Tag Archives: Justin Hudnall

The Best Things We Read in 2016

We asked some of our friends and staff what the best story they read/heard/consumed in 2016 was. We did this last year, and we loved what our friends and worker bees had to say, so we decided to do it again. We all struggled to look back on the year as an entire thing, not just on the last few months post-election. It was hard to find the good, but it is undoubtably a year of stories: the creation, the consumption, the need.

Please, if you can, support us in our winter fundraiser and let’s make sure that those stories that need to be heard are told by the people who need to tell them, in 2017 and beyond. And as we slam the door on 2016, 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:

Justin Hudnall is the Executive Director of So Say We All, and produces and hosts the public radio series Incoming on KPBS. 

WTF Podcast # 741 with Marc Maron and Ron Perlman: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7SgXj7wUN6w

Why: I listen to the WTF Podcast almost daily because it’s a combination of therapy and The Actor’s Studio that can be ingested while doing something mindless I hate, like going to the gym or managing spreadsheet. This is my favorite, most-quoted episode of the year, because the dynamic created between these two middle-aged Jewish war horses–the vulnerability and candor they get out of each other–is a lesson to anyone pursuing a career in the arts, and how a person thinks is as important a factor as what they actually do or make.
–Justin Hudnall

Natanya Ann Pulley teaches creative writing and literature at Colorado College and was the guest editor for Black Candies: Gross and Unlikeable.

The 7th Man by Melanie Rae Thon

I read a lot of innovative fiction and often forget that the reason others do not is because it tends to push readers away rather than draw them in. For me, innovative fiction engages the puzzle-solving side of my brain. I want to put things together, make connections, and leap through word, character, and story architectures that seem impossible. Not every reader enjoys this type of reading and I certainly don’t only read experimental works, but I find them soothing (even when they are just a plain mess) because they reflect my experience–I’m just a being sorting through images, text, moments, and drawing conclusions and hopes and calling myself a name. When I introduced The 7th Man to my students this year, I was expecting the same discussions about what makes story and character, and how we read through the gaps and gutters even in so-called traditional or conventional writing. I hoped my students would walk away with a new ear towards poetic novellas (and Thon’s exquisite lines), the use of echoes and returns in fiction, and characters as quantum equations and not sums of data. And, of course, I wanted them to encounter a perspective on capital punishment. Instead, they fell hard for this novella (and I along with them as I often do). Sometimes when I’m searching for adventure in my reading–when I crave the type of line that speaks to my senses or the narrative construction that is as unexpected as it is expected, I forget to feed all of my heart. But The 7th Man doesn’t ignore the very heart of why we read or why we need other human’s stories as it gracefully moves through life ephemeral and liminal and raw.
–Natanya Ann Pulley


Adrian Van Young is the author of The Man Who Noticed Everything, a collection of stories, and Shadows in Summerland, a novel. Adrian recently read with us at our inaugural Foundry reading series this April. 

Elizabeth Hand’s Generation Loss–the first novel in her wild, disquieting Cass Neary series–was my favorite read of 2016. It takes the sub-genre of the anti-hero mystery procedural and turns it completely on its head, subverting the reader’s expectations at every turn with wry anticlimaxes, picaresque plot devices and hints of the supernatural. Plus, it’s steeped indelibly in the culture and music of American punk. I first picked up Hand’s novel, and then read the successive installments, Available Dark and Hard Light in quick succession, because I’m writing an anti-hero mystery procedural steeped in the culture and music of American punk of my own; Hand’s books boasted these and many more thematic crossovers. Moreover, I’d been hearing wonderful things about Hand for years as a writer who delights in the sheer variety of literature, slipping effortlessly between genres in nearly every project she undertakes. Needless to say, I was not disappointed. Generation Loss is the best literary thriller I’ve read in many, many years.
–Adrian Van Young

Skyler McCurine is a personal stylist, public speaker, wonder woman and founder of Le Red Balloon, and a So Say We All contributor and producer.

I consider myself to be a conscious, woke ass Queen and yet, in some ways I willingly participate in my own persecution and marginalization; some of the choices, ideas, thoughts I’ve grown up understanding as “truth” are really misogyny in action. This book was an invitation into truth, myself, and allowed me to question and critique femininity to write womanhood for myself. Caitlin Moran’s book, How to Be a Woman made me look at everything from waxing and Botox to abortion and my obsession with fatness (and why do I fear that word worse than any other). She writes the truth, the real of it, for her and in turn gives permission and freedom to anyone who reads it.
–Skyler McCurine

Tenley Lozano spent five years as an officer in the US Coast Guard. Her writing has appeared on the War Horse website, in O-Dark Thirty, and in our anthology Incoming: Veteran Writers on Returning Home. 

