Featured Fem | Meet Femchord

Julia Wejchert and Kate Ida are the founders and hosts of femchord, a radio show and music blog featuring women and non-binary people involved in all aspects of music. Julia and Kate were college roommates and both have a master’s in gender policy and an obsession with music. They broadcast out of Arlington’s WERA and are available on the web at femchord.com.

THE FEM: Something I think that’s really evolved in the music business recently is the process of discovery. It’s really easy in today’s age to listen to only what you know and never hear about anything else. How do you find new music?

KATE IDA: We look at a lot of artists signed to small, local labels. And that doesn’t necessarily mean the DC area, but any label that primarily champions hometown musicians. What many people who aren’t involved in music don’t realize is how much of the music on curated playlists that many streaming services offer, or on major music publications like Pitchfork, is actually fueled by major labels’ extensive PR capacity. It’s not that these artists don’t deserve the recognition they get, but there are so many talented artists making amazing music that are signed to small labels or are putting out music on their own on Bandcamp. Take Lucy Dacus as an example. She put out her amazing album No Burden on a small, Richmond, Va.-based label. She was eventually signed to the larger Matador Records, but I first heard her album by perusing the artists signed to Richmond’s Egghunt Records when looking for local artists to feature.  Continue reading “Featured Fem | Meet Femchord”

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Featured Fem | Meet Leslie Contreras Schwartz

Interview by Anna-Claire McGrath 

Leslie Contreras Schwartz is a Mexican American poet living in Houston. She is of Mayan descent, but grew up in Houston among the bayous. She graduated Warren Wilson’s Program for Writers in 2011 and currently raises three children while teaching writing. Her recently book of poetry, Fuego, deals with the body, gender and illness.

THE FEM: You’ve written a few poems “After Lynne Cox”, the long distance swimmer and writer, and it strikes me odd that a book of poetry called “Fuego”, or fire, would have so much water imagery. Was that a conscious dichotomy you were aiming for, or more incidental? What was it about Lynne Cox that inspired you particularly?

LESLIE CONTRERAS SCHWARTZ: I was intrigued by Lynne Cox as an athlete who deliberately swam in the harshest, most challenging conditions, who challenged her body to its limits. I did not set out to have fire and water imagery oppose each other in the collection. Rather, in Lynne Cox and the speakers of other poems, I was drawn to the idea of something ignited in the body and spirit, something that waxes and wanes but can carry a person forward through incredible difficulty. We usually see images and figures of men in this manner, their sheer willpower in the use of the body, but I wanted to imagine narratives of a female athlete and her own experience in willing the body to do the unimaginable.

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Leslie Contreras Schwartz

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Featured Fem | Meet Jill Walls

Jill Walls holds a PhD from University of North Carolina at Greensboro and works as an assistant professor at Ball State University in the department of Family and Consumer Sciences. In her classes, she teaches how race, gender, sexual orientation and social class, among other factors, shape individuals’ experiences and family relationships. She recently published a paper that examined intensive mothering beliefs among full-time employed mothers of young children, and is currently working on a project that examines the lived experiences of African American college students when race is discussed in class.

THE FEM: What would you say to full-time mothers of young children who are coping with some of the intensive mothering beliefs you’ve written about? As a mother yourself, are there things you’ve researched that you wish you had known earlier?

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Jill Walls

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Featured Fem | Meet Shanon Lee

Interview by Anna-Claire McGrath

Shanon Lee is a contributing writer for The Huffington Post, a filmmaker, a Women’s Media Center SheSource Expert, a member of the Speakers Bureau for the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) and the host of The Hush!, a blab talk show for feminist voices. Her current documentary, Art as a Voice, features five artists-activists who are survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.

THE FEM: You work a lot with victims of domestic abuse as a member of the Speakers Bureau for RAINN and as a filmmaker. What led you to go down that path? Why is it important that we talk about these issues?

SHANON LEE: I was a young divorcee and survivor of marital rape that went on to study clinical mental health counseling because I wanted to understand the mentality of my abuser and my relationship patterns. A decade after my divorce, my rapist started harassing me online during the height of the #IamJada movement. I felt that if a teen could be brave enough to speak out, after images of her rape were spread across social media, I could help others by sharing my story. After my essay about marital rape was published on xoJane.com, I was interviewed on HuffPost Live and invited to join the Speaker’s Bureau for RAINN. This year, I had the opportunity to submit a short film to an art event for Sexual Assault Awareness Month and I loved the experience. I am a storyteller; everything I do is influenced by my life experiences and desire to advocate for other survivors. Marital rape is not only stigmatized because women are still fighting for equality, the crime is overlooked because people are uneducated about consent.

