Sunspot Literary Journal September 2019

Featured Artist

  Claire Lawrence

Featured Author

Lory Saiz

Featured Poet

Pamela Sumners

Featured Author

 Roeethyl Lunn

Featured Interview

Opwonya Innocent

Claire Lawrence

Featured Artist Volume 1 Issue 3

Claire Lawrence is a writer and visual artist living in British Columbia, Canada. Her writing has been published in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and India in numerous publications including Geist, Litro, Ravensperch, Brilliant Flash Fiction, Curating Alexandria, and Bangalore Review; her work has also been on BBC radio. Her art has appeared in Black Lion Journal, Esthetic Apostle, and Fractured Nuance. She was nominated for the 2016 Pushcart Prize. Her goal is to publish in all genres.

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Lory Saiz

Featured Author Volume 1 Issue 3

 In the Dark

(a Micro Essay on Black Sails’ James Flint and the Gay Villain Trope)


We’re kids who grew with only villains to turn to for a hint of queerness, and then grew older to find ourselves between knowing better, knowing the dark heritage it rests on, and knowing we can’t carry the shame of those who have done this to us in their place, knowing that our hearts are still in it and have the right to be. If so, then James Flint is catharsis, he’s the gay-coded villain who is actually gay and not actually a villain, just as enraged as us at that unjust distortion, living in the process of undoing it.


  

Lory Saiz is an Italian artist, a writer, and a sword-owner particularly interested in LGBT+ media, transformative works, and their intersection with politics and tech.

Pamela Sumners

Featured Poet Volume 1 Issue 3

Love Poem


Darling, while I was gone for the summer

you heated gas on the stove and burned 

down the house, and darling, while I was

gone, you invited a snake pit into the kudzu

and they strangled every last flower we had.

This is what I had heard but when I returned

the house stood true against the falling sky

but one dog was dead and another ripped

in his throat. I know my people always said

you were a little cold-natured for a Southern girl.

It must be those Yankee Calvinist parents you had.

  

  

Pamela Sumners is a constitutional and civil rights attorney from Alabama. Her work was published or recognized by thirty journals and publishing houses in 2018 and 2019. She was selected for inclusion in 2018’s 64 Best Poets and had been nominated for 2019’s 50 Best Poets. She was nominated for a Pushcart prize in 2018. She now lives in St. Louis with her wife, son, and three rescue dogs.

Roeethyl Lunn

Featured Author, Volume 1 Issue 3

Usetah’ Be People


We were familiar with the Chitlin Strut entertainers. They came to town and did their shows in tuxedos and evening gowns which mirrored the air of success. We saw the way they lived and were not envious of them—hobos living out of their own cars. We had Black preachers, teachers and successful farmers—the local Black aristocracy—who separated themselves from us and look down on us with disdain. But we never had access to Blacks at higher levels of success and accomplishment. We didn’t have those images to imitate.


We didn’t start seeing storied Black people in print until after desegregation happened. The now defunct Dixiecrats was the political party of choice in our state then, and it had instructed local officials to censor any material which promoted integration or otherwise posed a threat to the Southern way of life. So when I first started researching Black-owned publications such as Ebony, Hue, or Jet magazines and saw archived black-and-white, glossed-over images of Eartha Kitts and Josephine Baker being celebrated in France, and Martin Luther King and his wife dressed so elegantly and dancing at his Nobel Peace Prize gala in Sweden, I was astonished. I was surprised to see Black people back in those days living their lives like affluent people do today. I still cannot get myself to believe that even back then some Black people were well educated, lived in nice homes, own their own companies, and actually lived in foreign countries. I was astounded at the great chasm that existed between their lives and the way we had to live our lives in the South. Every time I saw these images, I always found myself thinking or saying out aloud in a dumbfounded stupor, “So this is what some Black people were doing while we were picking cotton.” How were those people notified? How were they and not us alerted to the fact that the opportunities which they involved themselves in were available to them? How did they know that they could involve themselves in these kinds of endeavors? What gave them privy to do this, and why wasn’t all of us, granted such an insight?

 

Living under the sponsorship of a segregated South and being regulated in every aspect by belittling Jim Crow laws was not only taxing, it was often perilous for a Black person during the early to mid-1900s and before. Members of my family considered ourselves blessed because we had a history of just being mistreated and dismissed, and not counted among the ones that were hanged or executed innocently.


