2. If you could live in the world of any book, what would it be?
3. What was the most embarrassing thing you ever wrote?
4. What is the worst film you’ve ever paid to see?
5. If there was any literary character you could kill off, who would it be?
6. What is in the trunk of your car?
7. What is something you read but wish you hadn’t?
8. What song is your guilty pleasure?
Cathy Allman earned her MFA from Manhattanville College. Her work has appeared in Blue Earth Review, California Quarterly, Crack the Spine, Front Range Review, The Potomac Review, Sanskrit, Talking River, Terminus, Town Creek Poetry and Word Riot, among other journals. See her work at <cathyallman.com>
1. A dollar store magnet that said: “Count your blessings in dog years.”
2. I would like to live in the world of Gatsby, but as Nick, not as Jay or Daisy.
3. A love letter to a one-night stand.
6. At the time of this question, in the trunk of my car contains: a sweater, umbrella, reflective shade to block sun from windshield, golf tees, and sand.
7. New Jack: Guarding Sing Sing.
8. “Blurred Lines.”
Carl Auerbach is a professor of psychology at Yeshiva University, specializing in the psychology of trauma, with an emphasis on collective trauma and mass violence. His work has been published in many literary journals and he has been nominated for four Pushcart prizes. He lives in New York City.
1. A Hershey bar when I am very tired and hungry.
2. Don Quixote.248
3. A short story about a sexual experience that I am too embarrassed to describe further.
4. I can’t remember the title but it had something to do with sunsets and adventures.
5. Julian Sorel in The Red and the Black.
6. I don’t have a car but in the imaginary trunk of my imaginary car there is an imaginary body of a university administrator.
7. Norman Vincent Peale on positive thinking.
8. The Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction.”
Richard Bentley is the author of several books, poems, articles, and reviews. His work and information about buying his books can be found online at <www.dickbentley.com>.
Laurie King Billman has been published in 13th Moon, San Pedro River Review, MacGuffin, Penmen Review, Rambler, Streetlight Magazine, Mom Egg, Not What I Expected: The Unpredictable Road From Womanhood To Motherhood, and Night Whispers. She holds a master’s degree in guidance and counseling, and works as a mental health therapist.
1. Stamps to mail an old fashioned love letter to someone I loved thirty years ago.
2. Robin Hobbs’ world of sea magic, as a dragon.
3. I wrote a stupid love poem and actually gave it to my subject.
4. The last Hobbit movie.
5. I would kill off everyone who doubts The Old Man and The Sea.
6. I have gloves, charger cables, Mickey Mouse wrapping paper, and a pair of black socks in the trunk of my car.
7. I wish I hadn’t read that Trump is president.
8. The Doc McStuffins theme song.
Doug Bolling’s poetry has appeared in Posit, Niche, Connecticut River Review, Redactions, Slant, Isthmus, Visions International, and others. His work has received Pushcart and Best of the Net nominations and, most recently, the 249
Mathiasen Award from Harmony Magazine (Arizona’s Medical Humanities Program).
1. A smile and goodbye.
2. The collected poems of Neruda.
3. My attempted novel at age twelve.
5. Hawthorne’s Chillingworth.
6. You don’t want to know.
8. “White Christmas.”
Francesca Brenner has studied with Jim Krusoe, Jack Grapes, Mark Doty, Ellen Bass, Dorianne Laux. Read her work in OxMag, Crack the Spine, Cutthroat, Common Ground Review, After the Pause, FRE&D, Sanskrit (soon) or hear her during readings by the LA Poets and Writer’s Collective, of which she is a member.
Barbara Brooks, author of the chapbooks The Catbird Sang and A Shell to Return to the Sea. Her work has been accepted in Boston Literary Magazine, Agave Magazine, Peregrine, and Tar River Poetry.
1. A Wendy’s Frosty.
2. Eye of the Albatross.
3. A corny love confession that will never see the light of day.
4. Now You See Me 2.
5. Hercule Poirot.
6. I have a station wagon but it does have the spare.
8. “Tennessee Mountain Home” by Dolly Parton.
Kayla Cash holds an MFA from the University of New Hampshire and is originally from the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Her poetry can be found in BOAAT, Gravel, Hollow, and By&By, among other places.250
1. Juicy Fruit. You could actually get a few little packs.
2. I would geek out if I could live in Middle-earth.
3. I was very convinced I could write song lyrics, but instead figured out I knew nothing about music.
4. My arm was twisted to see a Josh Peck movie called Battle of the Year: The Dream Team.
5. Well, Iago really deserves to die from the mess he made of Othello . . .
6. Bottled water, which sometimes doesn’t end well in winter.
7. Basically every fluff Huffington Post thing I’ve ever clicked on.
8. I listen to current pop music stations in my car, so that’s about as guilty as a person can get.
Aimee R. Cervenka recently relocated from Florida to Washington State for the second time in her life. She holds a B.A. in Biology from Rollins College and an MFA in Creative Writing from Eastern Washington University. Her poetry has appeared in Poet Lore, The Ampersand Review, Ascent, and others.
