Heather, News

Hello, gentlepeople!

I’d like to start the new year with some announcements, and a request.

This fall has brought a lot of changes to the Broad! staff.  Two of us moved across the country in the past few months!  I started grad school, while Brittany began an exciting and promising career in literature.  Unfortunately, however, she no longer has the time to devote to Broad! she once did, and she has decided to step down as fiction editor.  We wish her the best of luck in her new job and new city.

Though we’re sad to see Brittany leave her position, we are happy to announce the addition of new fiction editor Kendra Fortmeyer: she’s an excellent writer, a lovely friend, and a recent MFA graduate from UT Austin.  Kendra’s brimming with ideas and I look forward to hearing each one of them.

The major life changes which overtook us this fall have only emphasized the difficulty of running a website and litzine with only three people.  The time commitment Broad! requires has multiplied substantially since its inception––which, while super exciting, is sadly growing unmanageable with the size of our staff.  You may have noticed that Broad! hasn’t been updating this blog as much as we used to do, for example.  I would like to take this opportunity to ask for volunteer readers: people we can send batches of (anononymized) submissions for their recommendations.

Submissions to the journal reopen on January 1.  I’m thrilled to announce that Summer 2014 will be our first themed issue (!!), with a prompt of “mothers.”  Do with that what you will; submissions will be open from January to April 1.  As always, email your subs to, and guidelines can be found via the Submissions tab above.

We can start sending out submission batches to volunteer readers by mid-January.  If you are interested in volunteering, please send me an email at with a brief cover letter that includes your name, any relevant background, and which genre you would prefer to read for (e.g., prose or poetry).

Thanks for sticking with us, and a happy New Year!



Feminism, News, Personal, Politics


On Tuesday, June 25, I was in Texas.  I was in Texas because in six weeks I will move there for an MFA program, and I needed to find a place to live.

That MFA program is for another post.  I mention it here because a) it’s the truth and b) there was no reason I would have gone to Texas otherwise.  I grew up — and currently live — in New England; I’d never even been in the South before, if you discount the touristy parts of Florida.  But here I was with a three-year promise to write books and study literature and eat a metric ton of Mexican food in the meantime.

I spent the majority of Tuesday, June 25 driving around the town where I would live, getting lost, and getting a parking ticket.  By the time I arrived back at my host’s apartment in Austin, the filibuster Wendy Davis had begun 11 hours before had been shut down by male Republican senators; she remained standing, unable to eat, drink, lean on anything, or use the bathroom until the men decided whether her filibuster had stuck to the topics they deemed “germane.”  (Apparently women’s personal testimony regarding abortion was not.)

My host and I sat in her living room watching the livestream of the Senate special session, unfolding twenty minutes away.  We’d talked about going to the Capitol building ourselves, but by now the crowds had grown so massive that it seemed impossible we would be able to enter.  She was furious, as was I.  Of course, she had been following the SB5 story for some time; I am embarrassed to admit that I wasn’t familiar with the bill at the time.  Watching men argue over the right of a woman to speak in public office, my general anger at the state of women’s rights in this country — “How can people NOT see that the patriarchy is real?!” — gave way to a realization that this bill would affect me personally.

Here I’d been thinking of myself as a Bostonian who happened to be in Texas, but in six weeks’ time I will also be a Texas woman.  The extreme restrictions that SB5 — now HB2, in its newest form — would impinge upon the livelihoods and  constitutional rights of women in Texas would impinge on me too.  A strange feeling, because I have always been privileged in that regard.  Never pregnant, never lived in a place that would prevent me from deciding among a full range of options if I were to get pregnant.  I have been lucky.  Even in Texas, I will be lucky; if HB2 passes, two of the five clinics that will remain open are within driving distance of my new town.  I will have a hell of a better chance getting safe, legal care than a woman who lives in West Texas.

The problem is that reproductive rights are called “rights” for a reason.  A woman’s ability to choose is not meant to be a privilege, available to some but not others.  And yet, so often, it is exactly that.  I call bullshit. Abortion is 14 times safer than the process of childbirth, and yet women are permitted to give birth at home in their bathtubs.   Out of the 42 reproductive clinics in the state of Texas, this bill would shut down all but five.  FIVE.  Five in a state that contains thirteen million women.

This is not a debate over women’s safety.  It is a debate over bodily autonomy, and whether women should be allowed to make their own choices.

I don’t know how much we can do to combat a system that believes people without uteri have the right to make decisions for those with uteri.  But to the extent we can — donating money to pro-choice organizations and activists like Senator Davis, protesting in real life and online, making ourselves seen — we must.  If not for ourselves, for others.  For those who can’t afford to drive to the places that give them options.  Independence isn’t something we earned when we became the United States of America; in a lot of places in this country, women still need it from those who would make decisions for them.  Tomorrow’s a work day.  The holiday’s over.  Let’s get started.


News, Personal

I live in Boston.

