As Us

A Space for Writers of the World

Sarah Rafael Garcia—Nonfiction

My MFA Experience: Retracing the Strength in my Writing

I

Like many aspiring writers, I attended a Master in Fine Arts in Creative Writing program to make my writing stronger. After my first year, I was fortunate to be accepted into a workshop with guest writer Etgar Keret—an award-winning Israeli writer known for his short stories and scriptwriting for films. Initially, I chose to submit my writing to Etgar Keret because he was the guest writer I felt a connection with on paper, being that he was not American and often embedded social commentary into his stories. But before his visit to Texas State University I never read or seen any of his work. By Fall of 2013, I felt like my writing had been literally cut- up and reshaped by MFA writing workshops. I took a variety of advice from my professors and peers in editing the first chapter of a historical novella to submit to Keret’s workshop. I followed the ebb-and-flow of the MFA program without ever questioning the impact it might have on my own writing style and cultural reflection in my stories. I thought I was eloquently regurgitating what I was being taught. Under false pretense, I believed I was finally accepted as one of them. “Them” being white, mainstream writers.

During my workshop, guest writer Etgar Keret did not offer my peers an opportunity to provide any feedback. In fact, he prohibited them from speaking about my work. He only shared his own opinion in which he stated that I had a great and passionate story to tell, limited by a conservative structure and style. He advised to put my story in first person, after I had changed it from first to third person because MFA students and professors had made the suggestion.

After Keret’s workshop, I read through some of the feedback my MFA peers offered on printed copies of my story. Since it was open to all MFA students, I was eager to read responses from those in their last year in the MFA program—hoping to gain their insight. Again, most of the critiques questioned the use of Spanish and focused on grammar issues. One third-year student in particular commented that he couldn’t adequately critique my writing sample because he hadn’t read the entire story. I was disappointed by the whole experience.

After the workshop session, I was fortunate to drive Etgar Keret to his hotel. In a private conversation, he advised I stopped subjecting my historical novella to the MFA program. In my copy of one of his books, he wrote, “Keep following your heart, all the rest is just bullshit!”

And those were the words that echoed in my mind for the rest of my MFA experience.

II

When I was thirty-seven, I decided to apply for a Master in Fine Arts in Creative Writing program. I was determined to learn more about the writing industry and improve my writing style. After having published a childhood memoir, I had a negative experience with a publisher but positive reviews from readers and writers like me—Mexican-Americans, Chicanas, Tejanas, and first-generation college students. This motivated me to find a way to strengthen my writing and broaden my reader audience. I also wanted to expand my teaching skills to the university level. I was in search of an MFA program that would help me become a “well-rounded” writer and sustainable community educator.

At the time, I was living frugally in Austin, Texas, maintaining my non-profit Barrio Writers and commuting via bike with minimal knowledge of MFA Creative Writing programs. Under much needed guidance, I asked a young, “academic-like” friend to help me with the application process. Along the way, I decided to apply to three MFA programs ranked by location, career skills opportunities and application fees. My first choice was the University of Texas at Austin for: its location, fully funding their students, and teaching opportunities. My second choice was Mills College in Oakland, California because the application fee was waived and the program itself is known for its diverse faculty and student body. Mills College also offered a community engagement fellowship opportunity. Lastly, I applied to Texas State University for: its location, my familiarity as an undergraduate alumna and teaching opportunities. My friend offered additional advice, but the words she spoke made no sense to me. I did not visit campuses and merely read faculty profiles in hopes that one writer would eventually become a mentor. But in the words of Junot Díaz, “Still, I was pretty dumb about the whole thing.”[1]

So I applied confidently, mostly motivated by the idea that I could be accepted into an “academic” writers’ community.

At my age I knew nothing in life was perfect, so I naturally wasn’t surprised when I didn’t get accepted into the University of Texas. However, I did get into Mills College and was offered an assistantship—yet not the fully funded, community engagement fellowship. I also got into Texas State University with an Instructional Assistant position. Both programs differed from each other drastically, but the biggest difference was the cost of tuition. In the end, my decision was based on the financial burden I’d accrue in the years it would take to graduate—at the time; it never crossed my mind that I might not graduate.

At thirty-seven, I should have known better. But I was optimistic and excited, as any incoming student should be.

III

There’s a lot to say about my three years at Texas State’s MFA program. I have yet to encounter a week in which I have not thought of dropping out. Even while writing this, I feel like I might not graduate.