1. Something claiming to be chocolate.
2. The Golden Compass. Who wouldn’t want a furry animal companion to share all their thoughts and feelings with?
3. Anything written to an ex.
4. The Hobbit, any of them—that there is more than one is reason enough.
5. General Woundwort from Watership Down.
6. I don’t have a trunk, but if I did it would be boringly empty.
7. A Song of Ice and Fire.
8. “Adia” by Sarah McLachlan.
Daneen Church, once an ad agency staff writer, now enjoys the creative freedom to spin tales and to paint landscapes of the beautiful Susquehanna River Valley surrounding her home. Her writing has appeared in The Writer, Stuffed, and Central Penn Business Journal.
1. The best thing anyone can get for a dollar is the satisfaction of leaving a few extra in a tip.251
2. I would choose to live, at least for a short while, in the Venice that Donna Leon’s Guido Brunetti knew in his younger years.
3. I wrote a screenplay many, many years ago that I intend to toss into an evening bonfire one of these nights.
4. I can’t name the worst film I’ve ever paid to see because I delete them from memory after being disappointed.
5. I have no desire to kill off any literary character; even the most despicable is entertaining. Besides, the author usually takes care of paybacks.
6. The trunk of my car is too well-organized and typical to be of any interest.
7. I read a handful of personal letters when I was cleaning out my dead brother’s things and wish I hadn’t.
8. I still belt out The Monkees theme song every now and then.
Orman Day’s prose and poetry have been published by such journals as Creative Nonfiction, ZYZZYVA, Los Angeles Review, Portland Review, Third Coast, Weave, Potomac Review, and Stonecoast. To view a short parody he made with his elderly aunt, go to YouTube and type “Ormie and Aunt Lucille’s Shark Tank.”
1. When the local Dollar Tree is carrying them, I like to spend a dollar of my Social Security check on a carton of fortune cookies, which I nibble like a parakeet at my keyboard.
2. On the Road.
3. In an attempt to bring humor to the pages of a California newspaper, I was assigned to write stories about logrolling against a dog in a lagoon at Knott’s Berry Farm, swirling a red cape in front of angry baby bulls in a Tijuana stadium, etc. I was accused in a letter to the editor of cruelty to animals and of nearly killing my feathered friend. You can imagine the ridicule I faced in the newsroom.
4. I really wanted to love Easy Rider but the cinematic depiction was nothing like the sedate reality.
5. The Artful Dodger from Oliver Twist. I hate pickpockets and other thieves, having been victimized in Tanzania, New Zealand and Brazil (three times).
6. A softball mitt last used in a game two decades ago, some softballs still 252
in their plastic wrapping, torn maps of Maryland and Pennsylvania, coolant, burr-dotted blankets and assorted whatnots caked with dust.
7. When I worked for a California university, I helped judge a regional contest for the best press release. One of them reported the findings of a professor whose research revealed why some bowel movements float and others sink to the bottom of the bowl.
8. “The Sound of Music.”
Michael Estabrook is retired. No more useless meetings under florescent lights in stuffy windowless rooms, able instead to focus on making better poems when he’s not, of course, endeavoring to satisfy his wife’s legendary Honey-Do List.
Jim Garber found his poetic voice decades ago in an old junk shop behind some unstrung banjos. In his work he revels in the rhythms and tones of everyday speech interspersed with quotidian absurdities. His other passions include singing and playing music on fiddle, mandolin, guitar and ukulele.
1. 100 shiny pennies (more quantity than quality).
2. Time and Again by Jack Finney and The Alienist by Caleb Carr—I love historic books taking place in old New York City.
3. A love letter to my teacher in second grade. I don’t know why she didn’t tell me she was married.
4. Barfly with Mickey Rourke though I have lately been reading Bukowski’s poetry. I may have to re-watch that film.
5. The narrator in Poe’s “Cask of Amontillado” during the supreme madness of the carnival season.
6. Certainly a spare tire and a jack. I am afraid to look. Possibly a family of raccoons. What’s that scratching noise?
7. The nutritional info/fat content of my favorite dark chocolate.
8. Tom Wait’s “Hold On” – a full length movie with cinematic imagery in just a few short verses.
Aaron Garretson is currently on hiatus from Brooklyn. His writing has appeared in Opium, Night Train, Hermano Cerdo, and The Village Voice, among other places. 253
1. A pencil.
2. Either Treasure Island or The Guermantes Way.
3. A wedding speech.
4. Too many to count.
5. Tom Buchanan.
6. A beach blanket and a stroller.
7. There’s always something to be learned, even from the bad ones.
8. “The Lady in Red” by El DeBarge.
Mary Catherine Harper has poems in The Comstock Review, Cold Mountain Review, Old Northwest Review, Pudding Magazine, and MidAmerica. She received the 2013 Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Prize, and her chapbook Some Gods Don’t Need Saints was recently released. She organizes an annual SwampFire Retreat for artists and writers. See <www.swampfire.org>.
1. The curly fries at a local bar/restaurant in Defiance, Ohio—food of the gods. Why are crispy potatoes dripping with oil so damned good?
2. The space-station world of Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves—for all the conflicts among the humans, for all the angst over the demise of life on planet earth, the science of space life is fascinating.
3. A novel—autobiographical, I confess—about an impoverished rural family “weathering” snowstorms, tornadoes, and drought . . . that’s when I realized I was a poet. I’m much too melodramatic to write fiction.
