Opening Letters > From The Editors


Fall is a gift. This time of year often finds us in the woods, hunting or hiking. It finds us enjoying football or fires with our families. It finds us biking, camping, and kayaking well past the first frost. But it always finds us, and when it does, we tend to find ourselves again. We wrap the blankets tighter at night; the stars shine a little brighter, and our dreams seem to take us farther.

We always dreamed of creating a free-access international literary journal that put the experience of its readers first. We dreamed of a journal that responded quickly, respectfully, and with great care, to every writer who submitted. We imagined a journal that provided its readers with a powerful, focused, advertising-free literary experience that actually transported them: one that challenged them intellectually and moved them emotionally. We've made that dream a reality twice now—publishing accomplished, established authors side-by-side with fresh, emerging voices in the process. We are confident that you'll find something new to fall in love with in our stunning second issue. 

While social media has a place in our lives, we've elected to leave the "scroll-through experience" to other literary platforms. Our readers demand and deserve a more mindful approach. Each piece of writing that we publish opens as a protected Word document for an authentic, focused, and immersive experience that encourages a close, intimate, distraction-free reading of the work. We want your experience with each contributor's work to be singular: just as it would be on the printed page with crisp white paper between your collective fingertips. We understand this is a radical departure from how most literary journals present writing to their readers online, but we think it's a refreshing change for the better. It's okay to slow down. Savor the worlds that our contributors have created for you.

Welcome to Sky Island. Welcome home.


Jason Splichal, Co-Editor-in-Chief


At 12:00 noon this Saturday, when our Fall 2017 issue is released, I will be nearly 2,000 miles away from the majestic sky islands of the Southwest, on a journey to capture the blissful, yet fleeting moments of Wisconsin's colorful fall mosaic.  Google Maps suggests a driving path that leads north along Highway 43 for approximately two hours from Milwaukee's international airport to my final destination, Green Bay.  I plan on taking a much more leisurely, meandering route, stopping frequently to seek and soak in picturesque landscapes along country roads that run adjacent to rivers, lakes, and locally maintained parks.  While I will be driving solo, I will definitely not make this trip alone; the artistic and powerful words of our outstanding authors will continue to reside within my consciousness as I concurrently invite the beauty of our natural world to help me think more clearly, feel more deeply, and live more fully. 

Similarly, readers, in this increasingly busy world, I encourage you to take your time with this issue.  Traverse the metaphorical scenic route, fully immerse yourself, and allow the vibrantly colorful images found within each piece to permeate your mind and heart.  We are overjoyed by the caliber of writers who have found a home with us in Sky Island Journal and take great pleasure in guiding readers to more of their transcendent work by visiting a new page we have added, called "Our Contributors," which provides direct links to our authors' professional websites.  Feel free to make your own frequent stops and each time you return to us we believe you’ll be rewarded with a literary experience full of life and overflowing with wisdom.  Thank you and enjoy!  


Jeff Sommerfeld, Co-Editor-in-Chief


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Annie Blake > Poetry > Victoria, Australia

 Annie Blake is an Australian writer, thinker and researcher. Her main interests include psychoanalysis, philosophy and cosmology. Her poem ‘These Grey Streets’ was nominated for the 2017 Pushcart Prize by Vine Leaves Literary Journal. She holds a Bachelor of Teaching, a Graduate Diploma in Education and is a member of the C G Jung Society of Melbourne and Existentialist Society of Melbourne.

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Beth Peterson > Poetry > Michigan, USA

A wilderness guide before she began writing, Beth Peterson has an MFA from the University of Wyoming and a PhD in creative writing and literature from the University of Missouri. Her writing has appeared in Fourth Genre, River Teeth, Passages North, Post Road, The Pinch, and other publications. She lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan where she teaches nonfiction in Grand Valley State University’s writing program. 

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Catherine Leonardson > FLash Fiction > Wisconsin, USA

Catherine Leonardson is a 23-year-old Midwestern woman who goes to school as an English student, works as a film transfer specialist, and is also raising a toddler. In the little free time she has, she enjoys discussing politics, planning her next tattoo, or making new connections at community events. 

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Chaya Bhuvaneswar > Poetry > MASSACHUSETTS, USA

Chaya Bhuvaneswar's work has appeared or is forthcoming in Narrative Magazine, The Awl, Michigan Quarterly Review, Nimrod, Notre Dame Review, Asian American Literary Review, Tin House, Sante Fe Writers Project, Bangalore Review, Del Sol Review, Compose, r.k.v.r.y, Redux, The Write Launch, Jellyfish Review, aaduna, and an anthology of South Asian women's writing. Her work has been honored an NEH Younger Scholars grant, scholarships to writing workshops such as Squaw Valley, and a Henfield Transatlantic Award, and she is currently affiliated with the BU Center for the Study of Asia. 