Basically, I haven’t had a good MFA experience. In fact, I cried, ranted, and at times became numb just to cope with the alienation and lack of diversity and mentorship in this MFA program. Throughout each semester, I recounted my past struggles to convince myself that I deserved and qualified to be in the same space as my peers—to convince myself that I was not chosen for the color of my skin and to fulfill a quota.

I survived: learning English in the American School System; losing my father at thirteen, paying out of pocket for undergrad for four years; living in Beijing for eighteen months without knowing Mandarin, and renting a living room at thirty-six just to have a roof over my head and keep my non-profit running—yes, I know how to survive and yes, I know how to be flexible with my pride.”

I can’t imagine making it through the MFA program without such past experiences; I can’t imagine writing without having such stories to tell. Yet, even now I edit my own words to gain acceptance from the MFA program. In this last semester, I also obtained a new story to recount. A few weeks ago, a fellow Mexican-American MFA peer shared with me that a “white,” MFA male student told her that “we” were lucky to have three Mexican-American female students in one workshop and “we” should be “appreciative of the opportunity” instead of raising the issue of lack of diversity in faculty.

I should also couple this part of the argument that I had one MFA professor skirt around the idea of writing a letter of recommendation on my behalf, not once but twice. At first she agreed. Then, after a week of thinking it over, she rescinded her intent because I had yet to finish her course or present her with writing that qualified as fiction in her opinion. A year later, at my second request for a letter of recommendation, she again avoided the task by stating she had completed a number of letters of recommendations for other students and was very busy grading but proceeded to request my deadline dates. She never responded to my follow up email. By then, I had passed all her classes with A’s, including Form & Theory, which I originally obtained an incomplete due to an illness. Unfortunately, the first two years were not what I expected as a new graduate student, nor would I wish my MFA experience upon anyone else. With such experiences, I can say my first years in the MFA program made me more tenacious but not quite a stronger writer.

IV

So how has this MFA program made me a stronger writer?

Like many other MFA programs, this MFA program is also too white, too heterosexual and too male, as others have discussed about their MFA experience [2]. Yet, my biggest complaint is that it is not being held accountable by the powers that be and the program is non-responsive to outcries about the lack of diversity and mentorship while being classified as a Hispanic Serving Institute (HSI).

At this point, I could introduce the responsibilities of an HSI and what it means to be a diverse campus, but the information has no relevance in how the MFA program has made me a stronger writer. In all fairness, the MFA professors are truly the source of my strength—all white and heterosexual, among one professor who is the token mixed-black/queer identity and is only available to students studying poetry. There is not a single Mexican-American, Tejanx, Native- American or even Latinx professor on staff at this MFA program situated in central Texas. The guest writers’ for 2014-2015 are also all white and the writers scheduled for 2015-2016 only include one Latino male author who does not identify with Mexican-American, Tejano, or Chicano.

Need I mention that the prior years also lacked Mexican-American guest writers in the MFA program?

I was fortunate to be mentored by Cuban-American author Cristina García while she served as Endowed Chair in Creative Writing during 2012-2013. Unfortunately, I was only given one opportunity to experience her teachings in the classroom—I was a student in her last workshop in the MFA program. But even in one semester she made a lasting impact in my life as a writer of color. She nurtured variation in the classroom by assigning a diverse reading list and straying away from the same workshop style as the full-time MFA faculty. García challenged writers in the workshop to be individuals and experiment with all styles of writing—including poetry. She continued this support even after her position at Texas State University ended. She has met with me on occasion outside of the MFA program. In Spring of 2014, García attended a live reading at a local bookstore for one of my published prose pieces that I produced in her workshop. García became the mentor I had hoped to obtain throughout the MFA program. To me, she is a writer that lived up to her words in the classroom. During an interview with Bomb Magazine in 2007, García stated, “It’s up to us, as writers, to transform the violence and cultural upheaval and migrations all around us into stories and syntax that reflect and illuminate these new realities, distort them gorgeously. To me, good fiction is about disproportion.” Through her words and mentorship I gained reassurance and perseverance in my writing.

Unfortunately, I would have to wait a whole other year in the MFA program until I found myself in such a welcoming space again—it was in my last writing workshop in the MFA program with lecturer and author Jennifer duBois.

