Tyler Brewington is an MFA candidate in poetry at Vermont College of Fine Arts. His chapbook Dear Stray Volcano was published by Alice Blue in fall 2013. He is from Boise, Idaho.
Kelly Schirmann is the author of Activity Book (NAP, 2014) & the co-author of Nature Machine (Poor Claudia, 2013). She sings in the band Young Family & runs BLACK CAKE, a web-based audio-chapbook label for contemporary poetry recordings. She lives in Portland, Oregon, & also at kellyschirmann.com.
Sarah Galvin is the author of The Stranger’s “Midnight Haiku” series, which are neither haiku nor at midnight. She has a blog called The Pedestretarian, where she reviews food found on the street. The thing she loves most about reviewing discarded food is receiving text messages that say things like “I hear the bus stop on 3rd and Union is covered with ham.” Sarah is poetry MFA student at University of Washington, and her poems can be found in io, New Ohio Review, The Far Field, Pageboy, Dark Sky, and Ooligan press’s Alive at the Center anthology.
Rich Smith is the author of the chapbook Great Poem of Desire and Other Poems (Poor Claudia 2013). His poems have appeared in Tin House, Guernica, Barrow Street, Pinwheel, and a number of other places. He grew up in Belton, MO and now lives and works in Seattle, WA.
Ashley Toliver was born and raised in California. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Quarterly West, Octopus, Caketrain and Third Coast. She earned her MFA from Brown University, and has received fellowships from the Cave Canem Foundation and the Djerassi Resident Artists Program. She currently lives in Portland, OR.
Emily Skillings is a dancer and poet. Her chapbook, Linnaeus: The 26 Sexual Practices of Plants is forthcoming from No, Dear/ Small Anchor Press. Skillings dances for the A.O. Movement Collective and The Commons Choir (Daria Faïn and Robert Kocik) and presents her own choreography in New York. She lives in Brooklyn, where she is a member of the Belladonna* Collaborative, a feminist poetry collective and event series. She recently co-curated the exhibit “John Ashbery Collects: Poet Among Things” with Adam Fitzgerald at Loretta Howard Gallery. This fall she will begin her graduate studies at Columbia University.
Tyler Cain Lacy lives in Chicago, where he got an MFA at Columbia College. He is the author of REUS (Press Board Press, 2014), and is a 2014 Luminarts Creative Writing Fellow. Recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in Salt Hill, Bombay Gin, Powder Keg, Word for/ Word, and Stolen Island, among others. Pieces from this project have appeared in elimae, Banango Street, Otoliths, Caffeine Dirge, and Sprung Formal. Find more here: tclacy.tumblr.com.
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A note from the author:
In the introduction to Clark Coolidge’s work in the anthology Postmodern American Poetry, editor Paul Hoover credits Coolidge with this breath of fresh air, which I’ve always held close: [write] from what you don’t know toward whatever [can] be picked up in the act.
When I began writing poems around six years ago, my first ambition was to write about my hometown, Carlsbad—a slightly off-kilter, even eerie name, especially given the stuff I’ve talked about here.
At the same time, I was also encountering modernism and postmodernism for the first time, which really threw (and kept throwing, and still throw) wrenches in how to write about my town, my place. Imagine: a 20 year-old kid new to poetry just wants to overreach and attempt to write his (and his town’s) place into history, and reveal southeastern New Mexico to a greater audience, a place he feels proud to call home—yet is simultaneously called out by writers challenging the notions of authorship and self-expression. (See: Kenneth Goldsmith’s film “Sucking on Words” for statements like, “We don’t need the new sentence, the old sentence re-framed is good enough”; or “the Objectivists” Zukofsky, Oppen, and Niedecker, et al, who insist on the poem being a constructed object all on its own, apart from its author, and thus freed from the author’s overflowing feelings and self-expression; etc. etc.) So, following the lineage, I continued thinking about these ideas, and also began working with collage and “found” texts to work out a way to reconcile these scattershot ideals and intentions.
For a long time, I’ve been fascinated with this unsolved murder case in my town from 1961. Two girls, Patty Sue Pritz and Mattie Catherine Restine, were found dead and, according to my Mammaw, who was friends with Patty Sue and witnessed the whole ordeal unfold as a young teenager, Carlsbad changed overnight. It was no longer the tranquil, quiet, innocent 1960s town I imagine as Pleasantville, but fraught and full of fear. So, that has stayed with me. And with the direct connection of my Mammaw linking me to the murdered girls, thus connecting the past Carlsbad with the present Carlsbad, I began using the case of Pattie Sue and Mattie to “write” “about” my town, and explore how much of what we are, as people bound to a particular place, can be found in the language of that place, even when it’s not one’s own words.
To put the practice another way, and as to better think about these “sources,” perhaps it’s best to return to Coolidge, who says it this way in his poem, “Only Possibilities” (Far Out West): “remove words until you stroke bare walls.”
Jon Leon is an American poet and cultural critic. He is the author of The Malady of the Century (2012) and a number of privately issued titles and special editions.
Sophia Dahlin is a poet leaving Iowa City. Her work can be found at BOMB, The Awl, and The Volta. She runs the Human Body Series with Davy Knittle.