Tag Archives: San Diego

Scott McClanahan reads at The Foundry #2

The Foundry is our new literary reading series, just launched this spring. Our second installment is this month, July 30th, at the delightful Tiger Eye Hair in Golden Hill. Our readers for Number 2 are Jim Ruland, Uzodinma Okehi, Juliet Escoria, Jean Guerrero, Aaron Burch, and today’s feature: Scott McClanahan.

scottScott McClanahan in a three piece suit

In a recent feature at The A/V Club, here’s how they introduced Scott:

Scott McClanahan might be today’s best-known indie press writer. He also makes short films and his readings are some of the most engaging pieces of performance art to ever hit your local bookstore. Perhaps best known for Crapalachia: A Biography Of Place (Two Dollar Radio) and the more recent Hill William (New York Tyrant), McClanahan’s short-story collections function as pseudo-memoirs with a crackling electricity rarely found in literary fiction.

The first time I met Scott, a few years ago, he was visiting San Diego with his wife (fellow Foundry reader Juliet Escoria), and he performed a reading organized by the great Matt E. Lewis. I had never read any of his work, but his writing’s legacy is significant and I knew enough about it to have some level of anticipation. However, during the reading, there was a football game on the bar’s TV screens, and let’s just assume it was a Chargers game, just to properly set the scene. Irritated yet?

I felt somewhat unsettled and without purpose at the event: I wasn’t working or reading, I came alone, and everyone else had already sat down with the people they arrived with. I just kind of stood nervously off to the side in the back, barely able to hear the readings over the low-grade noise at the bar.

When Scott took the stage, maybe a ref made a poor call and the Chargers fans at the bar booed. Maybe they were booing at us, trying to appreciate literature instead of their sports. But their noise was no longer low-grade.

And then Scott sang.

Partway through, he climbed down from the stage, mid-reading, still reading, and passed out homemade fudge (which connected to the story he’d been reading), and even took his offering back amongst the football fans. He chanted a refrain, no mic, in the back, by the bar, by the Chargers fans, and the entire place fell silent. We’d all stood up by now, passing the container of fudge around. Nobody sat with their pre-packaged friends. That no-purpose, adrift feeling vanished and I felt part of something: Not just inspired but responsible somehow. To this day, I wonder if I imagined this experience, or if memory has colored it in a more profound light than it was in the moment, but that day is Scott McClanahan to me.

Unfortunately for our tastebuds, there’s no tie-in with fudge in his latest book, a graphic novel freshly published this month by our darlings, Two Dollar Radio, one of the finest and gutsiest small presses of our day.

I read The Incantations of Daniel Johnston in a single day, carrying it around with me and reading it whenever I could sneak a minute. McClanahan’s writing is so propulsive that I flew through it faster than I probably should have, given how intricate and compelling each Ricardo Cavolo illustration is. It might be the kind of book we all read twice. At least.


Incantations is sometimes troubling, sometimes comforting. It seems to both tackle and encourage our collective curiosity, myth-like, of Daniel Johnston’s life. The illustrations are grotesque at times, but the story reminds us something both forgiving and unsettling: This could’ve easily been you.

Shortly before the book came out, Buzzfeed ran a sample of the first few pages. Take a look here.

scott excerpt

As for Scott’s non-illustrated fiction, here’s a short story we love, published online at Guernica: Psychiatrists and Mountain Dew. This story kicks off his brilliant short story collection Hill William.

We can’t promise fudge at this Saturday’s Foundry reading, but we can promise no football game on any TVs (sorry?). Come join us 7/30 at 7:00 PM at Tiger Eye Hair in Golden Hill to hear Scott read, along with Aaron Burch, Jean Guerrero, Uzodinma Okehi, Jim Ruland, and Juliet Escoria.


Scott McClanahan wrote The Incantations of Daniel Johnston and The Sarah Book. He lives in West Virginia. You can buy his books here: The Incantations of Daniel JohnstonCrapalachia, and Hill William.

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.

by Julia Dixon Evans
cover image by Juliet Escoria

Uzodinma Okehi reads at The Foundry No.2

The Foundry is our shiny new literary reading series, just launched this spring. Our second installment is this month, July 30th, at the delightful Tiger Eye Hair in Golden Hill.