This past summer, I spent six weeks backpacking and car camping in Western Washington with my dog. We would hike during the day, then set up camp in the early afternoon and relax. During those quiet moments in camp, I listened to audiobooks while my dog napped. Hope Jahren’s Lab Girl, read by the author herself, held my attention during many long afternoons in Olympic National Park campsites. I loved hearing of her struggles and successes as a female scientist, and she deftly wove biology facts about the lives of trees with memories of her own experiences. It was especially moving to read about her dedication to trees and other plants while camping among old growth forests, or driving on the Olympic Highway and watching truck after truck full of lumber heading for the ports. Hope Jahren did an excellent job narrating her memoir, and the stories of her career, friendships, and family life are entwined with those of the plants she strives to understand.
–Tenley Lozano

Eric Obenauf is the editorial director of Two Dollar Radio, a press he founded with his wife, based in Columbus, Ohio.

The election inspired all manner of reductive confusion that made it tough to dig out of. In the last couple months, I’ve been turned onto the writing of Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib, a poet and cultural critic originally from Columbus, who is now a columnist at MTV. His poetry collection, The Crown Ain’t Worth Much, is incredible, but what I’ve been drawn to especially are his essays, which grapple with a storm cloud of confounding emotions with prose that is immediate, personal, poetic, sometimes funny and always deeply touching. His essay from last week, anointing Chance the Rapper as artist of the year at MTV, is a great example of the way he’s able to take music criticism and apply a worldview that is broad in scope while remaining deeply personal. I’ve enjoyed Hanif’s essays so much, that I contacted the writer and we’ll be publishing a collection of them next winter at Two Dollar Radio.
–Eric Obenauf

Lauren Marie Fleming wrote the book Bawdy Love: 10 Steps to Profoundly Loving Your Body, and her work has appeared in VICE, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, the Huffington Post, and elsewhere. She is a So Say We All teaching artist and coach.

The literary community often gets snobby about quick-read paperback novels, but I think there is a lot of value in the escapism these kinds of books can give us. This year, I was elbow deep in writing and editing my own weighty novel, giving it all of my brain power and emotional energy, so I especially appreciated sitting down at the end of the day with an easy read. I read many young adult and romance novels, but I got completely addicted to the Alex Craft novels by Kalayna Price. If you’re into paranormal romance novels (and who isn’t?), I highly suggest them.
–Lauren Marie Fleming

Nancy first performed on the So Say We All VAMP stage in 2013 and since then has volunteered in all capacities, from writing coach to SSWA board president in 2016. She is a founding member of the independent, non-profit City Works Press.

In Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist: Essays, I could point to stand out essays that cover more political ground, more cultural criticism, but I’m sweet on Gay’s personal reflection and honest bafflement about why in high school she gave up on being likeable and thus in trying to tell her truth, discovered she had then been typecast as a mean girl.
I craved everything Gay had to say about the limits to which a woman character in a book, film, or real life, could be unlikeable. You can read the essay for all the examples she explores.
What I’ve reread and pondered is the part of the essay where she unflinchingly gazes back at her younger girl self and finds the point in time (junior in high school) when she no longer cared what people thought about her; where she determined she was just being honest and human–although she allows she lacked tact–; and where she sensed that such qualities were generally unlikeable in women.
Gay challenges her reader to embrace imperfection, resist labels, and consider, if one is a writer as well as a reader, that writing is a political act.

–Nancy Cary

Jahleh Ghanbari is an MFA fiction student, an editor for Poetry International, as well as a VAMP contributor. 

I’m currently enrolled in the MFA program at San Diego State so, admittedly, I’m not reading very much beyond what is assigned to me these days. Fortunately, I have some amazing reading lists from the classes that I take and one of the books, in particular, struck me so profoundly as I made my way through it. It is one of those books that stays with you long after you read it, and while you are reading it, illuminates everything around you at a slant. It’s not a new book, but it was new to me. John Berger’s King is a heartbreaking insight into the story of a homeless couple, and their community at an encampment, told through the eyes of their dog, King. Humanity fills the pages in Berger’s poetic lines. The book takes place over the course of one day, but the amount of beautiful nuance that is stretched over 24-hours is enough to make you realize that every human being, no matter what their situation, has had a life, has stories to tell – something we should all know, inherently, but certainly need to be reminded of. We all sit far too comfortably in our egos, and once in a while, need to be ejected from those seats.
–Jahleh Ghanbari

Ryan Bradford is the author of Horror Business and founding editor of Black Candies, So Say We All’s journal of literary horror.

I read a lot of great stuff this year, so it’s hard to qualify “best” for me. I will say that the thing I read that had the most singular impact on me was “No Matter Which Way We Turned,” an ultra-short horror story by Brian Evenson, published on People Holding. It’s got a masterful, economic (almost disarming) use of language, which is classic Evenson, but it also maintains a peripheral horror throughout its short duration. Uncertainty, dread and ambiguity always make the most effective horror stories, and this story checks all those boxes. I still get chills every time I read it.
–Ryan Bradford

Julia Dixon Evans is the author of the forthcoming novel Other Burning Places, and serves as production director for So Say We All.

