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Jason and I have spent the majority of our lives teaching, and often discuss the complexities of how to teach creativity.  Despite years of analyzing pedagogy and experimenting with instruction on pre-writing techniques, the mechanics of organizing ideas and finding voice through style under my belt, I'm still more than willing to admit that I often find myself at a loss when it comes to articulating this wonderful challenge of teaching creativity.

Here's what I do know: when you create something you love—something beautiful that comes from the heart—you immerse yourself completely.  You dream.  You find clarity piecing together fragments of ideas.  You fuss over the smallest of details.  You reflect, revise, tweak, and tinker.  You hold it ever so gently between your fingertips before testing it against the hottest of flames.  And if you're equally brave and fortunate, sometimes you get to share that creative work with others who might even appreciate it, often in ways you never imagined.

We consider ourselves incredibly fortunate to share Issue #6 of Sky Island Journal with you this fall.  We have such tremendous readers who seek out the creative works of our world-class writers.  We continue to grow, to reflect, and to improve while fully engaging in the creative process of shaping Sky Island Journal.  A week after this issue is released, we will return to where it all started—for another camping trip outside of Deming, New Mexico.  The Florida Mountains were our original muse for this project and continue to be our creative lifeblood.  Who knows what paths may become clear on the mountain trails this time...

Our dreams for Sky Island Journal continue to expand with each passing season and we are thrilled that you're with us this fall.  Whether you're a reader, a writer, or both, we hope you'll stay with us on this journey for many, many years to come.


Jeff Sommerfeld, Founder and Co-Editor-in-Chief


Every autumn, my son and I find ourselves sitting motionless in a tree—two shallow breathing shadows—shoulder to shoulder above an invisible world. Bright stars move, as if pushed by a breeze, across the inky black. Andromeda and Cassiopeia slip in gentle arcs, and there are times when we can almost hear the earth rolling on its belly. Slowly, the stars fade, and the void before us gives way to silhouettes—phantom shapes of familiar trees and contours of land. Everything is covered in a crystalline blanket of frost. Light begins to seep in around the soft edges of everything; shadows glow before they melt into things we recognize. The world of concrete and wires that we leave behind to be here blinds us to the blood of our ancestors, blinds us to our humble and rather vulnerable place in the natural world. The hunt allows us to see again, and watching morning arrive from our deer stand is like watching autumn set every leaf ablaze; you simply can’t look away.

And so it is with Issue 6. The brilliance of its contributors is a sight to behold. Every piece, just like every sunrise, is a gift beyond the telling.

While social media certainly has a place in our lives, we've elected to leave the "scroll-through experience" to other literary platforms. Our readers 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. It's okay to take your time, to savor, and to simply be present in a moment. Our contributors have created so many beautiful worlds for you to inhabit.

Of the 1,358 individual pieces that we received from around the world for Issue 6, we found these 48 to be the finest. Welcome to Sky Island. Welcome home.


Jason Splichal, Founder and Co-Editor-in-Chief


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Alyssa Ripley > Poetry > MISSOURI, USA

Alyssa Ripley is an undergraduate student at the University of Missouri where she will receive her Bachelor of Arts in English. Her work is published the university’s undergraduate literary magazine, Epic, and is forthcoming in Levee Magazine. When she is not reading or writing, she is drinking an outrageous amount of iced coffee and/or working at a small daycare with kids who make her life exceptionally bright.

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Andrew Patrie > Creative Nonfiction > Wisconsin, USA

Andrew Patrie lives, teaches, and writes in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. His most recent work are the self-published poetry collections: Nights, Grace (2006) and Half-Life (2016). He also writes for Volume One Magazine and the underground Polish heavy metal ‘zine Burning Abyss.

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Beth Konkoski > Flash Fiction > Virginia, USA

Beth Konkoski is a writer and high school English teacher living in Northern Virginia with her husband and two children. Her work has been published in literary journals such as: Mid-American Review, The Baltimore Review, Gargoyle, and Smokelong Quarterly and has been nominated for both a Best of the Net and a Pushcart. Her chapbook of poetry, Noticing the Splash was published in 2010 by BoneWorld Press. She is often a featured reader in the Washington D.C. area and helps to organize the Miller Cabin Reading Series.

