Authors Bios & Q/A
In addition to providing a biography, our contributors answered the following:
1. If you could choose any superpower what would it be and why?
2. What is the best thing you can buy for a dollar?
3. Worst pickup line ever used/heard?
4. What is the most influential stuffed animal in your life?
5. What is something you wish you were allergic to?
6. What is the worst song you’ve been caught dancing to?
7. You have a million dollars and a bag full of rubber duckies what
do you do?
8. What is your favorite word?
We hope that you enjoy their answers as much as we did.
Michele Battiste is the author of two chapbooks: Raising Petra (Pudding House) and Mapping the Spaces Between (Snark). Her first full-length collection, Ink for an Odd Cartography, is forthcoming from Black
Lawrence Press. Nomadic by default, she lives in NYC, but not for long.
1. To go without sleep indefinitely. I had a baby three weeks ago. I’m so tired right now that I’m surprised that I’m able to write coherent sentences.
2. Little Debbie’s Swiss Rolls or Cosmic Brownies. Actually, they are well under a dollar. Thirty-five cents. I don’t know if you can buy anything with more caloric punch for less.
3. “Want to go back to my mother’s basement?” (Those weren’t the exact words, but that’s what he meant).
4. His name is Bear. He was given to me by the youngest of three brothers I used to babysit. Their mother was a prostitute. One of her johns gave her the bear and she gave the bear to her son. He’s a good bear—reminds me that every person is deserving of and capable of kindness, no matter her situation.
5. Mean people.
6. I always dance to the grocery store’s muzak while waiting to check out. But they play really good stuff from the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. Where else can I shake my can to Olivia Newton John’s “Let’s Get Physical”?
7. Hire a housekeeper! Give a big ole donation to the ASPCA. Take my family on a vacation. Then set up a fund and live off the interest. Oh, and set the rubber duckies “adrift on a memory bliss of you” (PM Dawn, people).
Daniel Baughman currently lives in Erie, Pennsylvania and is a graduate student at Slippery Rock University. He has printed poetry in Chimera and released his first collection, Growing Beneath A Waning Sun, in January 2006. He can often be found oil painting and roughing out poetry on the beaches of Presque Isle, Lake Erie.
1. Invisibility. Think about it, do you really have any idea what your friends are thinking? This would be my opportunity to passively observe people and (hopefully) prove that humans are all inherently good.
2. The best thing you can buy for a dollar would be a bunch of tomato seeds, enough to produce fruit to satisfy for the entire month of August.
3. “There must be something wrong with my cell phone. It doesn’t have your number in it.”
4. “My Buddy,” the stuffed human I would drag everywhere with me, from my grandparents farm, through the Allegheny National Forest, over the Blue Ridge Mountains, and through thirteen years of swamp sum-
mers in exotic Waterford, PA. I held onto him until he beat me at chess when I was fourteen. I was so outraged that I tied his legs around his neck and stuffed him under the bottom shelf of my closet, pinned under boxes of baseball cards, where he most likely remains today. Needless to say he is responsible for my refined sportsmanship and my overwhelming
sense of fair play.
5. Well I wish everyone, myself included, was allergic to Bluetooth technology and cell phones. It would no doubt reduce stress in our personal lives and make us more considerate of our fellow human beings. I find that the angry people I meet in life usually have a piece of plastic glowing in their ear and ignore everyone else, to speak with people who aren’t even there.
6. “Go, Go Power Rangers”—the original theme song from the television show.
7. I would gather up the presidents of several colleges or universities and make them stand in French Creek. I would release the duckies upstream of where they were standing and they would have to gather up as many as possible as they pass by. Each ducky would have an amount of money written on it. The “ducky money” collected would be earmarked for scholarships that each college could offer to students who lack financial aid. Not only would it be great for students of financial need, but it would just be fun to watch high-browed members of the academic community crawl around in the mud to help out their student body.
Kathrin Bittner is a sophomore majoring in English Literature. She plans to find some career in the English field, one that is far from any cubicle and will make college well worth it. She hopes to one day publish one of the many ideas just floating in her noggin.
1. I’d pick the ability to morph. The possibilities are endless! I’m talking about changing into different people, animals, or objects. Want to win in hide and seek? Turn into a trash can and wait out the game. Want to mess with someone or make a dream come true? Change into a celebrity and make someone’s day. I’d find it easier to train my pets too if I could just change into one and tell them what NOT to do. I could make some money training pets! A poor college student like me needs to make money somehow.
2. Coffee, obviously.
3. All of them. One liners to pick up a date? There are better ice breakers.
4. My stuffed moose (who has no name). He’s comfortable and acts as a sec-
ond pillow. Helping with naps is the best influence.
6. You just had to ask? “Bye Bye Bye” by ‘N Sync, though what I did could
hardly be qualified as dancing. I just did the hand thing for the chorus.
7. You have a million dollars and a bag full of rubber duckies what do you
do? Go on a shopping spree, making sure to stop off by Borders/Walden
I’d donate the bag of rubber duckies as my first act of millionaire charity.
8. “Realin.” My friends and I invented it. It’ll catch on. Just you wait and see.
Doug Bolling’s poetry has appeared widely in literary magazines and journals including: Georgetown Review, Poem, Red Wheelbarrow, Comstock Review, Blueline, Mid-America Poetry Review, Square One, Common Ground Review, Slant, and Plainsongs. Other work is forthcoming in: Karamu, Minnetonka Review, English Journal, Edge, California Quarterly, Cider Press Review and Hurricane Review, among others. While teaching modern literature at Illinois College in Jacksonville, he introduced creative writing into the curriculum and later designed the creative writing option for English majors. He currently resides in Flossmoor, Illinois, a southwest suburb of Chicago.
1. To see into the future.
2. One pencil and half a dream.
3. No comment.
4. The Teddy Bear that ran away.
6. “Jingle Bells.”
7. Travel carefully.
Susana H. Case poetry has a has recent work in many journals, including: Cider Press Review, Coe Review, Diner, Eclipse, Gulf Stream Magazine, Hawai’i Pacific Review and The Mochila Review. Twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize, she is the author of The Scottish Café (Slapering Hol Press, 2002), Hiking the Desert in High Heels (RightHandPointing, 2005), and Anthropologist in Ohio (Main Street Rag Publishing Company, 2005).