For me personally, I knew that racially based atrocities were out there. I heard when they were publicly recognized or reported in newspapers, but as a child and then as a teenage girl growing up in the 1950s and ‘60s, the only harsh realities of Jim Crow in which I could be recognized were centered primarily around my family’s finances. We were sharecroppers, and my father was basically illiterate. He could write his name and spell out words to read them, but he couldn’t count very well. At the end of the year and time for accounts to be settled, he could only trust that the landowner was not taking advantage of him. When my mother suspected that the calculations were wrong, my father didn’t have the nerve to confront the landowner, or he didn’t trust himself enough to be able to get a job as a day laborer or as a janitor at one of the mills downtown.


I was ashamed and did not want my classmates or teachers in the modern and sanitary school that I attended to know how poorly my family lived. My parents could not afford the twenty cents a day it cost to have my school’s hot cafeteria lunch, so I spent the lunch hour in the library reading books and periodicals. Except for electric lights, an electric stove if you were lucky, and an old car or truck, most of the people in my area lived as if we were in the last part of the eighteen century instead of the mid-nineteen hundreds. We had no running water or bathroom in our house. We washed ourselves in tin tubs and used a smelly outhouse, hid ourselves in the woods, or sought out overgrown weeds in fields when we needed to relieve ourselves. There was no money to purchase toilet tissue, sanitary napkins, toothpaste, or hair rollers. We used leaves and corn cobs when we defecated, used tightly wrapped old rags to keep menstrual blood from seeping out of our confined area, rubbed Ivory soap or baking soda on the corner of a wet towel to clean our teeth, and used brown paper bags, torn apart and twisted into individual spiral strips, to roll our hair. 


We were grateful to God when desegregation came and lifted Jim Crow’s ties.

 

Factories began hiring Black men and women as full-scale employees, and with these new wages, families were now able to purchase fully constructed, three-bedroom brick homes or partially completed wooden shell ones. We were given a chance to live a better quality of life. We saw ourselves as different people, a people of hope and opportunity. It took decades before we began to see that desegregation, even with its influx of new advantages, was only a pyrrhic victory. For those of us who lived lives before it came, saw and suffered through the costs required to bring it into being, and are still living after it has happened in this “New Day,” reflection will help us confess that underneath are elements that should have been hurled away: poverty, ignorance, and social injustice. Thrown out also were elements of Black life that are now needed and much desired. Black people have forgotten how to love and care for each other’s wellbeing, have colorful personalities yet sturdy ways, and having the faith-girded, incomprehensibly resourceful, and rebounding character of Black folks that used to be.

 

Snoot 

Our favorite visitation from my mother’s people was not a brother of hers, in particular, but a first cousin of hers who everyone called Snoot. Snoot was a football player sized middle-age man. He was tall, dirty red in color, and wild, just like the rest of his family. Everyone loved him because he was quick-witted and knew how to stir up fun. He would always bring my mother some homemade wine when he came, and winked at her when he laughingly told her to “Keep dis to use when ya cook yo’ Christmas cakes…Here, let dem chillum taste some…ain’t gon hurt ‘em.” When he would open one of the jars, my parents would allow him to let us taste a little of it. Snoot loved drinking and rabblerousing at all the juke joints he could find, and in the wee hours of the morning when he apparently couldn’t find anyone else in Chesterfield, South Carolina to amuse him, he would “suddenly git a hankerin’” to come visit us. We could always hear him coming because every car he seemed to have found always had a loud and ticking sound. No matter what time of night, we would hear his old car, and someone would shout loudly, “Dat’s Snoot.” We would always wake up grinning. When he was ready to leave, and we were saying goodbye to him, he could make us fall out laughing when he would begin talking to his car. After he got it cranked, and got it running good, he’d ask it, “Where you goin’, car? Listen at it, ya’ll. That thing talk’n. Listen what it say’n.” 


Even though Snoot would mouth what the car was supposedly saying, we could hear it ourselves as the motor said, “Ches..ter..field, Ches..ter..field.” We never saw Snoot in the daytime. And the very first boyfriend I ever had looked and acted just like him.

 

Idel and Her Sisters

The women in my mother’s family believed strongly in being caretakers. In that way, they were similar, but in other ways, they were so diverse. 


