Tag Archives: education

Call for submissions for our new student-led partnerships in the South Bay!

So Say We All is collaborating with three groups of seniors at High Tech High Chula Vista on their final projects to design, engineer, and host a reading series in the South Bay, which will consist of three different nights throughout March, April and May.

The themes range from high school stories (struggles, relationships, trouble, etc), unexpected moments, and first times, and we hope for both readers and audience alike to be able to connect through their own unique stories. Submit to readingwithcv@gmail.com, with subject heading corresponding to chosen theme/prompt (1,460 Days, Wasn’t Expecting That!, or First Times).

1460 DAYS

Thursday, March 15
6:00 PM
2088 Otay Lakes Rd.,
Chula Vista, CA 91915

Tell us about your amazing and or terrible experiences in high school! (1460 days is the number of days you spent inside the walls of your high school).

Submission guidelines:
– 1200 – 1500 words
– Submit to readingwithcv@gmail.com, with subject heading “1,460 Days”
– Include name and contact info


Do you remember your first love? First kiss? First party? First loss? First heartbreak? Share a memorable first with us and submit your story.

Project ReVision is partnering up with SSWA to create a reading series in the South County area.

Write a story between 6 to 8 minutes long talking about any of your first experiences. Submission deadline is March 16th 2018. You must send your story to readingwithcv@gmail.com. Must Include: Your name, The theme you wrote for, and your story.

Performances will take place on April 19th, 2018 at 5:30 to 8:00 pm.

We will be having the chosen people perform at Project Reo Coffee Shop, in 2335 Reo Dr. San Diego, CA 92139.

Life is full of firsts and we want to hear yours.


Wasn’t expecting that!: Did your SO buy you a puppy? Did your friend tell your deepest secret? Was it dad who ran over the cat? Every relationship has its ups and downs, but sometimes you’re thrown in for a loop! Tell us what happened. Tell us how it affected your relationship.

Requirements: Your story needs to meet a word count of 1200 to 1500 words.

Submittal Process: Please include your name and contact information.

Submit your stories by email at readingwithcv@gmail.com with the Subject Heading “Wasn’t Expecting that!”

We look forward to reading your stories!

Submission Date: April 1st
Event Day: May 9th
Where: Onstage Playhouse 291 3rd Ave, Chula Vista, CA 91910
Time: 7-9 p.m.

We hope you’ll join us for these shows!

If you like what we do at So Say We All, and would like to support our education, performance, and publishing programming year-round, please consider becoming a sustaining member for as little as $5 per month.

The best stories we consumed in 2017

Each year, we ask a few of our friends, collaborators, and staff: what was the best story you read/heard/consumed in the year? We did this last year, and the year before. This year has been both troublesome for art (how can we focus on anything vaguely entertaining when the world is falling apart?) and absolutely in need of art, and absolutely in need of sharing our stories together. Story is essential in forming connections, fostering understanding, and planting empathy.

Please, if you can, support us in our winter membership drive and let’s make sure that those stories that need to be heard are told by the people who need to tell them, in 2018 and beyond. And as we slam the door on 2017, just like we slammed the door on 2016 thinking it was the worst it was gonna get, take a look at what our friends and staff came up with for things they loved: books, audiobooks, essays, articles, podcasts. We love them and we love what they love:


Leesa Cross-Smith is the author of Every Kiss A War and Whiskey & Ribbons and the founder/editor of WhiskeyPaperLeesa served as judge for our first annual SSWA Literary Prize in Fiction this year.

The Mothers by Brit Bennett

Why: Because of lines like “She felt like every winter would kill her, and when she reached the skyless Februarys and bleak Marches, she promised herself she would book the soonest flight back to California” because same. And because it’s such a beautiful, feels-real story and bc it’s written by a black woman and has black characters but it’s not focused on race. Because it’s a story about love and regret and mistakes and forgiveness and family, etc. Because it’s funny and sweet and sad and because I carried it around with me for days and finished reading it sitting in carpool in the rain. Because it lives up to the hype and so few things do. Because it was the first book I read in 2017 and it set the tone for an excellent reading year. Because it was good luck for me because the week after I finished it, I sold my novel. Because the cover is so gorgeous. Because it shines bright like a diamond. –Leesa Cross-Smith


Marco Cerda is a senior at High Tech High Chula Vista and served as So Say We All’s student intern this spring. 


