As Us

A Space for Writers of the World

Letter from the Editors

With each issue we publish the As/Us community grows stronger. Our writers contribute to more than just the literary scene, but also promote change, solidarity, and empowerment in their own communities. Witnessing their passion reaffirms our dedication to providing this space for connections and voices. And so we present you with Issue 3, which contains visual art that also interrogates some of the same themes we render in words.

Our previous issues contended with identity and Issue 3 is no different. Poet Min K. Kang describes this navigating of identities as trying to compartmentalize ourselves, “I spend much of my adult life by pouring larger, economy-sized containers into smaller, more manageable containers.”  As women who straddle spaces we understand there is fluidity in identity. Molly McGlennen uses nature to describe this occurrence,“Some of life’s first lessons / are learned on the water.”

We are constantly learning who we are by what we declare over ourselves and what we create. Well-known narratives call us to rewrite them, begging us to shed off the old. Shauna Osborn addresses this in, “you feel the rough itch in your / scars as if your decayed wings / wish to sprout open anew.” Isabel Quintero, Adela Najarro, Andrea Serrano, and Ann-Erika White Bird also remake stories and myths as a rewriting of realities. Agency comes in the process, in creating, “And I know what I need to know. What I want to know.” (Nandini Dhar)

Even though we create our identities for ourselves, there are those which are ascribed onto us. In Caridad Moro’s poem she challenges the assumptions about an individual’s physical appearance, “don’t assume she’ll roll over for something easy,” and how this mindset can affect a relationship. While Danielle Smith’s poem, “Song for My Beloved I – Loving” explores the dynamics of interracial relationships, “Why do I have to define miscegenation for you? Why is there such a long word for this?”

Observations play a role in defining what and who is considered other, but experiences can be what tie us together even if we are hesitant. Supriya Misra’s poem describes this as, “the very nature / of what it means / to be one / with the many people / in the space / around us.” Issue 3 shows us such connections between strangers like in Vickie Vertiz’s poem “I wish I could have showed him / my giant heart / his small ideas / those broken clavicles.”

Perhaps at the root of our search for connections comes the inevitable isolation a person can feel. Rachelle Cruz’s work uses metaphor as a mechanism of rendering neglect, “Sometimes we are a sleeve nearly torn off.” Natanya Pulley’s story, concerns a search for kinship and a desire to document. Her protagonist wants to, “pull her people and their stories and connections, like streamers into one giant well-planned party.”

Sometimes we hide from the worst parts of ourselves, “We want to pretend / the worst of us is bad grades or acne / no thing that sticks in the teeth like tough meat” (Idrissa Simmonds). But acknowledging our demons and weaknesses is part of our power. Jo Reyes-Boitel states this strength in taking control, “when I finally see / nothing is so strong / that I must throw my heart out.” Then comes acceptance. We are perfect in our imperfection. Alexandria Delcourt writes to this in “Sometimes she loves the rough inside bumps more than the smooth outside.”

And so as with all our issues, we make our way back into love. Love for the strength of our own voices like Lauren Espinoza: “you would know who I am by my voice.” Love for the places we come from like Caroline Mar: “It was / the place that made me.” And love for the dreams that get us to where we are, that push us to where we’re destined to be. Ramona Beltran reminds us of that power of willing dreams into reality, “you are evidence / that dreams exist.” We hope we will always be the “soul-hungry girl” from Cherrie Moraga’s poem that searches for what will fill our spirit. And it is in this vein and search that we give you another issue. We leave you with the evocative words of Carrie Ojanen, “…sing the song again, a second time, and a second time they will stand up to dance.”


Cassie and Tanaya

me and cassie at stanford may 2013

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Countdown to Launch

Issue 3February 14, 2014
Online version of Issue 3 goes live!

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