4. The Rocky Horror Picture Show, the best-worst film I could count on for Friday midnight excursions.
5. The Corinthian of several of Neil Gaiman’s graphic novels. As the truly horrific side of human nature, he just keeps coming back to terrorize us. I’d like to end him for good.
6. Bags of recycling materials, mostly plastics no. 1 and 2 and steel cans, but some empty spaghetti sauce jars also. On my road trips out to Kansas and Colorado—I recently got stranded in an ice storm in Missouri while trying to get to Dodge City for a family wedding—I never have enough room in my trunk for luggage. Recycling in the trunk, luggage filling the back seat, granola wrappers and music CDs covering the passenger seat, that’s my car.254
7. Though I find myself reading The Body Artist about once every two years and love other novels by Don DeLillo—Underworld, White Noise, Point Omega, Falling Man—Eric Packer of Cosmopolis truly irritated me. I wish I could have laughed at the satire, I truly tried.
8. Tom Waits’ “What’s He Building in There,” just because it’s so abnormal but so common. Paranoia about neighbors who are different from us is something we’re not supposed to feel, but we do, we do, I fear we do.
Delaney Heisterkamp studies Creative and Professional Writing at Miami University. After a short lifetime of writing flash fiction and creating surrealist drawings, she now explores poetry, creative nonfiction, and paper sculpture. Her poetry has been published in Inklings, and she has another nonfiction piece forthcoming in Catfish Creek.
1. Either a cone of soft-serve ice cream or a used poetry anthology. Forget diamonds; second-hand bookstores are a girl’s best friend.
2. J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World. As a bibliophile weaned on the Harry Potter series, all I ask is that I end up neither squib nor muggle should this longstanding wish come true.
3. A short tale where an island of talking animals maintained peaceful relations while observing the circle of life by digging magical meat from the ground instead of eating one another. The story won awards within my school district, too; I currently keep the original copy hidden underneath my bed.
4. Jupiter Ascending. The most terrible aspect was that I had somehow managed to enter the movie theater with high hopes, which was my first mistake.
5. Kill is such a strong, irreversible action! When I say I wish I could kill off Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights, I mean I wish the monstrous aspect of his story arc wasn’t as relevant to the novel’s overall message as it is.
6. A dead car battery, twelve battered cookbooks, and a reusable shopping bag from Blick. As my sister noted, there’s still enough space in there to host a card game.
7. Brave New World—one dystopia that didn’t do as much for me literary-wise.
8. “Bailando” by Enrique Iglesias.255
Sarah Hendess holds a B.S. in Professional Writing from Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania (as Sarah Clark, class of 2003) and an M.A. in History from the University of Central Florida. She teaches history in Lake Mary, Florida, where she lives with her husband, son, and too many pets.
2. I was born to be a queen of Narnia.
3. Love notes to my high school boyfriend.
4. The Wicker Man with Nicholas Cage.
5. Holden Caulfield from Catcher in the Rye. I can’t stand that whiny brat.
6. Jumper cables, an air compressor, and a tarp. Apparently, I expect disaster.
7. See #5.
8. “Daydream Believer” by the Monkees. I cried when Davy Jones died.
Anne Hosansky’s books include the popular memoir Widow’s Walk and four other books. Her short stories and poems have been published in the US, Canada, England and Israel. She teaches writing in New York. In her “other life,” she was an actor.
1. One hundred shiny new pennies, because a new penny supposedly brings good luck.
2. I’d live inside Andersen’s fairy tales so I could have a personal fairy godmother. I’d also request a magic carpet, so I could avoid rush hour traffic.
3. I’m ebarassed about the fat-thin articles I wrote when I edited a newsleter for Weight Watchers.
4. Worst film must have been deleted from my mind.
5. I’d like to kill off David Copperfield’s cruel stepfather.
6. I sold my car last year. I wonder if the new owner keeps the trunk as messy as I did.
7. I don’t usually regret reading any book but perhaps it should be Comrac McCarthy’s The Road, because it’s so bleak and terrifying—and possible given the terrible state of the world now.
8. I confess my secret guilt about a tun is “Happy Birthday to You.” I get embarrassingly weepy whenever it’s played. Lost childhood?256
Myke Johns is a public radio producer in Atlanta, Georgia, where he co-anchors Write Club, a live lit series which kicks the ass of most any poetry reading you’d care to name. His work has appeared in The Bitter Southerner, Creative Loafing Atlanta, The Tusk, Used Gravitrons, and the anthology Bare-Knuckled Lit.
1. My first instinct with dollar items is to list candy or stuff off fast food menus (that $0.99 chocolate Frosty is for real, y’all), but I think the best thing you can get for a dollar is four plays on just about any pinball machine. Me? I really like the Addams Family machine that was a tie-in to the 1991 movie. I spent a good bit of time in shopping mall arcades in front of that one.
2. I’ve wanted to climb into James Gurney’s gorgeous book Dinotopia since I was eleven years old and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.
3. The vast bulk of my written output is deeply, scarlet-facedly embarrassing to me, so there’s a lot to choose from here. There was a story I wrote after that one soul-denting breakup in high school (you know the one) which never left my notebook and was just the most tortured, self-destructive bit of crazy. I let exactly one person read it, and boy, the look of horror on their face was the kind of sobering moment I hope never to need again. The most embarrassing thing I’ve written which still exists is probably my resume.
