Sarah Menkedick

Sarah Menkedick
Sarah Menkedick is the founding editor of Vela. She is a writer, editor, runner, and perpetual traveler who always seems to wind up in Oaxaca, Mexico. She holds an M.F.A. from the University of Pittsburgh, where she taught creative writing. Before returning to the U.S. for graduate school, she spent six years living, teaching, and traveling abroad. She speaks fluent French and Spanish.

Her work has been featured in Harper’s, Oxford American, The Paris Review Daily, Amazon’s Kindle Singles, The Best Women’s Travel Writing, The New Inquiry, The Common, and elsewhere. Her Vela story “The Rider’s Prayer” was a finalist for The Atavist’s Digital Storymakers Award. Her Vela story “Homing Instincts” was selected as notable in The Best American Essays 2014. She was the 2012 winner of a Walter Rumsey Marvin Grant for a writer under 30. Contact her at sarah(at) Visit her website at 

Stories by Sarah:

  • Love in los tiempos del Spanglish

      If you enjoy this story, please consider supporting Vela on Kickstarter! We thank you infinitely for your support. When I first met el Gordo – antes de que lo llamara el Gordo, cuando todavía era Jorge – we spoke puro español. He had a mop of pelo negro, casi chino, a lion’s mane embracing a […]–Read more

  • My Own Mexican Revolution

    I was walking back from the grocery store, loaded down with bags, when a man came up the sidewalk. I looked down and away. He leaned towards me and whispered, “F**k me.” The insistent pressure exploded. I lost it. “F**k YOU!” I shouted, and then continued, calling him a dog, a monkey, an animal, a […]–Read more

  • Vela Writers On: Money

    I remember years ago – five years ago, to be precise – after I’d decided not to take another teaching job, I announced to my dad on the phone, “I’m going to make a living from writing.” If this sounds like a terrifying decision, keep in mind that my rent in Oaxaca was $150 a month […]–Read more

  • Hopes and Fears of the Writing Life

    Fears Fear that in the end, no matter how hard I work, no matter how many doors I bang on and with what frequency and obstinacy, no matter all the palliative nostalgia of laureled writers reflecting on the mounting failures that led to their breakthroughs, I just don’t have enough talent. Fear of not reading […]–Read more

  • Learning to Float

    It was gray, raining, but a narrow ribbon of cornflower blue ran between the stormy patches to the north. The ribbon ran over the long rolling hills around Zanesville, over the Love’s where the old men in Arby’s were talking about bad weather, over the damp flat fields outside of Columbus, where corn stalks were […]–Read more

  • Summer Reads from Vela

    Books by women for the last glorious gasp of summer! Rachel Kushner’sThe Flamethrowers Sure, I was predisposed to like Rachel Kushner’s The Flamethrowers. The story of a perceptive yet impressionable young female narrator in 1970s New York is woven in with revolutionary Italians and themes of speed, geography, class and feminism – basically, right up […]–Read more

  • It’s Not Personal

    If you enjoy this story, please consider supporting Vela on Kickstarter! We thank you infinitely for your support. This past fall, I went with seven other third-year nonfiction MFA students from the University of Pittsburgh to New York to pitch editors and agents. Incidentally, we are all women. All young women. Not a single one […]–Read more

  • Homing Instincts

    Selected as notable in The Best American Essays 2014 There are five types of navigation, five ways to find your way home: topographic, celestial, magnetic, olfactory and true. Topographic is used by the lowest forms of life, your mollusks and your limpets. Celestial is the rarest, used by some species of birds, some species of seals, humans, […]–Read more

  • Women We Read This Week

    Rafia Zakaria’s “The War, The Women, and the Vaccine” on Warscapes If you don’t know Rafia Zakaria yet, you should. She writes from Pakistan, from the front lines of U.S. wars–not the televised ones, the glorified ones starring SEALS and the CIA, but the ones taking place in kitchens and bedrooms, where women and children […]–Read more

  • Information is the death of story

    Boy, it sure looks dreamy over there on the fiction side of the genre line. No need to call back that source to find out the name of his first girlfriend, nope, you can just flip through a book of baby names and run with whatever has a pleasant two-toned ring to it or means […]–Read more

  • Women We Read This Week

    Rafia Zakaria’s “The Tragedies of Other Places” in Guernica A resident of Watertown, MA, was quoted in this week’s Harper’s Weekly Review saying, “I can’t imagine how people in other parts of the world live like this..with all the bombs, guns, and uncertainty.” This kind of insight is rare during American tragedies, and it seems […]–Read more

  • Two Essential Feminist Reads

    Deborah Copaken Kogan’s “My So-Called ‘Post-Feminist’ Life in Arts and Letters” in The Nation I remember sitting in my Craft of Memoir course in college, listening to a zealous-eyed classmate give a book report (is it possible we had book reports in college?). She was presenting a memoir by a female war photographer who’d amassed […]–Read more

  • Between Bliss and Burnout

    Our $17 room in Oaxaca had a soaring ceiling, easily thirty feet high, though lacking in that imposing baritone importance of high ceilings. Instead, it had an old, shabby southern feel, of concrete and peeling paint and idleness, a ceiling to contemplate in late afternoon with a belly full of spice and the sidewalks outside […]–Read more

  • Featured Writer: Miranda Ward

    1. You just wrote your first book, F**k the Radio, We’ve Got Apple Juice: Essays on a Rock n’ Roll Band. Can you tell me a little about it, and your process in writing and publishing it? The book is ostensibly about music and musicians, but really it’s about trying to make a living doing […]–Read more

  • Featured Writer: Alice Driver

    Working on a short film project on the Mexican side of the border wall near the international crossing Santa Teresa, New Mexico. Copyright © 2013 Julián Cardona. 1. How did you end up in Mexico City? Can you talk about your trajectory as an academic? The day after I defended my dissertation at the University […]–Read more

  • Women We Read This Week

    A gathering of some of the best pieces by women we’ve read this week. Janet Steen’s “Is the Personal Essay Hipper than Thou?” in The Weeklings In this response to a recent piece in The New Republic lamenting the state of the essay, Janet Steen doesn’t exactly argue with its writer, Adam Kirch, but rather […]–Read more

  • Backpackers in Paradise

    Our minibus is whisking us around flash cards of local color. The Waterfall. The Woman Walking on the Dusty Roadside. The Sulking Men on Motorbikes. The Village Store called “Christo!” The Kids Climbing a Lime Tree. The Fishermen At Ocean’s Edge. The Naked Toddler Jumping Into a Rock Pool. Then, when a massive metal seahorse […]–Read more

  • A $20,000 Reward For Jonah Lehrer’s Arrogance

    This week in my Intro to Nonfiction and Journalism class, I am teaching Rebecca Solnit’s “Men Explain Things to Me.” In it, Solnit maps what she calls the “archipelago of arrogance,” in which men are intelligent and right by virtue of their maleness, regardless of facts or truth, and women are, “in some sort of […]–Read more

  • Women We Read This Week

    A gathering of some of the best pieces by women we’ve read this week. Alix Olin’s “Reader, You Married Him: Male Writers, Female Readers, and the Marriage Plot” in the L.A. Review of Books Novelist Alix Olin, under the guise of a paired book review (The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides and Sweet Tooth by […]–Read more

  • Women We Read This Week

    A gathering of the best pieces by women we’ve read this week Azita Ranjbar’s “Returning to the Land” on The Rumpus A beautifully simple essay of Ranjbar’s visit to her family’s land in Iran on the Caspian Sea where, in her family “of khans and wealthy land owners,” her uncle has started farming. Through examining […]–Read more