Continue reading

Behind the Editor’s Desk: An Interview with Siel Ju

We are reposting this interview with Siel Ju from August, 2016, in celebration of her book release! Cake Time, a novel in stories, is out on April 6th from Red Hen Press. If you’re in L.A., come join Siel and special guests at Skylight Books on April 5th for the book release party. More events are listed here. Congratulations, Siel!

by Lauren Eggert-Crowe

Siel Ju is the editor of Flash Flash Click, an online lit zine for fast fiction. Subscribers get a weekly flash prose piece delivered every Tuesday. The pieces range in style, tone, and content but all have a compelling narrative driving them, no matter how short. Some veer more towards the lyrical and sublime while others give the reader a sardonic slice-of-life from a first-person narrator. Siel has featured such authors as Wendy C. Ortiz, Catherine Daly, Lisa Cheby, Maureen Gibbon and Molly Fuller. I asked Siel a few questions about her job as editor of Flash Flash Click.

Why did you decide to start Flash Flash Click? 

The impetus came from feeling there was a big, untapped population of readers out there who weren’t being reached by the current literary marketplace. I have friends who are writers, but I also have many non-writer friends who are smart and literate — who might very well enjoy reading poems and stories but are completely unfamiliar with the world of literary journals. I think a lot of people don’t even know literary journals exist! So the idea was to start a lit zine that sent a short piece a week via email — tiny bits of prose that can be read easily on a smartphone — sort of like a gateway drug to entice “regular” people to become regular readers of contemporary fiction and poetry. Continue reading