4. My friends and I saw a lot of crap at the multiplex back in high school. Like, Mortal Kombat was terrible, but I don’t actually remember much about it apart from the last-second cliffhanger ending they tacked on to set up a sequel no one asked for. The Dennis Quaid/Sean Connery buddy-comedy-disguised-as-a-medieval-action-film Dragonheart was just awful and I remember in that beat between the end of the movie and the beginning of the credits, in the silent, darkened theatre my girlfriend blurted out “That SUCKED,” and that was hilarious enough to maybe make that worth sitting through once. But I think the worst film I ever paid money to see was the George Clooney/Arnie Schwarzenegger Batman & Robin. That movie is garbage.
5. Tom Sawyer when he shows up in the last act of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. We’ve been on this harrowing journey with really high stakes, and then this fuckin’ rich kid shows up to play pretend for the length of a Bible. GOD. Go home, dude.
6. In the hatchback of my car right now, I’ve got a bag full of XLR and ¼” cables and a few SM58s.257
7. Something I read but wish I hadn’t? The last act of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
8. I don’t really go in for the whole “guilty pleasure” thing. If you like something, own it, it’s okay. Like, I’m not going to play ashamed at how much I like Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Making The Most Of The Night” (a whole hell of a lot, that song rules). There are certainly corners of my music collection I don’t talk about much, mostly because the number of people willing to nod and smile while I enthuse about, let’s say Ferrante & Teicher’s Hot Latin Nights album (two pianos, y’all. Now that’s a party) or Plebeian Grandstand’s absolutely terrifying catalog is approaching zero. The closest I’ve got to a guilty pleasure might be t.A.T.u.’s Russian language stuff. Yeah. Judging by the number of times I’ve typed and deleted that, I guess that qualifies.
Michelle Kubilis is a recent graduate of Lesley University, where she received a B.A. in Creative Writing with a minor in Psychology. She has been published in Boston Poetry Magazine and Commonthought. Michelle has also completed two editorial internships at The Marble Collection and DigBoston Magazine and plans on pursuing a career in literary publishing. Her portfolio can be found at <michellekubilis.wordpress.com>.
1. A Hershey’s Milk Chocolate King-Size bar with almonds. The perfect snack for a queen while she’s Netflix n’ chilling by herself.
2. Harry Potter. I’m still holding out for my Hogwarts acceptance letter. It’s only about a decade late . . .
3. When I was a young lassie, I used to run a Twilight RPG forum. I was the only participant, so I created in-depth character profiles and role-played from each of them . . . with myself. Cringe.
4. The Room is both the best and worst film that I’ve ever watched. Written, directed, and produced by Tommy Wiseau, The Room is a wannabe drama that comes across as a “how you SHOULDN’T make a movie” movie. It’s absolutely breathtaking.
5. Holden Caulfield. He’s whiny, overly obsessed with “phonies,” and a little too reminiscent of our Commander in Chief.
6. I don’t have a car because Boston drivers terrify me.
7. Twilight. I wrote better fanfiction than that when I was twelve. Step it up, Stephanie Meyer. 258
8. I rock out HARD to the Pokémon theme song. “I WANNA BE THE VERY BEST. THAT NO ONE EVER WAS” BUM BUM BUM. “TO CATCH THEM. IS MY REAL TEST. TO TRAIN THEM IS MY CAUUUUUSE.” BUM BUM BUM.
Christopher Kuhl, a native of northern New York state, holds bachelor’s degrees in philosophy and music composition, as well as two masters of music degrees and a PhD in Interdisciplinary Arts. He reads and has been published widely. His other interests include classical Greek and Hebrew, as well as drawing and music.
1. An egg slicer.
2. The Hobbit.
3. “Christopher Dreaming” (a love/hate relationship for me).
4. Mockingjay Part 1.
5. Helen of Troy.
6. I don’t have a car.
7. Portnoy’s Complaint.
8. “The Man” (Aloe Blacc).
Abbie Lahmers is a fiction MFA candidate at Georgia College and State University and the managing editor of Arts & Letters. She is also an editor of 2040 Books, a multicultural imprint from the Santa Fe Writer’s Project. Her work has appeared in Pif Magazine, Beecher’s, and Flyway: A Journal of Environmental Writing.
1. A can of cat food.
2. Any of the worlds in Kelly Link’s Get in Trouble.
3. The steamy romance sci-fi novellas I ghost-wrote for petty cash this summer.
4. I Am Number Four.
5. The Bird Man in Swamplandia.
6. Sleeping bag, jumper cables.
7. “Dog’s Death,” John Updike.259
8. “Just Like Heaven,” The Cure.
Naomi Ruth Lowinsky won the Blue Light Poetry Prize for The Little House on Stilts Remembers. A new collection of essays, The Rabbi, The Goddess and Jung: Getting the Word from Within has just been published. Lowinsky is a Jungian Analyst. She blogs about poetry and life at <sisterfrombelow.com>.