V

In the last three years, it has been my experience that the core MFA faculty members lack diversity in the reading material they assign and even bring forward in discussion in the classroom. Since I can choose to read works outside of class, I feel that is not a priority in my testament. It is important to discuss a particular exchange of writing criticism that occurred between the program director and myself in my third year in the program in which he insinuated that Chicano Realism is not “academic”—specifically referencing and comparing my writing to authors Gloria E. Anzaldúa and Richard Rodriguez.

This claim is a form of elitist suppression in academia and opens the door for an array of arguments that question the validity of any artist who does not meet the criteria of the “higher class” as “high culture” or “high art.” Similarly, David Mura wrote:

“…the MFA student of color experiences in a predominantly white institution is not simply an obscure or numerically insignificant occurrence. Instead it is symptomatic and revelatory of the ways the voices and consciousness of people of color are suppressed in our society.” [3]

In the Chicanx and Mexican-American literae populace, Anzaldúa and Rodriguez are two completely different Mexican-American writers with very different perspectives on identity and writing styles. To compare them as equals is completely erroneous and ignorant. Often, writers of color have been dismissed and/or typecast for their cultural representations, as was the case with writer Lan Samantha Chang. Chang was a student in the Iowa Writers’ Workshop when the head of the program was writer Frank Conroy. He gave Chang some advice: “If you don’t want to be typecast, don’t keep writing stories about Chinese-American characters.” [4] Luckily for Chang, she didn’t follow Conroy’s advice and now she directs the same program she once attended as a student. Before Chang, all the directors were white men. Now she makes it a priority to attract students and faculty from diverse backgrounds. I have to admit, it was through the exchanges of such ideas with my MFA program director that reinstated the strength in my writing as a Chicana author and led me to find relevance in Chang’s experience.

VI

Now to answer the root of the question, how has this MFA program made me a stronger writer? In my first year, I was confronted with various problems in my writing during the workshop process. Since I had no prior knowledge of workshop etiquette nor was it offered in my first workshop, it was also pointed out that I didn’t write appropriate feedback to my peers through the practice of writing critique letters. Additionally, I had no knowledge of the authors or theorists referenced in the Form & Theory class. When I asked for help to supplement my reading material and knowledge of course expectations, I was told by the professor, “You’ll eventually get it.”

Then I fell ill during my first year. Amidst all the confusion and debilitating experience with vertigo, I was ready to quit the MFA program. The only reason I didn’t was because I couldn’t justify leaving behind the money already spent. My financial investment became my reason for enduring the last two years in the MFA program. Unfortunately, my craft and self- confidence suffered for it along the way.

It was pointed out by some of my “white” MFA peers that my use of Spanish alienated them from my stories; my Mexican characters were too stereotypical and yet not quite believable. Yet when white students wrote about a culture other than theirs, they were praised for the attempt—like Hemingway and Cormac McCarthy are often praised for the use of Spanish in their writing, given Spanish is not their native language.

At the beginning of this experience, I was convinced I needed to take all these comments into consideration. At the time, I didn’t aspire to be a Chicana writer—I aspired to write historical fiction based on Mexican-American female narratives for non-Mexican-American readers (Yes, I realize now, I was pandering to white people). During my second writing workshop, I began to minimize and italicize the Spanish in my writing. I began to enhance my characters with the “essence” of the Mexican culture—stereotypes depicted by our current society and accepted by my white, middle-class peers. I read Tim O’Brien, took a class solely focused on Hemingway, and devoured the words by the professor who told me, “You don’t quite write fiction yet.” I began to assimilate into the MFA program. I began to “whitewash” my writing. And no one in the program told me to do otherwise, or that I was actually improving as a writer.

Now five semesters later, I began to read works that deal with one’s sense of belonging in academia and writing in order to help direct and structure future writing projects. I was fortunate to read Dolores Inés Casillas’ “Note on Language” from ¡Sounds of Belonging!. She wrote:

“Last, as this is a bilingual project, the sources used and many quoted here are in both English and Spanish. I have chosen not to signal to the reader by way of italics when Spanish is written, since, in my opinion, this supports U.S.-based class, racial, and linguistic hierarchies, particularly in regard to Spanish. The visually marked difference to reflect shift from English to Spanish interrupts the flow of the text. It assumes that readers are monolingual in English. It differentiates the Spanish while affirming the English as the norm. I privilege the bilingual reader by refusing to italicize the Spanish.” [5]

Like Casillas, I too had to explain my use of Spanish, leaving me to feel like an outsider or “other” in workshop and eventually in the entire MFA program. For the first two years, I developed resentment and a defensive stance towards my peers and professors. Eventually, those feelings evolved into motivation.