Today we feature Uzodinma Okehi, a writer I had never read until Aaron Burch let us know he was coming on tour with him. I quickly picked up Uzodinma’s book, Over For Rockwell, published in late 2015 by Short Flight/Long Drive Books.


Uzodinma Okehi, a little bit ago

Over For Rockwell is an intense and vivid novel, as we follow his character, Blue Okoye, across the globe doing his best not to fail at being an artist. When Blue is not drawing comics but knowing he should kinda hits below the belt. Uzodinma’s writing is powerful, irreverent, and vulnerable. Here’s a sample of his fiction, “The Deuce,” a segment of Blue Okoye’s strife, published in The Adroit Journal.

 I blew off Jackie, I told her, forget about the coupons . . . Two-for-one dinner-date, Brooklyn, select restaurants, twenty-eight bucks, and what’s that gonna buy me? Forget the first hour, which is easy. That could be testing out pens, looking for my ruler. It could be putting on socks, on then off again, too hot, or stretching, still not drawing, at the table, my chair, against the springs, I’m tense but I’m bouncing.

And here is a rad interview with Uzodinma at The Rumpus.

OKEHI: […]Cities always, at some point, fail to meet our expectations. Same way people do. At some point you realize you’re struggling to keep that mythology alive. You either project your frustration, your disillusionment, on that person, on the city, or you can turn back, you can choose to reinvest that belief in your own strengths. In the book, Blue goes to Hong Kong, believing, typically, that all he needs is a change in scenery to turn his life around. From college in Iowa City, to Hong Kong, then to New York, only to be confronted again and again with the same issues that seem to be rooted more in his personality than any specific city or place.

As a writer, as you know, it boils down to you in a room, in front of the computer…

Come hear Uzodinma read from Over For Rockwell at The Foundry, coming up Saturday, July 30th at 7 PM at Tiger Eye Hair in Golden Hill. Uzodinma will be joined at the Foundry by many other greats: Aaron BurchJean Guerrero, Juliet Escoria, Jim Ruland, and Scott McClanahan.


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.

by Julia Dixon Evans

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.

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Juliet Escoria Reads at The Foundry No. 2

Today, we feature The Foundry reader Juliet Escoria, author of the story collection Black Cloud and the poetry collection Witch Hunt. Come meet Juliet at The Foundry No. 2 on Saturday, July 30th in San Diego.

juliaJuliet Escoria

I first met Juliet Escoria in early 2013, when she was reading a non-fiction story in a VAMP showcase about working at a foot fetish club. She’d been writing for So Say We All long before I stumbled upon my first show. Juliet said “I love SSWA because I met so many rad people through it,” and we are all definitely taking that personally. She grew up in San Diego before recently relocating to West Virginia with her husband, writer (and also a reader at this month’s Foundry) Scott McClanahan.

Juliet’s new book, Witch Hunt (2016, Lazy Fascist Press) is a gorgeous, funny, and disarming collection of poetry and stories. I flew through the book, nearly incapable of putting it down. I often felt sad while reading it, but I also felt implicated. I felt like I was part of it, like I was in on the joke, and it’s a super dark joke.

From the poem “David Foster Wallace’s Rock Idol Was Axl Rose,” in Witch Hunt:

But maybe Axl was aware and just didn’t care,
just wanted to see what he was fucking with.
Maybe he wanted Stephanie to be dead,
incapable of letting anyone but him
love her ever again.
Maybe he wanted her beautiful body
to rot away,
maybe he knew that we all look the same
when we’ve been dead for long enough.

[Excerpted from Witch Hunt]

Juliet writes unapologetically, in all genres, but she treats poetry as something both inevitable and curiously experimental. Here’s a brief interview Juliet did with The Kind’s Lindsay Maharry, in which they discuss Juliet’s “cool approach to poetry.” And here is a longer conversation at Hobart about the book and Juliet’s process and inspirations.

If you’d like to read some of her work, here is a story from her collection of short stories, Black Cloud (2014, Civil Coping Mechanism/Emily Books).

We can’t wait for you to hear Juliet read from Witch Hunt at The Foundry No.2, coming up Saturday, July 30th at 7 PM at Tiger Eye Hair in Golden Hill. Juliet will read alongside Aaron Burch, Jean Guerrero, Scott McClanahan, Uzodinma Okehi, and Jim Ruland.


