Creative Nonfiction

Episode 33: Journeys: Inbound, Outbound

Today we showcase the work of two essayists — Stephen D. Gutierrez and Morelle Smith. We selected these pieces to share with you today because of the kind of inner world exploration many of us have been experiencing during the pandemic lockdowns, while simultaneously craving for a time when we can travel freely once again. Today’s episode takes you into two kinds of journeys: the inner world of the Self, and the external world of traveling through a foreign land. […]

Diaspora & Immigration Series

Episode 32: Imaginative Biography: PLACES & NAMES

We showcase Carl Boon’s debut collection, PLACES & NAMES, and speak with the poet. His poems coalesce two kinds of history—the factual and the imagined—to produce a kind of intimacy greater than either fact or imagination. The people who inhabit these places—as we range from Saigon to northern Iraq; Athens, Ohio, to Libya; Ankara to Pittsburgh—become those places, inseparable from their geographies and histories, often unable to escape, bound by memory, nostalgia, and tradition. […]

Deconstructing Dominant Cultures Series

Episode 28: Interrogating the Publishing Industry’s White Gaze

Lisa D. Gray, founder of Our Voices Our Stories SF, joins Julián Esteban Torres López to interrogate the white gaze of the publishing industry. They challenge its myths about Black and brown communities; call out its performative allyship; expose its diversity, equity, and inclusion problem; and hold it accountable. They also center, elevate, and amplify Black and other People of Color writers, especially women. […]

Deconstructing Dominant Cultures Series

Black Books Matter

As we find ways to impact diversity and equity in publishing and writing and disrupt its “old boy” culture, one critical thing we can all do is buy and read books written by Black and other people of color. This list provides a starting point. It’s for readers searching for themselves on the page and ones who never encountered or meaningfully engaged with someone who doesn’t look like them or share their ethnic/cultural norms and values. These tomes, written by women of color, are ones that you need to read like yesterday. These books and the women who wrote them dare to push for space and give voice to the lives of Black and brown women on the page. Buy one today. […]

Womanhood & Trauma Series — "Give Us a Smile"

Stalker, Stalker, Rapist: A (Sub)Version of Duck, Duck, Goose for Feminists

In a child’s game, roles and blame flip with little more than the pointing of a finger. Terminology emerges for experiences that couldn’t be acknowledged without words to label them; new legislation and culture changes follow. #MeToo. But even the most positive changes can be weaponized against those they were meant to protect. Beware the smiling woman. […]

Diaspora & Immigration Series

Ecija Siete

Whether caused by gentrification or war, displacement is an increasingly common aspect of the human experience. Growing up between three cultures and languages, Carmen Morawski’s personal essay, “Ecija Siete,” explores what constitutes home and belonging. […]

Being LGBTQIAA+ Series


In search of healing, both for her damaged knee and “broken” sexuality, Erica tests her faith in her own resilience. As she slowly recovers from surgery and the fallout of coming out as a lesbian, she starts to see the dark side of her desperate need to believe in her ability to bounce back. […]

Being Latina/o/x Series

Episode 27: To the Border Crossers

On this episode, we showcase the following four poets out of dozens who took the stage during “Cruzando Fronteras”—an event on immigration and border crossing—to share their personal stories: Alondra Adame, Eva Gonzalez, Gustavo Martir, and Diana Castellanos. Then, Julián Esteban Torres López shares his keynote speech, which tackled the role of storytelling as a tool of empowerment that can disrupt the status quo, confront caricatures, change politics by first changing culture, and help shape new paradigms. […]

Being LGBTQIAA+ Series


J. Daniel Cruz recounts his story as a gay Mexican immigrant in the United States in his journey through acceptance, love, loss, and family ties. Cruz explores the religious, social, and familial struggles that arise when a family member identifies as LGBTQ. […]

Being Mixed-Race Series

Discovering Dangerfield

In the years before my grandmother’s death, she became the enthusiastic genealogist of our family, piecing together tales so extraordinary I can sometimes hardly believe they recount the genesis of our family. Now, after my grandmother’s death, I feel my tenuous grasp on my heritage slipping, so I revisit her expansive research and discover the complexities of my heritage are so much more astonishing than I could anticipate. […]

