At Gawker, Cord Jefferson writes about Stand Your Ground laws and his experience with racial profiling.

xoJane ran a pieace about renouncing marriage on feminist grounds.

Callie Collins discusses Wendy Davis’ filibuster and what it meant to her for The Rumpus:

What I’m asking is that you do not yield to the truly ugly things about Texas—Kimberly McCarthy’s execution, whatever Rick Perry says today, these inconceivable abortion measures that will pass anyway, the deep red of our electoral map, the fact that the happiest news of the week, the overturn of DOMA, doesn’t completely reach down here—to the extent that they fool you into forgetting the other things, the things that should now be evident. Wendy Davis, the sound of those women, the reemergence of a visible, fevered Texas Democratic party, the very real concerns of 26 million people who have been here all along.

The Fairy Tale Review is a journal that publishes folklore-inspired work and they want submissions soon!

These dogs are facing some tough truths.


Link round-up


July is International Zine Month! Read a zine! Make a zine! 

This isn’t a feminist/literary link, but NPR has been doing important coverage of the Trayvon Martin case.

Some time ago, Broad! linked to this essay on the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope on our Facebook page. It made me revisit a piece that Rookie published about the stereotype. Both have got me thinking a lot about the significance of the MPDG trope. As someone who, full disclosure, plays the ukulele and really likes to wear thrifted dresses and bake stuff, I appreciate this insight from the Rookie article: 

“My point is, likening real-life women to MPDGs is offensive. It implies that our habits and interests are affectations designed to attract dudes so we can improve their lives. The Manic Pixie Dream Girl does not actually exist—she is by definition a fantasy. We should restrict the use of the phrase to when we’re criticizing one-dimensional characters in fiction. Otherwise it’s just another way to put women down.” 

Safety Pin Review is literary journal that will not only publish your flash fic/short prose poem online, but will also have someone from their “collective network of authors, punks, thieves, and anarchists” wear it as a patch for a week and document people’s reactions! I think it’s neat. 

In a somewhat similar vein, check out these 10 Guerilla Poetry Projects!


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.

June 2013: Roots


Christina Matekel Gibson is the winner of our June readers write challenge on the theme of roots. 
Congratulations, Christina! 

You are my Roots

Through the mirror, I watch

your lips purse slightly while shaving,

like a male model from Eastern Europe.

When I roll over, our cat, so childlike, does too.

Last week, I followed a woman and her child shuffling

across an empty parking lot. When they reached

the sidewalk, he shot his hand up toward hers,

knowingly, waiting.

You are the answer to my wiggling fingers in the breeze.

Link Round-Up


On the feminist/political front:

Wendy Davis is incredible.

And Ruth Bader Ginsburg is notoriously so.

At Autostraddle: queer equality must run deeper than marriage equality and the blow to the Voting Rights Act is a critical blow to civil rights.

On the literary front:

An interview with the excellent Roxane Gay.

Fund socially conscious science fiction lit!

Bookworms cope better with “disorder and uncertainty.” 

Queer literary journals Them and Plenitude Magazine both have submission deadlines next month.

And on the Beautiful Things front: America in rivers. 

Link Round-Up


VICE Draws Ire by Staging Female Author Suicides Annalisa Quinn, NPR 
Trigger Warning: suicide

The stylist and set designer are women. The models are women. But many famous male writers have committed suicide — David Foster Wallace, Ernest Hemingway, Hunter S. Thompson, just to name a few. So why is this spread women only? Is this meant to imply that women are the weaker sex, are frail, are beautiful in their frailness?

I have so many feelings about this piece/this debacle/these issues. I’m not ready to try to articulate them yet. 

To counterbalance that with some actual good art: a lovely story at Recommended Reading:

      Orange is the type of place they recognize. Its downtown is good-natured, doors open, doesn’t judge. There are old people holding hands, and there are children with faces like cherubic peach pies. There is a church on nearly every corner. The cars all stop at the crosswalks and wave pedestrians across. Nobody is in a hurry, but nobody is lazing about either. There aren’t any palm trees. There are maple trees and sycamores. There are valley oaks, blue oaks and black oaks, cottonwoods, aspen trees. She is so sick of palm trees, she thinks, that she could puke. She is so sick of parking lots and freeways and outdoor malls. She is so sick of the dry, flat expanse and how palm trees are just these stupid pillars, holding up the blanched, hot, stupid sky. “I love it here. It makes me want to bake lemon bars,” she says as they walk down the sidewalk. 

 At Tin House: a long-form essay in which Robert Boswell uses the story of how he met his wife to demonstrate different methods of characterization. 

There is a Mystery Book Artist in Edinburgh. 

Heather showed me these Portraits of Grandmas and their Cuisine from Around the World. I think it’s the best thing I’ve seen all week. 

Happy Friday! 

Link Round-Up


Brittany introduced me to an interesting new writerly blog, MFA Day Job. From their description:

Some of the writers featured here love their jobs. Others are just getting through the day. Some wake up at four a.m. to write, and some squeeze writing time in every few weeks. Some don’t have paying jobs, but depend on parenthood or volunteerism to create balance in their lives. What they have in common, besides a misunderstood terminal (it’s terminal!) degree, is a creative outlook and a belief that their educational background, despite the doomsday warnings, is not a liability.

The New York Review of Books on Wikipedia’s literary subcategories, and their implications.

Bitch Magazine compiled a list of female-hosted comedy podcasts. I’m not familiar with many of these podcasts yet- or comedy podcasts more generally- but this is really relevant to my interests as a broadcast media geek/feminist/human.

NPR ran a piece on the (currently very pronounced) dearth of women in film.
In many, many parts of the country right now, if you want to go to see a movie in the theater and see a current movie about a woman — any story about any woman that isn’t a documentary or a cartoon — you can’t. You cannot. There are not any. You cannot take yourself to one, take your friend to one, take your daughter to one.