A few months back, I went with several others to a friend’s house to watch a movie called “Fist of The North Star.” Mid-way through the movie, my friend’s dad recommended that we watch a movie called “Akira” after we were done with our current film. We took his advice, and were soon thrown into the dystopian world of Neo Tokyo, 2019. This movie stayed in my mind until recently when I picked up the original comic book. Everything from the art to the story is a masterpiece, and it does a good job at progression while keeping the atmosphere intact. —Marco Cerda


Hunter Gatewood writes fiction both short and long, and does storytelling, coaching and show producing for So Say We All.

My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent

2017. Gimme shelter. What a scary and exhausting year. I’m surprised that my favorite 2017 story was not happy escapist floof. It was Gabriel Tallent’s demanding debut novel My Absolute Darling. This is a brutal bildungsroman, like its sister Bastard Out of Carolina but sped up, stripped down, and dropped in the lush and wacky wilds of Mendocino County. The coming-of-ager is Turtle, a proud and strong 14-year-old social outcast, whose sexual maturity drives her uniquely damaged and disintegrating father in directions you can imagine, and in other directions you could never. I tore through it, all the while wondering if it was bad for me to be reading this. On one of these feverish days of reading, I was in the close confines of an airplane. I was reading what turned out to be the most disturbing scene in the whole thing. I felt that childish form of social paranoia: Everyone around me sees inside my head. They know what I am reading. They are repulsed. I wanted to lash out at this imagined judgment, lunatic-style like Turtle’s dad. I wanted to say, hey, this horrible psycho moment I’m reading right now is a crucial piece of the whole story. Every torment in this book reveals a specific type of strength, a specific flavor of stamina and survival. The whole story is gorgeous and meticulously crafted and takes you somewhere important. You’ve been warned. You will love it. —Hunter Gatewood


Jac Jemc is the author of The Grip of It (FSG Originals), My Only Wife (Dzanc Books), and A Different Bed Every Time (Dzanc Books). She edits nonfiction for Hobart teaches creative writing in Chicago. Jac taught a SSWA Master Class this fall, and read at The Foundry, our literary reading series.

Amelia Gray, “The Hostage.”

My favorite story of the year was Amelia Gray’s “Hostage” in The New Yorker. I want more work like this from the magazine: smart, unexpected, an impressive amount of action and character for a piece so brief. So painfully awkward and hilarious. When the teller makes suggestions of what the bank robber might write in his letter I guffawed. I guffawed! —Jac Jemc


Dave Housley’s fourth collection of short fiction, Massive Cleansing Fire, was published in 2017 by Outpost 19. His first novel, This Darkness Got to Give, is coming out in 2018 from Pandamoon Publishing. His work has appeared in Booth, Hobart, McSweeneys, Wigleaf, and some other places. He’s one of the founding editors and all-around do-stuff people at Barrelhouse. Sometimes he drinks boxed wine and tweets about the things on his television at @housleydave. (Barrelhouse is a nonprofit literary organization on the east coast, and a friend and inspiration of many of us at So Say We All).

They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us by Hanif Abdurraquib

This was a hard year for reading and writing, and I wound up sinking into a lot of comfort reading that didn’t really engage with what was happening in the world around us. But when I think about the best thing I read this year it’s something that spoke very directly to the real world, as well as the world of pop music, and that’s the essay collection They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us, by Hanif Abdurraquib (from Two Dollar Radio). These essays do what I think the best nonfiction does, and that’s start with the specific and then work into the personal before expanding out yet again toward other larger issues, including what fellow music writer Jessica Hopper eloquently describes on the back cover as “the true nature of life and death in America, in this moment.” I love many things about these essays – Hanif’s wise and funny and self-deprecating voice, the range of his musical interest (he covers Marvin Gaye, Carly Rae Jepsen, Springsteeen, Chance the Rapper, Notorious BIG, Fallout Boy, the Wonder Years, it goes on and on and his next topic is never predictable), the way these essays range into Actual Important Issues without feeling strained. He can start at a Springsteen show and wind up at a meditation on race and opportunity and Michael Brown (the title comes from a banner hanging over a Brown memorial) and it all seems so effortless and right. It’s the thing the best music writing does and this book is a timely reminder about how lucky we are that, right now, Hanif Abdurraqib is the best music writer we’ve got. —Dave Housley


Indira Hood-Esparza is an 11th grade humanities teacher at High Tech High Chula Vista and worked with SSWA on our semester-long collaboration, “The Power Within.”