In the Fall of 2014, I was given a unique opportunity to organize a guest writer presentation of my choice for the entire Texas State University student body—outside of the MFA program. A Mexican-American and Tejano MFA peer assisted me in inviting writers who we felt represented an HSI campus in central Texas and would complement the “all-white” guest writers scheduled for 2014-2015 in the MFA program. We were fortunate to be supported by various departments across campus—with exception of the MFA program. At the peak of the main presentation, which included Dr. Carmen Tafolla, San Antonio’s Poet Laureate Laurie Ann Guerrero and award-winning author Tim Z. Hernandez, a representative of The Wittliff Collections counted eighty-seven attendees. We estimated a total of one hundred guests from beginning to end of the Tuesday evening event. The community-based event, scheduled one day prior to the main campus event, brought together approximately fifty community members that included diverse elders and students. The visit also included two on-campus class visits, which were both noted by the lead professors as an impacting experience for all undergraduate students involved. The Mexican-American and Texas-based guest writers served as role models for the growing Hispanic student population at Texas State University. Additionally their unique styles of writing and community engagement initiated discussion from students of color as well as students who aspire to incorporate writing and community leadership roles in their studies and careers.

In this particular instance, I can confidently state my MFA peers who felt alienated by Spanish made me a stronger writer. They forced me to experiment with the use of Spanish in my writing, sometimes making me the oppressor of my own culture. With this writing experience, I was forced to reach out to other writers and writer communities with my writing interests for consolation and guidance, and they were all found outside of this MFA program—Tim Z. Hernandez, Dagoberto Gilb, Laurie Ann Guerrero, ire’ne lara silva, Mónica Teresa Ortiz and Resistencia Bookstore [6]. I no longer feel I need to italicize, justify or aim to appease a non- Mexican-American reader audience. El español es parte de mi cultura and my writing is too.

VII

Due to the incomplete I received my first semester, I had to find a way to complete an additional course without interfering with the scheduled writing workshops I taught from June through August as part of Barrio Writers. Trying to keep a Teaching Assistant (TA) position in the fall, I found myself traveling to Hannover, Germany for a study abroad program led by Dr. Victoria Smith in the 2013 early summer semester. I first met Dr. Smith in a literature class titled “Modernism, Melodrama and Mayhem.” I registered for the course in order to learn about melodrama in fiction, develop my knowledge of theory and explore social commentary in literature and film.

Although Dr. Smith’s classes were very challenging, it was her teaching methods, diverse reading material, and class discussion that kept my attention. In the “Modernism, Melodrama and Mayhem” class, I read Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner and Passing by Nella Larsen.

They became the first books I added to my reference list for what I thought would support my work towards a historical novella depicting Mexican-American history through female narratives and oral storytelling. By the end of Dr. Smith’s class, I had focused my research on deconstructing female narratives in literature and on the screen. I analyzed how female roles were connected to historical periods in time and social commentary in the material presented in the coursework. This led my writing to develop with more focus and direction—I sought reading and course material to help me form female characters in a story that took place during the Bracero Era.

Although my initial intent to study in Germany was to fulfill a requirement to keep a TA position, it was Dr. Smith’s teaching style that motivated me to take more courses in Media Studies. While in Germany, her media studies course incorporated Post-WWII German films and relevant literature. The travel-writing course allowed me to practice creative non-fiction and build towards a travel memoir. Prior to the trip, I had made arrangements to contribute my travel pieces to a Chican@ writer’s online blog—La Bloga. Dr. Smith welcomed the idea and was very supportive throughout the process, even offered to read work outside of class. Throughout the study abroad experience, I took every opportunity to explore and deconstruct female narratives in the storylines presented and to obtain Dr. Smith’s critique on my creative writing.

My final paper in Germany focused on tracking the portrayal and symbolic roles of women in Wolfgang Staudte’s 1946 film, Die Mörder sind unter uns/The Murders Are Among Us. After experiencing the coursework in Germany and guidance of Dr. Smith, I felt I was able to strengthen the structure of the female narratives I was writing and expand my novella’s plot through historical research and film techniques.