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Shanon Lee

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Featured Friday | Meet Ashaki Jackson

Interview by Anna-Claire McGrath

Ashaki Jackson is a Houston, Texas native who now resides in Los Angeles. A social psychologist and programs evaluator, Ashaki’s poetry and activism often intermingle as evidenced in her debut chapbook, Surveillance, a meditation on the brutal murders of black and brown youth by police officers in America.

Ashaki returns with Language Lesson, Miel Books, August 2016, an equally emotional and exquisite book. Here, Ashaki returns to her southern roots to follow her grandmother back to her final resting place.

THE FEM: So this book is about mourning your grandmother, and I wanted to talk to you first about the impetus to write a book of poetry about that. What was her role in your life and why did you feel that poetry was the proper vehicle for paying tribute? Continue reading “Featured Friday | Meet Ashaki Jackson”

Featured Fem | Meet Xandra Robinson-Burns

Interview by Anna-Claire McGrath

Xandra Robinson-Burns is an American blogger living in the United Kingdom. Her blog, Heroine Training, focuses on ways to live life to your best potential through literature. She offers a course in self-development focusing on lessons from Harry Potter called Blogwarts, and a mailing list focusing on wisdom from Jane Austen called Letters from Jane Austen. She is just now finishing conducting a course in self-improvement based on Broadway musicals called Leading Lady.

THE FEM: Would you mind telling me a little bit about yourself and Heroine Training? Why did you start it and what niche did you hope to fill?

XANDRA ROBINSON-BURNS: I’m Xandra. I’m a minimalist Gryffindor from Boston living in Edinburgh. At Heroine Training, I write lessons and courses about being your own heroine and living your story. 

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Xandra Robinson-Burns

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Featured Fem | Meet Bethany Rose

Interview by Anna-Claire McGrath

Bethany Rose Lamont is the founder and editor-in-chief of Doll Hospital, a biannual art and literature print journal on mental health. The first issue, backed by Kickstarter, was released in February 2015. Issue three comes out this August.

THE FEM: Tell me a little bit about Doll Hospital for our readers. What is it, how did it come about?

BETHANY ROSE: Doll Hospital is an art and literature journal for and by people with mental health struggles. It’s not just for those of us with fancy liberal art degrees or some kind of “established” art or writing career or whatever. It’s a space for everyone who has a difficult time with mental health to share their story in whatever medium they feel most comfortable expressing themselves in.

I founded Doll Hospital in May 2014, I was a 22 year old student and struggling with thoughts of suicide. I had no place to express these always overwhelming, and sometime terrifying, thoughts and found myself reduced to self deprecating tweets and 3am shitposting on tumblr. I’m 25 now, Doll Hospital has turned two years old and we’ve just completed our third issue. I of course still have mental health struggles (those things don’t miraculously disappear sadly!) but in cultivating a space to safely express myself and seek out a community with others who are also grappling with these issues, I feel more confident in managing my own mental illness, less ashamed to actively express when I’m having a bad day and more emboldened to advocate for myself and for my loved ones.

Continue reading “Featured Fem | Meet Bethany Rose”

Featured Fem | Meet Abby Parsons and Bridie Wilkinson

Abby Parsons and Bridie Wilkinson are the co-founders of Dear Damsels, a website featuring writing by young women which launched in January 2016. Each month, they choose a theme such as HOME or TRANSIT and feature essays, short stories and poems on that theme. For July, Team DD is discussing NERVE.

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Bridie (left) and Abby (right), co-founders of Dear Damsels

THE FEM: So to start, could you describe Dear Damsels? Where did the idea come from and how did you go about making it into a reality? Continue reading “Featured Fem | Meet Abby Parsons and Bridie Wilkinson”

Featured Fem | Meet C. Russell Price

C. Russell Price is a genderqueer poet based in Chicago but originally hailing from Virginia. Their chapbook Tonight We Fuck The Trailer Park Out of Each Otherwas published by Sibling Rivalry Press on June 21, 2016. Previous publications include: AssaracusCourt GreenGlitterwolfMiPOesiasWeave, and elsewhere. They currently work at The Offing, Story Club Magazine and Triquarterly. They are a 2015 Lambda Fellow in Poetry.

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C. Russell Price

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Featured Friday | Meet Heather Derr-Smith

Heather Derr-Smith is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and the author of three books of poetry, Each End of the World (Main Street Rag Press, Editor’s Choice Award 2005), The Bride Minaret (University of Akron Press, Editor’s Choice Award, 2008) and Tongue Screw (Spark Wheel Press, 2016). The title Tongue Screw comes from a medieval torture device used to silence women as they were being lead to execution, and the poems in that volume deal with both childhood sexual abuse and rape. Her fourth collection, Thrust, won the Lexi Ruditnsky at Persea Books and will be published in 2017.

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Heather Derr-Smith 

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