In a year saturated with tweet threads and brilliant political must-reads, I wolfed down everything I could, and most of it has run together in a (somewhat monotonous) blob of importance. So the standout for me this year was probably some insane fiction, the novel You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine by Alexandra Kleeman. Every word, every piece of food, everything on television: it all had total pay off. Relationships in particular: the line between intimacy and insanity, the line between being close and being oppressed. It seemed like the entire first 2/3 of the book is a super insightful look into how human connection can look (and be sabotaged) from deep in the interior. And in that way, this book made me feel like our human flaws are simple little avatars for everything powerful (bad?) in the world.  Gorgeous and wild.

“I felt a smothered hunger beating out from the unseen places inside my body. I felt corseted in skin. I wanted to turn myself violently inside out. I wanted to throw myself into the outside and begin tearing off chunks of it for food.” (from You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine)
–Julia Dixon Evans

If you like what we do at So Say We All, please consider supporting us and becoming a member. Details on our membership page here: http://www.sosayweallonline.com/become-a-member/

You can also donate to our winter fundraiser here: https://fundrazr.com/b1BZO3?ref=ab_44m6s5

VAMP: To Grandmother’s House We Go is Thursday 12/29!

Our holiday show! Naughty elves! Lost traditions! Grandmas! Come say good riddance to 2016 with us, and let’s share some stories.

The holidays mean we go home, or maybe we’re the home everyone comes to. Or maybe there’s no home, nobody to come. Sometimes there’s joy. Sometimes there’s loneliness. Sometimes there’s drunk uncles. And sometimes we wonder if we were raised by wolves (dressed in grandmother clothing).

Krisa Bruemmer
Jennifer Campos
Jennifer Coburn
Jessica Friis
Hunter Gatewood
Heidi Handelsman
Justin Hudnall

Produced by Jessica Ripper and Lauren Cusitello.

VAMP: To Grandmother’s House We Go
Thursday, December 29th
8:30 PM
Whistle Stop Bar
2236 Fern St
San Diego, CA 92104
(619) 284-6784
$5 suggested donation

If you like what we do at So Say We All, please consider supporting us and becoming a member. Details on our membership page here: http://www.sosayweallonline.com/become-a-member/

An interview with Justin Hudnall in War, Literature and the Arts Journal

Read Megan Kahn’s interview with Justin Hudnall in the current issue of War, Literature & the Arts.

Justin and Megan’s interview addresses the need for veteran literature and literary outreach in general, and, in insightful and revealing detail, they break down the process of creating and editing Incoming, both the book and the episodes of the radio show.

[W]e’d like to see the literary industry become much more populist in general, willing to invest more in developing voices and mentoring them rather than just waiting for finished novels and memoirs to show up at their door, because the majority of those come from people of privilege and education, which results in a monotone body of works available. If people aren’t reading enough, I believe it’s because they’re not seeing their lives reflected in the stories being shoved at them.


I believe the Incoming project—as much media as funding allows us to generate through it—is good for our democracy, to “bridge the gap” as the oft-used phrase goes, between the small minority that carries the burden for their entire country’s foreign policy, and the rest in order for them to understand the world they’re living in.

Read the rest here: http://wlajournal.com/wlaarchive/28/kahn.pdf

Thank you Megan and all at WLA. The issue of WLA Journal also features poetry, fiction, memoir, art, other interviews, critical essays, lectures, reviews, and more. And for you veteran writers out there, they accept submissions year round, so send them your work!

To support Incoming and the work So Say We All does in education, publishing, and performance outreach, please consider donating to our winter fundraiser or becoming a sustaining member. We need your help!

Black Candies: A Sweet Night of Horror at Verbatim Books

Come celebrate our journal of literary horror, Black Candies. We have been publishing the finest of creepy writing and dark fiction for five years now. We’ll be at Verbatim Books in San Diego (North Park) on Saturday, August 27th for a reading from the archives.

featuring stories from:
Rory Kelly (See Through)
Julia Dixon Evans (See Through)
Wade Pavlick (Surveillance)
Justin Hudnall (Post-Apocalypse)
Rachel Taylor (Gross and Unlikeable)

That’s right, we’re gonna tease you a little with a “Gross and Unlikeable” selection, from the book of women-only stories and art coming at you this winter.

With your host and founding editor, Ryan Bradford.

Black Candies: A Sweet Night of Horror
Saturday, August 27th at 8:00 PM
Verbatim Books
3793 30th St
San Diego, CA 92104
(619) 501-7466

blackcandies 13x9

VAMP: Villains is on Thursday!

Come join us for our next VAMP Storytelling Showcase! It’s this Thursday, 7/28, at 8:30 PM at the Whistle Stop Bar, 2236 Fern St. We’re excited to show off a bunch of brand new performers as well as some old timers we haven’t seen on the stage in a long time.

This year, we wanted our Comic-Con season show to be a little more… sinister. Stories about the bad guys, the meanies, the villainous. The ones we never saw coming and the ones we thought would be the problem and ended up surprising us. And sometimes we have to admit that we are the problem.