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Connor Drexler > Poetry > Michigan, USA

Connor Drexler is a recent graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire with a degree in English. He currently is serving in Traverse City, Michigan as an Americorps VISTA, where he works with a group of agricultural organizations in a network that helps grow a more localized food system in northwestern Michigan.

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Craig Barker > Poetry > England, United Kingdom

Craig Barker is currently pursuing a Postgraduate Creative Writing Degree at the University of East Anglia. He began writing poetry at a young age, and throughout years of study and travel grew to appreciate the form immensely. He cites the mid-twentieth century "Beat Generation" as his favourite group of authors and, like literary idol Jack Kerouac, he seeks to keep his work spontaneous - while also heavily invested in authentic experience. He attempts to consider small moments in retrospect as a way to find larger meaning, focusing on personal journeys. When not writing, he enjoys visiting new places, and would like to work as an English language teacher, working on his poetic craft in conjunction with his job. He currently resides in Norwich, England.

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Diane cruze > Creative Nonfiction > Kentucky, USA

Diane Cruze was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky. She holds a Bachelor of Liberal Studies degree from Spalding University. She has edited a small-town newspaper in rural Kentucky, freelanced for The Courier-Journal and The Louisville Times, and written multi-million-dollar federal grants for a large urban school district.  She now devotes all of her writing time to creative nonfiction and is working on a collection of essays. She continues to live in Louisville, where she enjoys sipping a glass of fine Kentucky bourbon while sitting by a fire with her life partner, Ron, and their two dogs, Apollo and Starbuck. Sky Island Journal is her first literary publication.

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Diane Raven > Creative Nonfiction > Michigan, USA

Diane Raven is a naturalist, therapist, and illustrator/writer. She holds a Masters of Education in Counseling with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Northern Michigan University. She co-founded Headwaters Environmental Station in the Keweenaw Bioregion of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where she taught environmental /ecological education. Her column, Field Notes, ran in Minnesota and Wisconsin newspapers throughout her career as a naturalist. She co-produced the radio program Journeys Into a Sense of Place for Minnesota Public Radio affiliate WGGL. Raven worked as a therapist developing/directing the art therapy program for an adolescent residential behavioral health agency. Most recently, she authored the chapter “Hidden Voices: Creative Art Therapy Interventions for Adolescents with Dissociation” in The Fractured Child: Diagnosis and Treatment of Youth with Dissociation, by Frances S. Waters (2016, Springer Publishing Company). She is currently working on writing/illustrating a book on the development of an ecological conscience in children. She and her husband continue to live at Headwaters.

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Emily House > Poetry > Wisconsin, USA

Emily House was born and raised in Eau Claire, Wisconsin and is pursuing a BFA in Graphic Design at the University of Minnesota Duluth. She is an avid creator and consumer of art and is, slowly-but-surely, creating an illustrated book of poetry.

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Erin Stevens > Flash Fiction > Minnesota, USA

Erin Stevens primarily writes flash fiction and young adult fiction. She’s a digital marketer by day, and a skee-ball champion by night. A graduate from UW-Eau Claire’s creative writing program, she currently lives in the Twin Cities where she raises her son, Murphy. He’s a cat.

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James Mele > Poetry > CONNECTICUT, USA

James Mele is a graduate of the Antioch International Writing Program and of the Anglo-Irish Studies program at University College, Dublin. He has published poetry, fiction, and articles in several periodicals in the US, Ireland, and England. His book, Dancing in Eurynome’s Shoes, was published by Antrim House Books in August. He currently lives in Connecticut.

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Jan Chronister > Poetry > Wisconsin, USA

Jan Chronister lives and writes in the woods near Maple, Wisconsin. Her chapbook Target Practice was published by Parallel Press in 2009. She currently serves as president of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets.

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Jeannie E. Roberts > Poetry > Wisconsin, USA

Jeannie E. Roberts writes, draws and paints, and often photographs her natural surroundings. Her fifth book, The Wingspan of Things, a poetry chapbook, is forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press. She is the author of Romp and Ceremony, a full-length poetry collection (Finishing Line Press, 2017), Beyond Bulrush, a full-length poetry collection (Lit Fest Press, 2015), Nature of it All, a poetry chapbook (Finishing Line Press, 2013), and the author and illustrator of Let's Make Faces!, a children's book (2009). An award-winning poet, her poems appear in online journals, magazines, and print anthologies. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary Education and a Master of Arts degree in Arts and Cultural Management. Born in Minneapolis, she lives in an inspiring setting near Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. 