1. Superdog—I can relate to any dog and it would be nice to fly—don’t need the rest of it.
2. I live in New York City—I can’t buy anything for a dollar.
3. “You have the eye of a cobra.” (Seriously. This was said to me. Effective— eh?
I didn’t ask if he meant the right one or the left one.)
4. My stuffed Himalayan cat who accompanied me to every doctor visit I had to endure until I was twelve or so. Of course, it’s no longer in my life….
5. Fattening desserts.
6. Little Eva, “The Locomotion”—but that was a long time ago and I was inured to humiliation then.
7. Keep the cash, toss the duckies into the recycling bin (and do it carefully so I don’t mix the packages up).
8. I love all words—that’s why I’m a poet. But I’m studying Italian and my favorite Italian word right now is “scarafaggio” because it’s so evocative. It means “cockroach.”
Susana Chávez-Silverman grew up in Los Angeles and Santa Cruz, CA. She holds a BA and PhD from the University of California and an MA from Harvard University. Currently on leave from Pomona College, in Claremont, CA, she teaches Latin American and Latin literature courses. Her groundbreaking
bilingual code-switching book, Killer Crónicas:Bilingual Memories, was published by the University of Wisconsin Press in November 2004. She’s travelled around the U.S., to Spain, Argentina, South Africa and Australia giving performed readings. She is currently working on a second volume of crónicas called Scenes From la Cuenca de Los Angeles y Otros Natural Disasters, which she’ll focus on during a spring writer in residency fellowship at the Montalvo Arts Center in California.
1. Don’t have to choose. I have Mercury in the third house, in Pisces.
2. A bag of fresh, hot churros.
3. Deployed by a middle-aged East Indian anthropologist as he flung himself
upon my (then teenaged) sister, “East meets West!”
4. Neither an animal nor stuffed. A plastic, sexually ambiguous Hapa doll,
with a blonde mohawk, named Lee.
5. Fish. But I’ve found I don’t need to be allergic to refuse it.
6. Willow’s theme song from the film “The Wicker Man” (original version,
7. Drop the ducks.
8. If I were able to choose just one I wouldn’t be a writer. But “rasquache”
is definitely one of my favorites.
Craig Cooper currently lives in Neshannock Falls, PA with his dog, Jack. He spends his days fly fishing and working as a youth counselor. He joined the army in 2003 and is a veteran of the war in Iraq.
1. The ability to communicate with animals. I really feel my dog has some
stories to tell.
2. Cup of joe.
3. “Hi, my name is Craig Copper.”
4. The monster from Where the Wild Things Are.
5. Greasy food.
6. “Dancing Queen” by ABBA.
7. Pack up the duckies and travel until we go broke.
Barbara Daniels’ book, Rose Fever, is available from WordTech Press at www.cherry-grove.com. She received two Individual Artist Fellowships from New Jersey, completed an MFA in poetry at Vermont College, and was awarded a full fellowship from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation to the Vermont Studio Center.
1. Animal mimicry—I want to find out what it is to be a slug or a humming bird.
2. I love that white feather boa from the dollar store.
3. “Does your husband sleep around?”
4. Grammar Dog—he sits on the sofa and keeps an eye on my grammar.
5. Wasting time—though my dad always said, “Wasting time isn’t a waste of time.”
6. “I’ve Got My Body” by Poi Dog Pondering.
7. Tape poems by the great poets to the ducks and give them away on the streets of London and canals of Venice.
Michael James Dennison lives in Beirut, Lebanon, where he teaches poetry writing and literature at the American University of Beirut. His poems have previously appeared in Van Gogh’s Ear, Frank, Absinthe Literary Review, The Journal, New Delta Review, and Curbside Review. His book of literary scholarship,
Vampirism: Literary Tropes of Decadence and Entropy, is published by Peter Lang.
1. To be invisible, so to kiss where kisses once were welcomed.
2. A packet of Gauloises cigarettes in Beirut.
3. “Are you as wicked as you are beautiful?”
4. Melvin the Sock Monkey (all my father left me in his will).
5. White cotton—so hard to resist otherwise.
6. “Love Me Tender” (Elvis).
7. Buy an old house in Budapest with a huge bathtub.
Carissa DiGiovanni works in the non-profit sector in her hometown of Chicago. Her work has appeared in Sierra Nevada College Review, Journal of Experimental Fiction, and Muslim, Wake Up! She recently graduated from the MFA program in Creative Writing at Indiana University, Bloomington. Currently,
she is working on a chapbook.
1. Invisibility. I want to witness. Considering what’s going on lately, I think
we could use some invisible witnesses.
2. A cookie at D’Amato’s Bakery.
3. “What year are you in high school?” (From a thirty-year-old man. Luck-
ily, I was twenty-three; I just look young. But it was still disgusting.)
4. Mr. Bear. He’s been around since I was two.
5. I’m allergic to sixteen different kinds of pollen and sometimes lobster, so...
6. “Karma Chameleon.”
7. I’m boring. I’d donate the duckies to a children’s organization, donate
some of the money to my favorite causes, buy a condo, give some money
to my parents, and set up a retirement fund.
8. “Plotz.” It’s multipurpose.
Elizabeth di Grazia has published work in a number of journals, including The Phoenix, Rockhurst Review, Beginnings, Penniless Press, Hackwriters, Minnesota Parent, Adagio Verse Quarterly, The Mom Writer’s Literary Magazine, and four essays with Edge Life. Her work has been anthologized in Illness and Grace/Terror and Transformation. She was the winner of the Minnesota Literature sixth annual Essay Contest. Elizabeth earned her MFA in writing from Hamline University. She can be reached at email@example.com.
1. I’d love to be Superman. For sure, I’d be my son’s hero.
2. My way out of the store with no tantrums if one is looming.
3. I must have used the worst pick up line. I tried to take my partner dan- cing for Valentine’s Day and we ended up at IKEA.
4. Baybee Mickey. A small stuffed Mickey Mouse taught my daughter how
to love. That was her baby.