Invite your friends on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/1418311621519738/

Anna Gasaway
Fidi Mwero
Hunter Gatewood
Jake Arky
Jason Bechtel
Justin Hudnall
Patricia Dwyer

VAMP: Villains
Thursday, July 28th
8:30 PM
Whistle Stop Bar
2236 Fern St
San Diego, CA 92104
(619) 284-6784
$5 suggested donation

If you like what we do at So Say We All, please consider supporting us and becoming a member. Details on our membership page here: http://www.sosayweallonline.com/become-a-member/


Jim Ruland Reads at The Foundry No. 2: An Interview

The Foundry is our shiny new literary reading series, launched beautifully this spring. Our second installment is this month, July 30th, at the delightful Tiger Eye Hair in Golden Hill. As we approach the show, we’d like you to get to know the readers a little bit, and today we land on one of our heroes, Jim Ruland. Jim will be joined by many other greats: Aaron BurchJean Guerrero, Juliet Escoria, Uzodinma Okehi, and Scott McClanahan.


We love Jim’s writing. It’s intimate and obscure at the same time, delivering the fringe in oddly palatable and approachable ways. One of our favorite pieces is Cat Party, published this spring at Shadowgraph Quarterly.

So Say We All’s production director (and Foundry host) Julia Dixon Evans had a little chat with Jim recently.

jim only RulandTinWhistle Jim Ruland: pretty talented his entire life

JULIA DIXON EVANS: Jim! Thanks so much for agreeing to read at The Foundry, and for all your support in general. You’ve been a friend and volunteer of So Say We All far longer than I’ve been around. Tell me how you got involved?

JIM RULAND: I went to San Diego Animal Control and saw Justin Hudnall huddled in the corner. The rest is history.

JULIA: You’ve collaborated on some phenomenal co-writing projects lately: Giving The Finger, and My Damage. Co-writing seems like an incredibly daunting undertaking, mostly because I imagine you and your cowriter sitting together in someone’s dining room, typing and reading out loud together. I’m sure that’s not the case, but were both of those projects similar in how the work and the writing got done? That is, did you spend a lot of time on-location, getting your hands dirty? And is it still as lonely as typical writing can feel?

JIM: No, it’s not lonely at all, because you constantly have your subject in your ear. The backbone of the book comes from recorded interviews so the first step is getting the subject’s voice down. I’ve been writing for punk rock zines and interviewing bands for most of my adult life. Collaborating feels like an extension of that. I think that’s why so many journalists get into these kinds of projects. It’s a combination of access and know-how.

With Keith Morris, we spent a lot of time together because he is 100% committed to the project. We went to his old haunts in Hermosa Beach, Hollywood and Chinatown. He read each draft with laserlike editorial focus. We ate a lot of tacos and drank a lot of coffee together. To be honest, I’m going to be sad when it’s all over.

JULIA: What would be a dream co-writing assignment for you right now?

JIM: Raymond Pettibon. Not that he needs a collaborator. Raymond did the artwork for My Damage and my name is right there on the cover so I don’t think the universe is taking any more of my requests. 

JULIA: Back to loneliness. (Of course). In your novel Forest of Fortune, which is excellent, you follow the arc of three characters: Pemberton, Alice, and Lupita. And every single one of them seems so lonely. Even in the 24/7 world of a casino or a city after dark, you write very desolate characters. But they each have a confidant, a companion, and sometimes that does very little for their loneliness. In a bigger picture, isn’t that part of the appeal of a thing like gambling, of a thing like a bar: together, alone/alone, together? 

JIM: Casinos are very lonely places. People don’t strike up conversations with each other the way bar patrons do. It would be very hard to sit in a bar for three hours and not talk to anyone. In a casino? No problem. Although card games like blackjack and poker are very social, there’s nothing social about a slot machine.

JULIA: I loved your TNB Self-Interview. It’s equal parts depressing and encouraging. Your journey from starting out to publication truly took 20 years? And at what point in that was Forest of Fortune born? How did you keep at this? I understand that there’s some novelty to this interview, but the interviewee gives off a sense of true inevitability. Inevitable writing in the face of inevitable failure. That’s amazing.

JIM: Thank you. It did indeed take me 20 years to publish a novel, but I had many other successes and setbacks along the way (I won an NEA, published a short story collection, got fired by my agent, drank waaaaaay too much, etc.). Forest of Fortune was born after I’d completed my third novel and my agent invited me to explore other opportunities. I’d been working at an Indian casino for two and a half years and decided to finally write about it. I knocked out a draft in 2008 and in early 2009 I lost a friend to a drug overdose. That was a very potent reminder that our time here is finite. After I got sober and put my house in order, so to speak, I went back to work on the book. I’ve been turning and burning ever since.