My mother was tall and heavy, but to our puzzlement, my father always called her Slim. When one of her friends discovered she still had a picture of my mother when they were young and showed it to us, I could see that she was beautiful and had been very slim. By the time I came to know her, she was in her middle forties and had suffered through years of taking care of ten living children, burying the children that had aborted themselves before their time was due, performing labor-demanding farm chores, preparing thousands of meals, and having to take the authoritative position in every major decision our father ever made. She was still a handsome woman; but over the years, she had disregarded her physical beauty. The hair that hung to her mid-back on the picture had changed into a mixed gray and black curly fuzz, like Albert Einstein’s, and her long bout with asthma and type 2 diabetes left her eyes looking weak on some days.

 

On the other hand, Lela Mae kept herself up and was always a beautiful woman. She had delicate features, beautiful and well-fitting sundresses and coats, beautifully polished nails, and black silky hair—like a lighter complexion version of Lena Horn. She eventually moved to Maryland and married a man with a well-paying job. Lela Mae always considered my mother as her mother, and in gratitude for my mother’s earlier efforts, she alone or she and her husband Bubber were forever taking yearly trips down South to see us in the summer, driving long and spring-colored cars that had rear ends that look like small whales. Lela Mae and her husband never had children, so she scattered her motherly affections on her sisters’ children. She sent us clothes regularly and always sent my mother train tickets in late fall—after the summer crops were harvested—for her to come visit her and harvest more clothes or anything else in Lela Mae’s house she could bring back home in her large suitcases. 


Nellie, my mother’s other sister, had a wider face than my mother or Lela Mae. She and all her children look as if they had within their bloodline a Native American or an Asian. She married a widower who had children that was nearly as old as she, and my mother said Nelly addressed her husband, Brooks, as sir while they were dating. Nellie wore an apron over her dress every day, and even though she and her husband raised both his children and her and his children, she was a better housekeeper. Her house stayed cleaner and more organized than my mother’s. Nellie kept her house dark in summer with shades drawn and screen doors closed. We kept our house wide open in summer, so our house had flytraps and Nellie’s didn’t. Brooks sheltered her. He insisted on being the only authority figure in their house, and when he died, she had difficulty adjusting. After Brooks died, they had to leave the farm and move into a house near town. Even with the move, she still lived within the same seven-mile radius in the same small, Southern county all of her life. I cannot remember whether she ever even visited other states as my mother did. I know she never went to a doctor until the ambulance attendants took her to one shortly after she died. I know she was a great cook, and the preacher was always at their house for meals, especially in the summer on Sundays because she collected her menus from the fruit trees and the vegetable garden in which she took pride in. I know the children Nellie gave birth to always called her Miss all of their lives, as her stepchildren called her. They answered her when she summoned them by saying, “Miss, M’am?” as if they were questioning whether or not she’d even called them. I know Nellie’s children also had, back then (and still have now), a habit of holding their syllables longer than others. They always “sang,” as the locals call it, when they pronounced their words—which ended up sounding like they were saying, “Mis-ish, Mah-am.” Singing some words while speaking is a habit that I sometimes have, along with a lot of my mother’s people. 

 

Baltimore

One of the earliest and most confusing memories I can recall from that time period (and the way my people used to be) is getting off a train in Baltimore, and seeing rain mixed with cylinder-shaped pods of ice coming down from the sky. I must have been about five years old at that time. I believe this to be so because I am two years older than my youngest sister, Betty Jean. Betty Jean could not come with us on that trip because my mother had a habit of taking only two of her sturdier-walking younger children with her on her annual trip to visit with Lela Mae. 


As we were coming off the train’s steps in Baltimore with my mother, I remember her holding my hand tightly and then instructing my next-older sister Lela and me, sternly, not to move an inch. She had to release our hands for a moment to claim and struggle with our large suitcases and then show our tickets to the white man with a cold-looking face. He was dressed in a splendid maroon and black uniform with gold trimmings. 


The man frightened me. I stumbled and had a hard time convincing my mother later that I was not being disobedient. I had to let my mother’s hand go because the things I was noticing were different up here in Baltimore and frightening. But most of all, the voice—that usually comes from within me and from within other very small children to calm us and reassure us and to help explain the things we could not understand—was being silent. It didn’t tell me to not be afraid of cold-face man. It wasn’t coming to me to tell me also why the raindrops up North had ice in them, and how the wooden toy soldiers that could only stand in a storefront window during Christmas time back home had somehow in this city managed to come alive enough to step and move his large arms up and down.