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.

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.

by Julia Evans

PEN/Fusion Prize Winner Jean Guerrero reads at The Foundry No.2

Foundry No. 2 reader Jean Guerrero recently won the esteemed PEN/Fusion Prize for her memoir, Crux. Jean is going to be featured in our next installment of the Foundry, our new literary reading series, featuring stories and readings by touring authors, writers living in San Diego, and our favorite emerging literary citizens. Details here. Jean will also be reading with Aaron Burch, Juliet Escoria, Uzodinma Okehi, Scott McClanahan, and Jim Ruland.

A gorgeous and heart-wrenching portion of her manuscript, Crux, was performed as “VHS Vortex” in our August 2015 VAMP: Red Flags storytelling showcase. We also admire and respect the work Jean does in journalism. Check out this piece for KPBS on the deadly police raids in Tijuana tunnels: http://www.kpbs.org/news/2016/jan/28/tijuana-migrants-hide-tunnels-police-raids-get-dea/

To prepare for the reading and get you all excited to hear Jean read, So Say We All’s Julia Dixon Evans talked with Jean about her book, her work, the nature of truth in storytelling, and winning the PEN/Fusion prize.

So Say We All’s Julia Dixon Evans: Jean! Congratulations! Are you still buzzing with excitement about this, or has it begun to sink in?

Jean Guerrero: Crux has been my dream for so many years – to see it recognized this way feels like some kind of hallucination. I’m surprised so many weeks have passed since the announcement and I still haven’t woken up.

JDE: When did you start writing this project, your memoir, Crux?

JG: The first version of Crux was a novel. In college, I was afraid to approach the naked truth when it came to my own life. But I made the decision to pursue journalism as a career because telling the truth about the world outside myself was comparatively easy and exciting. Plus, striving to become a novelist (and studying creative writing) seemed too fanciful. I didn’t believe you could be taught how to be creative. Two creative writing professors told me my decision was a mistake – that journalism would strip my writing of creativity and magic and severely limit its power to inspire.

It wasn’t until I started my career as a journalist that I realized how magical pure nonfiction can be. True fairy tales can be excavated from facts. As someone who was born and raised in the U.S. but comes of Mexican and Puerto Rican parents, I have faith in science and objectivity but can’t entirely discount the supernatural. So in 2013, I pursued an MFA in creative nonfiction through the low-residency program at Goucher College to write what is now Crux, which journalistically explores alternative explanations for what I grew up believing was my father’s “schizophrenia,” and some of them are mystical. 

JDE: Your book is about searching: For understanding, for history, for explanations, for reconciliations. At what point in this lifelong search did you become aware of the search? And at what point did you realize that you would be/were recording it?

JG: I was self-destructive as a teenager, thanks to the conviction that I was doomed to become “schizophrenic” like my father. I was writing essays and short stories about him, but I always saw it more as an escape or exorcism – like venting – than a search. Sophomore year of college, I was hospitalized for cutting my wrists, and I decided to minor in neuroscience. I found myself attending creative writing classes to write fiction about my father. The writing itself – as well as my study of dendrites, axon potentials and the Diagnostic Statistical Manual – made me very aware of the fact that I was searching for understanding.

Coincidentally, around this time, my father started telling me his story. I was captivated, and I suddenly felt that the beliefs I had grown up with – that he was a paranoid schizophrenic, that I had a genetic predisposition toward craziness – were not the truth, at least not with a capital T. It was kind of a perfect storm.

JDE: One of my favorite parts of the excerpt you read for us at our August 2015 VAMP showcase, “Red Flags,” is this line: “Moments after my father took this photograph, the two entered the tent behind her to mix the witch’s brew of me. I search for myself in the sinister blackness lurching toward my mother from the direction of the sea.” There’s something vaguely unsettling in writing about the personal lives of our parents and ancestors, and you tackle it with a really graceful curiosity. How do you do this? Do you classify these real people as characters? Or is there a current of reality in every line you write?