Last Saturday, several of my cousins came to visit.  We all grew up not too far from the city — the length of a long commute — but we’d only spent a handful of afternoons there as children: field trips, Disney on Ice, maybe a birthday.  Boston seems like a world away from my hometown.  Though I’ve lived here for two years, Saturday was the first time most of them had come to see me.  In other words, it was a big deal.

So we squired them about downtown, my boyfriend and I.  The seven of us ate Boston’s best burgers, walked past Berklee College of Music and the reflecting pool at the Christian Science Monitor.  Symphony Hall.  The Prudential Center.  Copley Square.

“This is the Boston Public Library,” I said.  The BPL is one of my favorite places in the city.  We were walking along the right side of the building towards the square, on the other side from Boylston Street.  In front stood a giant white tent.  It took us a few minutes to realize why.

“It’s for the Boston Marathon,” three of us sighed, almost as one. The medical tent, where less than 48 hours later EMTs would be treating sudden amputees.

Right now I am in my bedroom waiting for news.  Where I work has been closed today per instructions by police, as well as my way to get there, were it open.  They have asked everyone to stay inside and not answer the door.  Vague sirens in the distance — not sure if this is related or unrelated to the fact that law enforcement are on a manhunt for the second suspect.  Probably unrelated; the suspect is supposed to be in Watertown.  But he’s got a car.  But it’s unlikely he would head back into Boston, isn’t it?  I don’t know.  I am afraid.  Sad.  Stunned, again.  I felt that I needed to say something about this, but I have nothing.

For everyone in the area, stay safe. For others, please donate to the One Fund Boston — it’s raising money for the bombing victims and their families.  (A friend of mine has decided to run a half-marathon over the summer to raise funds for the charity; if you’re interested, here’s her pledge page.)

Other things people have written about the bombing at the Boston Marathon:

Weekend link roundup!


No Steubenville coverage this week, but I have been reading about the rape crisis in Syria.  It’s an important story and one that’s been largely ignored — or forgotten? — by the other side of the world even as it’s been happening.

I also did some reading about the trial of Kermit Gosnell and his illegal “women’s health center” of horrors, both via Jezebel’s coverage and The Atlantic.  (TRIGGER WARNING for all links here. I couldn’t finish the latter article; I had to stop when a photo scrolled onto the screen.) I remember reading about this a long time ago, but now the particulars are emerging (slowly, as each media outlet seems to recognize that this should have been talked about two years ago) and it’s horrific.  Which makes it all the more imperative that people need to know about what this man and his staff did.  When reproductive choices are limited by law, that doesn’t allow for a woman’s individual situation (whatever that may be).  It allows for things like this: the deaths of women patients and of innumerable, viable infants.  Obviously, Gosnell’s case is an extreme one, but it’s a reminder that illegal abortions still happen, all over the world.

After those articles, you might need something to decompress:

On Monday, Buzzfeed covered the Trans 100, a list honoring 100 American, trans activists and their work.  It’s the first list of its kind, despite there existing (seemingly) yearly lists for the “best”/”hottest”/”most successful” cisgender men and women in X number of publications at X number of supermarket registers across the U.S.  About damn time trans people had their own!  You can read an abridged version of the list at Buzzfeed or download the full list as a PDF at the second link.  More info on the Trans 100 tumblr.

Buzzfeed also lists 17 Shakespearean insults to use in ordinary life, complete with disapproving pictures of cats.

The DIY Couturier writes on “tips to keep your shit together when you’re depressed.”  It’s easy to scorn yourself when you’re depressed, as if you did it on purpose.  That will only make it worse, in my experience.  I found this helpful; maybe you will too.

And as for lit links:

The Rumpus has an article, transcribed from a panel presentation at AWP 2013, on “Post Black? Culture, Craft and Race in Verse.”  I wish I’d seen this panel. 

At The Atlantic, they renew the debate over the usefulness of teaching creative writing and whether life experience or study is best for writers developing their skills.  Experience, the author argues.  Technical skill is nothing if you have no font from which to plumb.  Your thoughts? Feelings?  Opinions?

And lastly, in other news, have you seen this video?

March 2013: “Clean”

Readers Write

Picture 6Here’s the winner of our Readers Write column for March, for which the theme was “clean.” Amber Shockley, thank you for submitting this poem.


Amber Shockley

Believe me,
I would scour my whole body
if I thought clean would become a curse
I could live with. No more dirty soles
or skin collected beneath the nails.
No dust, no dander – a wonder,
the bleached, plucked skin. I would
do this. Believe me?
Like Jesus’ flesh refined to a whisper
of thin wafer, blood juiced down to
a pierced grape’s single tear. Instead I
Repent, Repent – Rinse, repeat.
Slough and pumice.
I soap my breasts and sex,
fingers collect the feel of hair,
moles, send them to my brain’s sensors.
I recountcant some sin.
Somesintimes I nibble the pink
oval of glycerin, sulfate in my hand.
Sometimes I press the wash rag in
my open eyes, so they sting.
I wonder how I got so dirty,
a girl who made it her life’s journey to stay
kind and clean.

Some things are afoot

Lit, News

Hey writers/readers!