 

Winter, 2019

Except for my cousin, Monk, my sisters Eva, Mildred, and Betty Jean, my baby brother, and the City of Baltimore, everyone and everything else in this narrative is either dead or otherwise gone. The only memories left are always preceded by the caption How it used to be in the South or How Black people used to be before desegregation came and restructured everything. 


  

Roeethyll Lunn is a retired educator, grandmother of three, and experimental writer. She has a BFA in Broadcast Media from Morris College, Sumter, South Carolina, and an MFA in English and Writing from Long Island University, Southampton College.

Opwonya Innocent

Featured Interview Volume 1 Issue 3

Interview with Opwonya Innocent


Assisted by Coauthor Kevin McLaughlin


Opwonya Innocent was born in a time of great civil unrest in the northern portion of Uganda. Abducted at the age of ten, he was forced to become a child soldier in a rebel force known as the Lord’s Resistance Army. His astonishing story of escape, and the long road back to a normal life, are chronicled in Innocent: A Spirit of Resilience.


Coauthor Kevin McLaughlin facilitated a conversation between Sunspot and Opwonya. In keeping with the journal’s dedication to honoring all languages and making the pieces accessible to as many readers as possible, the interview is presented here in English and the Luo language of Opwonya’s people. 


SL: When you were kidnapped by the rebel soldiers, your father was killed. You thought a lot about your mother and siblings while you were held captive. How are the individual members of your family doing today?


OI: Thankfully, all of my family members are doing fine now. My elder sister has three beautiful daughters now. My younger sister is planning to complete university in one’s year time, with a degree in Education. My mother is only growing younger and younger every day. My younger half siblings are yet another wonderful source of happiness in the family; they are funny, focused and full of energy.


SL: The traumas child soldiers endure are truly horrific. What would you recommend that people do when they face situations that seem insurmountable?


OI: Yes, the trauma is indeed life changing. My mum once told me that HOPE is the most valuable asset in life. Once you lose hope, you will have lost everything. No matter the situation you’re faced with, my advice is to keep your hope alive; whether you can see it right now or not, you are tougher than the situation.


SL: When you were rescued and taken to a counseling center, what one thing helped you most as you struggled to return to the life you once knew?


OI: What helped me most at the counseling center was the constant reminder that I was loved no matter what I had done. It first made me feel so guilty at the beginning but slowly I learned to love myself and let go of the past.


SL: As you began to build a new life, a few people who said they would help let you down. How has this impacted the way you approach new people today?


OI: Through all the hardship I faced, I learned it was best to give people the benefit of the doubt, because everyone is different and faces challenges one is unable to see with the eye. Although I was disappointed many times in life, I knew there was never enough reason to stop trusting the people I cross paths with. More than anything, being let down rather caused me to be quite sure about a situation before making a promise, because I know how much it hurts when they go unfulfilled.”


SL: A great deal of your life has been dedicated to obtaining a formal education and other types of experiences that can make your life better. What actions or steps would you recommend for teenagers who want to make the most of their lives?


OI: I would advise young people to practice self-love above anything else. If you love yourself enough, you will extend that love to another child or human in need, just like I was. Education is the only wealth that no thief can steal. Once acquired, it stays with you and paves the way to a more self-sustaining life. Let’s join hands and support education of our youth. Keeping them busy is in itself reducing crime rates and opening doors to a better future.


SL: What would you say to people of any age who want to change their lives for the better?


OI: I would encourage all individuals to always look at the positive side of life. Sometimes it’s the hardest thing to do when you are in the middle of sadness, trauma, loss of direction, and all sorts of negativity but that is exactly where a strong one rises. Everyone has that inner strength and we should always exploit it. Falling does not mean you are weak, provided you have the determination to rise again no matter how many times you fall down.


SL: What do you have planned next for your life?


OI: My biggest dream is to work hard and open an orphanage for children living on the streets in my home town and many others in dire need. Children are the future and the present. The future should not start tomorrow but rather now; this very minute and second.

  

Interview with Opwonya Innocent in the Luo Language, as Spoken by the Acholi People of Northern Uganda


Assisted by Coauthor Kevin McLaughlin


SL: Ikare ma lukwena gumaki, babani kineko. Ibedo ka tam tere-tere pi mamani ki ilum. Lugangwu gitye nining ikare eni?