“What is Normal?” by Thalia X. Peralta,11th grader at High Tech High Chula Vista (google doc shared with permission).

I picked this piece because right now more than ever we need to remember to have compassion and empathy for one another. I loved that Thalia was so honest about her brother and how others perceive him. It’s beautifully written with amazing usage of imagery. I hope others read it and feel the amount of empathy and love that Thalia has for her brother. —Indira Hood-Esparza


Matt Young is a writer, teacher, and veteran. He holds an MA from Miami University and is the recipient of fellowships with Words After War and the Carey Institute for Global Good. He lives in Olympia, Washington where he teaches writing at Centralia College and is the author of Eat the Apple out February 27 th 2018 from Bloomsbury. Matt taught a SSWA Master Class this year, and read at The Foundry, our literary reading series.

The National, Sleep Well Beast

My dudes. This year has been difficult to say the least—tough conversations with family and friends, constant vigilance of and calls to representatives, becoming parts of new discourse communities. All the while doing our jobs and caring for families and trying to create. Shit cray. One thing that got me through 2017 was The National’s Sleep Well Beast. I usually reserve The National and their Midwest ennui for moments of nostalgia pining after the barren cornfields and quiet snow of the fly-over state winters of my youth, but Sleep Well Beast is different than past albums. The sadness is less plotted, more manic—more raw. It’s less my home region’s musical voice and more a jumping needle of this past year’s emotional Richter Scale. The album helped get me beyond a block and got me writing again when it dropped in September, and for that I’m grateful. —Matt Young


Seth Combs is a VAMP contributor, and editor of San Diego CityBeat. He has covered the San Diego arts and music scene for over a decade. He’s also written for Spin, Zagat, and The Hollywood Reporter. He likes dogs and comic books, but is pretty iffy on your band. 

What It Means When A Man Falls From The Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah

It had been a while since I had read a short story collection, but after hearing LeVar Burton read Lesley Nneka Arimah’s “What It Means When a Man Falls From the Sky,” I knew I had to read the rest of her stories. Her debut collection has been marketed toward fans of speculative and dystopian fiction and that’s fine. Fans of those genres will find plenty to like within the loosely connected stories, most of which take place in Nigeria and the U.S. in the not-so-distant future. However, Arimah’s writing is strong enough to where it isn’t difficult to suspend disbelief. These aren’t stories about fantastical events, but rather, scenarios that could be playing out right now and told from the perspective of those most affected. The worlds of What It Means When a Man Falls From the Sky aren’t otherworldly. They’re our world reflected back to us as a warning. —Seth Combs


Justin Hudnall serves as the founder and Executive Director of So Say We All, a San Diego-based literary arts and education non-profit organization. He produces and hosts the public radio series Incoming on KPBS / PRX featuring the true stories of America’s veterans, and edits the anthology series of the same name. He is excited to debut two new radio series he’ll be producing for SSWA in 2018.

Best podcast: The Polybius Conspiracy

For anyone who 1) took the “I Want to Believe” sentiment popularized by The X-Files to heart, and 2) who also loved Serial and S-Town and (the 1st season of) Stranger Things, and 3) who feels that our current times have shattered the framework of normalcy rendering all things possible and the paranoid rational, then this series is for you. Just be sure to listen to the whole series through before you Google anything about it, give yourself the gift of letting it sit with you without external comment. It’s an exciting new twist on the medium that I hope sparks new innovation. —Justin Hudnall


Julia Dixon Evans is author of the forthcoming novel How To Set Yourself On Fire (Dzanc Books, May 2018). Her work can be found in Pithead Chapel, Paper Darts, Barrelhouse, and elsewhere. She is program director for So Say We All.

