Contents 9.1





Elemental Fluencies, Meanderings & Speaking Truth: An Interview with Rita Wong

Conducted by Linda Russo

I met Rita Wong because I wanted to buy her book. She had just read from undercurrent (Nightwood Editions, 2015) as a keynote speaker at the 2015 Association for the Study of Literature and Environment conference in Moscow, Idaho. The poems in undercurrent convey a strong bioregional sensibility with their emphasis on Indigenous and place-based knowledges. As she read, it was as if she was speaking a language that I both understood and longed to understand, as though perhaps these two languages were entwined. I needed that book. I waited patiently at the back of the small throng gathered after the event. I don’t remember what I said when my turn came up; I remember that Rita was entirely approachable and somewhat transcendent (buoyant?) at the same time. We greeted, I gushed, and, though she had only the copy she’d read from, she let me buy it, sticky-noted and all. In truth I began planning this interview soon after that day.(More …)


by Chelsea Catherine

My father has been going on about the mystery bottle of wine on the kitchen counter for five minutes now. He stands cooking, surrounded by the aqua colored walls of the house I grew up in. Traveler’s Palm fronds brush the windows outside. It’s windy and cold for Thanksgiving in the Florida Keys.

“Who brought it?” Dad yells. His voice is slightly rounded, like he’s having an allergic reaction. He’s been deaf since childhood and even though he sometimes wears hearing aids to help him, usually he chooses not to.(More …)

Rules of Engagement

by Jon Chopan

I was pulling guard duty with a guy named Styza who claimed to be a badass Marine—a real haji killer. As far as I could tell he’d never killed anything, was just some Long Island punk who didn’t want to be a yuppie like his parents. I hated the guy. But I’d been paired with him for everything to this point and was trying my best to get along with him, or at least tolerate him.

“This war is boring,” he said.

“Boring is good,” I said.

I believed that, because what sane person wanted that kind of excitement? I’d only joined the Marines because of my father, who himself had been killed during the invasion of Iraq. Now, five years later, I was sitting in the desert thinking about how stupid that was, my following him, like a dog following its master over a cliff.(More …)


by Lois Ruskai Melina

To find a star garnet:

First, drive to the Idaho Panhandle National Forests. Alternatively, go to India.

You will need to bring a shovel, a bucket, heavy plastic bags, and an eighteen-inch square made of two-by-fours with a quarter-inch screen stretched over one open side.

Take a child, too. A ten-year-old is best. A seven-year-old may get bored and start throwing rocks. (More …)

The Road to Nowhere

by W. Scott Olsen


Today, I am not in a hurry.

There is no race.  No deadline.  No urgent press that compels me forward.  No one is waiting.  No one depends upon news I might bring.

There is just this road in front of me.  Two lanes, one leading north and one leading south.  They head down a prairie hill and then over a rise.  Fields on both sides.  There are clouds on the horizon, but here, at the intersection of I-94 and US Highway 83 in eastern North Dakota, at the Cenex gas station where I’ve stopped to buy gas and coffee, the morning is bright and warm. (More …)


by Mary Quade

Loja, Ecuador

The chickens hang in a row, a hook through each left leg, some legs with scaly yellow feet still attached, some ending at the drumstick. Some of the attached feet are only semi-attached, cut through the joint so that they dangle, fatty soles waving. Some chickens, split open along the belly, expose the ovaries’ bright sacs of yolks, the nascent eggs inside the birds waiting for whites and shells. Others remain mostly whole, bumpy skin buttery; fatty tails over cave-like holes leading to hollow bellies. Beneath these curtains of chickens, white tile counters covered in steel trays with more chickens and parts of chickens. Behind the chickens, women in aprons, selling chickens, their booths festooned with fuzzy green garland lingering from Christmas. One woman points to the orange cluster of yolks, tells me, “Pollo bonito. Con huevos.” I understand this. I can say “pollo.” But I can’t say much else. The words, las palabras, nestled and slippery in my brain.(More …)

Pull and Drag

by Artress Bethany White

 “I have to confess that my own aquatic skills came about through a mix of parental responsibility and federal desegregation.”