OI: Dano gangwa weng gitye maber. Lamera madit manyinge tye ki Lutino Anyira adek maleng. Lamera tye katyeko kwane iunivasiti imwaka manyen gi degree ipwony. Mamana tye pud nyen anyena. Lutino wa weng gitye twon yomcwiny igangwa kun gimede ki keto cwinygi gi gubu madit.


SL: Peki me wic ma lutino mony matino kato gi iye dongo ma pe wace. Tam ango ma imiyo ki dano ka gitye ite kare matek?


OI: Jami ma akato gi iye ni oloko kwona matek tutwal. Mamana yang owaca ni bedo ki GEN aye lonyo madit loyo ikwo. Ka irwenyo gen ci nongo irwenyo jami weng ikwo. Kare mo keken ikwo, omyero iket genni obed tek daki makwo.


SL: Ikare ma ilwi ki ilum giteri i gang me ywako tam, ngo kikome ma okonye oweka irwenyo tam maraco ki iwii?


OI: Ngo ma okonya loyo gi inywako tam ni aye kare ma tere-tere gi poyo wiya ni an gimara. Kong omiyo lawic iwiya ento mot-mot angiyo kwede gire.


SL: Nia ma icako roco kwo ni, dano madwong gucike me konyi ento gu bwoli abwola. Lakit tim man odiyo kwoni iyo ma nining madok ikom kit ma ineno kede dano?


OI: Dano obwola ikare malac oweko ikare mo kwo konye oduku pekeo. Aneno konya kwo oduku peke pien nino weng nongo cwinya tye ka cwer med ki pig wang mapecok. Ayinyo lagam pi peki ma onongo atye ikwona ki ma gangwa ento pe anongo. Mamana aye opoyo wiya ni abibedo languna ka awaconi amarogi ento pe amaro kwona kekena me rwenyo tam me dene ni. Tyen lok acel ni pud akwo bot gangway onongo yom cwiny madit mukato kakare.


SL: Dit pa kwoni odok i kum kwan ki nongo ngec mapat-pat, yo ango ma bulu matino ma gitye ki cwiny me miyo kony gitwero konyo kede dano mukene?


OI: Amiyo tam bot bulu mi mare kekengi. Ka imare kekeni ci ikubu ma ne bot dano mukene magitye ipeki mapat-pat. Kwan obedo lonyo acel kenen ma lukwo pe kwalo. Ka ikwano yabi yo me jami mapol dak weko icung ki tyeni keni. Waribu wunu cingwa me konyo kwan pa bulu. Kwan weko bulu bedo busy dak juku lebol me bal.


SL: Tam ango ma imiyo ki dano me mwaka mo keken ma gitue kamito loko kwo gi?


OI: Acuku cwiny dano weng me neno but kwo maber. Cawa mogo peyot gire tutwal ento en ikare meno aye dano macwiny gi tek gi ile malo. Dano weng tye ki gubu enoni icwiny gi ento cawa mogi waluo tic kede. Poto piny pe tere ni kwo oloyi pien dano weng poto ento ka ipoto pe igak piny.


SL: Yub ango ma itye kede pi kwoni me anyim?


OI: Leka madit loyo aye me tic matek wek ayab gang ka gwoko lutino kic ki mogo ma gibutu iteng gudi. Lutino aye anyim wa. Anyim peni omyero ocake diki ento anyim aye tin; idakikani, I sekoni.

  


Opwonya Innocent is the author of Innocent: A Spirit of Resilience. The book reveals, in his own words, his struggle to heal from the trauma he experienced, a desire to help others, and his tireless effort to realize meaningful, positive change. Innocent’s inspiring story embodies the triumph of hope and determination over pain, trauma and fear. 


Kevin McLaughlin, coauthor of Innocent: A Spirit of Resilience, has a background in policy and communications work at the local, state and federal government levels. He currently resides in Durham, North Carolina, where he works with local government, nonprofit agencies, local businesses and religious institutions to address issues surrounding social justice, inclusivity, and community development. He earned a Bachelor of Arts from Miami University in public administration and American studies, and a Master of Public Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

Contributor Bios

Volume 1 Issue 3

Thomas Boos recently graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in creative writing. He is applying for MFA programs and submitting work for publication.


