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Bearing Arms: Responding to Guns in American Culture, 2017

We have, according to the constitution, the right “to keep and bear arms” in the United States. But how, in the wake of Las Vegas, Pulse, Sandy Hook, Trayvon Martin, and other abuses of firearms—by citizens and in some cases by those trained to protect and serve—do we bear that right? How do we bear it?

At Broadsided, we believe that art and literature belong in our daily lives. They inspire and demonstrate the vitality and depth of our connection with the world. We had to speak out—we had to make a space for you to speak out—on this issue.

We put out a call to visual artists asking for submissions. Work came from all over the country, in all media. Powerful, provocative, dynamic work. Guest Arts Editor Stacy Isenbarger selected six pieces that offer a range of attitudes, aesthetics, and opportunities. Of her decision, Stacy has this to say:

How do we confront that of which we already hold tightly? Collectively, these chosen works offer a dimensional conversation of this weighted issue. Some may suggest a boundary of societal judgement, but they don’t necessarily reveal what side they are one. Instead these pieces offer evolving space. They welcome an opportunity for viewers to discuss how we bear that which touches our lives.

We then asked you to respond with words. Amazing work came in, with many of you writing to say that you were grateful for this opportunity to engage… and to find a new way toward engagement.

The resulting collaborations will be published soon — hopefully on January 15, 2018.  Stay tuned, and make sure you’re signed up for our newsletter so that you don’t miss it!

Note: while Danez Smith’s “fall poem” (with art by Sam Vernon) was published before this special feature, we are sharing it below as an inspiration. AND we want to recommend, as a deepening of this conversation, the powerful anthology Bullets Into Bells, co-edited by Broadsided’s Alexandra Teague.  Bullets Into Bells brings together poems and prose responses from a gun violence prevention activists, political figures, survivors, and concerned individuals.