1. A pen.
2. Little, Big by John Crowley.
3. An attempt at a novel, Nina in Progress. Nina did not progress well.
4. Ghostbusters. Didn’t work for me since ghosts are my regular companions.
5. The Inquisitor who condemned Giordano Bruno to be burned at the stake for his heretical ideas about multiple worlds, as described in Czeslaw Milosz’ poem “Campo dei Fiori.” The Inquisitor never shows up in the poem, but we know he’s responsible for Bruno’s terrible death and that of so many others.
6. Bags for shopping, an ancient pair of sneakers and a backpack with supplies in case of an earthquake.
7. People magazine.
8. “Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bakini.”
Lisa Meckel, presenter for the Big Read honoring poet Robinson Jeffers, has been published in Rattle, Nimrod International Journal, Reed Magazine, Mirboo, North News, Victoria, Australia and many other journals. She has received first prize for poetry three times at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference.
1. I can get a small happiness by giving it to a homeless person.
2. Jane Eyre.
3. A very short play I wrote when I was six that was published. I earned a dollar!
4. A film I walked out on full of an excess of violence staring a “heartthrob” of the time. I’ve repressed the name of it.
6. Hard copies of my poems and novels. I live in a drought environment and fire danger is a constant so I’m ready to evacuate.260
7. I don’t read books I’m going to regret reading.
8. “A Change is Gonna Come” sung by Sam Cooke and “Space Oddity” by David Bowie, sung by Chris Hadfield.
Jesse Minkert lives in Seattle. In 2008, Wood Works Press published a letterpress collection of his microstories, Shortness of Breath & Other Symptoms. His work has appeared in about fifty journals including the Georgetown Review, Confrontation, Mount Hope, Floating Bridge Review, Poetry Northwest, Common Knowledge, and Harpur Palate.
1. The only thing I can get for a dollar is a bus ride, but only because I have a disability pass. Normal people pay $2.50.
2.The world of Grill Saga because it is a world full of artists constantly getting in trouble. Don’t rush to Amazon to buy it, not just yet. It’s mine and it’s not quite done.
3. I once wrote a short story in which the protagonist was an image of who I thought I was at the time.
4. I went with my wife to a movie in Victoria, BC, about the Paris commune. About halfway through, the theater owner came out and told us the movie was so bad he couldn’t force us to watch any more of it. He gave everybody refunds. It was a pretty strongly leftist move. His judgment may have been colored by this. However, it was agonizingly long and slow, and in French.
5. Raskolnikov, definitely. All of the Karamazov brothers. Everybody in Chekhov can live, except Gusev, of course. Every single character in Infinite Jest, starting with the FBI agent in drag and the wheelchair assassin.
6. I don’t drive.
7. A Conspiracy of Fools.
8. All of my songs are guilty pleasures. Probably the guiltiest would be Charles Mingus’s “Devil Blues” on Changes One, but when I play it I don’t feel guilty! I feel like I’m riding the Drifter through a thunderstorm!
Frank C. Modica is a retired special education teacher living in Urbana, Illinois, with his dachshund, Nero. He likes bicycle riding, history, brussels sprouts, dark beer, and asparagus. Since his retirement he volunteers with a number of arts and social service organizations in his community.
1. A decent pair of sunglasses for riding my bicycle. 261
2. The world of The Lord of the Rings.
3. A love note to my seventh grade girlfriend; I accidentally dropped it on the school playground, and the principal read most of it to our class.
4. Modesty Blaise.
5. I would kill Richard III before the Battle of Bosworth.
6. I have jumper cables, a blanket, and a shopping bag in the trunk of my car.
7. Answered Prayers by Truman Capote.
8. “When You Close Your Eyes” by Night Ranger.
Linda Reardon Neal wrote her first poems in high school. She’s always been fascinated with words and feelings and the relationship between them. She studied literature at Pomona College, earned a degree in linguistics and a master’s degree in clinical psychology. Dodge & Burn, her poetry memoir, came out in 2014.
1. A big “thank you” from the Salvation Army volunteer who’s ringing the bell for charity.
2. So many worlds created in literature fascinate me, from the Tahiti of Charles Strickland in The Moon and Sixpence, to the landscape of Barbara Kingsolver’s Prodigal Summer and the other-worldly land of Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land.
3. I once wrote a letter to a poetry teacher and minor star in the literary world calling her a bitch—and I mailed it.
4. Earthquake was so predictably bad that I walked out and left my family in the theatre. Trouble was I could hear it all from the lobby where I sat doing needlepoint. A surprise walk-out was The Railwayman which I thought I would like because it starred two greats, Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman, but I found it tedious and overwrought.
5. Even the worst villains usually have some redeeming qualities. Besides, without the bad guys, there’d be no story.
6. The trunk of my car is a treasure chest of hats, sweaters and extra shoes, along with an out-of-date emergency kit.
7. After she died, I read my mother’s rambling diatribes, mostly about me. I should have burned them sight unseen.262
8. Any song by Damien Rice goes deep. Probably Elephant is the one. I watch his concert at the “Best Kept Secret Festival” in Holland when I want “a fix.”
Judith I. Padow received an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She was a semi-finalist in the 2016-17 Tucson Book Festival nonfiction essay contest, and has had her work read at “Above the Bridge,” a reading series in New York City. Also a lawyer, she practices unionside labor law.
