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 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 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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Featured Fem | Meet Alexis Rhone Fancher

Alexis Rhone Fancher’s poem, “when I turned fourteen, my mother’s sister took me to lunch and said:” was chosen by Edward Hirsch for inclusion in The Best American Poetry of 2016. She is the author of How I Lost My Virginity To Michael Cohen and other heart stab poems, (Sybaritic Press, 2014), and State of Grace: The Joshua Elegies, (KYSO Flash Press, 2015). She is published in Rattle, The MacGuffin, Slipstream, Wide Awake: Poets of Los Angeles, Hobart, and elsewhere.IMG_8457

Her photos are published worldwide, including spreads in Blue Lyra, River Styx, Blink Ink, Fine Linen, HeART Online, Rogue Agent, and the covers of Witness and The Mas Tequila Review.

Since 2013 Alexis has been nominated for seven Pushcart Prizes and four Best of The Net awards. She is poetry editor of Cultural Weekly, where she also publishes a monthly photo essay, The Poet’s Eye. Find her at on her website.

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Featured Fem | Meet Sylvia Arthur

Sylvia Arthur (avatar)Sylvia Arthur is a narrative nonfiction writer from the U.K. She has written for Clutch magazine, The Guardian, the BBC and News Africa magazine. She is currently working on a book of interconnected essays called African and Other Curse Words.

Fem: In the reading you gave for your upcoming work African, & Other Curse Words, you talk about your experience as a black woman from the U.K. living in Brussels. You say, “If I said I was British, they would say I was African. If I said I was African, they would question why I spoke English, why I spoke it with an English accent, and why I spoke it so fluently.” Can you talk a little bit about that feeling of not really belonging to any of the categories people had for you?

Sylvia Arthur: It’s not so much about not belonging as not being accepted. I think they’re two interrelated but slightly different things. I belong to all of those categories, but people wanted to pigeonhole me into one, reducing me to something they could easily understand rather than trying to comprehend the complexity of who I am. But belonging has as much to do with the internal as the external. I know what I am, who I am, and where I belong, yet it’s so frustrating to tell the truth and be consistently interrogated, which is when you start doubting yourself and what you know to be true. It’s not only frustrating, it’s disorientating, infuriating, and nauseating. It’s like emotional waterboarding. I am Black British, or British Ghanaian, or Ghanaian British. I see no contradiction in that, but the Europeans I encountered just wouldn’t, or couldn’t, accept that. Continue reading “Featured Fem | Meet Sylvia Arthur”

Featured Fem | Meet Frankie Concepcion

frankie concepcionFrankie Concepcion was born in the Phillipines and currently lives in Somerville, MA. She has written essays for The Toast, Vagabond City Lit and TheRappler.com among others, and poetry for such places as Straylight Literary Magazine, The Fat Cat Review and Literary Orphans. She is also the founder of GUNITA, an online collective for Filipino artists. This is her website.

Fem: Tell us about GUNITA. What space did you feel like it was filling and how has it evolved?

Frankie Conception: I started GUNITA because I wanted Filipinos to have a safe and encouraging space to think about our identities and current events going on in our country. In the U.S. there are so many opportunities to do exactly that, be it on the internet, in schools, or organizations where people can get together and just talk about what they’re seeing on the news, in their communities. But there aren’t many spaces to do that in the Philippines. So I wanted GUNITA to be a jumping off point, a springboard where people can talk about and explore issues that matter to them and be inspired to do something about it. Continue reading “Featured Fem | Meet Frankie Concepcion”

Featured Fem | Meet Teow Lim Goh

Author PhotoTeow Lim Goh is the author of Islanders (Conundrum Press, May 2016), a book of poems on the history of the Angel Island Immigration Station. Her writing has appeared in PANK, The Toast, Guernica, The Rumpus, Winter Tangerine Review, and Open Letters Monthly, among other publications. She also makes letterpress and art editions of poetry and other writings at her imprint Black Orchid Press. She lives in Denver.

Fem: Tell us about Islanders.

Teow Lim Goh: Between 1910 and 1940, Chinese immigrants to America were detained at the Angel Island Immigration Station in the San Francisco Bay. As they waited for weeks and months to know if they could land, some of them wrote poems on the walls. All the poems we have on record were found in the men’s barracks: the women’s quarters were destroyed in a fire. Continue reading “Featured Fem | Meet Teow Lim Goh”

Featured Fem | Meet Michelle Tudor

Photo (1)Michelle Tudor is a writer, average barista and wannabe cartographer. She is an English Literature and Creative Writing graduate whose work has been published both online and in print. Her first poetry collection You Are the Map and her debut short story collection Miyoko & Other Stories were both released in 2015. She currently serves as the editor of WILDNESS and Platypus Press.

Fem: What was your inspiration for creating Platypus Press? For Wildness?

Michelle Tudor: I think, mainly, a desire to find really great work. There’s just so much out there that doesn’t ever get seen. And because of WILDNESS’ nature as a journal (rather than the singular collections of the press), it’s not limited to one type of work or one group of writers. We want to explore great work and, vice-versa, we want other people to share that with us. Continue reading “Featured Fem | Meet Michelle Tudor”

Featured Fem | Meet Kathryn Burns

IMG_3177Kathryn Burns is a bipolar twenty-two year old cashier who spends most of her time trying to run interference between her five cats and the keyboard of her laptop.

Fem: Why is validating identities in writing personal for you? 

Kathryn Burns: I believe that validating identities should be a priority for every writer of any type of media, but the reasons why it is such a significant goal for me are definitely personal. Until the age of nineteen, I considered myself straight. I was attracted to guys, and I could relate to heterosexual storylines in every platform of literature I consumed, from books and movies to music. Having never even heard of the concept of heteronormativity, I had no idea how much I was limiting myself. But then after a drunken kiss with a female friend of mine, I started to feel confused. Looking back on my memories from puberty, I realized that the “girl crush” I had on Catherine Zeta Jones in Chicago wasn’t quite what I thought it was. I didn’t watch that movie on a daily basis because I wanted to be her… It was because her deep, throaty singing and intriguing dark lipstick were a huge factor of my sexual awakening. It was during this period of memory analysis that I watched a video describing pansexuality. I had never heard the term before, but suddenly I felt warm all over, as if it had wrapped around me like an afghan. I was safe. I was understood. Continue reading “Featured Fem | Meet Kathryn Burns”