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Women’s Anthology Encourages Cross-Gender Understanding

Coming out from El León Literary Arts, Ms. Aligned 2: Women Writing About Men is an anthology of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction in which women writers explore male thinking, behavior, and identity. Funded in part by the SEED IDEAS office of the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, the anthology is edited by West Virginia University graduates Connie Pan and Rebecca Thomas along with Pat Matsueda. The cover features an illustration by Guatemalan artist Súa Agapé. Contributors to Ms. Aligned 2 include editors Pan, Matsueda, and Thomas as well as Mary Archer, Emily A. Benton, Sion Dayson, Gerda Govine Ituarte, Amy Holwerda, Lillian Howan, Cassandra Lane, Adele Ne Jame, Angela Nishimoto, and Shelly Rodrigue.

The volume’s foreword is by Dr. Jill McCabe Johnson, an award-winning poet and the series editor of the University of Nebraska Gender Programs anthologies. In her foreword, Dr. Johnson says that the Ms. Aligned authors have “portrayed more nuanced representations of the masculine experience that begins with the archetypal and mythological, but troubles it, complicates it, causes us to challenge our own fundamental beliefs against a more complex and realistic array of expression. The challenge is not in being able to portray what is especially or particularly male. The challenge lies in portraying fully realized males, including those aspects of personality somehow deemed ‘feminine.’”

The introduction is by Kristiana Kahakauwila, a hapa writer of kanaka maoli (Native Hawaiian), German, and Norwegian extraction. Her first book, This is Paradise: Stories (Hogarth, 2013), takes as its heart the people and landscapes of contemporary Hawai‘i. In her introduction, she writes, “This second anthology from Ms. Aligned 2 gives its readers fresh material—as much as these women writers are writing men, they are also women writing women and the female experience. In this act, they make a segmentation—of gender, experience, place, age—whole again....To read Ms. Aligned 2 is to witness women writers writing forward—out of old tropes, expected ways of being, and into something fresh, memorable, filled with discovery.”

Connie Pan earned her MFA in fiction from West Virginia University and her BA in creative writing from Grand Valley State University. A Pushcart Prize–nominated writer, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Fiddlehead, Carve, PRISM international, Bamboo Ridge, among others. Pat Matsueda is the managing editor of Mānoa and the author of Bedeviled, a novella, and Stray, a collection of poetry. Rebecca Thomas is an instructor of English at West Virginia University, where she earned her MFA in fiction. Her writing has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in ZYZZYVA, Prairie Schooner, and The Massachusetts Review, among other places.

Published by El León Literary Arts of Berkeley, Ms. Aligned 2 is available as a paperback for $15 from CreateSpace/ In spring 2017, SEED IDEAS awarded the project $1,000 to cover production and editorial expenses. For more information, please visit Ms. Aligneds website.

 ms. aligned 2