Alita Pirkopf became increasingly interested in feminist interpretations of literature after receiving a master’s degree in English Literature from the University of Denver. Years later she enrolled in a poetry class after which poetry became a long-term focus and necessity.
1. Assorted candies for grandchildren at several visits to Annie’s Café.
2. I was big on dog stories and loved Lad of Sunnybrook. I would in that case be a dog. Maybe some people treated Lad badly, but I think there was a freedom and warmth, something that has remained with me all my life.
3. Love letter to disinterested recipient.
4. I don’t remember any movies that I paid for that didn’t have some merit.
5. Raskolnikov, but not really. Siberia was better.
6. Fragrant cider spill from a bottle with a top that blew off when accidentally left in the car during an Arctic cold spell.
7. A book about Hitler describing scientific experiments.
8. “Strangers in the Night.”
Irena Praitis is the author of five books of poems, most recently The Last Stone in the Circle, winner of the 2015 Red Mountain Poetry Prize. She was a Fulbright Scholar to Vilnius, Lithuania and teaches creative writing and literature at California State University, Fullerton.
2. The world of Pride and Prejudice but only if I get to be Elizabeth Bennet.
3. An apology poem to a high school friend.
4. Star Wars: Episode II— Attack of the Clones.263
5. All of the characters in Sanctuary. Runner up: all of the characters in Journey to the End of the Night.
6. Nothing. Really.
7. DeLillo’s White Noise.
8. “When Doves Cry” by Prince.
Donna Pucciani, Chicago-based writer, has published poetry on four continuents in such journals as Poetry Salzburg, Istanbul Literary Review, Shi Chao Poetry, Journal of Italian Translation, Acumen and Feile-Festa. Her work has been translated into Italian, Chinese, Japanese, and German. In addition to five Pushcast nominations, she has won awards from the Illinois Art Council and The National Federation of State Poetry Societies, among others. Her seventh and most recent collection of poems is Edges (Purple Flag Press, 2016).
1. Another day.
2. Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal.
3. My first poem.
4. I Am Love.
5. St. John Rivers in Jane Eyre.
6. Sensible stuff like the spare, snow shovel, etc.
7. Ivanhoe (on my high school reading list!).
8. Anything by Tony Bennett or Henri Salvador.
Kelly Quigg is a proud recent graduate of Slippery Rock University and former staff member of SLAB. Her favorite pastimes include obsessively analyzing song lyrics, daydreaming about keeping an owl as a pet, and ingesting an unhealthy amount of sugar.
1. The library I work at has a used book room that sells paperbacks at two for a dollar. That’s probably the best use for a dollar I could ever think of. I get cheap books and the library gets money; it’s a win-win for everyone.
2. Walden. I would accept a life as a hermit on a lake in a second if I could. (I say this, but I’d be stir-crazy in a week, if that.)
3. A song when I was five. There were several problems with it, most importantly that I cannot sing, but also that the song repeated the same meaning264
less eight words over and over. I think it had something to do with the stars being happy.
4. Lars Von Trier’s Antichrist that is another level of screwed up. In the first half, you think it’s just a movie about a depressed family after a tragedy, but the second half will leave you horrified and cringing. I am scarred from this film, and I’m a horror fanatic that is tough to rattle, so do with that information what you will. It’s on Netflix, so check it out if I made it compelling enough for you.
5. Catherine from A Farewell to Arms, the most pathetic female character in the history of novels. Catherine, get your shit together!
6. One emergency duffle bag (jumper cables and flashlights, not fake passports and hair dye), an empty cupcake box from my days as a baker, and about five cinderblocks because winter weather is terrifying to drive in.
7. There is no book I regret reading. Even the shit ones teach you something—typically, it’s as simple as “don’t read that author again.” Looking at you, E.L. James.
8. “What Makes You Beautiful” by One Direction. I typically listen to songs written by forlorn men in way-too-tight skinny jeans, so 1D’s happy teen vibe is far from typical for me. I hope that doesn’t sound as pretentious as it is.
Demi Richardson is a California native and a Pennsylvania transplant. She studies writing and identity theory in contemporary literature. Her work has previously been published with Words Dance and Broken Tooth Press, and is forthcoming with Red Flag Poetry. She is an avocado junkie and nap enthusiast.
1. Multiple cups of lemonade from some kid’s stand.
2. Alice’s Wonderland, FOR SURE.
3. When I was really young I wrote a bunch of short stories about goats on a farm that had their own system of government . . . that was a weird time.
4. Ew, definitely The Vow. I regret every minute and penny spent on that experience.
5. Beowulf, from, uh, Beowulf. Before he actually dies. (Sorry, spoiler.)
6. Hopefully a spare tire. Realistically: too much junk.
7. Pretty much everything in my newsfeed immediately following election 265
8. “Fashion” by David Bowie (except it’s just pleasure—no guilt involved whatsoever).
John Roth lives in Akron, Ohio. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in places such as The Bitter Oleander, Gargoyle, and Off The Coast.