5. My children say they are allergic to garbage but not clean garbage.
6. I have no shame.
7. Put the rubber duckies in our swimming pool with one duck that has
a star on the bottom. Send my kids in for the afternoon until they find
the star. Spend the time writing a list of renovations for our house. Call
A four-time Pushcart Prize nominee, Susana H. Case, has published poems, memoirs, and short stories in: New Delta Review, Rattle, Harp Weaver, The Cortland Review, Illuminations, Prism International Quarterly, Philadelphia Stories, and Natural Bridge, among others. A Delaware Division of the Arts fellowship winner, her work in Mudlark was chosen for The Best of the Web by Web Del Sol. Liz was recently accepted as an associate artist in residence with Sharon Olds at the Atlantic Center for the Arts. Philadelphia Stories has requested her presence on their poetry board and she was also selected as a finalist in “The Art Of Storytelling Contest” by the Delaware Museum of Art. She is most proud of the alternative school she ran in the Bronx and her eight grandchildren who live on the next block in Rehoboth and who keep her young.
1. USA—the most generous people on the planet.
2. A marble composition notebook.
3. “You remind me of my mother.”
4. Loch Ness Monster.
5. Handsome men.
7. Go on a cruise.
Kika Dorsey has been writing poetry since she was a child. She read a lot of it too, and ended up getting a PhD in Comparative Literature: German and Italian
modern and postmodern literature, from the University of Washington in Seattle. More a performance poet in Seattle, she focuses now on writing when she can at home while raising two small children. She has taught literature, composition, and creative writing at several different colleges and next year will teach online at the Naropa Institute. She also does freelance work proofreading and her hobby job is training dogs.
1. To breathe underwater because I love swimming more than anything.
2. Dark chocolate.
3. “You remind me of my mother.”
4. A big stuffed dog named Henry.
5. Emptying the dishwasher.
6. “Copa Cabana.”
7. Retire early and do “rubby ducky” races down a canal with my children.
8. Gemüetlich (German for “cozy”).
Brian Durling lives in Sacramento, California, and writes poetry and fiction when he’s not rebuilding locomotive traction motors for the railroad or taking care of his wife and two daughters. SLAB literary magazine is the first to publish his work and his face still aches because he hasn’t stopped grinning since they told him.
1. The power to make people love my writing as much as I do, for obvious
2. Half a twelve ounce bottle of Speakeasy Double Daddy Imperial India
3. “How much?”
4. The one I can’t remember.
5. Talk radio.
6. “Shiny, Happy People” by REM.
7. Take a cruise and set them free.
8. “Ubiquitous” because it doesn’t sound like what it means.
Jackie Ernst is a writer from Queens, living in Brooklyn, and working as a paralegal in Manhattan. She’s currently a fiction student at the University of Southern Maine’s low-residency MFA program, Stonecoast. This is her first publication.
1. If I could choose one superpower, it would be the ability to travel back in
time and consummate my obsession with Fyodor Dostoevsky.
2. The best thing you can buy for a dollar is rolling paper.
3. The worst pick up line ever is, “Hey baby, what’s your blood type?”
4. The most influential stuffed animal in my life is my liqui-center vampire bat.
5. I wish I was allergic to men.
6. The worst song I have ever been caught dancing to is “Spill the Blood,” by
7. If I had a million dollars and a bag full of rubber duckies, I would ditch
the duckies and buy out the New York Blood Center.
8. My favorite word is “bambachas” (Argentine for “panties”).
Renato Escudero received his MA degree in English (Creative Writing) from San Francisco State University, where he also teaches and is currently an MFA candidate. His stories have appeared in Cipactli and thefanzine.com. Renato was a fiction finalist in the New Letters Literary Awards 2005. He lives in Alameda, California, with his family and new baby boy.
1. Fingertips that can erase anything at any time - to have the ability to re-
move mistakes with precision.
2. “Saladitos” (dried, salted plums). I hope my
doctor is not reading this.
3. “If you go out dancing with me, I promise not to
trip over my shoelaces.” And she said, “Look,
I’m booked for August.”
4. Snoopy. I must have left him behind in México,
and sometimes I miss him terribly.
5. Dirty laundry.
6. “Achy Breaky Heart” by Billy Ray Cyrus.
7. I like the rubber duckies! I’d give them all to my
son and ask him to share them with me. With the
money I’d buy a coffee plantation in México and
worry a little less.
8. My son’s name, Matei.
Dion N. Farquhar is an ex-New Yorker living in Santa Cruz with the love of her life and their twin teenage sons. A poet and prose fiction writer, her poems have appeared in Fifteen Project, Wheelhouse Magazine, Epiphany, Otoliths, Poems Niederngasse, AUGHT, Xcp: Streetnotes, Rogue Scholars, City Works, Boundary 2, Hawaii Review, etc. Her poetry chapbook, Cleaving, won first prize in the 2007 Poet’s Corner Press and is available from dnfarquhar at yahoo.com.
1. Ability to fly; air travel’s a hassle and expensive; driving’s too slow.
2. A yogurt.
3. Too shy to use them/too smart to respond to them.
4. The elephant and the eagle.
6. If I dance to it, I like it.
7. Head for the bank and put the bag in the trunk.
Maureen Tolman Flannery’s latest book Ancestors in the Landscape chronicles her upbringing on a Wyoming sheep ranch. She and her actor-husband Dan have raised their four children in Evanston, IL where she works for a prosthetics company. Her other books are A Fine Line, Secret of the Rising Up, Remembered Into Life, and the anthology Knowing Stones: Poems of Exotic Places. Her work has appeared in fifty anthologies and over a hundred literary reviews, recently including: Georgetown Review, Birmingham Poetry Review, Xavier Review, Calyx, Pedestal, Atlanta Review, and North American Review.
1. I would choose the ability to will myself to any place on the globe. With this
power I could not only be in all the marvelous exotic places I dream of seeing (Petra, Cappadocia, Agora Watt, etc.), but also maintain the relationships which become strained by physical absence. I could spend a day with anyone I wanted to be near—provided, of course, that person didn’t call authorities to protect them for this possibly demented super-hero womanmaterializing inexplicably before her/him.
2. In Tepotzlan, Mexico, for the equivalent of a dollar, you can buy a small piece of a local tree bark that is carved into an intricately detailed dwelling, so charming, so inviting, one would almost wish for the superpower to become tiny enough to live inside.
3. “Do your kids know you’re here?”
4. Muno, (toddler-ese for “Bruno”) was the name of my son’s bear. He was made of sheepskin and had a dignified, imposing presence. He was able to wield great influence in the days of his being the principle advisor to the king of the house.