Roger Camp is the author of three photography books including the award-winning Butterflies in Flight (Thames & Hudson, 2002) and Heat (Charta, Milano, 2008). His work has appeared in numerous journals including The New England Review, New York Quarterly, and North American Review. His work is represented by the Robin Rice Gallery, NYC.


Essayist Savannah Carlin graduated in 2016 from Babson College with a degree in business. While at Babson, she won an MLK Creativity prize for her prose poem “On Nantucket with Katrina,” which ignited her engagement with creative nonfiction. She currently works as a designer in New York. Her articles have appeared in Forbes online and Worth Magazine, while her essay “Almost Breast Cancer” appeared in Juxtaprose Magazine.


AD Conner is a freelance writer and editor. She lives in a small Kentucky town along the Ohio River. When she’s not in her nest, composed of books, lit mags, and lots of raggedy notebooks, she can be found wandering the woods or diving in the river, searching for new ideas. 


Warren Decker’s writing has appeared in The Best American Poetry 2018, The New Ohio Review, Fifth Wednesday, Frogpond,and elsewhere. He hopes to become a brilliant light wave of pure compassion, but for now he ripples dimly with good intentions in Osaka where he writes and teaches.


Epiphany Ferrell writes most of her fiction in Southern Illinois at Resurrection Mule Farm, so-named after a mule survived a lightning strike there. She received a Pushcart nomination in 2018, and her stories appear recently in The Slag Review, New Flash Fiction Review and Pulp Literature, and she blogs intermittently at Ghost Parachute. She is a reader for Mojave River Review.


Although Mary-Chris Hines recently concentrated primarily on fine arts, she has played with writing poetry since she was a wee tot. The poem in this edition comes from raising a son who was very different than she was. He is far beyond his teenage years now, and somehow, they have come to be more alike than before. She is grateful.


Wynne Hungerford’s work has appeared in Epoch, Blackbird, The Normal School, The Boiler, Okey-Panky, and SmokeLong Quarterly, among other places. She received her MFA from the University of Florida.


Claudine Jacques was born in France, moved to New Caledonia in her teens, and is now a much-published novelist and short story writer. Island life and her cattle station are rich sources of inspiration for her writing. She is a founding member of l’Association des Écrivains de la Nouvelle Calédonie (Association of New Caledonian Writers). 


David Joseph is a graduate of Hobart College and the University of Southern California’s Graduate Writing Program, where he was awarded the Kerr Fellowship. His writing has been published in The London Magazine, Wall Street Journal, LA Times, Doubletake Magazine, and Rattle. A recipient of the John Henry Hobart Fellowship for Ethics and Social Justice, he spent the past two decades as an educator and nonprofit executive in Los Angeles. He has taught at Pepperdine University and Harvard University, where he was a recipient of the Derek Bok Award. He lives in San Roque, Spain with his wife Karen and sons Jackson and Cassius.


Kerry Muir has obsessions that crop up with staggering regularity in jer screenplays, stage plays, short films and literary nonfiction. These include: the surprise element of beauty within the grotesque. The surreal. The drunk and disorderly yearning for love, even for love gone bad. She’s prone to write characters who live on the margins, in severe isolation, who simply don’t belong.


Tiffany Promise has been published in Black Clock, Blanket Sea, High Shelf, and Gingerbread House. She received an MFA from CalArts a few years ago, and is currently figuring out how to juggle motherhood and writing. She just completed her first novel.


Ron Pullins is a fiction writer, playwright, and poet working in Tucson, Arizona. His works have been published in numerous journals, and his plays have been produced across the country. He sees his work as an adventure in thought and language. His fiction has been published in numerous journals including Shenandoah, Kansas Quarterly, Sunspot, Southwest Review, Dark Ink, Steel Toe Review, and others. More can be found at pullins.com.


Judith Ralston Ellison writes short stories and microfiction. She won two prizes for microfiction from Rochester Writers. Her fiction has appeared in Third Wednesday, a collection Flash Fiction for Flash Memory, and The Mentor, published by the Michigan State Bar. She writes four-hundred-word essays for Art and Sole, the inhouse publication of the Detroit Institute of Art. She retired from her position as an administrative law judge in 2009.