1. A 32 oz Polar Pop from Circle K.
2. Fifty Shades of Grey. What can I say? I’m kinky like that.
3. Choose any one of the poems I’ve ever written. That’s it.
4. The Hobbit. Come at me Tolkien fanboys!
5. Holden Caulfield. This might extend to teenagers in general though.
6. Not without a search warrant.
7. My thesis. Dear Lord that thing needs some help.
8. “Scooby Doo” by Elephant man. Dancehall is fiya!
Bradley Samore currently lives in North Carolina and is a high school English teacher. Bradley previously worked for the Spanish Ministry of Education as a culture and language assistant in Asturias, Spain.
1. A pencil/pen.
2. The Lord of the Rings.
3. Love poems to a woman who I thought loved me.
4. Bad News Bears (Billy Bob Thornton version).
5. Sauron from The Lord of the Rings.
6. Jumper cables, emergency roadside equipment, two towels, a recycling bin.
7. A calculus textbook.
8. “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley.
Rikki Santer’s work has appeared in various publications including Ms. Magazine, Poetry East, Margie, Slab, Crab Orchard Review, RHINO, Grimm, Slipstream, and The Main Street Rag. She was a 2016 Pushcart Prize nominee and her fifth collection is due out this spring from NightBallet Press.266
Christopher C. Slomiak became a full-time hotelier by day and aspiring writer by night after graduating from Boston University with a degree in English Education. His first short story, “Untouchable,” was published last year in Heart & Mind Zine and was given the Judge’s Choice Award for being the highest-rated story of the issue.
1. A McChicken sandwich from McDonald’s.
2. I’m a fan of fantasy, so I would love to quest through Tolkien’s world.
3. My brother asked me to be his best man, and since I had no idea how to write a speech, I wrote a poem instead. It was well received, but I remember sweating through the entire speech.
4. My friends convinced me to go watch Get Rich or Die Tryin’ . . . . I couldn’t take 50 Cent or the movie seriously and remember laughing at how absurd the film was throughout.
5. Joffrey Baratheon . . . he’s already dead, but I’d do it again.
6. There’s nothing in my trunk. I keep my car very, very clean.
7. I started Fifty Shades of Grey because of the hype and regretted it almost immediately. I never got even close to finishing it.
8. I used to sing this in the shower when I was in elementary school without even realizing what the lyrics of “Woman in Love” by Barbra Streisand said.
Marc Tretin is a retired attorney. His book, Pink Matress, was just released by New York Quarterly Press. He lives with three cats, an eighteen-year-old yellow mutt, a bunny, two underemployed adult children, and a wife who loves him more than he deserves.
1. Any used book with passionate underlining.
2. Tristram Shandy.
3. My Mother’s Recipe for Belly Button Lint—the Dietetic Version.
4. Hard Candy.
5. Achilles in The Iliad.
6. Unwashed gym shorts, rock salt, a broken umbrella, and a flashlight with dead batteries.
8. “She is More to Be Pitied than Censured.”
Elizabeth Underwood is a fourth-generation Californian (rare species). She has been writing poetry since fifth grade and copywriting and copy editing for advertising since 1992. She has been an on-air talent for six radio stations. Currently, she volunteers at KWMR as host and programmer of To Hell and Bach, which (eventually) integrates almost all genres of music and spoken word.
1. A tangerine.
2. I’m pretty astounded by the world I live in now, but: Island of the Blue Dolphins (except I would want the company of humans).
3. Definitely an email sent to the wrong recipient.
4. Eraserhead. (I know—a highly acclaimed art film by David Lynch, a great director. Still . . .)
5. Littlefinger in Game of Thrones—but I’m pretty sure he’s going to get his soon anyway.
6. I have a VW van, so I don’t have a trunk, I have a bed.
7. Generally speaking: the news.
8. “Walking on Sunshine” (Katrina and The Waves). Totally guilty! (Less embarrassing: “Not Enough Time” by INXS.)
Marcel Lamont (M.L.) Walker is a lifelong resident of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and graduate of The Art Institute of Pittsburgh. He works as a freelance illustrator, graphic designer, comic-book creator, photographer, and art instructor. For several years he taught comic-book creation classes, workshops and camps for children and adults at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. He continues to instruct at Pittsburgh’s ToonSeum, where he is also a member of their Board of Directors. He has also contributed artwork for their NORTH and OAKLAND anthology comic-books. He is the lead artist, book designer, and project coordinator for Chutz-Pow! Superheroes of the Holocaust, an anthology comic-book produced by The Holocaust Center of Greater Pittsburgh. He was also the featured artist in Comic-Tanium! The Super Materials Of The Superheroes, a sciences-and-art exhibit sponsored by The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society that toured nationally in 2015. As the creator, artist and writer of the independent comic-book Hero Corp., International, he has recast his friends and associates in a world of coporate American superheroes. For the next installment, he received a 2016 grant from the Advancing Black Arts 268
in Pittsburgh Program courtesy of The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments. See his work at <marcelwalker.com>.
1. Time for a friend to park their car for a while, so we can get coffee and catch up.
2. Somewhere really docile, where I’d be the weirdest, most threatening thing in existence. I was going to say the Paddington Bear or Winnie the Pooh books, but living toys are actually pretty weird already.
3. I sent a friend an email once, chastising him for being so unpleasant to be around after he’d just broken up with a mutual friend. It was such a blunt message that, to this day, I’ve never re-read it. Surprisingly, it worked and I’m still really close to both of those friends!