5. I wish I were allergic to any meat with fatty or disgustingly grisly components.
6. “The Macarena.”
7. Take them both to a war-torn city, or refugee settlement, and give each child a goofy duck with the explanation that it would accompany a micro- loan to his or her family for whatever project they felt most potentially empowering.
Allen Gee teaches fiction writing at Georgia College, where he is the faculty Fiction Editor for the journal Arts & Letters. His novel, Far From the Beautiful Country, is currently being represented by Gail Hochman.
1. The power to inhale carbon dioxide and pollutants, to save the Earth from
2. Hershey’s Mr. Goodbar!
3. “Hey, look at you.”
4. Snoopy, given as a childhood Christmas gift.
6. K.C. and the Sunshine Band’s “Get Down Tonight.”
7. Give some of both to charity.
Jean Giovanetti (jgnotes.blogspot.com) writes flash prose—short stories and essays around 1,000 words long. Her flash written memoir, One Asian Eye: Growing Up Eurasian in America, was published in December 2004, has sold internationally and is required reading in private colleges and major universities across America and Canada. Described as “deceptively simple,” her work has been featured in: Driftwood, The Journal, Thema, Timbuktu (Wales) and Generation X. She is currently compiling fiction and nonfiction available for purchase through the Amazon Shorts program, as well as working on a new collection exploring truth, the search for meaning and what to eat for dinner all in 25,000 words or less.
1. Flight. I hate to wait in airports.
2. Two rides for my kids on the mechanical fire engine at the mall.
3. “Has anyone ever told you, you have one really sexy eye?”
4. A white cat the baby sleeps with at night.
7. Donate the duckies, collect my family, and get the hell out of town.
John Glass is a freelance writer and freelance percussionist from Mobile, Alabama.
He moved to New York to focus on his writing and his music in 2005. By day, he works as a construction contractor and by night he works on his poetry and his percussion. John plays with several symphonies and jazz groups in the NYC area, and he writes a regular column on his website <http://www.johnglass.org>.
1. It would be super speed. I love the Flash, and being a very fast person my self, I like the concept of mind-blinding speed: racing through town, picking up a college girl’s falling books, putting a bad guy back in prison, dashing through the bakery and filching a warm danish off the tray…. This is what I live for.
2. Reese’s Pieces!
3. “Did it hurt?” What? “When you fell from heaven . . . ”
4. My Pooh-bear when I was a kid.
6. That stupid “Friends” theme. I was at a bar in Lafayette, LA., and it was
7. Throw the duckies in the trash and take my wife to the Bahamas.
8. My favorite word is probably “kaleidoscope.”
Mike Goodwin received a bachelor’s degree in creative writing with minors in both film studies and literature. Born in New Jersey, he grew up just outside
Philadelphia until moving to Slippery Rock to attend the university, all throughout maintaining an intrigue with writing. Over the course of his studies, Mike has amassed several collections of poems that await publication.
1. Invisibility so as to disappear from the world at will.
2. A taco.
3. Any line that necessitates a man becoming an obnoxious prick.
4. Several stuffed monkeys.
5. Obnoxious boxes and my own attitude.
6. A Kiki Koutsaflakis original.
7. Give away the ducks.
Willa Granger lives in Mamaroneck, New York, but would like to mention and praise her place of birth, Sumneytown, Pennsylvania. She learned about poetry under the guidance of Mr. Michael Sofranko. This is the first time a poem of hers has ever been published and she is glad that this specific poem will forever bear that honor. She cites the Pottstown Diner as a big source of personal inspiration.
1. I wish I could read minds…to help my poetry.
2. A cup of coffee.
3. Never heard one…
4. My Blankie.
6. “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl).”
7. Build an army of rubber duckies and paper money cranes to defeat all the
John Grey is an Australian-born poet, playwright, and musician. His latest book is What Else Is There from Main Street Rag. Recently in The English Journal, The Pedestal, Pearl, and The Journal of the American Medical Association.
1. Flight. No more airport delays.
2. A download of “Fairytale of New York” by the Pogues.
3. “I hope you know CPR because you take my breath away.”
4. My wife’s teddy bear. When I met her, she had one. Now we have thirty.
6. “Color My World” by Chicago at my wedding.
7. Dump the bag full of rubber duckies on my boss’s desk. Quit work.
Morgan Harlow’s fiction, poems and essays can be found in: Blue Mesa Review,
Controlled Burn, South Dakota Review, Washington Square Review, War, Literature & the Arts and elsewhere, poems with audio in the online journal Not Just Air, and a long poem forthcoming in Descant. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband and children, where she is at work on a novel.
1. Teleportation; what we engage in, on a human scale, when we read or
2. A pocket-sized notebook.
3. “Where’ve you been all my life?”
4. A Baba Louie doll, the Sancho Panza like deputy to Sheriff Quick DrawMcGraw of the Hanna-Barbera cartoon series, went everywhere with
me during my preschool years in the early 1960s.
5. Any event featuring potluck, gift exchanges, or clowns.
6. A local hardware store jingle.
7. Keep the money and give the ducks away.
Scott Hempel is just a traditional, small town, blue-collar working, Western Pennsylvanian who enjoys the arts.
1. Invisibility, after all, don’t most writers have an inherent desire to be invisible?
2. If you’re lucky a cup of black coffee.
3. Anything said by Quagmire.
4. A bear that I’ve had since inception.
6. Drinking > dancing.
7. Recreate the song “Rubber Ducky” from Sesame Street.
8. Lately, it’d have to be “Jarkko Ruutu.”
Donald Illich has published poetry in: The Iowa Review, Lit, Fourteen Hills, Passages North, Roanoke Review, and Cold Mountain Review. His work will appear in future issues of The South Carolina Review, Combo, and The Distillery. He is a technical writer who lives and works in Rockville, MD.
1. Invulnerability. You could do anything and no one could hurt you.
2. Probably a single condom.
3. “Are those pants mirrors? Because I can see myself in them.”
4. Cookie Monster. He portrayed the awful Ronald Reagan for me during the 1980 elections, which I watched as a too-serious eight-year-old. Reagan and too many cookies have always been my mortal enemies.
5. Low self-esteem.
6. “The Hokey Pokey.”