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Billy Dean > Creative Nonfiction > California, USA

Billy Dean is a freelance writer with degrees in English and Engineering. His how-to guides have been published at e-book distributors, such as Amazon and Smashwords. His essays, poems and short stories have been published in online magazines, such as Cleaver, Page & Spine, Peeking Cat, and Skeptic.

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Chandan Dey > Poetry > West Bengal, India

Chandan Dey is a new and emerging writer. His work has appeared in Liquid Imagination, Vayavya and is forthcoming from elsewhere. He is a teacher and a passionate reader and writer of poetry. He loves to write articles on scientific philosophy; some of them have already been published online. He lives in West Bengal, India.

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Conrad Shumaker > Poetry > Arkansas, USA

Conrad Shumaker grew up on a cotton farm/cattle ranch outside Tucson. When he was 18, the family had to sell the farm, which became a huge gravel pit within a few years. He occasionally returns to sit on the edge of the half-mile hole and reflect on the loss of place. He now teaches courses in American literature and cultures at the University of Central Arkansas and serves as the interim chair of English. His scholarly and creative works have appeared in such journals as American Literature, The Arizona Quarterly, Southwestern American Literature, Studies in American Indian Literatures, Puerto del Sol, and The Redneck Review of Literature.

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Daryl Scroggins > Flash Fiction > Texas, USA

Daryl Scroggins has taught creative writing and literature at The University of Texas at Dallas, The University of North Texas, and The Writer’s Garret (in Dallas). He now lives in Marfa, Texas, where he and his wife, Cindy, pursue art and writing projects. His flash fiction has recently appeared in New Flash Fiction Review, Cutbank. Star 82 Review, Third Wednesday, Blink Ink, and Eastern Iowa Review. He is the author of Winter Investments, a collection of stories (Trilobite Press), and This Is Not the Way We Came In, a collection of flash fiction and a flash novel (Ravenna Press).

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Dave Gregory > Flash Fiction > Ontario, Canada

Dave Gregory used to live and work at sea but now writes in a bay-windowed, book-lined room. His last visit to the Mediterranean coast of Turkey, where this story is set, was in 1997. Currently a reader for Gigantic Sequins, his work has appeared in many publications such as Literally Stories, Ellipsis and Bull & Cross.

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Dick Altman > Poetry > New Mexico, USA

Dick Altman lives on the high desert plain of New Mexico. His work has run in the Santa Fe Literary Review, The American Journal of Poetry, Fredericksburg Literary Review, Almagre Review, riverSedge, Split Rock Review, Blueline, RavensPerch and elsewhere in the U.S., England and Australia. He won first prize for poetry in the Santa Fe New Mexican’s 2015 writing competition. He holds an MA in English from the University of Chicago.

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Ed Doerr > Poetry > New Jersey, USA

Ed Doerr is a teacher and the author of the chapbook Sautéing Spinach with My Aunt, available now from Desert Willow Press. In addition to Sky Island Journal, his work has appeared or is forthcoming in Water/Stone Review, Hippocampus Magazine, The American Journal of Poetry, One Teen Story, West Texas Literary Review, and several more.

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Jacki Weaver > Creative Nonfiction > Pennsylvania, USA

At the start of her undergraduate studies, Jacki Weaver signed up for the “writing” track in the English department, thinking that this meant she would take courses focused on improving her academic writing. The actual program (if she had bothered to ask) concentrated instead on creative writing, and this happy accident began not only a study of craft and perspective, but also a realization of herself as a writer. Jacki is a current MA student at the Bread Loaf School of English (Middlebury College), and it was during a course titled Creative Writing in the Landscape taken at the Santa Fe, New Mexico campus that she drafted and began the process of revising the piece included in this issue of Sky Island Journal. Jacki also teaches English at Shady Side Academy, an independent high school in Pittsburgh, PA.