 A quick, shameless plug: two more days to submit this month’s  Readers Write!

Tips for Writing Cover Letters


Writing a cover letter for submission to literary magazines is a skill rarely taught in creative writing classes or workshops. That’s because teachers want their students to focus on the craft of writing, not on the lure of publishing. Writing and publishing are very different; one can be an artist without ever participating in the business side of art. At the beginner’s level, student work isn’t usually ready for publication anyway, and focusing on the art of writing should be the priority. But by the time writers are ready to send their work off to literary magazines, the cover letter still seems to be a mystery to many.

I won’t pretend to be the expert on this, but I have learned some things from professors, and from working on the staff of literary magazines. So, since Broad! has started accepting submissions for our next issue, here are some tips for putting your best foot forward with a cover letter:

1. Keep it brief. A cover letter for a magazine submission differs from a cover letter for a job application or a manuscript query letter for an agent, in that its purpose is entirely clerical. It goes with the manuscript to identify the genre and title of the submission and relevant information about your writing career. It should only be a few sentences long. For most magazines, your cover letter will include:

  • An introduction stating the genre and title of your submission.
  • A list of any relevant publications of creative work, writing awards, and/or fellowships or residencies.
  • If applicable: where you earned your MFA degree, where you teach writing, and/or editorial positions at magazines or journals.
  • A conclusion thanking the editors for their time.

2. Follow the magazine’s guidelines. Every magazine has a set of submission guidelines on their website, and you should follow these to the letter. If the editors want you to disclose in the cover letter that your submission is simultaneous, do so. If the editors want you to comment on stories that you read and liked in their previous issues, go ahead. Show them that you’re paying attention to their magazine. If the guidelines don’t say anything about the cover letter, use step one.

3. Be professional, not personal. I repeat, the cover letter is a clerical document. Resist the urge to tell the editors how you wrote your first book at five years old, and it was about your childhood dog, and your mom laminated it for you. It’s also not professional to include personal biographical information, like that you grew up in Connecticut but summer in Maine, or that you went to space camp when you were twelve. While potentially interesting, this is not information the editors need, and including it makes you look like an amateur. Stick to the information in steps one and two.

4. Cut out all of the padding. If you don’t have any publications, awards, or residencies yet, no problem. Broad! and many other literary magazines publish first-time authors all of the time. So you can send out cover letters that simply say “If accepted, this would be my first published story/essay/poem”. What you shouldn’t do is try to pad your cover letter with less relevant information, like where you got your Bachelor’s degree in Sociology or how you won an award for your writing in middle school. This makes you look like a student, and you want to look like a writer.* In addition, avoid mentioning other works-in-progress. If it hasn’t yet been published, accepted, or won an award, it doesn’t belong in your cover letter.

5. Let the work speak for itself. At one journal where I interned, we read the cover letters last, because we were much more interested in the work submitted than the author’s resumé. I suspect this is the M.O. at many other journals and magazines. Here at Broad!, we receive your cover letters in the emails, but I still try to hold off until after I’ve read the work. Which makes it irrelevant when a writer decides to summarize or analyze her work for the editors. The cover letter is not a query letter to an agent, in which an author tries to sell the manuscript to an agency by making the story sound exciting. Journal and magazine editors are going to read your submission because we read all submissions, and we are going to know if it’s a medieval romance or a set of poems with deep themes of death and longing. Your work should be strong enough that the plot and/or themes need no explanation. Editors also don’t need to know the story of where and how you received your inspiration for the work. Limit yourself to the information in steps one and two, and your professionalism will earn you respect from the editors of any magazine.

* One author told me that even revealing your status as an MFA student makes you look less professional. If you already graduated from an MFA program you might include that information, but leave out who you “studied under”, because it makes you seem pompous and has no bearing on your work. It’s also worth mentioning that while an MFA shows that you have dedicated significant time and energy to the craft of writing, writers without a Master’s degree have an equal chance of getting published, as do writers without a BA or BFA in English. In fact, I’m sorry, but your Bachelor’s degree is not important to mention in a cover letter to a literary magazine.


I hope this post provides some clarification to writers who have been confounded by the enigma of the cover letter. We welcome questions and comments below. And as always, we look forward to receiving prose, poetry, and artwork from our wonderful submitters at Broad! Happy writing!

This post is overdue. Unfortunately, I and the other editors don’t get paid to compile rad webzines in the name of gender justice in publishing– we have jobs and school to attend to. Thus, our blogging opportunities can be sporadic. Somehow, we still find time to read enlightening online articles we want to share with our readership. So here is a link round-up!

Heather sent me a list of career advice to aspiring writers. In general, I take internet lists about LIFE and HOW TO LIVE IT with a grain of salt, but I think this one has some important advice, particularly the last bit.

Malaika at Autostraddle wrote a lovely essay about, among other things, her experience with a publishing internship and how the world tries to tell women (especially queer women and women of color) what they can’t do. “As I sit in my Brooklyn living room listening to the music and smelling the pot, thinking about what an awesome day I’ve had at my internship, I think it’s important to remember to do all of the impossible things.” Running away to Brooklyn, brb.

Here’s an interview with Hunter S. Thompson if you’re into that kind of thing.

The Lamda Literary Awards happened.

If you are a linguistics nerd, this might fascinate you.

If you feel that your tumblr feed lacks literary flair, this blog might be relevant to your interests.

Buzzfeed compiled this list, re: introverts. I realize that not all writers are introverts, but I have a hunch that a fair number of us identify as such. As a textbook introvert myself, some of this resonates with me, especially # 2.

Happy Friday!