7. I become a super villain who uses rubber duckies (filled with poison gas,
explosives, throwing stars) as his gimmick.
Allison Joseph lives, writes, and works in Carbondale, Illinois, where she’s on the faculty at Southern Illinois University. Her most recent books include Imitation
of Life (Carnegie Mellon University Press) and Worldly Pleasures (Word Press). She was awarded an Illinois Arts Council Artists Fellowship in poetry in 2007.
1. My superpower would be the ability to defeat writer’s block wherever it thrives. Writers could call out for my assistance in their hours of darkest need, and I’d supply them with just the right phrase, sentence or line to get their writing mojo working again.
2. One dollar? Hmm. I’d say a pen, but it’s hard to buy just one pen any more. So I’ll say a pack of gum, sugarless, to help me defeat my sugar cravings.
3. Worst line: “You must be a laser, because you’re set on stunning.”
4. There are two—Bear and Cub—they are married, they live on my bed, and like Pinky and the Brain, their goal is to take over the world.
5. Chocolate, only because I wouldn’t eat so much of it then.
6. “State of Shock,” an awful duet between Mick Jagger and Michael Jackson.
7. Found the “Rubber Ducky Center for Writers.” It would give away fellow-
ships to needy writers, provided each recipient would adopt a ducky and give a safe space in which to thrive.
8. “Mourning”—a beautiful and sad word. It may not be my favorite word, but it has a lot of depth and dignity to it.
Susan Kelley is an SRU alumna pursuing graduate work in rhetoric at Carnegie Mellon University. She has authored several poems and short stories while focusing on her work in speechwriting. Susan is the proud mom of Daniel, Elizabeth, and Peter—for whom her story is both a caution and a memory.
1. The ability to make things into other things, like people into frogs or water into coffee. Why? Because you can always use a little change, right?
2. Four gumballs from one of those swirly gumball machines, because it’s really fun to watch them come down the swirly thing, and then they are nearly impossible to eat!
3. Not used on me, but . . . “I’m the tongue wrestling champion of the world, you want a shot at the title?”
4. My son’s teddy bear, Byron, because it showed me the full capacity of lovethat a child can have, even for a bear with a tattered “lucky ear.”
5. I wish I was allergic to fine jewelry, because I’d have saved myself a heap of money.
6. “Lucky Star” by Madonna. And I actually danced to it in public!
7. I’d tape a dollar and my address to each rubber ducky and put them in various rivers and streams, just to see what I’d come up with. The rest of the money I’d spend on that jewelry I’m not allergic to!
8. “Pusillanimous,” because it sounds so damn insulting even out of context.
Philip Kobylarz has recent work appearing in: /nor, The Iconoclast, Visions International, New American Writing, Prairie Schooner, & Poetry Salzburg Review.
1. Invisibility as writers are always behind the scene; this would cure the taking care of hair factor.
2. An intimate visit to a female entertainer or Chippendale dancer.
3. “Could you ever, (pause), love a guy like me?”
4. Currently my giant teddy bear that’s also used as a bean bag type chair and sleeping companion (after watching horror DVDs).
6. C+C and the Music Factory’s “Gonna Make You Sweat (EverybodyDance Now).”
7. Visit impoverished places in the U.S. and abroad to give away my rubber duckies and the million.
Amanda McQuade attended school in Ohio, where she studied American Literature. Recently, her work has appeared in Glass, MO: Writings from the River, and Ruminate. She has lived in many places, but for the moment she and her husband live in Los Angeles.
1. I would be invisible so I could see and not be seen all at once.
2. A chocolate bar to share after dinner.
3. That one about heaven losing an angel. Awful.
4. Kermit the Frog. I loved his legs.
5. See #2.
6. Perhaps “Purple Rain,” but I was six.
7. I would take a bath in a million dollars? Nah, I’d do what everyone would
do…immediately stress over both the duckies and the money.
In the 1990s, Stephen Mead’s poems began appearing in literary journals, but after moving to Massachusetts, Stephen concentrated on painting. In 2000, Stephen started seeking publication again for his writing and art combined. Since then, his work has appeared internationally. In 2004, Stephen began experimenting with poetry/art hybrids, creating award winning e-books such as Heroines Unlikely. From there, Stephen began experimenting with his art/poems as films. In 2006, Stephen released a CD of poems set to music, Safe & Other Love Poems, as well as three DVDs. In 2007, print editions
of his work were distributed by Amazon.com.
1. I would be Naked Oratorian, an operatic superhero who could stop weapons in mid-flight by my multi-octave voice.
2. Dollar Store flowers I make use of in paintings.
3. Sorry, can’t really think of one. I don’t get out much.
4. A pink teddy bear dyed blue when just a kid. Gender-role brainwashing?
5. Hateful ignorant people I would projectile vomit on.
6. “The Electric Slide.” I’d never heard it before and tried to slough my way through.
7. Take the money; run; give the duckies to my friends to photograph on their travels.
Laura Miller graduated from Western Michigan University with a degree in creative writing. She finished a novel last May and is slowly working on a rewrite. In the real world she works in a special education classroom and spends her spare time chasing her eighteen-month-old daughter, Analiese. Her poetry has been featured in Origami Condom and Main Channel Voices.
1. Time travel, because I’d rather be somewhere else.
2. Breakfast burrito at McDonald’s.
3. “Wanna go golfing?” (used by me).
4. My husband.
5. My mother-in-law.
6. “Mmmbop” (actually, I still like that song).
7. Make a raft from the duckies, float away, and buy the first island I come
to (unless it’s Alcatraz).
8. “Au pair” (technically two, but who’s counting).
Julie Mitchell was born and raised in Los Angeles, and eventually migrated to the Big Island of Hawai‘i near Kilauea, one of the most active volcanoes on earth. Her creative writing has been published in the literary journal Hawai‘i Pacific Review and the anthologies Love Shook My Heart and Just The Good Parts. Her commercial writing appears regularly in the Hawai‘i Island Journal and has also appeared in Honolulu Weekly and Honolulu Magazine.
1. Either a) the ability to adapt to any climate, so that I could withstand anything from the icy Antarctic to the sweltering Sahara desert, and thus experience nature fully on its own terms in only my own skin; or b) the ability to empathize in some way with any individual, so that I could find redeeming qualities in everyone (even the seemingly most despicable persons), and thus help forge more connections between, and humanity among, all peoples on the planet.