Not to be a total tease, since it’s not going to be available until February, but the best thing I read this year was Black Candies: The Eighties, which I am co-editing with SSWA’s Ryan Bradford, founding editor of the series. The book, scheduled for publication by SSWA Press in February 2018, is a collection of literary horror and dark fiction, and is gorgeous, unsettling, and nostalgic as hell. The stories, we noticed, as we pored over submissions and dug in during the editorial process, often seemed to center around a glitch. In the 80s days of analog-yore these glitches weren’t terrifying in the same ways as, say, modern hacker/twitter bot/self-driving car glitches, but my god these writers (including Meghan Phillips, Henry Hoke, Aaron Burch, Lindsay Hunter, Tiffany Scandal, and many, many more amazing voices, both established and brand new) wrote such pure, vivid terror in these malfunctions, the way things fall apart, and the way machines can haunt and be haunted. Featuring 23 stories (including an essay!) plus artwork. Buckle up. —Julia Dixon Evans

Thanks for reading our lists of favorites, and we hope we’ve given you some things for your “to do” lists. And we hope you’ll share yours with us too.

We can’t wait for the stories that 2018 will bring.

If you like what we do at So Say We All, please consider becoming a sustaining member for as little as $5 per month. Details: www.sosayweallonline.com/membership

Attention Educators and students! Upcoming student storytelling showcases!

Are you currently teaching storytelling, personal narrative, or first person non-fiction to your students? Or are you interested in developing a writing and storytelling unit? Do you have a project that might benefit from a storytelling element? Here are a few upcoming opportunities from our current education projects to see some excellent model texts and performances in action. Bring your students, or your colleagues! These shows are all ages, FREE, and open to all. (Special note: as these are high school and college students, there may be adult language and potentially triggering situations)

In chronological order!

Southwestern College VAMP: Are You Gonna Eat That

Thursday, November 16th at 7 PM
Field House Auditorium at Southwestern College
900 Otay Lakes Rd, Chula Vista, CA 91910
(part in Lot J student spaces)

Southwestern students drafted narratives on the theme of “Are You Gonna Eat That?” and just seven were selected to undergo an intensive editorial, critique, and coaching process. Food is an incredible storytelling prompt, and we love the many directions these students took the theme. Come hear their incredible stories!

More details

City College VAMP: Holler if Ya Hear Me

Wednesday, November 29 at 7 PM
Saville Theatre at City College
14th St & C St., San Diego, CA 92101

Do you understand the words coming out of my mouth? Have you ever struggled to be understood? We all want to be heard. But to be really understood–to have someone feel where you’re coming from–is powerful. Come hear our latest showcase of powerful student stories from City College!

More details.

The Power Within Storytelling Project

Nov-Dec, Project Reo Collective
2335 Reo Dr No. 6, San Diego, CA 92139

Thursday Nov. 30
Friday Dec. 1
Tuesday Dec. 5
Wednesday Dec. 6
Thursday Dec. 7

Five nights of fantastic storytelling from two classes of brilliant and inspiring high school juniors. These classes have incorporated biology into their examination of their own narratives, working hard all semester with our teaching artists, model texts from previous students, and with their peers. Join us for our third year working on this project with High Tech High Chula Vista.

More details TBD.

If you’d like to talk to us about opportunities with So Say We All teaching artists in your schools or institutions, please contact us.

To help So Say We All develop and sustain future education projects and more, please consider becoming a supporting member for as little as $5 per month.

Fractured Flashes: Matt Young teaches a master class with SSWA!

The Foundry #5 is coming up on June 10th, and with it, Incoming  contributor Matt Young is coming to town to teach a special master class with So Say We All that same day.

Fractured Flashes: Writing the Very Short Narrative Essay
A So Say We All Master Class with Matt Young


An in-depth look at the fractured parts that make us, and how to mine those moments of our lives in order to craft effective and engaging narrative flash creative nonfiction with the intent to publish. Students will read and discuss professional essays, explore memory recovery, discover ways to integrate research and personal experience, begin crafting a narrative, learn to give and receive effective feedback, leave with a draft-in-progress, and create a community of peer writers.