As a female student of color, I felt mentored by Dr. Smith. She provided additional material including her own personal books for me to utilize as sources to explore film theory and creative writing. Additionally, when I returned to campus Fall of 2013 for the start of the second year, she also accepted multiple requests from me for letters of recommendation for scholarship applications without any hesitation. Dr. Smith was not part of the MFA program, and her life partner—also a woman—was equally supportive during our time in Germany. As a result of this positive experience, I expected for Dr. Smith to be on my committee should I had gone through with my intent to submit a historical novella based on the stories from my Abuelas (grandmothers) for my thesis. Unfortunately, after my second year in the program and being work-shopped by the guest writer Etgar Keret, I was reluctant to commit my culture and historical novella to the MFA experience.

VIII

Prior to submitting the first chapter of my historical novella titled, “For a Better Life” to Etgar Keret, I approached my “Point of View” class professor for advice on how to restructure the story. Having already participated in a number of classes lead by Doug Dorst in Fall of 2013, I felt the concepts he presented were of the utmost importance to address my weaknesses in writing fiction. Since I had only been writing poetry and creative non-fiction before applying to the MFA program, I was unaware of the various degrees of point of view and its impact on a story. Throughout the first year in the MFA, I was highly recommended to change my novella from first person to third person and from a novella into a novel.

The collection of female narratives I workshopped, which were also my writing sample to the MFA program, were referred to as monologues or creative nonfiction. Although two of the stories were based on my Abuelas’ lives, they were definitely fiction in how they intersected and aligned themselves with other characters and historical points during the Bracero Era. After my first workshop in the MFA program, I also changed the title because it was said the reader would not be able to deduce the intent of the story if the title was solely in Spanish. It was changed from “Tu Peor es Nada,” which quoted a Spanish dicho, otherwise known as a Spanish expression that insinuates “You worst is nothing compared to this.”

While in the POV class, I gained a broader knowledge of how to use point of view in fiction while also seeking additional practices and reading material from a book titled, Deepening Fiction: A Practical Guide for Intermediate and Advanced Writers by Sarah Stone and Ron Nyren. After taking a couple of film-based courses and coupling them with a POV class, I began to experiment with structure and point of view in my historical novella. Under advice provided by Dorst, I reworked my first chapter by using the “cut-up,” or Dadaist, technique and submitted it to him for feedback before submitting to guest writer Etgar Keret.

Although I credit the POV class as the first MFA course that taught me about the narrative structure of writing, I can’t say I felt included in the course reading material or mentored. Dorst had offered to read more of my work for a publication submission. Upon submitting to him after the POV course ended, I never received an email from him again. Regardless of the outcome, I don’t regret taking the POV class at all. The book Deepening Fiction has become a valuable source for my writing and still sits on my writing desk.

IX

My last year in the MFA program has been the year that has definitely made me a stronger writer on-and-off the page.

Once I experienced Germany with Dr. Smith, I gained motivation to continue the MFA program via study abroad opportunities. In the Summer of 2014, I studied in Cork City, Ireland for five weeks with Dr. Nancy Wilson and Professor Steve Wilson. The coursework focused on Irish literature and travel writing. Both courses exposed me to Irish writers and history, which was foreign to me but yet relatable given the shared experiences of colonization among the Irish, Mexicans, and Mexican-Americans.

Similar to my Germany experience, it was not solely the coursework that maintained my attention and enhanced my writing experience. The professors utilized their own personal narratives in the classroom to engage students as well as express sincere interest in my cultural background and personal narrative. The exchanges between the students and professors went beyond the words in the books and on the syllabus. On numerous occasions, I was able to inquire about poetry concepts with Professor Wilson, who is also a professor of poetry in the MFA program, while en route to off-campus Ireland destinations. He was very receptive to the questions I posed and often provided examples and insight. Additionally, Professor Wilson’s introduction to cultural theorist and author Jean Baudrillard was impacting to my perspective as a person of color in the states and in a MFA program. Equally, Dr. Wilson was very instrumental in establishing an outline for my travel memoir while serving as a mentor in teaching writing to a diverse student body at the university level. As Dr. Smith, Dr. Wilson also volunteered to read my creative writing and offer feedback outside of class time.

