Thursday, June 10, 2010


“A fine cigar and good literature―two of life’s most enduring pleasures.”

So much cause for celebration! The Summer 2010 issue of The Smoking Poet, marking the beginning of our fifth year of publication, is brimming with newness. Brimming with creativity. Brimming with talent, passion for new ideas, and encouragement for forward movement. Wherever you dip in first, you will find something you’ve never found in TSP before—and we are pretty sure you will be as moved, as surprised, as impressed, as inspired as we have been.

Winner’s Circle: our third annual short story contest has concluded, and our winners are First Prize to Christopher Allen with “Red Toy Soldier,” Second Prize to Lydia Suarez with “Blue Book Revisions” and Third Prize to Dave Donelson with “Blind Curve.” We had more entries than ever before, from all points of the globe, and our thanks to Kevin Morgan Watson of Press 53, who did the final judging of our top ten. Some of those top ten will yet be appearing in future issues of TSP.

In A Good Cause, Amy Totsch reminds us of the good in our youth. When taking up a cause in Chicago, they form a Pact and make great things happen.

Our feature author, in another meeting with the Book Mavens, is David Small. David talks to us about Stitches, his groundbreaking graphic memoir in which the super hero is not a caped wonder, but the wonder of a boy with the endurance and creativity to survive a nightmarish childhood.

Another boy wonder is Kip Kreiling, who spent most of his childhood in foster homes, juvenile homes and eventually behind bars. Today, he is a successful businessman and devoted husband and father, working to give inmates and kids gone wrong a new hope for change. His book is The Imposter? How a Juvenile Criminal Succeeded in Business and in Life.

And then there is the voice of Derick Burleson, from the far north of Alaska, with poetry that will melt the ice in any heart. Read our interview with Derick and then move to a page of his poetry. His words bring heat.

Our feature artist is Sniedze Rungis, who talks to coeditor Jeanette Lee about her powerful images of a woman in torment, and about women objectified and dehumanized in contemporary society, drawing parallels with the dehumanization of Nazi Germany.

Don’t miss our new page, Kalamazoo and Beyond. While past issues have often showcased art that is international, with writers and artists from across the world, this is a page devoted to local artists and those who support our community of arts in southwest Michigan. Watch for it as a regular feature. Sometimes the best place you can go—is home.

Yet I have always had more than one home. My heritage is rooted in Latvia, a country on the Baltic Sea. I have traveled to and from Latvia since I was 15 years old, and I will be traveling there again very soon. On that first visit a long time ago, I met another 15-year-old, Andris Silis, and we have been lifelong friends ever since. It is my special pleasure to introduce Andris as our new music editor. Andris’ Blue Note will appear in two languages: Andris’ essay and music reviews in Latvian at top, and my translations into English at bottom.

Not done yet! Two more bright, new faces among our editors! Mick Parsons, or Papa Mick, has lit up a stogie and has now entered the Cigar Lounge. He is making it his own and invites you to come by and relax there with him—you don’t even have to inhale. And, Paula Lemar is our new nonfiction editor, inviting you to keep her busy with your creative essays and memoirs.

Joannie Kervran Stangeland is our poetry editor, her fine choices appearing in our poetry pages. Jeanette Lee, our intern from Kalamazoo College, and coeditor for the summer, well, she has made my life at TSP great fun—sharing the literary load/lode. Thank you to both of you.

As always, we offer you fiction, nonfiction, poetry, links and resources that are ever expanding. Book and music reviews will be added throughout the summer—so put on your straw hat, sit in the cool shade of a favorite tree, and read. And keep coming back to read more. There are few such pleasures.

With a good word,

Zinta Aistars

The Smoking Poet
Summer 2010
Issue #15


Zinta Aistars

Ali Abdolrezaei

Christopher Allen

Carol Berg

Olga Bonfiglio

Derick Burleson

Mary Christine Delea

R J Dent

Dave Donelson

Roger Real Drouin

Deborah Henry

Jennifer Howard

Elizabeth Kerlikowske

Marian Kilcoyne

Kip Kreiling

Greg Kosmicki

David W. Landrum

Jeanette Lee

Susan Milchman

Sergio Ortiz

Mick Parsons

Lynn Pattison

M.P. Powers

JP Reese

Ron Reikki

Selva Rolin

Sniedze Rungis

Rebecca Schumejda

Elaine M. Seaman

Andris Silis

David Small

Lydia Suarez

Amy Totsch

James Valvis

Cigar Lounge

Mick Parsons

Cynthia Wilson

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