THE SMOKING POET Spring 2010
“A fine cigar and good literature―two of life’s most enduring pleasures.”
Never a dull moment. Certainly not here. As the smoke lifts to reveal yet another issue, we celebrate the beginning of our fifth year of publication. And just when I think this is our best issue yet, one we will be hard put to top—we top it. No, you do. The writers that send work to us are continually surprising and astounding and thrilling us with your literary prowess. And, your fascinating life stories.
Joannie Kervran Stangeland has been our guest poetry editor for the spring issue. What you see in our three pages of poetry have Joannie’s seal of approval. I purposefully did not read any poetry submissions until it was time to post the spring issue online. Oh, glory, but there’s some spice and vim and soul-shimmering verse here! And the best news of all? Joannie so enjoyed her poetic journey here that she has decided to join us permanently! Welcome, Joannie!
A Good Cause revisits the renewed call for women and feminists of either gender to consider what Ariel Levy calls "the culture of raunch." Is it really empowering women? Or is it a step backwards to objectification? The first time I published this essay, it brought so many comments, I thought it worth a double take. After all, the "culture of raunch" seems only to be expanding.
Fiction takes us to the dark corners of poverty and domestic violence, the love between a marine father and daughter, love that crosses lines into betrayal and turns bloody, tells a ghost story on rails, teaches a village in India about literacy and indecipherable hearts, turns into stalking, clears the fog, and serves up pancakes and cocktails and mussel stew.
Nonfiction travels to Riga, Latvia, where my own ethnic roots grow deep into Baltic rock and earth, for a traveler’s perspective on a country in transition—there are Russian spies, “hotbods” and burger buffets to entice you to dig up that passport. Another journey takes us to Canadian shores, another to observe what observes us. Yet another journey makes us sit and spit.
Three fascinating people talk to us and to you: Marge Piercy, one of the strongest and most dynamic feminist voices in contemporary literature, answers the hungry questions of the Book Mavens (and don’t miss the page devoted to Piercy’s poetry); Michael Dunn, a Michigan artist who designs buildings, books, and visions in color—his artwork graces the pages of this issue; and Jothy Rosenberg, two-time cancer survivor, missing one leg and part of one lung but not missing out on anything life has to offer—Jothy talks about his life, his survival instincts, and his memoir, Who Says I Can’t. We certainly don't.
Now, light up that Drew Estate Acid Toast, and enter the Cigar Lounge: meet David Blaine, our dirty smoker cigar editor, and read about cigar smugglers and a mama who chews hard on her stogie.
Done reading? Get to writing! Our Third Annual Short Story Contest is in full swing! Cash prizes, publication, and a reading by our honorary judge, owner and publisher at Press 53, Kevin Morgan Watson. Send us your very best work—you could be our next winner.
Finally, a very warm welcome to Jeanette Lee. Jeanette is our new co-editor for the summer issue. The summer issue will have Jeanette's close oversight and design.
With a good word,
The Smoking Poet
3rd Annual Short Story Contest
Deadline: May 31, 2010
The Smoking Poet
Gary D Aker
Jewel Beth Davis
John M. Edwards
Terri Kirby Erickson
Micah Dean Hicks
Lori A. May
Birute Putrius Serota
Robert W. Walker
Caleb J. Ross
(Cover Image by Michael Dunn)