Photo: Jeff Archer

Testimony

Because of the fog, no one can enter San Quentin. Inmates must remain in their cells to be counted. We must remain on the outside. Nearly 100 people stand around, chatting, waiting to enter in order to watch prisoners perform a series of drama sketches, or “the play,” as the friendly correctional officer will call it on my way out (as in: “Oh, you came for the ... [Continue Reading]

Women We Read This Week

Women We Read This Week

Quinn Norton's "The Land That Never Has Been Yet" on Medium In her most recent piece for Medium, writer Quinn Norton begins with: It’s hard to write about your mom. She looms over you — at first literally — then over your life, like a mythic mountain laced with the river you drink from. And even as you travel away through time and she seems to get ... [Continue Reading]

reading_seuss

On Reading a Killer’s Manifesto

Over Memorial Day weekend, I enjoyed an idyllic three days with friends. When they left on Tuesday, I returned to the world and caught up on the news I’d been missing. I’d heard of the Isla Vista shooting, but it wasn’t until Tuesday where I finally learned of all the details. While I had been blissfully bouncing my friends’ new baby on my knee, letting him wrap ... [Continue Reading]

Firefighting

The Fire Rises

My father was an Eagle Scout when being an Eagle Scout meant something. When I was young, he taught me the proper way to build a campfire, and also about Houdini, and the way Houdini died. My father told me that if I fell asleep near running water dragonflies would come and sew my eyelids shut. For nightmares, he once offered ibuprofen. I am sitting on the floor of my ... [Continue Reading]

Women We Read This Week

Women We Read This Week

Julia Baird's "The Writing is on the Wall" in The New York Times In this article, Baird explores issues of graffiti, gender, and public space. Female graffiti artists, who in the past represented .01% of the graffiti community, have now climbed to .1%, a figure that still strikes me as impossibly low and speaks to how safe women feel in public space. When I was ... [Continue Reading]

biking_wine

Of Bikes and Men

I’ve just completed my first year as a full-time lecturer teaching writing at a state university, and this is, undoubtedly, the most anticipated summer vacation of my life. After nine months of being tied to my desk, of prepping, teaching, reading, and evaluating, of being saturated with fluorescent light and numbed by the institutional gray of my cement surroundings, ... [Continue Reading]

Vela's Nonfiction Contest

Vela’s First Nonfiction Contest: Results

Vela's first Nonfiction Contest received over 500 submissions. We were humbled to read the stories women writers shared with us and impressed by their breadth of experience, style, and voice. We are thrilled to announce the following winner and two finalists. The winning essay is currently featured on Vela, and the two finalists will be published in the coming ... [Continue Reading]

Photo Javier Corbo

Inversion

My father carved for my mother. He turned blocks of wood into mini-carousel horses. These horses were the most delicate things I’d ever seen a man make—their legs thin as reeds and bent in gallop. In warmer months my mother would arrange them on the living room’s wood stove. They ran in place, in circles, in early July around a bouquet of Tiger Lilies—her ... [Continue Reading]

WomenWeReadImage

Women We Read This Week

Rachele Kanigel’s "The Shadow Sex" in San Francisco magazine On November 4 of last year, Fleischman, who identifies as agender—neither male nor female—was set on fire while sleeping on an AC Transit bus on the way home from school. A surveillance camera captured video of another teen igniting Fleischman’s skirt with a lighter, and the following day police ... [Continue Reading]

Neither MFA nor NYC

Neither MFA Nor NYC

My favorite story from my college years wasn’t one I heard in a Creative Writing workshop. I didn’t hear it in any lit seminar or poetry reading. I heard it on a Wednesday night in West Oakland, sitting in a metal folding chair at the twelve-step meeting where I clung to my tenuous new sobriety. The story was told by Milton, a teeny-tiny wrinkled old man, ... [Continue Reading]