I rarely see any African Americans swimming in my gym pool in Knoxville, Tennessee. I always imagine that other members of the gym are amazed to see me doing laps. Most of them probably believe that black people can’t swim and I’m just a cultural anomaly. I say this because just recently I caught another article in the news about the high number of African Americans who acknowledge not being able to swim—a number much higher than other racial groups on national average. My gut twisted when I read it in that way that most people experience when they realize they have risen above a statistic but know that this does not make the statistic incorrect. I have to confess that my own aquatic skills came about through a mix of parental responsibility and federal desegregation.(More …)

Latham St., San Rafael, 1993

by Emily Alexander

Along the back side of a house
in California, the yard is green and wild
with weeds and my parents are young
enough to fool themselves into love or something

it might stem from. They call to each other
from different rooms, their names like held
things, despite the shifting warmth of June,
the breeze sifting through screened windows—(More …)

venice poem

by Emily Alexander

i am sweating, & have been since
                                                             france. the fabric pressed
against my lower back is damp, but unnoticed
                                                                                    among the small unnoticings
of strangers photographing the light of venice as it slips
                                                                                                     into the river. i feel up
walls just to touch
                                   some kind of skin, & i’m lost again, leaking
around corners & trying not to ache
                                                                for my own home’s small evening
glow. i suppose this
                                    is what people write postcards about, wish you
were here,
& here i am, pushing(More …)


by Kwame Dawes

Math messes things up; this is
a problem of fate—the enemy
of the random, the egalitarian
paradise of home truths and
proverbs—math wrecks it
all. Rain, God says, falls
on the just and the unjust
alike, but the unjust usually
have umbrellas and math
pays attention to that stuff,
to the facts of it, like when
I say, “We are all having it
hard,” to ease my guilt; most
of that is a lie and it’s true,
the thing I am not saying
is that hard time is a language,(More …)

Down in the Valley

by Kwame Dawes

On the morning after the news,
                                like a nightmare,
                a litany of tragedies, we will
call this the decade of grand
                and we will know who we are
by the accumulation of our silent
                                                mourning, no one will
                                understand why we all wear
                black, our women in black underthings,
their eyes shadowed with
                                regret, their bodies impatient,
                their tongues sharper with resignation.
Only we will know how.(More …)


by Elizabeth Forsythe


John tells me geosmin rise after rain

i’m sketching charcoal into tetrahedrons& ask why

one type of surgical stitch is called a mattress stitch         this type is

incredibly secure &

good for fragile skin or larger lacerations

[6C10H15O7 + heat]

he says plutonium is not the most unstable element(More …)


by Vincent Hao

I laud my feet against
the summer grass, & around me

crickets are juiced by the leg,
pushing the world to a spring. it is quiet along
the river. near me, a boy sets(More …)

The Stem, Cut into Fourths

by Vincent Hao

i move in with my father. this is the day i am born. there is an ulcer against

my thigh. he pretends to be a doctor. there is a scar on his side.

all the same, he says. they cut it off of me. we visit his hometown.

i ask him why all the flowers are made of little hands.

the ground forgot itself, he says. that is the last time we speak.

he leaves on a business trip, dressed in a black suit and slacks.

at home i sleep on a burning bed. i dream of a red train, filled

with words. they overflow off the engine. they fall into my lap.

i wonder what it means when i catch crucifix and tongue.

you are too much, i say. no one in particular listens. i find myself(More …)

Everything, Again

by Vincent Hao

this is beautiful: the sky, waking in triples. my father,
over breakfast talking about the computer his team

will build. he talks with the corners of his jaw taking
life of their own, creasing & wiping off chardonnay

lips in unison. on the tv a man with a baseball bat
beats another to a scar. behind him the sky(More …)

A Prayer to Cathy McMorris Rodgers for More Cake

by Kate Lebo

I admit I am not loyal.
That my womb moves and votes for the other guy.