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James Crews > Poetry > Vermont, USA

James Crews' work has appeared in Ploughshares, Christian Century, Crab Orchard Review and The New Republic, as well as on Ted Kooser's American Life in Poetry newspaper column, and he is a regular contributor to The London Times Literary Supplement. The author of two collections of poetry, The Book of What Stays (Prairie Schooner Prize and Foreword Book of the Year Citation, 2011) and Telling My Father (Cowles Prize, 2017), Crews is also editor of several anthologies of poetry, including Healing the Divide: Poems of Kinship and Connection. He lives on an organic farm with his husband in Shaftsbury, Vermont.

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Jared Povanda > Creative Nonfiction > New York, USA

Jared Povanda is a writer, freelance editor, and avid reader from upstate New York who specializes in stories that push the status quo. He is obsessed with the natural world, powerfully poetic writing, and narratives that merge genres in exciting ways. In addition to Sky Island Journal, his most recent nonfiction has appeared in the anthology My Body, My Words (Big Table Publishing), in Tiferet Journal, and he is currently featured on Vestal Review’s website for their Tombstone 2018 contest. He holds a B.A. from Ithaca College in Creative Writing, and he hopes to pursue an MFA sometime and somewhere in the future.

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Jesse Albatrosov > Poetry > Florida, USA

Jesse is a poet living and writing in Central Florida with her husband and five children. She is currently obtaining her Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing and English with a focus on poetry and spends her free time reading and studying the French language. Her work is published or forthcoming in The American Journal of Poetry, Streetlight Magazine, Feminine Collective, Black Fox Literary Magazine, Mothers Always Write, Press 53’s Prime Number Magazine, and others.

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Jose Oseguera > Poetry > California, USA

Jose Oseguera is a Los Angeles-based writer of poetry, short fiction, and literary nonfiction. Having grown up in a diverse urban environment, Jose has always been interested in the people and places around him and the stories that each of these has to share. His work has been featured in Meat for Tea: The Valley Review and Authorship by The National Writers Association.

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Kat Heatherington > Poetry > New Mexico, USA

Kat Heatherington is a queer ecofeminist poet, sometime artist, pagan, and organic gardener.    She lives south of Albuquerque, New Mexico in Sunflower River intentional community. Kat’s work primarily addresses the interstices of human relationships and the natural world.  She has one book, The Bones of This Land, printed by Swimming with Elephants Publications in fall 2017, available on Amazon and through SwEP, as well as several self-published chapbooks.

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Kristen Gaerlan > Creative Nonfiction > New York, USA

Kristen Gaerlan is an emerging writer and native New Yorker. Her home is in Brooklyn, her roots are in the Bronx, and the roots to her roots are in the Philippines. She works as a copywriter and pens creative nonfiction, specifically personal essays and memoir. She has had the opportunity to feature her writing in publications, such as BustlePop Sugar, and McSweeney’s. Currently, she’s working on a memoir about Filipino-American assimilation.

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Kyra Wiens > Flash Fiction > Washington, USA

Kyra Wiens is a writer, yoga teacher, and professional Ironman athlete living in Tacoma, Washington. In her writing, she pushes and pulls at the amorphous bounds of the human heart so as to document how it may love and how it may break; family and marriage, in other words. She graduated from Brown University and holds an MPA from UNC-Chapel Hill.

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Laura J. Braverman > Poetry > Dbaye, Lebanon

Laura J. Braverman is a writer and artist. She received her BFA from Rhode Island School of Design; studied poetry and essay with Stanford University, Bennington College and the New School; and will begin a Master’s Degree in poetry with Lancaster University in the fall of 2018. Her poetry has appeared in Levure Litteraire, Live Encounters, The BeZINE, California Quarterly and Mediterranean Poetry. Her first collection, In the Absence of Defense Against Loss, will be published in 2019 by Cosmographia Books. In addition to painting and writing, she has worked with the Nature Conservation Center at the American University of Beirut in support of local environmental programs. She lives in Lebanon and Austria with her family. 

