Call for Submissions

This is a CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS for writing and drawings by people who have experienced the illness and/or death of a parent. Even if you donít consider yourself a writer or artist, please consider contributing.

My favorite people are often other people who have experienced the death or illness of a parent, and I especially love the rare moments when those people and I can reach past the taboo of death and trauma and talk about our experiences. This is a call for us to share some of those stories and experiences, and create a collection that helps us reach those feelings and thoughts and memories and see ourselves reflected in each other.

This is a broad call, I donít have a clear plan of whether this will be a zine or whether we should make a gorgeous handmade book or put things together some other way. Letís see what comes. Or tell me what you think should happen.

If you want to submit something visual, please be in touch so we can talk about format and come up with a good way to make sure your work is represented in the ways you want. If you want to talk a little more about something youíre interested in submitting before you do so, or see some examples of my writing, let me know.

Please send submissions by October 31, 2006. Feel free to send things before that, even just outlines or ideas of what you might send later. Iíd like to see that too. Dean Spade,, 54 e. 8th Street #2c, NYC 10003

In case youíre not sure where to begin or what to write, or if you donít think you can write or should write, here are some ideas to get you started:

+Draw a map (in words or images) of your body in relation to your parentówhat parts remind you of them, where do you resemble them, what parts did they tell you were beautiful/shameful/weak/strong/your own/someone elseís?

+Where do you find your parent in your day/week/year? What times of day/year remind you of them? What objects or tasks in your house? What kinds of places in your town?

+Write a list of questions you would ask them if they were alive.

+Write a list of regrets you have about them.

+Write a list of what you think their regrets are/were.

+What would you do if they could visit you where you live for a special occasion?

+Tell the story about a time/times when you felt/feel like a grown up.

+Make a chart of your likeness and difference from your parent and/or other members of your family.

+Write a list of things youíve forgotten about them or about your life.

+Write a sentence (or a story, or part of a story) about each room in the house you grew up in or in the house where they were/are ill or died.

+Write about the reactions people have when they learn about your ill or dead parent story.

+Write about the differences between the story you tell people about your ill or dead parent and the whole story you remember.

+What is grief? What is loss?

+Tell about what you believe caused the illness or death.

+Tell what you think happened to your parent after death. What do you think they thought would happen?

+What are the things that can and canít be said about your parent and their illness or death in your family?

+Do you dream about your parent? What happens in your dreams? How have your dreams changed over time if they have?

One friend/contributor who read this call suggested that I share a little more about myself, since what this call asks for is so personal. In case you want to know, Iím a 29 year old attorney and activist and teacher. My activist, legal and scholarly work mostly focuses on racial, gender and economic justice, especially transgender rights, welfare, and prison abolition. I grew up in rural central Virginia with my mom and siblings. We were poor and my mom was an alcoholic and smoker who died of lung cancer after a year of illness during which my sister and I cared for her. She died right after my 14th birthday, my sister was 16. My mom grew up poor working in pulp mills and box factories in New Brunswick, Canada. My dad is a bipolar Jewish German holocaust refugee. After my mom died I lived with two foster families and graduated from high school a year early and left Virginia. My non-academic writing explores themes of loss, memory, fractured family, class shifting, erasure and isolation. Iíve been feeling like when this writing works for me, it connects all these different lives Iíve lived and that my parents have lived, about which I can get very little information, and which are full of trauma and forced forgetting. Itís a piecing together process that helps me create some kind of witness, some feeling that these things happened and mattered even though no one speaks of them and the witnesses are dead or silenced by our distance from one another. I do this writing for myself, but Iím interested in what comes when I share stories like this with others who have lived through similar stigmatized and life altering experiences.

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