2. 33.3 additional long distance minutes on my calling card.
3. Don’t use ‘em, don’t respond to ‘em, don’t remember ‘em. A person has to be seriously original to catch my attention.
4. There are two: C.C., an outspoken, precocious, bordering-on-obnoxious tan “black bear,” and Micah, a shy, kind, and hesitant brown “black bear” (two of my myriad alter egos; both youngsters of the teddy bear variety).
5. Chronically needy people (I call them energy vampires).
6. Too many to count.
7. Run, laughing all the way to the bank, then take a nice long soak in a hot bath nestled amongst my floating yellow flock.
8. Asking a writer what her favorite word is is like asking a kid in a candy store to pick “just one.” I’ll just say that, today, I’m enamored by the word “inexplicable”—how it tumbles around in my mouth; the sound of its rhythmic, hard-edged syllables.
Karen Neuberg lives with her husband in Brooklyn, NY and West Hurley, NY. Her work has appeared in: Diner, 42opus, DIAGRAM, Coe Review, Free Verse, and Riverine, An Anthology of Hudson Valley Writers, among others. She is a recent nominee for a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net and holds an MFA in poetry from the New School.
1. The ability to speak and understand every language in such a way that it helps bring about peace. Not that I know how having this superpower would work to actually bring about peace. Perhaps I’d choose whatever superpower would bring about peace—or at least one that wouldn’t make a bigger mess out of things than they already are.
2. Coffee and a buttered roll.
3. “Can I touch your hair?”
4. Winnie the Pooh.
5. I already have enough allergies.
6. “Disco Duck.”
7. Enjoy it all and set the duckies free.
Michelle Panik O’Neill’s fiction has appeared in The Summerset Review, Stone Table Review, and SN Review. She has an MFA from the University of Maryland, and a BA in Writing and Art History/Criticism from UC San Diego. Michelle and her husband live in San Diego.
1. Speed reading. With it, I could finally make a dent in my to-read list.
2. A big, crunchy apple.
3. I don’t know. But some guy once tried to pick me up while I was having
brunch with my mom at a beach bar.
4. I don’t currently have any stuffed animals, and can’t remember any from my childhood. So I figure none had much influence on me.
5. Traffic. Maybe I could get some type of handicapped placard that would let me use the carpool lane.
6. Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” at my wedding. I loved every second of it.
7. With the money, fly myself, my husband, and my brother out to Hawaii, where our parents live. Use more money to purchase fire crackers, and use the fire crackers to blow up the rubber duckies in fantastic flash on on a lava field. Then fly home and give the remaining money to
8. Will a phrase suffice? Pari passu.
Radames Ortiz’s work has appeared in numerous publications and anthologies including, US Latino Literature Today and Is This Forever, or What?: Poems and Paintings from Texas. He was also awarded a 2003 Archie D. and Bertha Walker fellowship from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and was nominated for a 2003 Pushcart Prize. He was also selected for two consecutive years to be the Naomi Shihab Nye Scholar and was invited to read at the 2007 Poetry at Roundtop Festival. He currently teaches poetry workshops for Writers in the Schools in Texas.
1. Teleportation. That way, I can teleport to NYC for a hot dog and then to France to enjoy it at the Seine.
2. Bail Out, starring the international superstar David Hasselhoff.
3. “Are you menstruating? Cause, you have been on my mind all month long.”
4. Gizmo, from the movie Gremlins.
5. Having to work full-time.
6. Justin Timberlake’s “Bringing Sexy Back.”
7. I would invite Dolomite and his army of ninja bitches over to my place, so we can kung fu kick rubber duckies till our hearts explode.
Scott Owens’ second collection of poetry, The Fractured World, is due out in August. He is also author of The Persistence of Faith, from Sandstone Press. He will be the visiting writer next fall at Catawba Valley Community College, and coordinates the Poetry Alive reading series in Hickory, NC.
1. The ability to slow the passage of time so that I could get more done and
enjoy more of life.
2. A good cup of coffee.
3. “That dress would look great beside my bed in the morning.”
4. My two-year-old daughter’s bear.
5. Toilet cleaner.
6. “Stairway to Heaven.”
7. Endow a creative writing scholarship and take a bath.
Laurel S. Peterson is an Associate Professor of English at Norwalk Community College, where she teaches creative and expository writing, and interdisciplinary courses in the arts and social sciences. Her writing career has included a column for Gannett suburban newspapers on local history and serving as editor of the literary journal Inkwell. Her poetry has been published or is forthcoming in: The Atlanta Review, The Distillery, Poet Lore, The Rio Grande Review, The Texas Review, Thin Air, Yankee, and others. She lives with her husband in Connecticut.
1. I would choose to be able to disappear at will from one location and appear at will in another. Really, clicking together the red shoes is so much more appealing than the drain on psyche and purse that is coach class. But the lure (close to lurk, see question eight) of travel…
2. Leo Sayer’s “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing” on iTunes. OMG. Hilarious.
3. “Hey, do you play basketball?” “Yeah. So I’m tall. So what?”
4. Curious George. I still have the one my Great Aunt Alice gave me when I was nine and having a really crappy life. A friend told me ten years or so ago that he was now worth around $500. Who knew? Aside from that, George had style and someone who loved him, and he was relentlessly himself.
5. My colleagues.
6. See question two. It’s still going to go on my new iPod.
7. I commit myself to putting one in the bathroom of the loveliest suite available in every five-star resort in the world. I should run out of money in, what? Three days?
8. “Lurk.” Fun to do, fun to say, fun to write. Close to lure, also great fun.
Ed Piskor is a frustrated writer who needs the use of pictures to help tell the stories he has in mind. He’s worked on many comics and graphic novels such as American Splendor, Macedonia, Wizzywig, and The Beats. Check out some more comics and art at www.edpiskor.com.
1. Heat vision. The “Why” portion of this question will be answered below in regards to the rubber duckies question.
2. One hundred little, red candy fish.
3. I never really heard a particularly bad line used but I am curious to know if anybody ever really tried the line “Sit on my lap and let’s talk about the first thing to pop up.” If anybody was ever successful with that one I’d like to know.