JG: As a journalist, and as someone who studied creative nonfiction at Goucher College, where they are fanatic about Truth, I feel very strongly about sticking to the truth and nothing but the truth. Once you blur the line between fact and fiction, you forfeit any chance of revelation from your writing – at least in nonfiction. Fiction is another story, of course. In nonfiction, you’re breaking a pact with the reader when you fabricate or exaggerate. Most likely, the reader is going to sense that lack of sincerity and put down the book. If you assume the reader is stupid, your writing is going to be rudimentary.

JDE: I think what I really meant was: Do you need to distance yourself from them? Stop thinking of them as family and think of them as…perhaps a more journalistic term for it would be “subjects”? Like, is it easier for you to think and write of their personal lives so thoroughly if they’re not your mother and father but someone (still real) that is separate from you? Coming at writing/teaching memoir and personal narrative from a creative writing standpoint, it can help beginners (and me sometimes) to stop thinking of someone as “mom” or even “I,” and start thinking of them as a character or narrator. Not out of a fictionalization sense, but as a way of letting the story take hold, seeking character development, stakes, etc. I am definitely committed to truth in non-fiction writing, though I know some personal essayists have different takes on that. 

JG: Your strategy of distancing yourself from your subject matter – at least in the beginning – makes sense. I guess you could argue that’s why my initial instinct was to approach the material as fiction.

But for me, the real insights emerged only when the writing became very personal. I’m trying to understand myself through my family. I’m not trying to expose anyone. I don’t presume to know what’s right or wrong when it comes to other people.

JDE: We loved seeing you perform in VAMP, and I think many of us learned a lot from you – to name one thing: telling a story that was (on the surface) about these other people, your parents, but was so deeply and wholly about you. What are some things you learned about your writing or your story during the VAMP process?

JG: I was just starting out as a radio and TV reporter, so the performance training I received through VAMP was very useful. In MFA programs, you aren’t taught how to read aloud. Writers tend to oscillate between monotone and melodramatic tones. I think learning how to read your stories aloud in a compelling way helps you inject a more authentic voice into your writing. It creates a sort of bridge between how you talk and how you write. You start to sound a lot more like yourself, in both speech and prose.

JDE: You’re a journalist, working for KPBS in San Diego. How has journalism shaped your memoir writing? And how has your work on Crux in turn shaped what you do as a journalist, or which stories you are drawn to?

JG: Journalism gave me the tools to dig deep into my family history. One of my favorite chapters relies almost exclusively on the paper trail of my ancestors. My first job after graduating college was as a foreign correspondent for Mexico City – my father’s birthplace. My career has always led me in the direction of writing Crux the true way.

As for how Crux shaped me as a journalist – my manuscript is largely about migration. My beat is the border. The themes run in perfect parallel. When I’m reporting, I’m most attracted to sources who remind me of my father: male outcasts with eccentric personalities. It’s worth noting, by the way, that the superstar journalist Gay Talese recently offended hundreds of female journalists, including myself, when he said his idols in journalism exclude women because  “educated women” aren’t interested in the antisocial characters he finds magnetic. In fact, I know more women than men who are fascinated by Dostoevskian types.

JDE: San Diego has a vibrant writing community. Are you a solitary writer, or do you thrive on this community? Or a mixture of both?

JG: I knew a writer in Mexico City who threw parties when he wanted to write. He brought his desk into a corner of his living room and pounded at his keyboard while everyone drank and talked around him. He felt most inspired in the midst of this chaos. It was impressive – I wish I could do that! But I need to be alone to focus. That said, I’m thrilled about San Diego’s literary community. The story of how I learned of its existence is embarrassing, so I’ll tell it. I was living at my mom’s house, transitioning from Mexico to the U.S., sitting on the living room couch in pajamas, wearing no makeup, depressed about a deteriorating relationship and the fact that I was living with my mother, when the magical writer Lizz Huerta just materialized in front of me. She asked: “Are you a writer?” She just appeared like that, all gorgeous in her paint-stained overalls, posing that perfect question. I had no idea who she was or why she was in my house. It turns out she was painting the railing on my mom’s staircase – for those who don’t already know, Lizz’s talents are infinite. Anyway, she was bonding with my mom about their shared Puerto Rican heritage when she noticed my bookshelf and came looking for me. At the time, I thought there was no writing community in San Diego. Huerta enlightened me. It was one of the best days of 2015 for me.