JULIA: You and I recently discussed your [unpublished] collection of short stories [note: one of these stories appears in So Say We All’s dark ficton/horror anthology, Black Candies: See Through]. Tell me a little more about it. How is your short work — and this collection — different from your novel, Forest of Fortune

JIM: Cat Sitting in Hollywood is a linked collection of stories that draws on my adventures as an amateur cat sitter during the time I was commuting between San Diego and Los Angeles. After working in the casino for over five years, I was seeing LA through new eyes and writing these very odd stories. As much as it pains me to admit it, I owe a debt of gratitude to Ryan Bradford because his solicitations for Black Candies helped me see that these stories I was writing were all variations on the theme of cat sitting.

JULIA: Your reading series, Vermin on the Mount, is as vibrant as ever. I think one of the reasons I asked you to read at The Foundry is because I love hearing you read, but it seems the only chances I’ve had to see you read the last few years are in different cities, for AWP. Do you find that, as a sort of San Diego gatekeeper figure for other people’s work, helping get it out into the world, you are more inspired and empowered to create your own work? Or are there some consequences, like lower productivity, too much multi-tasking to write?

JIM: I wouldn’t say I’m a gatekeeper. Far from it. I think VAMP [So Say We All’s monthly curated literary storytelling showcase] does a far better job of showcasing San Diego’s literary talent. If anything, I play a small role in bringing writers from outside of San Diego to our city. Vermin on the Mount, which is about to celebrate its 12th anniversary, continues to inspire me. When that stops being true, I’ll stop doing it.

JULIA: I love that you always ask your Vermin readers this, and as a fledgling member of the well-t-shirted Legion of Vermin myself, I wonder if it’s all right for me to ask this of you: (to quote the great Jim Ruland) “What’s the most unusual experience you’ve ever had at a reading?”

JIM: A long time ago, a reader at Vermin on the Mount in Chinatown, through a combination of nerves, alcohol and white powder, was so wasted she could barely get through her reading. She thought every word that came out of her mouth was absolutely hysterical. At first I was horrified for the reader. Then I thought I was going to have to gong her off the stage. Finally, I just sat back and enjoyed the performance.

The strangest part was when the show was over she sat down next to me and asked me all kinds of questions about my family. The kind of conversation you have with a really thoughtful acquaintance. To this day I have no idea which part of her show was an act.

JULIA: And what are you working on next? What are you reading?

JIM: I’m working on a bunch of stuff, including a novel set in LA in the near future that I’ve been drafting in fits and starts since 2012 but is finally coming together, and a couple of collaborations that I can’t say too much about other than I’ve been reading nothing but commercial fiction this summer: thrillers, mysteries, spy stories and crime novels. I’m finally reading San Diego writer Don Winslow and wondering why I waited so long.

JULIA: Thanks so much, and we look forward to hearing you read on the 30th!

JIM: De nada!  

Come hear Jim read alongside Aaron Burch, Jean Guerrero, Juliet Escoria, Uzodinma Okehi, and Scott McClanahan at The Foundry, So Say We All’s new literary reading series. The Foundry #2 all goes down on Saturday, July 30th in Golden Hill.

The Foundry, No. 2
Saturday, July 30th at 7:00 p.m.
Tiger Eye Hair
(by the new Golden Hill Dark Horse Coffee)
811 25th Street, Suite 105 San Diego, CA 92102
(619) 798-3996
$5 (all ages)

Jim Ruland is the author of the award-winning novel Forest of Fortune and the short story collection Big Lonesome. He co-authored My Damage with Keith Morris, founding member of Black Flag, Circle Jerks and OFF!, which will be published by Da Capo on August 30, 2016. Jim is the books columnist for San Diego CityBeat and writes book reviews for the Los Angeles Times and the Los Angeles Review of Books. Jim’s work has appeared in numerous publications, including The BelieverEsquire,GrantaHobart and Oxford American, and he runs the Southern California-based reading series Vermin on the Mount, now in its twelfth year.

If you like what we do at So Say We All, please consider supporting us and becoming a member. Details on our membership page here.

The Foundry #2 is Saturday July 30th

Our second installment of The Foundry, So Say We All’s brand new literary reading series, is coming Saturday, July 30th.


We are really, insanely excited about (a) this line-up (b) the rad scooped out Texaco garage that is Tiger Eye Hair in Golden Hill, and (c) you coming to see it all.

More details about our readers soon, but for now, here’s a quick teaser. You should ask us in person how much we love these writers, and we will likely get overly excited and gush and hold you by the shoulders and read our favorite lines of their writing and you might be a bit embarrassed for us. But until then here’s some formal bios:

Aaron Burch is the author Stephen King’s The Body: Bookmarked, a memoir about the King novella and Stand By Me. He is also the author of the short story collection, Backswing, and is the Founding Editor of the literary journal Hobart.

Juliet Escoria is the author of the short story collection Black Cloud, which was originally published in 2014 by Civil Coping Mechanisms. In 2015, Emily Books published the ebook, Maro Verlag published a German translation, and Los Libros de la Mujer Rota published a Spanish translation. Witch Hunt, a collection of poems, was published by Lazy Fascist Press in May 2016. Escoria received a BA in Creative Writing from UC Riverside, and an MFA in Fiction Writing from Brooklyn College. Her writing can be found in places like VICE, The Fader, Dazed, Hobart, and more. She was born in Australia, raised in San Diego, and currently lives in West Virginia.