Claudia Reed spent seventeen years as a news writer, during which she won an award for investigative journalism. Many of her reports covered actual or potential environmental damage and related health problems. She now facilitates memoir workshops and devotes her time to short fiction and a memoir. A short epistolary memoir was published in The Letters Pageproject at the University of Nottingham. Two short stories took awards in the 2009 Prose Contest sponsored by the California Writers Club’s Redwood branch, and “Damnation” received honorable mention in the 2005 EM Koeppel contest.


Steven B. Rosenfeld is a retired New York lawyer, a graduate of Columbia College and Columbia Law School, who began writing short stories in 2015. Since then, his stories have been published or are forthcoming in The City Key, Inigo Online, JewishFiction.net, Reflex Fiction, Good Works Review, Flatbush Review, The Rush and Magnolia Review. His story “Separation” was a finalist for the 2018 Short Story America Prize, and will be published in the 2019 Short Story America anthology. His flash piece “For the Rest of Our Lives” won the 2018 Writer Advice contest. He has participated in fiction workshops at The Writer’s Voice at the West Side Y in New York and at One Story. He is a member of the Columbia Fiction Foundry. 


Jesse Sensibar’s work has appeared in The Tishman Review, Stoneboat Journal, Waxwing, and others. His short fiction was shortlisted for the Bath Flash Fiction Award and the Wilda Hearne Flash Fiction Prize. His first book, Blood in the Asphalt: Prayers from the Highwaywas published in 2018 by Tolsun Press and was shortlisted for the Eric Hoffer Book Award. You can find him at jessesensibar.com.


LD Sledge is a professional author and ghostwriter. He is eighty-four and has accumulated many books, articles, blogs, poems and short stories over those years. He lives in Clearwater, Florida. 


Jodee Stanley’s work has appeared in the Mississippi Review, 580 Split, Hobart, Crab Orchard Review, Electric Velocipede, Queen Mob’s Teahouse, and elsewhere. She is the editor of Ninth Letter, the literary journal published by the creative writing program at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.


Bob Thurber is the author of Paperboy: A Dysfunctional Novel and two collections of short stories. Over the years his work has received a long list of awards and honors, appeared in Esquire and other notable publications, and been included in over sixty anthologies. Selections have been utilized as teaching tools in schools and universities worldwide. Paperboy’s second edition was released in 2016. Bob resides in Massachusetts. BobThurber.net.


Born in Celaya, Guanajuato, Mexico, Jose Trejo-Maya spent his childhood in the rural pueblo of Tarimoró until he immigrated in 1988. His inspirations include Netzahualcoyotl, Humberto Ak’abal, Ray A. Young Bear, and James Welch. His work has been published in literary outlets in the UK, US, Spain, India, Australia, Argentina, and Germany. After being nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2015, he placed in the El Centro Canario Estudios Caribeños–El Atlántico–2016 poetry contest. He was a New Rivers Press Many Voices finalist in 2018. While in ceremony with Chololo medicine men in the Tule River Reservation, he dreamt the prophecy written in his poem. 


Daniel Weinberg is a pen & ink and colored pencil wordartist who sometimes collaborates with musician Chico Feinstein. He has had a number of group shows and two solo shows in the Chicago area, and has read at poetry open mics for over thirty years. He started taking photographs in 2019. After travels to Germany long ago and Israel not so long ago, he realized that the world is inhabited by people who sense distances in different ways. The spaces between people are flexible and prone to change. His website is www.artpal.com under the search term “weinbergsart.” 


Melinda Winograd studied poetry at the University of North Texas, and currently studies fiction writing at Southern New Hampshire University. Her work has been featured in the Tulane Review and High Shelf Press.


Guinotte Wise writes and welds steel sculpture on a farm in Resume Speed, Kansas. His short story collection Night Train, Cold Beerwon publication by a university press and enough money to fix the soffits. Five more books since. A five-time Pushcart nominee, his fiction and poetry have been published in numerous literary journals including Atticus, The MacGuffin, Southern Humanities Review, Rattle, and The American Journal of Poetry. His wife has an honest job in the city and drives a hundred miles a day to keep it. Some work is at http://www.wisesculpture.com


Patricia Worth is an Australian literary translator. Her translation of George Sand’s Spiridion was published in 2015, and two bilingual books of New Caledonian stories have been published recently. A number of short pieces have appeared in journals in Australia, New Caledonia and the US. Her translation of Jean Lorrain’s fin-de-siècle collection Stories to Read by Candlelight is forthcoming in 2019.