Wednesday, September 2, 2015
Jason Tucker & Amy Monticello: Other Fathers, Other Rooms
We are continually finding new ways to explain the essay anthology we're putting together, Other Fathers, Other Rooms. One way is to say we’re trying to collect many different stories from many different kinds of fathers who must each do their fathering in very different circumstances. Another way is to say we’re interested in how we can all redefine what fatherhood means or can mean in an age when we’re redefining what gender means and not so firmly holding parents to the expectations of traditional gender roles. Still another way is to say we’re exploring what it means to parent, or not to parent, or to occupy that space where parents become parents—or don’t—from a place of ambivalence, uncertainty, or the collision of many big, contradictory feelings.
If this goes well, we’ll follow with a similar anthology that does similar boundary-blurring work with contemporary motherhood. We’re starting with fathers because fathers have fewer conventional narratives told about them. There aren’t as many “single stories” (to borrow a term from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie) of fatherhood, and we aren’t looking for one. Right now in America, we may be in a place where no generation-defining icon of fatherhood has emerged, and we see it as a great opportunity to hear stories and voices that might otherwise be marginalized, that might not fit into easy categories and character types. We’re wondering what we’ll learn when we invite a multiplicity of stories, instead of trying to replace a single expired archetype with a single new one.
So we’re inviting everyone: fathers and not-fathers, men and not-men. When we consider social and economic factors, health and disability, the influence of place and local culture, variations in family structure, non-normative gender and sexual identities, distance from extended family, access to other support systems, race, class, education, law and public policy, negotiating the workplace as a parent, and everything else that collides in one person’s life to create an individually complex experience of fatherhood, we can begin to stop projecting our own parenting onto other people who live in rooms that are not our own. We can push the edges of the term “fatherhood” to find they places where they remain rigid, and those places where they will inevitably blur, dissolve, collapse.
Our laws and public policies are built on the narratives we tell about who we all are and how we all live. So in order for these laws and policies to account for everyone, the stories we tell must account for everyone first. Paternity leave and maternity leave, for example, are actually the same issue. And it is a feminist issue. They are only justifiably separate when we maintain moldering assumptions about gender roles, work, parenting, and many other things.
The same goes for the stories we tell about all sorts of fathers and mothers and people who are neither. We all need more stories.
We’ll consider any form or style of nonfiction, including graphic nonfiction. Essays can be brief, but we’ll accept submissions up to about 5,000 words. We’ll consider previously published work as long as the author retains the publication rights. Submit by November 1 to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Jason Tucker teaches writing at Suffolk University and at GrubStreet. His essays have appeared in journals including The Southeast Review, River Teeth, Cream City Review, The Common, Waccamaw, Sweet, Prime Number, and the anthology Going Om. He received an MFA at Ohio State University, and in addition to this anthology, he is currently at work on essays dealing with his home territories in rural Alabama and other essays parsing out contemporary parenthood. He lives in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston, MA with his wife, Amy Monticello, and their daughter, Benna, for whom he's been a mostly-stay-at-home parent.
Amy Monticello is the author of Close Quarters (Sweet Publications), a memoir-in-essays about divorce and family restructuring. Her essays have appeared in a wide variety of venues, including Creative Nonfiction, The Iron Horse Literary Review, Brevity, Redivider, Upstreet, Waccamaw, Salon, The Rumpus, and Role/Reboot. She is currently at work on a new memoir about grieving through early motherhood, and has served as nonfiction editor at Prime Number magazine. Amy received her MFA at The Ohio State University, and teaches creative writing and literature at Suffolk University. She lives in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston, MA with her husband, fellow co-editor Jason Tucker, and their one-year-old daughter, Benna.