Being Mixed-Race Series

Excerpt from Memoir: King Leopold’s Daughter

“Imagine my hill at the edge of a road. Imagine a city, Kinshasa, a recent Belgian colony made independent nine years earlier. Imagine my white Belgian father, an architect waiting to make deals with one of the cruelest dictators of our times: Mobutu Sesseseko. Imagine my metisse mother, born as a simple brown girl in Burundi, now the queen of the continent, thanks to papa. Imagine me, a four-year-old brown girl, waiting for the sun to set to sneak out of the house to my castle at the end of a road, on the side of a hill.” […]

Being Latina/o/x Series

Beach Speak

“Beach Speak” focuses on Angelica Julia Davila’s identity as Latinx through the use of the Spanish and English languages. Documenting her struggle with both languages while a child, Angelica explores what it means to accept who one is on the inside. It is a piece that touches on the shame of being seen as different while growing up in the United States. […]

Being Mixed-Race Series


This story is about food. And identity. And how each feeds the other. In a series of vignettes and reflections on Hana Etsuko Dethlefsen’s relationship with family, culture, food, and recipes, she explores the bitter-sweetness of an identity that is defined by being in-between. […]

Diaspora & Immigration Series

Eating Lice

My mom was an immigrant for eighteen months. I have been an immigrant for twenty-seven years. What made our migrations different? Mom was borderline illiterate, had six children and chose a husband poorly. I earned a Ph.D., had only one child, married a good man, divorced him, and married a better one. I teach at a university where I’m surrounded by intelligent people with inquisitive minds. I don’t know if education was the key, or who we married, or fate. […]

Being Latina/o/x Series

When My Name Is José

“When My Name is José” is a playful take on when and how often someone’s gotten Juan Carlos Reyes’s name wrong since he was a kid. The concerns are local and universal: navigating a new culture, assimilation, and the politics of speaking up. […]

Being Mixed-Race Series

Why Japanese Persimmons Are Hard

You waited until now to tell me I was the love of your life? More than 2 decades after we met—as we’re pushing 50? Timing has clearly never been our strong suit. Over and over again we find each other. We take turns rushing toward each other like a wave hitting the shore, only to pull away once again. I wouldn’t call you my other half, but no one else is my hafu. […]

Being LGBTQIAA+ Series

Am I Still Bisexual? A Quiz

Using the format of a pop culture quiz, Yolande House interrogates her sexuality and how it has—or hasn’t—changed as she’s grown older. Is sexuality based on experience or identity? Does her lack of recent experience negate a strong identity that formed when she was younger? House’s essay gives a clear voice to the frustrations of how the world looks at bisexuals compared to how bi+ people feel about themselves. […]

Diaspora & Immigration Series

Episode 26: ‘Where Are You From?’: The Wrong Passport

In this in-depth interview with Yaldaz Sadakova—creator of and author of The Wrong Passport: Memoir Stories About Immigration—we unpack the dreaded question “Where are you from?”, its limitations, how it’s a micro-aggression, and a better question to ask; Yaldaz speaks to how she found new emotional and intellectual anchors after leaving her birth country and how she found her creative voice in a foreign land; her feelings of shame and distress about forgetting her mother tongue; becoming estranged from her Turkish Muslim heritage; we interrogate our hesitation to correct people when they mispronounce our names; she elaborates as to why she’s convinced borders are a form of injustice; and much more. […]

Being Latina/o/x Series

Symbol Not Recognized

“Bureaucracy is colonization’s filing system; at Ellis and Angel island where people were renamed with ‘American’ names, at the border where children are being separated from their families, and thus their namesakes, a brutality perfected in Native Boarding Schools. Over the centuries of the Transatlantic slave trade, cultures, names and entire lineages were stripped from the people in a brutalist gesture to weaken identity. That is why we insist on our complication, our trickiness, reminding the systems that we are multitudes,” Ana Reyes-Bonar. […]

Being LGBTQIAA+ Series

All My Safe Spaces Are Dead

“All My Safe Spaces Are Dead” is a look at the upheaval and restructuring of my sense of self. My sense of safety is a horizon I never seem to reach; a mirage that morphs into something new once I tear my gaze away from its lies. Yet I wake up every morning looking for it, craving it, being unable to live without it. This is my hunt for a place to call home. […]