4. Van Helsing was a colossal waste of an opportunity. You know a movie is bad when you walk out of the theater with a better spec script already composed in your head.
5. Mister from The Color Purple, and Bob Ewell from To Kill a Mockingbird.
6. Since I don’t drive, and my car is therefore imaginary, I’m going to say my identity-relocation bag. And Twizzlers.
7. The reader comments on any positive online post about Barack Obama.
8. “We Built This City” by Starship. I’m a child of the ‘80s, without question.
Lucinda Watson has published her poems in The Louisville Review, Inkwell, Poet Lore, Healing Muse, The Lindenwood Review, Stickman Review, Pennsylvania English, Penman Review and Jelly Bucket. She is a member of American Pen Women and published a book of nonfiction in 2001, How They Achieved (Wiley).
1. An apple
2. Little Women.
3. “My Autobiography”—A description of all my cars.
4. By the Sea.
5. Melanie in Gone With the Wind.
6. Backpack for earthquakes, dog bowls and water, a blanket, French books, and lipstick.269
7. The Goldfinch.
8. “Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter.”
Bobbie Wayne has a BA (music) and an MFA (Art.) She was a painter (Abstract, Portrait, and sign), music therapist, singer/songwriter, Nashville songwriter and plays Celtic harp. She studied writing at Grub Street in Boston. She has been published in The RavensPerch, and Intrinsick.
1. A cup of coffee for a cold person down on their luck out on the street.
2. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling, but only if I were a talented young witch and one of Harry’s classmates.
3. “You Can’t Find a Bathroom in the City of New York,” a hilarious patter song which was published in Vicky Rovere’s book, Where to Go. The song followed me around, regardless of what other serious or beautiful works I wrote, eventually being quoted by Clive Barnes in The New York Times. I’m sure it will end up on my gravestone.
4. A Brigette Bardot film, the title of which I have (mercifully) forgotten. Very little story line and a repetitive musical theme which crescendoed (like a dentist’s drill) at every love scene. It’s the only film on which I’ve ever walked out.
5. There are no characters, literary or otherwise, whom I would kill. That said, the George Harvey character in Alice Sebold’s novel The Lovely Bones would be first on my list for permanent incarceration.
6. My car’s trunk contains a broken first-aid kit, a tire iron, several ropes and bungies, my work-out bag and a large granite rock.
7. One particular New York July, when the temperature never dipped below 100 degrees, I was so overwhelmed by the heat and humidity that I spent the entire month sitting naked on my couch swearing and crying, reading a perfectly awful series of Scottish romance novels recommended to me by a Scottish harper friend.
8. From Dvorak’s opera, “Rousalka,” the aria is Rousalka’s “Song to the Moon,” a song so full of yearning that it breaks my heart. I wish I had written it.
Ken Williams worked as a social worker for the homeless in Santa Barbara, CA. He is a disabled combat Marine veteran of the Vietnam War whose writings have been published both at home and abroad.270
1. Lotto ticket.
2. In Spain, 1930s—Homage To Catalonia, George Orwell.
3. A union leaflet with a LOT of misspellings.
4. Love Story!
5. I am a neo-pacifist so I would not kill anyone, but I would displace, isolate or otherwise contain Big Brother in 1984.
6. Jacket. First-Aid kit. Flat tire kit. My novels.
7. Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee. I was deeply depressed for weeks.
8. “Moon River.”
Tim Wood is the author of two books of poems, Otherwise Known as Home (BlazeVOX, 2010) and Notched Sunsets (Atelos, 2016). He is an associate professor of English at SUNY Nassau Community College in Garden City, New York.
1. A hundred pennies.
2. Milton’s Paradise before it was lost, but only because I imagine it as a grownup version of Harry Potter’s Hogwarts.
3. A villanelle elegizing my cat, Corazon, after he was hit by a car.
4. Dirty Grandpa, on the recommendation of my teenage son, especially since I also paid for his younger brother and his grandma to see it with us.
5. I would rather save Elpenor in Homer’s Odyssey than kill a character off. But if pressed, I would get rid of “the little boy” in The Giving Tree. We must do what we can to protect the environment from human avarice, and it seems right to save that pathetic but super empathic tree from the boy’s constant taking!
6. A basket of wetsuits, surf wax, changing towels, some leashes, a couple of personal floatation devices, a first-aid kit, and a snow scraper.
7. The 2016 U.S. presidential election results at 2 a.m. on Nov 9.
8. “Boys of Summer” by Don Henley (although I’m more inclined to listen to the Ataris version these days).
Kirby Wright’s second play, Asylum Uncle, opened at the Secret Theatre’s LIC Festival in New York on November 4, 2016. Wright was the 2016 Artist 271
in Residence at the Eckerö Mail and Customs House in the Åland Islands, Finland. He is working on a poetry and flash manuscript set in Helsinki and Stockholm.
1. Stickers at the dollar store.
2. The Wasteland.
3. A love letter to a girl who despised me.
5. Tom Buchanan.
6. Trump voodoo dolls.
7. You Can’t Go Home Again.
8. The theme song for Magnum, P.I.