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Laura Wyckoff > Flash Fiction > Oregon, USA

Laura Wyckoff is a Portland, Oregon, writer. She has published short stories in Western Humanities Review, Cimarron Review, Calyx, The Lowestoft Chronicle, The Gateway Review and First Line, among other literary journals. Currently she is developing two collections of short fiction—one on the theme of work; the other with stories set in a community garden. Laura served as a Peace Corps volunteer, taught in an adult literacy program, tended bar, consulted on workforce development and, yes, herded sheep. She earned an MFA in Advanced Writing from University of Washington in Seattle.

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Leonore Hildebrandt > Poetry > Maine, USA + New Mexico, USA

Leonore Hildebrandt is the author of the poetry collections Where You Happen to Be, The Work at Hand, and The Next Unknown. Her poems and translations have appeared in the Cafe Review, Cerise Press, the Cimarron Review, Denver Quarterly, The Fiddlehead, Harpur Palate, Poetry Daily, and the Sugar House Review, among other journals. Winner of the 2013 Gemini Poetry Contest, she received fellowships from the Elizabeth George Foundation, the Maine Community Foundation, and the Maine Arts Commission. She was nominated several times for a Pushcart Prize. A native of Germany, Leonore lives “off the grid” in Harrington, Maine, spending the winter in Silver City, New Mexico. She teaches writing at the University of Maine and serves on the editorial board of the Beloit Poetry Journal.

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M.E. Hope > Poetry > Illinois, USA

On M.E. Hope’s writing desk there is a terra cotta lamb, a glazed clay chicken and a pottery pig. She has been a recipient of a Fishtrap Fellowship, Playa Residency, and an Individual Artist Fellowship from the Oregon Arts Commission. She currently lives in a small township just outside of Chicago with her husband of 32 years and one geriatric cat. She is preparing for her 15th move, a quick jaunt across the state, to a small town on the eastern side of the Mississippi near Saint Louis.

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Mark Seely > Creative Nonfiction > Washington, USA

Mark Seely is a writer, social critic, professional educator, and cognitive psychologist. His latest book, Stones: Meditations on Human Authenticity, from Big Table Publishing, recently won the National Indie Excellence Award. His essays have appeared in Fifth Estate Magazine, Free Inquiry, and Snowy Egret. He has also published numerous pieces in From the Edge of the Prairie, an annual publication showcasing poets and authors in Northwest Indiana. In addition to his creative work, he has a diverse academic publication history, and has authored and coauthored a variety of articles and book chapters on topics ranging from the cognitive correlates of reading proficiency to trauma intervention. He was formerly employed as Associate Professor and Chair of Psychology at Saint Joseph's College, Indiana, where he taught statistics, a wide variety of psychology courses, and an interdisciplinary course on human biological and cultural evolution. He currently lives in Lynnwood, Washington, and serves on the faculty of Edmonds Community College.

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Martina Reisz Newberry > Poetry > California, USA

Martina Reisz Newberry has been writing for 50 years. A passionate lover of Los Angeles, she currently lives there with her husband, Brian Newberry, a Media Creative. Martina Reisz Newberry’s most recent books are TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME (Unsolicited Press, September 2017), NEVER COMPLETELY AWAKE, (May 2017, Deerbrook Editions). She is also the author of WHERE IT GOES (Deerbrook Editions). LEARNING BY ROTE (Deerbrook Editions), and RUNNING LIKE A WOMAN WITH HER HAIR ON FIRE: COLLECTED POEMS (Red Hen Press). In addition, she is also the author of LIMA BEANS AND CITY CHICKEN: MEMORIES OF THE OPEN HEARTH—a memoir of her father, (one of the first men ever to be hired at Kaiser Steel in Fontana, CA in 1943)—published by E.P. Dutton and Co. in 1989. Reisz Newberry has been included in It Happened Under Cover, Ascent Aspirations’ first two hard-copy anthologies, also in the anthologies In the Company of Women, Blessed are These Hands and Veils, The Charles Carter Anthology, and Halos & Shackles: International Poetry on the Oppression and Empowerment of Women. She has been widely published in literary magazines such as: The Amaranth Review, Ascent Aspirations, All Roads Will Lead You, Arabesque Review, Bella, Connotation Press, The Cenacle, Eunoia Review, Journal of Applied Poetics, Two Hawks Quarterly, Wilderness House Literary Review, and others in the U.S. and abroad. She has been awarded residencies at Yaddo Colony for the Arts, Djerassi Colony for the Arts, and at Anderson Center for Disciplinary Arts.