About your instructor:

Matt Young is a Marine Corps infantry veteran, teacher, editor, and writer. His work can be found in Incoming: Veteran Writers On Coming Home, CONSEQUENCE magazine, Split Lip, Word Riot, Tin House, River Teeth, and many others. He teaches composition, literature, and creative writing at Centralia College in Washington State. He is the author of Eat the Apple (Bloomsbury 2018), a multi-genre flash nonfiction war memoir about his three combat deployments to Iraq between 2005 and 2009. Find out more at www.mattyoungauthor.com or follow him on Twitter @young_em_see

Fractured Flashes: Writing The Very Short Narrative Essay
A So Say We All Master Class with Matt Young
Saturday, June 10th
10-2 pm

5111 Santa Fe St., Ste 219 (UPSTAIRS)
San Diego, CA 92109

$45 public
$35 member
Full Veteran Writers Division Scholarships available!

REGISTER NOWhttps://squareup.com/market/so-say-we-all/item/master-class-with-matt-young

Members: Enter code MCMEMBER at checkout to get your discount (and be honest like your mama taught you). To become a member for as little as $5 per month, visit www.sosayweallonline.com/membership

To apply for Veteran Writers Division Scholarships for this fantastic class, fill out this application. The scholarship deadline is May 20th, and we will notify you by May 25th.

If you like what we do at So Say We All, a literary non-profit, please consider becoming a supporting member here.


Southeast Stories: FREE Writing Workshop in Skyline Hills

So Say We All is collaborating with the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation’s Placemakers program to tell the story of Southeast San Diego through the written and spoken perspectives of the people who live and work there! Whether poetry, essays, or non-fiction prose, we want stories that take place in the neighborhood or strive to define an aspect of it, however you choose to interpret that.


Together with the Skyline Hills Public Library, we are hosting a FREE generative writing workshop to help those of us who live, work, or otherwise exist in the area of Southeast San Diego to write their stories. This workshop is open to everyone: all ages, all levels. No prior writing experience necessary. You do not need to have started a story to attend. There will be in-class writing time, so bring something to write on/with.

Southeast Stories Writing Workshop
Wednesday, May 17th
6:00 – 8:00 PM

Skyline Hills Public Library
7900 Paradise Valley Rd, San Diego, CA 92114
(619) 527-3485

(not required) –

Led by So Say We All teaching artist, Jim Ruland:

Jim Ruland is the co-author of My Damage with Keith Morris, and Giving the Finger with Scott Campbell Jr. of Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch. He is also the author of the award-winning novel Forest of Fortune and the short story collection Big Lonesome. Jim’s work has appeared in many publications, including The Believer, Black Warrior Review, Esquire, GrantaHobart, Los Angeles Times, McSweeney’s, Mississippi Review, and Oxford American, and has received awards from Reader’s Digest and the National Endowment for the Arts. He runs the Southern California-based reading series Vermin on the Mount, now in its thirteenth year.

Image credit: Southeast SD Map by Isauro Amigable Inocencio Jr.

The deadline for our Southeast Stories project is June 2nd. We hope this workshop provides the communities with the inspiration and tools to tell their own story, in their own words.

For more information, please contact us.

If you like what we do at So Say We All, an education, performance, and literary nonprofit organization and small press, please consider becoming a supporting member to sustain this work.

Wendy C. Ortiz teaches a master class with So Say We All

The Foundry #4 is coming up on March 18th, and with it, Wendy C. Ortiz will be joining us to read. She will also teach a very special master class with us that day.

Master class: Public Notebook to Book
Wendy C. Ortiz
Saturday March 18th 1-4 pm
Words Alive
5111 Santa Fe St # 219 (upstairs),
San Diego, CA 92109

There are infinite ways and means of writing a book, and social media platforms such as tumblr, Twitter, and Snapchat offer some particular and innovative ways of moving from the “public notebook” to book. Hollywood Notebook, a prose poem-ish memoir, and Bruja, a dreamoir, both began as public notebooks and eventually found their way to becoming print books. We will discuss different social media platforms and how using them in specific ways can contribute to multiple narrative threads we might use in the creation of a book. Discussion topics will include journaling, persona, audience, and the art of omission. By workshop end, participants will have experimented with creating a “public notebook.”