That is my right, and my womb’s right, as I know
you’ll understand, personal responsibility

being so eminent among your concerns,
so important to us all, how we take care of ourselves

and then others, the burlap of our community
woven of such acts of self-preservation

before generosity. Cathy,(More …)

Contributors 9.1

Emily Alexander

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Emily Alexander is a writer, a clumsy waitress, and an older sister. Her work has been featured in Vending Machine Press, NAILED Magazine, and Radar Poetry, and she was recently awarded the Academy of American Poets Prize at the University of Idaho.

Chelsea Catherine

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Chelsea Catherine has an MFA in creative writing from the University of Tampa. She is a Sterling Watson fellow, a PEN Short Story Prize nominee, and winner of the 2016 Raymond Carver Short Story award. She has been writing since she was eight years old.

Laura Cesarco Eglin

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Laura Cesarco Eglin is the author of three collections of poetry, Los brazos del saguaro (Yaugurú, 2015), Sastrería (Yaugurú, 2011), and Llamar al agua por su nombre (Mouthfeel Press, 2010). A bilingual edition of her first book translated by Scott Spanbauer was published as Calling Water by Its Name (Mouthfeel Press, 2016). A selection of poems from Sastrería was translated collaboratively into English with Teresa Williams, and subsequently published as the chapbook Tailor Shop: Threads (Finishing Line Press, 2013). Cesarco Eglin also published the chapbook Occasions to Call Miracles Appropriate (Lunamopolis, The Lune series, 2015). Her poems and translations have appeared or are forthcoming in a variety of journals, including Modern Poetry in Translation, MiPOesias, Eleven Eleven, Puerto del Sol, Copper Nickel, Tupelo Quarterly, Columbia Poetry Review, Timber, Pretty Owl Poetry, Drunken Boat, Pilgrimage, Arsenic LobsterPeriódico de Poesía, Metrópolis, and more. Her poems are also featured in the Uruguayan women’s section of Palabras Errantes, Plusamérica: Latin American Literature in Translation. Cesarco Eglin’s poetry appears in América invertida: An Anthology of Emerging Uruguayan Poets (University of New Mexico Press, 2016). Cesarco Eglin’s work has been twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She is the co-founder and publisher of Veliz Books.

Jon Chopan

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Jon Chopan teaches creative writing at Eckerd College. He received his MFA from The Ohio State University. His first book, Pulled from the River, was published by Black Lawrence Press (2012). His work has been published or is forthcoming in Glimmer Train, The Southampton Review, Epiphany, Hotel Amerika, Hobart, and elsewhere.

Kwame Dawes

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Kwame Dawes is the author of twenty books of poetry and numerous other books of fiction, criticism, and essays.  He has edited over a dozen anthologies.  His most recent collection, City of Bones: A Testament (Northwestern University Press, 2017) appears along with Speak from Here to There (Peepal Tree Press, 2016), a co-written collection of verse with Australian poet John Kinsella, and A Bloom of Stones (Peepal Tree Press, 2016), a tri-lingual anthology of Haitian Poetry written after the earthquake, which he edited. A Spanish-language collection of his poems, titled Vuelo (Valaparaiso Ediciones), appeared in Mexico in 2016.  He is Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner and teaches at the University of Nebraska and the Pacific MFA Program. He is Director of the African Poetry Book Fund and Artistic Director of the Calabash International Literary Festival.

Elizabeth Forsythe

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Elizabeth Forsythe is a poet living and writing in Chicago, where she recently earned her MFA in poetry from Columbia College. While at Columbia, she served as an editor for Columbia Poetry Review. At twenty-six years old, she is in the middle of a quarter-life crisis, which she combats by traveling frequently, using money she doesn’t have. The recipient of the 2016 Jane Lumley Prize, her work can be found at After the Pause, Arsenic Lobster, By&By Poetry, Hermeneutic Chaos, Tinderbox Poetry, Tupelo Quarterly, and elsewhere.