Jean Guerrero is the 2016 recipient of the PEN/FUSION Emerging Writers award for her manuscript Crux, a cross-border memoir about her quest to understand her Mexican father, whom she grew up believing was schizophrenic. She is the Fronteras reporter at KPBS, San Diego’s NPR and PBS affiliate, where she covers immigration and other border issues. Previously, she was a correspondent in Mexico City for the Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones Newswires, trekking through mountains with coffee smugglers, opium poppy producers and maize farmers. More recently, she ventured into Tijuana’s sewers to expose the plight of deported migrants. She holds a master’s in creative nonfiction from Goucher College, as well as a University of Southern California bachelor’s in journalism and minor in neuroscience. She is half Mexican, half Puerto Rican.

Scott McClanahan wrote The Incantations of Daniel Johnston and The Sarah Book. He lives in West Virginia.

Uzodinma Okehi spent 2 years handing out zines on the subway. Wasn’t as fun as he thought. His work has appeared in PankHobartBartleby Snopes, also many, many places, no doubt, you’ve never heard of. He has an MFA in writing from New York University. He lives in Brooklyn. His son is 8 yrs old, smiles a lot, (too much?), and will absolutely, cross you over and drain a jumper in your face.

Jim Ruland is the author of the award-winning novel Forest of Fortune and the short story collection Big Lonesome. He co-authored My Damage with Keith Morris, founding member of Black Flag, Circle Jerks and OFF!, which will be published by Da Capo on August 30, 2016. Jim is the books columnist for San Diego CityBeat and writes book reviews for the Los Angeles Times and the Los Angeles Review of Books. Jim’s work has appeared in numerous publications, including The BelieverEsquireGrantaHobart and Oxford American, and he runs the Southern California-based reading series Vermin on the Mount, now in its twelfth year.

About the venue: TIGER EYE HAIR is a cut/color/barbering lounge situated in an architecturally preserved Texaco gas station in Golden Hill.

There will be food for sale, and maybe a little something to whet your thirst. Because these readers are gonna be fiery hot.

The Foundry #2: A Literary Reading Series
Saturday, July 30th
7:30 PM
Tiger Eye Hair
(behind the Golden Hill Dark Horse Coffee)
811 25th Street, Suite 105 San Diego, CA 92102
(619) 798-3996
$5 (all ages)


The Best Things We Read in 2015

We asked some of our very special friends and worker bees what their favorite story was this year, whether it be a book, a short story, a piece of journalism, a podcast, an email from their mom, anything. 2015 was a year of big stories. Please, if you can, support us in our year-end fundraiser and let’s tell some great stories together in 2016. And as we say farewell/good riddance to 2015, take a look at what our friends and staff came up with for their picks for the year. We love them and we love what they love:

(So Say We All’s Executive Director)
I discover and fawn over a load of artists in the course of a year. Good work seems like it’s being made from all corners of the creative spectrum on a near daily basis. Even television is good these days! But it’s the rare, notable occasion when I discover art that feels important, and when I do, it often has something to do with how it was made. That’s what it was like to be introduced to Scott Carrier this year, specifically his work in radio and podcasting. Imagine if Jack Kerouac was a Peabody-award winning journalist who railed at NPR for boiling the sound and style of their contributors into milquetoast homogeneity, and empowered normal people to talk about their lives and the issues that effect them in their own words. His newest work, ‘Home of the Brave”, can be found at homebrave.com and wherever fine podcasting is served.

–Justin Hudnall

​I read a lot and listen to a ridiculous amount of audiobooks so I’m struggling trying to figure out what moved me. The most recent thing that made me bawl was the middle grade novel “The Thing About Jellyfish,” by Ali Benjamin,  about a 12 year old girl whose former bestie dies in a drowning accident [editor’s note: not much of a spoiler]. The protagonist is trying to make sense of her friend’s death, the unraveling of their once-close friendship and adolescence. What made me ugly cry was my own inner 12 year old, nodding along and getting that ice-blood feeling of alienation. I was right there with the protagonist, wondering of the cool girls were laughing at me, not knowing the socially acceptable conversations and wardrobe choices, wanting to get the fuck out. To read a story that reminds you of a part of yourself you’d forgotten is pretty damn cool.

