Laura Sweeney, MS/MPA/MFA, facilitates Writers for Life in Iowa and Illinois. She represented the Iowa Arts Council at the First International Teaching Artist's Conference in Oslo, Norway. Her poems and prose appear in sixty plus journals and ten anthologies in the States, Canada, Britain, Indonesia, and China. Her recent awards include a scholarship to the Sewanee Writer's Conference.  In 2021, she received an Editor's Prize in Flash Discourse from Open: Journal of Arts & Letters; Poetry Society of Michigan's Barbara Sykes Memorial Humor Award; and two of her poems appear in the anthology Impact: Personal Portraits of Activism, winner of the American Book Fest Best Book Award, Current Events, 2021 .  She is a PhD candidate, English/Creative Writing, at Illinois State University. 

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And I Have a Right to Be Here: An Exercise on Noticing – Vanguard: Exercises for the Creative Writing Classroom

“What is your body telling you?” my trauma therapist asks as she guides me through a body therapy exercise. “Notice your ankle, now your knee, the back of your knee, your thigh, your hip, your chest, on up the body to your neck, your chin, your ears, the nape of your neck. What do you notice?” Without this therapy, I’ve been “missing the turtle in the road.” I’ve not been fully present in my body and surroundings. But today, I am not hijacked. Today, I noticed a turtle at Ada Hayden Lake lying

Writing in the Fallow

Why am I here? Not getting married, not finishing an MFA, not moving to Oregon. I’m heading into the deep freeze of Arctic-Iowa, after spending two-hundred dollars on writing contests instead of the boots I need. I just returned from RVing in Oregon, to gain some distance from my failed submission mission. I am back at the page with a new strategy: to meditate on just a few words, like the triptych poems I read in Hamilton Stone Review by Holly Painter (heinous horror impregnable). As I scan ca

Engaging Men in Gender Justice: My Women's Studies Experience

How do we support and empower women while also reaching out to and engaging men? My journey with this question began when I accepted the Women’s Studies 160 teaching assistantship the summer of 2010. The program was addressing the shift in title to the ‘Women’s and Gender Studies Program’. I had witnessed men in my graduate Women’s Studies classes drop out like an epidemic, and was curious how the program would become more inclusive. I became aware of the class in 2006, when I sought advice an