Vincent Hao

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Vincent Hao is an aspiring writer who attends the Liberal Arts and Science Academy in Austin, Texas. He enjoys reading poetry and writes in a variety of different styles in his spare time. His work is forthcoming in The Adroit Journal and ANOMALY Magazine . His favorite writers are Thomas Pynchon, Ocean Vuong, and Carolyn Forché, and his favorite movie is Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, due to its beauty and complexity. The most amazing image he as seen is the vantage down his sidewalk at night, when the sky is dark and bathed in insect songs, and the street lamps carry small patches of the world beneath their ambient frames.

Kate Lebo

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Kate Lebo is the author of Pie School (Sasquatch Books) and A Commonplace Book of Pie (Chin Music Press). Her essays and poems have appeared in Best American Essays, Best New Poets, New England Review, Willow Springs, and Gastronomica, among other places. In 2017, Sasquatch Books will release Pie & Whiskey, an anthology co-edited with Sam Ligon and based on their popular Pie & Whiskey reading series. She lives in Spokane, Washington, which means she’s currently represented in the House by Cathy McMorris Rodgers, often described as the most powerful Republican woman in Congress.

Lois Melina

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Lois Ruskai Melina’s work has been published in two anthologies of Idaho writers: Borne on Air (Eastern Washington Press) and Forged in Fire (University of Oklahoma Press), and has appeared or is forthcoming in Colorado Review, Carolina Quarterly, 2016 Best of the Net Anthology, Crack the Spine, and Lunch Ticket, among others. Her essays have been long-listed or finalists for the New Letters Prize for Nonfiction, the Torch Prize for Creative Nonfiction, and the Dead Bison Editors’ Prize in Nonfiction. She is the author of three books on adoption, including Raising Adopted Children (HarperCollins). She lived in Moscow, Idaho for almost 30 years before moving to her current home in Portland, Oregon.

W. Scott Olsen

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W. Scott Olsen lives in Moorhead, Minnesota, where he teaches writing at Concordia College and edits the literary magazine Ascent. The author of eleven nonfiction travel/adventure books and co-editor of three anthologies, his most recent book is A Moment with Strangers: Photographs and Essays at Home and Abroad (North Dakota State University Press, 2016). His work appears widely in literary magazines as well as commercial magazines focused on either flying or photography.

Mary Quade

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Mary Quade is the author of the poetry collections Guide to Native Beasts (Cleveland State University Poetry Center) and Local Extinctions (Gold Wake Press). Her essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Broad Street, Creative Nonfiction, Fourth Genre, The Florida Review, Fifth Wednesday Journal, West Branch, Confrontation, Grist, and Flyway: Journal of Writing and Environment and are included in two anthologies released in 2016: From Curlers to Chainsaws: Women and Their Machines (Michigan State University Press) and Writing Essays: Twenty Essays and Interviews with Authors (SUNY). Her essay “Hatch” was listed as a Notable Essay in Best American Essays 2013.

Artress Bethany White

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Artress Bethany White is the author of the collection of poems Fast Fat Girls in Pink Hot Pants (2012). She has received the Mary Hambidge Distinguished Fellowship from the Hambidge Center for Creative Arts for her nonfiction and The Mona Van Duyn Scholarship in poetry from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference.  New nonfiction is forthcoming in The Hopkins Review and the anthology Seeking Home: Marginalization and Representation in Appalachian Letters and Song (University of Tennessee Press, 2017). Recent poetry has appeared in Poet Lore, The New Guard, Harvard Review, and Ecotone. She is associate professor of English at Carson-Newman University and resides in Knoxville, TN.

Rita Wong

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Rita Wong currently lives on unceded Coast Salish territory also known as Vancouver, British Columbia, and teaches at the Emily Carr University of Art and Design; she grew up on Treaty 7 territory in Calgary, Alberta. She is the author of three books of poetry, monkeypuzzle (Press Gang, 1998), forage (Nightwood Editions, 2007) and most recently, undercurrent; co-author of two books, perpetual (with Cindy Mochizuki, Nightwood Editions, 2015) and sybil unrest (with Larissa Lai, Linebooks, 2008); and editor, with Dorothy Christian, of Downstream: Reimagining Water (Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2016). She’s won several awards, including the Dorothy Livesay Prize for forage.