4. The one that holds my kilos of crank and PCP within.
5. I totally wish that social obligations resulted in my immediate hospitalization from comatose boredom due to other people’s boring existences. I’m perfectly happy with my own boring life.
6. I bet there’s not a soul who can produce evidence that I ever danced a step in my life. I have trouble walking half the time.
7. I would dangle the bag of rubber duckies high in the air (maybe with a simple pulley system). I would put the million dollars directly under the toys within a chalk outlined circle. Whenever somebody would be
tempted to grab the loot and step within the circle I would use my heat vision and melt the rubber duckies dripping scolding, molten rubber all over the greedy bastard.
8. “Gravitas” (Howard Stern fans will understand this one).
Donna Pucciani has published over three hundred poems in the U.S. and U.K., including such journals as International Poetry Review, Mid-America Review, JAMA, National Catholic Reporter, Valparaiso Review, and Spoon River. She has won awards from the Illinois Arts Council, Chicago Poets and Patrons,
and various state poetry societies. Her books include The Other Side of Thunder (2006), Jumping Off the Train (2007) and Chasing the Saints (2008). She currently serves as president of Poets’ Club of Chicago and lives in the Chicago metropolitan area.
1. The power of persuasion.
2. Toenail clippers.
3. “Wanna see my poem?”
4. My husband.
6. “It’s My Party & I’ll Cry if I Want To.”
7. Go home and take a bath.
8. “Grunt” and “Epiphany” tie for first place, closely followed by “Zanzibar,” “Magnolia,” and “Jejune.”
Brady Rhoades’ poems have appeared in Amherst Review, Antioch Review, Appalachia
Review, Blue Mesa, Red Rock Review and Windsor Review, as well as the anthology, Homage to Vallejo. He was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in poetry in 2005. He recently completed a themed collection of poems, several of which have been published, titled Insomnia (notes from expeditions). He lives in Fullerton, California.
1. To be invisible. I could go anywhere and no one could get to me.
2. A newspaper.
3. “Would you like to be my future ex-wife?”
4. My girlfriend’s bear, who wields little influence.
5. Wine; I’d drink less.
6. “I Want to Make it with You.”
7. Give away the ducks and invest in turbos.
Ruth Rouff was raised in southern New Jersey, near Philadelphia. Having majored
in English at Vassar and earned her teaching certification through Saint Joseph’s University, she currently works as a freelance educational writer. Her poetry has appeared in a number of literary magazines.
1. I would have been England at the time of Elizabeth I because of the great writing. Shakespeare, anyone?
2. Candy bars—I think some are still under a dollar.
3. “What is your sign?” (Heard).
4. A white owl. Not overly cute, but sensitive-looking.
5. Red meat.
6. “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?”sung by Rod Stewart.
7. Open a recycling plant and recycle them into something more practical.
8. “Bread.” I love to eat bread.
Jason Schneiderman is the author of Sublimation Point, a Stahlecker Selection from Four Way Books. His poems and essays have been widely published in journals and anthologies including Best American Poetry, Teachers and Writers, American Poetry Review, Tin House, and The Penguin Book of the Sonnet. He is the recipient of the Emily Dickinson Award from the Poetry Society of America. He has received fellowships from Yaddo, The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and The Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference. He is currently a Chancellor’s Fellow in the Doctoral Program in English at the Graduate Center of CUNY.
1. I would have a photographic memory with complete recall of everything I’ve read and where I read it, down to bibliographical referencing info. Mysteriously, this would give me amazing martial arts skills.
2. The best thing you can buy for a dollar is chocolate.
3. “You know, your clothes would look great on my bedroom floor.”
4. Well, there’s Bear and Little Death, and they’re both pretty important to me. Couldn’t really pick one over the other.
5. I wish I were allergic to Urban Outfitters--oh wait, I am.
6. I think that JC Chasez’s “Some Girls (Dance with Women) [Rap Version]” featuring Dirt McGirt might take the prize.
7. First, get rid of the rubber duckies. Next, invest the million dollars. Finally, live on the interest.
After a decade traveling as poet-in-residence, Sandra Soli served nine years as columnist and poetry editor for ByLine magazine. She holds an honors MA and is a frequent speaker at writing conferences. Published widely in lit journals, her work has been featured on NPR and nominated for a Pushcart. Sandy is a past author of the month for Highlights for Children. Her new poetry chapbook, What Trees Know, is a finalist for the Oklahoma Book Award.
1. Flying at warp speed. No shoes needed. Isn’t everyone sick of standing in lines at the airport?
2. A three-way tie: postage for submissions (at least for now), Snickers bars, and single dip ice cream cones.
3. Worst pickup line: “Can you drive a boat?” (It worked. I married him.)
4. The most influential stuffed animal in my life was Panda, the only lovie I was allowed to pack for the journey to America. (I was born in England.)
5. Allergies to bad manners and arrogance, but I was taught in childhood to overlook both.
6. “The Twist.”
7. Travel first class to Lake Como and set them all free.
8. A tough question: Possibilities.
A two-time Minneapolis Poetry Slam Team member, Ezra Stead recently went to the semi-finals stage as part of the 2007 Soap Boxing Slam Team, the first ever National Poetry Slam Team from St. Paul. Ezra is also half of the Twin Cities hip-hop group Mess Crew, as well as a Film, Video & Screenwriting
student at Minneapolis College. For more information on Ezra and his work, visit myspace.com/messcrew and myspace.com/filmezra.
1. Does the ability to travel back in time count as a superpower? If so, I’m
2. My ten-track EP “Sun 2Tied U Ova.”
3. “Can I buy you a drink, or do you just want the money?”
4. My roommate Steve.
5. Lies, because then I would know for sure if I was hearing one.
6. Probably something by the Black Eyed Peas.
7. Donate the rubber duckies to a children’s charity and spend the money on hookers and blow.
Katherine Streeter lives in New York, where she illustrates for various publications,
designers and agencies globally. She has balanced her career in commercial art with teaching and creating work for gallery exhibits. Currently, she is part of an exhibit touring in Italy: “The Fabulous Coloured Pencils of the World,” which has the work of 25 women illustrators from around the world. You can see more of her work at katherinestreeter.com.
1. Time travel.
2. A winning lottery ticket.
3. “Will you marry me?”
4. An antique bear that my friend gave to me named Henry. He is quite
innocent and sad looking, thought i’m sure he was well-loved by some
one who has been gone for a long time.