I also received an extraordinary email from the current lover of a former lover of mine, who google stalked me, found my writing and sent me an email telling me my writing had broken something open in her. We had a brief exchange. It was weird. And actually very cool. When I was deciding whether or not to respond to the email, I had to sit and consider the two faces I was making up in my head; was she a stalker, or the woman who took a risk to send a really vulnerable email? I chose the latter. I’ve made some brave-ish, strange choices before and it makes a world of difference when someone steps into your risk with you and says yes.
–Lizz Huerta 

My favorite thing I read in 2015 was The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides. I’d seen the movie, which I thought was okay, but kept hearing from friends about how extraordinary the book was. They were right. It’s a romance that doesn’t shy away from creepy obsession and the consequences of deifying the targets of our affection. The story is told from a collective narrator, which is a literary feat unto itself. I haven’t been as inspired by a piece of writing than this.
–Ryan Bradford

It’s a classic Cinderella story, but replace the girl with four overweight, awkward, blue-collar guys from Chicago and the prince’s ball with a Michelin-starred restaurant. Scraping by all year to live out their fantasy of fine dining, they arrive, homely and humble, to the snide regard of the wealthy patrons. And whose eye do they catch but the prince himself: the corpulent, unpredictable, and frankly genius chef, Charlie Trotter. Charlie remains a constant throughout their lives, giving motivation in the good times and the bad, bound together by a love of great food. It’s brilliantly written with a lot of passion, but more than that, it’s brilliant writing about food, an oft-ignored subject (besides in Lucky Peach, of course) in a lot of “literary” prose. It’s hard to imagine why – food is a universal constant for all of us, and like death and taxes, can be a thing that can bind us all together, particularly when divisiveness is so en vogue.

CLOSE SECOND – “Robert Kloss: The TNB Self-Interview” , because it gives an unsettling peek into the darkness within.

–Matt Lewis

I’m going with the first thing that popped into my head: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/08/magazine/the-displaced-hana.html?_r=0

I’ve been thinking a lot about empathy lately. I have kids and I want to make sure I pack them full of feelings for other peoples’ feelings.
Technology connects, but also disconnects us from other humans and the world around us. My children, for example, are going to grow up in a world with virtual reality. The New York Times has already rolled out virtual reality stories that, in theory, have the possibility and promise of making readers connect and relate to content on a much deeper level.
I hope that’s the case, but this NYT story I picked about a young Syrian refugee girl reminded me that really well written and beautifully photographed “old-school” print or online stories can be incredibly powerful and moving on their own. Reading this story made the Syrian refugee crisis so real and seemingly close. It’s hard to read it without wanting to do something to help. It inspires a great deal of empathy by describing another person’s reality so carefully.
I hope stories like this don’t use virtual reality as a crutch in the future. A powerful narrative is all you need.
Oh, and this podcast about its host doing acid at work was a close second: https://gimletmedia.com/episode/44-shine-on-you-crazy-goldman/
-Kinsee Morlan

That’s easy. I can’t tell you what my favorite novel is because I’m a juror for the LA Times book prize and that’s top secret, but I can tell you the most special book I encountered that included both art and prose.  AFFLICT THE COMFORTABLE. It’s a collaboration with “Salmagundi” the literary magazine and the Tang Art Museum. The art chosen to go with each piece of writing is meant to provoke and surprise.

–Amy Wallen

(Science teacher at High Tech High Chula Vista and one of the leaders of the recent storytelling and writing collaboration between HTHCV and SSWA)

I’m one of a million nerds who listens to NPR while driving to work. On 11/23/15 I turned up the volume to listen to a piece on recommended podcasts and heard writer Domingo Martinez recommend the podcast CryBabies. He was struck by comedian Guy Branum’s tear-jerk reaction to “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen. “Bohemian Rhapsody,” a song I belted out several times as a teen with classmates on the back of the school bus and continue to join in when my students burst into song during project work time. This piece made me think of the tough relationship I had with my mom and how powerful I used to feel singing that song as a teenager.
-Nuvia Ruland

Genuine moments are hard to find on the Internet.  Or rather, there is so much dark noise, when light shines it can almost be unrecognizable.  When an African American rapper named Killer Mike steps to a podium and eloquently, passionately, and whole heartedly endorses an old white Jewish man for president, something happy tickled the inside of my chest. I wasn’t even a huge fan of either before I saw this clip. However,  anytime I see more evidence that despite physical and economical differences, a true commitment to the greater good can allow us to coexist, well then I know it was a good day.  So because of that I am thankful, very thankful for this moment.

Another one: Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King
Is it cliche to like Sir Stephen King? (In my head he is knighted). Sometimes when someone asks me who are some of my favorite authors are and Mr. King comes to mind, I can already see people rolling their eyes thinking I went for the easy answer.  But the man can write. Period. I have no problem naming him the Michael Jackson of literature, he just comes out with hit after hit.  In whatever genre you wish.  And guess what Mr. King…detective stories are my jam. Thank you sir, thank you…
–Gill Sotu

As a writer, I often read other writers and figure out what I can steal from them to add to my own writing. Leena Krohn is a Finnish writer that mixes detail with a philosophical take on the natural world. Her writing is this grotesque and wonderful level of body horror that makes us keenly aware of human mortality but what I want to steal from her writing is that she also combines this with the environment (the bugs, the plants, the soil) that makes me realize the ecosystem of which we’re all part. http://electricliterature.com/lucilia-illustris-by-leena-krohn-recommended-by-jeff-vandermeer/

Right now you can also buy her collected fiction at Story Bundle (pay what you can).
–Jessica Hilt

Sean Bonney
“Corpus Hermeticum: On the Revolution of the Heavenly Spheres.”

