Themes and Guiding Questions

We are seeking bold personal essays, and poems from migrants, asylum seekers, refugees and those deported from across the United States. These are just guiding questions and themes. We understand the topic of migration is broad so we are looking for pieces that touch upon these but not limited to these. There is no monolithic migrant story, we want to hear YOUR STORY, and YOUR EXPERIENCE.

Life before migration

We believe that we existed before the migration. That we had childhoods, and memories of our loved ones and a place we may have called “home”. Tell us those stories. What are stories before migration that you wished were written about.

Migration is complicated, nuanced, layered, and intersectional.

We believe that our migration story is complicated, nuanced, layered, and intersectional. Scholars and politicians skip over the hard decision and journey of migrating or that many of us were displaced from our home country because of climate change, political turmoil, war, economic inequity-leaving us with no other choice but to “migrate”. Mainstream stories often leave out how some of our family members are detained in the process of coming to the U.S. They fast forward to us as “hard workers” and “taxpayers” or “illegals”/ “criminals” and take away our childhoods, teenage years, and coming of age moments. Tell us those stories of our growing up in the United States. As a teenager what was it like to grow up in a mixed status family? What was dating like? If you are queer, how did you understand your queerness in relationship to your migration? What was it like before DACA? What are some stories of growing up undocumented that you wished you could have read? If you came to the U.S later on (after your formative years), what did you learn about yourself? What did you wish people knew about growing up in the South? Tell us these stories. Stories that disrupt the mainstream tokenizing, stories outside the “good” vs “bad immigrant”. Essays and poems that decenter whiteness, and assimilation.

Envisioning new futures

We believe that our migrant communities deserve justice and a world without borders and detention centers. We believe that joy, healing, and freedom of expression is crucial to our existence. We want to read poems and essays touching on this. We want to read about where you are now in life? Tell us about the world you envision. What are some things you have reflected on about your migrant story? What are you un-learning? What is some advice and words you wished you were given about being migrant when you were younger? What are the messages you want recently “arrived” migrants to hear? What do you want to tell yourself 20 years from now? For artists, how has your art played a role in your healing and growth?

Additional considerations

We are not looking for scholarly/academic papers. We will not consider submissions by non-migrant people. We are looking for contributors that are undocumented or formerly undocumented.

Essays and poems should primarily be written in English.

Sonia Guiñansaca

Sonia Guiñansaca is an international award winning queer migrant poet, cultural organizer and social justice activist. They emerged as a national leader in the migrant artistic and political communities where they coordinated and participated in groundbreaking civil disobedience actions. Guiñansaca co-founded some of the largest undocumented organizations in the US, including some of the first artistic projects by and for undocumented writers and artists. Sonia has worked for over a decade in both policy and cultural efforts building equitable infrastructures for migrant artists. They have been awarded residencies and fellowships from Voices of Our Nation Arts Foundation, Poetry Foundation, British Council, and the Hemispheric Institute for Performance & Politics. Guiñansaca has performed at the Met, the NYC Public Theater, Lehmann Maupin Gallery and has been featured on PEN American, Interview Magazine, Ms.Magazine, Teen Vogue, Diva Magazine UK, CNN, NBC, and PBS to name a few. Their migration and cultural equity work has also taken them to London and Mexico City to advise on migrant policy and arts programming. Currently consulting for national social justice organizations, cultural institutions, and foundations on artists convening, cultural activations, and civic engagement. Sonia self published their debut chapbook, Nostalgia & Borders (2016). Their written in featured on the new edition of Colonize This! (Seal Press 2019), and This Is Not A Gun (Sming Sming Books 2020).

Reyna Grande

Reyna Grande is the author of the bestselling memoir, The Distance Between Us, (Atria, 2012) where she writes about her life before and after she arrived in the United States from Mexico as an undocumented child immigrant. The much-anticipated sequel, A Dream Called Home (Atria), was released in 2018. Her other works include the novels, Across a Hundred Mountains, (Atria, 2006) and Dancing with Butterflies (Washington Square Press, 2009) which were published to critical acclaim. The Distance Between Us is also available as a young readers edition from Simon & Schuster’s Children’s Division–Aladdin. Her books have been adopted as the common read selection by schools, colleges and cities across the country.