Monday, June 02, 2014

The Smoking Poet Summer 2014 Issue #26 with special announcement

"Guardian of Glenaraha" by Linda Rzoska, our feature artist

The last word …
It’s time. With this 26th issue of The Smoking Poet, founded in 2006, I am closing shop on this wonderful literary endeavor. Yes. It is time. And I don’t doubt that is at least in part why it has taken me so long to get this final issue ready for publication. The other part—that’s the main reason why the doors are closing.
About two and a half years ago, I left “corporate America,” that world of long commutes, endless meetings and office politics to open my own business, Z Word, LLC, as a full-time writer and editor. I worked for some great institutions, true, but I longed to be on my own. At the same time, I made the move to my dream home: a 10-acre farm in southwest Michigan. It’s a life I’d been longing for since I was a girl, and at last, it’s mine.
What I quickly learned (unsurprised) about this new life is that the work never stops. Thankfully, I don’t want it to. The farm requires attention on a daily basis, including the flock of chickens I raise that keeps expanding. The writing and editing work occupies the full week, with the rare day off, but since it’s work I adore, and never two days the same, I’m happy to say that Friday brings no special bliss, while Monday morning is not without it.
The Smoking Poet was one part of this life that has become increasingly difficult to keep up. Through some interactions with writers and readers, I was surprised to learn that some out there think there’s a board of people running this magazine, at very least a panel of editors. There seemed to also be a perception that the magazine is funded by some, I don’t know, magical funding, the backing of a university or other large institution. In truth, it is funded by my own wallet. It always has been. And it’s not cheap.
TSP is just Joannie Stangeland, my poetry editor, bless her poetic heart, and me. Occasionally, I had college interns helping in the process, some truly wonderful young people with great ideas and work ethic. Tim Bazzett came on recently with his colorful book reviews. All did the work on a voluntary basis.
After struggling to find the time and allocate the funds when paychecks were no longer predictable, I finally realized I could do this no more. And there’s a third reason: after years of making time and financial sacrifices to showcase other writers and artists, I want to take the time to focus on my own writing and art. That, and this glorious farm.
And so, it’s time. Not an easy statement to make. I have been dawdling and dragging my heels and rethinking and debating. Finally, I ran out of arguments. Perhaps it’s someone else’s turn to take up the spotlight and shine it on the worthy work of others.
Thank you, ever so much, to Joannie for your years of hard and elegant work. Thank you, Tim. Thank you to all the many, many, many writers and artists who have graced these pages through 26 issues.
Thank you to those of you who have made this final issue so beautiful: feature artist Linda Lee Rzoska, authors Bruce Mills and Kristi Petersen Schoonover, and a line-up of spectacular writers and poets. Book reviews will be posted throughout the coming weeks, so do keep visiting our last issue for news … while it remains online.
Thank you to all you who read these good works. I will miss you.

With a good last word,
Zinta Aistars

Founder and editor-on-chief


  1. Paldies, thank you Zinta for your work, dedication and love of words. Thank you for believing in my own work and allowing it to grace The Smoking Poet. Much love. Maryte

    1. Paldies, Maryte. I'm so glad we were able to include your work, more than once, in our past issues. Thank you for making it such a great run.

  2. Zinta—

    Thank you: for the years, the late nights, early mornings, blurry-eyed concentration, selfless devotion, commitment to creative vision, and love for your fellow authors and poets, all of which went into making THE SMOKING POET one of the greater adventures in contemporary literary culture. What you accomplished online matched anything anyone was doing offline.

    Many of us derive great pleasure from reading the works of writers made famous by inspiring literary movements like the Lost Generation, the Harlem Renaissance, the Beats, and others. What we too often overlook is that what we know about those movements and the reason we have the gifts of the writers empowered by them is because of individuals very much like you. They were the ones who set aside personal ambition long enough to help paint a larger picture of their respective eras and by doing so helped produced masterworks that transcended those specific moments in time. They allowed the volume of their own voices to remain, to one degree or another, muted, even while constantly magnifying that of so many others.

    You have always been an exceptionally gifted author-poet in your own right and I look forward to reading future works as they pour from the dazzling pen and ink of your brilliant heart and soul.

    With Love and Gratitude,


    1. Ah, Aberjhani, one of my favorite artists and writers whom we've featured in past issues of TSP! Thank you so much for your kind and understanding words.