Submissions for our Summer 2013 issue close TOMORROW AT MIDNIGHT, y’all.  You have until 11:59:59 on this dear Friday, March 1 to send us your fiction, creative essays, poems, artwork or photography to [].  After that, we’re closing our doors to submissions for two whole months, until May 1; we learned with the last sub round that it (almost immediately) grew difficult to read through and weigh the subs currently under consideration while collecting myriad subs for the next issue.  All four of us have day jobs; we don’t have the time, sadly, to keep rolling journal submissions the way we have in the past, not now that Broad! has grown so big.

That being said, we are instituting a monthly, themed readers’ column on this site.  If Broad! is a community, it’s one of everyone –– not just us editors yammering on.  We’d like to see your creative writing featured on the blog!  Send us fiction, CNF, or poetry under 500 words to within the timeline specified (usually a week) and it might end up featured here.  This month’s theme is “clean”; please send your piece to us under the email subject “Reader Column Submission” by the end of Friday, March 8, 2013.  The selected pieces will be put up on the website in the second half of the month.

Let’s say that fiction, personal essays, or poetry aren’t your thing, though.  Which is totally fine!  They’re not everyone’s thing.  But book reviews, somehow, seem to be read by everybody and anybody.  Do you ever find yourself drifting into a haze when thinking about a recent plot twist in the book you’re reading?  Did you love (or hate) such a book and now can’t stop daydreaming about the lead character?  If so, you should write us a book review.  Email us with the review and book details; your thoughts could end up on our front page slideshow!

Happy submitting, everyone!



This is the second presidential election I have been legal to vote in. The first, in 2008, was my study abroad semester in college and I voted absentee a few weeks before Election Day. (I’ve been lucky to have some amazing experiences in my life.)

So, okay. It’s the day before the 2008 election, and my American flatmate and I are on an elderly bus jolting up a mountain in Sicily. There’s a medieval-era, gated village at the summit and we’re damn well going to see it before we fly to Barcelona the next day. We’ve been trying to catch this bus for three days.

We find ourselves outside the gate with two others, a man and woman about our age. “Canadian?” the man asks, with a strong Australian accent. We explain we are American, actually.

“Interesting time to be an American.”

“Yeah! Tomorrow!” And the four of us laugh awkwardly, thinking of what the next night might bring.

It turned out that the Australians knew a ton about our election. As in, they had been following it religiously online, on television, even on the radio. They knew who Sarah Palin and Tina Fey were. They quoted interviews with Biden that I hadn’t heard of, and I thought I’d been following the election cycle pretty closely. Though they lived more than half the world away — a plane ride longer than a day! — they cared about who the U.S. elected for president. Because it impacted them; impacted their country. And there I was, mortified to realize I was only 80% sure that Australia had a Parliament. I couldn’t tell you any one of their leaders, let alone their prospective leaders.

As an American citizen, you’re raised with this idea that the United States is #1 and the world’s only remaining superpower and the Best Ever, period. Parallel to that is the idea that we should teach other countries how to live, that we’re a role model. Well, whatever others think of us, we are by default influential. The way we take care of our elderly, sick, women, people of color, disenfranchised or disadvantaged, and our citizens that don’t fit into the mainstream heteronormative mold or gender binary: that doesn’t just impact our citizens. It reflects us to the world. If our country is going to be a role model, let’s (re)elect someone who will act like it.

Hurricane Sandy


Photo credit: Associated Press









So… Hurricane Sandy happened. Are you safe? I hope that wherever you are living right now, it is safe and with heat/water/electricity.

As you doubtless know by now, the New York-New Jersey area — as well as other Eastern Seaboard states such as Virginia — got pummeled. The president has declared NY and NJ literal, legal disaster areas. (Photos of the devastation at CNN.)

If you want to help with the relief efforts, here are some places taking donations:

The American Red Cross (obviously). Particularly the Greater New York branch.  You can donate money through mail, telephoning with your credit card number, via their website or, more mysteriously, via texting “REDCROSS” to 90999.  The text automatically donates $10 to the organization’s Disaster Relief branch, which helps with relief efforts in general; this doesn’t specify if your $10 would go to Sandy relief efforts exclusively (or at all).  I imagine that right now, though, at least part of your donation would go to Sandy.  It’s my understanding that any texted donations will show up as charges on your phone bill.

The Red Cross does not accept donated goods (e.g. clothing, canned food, etc), as that would require diverting part of their workforce toward sorting, shipping, and distributing said goods.  It’s more efficient to donate money to the relief efforts; the Red Cross can buy needed items nearby the affected communities, assisting their local economy and saving precious time.

They do, of course, accept blood and platelet donations, and those are needed more than ever.

Food banks run by Feeding America is supplying basic meals in the aftermath and Direct Relief International is working to give people healthcare in the 16 states affected by the storm,  especially individuals’ access to pharmacy services.  Given that the MTA in New York continues to be shuttered and that transportation remains an issue in several other states, this is not something to dismiss.

CNN has further information on ways to help.