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Jim Larson > Poetry > Minnesota, USA

Jim Larson has been in the vocation of architecture for several decades.  His avocation in poetry has been nearly as long.  In his writing, as in architecture, he enjoys exploring aspects of structure, form and detail in the service of an image.  He lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

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Joshua H. Baker > Poetry > Oregon, USA

Joshua H. Baker lives with his wife and pets in Oregon, where he works for the U.S. Postal Service and enjoys visiting desolate wilderness areas.  Creatively, he likes to explore the boundaries between the beautiful and the bizarre.  His writing and photography have appeared recently in Foliate Oak, BioStories, Breathe Free Press, and The Sonder Review.  

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Julia Travers > Poetry > Virginia, USA

Julia Travers is a writer, artist and teacher in Virginia. Her work has been shared by On Being, Heron Tree Poetry Journal and The Compassion Anthology, among other publications.

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Kahlan Ruzicka > Creative Nonfiction > Wisconsin, USA

Kahlan Ruzicka attends college in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and she is currently working on the fifth draft of a fantasy novel. Sky Island Journal is her first official publication. 

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Karline Koehler > Poetry > Minnesota, USA

Karline Koehler is an editor, essayist, and poet. She holds a bachelor of arts degree in English literature and print journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Her writing has appeared in Volume One as well as various other magazines and newspapers. Originally from northwestern Wisconsin, she now lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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Kathy Bailey > Poetry > Arizona, USA

Kathy Bailey holds a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Arizona in poetry, and a B.A. in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University, where she double minored in Communications and Women’s studies.  She has worked as an English Professor and college administrator for the last twelve years. She currently lives in Tucson, Arizona with her family.

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Linda H.Y. Hegland is a lyric essay, short story and poetry writer, and photographer who lives in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada. Her writing and photos most often reflect the influence of place, and one’s relationship with place. She has published in several literary and art journals, and has had work nominated for a Pushcart Prize. 

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Mary Rogers-Grantham > Poetry > Florida, USA

Mary Rogers-Grantham is an Arkansas native, award-winning educator and poet. She adores family and teaching, respects nature and humanity, and enjoys writing and exploring. Her poetry collections include It’s Okay: Poetic Memoirs, Clear Velvet, Under a Daylight Moon and When the Sun Sails. She teaches at Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida.

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Michelle McMillan-Holifield > Poetry > Mississippi, USA

Michelle McMillan-Holifield is an assistant editor at Edify Fiction and recently completed a writer’s residency at Wild Acres in North Carolina. Her work has been included or is forthcoming in Boxcar Poetry ReviewHoot, Jabberwock Review, Stirring, The Collagist, Toasted Cheese, Whale Road Review and Windhover among others.

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Mickey May > Poetry > Texas, USA

Mickey May is currently a third year BFA student at Stephen F. Austin State University. She has previously been published in her University’s Undergraduate Journal, Humid. She is from Austin, Texas.

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Noriko Nakada > Creative NonFiction > California, USA

Noriko Nakada writes, blogs, tweets, parents, and teaches middle school in Los Angeles. She is committed to writing thought-provoking creative non-fiction, fiction, and poetry. Publications include two book-length memoirs: Through Eyes Like Mine and Overdue Apologies, and excerpts, essays, and poetry in Lady Liberty Lit, Catapult, MeridianCompose, Thread, Hippocampus, The Rising Phoenix Review, and Linden Avenue.

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Richard Martin > Poetry > Massachusetts, USA

Richard Martin’s most recent books of poetry are Under the Sky of No Complaint (Lavender Ink /Fell Swoop, 2013) and Techniques in the Neighborhood of Sleep (Spuyten Duyvil, 2016). Martin is a past recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship for Poetry and founder of The Big Horror Poetry Series (Binghamton, New York, 1983-1996). He lives in Boston with his family.

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Rob Carney > Poetry > Utah, USA

Rob Carney is the author of four previous books of poems, most recently 88 Maps (Lost Horse Press, 2015), which was named a finalist for the Washington State Book Award, as well as the forthcoming collection The Book of Sharks (Black Lawrence Press). In 2014 he received the Robinson Jeffers/Tor House Foundation Award for Poetry. His work has appeared in Cave WallMid-American ReviewSugar House Review, and many others, and he writes a regularly featured series called "Old Roads, New Stories" for Terrain: A Journal of the Built and Natural Environments. He lives in Salt Lake City.