5. Obnoxious people.
6. I’ve never been caught in some embarrassing way, but I have danced to
a lot of funny music. When I hear songs from childhood T.V. shows like
Electric Company and Sesame Street, I can’t help myself.
7. I’d like to say I’d do something creative, like cast all of the ducks
in gold as part of an art installation,but in reality, I’d probably give the
ducks away and use the money to travel and buy a huge studio along the
Jennifer Weathers currently attends the MFA program in poetry at the University
of North Carolina at Wilmington, where she also teaches undergraduate
creative writing. Her fiction has appeared in Wilma!, and her poems in SNReview, Prick of the Spindle, The Pedestal Magazine, and Poetry Miscellany.
1. If I could choose any superpower it would be the ability to fly. I would
plan on doing nothing positive with this power except not driving during warm months.
2. A lottery ticket.
3. “So, you from ‘round here?” Gets me every time! I am, in fact, not from
around here. Such insight!
4. My stuffed dog Laddie, who was given to me as an infant by my grandmother. I still have it.
6. As of the time of this response, I have never been caught dancing to any
7. Take a bath.
Brandi Wells is graduating from Georgia Southern University with a BA in Writing and Linguistics. Her work can be found in Vulcan, Agua, and quite a few online journals.
1. I’d like to teleport. I get carsick, so I can never go anywhere. If I could teleport, I could go really neat places, like Japan and to pay my power bill.
2. Four gumballs from the candy machine at the video store. Those gumballs are huge and I think if you buy four, the likelihood of getting a blue one increases.
3. The whole, “You look tired. You’ve been running through my dreams all night” one. I’ve never heard a real person use it. Just movie people. I think movie people can get away with stuff because they’re rich and not real.
4. I have a Mickey Mouse that my father gave me when I was three. Growing up, I blamed stuff on the mouse. I figure I would’ve gotten in more trouble if I hadn’t had that mouse as the fall guy. Poor thing, he has no pupils now. They faded after I put him through the washing machine.
5. I’m already allergic to almost anything scented. Perfumes, candles, cleaning products, most deodorants. Maybe I could be allergic to radioactive sludge. That way if there was some lingering sludge around, we’d know right away.
6. “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy.”
7. I could have one of those games where you flip the duckie over and win a prize. Only I’d be sitting there with my million dollars laughing at folks when the bottom of the duck said “NOTHING.”
Lisbeth Wells-Pratt is a creative writing and theatre major from Slippery Rock University. Her publications as of late have been severely lacking. However, she does publish a weekly editorial which receives many snide remarks and sidelong glances. Besides having an interest in the grotesque, she acts in theatrical productions, and works in a library with books and glue. Thus, these oddball interests and hobbies result in free time during which she composes poetry that she hopes is peculiar, as well as intriguing.
1. I would choose the ability to fly, it would save me money, irritation, and a download of Google Earth.
2. A bag of pretzels.
3. “I wish I was your derivative so I could lie tangent to your curves.”
4. Sassy. She was a stuffed cat that, after a while, my dad washed. I didn’t like her as much after that, I thought she smelled funny.
5. Seafood, so I could stop lying to people when I say that I’m allergic to it.
6. Probably “Thriller” by Michael Jackson. It’s only incredibly embarrassing.
7. I visit big cities all around the world, fill the rubber duckies with cement, then glue them to sidewalks. I then set up video cameras and record the interaction. Hilarity thus ensues.
Shanti Weiland is author of the chapbook Daughter En Route and winner of the Joan Johnson award in poetry. She received her PhD in English at University of Southern Mississippi and currently teaches at Yavapai College in Arizona. Her poetry and essays are featured in: The Coe Review, The Rockhurst Review, Mochila Review, The Alembic: An International Magazine, The New Delta, Dispatch One, Plum Biscuit, The Gihon Review, Rio: A Journal of Arts, Steam Ticket, Diceybrown,
Seven Seas Magazine, and the anthology Great American Poetry Show.
1. The ability to dematerialize and rematerialize. No more airports!
2. A bottle of bubbles.
3. Idiot: “Are those space pants you’re wearing?”
Idiot: “Because your ass is out of this world!”
4. Squirrel Squirrel Squee.
6. Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.”
7. Buy a ship with a big bath tub.
Gerald R. Wheeler’s (Katy, Texas, www.runningcolors.com) photography, fiction, and poetry have appeared in numerous literary reviews and magazines including: North American Review, Louisiana Literature, Cape Rock, Peregrine, Iron Horse Literary Review, Antietam Review, Kaleidoscope, Riversedge, Big Muddy, War, Literature & The Arts, Equine Journal, Horse World and elsewhere.
1. France: free healthcare and education.
2. McDonald’s hot fudge sundae.
3. “Nice pins.”
4. One-ear teddy bear.
6. “Heartbreak Hotel.”
7. Give away rubber duckies.
Helen Wickes was born on a farm in Pennsylvania. She’s spent most of her life in Oakland, California where she worked for many years as a psychotherapist. Her first book of poems, In Search of Landscape, was published in 2007 by Sixteen Rivers Press. She’s had poems published in: Zyzzyva, Runes, Santa Clara Review, 5 A.M., and The Bennington Review. You can hear some of her work on “At the Fishouse.”
1. Ireland—great writers, great horses.
2. Dark chocolate M&M’s.
3. Heard this one: “You look a lot younger than you probably are, don’t you?”
4. Siamese cat.
6. I really, really don’t dance—titanium hip joints.
7. Take the money, drop the duckies.
Mark Wisniewski is the author of the novel Confessions of a Polish Used Car Salesman, the collection of stories All Weekend with the Lights On, and the book of poems One of Us One Night. His work has appeared in venues such as: Poetry, The Southern Review, Poetry International, Glimmer Train, and TriQuarterly, and he’s won a Pushcart Prize, the 2006 Tobias Wolff Award, the Catturalla Award for Best Short Story for 2006, the 2007 Gival Press Short Story Award, and a 2006 Isherwood Fellowship.
1. X-ray vision. Women.
2. A Kit-Kat bar.
3. “I write poetry.”
4. A teddy bear won at a carnival in Northern California.
5. Shaving cream.
6. “Karma Chameleon.”
7. Discuss with accountant charitable donation of duckies.