JDE: What are you working on right now?

JG: I’ve been polishing my manuscript with my agent. But after dwelling inside of it for so long, cutting and carving and creating, I feel I have gone blind to it. I stare at sentences and have this sense they’re in a foreign language, or even hieroglyphics. It’s like when you gape at any object for too long – it starts to look kind of alien and incomprehensible. I spoke to Huerta about this, and she told me the solution was simple: to go have an affair – as in, a little fling with fiction. Apparently all professional writers know this is the secret to rekindling creative fire. It seems to be working. I’m writing a short story about an alcoholic deportee who sleeps with cockroaches in Tijuana while he dreams of his family across the border.

JDE: I know exactly what you mean. And that sounds amazing, and it sounds like exactly the sort of story I would read and then call Lizz and demand that she read it too.

Congratulations again. We are so proud and thrilled for you, and we can’t wait to hear you read from Crux at The Foundry No. 2 on July 30th. And best of luck with the book as it makes its way into the world!

Come hear Jean read! July 30th, 7 PM, at Tiger Eye Hair in Golden Hill: https://www.facebook.com/events/1762857903955708/


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.

Animal lovers, unite. VAMP is June 30th!

Do you love animals? And do you love stories? We have the purrfect show for you. VAMP: Animal Control is Thursday, June 30th at 8:30 PM at the Whistle Stop Bar. Come hear some fine creative non-fiction stories about the animals in our performer’s lives. VAMP is So Say We All’s monthly curated storytelling showcase, and we tell you stories each month at The Whistle Stop Bar in South Park. Our writers are chosen from a competitive field of blind submissions, and put through a grueling editing and coaching process.

eber-cat[clockwise from top: grueling critique process, cat]

VAMP: Animal Control is a night of stories about critters. They’re our best friends and our most frightening nightmares. We share this planet with many creatures and even though they don’t know how to build skyscrapers or develop smartphone apps, animals still very much shape our reality in many (sometimes ridiculous) ways. Also, they can be such murderous beasts.

We’ll feature stories about cats, dogs, lab mice, bears, snakes, rats, lizards, gerbils, and… a few surprises. Come hear some tail tales (lol) about the non-humans in our life. The animal show is always a doozy.

Matthew Baldwin
Ryan Bradford
Emily Burke
Ryan Hicks
Eber Lambert
Jennifer Stiff
Amy Thornton
Anastasia Zadeik

Produced by Jen Stiff and Jason Eliaser

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

animal control-square2

VAMP: In Real Life is this Thursday

IRL: The internet changes everything. Or does it? Do our online lives matter less than our offline lives? Is there a difference anymore? And what about the times when real people do very unreal things, no internet required? Come join us for stories about real life, about the internet, and about the ways those places intersect or the way they don’t intersect at all. IRL TMI LOL.

San Diego Reader calls it a “Best Bet” event.

Danielle Davis
Kim Eisenberg
Julia Evans
Heidi Handelsman
Natalie Hughes
Suzana Norberg
Ronald Pickett

Produced by: Gary Gould and Kurt Kalbfleisch

VAMP Showcase: “In Real Life.”
Thursday, May 26th
8:30pm – 10:00pm
Whistle Stop Bar
2236 Fern St, San Diego, CA 92104
(619) 284-6784
$5 suggested donation

VAMP: Minimum Wage is April 28th!

Our next VAMP showcase is coming up at the Whistle Stop Bar in South Park on Thursday, April 28th! The theme is Minimum Wage.

Cubicle dwellers, burger flippers, baristas. Maybe deep down inside you’ve always wanted to be a bike messenger. VAMP: Minimum Wage features stories about those jobs we took because we had to take a job, about being underpaid and overworked or maybe overpaid and underworked, and maybe that one time you did something a little seedy. Money doesn’t grow on trees.

Allison Gauss
Annmarie Houghtailing
Cecile Estelle
Esther Woodman
Ken Grimes
Patricia Dwyer
Seth Combs

Produced by Eber Lambert and Suzanne Hoyem

VAMP Showcase: “Minimum Wage.”
Thursday, April 28th
8:30pm – 10:00pm
Whistle Stop Bar
2236 Fern St, San Diego, CA 92104
(619) 284-6784
$5 suggested donation

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