Dressed in a porkpie hat, a shabby coat and with ACAB tattooed on his knuckles, I knew I would like Sean Bonney right away. The English poet, who now lives in Berlin, read at the Vermin on the Mount/VLAK collaboration held in the basement of Power Lunches Arts Café in Hackney. Bonney read a piece called “Corpus Hermeticum: On the Revolution of the Heavenly Spheres.” It’s an electric piece of writing that I haven’t stopped thinking about. The piece begins in language that is borderline apocalyptic—cryptic with a bit of humor—before delving into incidents of state-sponsored violence in the city of London from the building of the debtor’s prison Newgate in 1188 to Robert Peel who created and organized the modern British police.

Bonney delivery was angry and deliberate, punctuated with reminders that “This really happened.” The poem culminates in an incredible rant against police oppression that hasn’t left me since I heard it eight months ago:

don’t say “tall skinny latté” say fuck the police, for
“the earth’s gravitational pull” say fuck the police, for
“make it new” say fuck the police
                                                       don’t say “spare change”
say fuck the police, don’t say “happy new year” say fuck the police
perhaps say “rewrite the calendar” but after that, immediately
after that say fuck the police

Bonney’s poem serves as both a reminder and a wake-up call. The problems we’re having here with police aggression in the United States aren’t due to a bad cop in Cleveland or New York or a few bad cops in Ferguson or Baltimore but with our institutions that prey on society’s weakest and most vulnerable members: the poor, the uneducated, the unsheltered. And if you don’t share the same class, skin color, or belief system as the people in power, you’re fucked. This story, in all of its many shapes—class warfare, gender violence, racial injustice, religious intolerance—is the story of 2015 and one we cannot ignore in 2016 and going forward.

You can read the poem here or listen to him perform the piece (highly recommended). Bonney’s new book Letters Against the Firmament is available here.
–Jim Ruland

(So Say We All’s Program Coordinator)
While I would like to say that my favorite book this year was Black Candies, it was published by SSWA and edited by one of my best friends which feels like total nepotism. So I’m going to cheat by mentioning it anyway before my official answer, which is: The thing that hit me below the belt the hardest this year was this piece by Elizabeth Ellen on Hobart: A REVIEW OF BY THE SEA, OR, HOW TO BE AN ARTIST AND FEMALE, I.E. HOW TO BE UNLIKABLE, OR, HOW TO (NOT) PANDER

At first you think it might be a review of By The Sea, an Angelina Jolie movie you haven’t seen, and then you think it’s a review of Angelina As A Person, but before you know it you realize the story is about you, it’s about your own writing, your own art, and your own marriage, it’s about your own experience as a woman trying to make art, your own unlikableness, and you’ve never even cared about Angelina Jolie before anyway. It’s a beautiful, fractured read, vulnerable and raw, and it comes on the heels of a year that was very difficult — and very transformative — for women in art. In particular, for women in writing. Also the title is killer.
–Julia Evans

We thank you for reading, we hope you enjoy our picks for 2015, and we’d love to hear from you in 2016. Until then, please consider donating to our year-end fundraising drive. It takes a village, and we love it when you pop in for a cup of tea. Let’s make some art together.

So Say We All’s Executive Director on a watchlist (but not THAT watchlist)

We’re bursting with pride to see our Executive Director, Justin Hudnall, on San Diego Magazine’s “5 People To Watch This Month” list for September.

The brief profile also mentions our work with our new literary magazine, The Radvocate. Read more about The Radvocate here.

And since we mentioned watchlists, now’s a good time to remind you about Black Candies: Surveillance, our journal of literary horror. Read it and learn how to do a top-notch job of “watching” Justin this month.

11894604_10154262135656164_2233678066641710335_o(don’t look behind you Justin)


So Say We All featured in San Diego Magazine

So Say We All is featured in this month’s San Diego Magazine story,  “The Age of Podcasting.”

Justin Hudnall’s voice is smooth and calm as he introduces San Diego war veterans telling deeply personal stories of their figurative and literal homecomings in the podcast series Incoming. The stories were recorded on stage and in the studio, but they have the closeness and clarity of two friends engaged in a tough conversation.

An outgrowth of a veterans’ writing workshop by Hudnall’s So Say We All literacy and performing arts collective, the podcasts were repackaged for the modern masses by public broadcaster KPBS.

Check out the whole story, which covers the KPBS Explore project and other local podcasting ventures, and be sure to listen to So Say We All’s Incoming here.



Incoming is a collection of non-fiction stories told by local veterans, in their own words. Created around the theme of coming home, the stories will feature veterans sharing their experiences on transitioning back to civilian life. Each story is performed by the author, and followed by an interview.

“It’s like the antidote to overstimulation. Someone talking directly into your ear? There’s nothing more intimate.”

-Justin Hudnall