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Rob Cook > Poetry > New York, USA

Rob Cook’s most recent book is Last Window in the Punk Hotel (Rain Mountain Press, 2016). He is a member of the retro-hetero duo Cook-Dickinson. Recent/ancient work appears in Under a Warm Green Linden, Sweet, Across the Margin, Epiphany, Verse, The Laurel Review, Chattahoochee Review, Midwestern Gothic, Thrice Fiction, and The Antioch Review. Considered among the most annoying individuals anyone has ever known, he has added a memorized and semi-botched version of “The Bells” to his already bloated repertoire of party-wrecking props.

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Sally Toner > Poetry > Virginia, USA

Sally Toner has taught high school English in the Washington D.C. area for over twenty years.  Her fiction and poetry have appeared in Gargoyle Magazine, The Delmarva Review, Postcard Poems and Prose, and other publications.  She lives in Reston, Virginia with her husband and two daughters.

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Sandra J. Lindow > Poetry > Wisconsin, USA

Sandra J. Lindow has been publishing her poetry for 57 years.  Her first published poem appeared in a Sunday School magazine when she was 11.  She now has seven collections of poetry and several more in process.  Lindow has served as Regional Vice President of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets since 1987.  Her awards include two WWA Jade Ring awards, the WFOP Triad Award, and the Wisconsin Press Women's Award for Poetry.  She lives on a hilltop in Menomonie, Wisconsin.

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Sandra Shaw Homer >  Poetry > Costa Rica

Sandra Shaw Homer has lived in Costa Rica for 27 years, where she has taught languages and worked as a translator and environmental activist. For several years she wrote a regular column, “Local Color,” for the English-language weekly The Tico Times.  Her writing has appeared in several print and on-line literary and travel venues. Her first travel memoir, Letters from the Pacific, received excellent Kirkus and Publishers Weekly reviews.  A brief memoir of survival, The Magnificent Dr. Wao, is available as a Kindle Book, and a second travel memoir, Journey to the Joie de Vivre was released in 2015.   

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Sandy Smith > Flash Fiction > Nevada, USA

Sandy Smith has been an editor for more than 25 years, specializing in young-adult fiction. She’s had the pleasure of working with phenomenally talented authors, including YALSA favorites, Caldecott medalists, and National Book Award winners. Born in Brooklyn and raised in New York’s Mid-Hudson Valley, Sandy is a recent transplant to the Southwest. She shares an empty nest with her extremely supportive husband, eccentric middle-aged cat, and the wimpiest pit bull in Las Vegas. In the past few years, Sandy has published several pieces of short fiction and is currently working toward her MFA in Creative Writing.

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stephanie roberts > Poetry > Quebec, Canada

stephanie roberts is intrigued by the unconscious motivations of people. Her visceral and elegant poetry often explores the dynamics of relationship and grief. This year, her work has been accepted, and featured, in over two dozen journals in North America and Europe, including The Maine Review, The Stockholm Review of Literature, Reunion: The Dallas Review, Room, The Inflectionist Review, Burning House Press, and The Rising Phoenix Review. Her chapbook manuscript was a finalist in the Anomalous Press Open Reading. Her Twitter @ringtales mingles literary obsession, blacktwitter, and resistance politics, with a bourbon shot of irreverence.

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Steve Lambert > Poetry > Florida, USA

Steve Lambert’s writing has recently appeared in Into The Void (Ireland), Emrys Journal, The Gambler, Spry Literary Journal, Deep South Magazine, and The Cortland Review. His writing has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. His first poetry collection, Heat Seekers (Cherry Grove Collections), will be published in late 2017. He lives in northeast Florida with his wife and daughter, where he works in a library and teaches part-time at the University of North Florida. 

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Teresa Sutton > Poetry > New York, USA

Teresa Sutton is a poet and a teacher. She lives in Poughkeepsie, New York. She has two chapbooks, They're Gone and Ossory Wolves. Her poems have appeared in numerous literary journals.

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Tori Grant Welhouse > Poetry > Wisconsin, USA

Tori Grant Welhouse is a Wisconsin poet and active volunteer with Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets. She earned an MFA from Antioch International in London and published a chapbook Canned with Finishing Line Press. Her poetry has also appeared in Anderbo, Midwest Prairie Review, Passager, Rivet and others.

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Vandana Sharma > Poetry > NEW DELHI, INDIA

Vandana Sharma is a researcher by profession. She currently resides at New Delhi, India and originally hails from Himachal Pradesh, a hilly state in North India. Poetry writing is her hobby. She actively participates in many online poetry forums and likes to try different poetic forms. Her work has also appeared in Harvests of New Millennium, a poetry journal.