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Mary Catherine Harper > Poetry > Ohio, USA

Mary Catherine Harper, a 2018 Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award winner, has made her home at the confluence of the Auglaize and Maumee rivers in Ohio and organizes the yearly SwampFire Retreat for artists and writers at 4 Corners Gallery in Angola, Indiana. Her poem “Muddy World” won the 2013 Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Prize, and her poetry has appeared in numerous journals, including The Comstock Review, Cold Mountain Review, Pudding Magazine, SLAB, MidAmerica, Print-Oriented Bastards, Sheila-Na-Gig, and The Offbeat. Her Some Gods Don’t Need Saints chapbook was recently published.

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Melissa Buckheit > Poetry > Connecticut, USA

Melissa Buckheit is a queer poet, activist, dancer/choreographer, photographer, English Lecturer and professional Bodywork Therapist. She is the author of Noctilucent (Shearsman Books, 2012), and two chapbooks: Dulcet You (dancing girl press, 2016), and Arc (The Drunken Boat, 2007). Her poems, translations, photography, essays, critical interviews and reviews have appeared or are forthcoming in EOAGH, The VOLTA, Denver Quarterly, The Feminist Wire, HerKind, MayDay Magazine, Sinister Wisdom, The Drunken Boat, Bombay Gin, Spiral Orb, Shearsman Magazine, Waxwing, and The Sonoran Desert: A Literary Field Guide (University of Arizona Press, 2016), among others. Jocelyn Heath, in a review in Lambda Literary, noted of Noctilucent that, “Buckheit pairs earthly longings with writings of celestial delicacy to show us what we can see when we look beyond immediacy. Her collection, like the noctilucent cloud that shares its name, lingers long in the atmosphere.” Buckheit translates the poet Ioulita Iliopoulou from Modern Greek and is a recipient of two Pushcart Prize nominations. She holds an M.F.A. in Poetry from Naropa University and a B.A. in English & American Literature, Dance/Theatre & French from Brandeis University. She founded and curated the innovative Edge Reading Series in Tucson, AZ from 2008-2016, and has taught at Pima College, University of Arizona, and Zuzi Dance Company. She lives in rural Northeast Connecticut.

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Nell Smith > Poetry > Arizona, USA

Originally from Maine, Nell Smith is a field biologist and writer currently based in Northern Arizona. Much of Nell’s work is ecologically rooted as she examines the interplay between people and place. An alumna of Prescott College, her poetry has been published in the Aurorean and Alligator Juniper. She loves birds, saltwater, and the Sonoran Desert during monsoon season.

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Nicholas Trandahl > Poetry > Wyoming, USA

Nicholas Trandahl is a newspaper reporter and writer living in Wyoming with his wife and three daughters. He is an outdoorsman and Army veteran. Trandahl has published two poetry collections through Winter Goose Publishing, Pulling Words in 2017 and Think of Me in 2018. His third collection with Winter Goose, Bravery, releases in 2019. He has also appeared in various poetry anthologies, literary journals, and compilations.

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Patrick Flanary > Flash Fiction > Beijing, China

Patrick Flanary is an American expat living in Beijing. His reporting on music, mental health, and equality has appeared on National Public Radio and in Rolling Stone, Psychology Today, and Newsweek, among others. Patrick is a dad whose background in journalism and PR includes stints as a TV news reporter, a radio host, and a publicist. He's also taught English to toddlers in China. "End Over End" is his first published work of fiction. 

