A Magazine for the George Mason University Community

Patriot Profile: Alexandria Petrassi

By Saige MacLeod on June 27, 2019

Year: Graduate Student  

Major: Creative Writing, Poetry  

Hometown: Chicago, Illinois 

While growing up, poet Alexandria PetrassiMFA ’19, would fill notebooks with a mixture of lyrics, quotes, sheet music, photographs, drawings, stories, and poetic lines. She started writing more formal poems about age 13, butsays she has always been fascinated with the relationship between sound and image. I think I may have been writing poetry without a name for it for most of my childhood. It’s interesting to think back on it now, at the end of my MFA, and realize that I’m still using this type of accumulative creative process. 

A Day in the Life: During her time at Mason, Petrassi has been involved with the student-run literary journal So to Speak. Starting as a poetry reader in her first year, then assistant editor, and finally as editor in chiefPetrassi has done it all. She describes the job as “challenging and nonstop.” From conducting contests, hosting meetings, altering submission guidelines, drafting newsletters, copyediting, and of course running the publication process, Petrassi has barely had a moment to catch her breath. “When I came in [as editor in chief], I realized that the publication was more important than I was. I’m in service to the journal. I’m not there to further myself, but to put the cause first.”

Alexandria Petrassi, MFA ’19, served as the editor in chief for So to Speak, a Mason student-run literary journal. Photo by Creative Services

What’s So to Speak?: Founded in 1993 by an editorial collective of women MFA students, the journal has been a dynamic showcase of intersectional feminist writing and art that addresses issues of significance in the lives of all marginalized people and their many intersectionsPetrassi says that the journal prides itself on “shaking up the norm of being a writer because there are so many people that need to be heard.” 

Standing Out: With more than a dozen student-run publications at Mason, So to Speak has been able to make its mark. Coming in as what Petrassi describes as a “mid-tier literary journal,” So to Speak has sparked an amazing response. What really sets So to Speak apart from other journals is their investment in giving back. The editors have organized fundraisers to benefit the Washington, D.C., LGBT community center Casa Ruby, and Ayuda’s legal fund, which supports immigrants surviving domestic violence and other unstable living situations. Petrassi stresses that writing should be connected to the world and have an impact.  

On Choosing Mason: Petrassi has always wanted to teach, and she says Mason’s Creative Writing MFA Program provides a wonderful path into teaching writing and literature. Then there were the many opportunities in publishing available to studentsIn the end, I think the primary reason I chose Mason for my MFA was the sense of community among the students. It’s really special, and I noticed it immediately during my first visit. 

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