By the end of the study abroad program, I embraced Irish literature, and various readings presented by Professor Wilson and Dr. Wilson, as a source of inspiration for future works. Most particularly, Edna O’Brien’s The Country Girls for female narratives in Irish literature, Eric Cross’ The Tailor and Ansty for storytelling, and various works by David Sedaris for memoir and travel writing. Along the way, I discovered and learned from Irish short stories written by Sean O’Faolain and the feminist fairytales presented in Kissing the Witch by Emma Donoghue. I also reacquainted myself with previous work completed in a memoir class, reassuring me that I wasn’t entirely lost or left out throughout the MFA experience.

My time in Ireland was filled with much needed personal reflection and growth as a writer and student of color. As an “other” in the MFA program, I began to analyze how I could redirect my energy from criticizing my MFA experience to aligning my goals in order to graduate from the MFA program. I took account of my personal interests in writing and refrained from focusing solely on one type of reader audience—Chicanx or white people. In an interview with Hyphen Magazine in June 2014, David Mura stated, “So often people of color think mainly in terms of either addressing their own group or white people rather than in the history of interactions and communications that take place all the time between people of color.” Similarly, I began to deconstruct my layers of identities—in terms of how I, and others, might see and read me.

This exploration of the self inspired me to start two new projects at the start of the third year in the MFA program—a collection of contemporary feminist fairytales that allowed me to experiment with fiction and a revamped travel memoir based on personal memories dealing with identity, place and time. Both projects focus on identities present in today’s society and initiate discussions of gender roles, race and ethnicity, and social statuses.

Essentially, I became a stronger writer when I reinstated and accepted my identity as a female, writer of color in a MFA program. I do not desire to compete with or become my “white” counterparts or even accept a hierarchy. I aspire to write for me. To offer a counter- narrative for my culture, while I play with words and narrative structures without the constraints imposed by society—and my MFA program.


1 A quote from the “Introduction” by Junot Díaz in the DISMANTLE An Anthology of Writing from the VONA/Voices Writing Workshop book.

2 Refer to David Mura’s essay “The Student of Color in the Typical MFA program”; David Mura’s essay “Living in the World (whose world?);” Introduction by Junot Díaz in the DISMANTLE An Anthology of Writing from the VONA/Voices Writing Workshop for examples of people of color experiences in MFA programs.

3 A quote from David Mura’s essay “The Student of Color in the Typical MFA program”

4 Refer to “In Elite MFA Programs, The Challenge Of Writing While ‘Other’” by Lynn Neary on NPR’s All Things Considered for the full story and additional people of color MFA experiences.

5 For additional material addressing language politics and marginalizing Spanish in print and in public, see Gloria E. Anzaldúa, “How to Tame a Wild Tongue”; Aída Hurtado and Paul Rodriguez, “Language as a Social Problem: The Representation of Spanish in South Texas”; and Jane Hill, “Covert Racist Discourse: Metaphors, Mocking, and the Racialization of Historically Spanish Speaking Populations in the United States.”

6 It is worth noting that authors Tim Z. Hernandez and Dagoberto Gilb are currently teaching at Texas-based MFA programs, ire’ne lara silva is the recipient of the 2014 Alfredo Cisneros De Moral Foundation Award, Laurie Ann Guerrero is the Poet Laureate of San Antonio and Poet-in-Residence at Palo Alto College, and Mónica Teresa Ortiz is Editor of Poetry for Raspa Magazine. Resistencia Bookstore is a neighborhood center in Austin, Texas for aspiring writers, specializing in Native, Chican@-Mexican@, Latin@, African-American, LGBTQAI, feminist and children’s bilingual literature, the bookstore hosts a variety of cultural and literary events.


Sarah Rafael García is a Chicana writer, community educator and traveler. Since publishing Las Niñas, she founded Barrio Writers and obtained a MFA in Creative Writing. She writes poetry, creative non-fiction and fiction. Most recently, Sarah Rafael was awarded for her mixed-media project “Santana’s Fairy Tales”, which is supported in part by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, through a grant supporting the Artist-in-Residence initiative at Grand Central Art Center in Southern California. She is the editor for the annual Barrio Writers anthology and co-editor of the pariahs writing from outside the margins anthology. Sarah Rafael’s writing has appeared in LATINO MagazineContrapuntos IIIOutrage: A Protest Anthology For Injustice in a Post 9/11 WorldLa Tolteca Zine, Lumen Magazine, among others.

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