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Piet Nieuwland > Poetry > Whangarei, Aotearoa/New Zealand

Piet Nieuwland wrote conservation strategies for Te Papa Atawhai after training as a forester. His poems and flash fiction appear in many places in print and online including Landfall, Bonsai, Geometry, Brief, Catalyst and Poetry NZ in New Zealand; Pure Slush, Otoliths, Cordite and Mattoid in Australia; Blue Fifth Review, Mojave River Review, Lunch Ticket, Olentangy Review and Atlanta Review in USA; RevuePost in Canada and elsewhere. He edits Fast Fibres Poetry and reviews poetry for Landfall.

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Raymond Byrnes > Poetry > Virginia, USA

Before embarking on a long career in communications management with the U.S. Geological Survey/NASA Landsat satellite program, Raymond Byrnes was a college English teacher in his native Minnesota. His early poems appeared in Great River ReviewAlembic, and other journals. Recently retired, his current work appears in Better Than StarbucksTypishly, Chest, and is forthcoming in Waters Deep: A Great Lakes Poetry Anthology. He lives in Virginia, where he competes with deer and squirrels for ripe tomatoes.

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Richard Martin > Poetry > Massachusetts, USA

Richard Martin's latest book is Goosebumps of Antimatter (Spuyten Duyvil, 2018), a selection of poems and stories, art galleries, and interviews with poets and artists. Martin is a past recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship for Poetry and founder of the Big Horror Poetry Series (1983-1996) in his hometown, Binghamton, New York. He lives in Boston with his family.

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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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Sarah Dickenson Snyder > Poetry > Vermont, USA

Sarah Dickenson Snyder has written poetry since she knew there was a form with conscious line breaks. She has two poetry collections, The Human Contract and Notes from a Nomad, both published in 2017. Recent work appears in Chautauqua Literary Magazine, RHINO, and The Sewanee Review.

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Stathis Antoniou > Poetry > Athens, Greece

Stathis Antoniou was born in Athens in 1982 and currently works as a researcher in Applied Mathematics at the National Technical University of Athens. He has attended poetry classes at the Shakespeare and Co. bookshop in Paris and at the Takis Sinopoulos Foundation in Athens. His poems and short stories have appeared in Greek and English in Book Austerity Measures, The New Greek Poetry and in various journals such as Mantis Journal of Poetry, The Bitter Oleander, Dekata, and Sinteltijdschrift.

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Susan Lowell > Creative Nonfiction > Arizona, USA

Susan Lowell is the author of fifteen books for adults and children, including Ganado Red: A Novella and Stories, which won the Milkweed Editions National Fiction Award. Her short stories have appeared in the Southern Review, American Fiction, El Portal, Bosque and the Saturday Evening Post. A fourth-generation Arizonan born in Mexico, she divides her time between Tucson and a ranch on the Mexican border.

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Tara K. Shepersky > Creative Nonfiction > Oregon, USA

Tara K. Shepersky is an Oregon-based taxonomist, poet, essayist, and landscape enthusiast, with tangled roots in half a dozen soils of America's West. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Cascadia Rising Review, Empty Mirror, and The Pangolin Review, among others.

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Terry Dalrymple > Flash Fiction > Texas, USA

Terry Dalrymple was born in Michigan and lived there the first three years of his life. He grew up in the Texas hill country and later moved with his wife and first child to west central Texas, where he teaches literature and creative writing at Angelo State University. He is a member of the Texas Institute of Letters, and his publications include two books of short fiction, a co-authored book of short fiction, a novel for middle readers, and two books of fiction he edited or co-edited.

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Tina Barry > Poetry > New York, USA

Tina Barry is the author of Mall FlowerPoems and Short Fiction (Big Table Publishing, 2015). Her work has appeared in numerous literary magazines and anthologies including Drunken BoatThe Best Short Fiction 2016, and Nasty Women Poets: An Unapologetic Anthology of Subversive Verse. She is a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee and has several Best of the Net nods. Tina is at work on a manuscript about Marc Chagall, his lover Virginia Haggard, and her daughter Jean McNeil, written in the women’s voices. In October, Tina will curate a show of 14 women artists’ interpretations of the writing, to be held at the Wired Gallery, in High Falls, NY. The gallery is on the same country block where Chagall, Haggard, and McNeil once lived.