Contributor Spotlight: Ryler Dustin

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Truth is a relationship, not a static group of fixed points. But so often poetry has been described as a beautiful illusion, a construction, and it helps me, as a writer, to think about honesty and accuracy much more than to think about making something beautiful. That also strikes me, right now, as radical—to find beauty in the attempt toward truth, not just in the attempt toward beauty. Continue Reading

Contributor Spotlight: Sarah Vallance

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I once heard Michael Cunningham say that fear is the biggest hindrance to writing well. He said that the best writers are those who aren’t afraid to write poorly. They do not worry about how their work will be received or whether and where they will publish it. They write because the act of writing is fun. This is a great reminder when motivation starts to wane. Sure, writing is hard work but it’s also about invention and play. The very act is its own reward. Continue Reading

Contributor Spotlight: Kate Crosby

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I once heard Michael Cunningham say that fear is the biggest hindrance to writing well. He said that the best writers are those who aren’t afraid to write poorly. They do not worry about how their work will be received or whether and where they will publish it. They write because the act of writing is fun. This is a great reminder when motivation starts to wane. Sure, writing is hard work but it’s also about invention and play. The very act is its own reward. Continue Reading

Contributor Spotlight: Kathryn Smith

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One thing that keeps me writing is having a network of poets to share work and ideas with. “Self-Portrait” came about from reading Maya’s work and responding to some of her images and ideas through my own lens. Her poetry is, generally speaking, more personal than mine, and I admire it for that, and with this poem I let her striking honesty guide me into a more personal territory of my own. Continue Reading

Contributor Spotlight: Frances Backhouse

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I think Canada is too big and too geographically diverse to contain a single aesthetic to writing about place and space—and for that, I’m grateful. Across our sea-to-sea-to-sea country, there’s room for a multiplicity of approaches to writing ourselves into and out from our landscapes. However, that doesn’t mean the full range of voices is making it into print. The more we hear from marginalized writers of all kinds—but especially Indigenous writers, whose roots go deepest—the more nuanced our understanding of place and space will become. Continue Reading

Contributor Spotlight: Nancy Gomez

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I was teaching a poetry workshop at Salinas Valley State Prison. There’s so much sensory deprivation there—everything drab and colorless, but the men in the class are hungry for scholarly conversations. I shared an article on how language shapes our perceptions. In one study, children from a tribe whose lexicon didn’t include a word for blue were less able to “see” blue. This led to a discussion about how poets try to describe things for which words don’t already exist. Then someone asked, “Do they ever discover new colors?” Continue Reading

Contributor Spotlight: Leah Claire Kaminski

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These pieces were both written while sitting on a patio in Irvine, CA, the ur-suburb where I’ve lived since grad school. Irvine is a strange place, and not one I love unreservedly, but where I am, the area around the university, there’s some untouched riparian wilderness left (as well as a golf course and some sculpted parks where nature makes do) so outside the patio in my apartment complex was this fake pond and there would often be a Great Blue Heron pacing there and picking up sticks for its nest, or Cooper’s Hawks circling. When I wrote each of these two poems, I was sitting on that patio, watching that pond for signs of the next poem. Continue Reading