Wendy C. Ortiz is the author of Excavation: A Memoir, Hollywood Notebook, and the dreamoir Bruja. Her work has been profiled or featured in the Los Angeles Times, The Rumpus, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and the National Book Critics Circle Small Press Spotlight blog. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Hazlitt, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, The Nervous Breakdown, StoryQuarterly, and a year-long series appeared at McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. Wendy lives in Los Angeles.

Limited to 7 workshop participants. Scholarships available.

$55 non-members
$45 sustaining members

REGISTER NOWhttps://squareup.com/market/so-say-we-all/item/m-master-class-with-wendy-ortiz

Members: Enter code WENDYMEMBER at checkout to get your discount (and be honest like your mama taught you). To become a member for as little as $5 per month, visit www.sosayweallonline.com/membership

To apply for a scholarship for this fantastic class, fill out this application. The scholarship deadline is February 25th, and we will notify you by March 1st.

Stay tuned for more details about The Foundry #4 at 7 PM on March 18th, the night of the workshop, featuring readings by Wendy, Jami Attenberg, Karolina Waclawiak, and more.


High Tech High Chula Vista Storytelling Exhibitions!

Our project with High Tech High Chula Vista, now in its second year, is culminating in the next few weeks with a series of evenings of storytelling. The students have worked all semester on writing, storytelling, biology, art, and discovering their power within, and wil present short, powerful, beautiful personal narratives at our collaborative exhibition.

So Say We All is proud to have worked with these students, this project, and the school. We can’t wait to see the performances.

Please join us at The Industry in Chula Vista:

Friday, December 2nd, 6:30 PM
Tuesday, December 6th, 6:30 PM
Wednesday, December 7th, 6:30 PM
Thursday, December 8th, 6:30 PM
Monday, December 12th, 6:30 PM

The Industry is located at 871 Harold Place, Chula Vista, CA 91914

Each evening will feature a small group of student performances and the exhibition of their accompanying art.


So Say We All is in the midst of our winter fundraising campaign. If you like the work we do in our education programs, performance, or publishing projects, please consider donating here, or becoming a sustaining member.


So Say We All 2016 Winter Fundraiser

So Say We All is a 501c3 whose mission is to help people–all people–tell their story and tell it better through performance, education, and publishing. We’re especially interested in providing forums for people who have been talked about more than heard from, and now more than ever we need your help to ensure self-representation is possible. Whether it is on stage at our monthly performing arts showcases, in print, or through the various media channels we are expanding through. Your generous contribution to our year-end fundraiser will go directly to helping us providing brave new voices the attention they deserve and our culture needs.

Donate and share: https://fundrazr.com/b1BZO3?ref=ab_e2F0Fe

Thank you, and let’s keep the conversation going throughout the new year, together. – So Say We All.


Southwestern College VAMP: Snap Judgment is April 27th

So Say We All and Southwestern College present:
Spring 2016 VAMP: Snap Judgment

Read more about our community college programs here.

It happens to us all. We find ourselves the target of a snap judgment based on how others perceive us: where we’re from, how we look or sound, what we wear, even how we style our hair. If we’re honest, we can think of times when we, despite our best intentions, have pigeonholed someone else. When have you found yourself being targeted by a stereotype? When have you caught yourself stereotyping someone else – even though you know better?

Talia Castellanos
Daniel Ceballos
Natasa Cordova
Lorise Diamond
Shereen Fahrai
Jeffrey Jimenez
Ruben Lam

Southwestern College Spring 2016 VAMP: Snap Judgment
Wednesday, April 27th at 7:00 PM
Field House Auditorium
Southwestern College
900 Otay Lakes Rd
Chula Vista, CA 91910

Mesa College VAMP: Borders

So Say We All is proud to partner with San Diego Mesa College to present their first VAMP showcase: Borders.

Please join us for a night of storytelling at Mesa College. The selected students spend nearly a month undergoing an intensive critique and coaching process. Their stories are brave and vulnerable portrayals of borders. Life is full of borders: emotional, political, geographic, sexual, cultural, family.

The students participating in this showcases were selected from a large field of student submissions, and then spent a month working intensively with faculty, So Say We All teaching artists, and their co-performers to bring their stories to the stage. They work so hard, and have such amazing stories to tell.

San Diego Mesa College VAMP: Borders
Spring 2016
April 21st at 7:00 PM
San Diego Mesa College, auditorium in room G102