Sunspot Literary Journal December 2019

Featured Artist

K. Johnson Bowles  

Featured Author

Elizabeth Marian Charles

Featured Poet

Heikki Huotari

Featured Author

 Cynthia Belmont

K. Johnson Bowles

Featured Artist Volume 1 Issue 5

K. Johnson Bowles has exhibited in more than eighty solo and group exhibitions nationally. Feature articles, essays, and reviews of her work have appeared in forty publications including SPOT(Houston Center for Photography), Sculpture, Fiberarts, and the Houston Post. She is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Individual Fellowship and a Houston Center for Photography Fellowship. Recently, she served as an artist in residence at the Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, NY. She received her MFA in photography and painting from Ohio University and a BFA in painting from Boston University.


Heikki Huotari

Featured Poet Volume 1 Issue 5

To read in the original formatting, please download the free December issue. 

In a past century, Heikki Huotari attended a one-room school and spent summers on a forest fire lookout tower. They are a retired math professor, have won two poetry chapbook prizes and published two collections. Another collection is at press.

Elizabeth Marian Charles

Featured Author Volume 1 Issue 5

The Lungs are the Seat of Grief

Winner, Inception Contest

When she thinks back to that night much later, she will wonder if it was the hinge upon which her life turned, and if she could have changed things, how much else might have turned out differently. And then she will make herself another vodka martini and light a Salem because that’s useless now, all the imagining, and she has always prided herself on being a practical person.

But no, that isn’t true—she has always been eminently a dreamer, head in the ether. Or now am I thinking of myself?

Her name is Joann Frakes, and in December 1949 she is the publicity director at the Camelback Inn when the Shah of Iran, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, comes to visit the United States for the first time. This is the story the newspapers will print: The Shah sees Joann across the room, red rose in her blonde hair, and sends an aide to ask her to dinner. They eat and dance into the night, and then she goes to bed, pretty head abuzz with the events of the evening. He stays for three days, playing tennis, swimming, riding horses, attending receptions, and then he is gone. A royal encounter, over as swiftly as it began.

The Shah of Iran’s first American date, Time magazine will say, a willowy blonde from Oak Park, Illinois.


Elizabeth Marian Charles is a recent graduate of the Arizona State University’s MFA program. Her work has appeared in Bird’s Thumb and Fiction Southeast, and is forthcoming in Minnesota Review and Running Wild Anthology of Stories, Vol. 4. She lives and writes in Texas.

Cynthia Belmont

Featured Author, Volume 1 Issue 5

Citrus Sinensis

First Runner-up, Inception Contest


Down in the wash, in the chalky railroad bed at the bottom of the canyon, we laid pennies on the tracks. No trains rolled the slick black rails. Smashed eucalyptus leaves cracked in the dust everywhere. We were small but we knew how to get back, by the path through the sudden oranges like fruit trees in a tapestry, to where the yucca started at the foot of Nanna’s hill. Glowing Valencias clustered around us, walking together up the quiet dirt rows, don’t eat, don’t touch, watching for snakes. 

Our mother lived in the San Bernardino foothills above these Redlands orchards in the 1940s, and she was a ringleted blonde, a single child, she was never allowed down here alone. She told us the farmers used to fumigate the orange trees and tent them to keep the mist in. One time some children lifted a tent like a skirt to see underneath, and they were asphyxiated. The end.... 


Cynthia Belmont is a professor of English and writing at Northland College, an environmental liberal arts school on the South Shore of Lake Superior, in Ashland, Wisconsin. Her creative work has been published in diverse journals including Poetry, The Cream City Review,, Natural Bridge, Oyez Review, and Sky Island.

Contributor Bios

Volume 1 Issue 5

Robert Fitzgerald Beavers, Jr. is a rising junior at a private school in Fairburn, Georgia. He is also a sports enthusiast, scholar, and one who dabbles in writing to amuse himself.

Jerome Berglund graduated summa cum laude from the cinema-television production program at the University of Southern California, and has spent much of his career working in television and photography. He has had photographs published and awarded in local papers. A recently staged exhibition in the Twin Cities area included an extensive residency at a local community center.

A published poet and essayist, J Brooke is the previous nonfiction editor of the Stonecoast Review. With an MFA degree in Creative Writing from the University of Southern Maine, publications include Harvard Review, TSR-The Southampton Review, The East Hampton Star, RFD Magazine, Hartskill Review, Rubbertop Review, and Mom Egg Review.Brooke’s film work includes The Bed, a short documentary, and two features cocreated with partner in film and life, Beatrice Alda. 

Weatherall Crump-Kean is a sophomore currently attending the University of Texas at Austin High School. Her first book, artificial affection, was recently published and she is looking for more opportunities to be heard.

Kimberly Diaz studied creative writing at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida. Her work has appeared in Montana Mouthful, Eckerd Review, and Fleas on the Dog, and is forthcoming in Ariel Gore's newest anthology. She is currently working on a collection of creative nonfiction.

Renee Elton is a poet and teacher currently working on a poetry manuscript about Japanese design in response to nature and ritual. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing from George Mason University and has a biology degree from Kent State. Her recent poetry and art have appeared in Every Writer’s Resource, Every Day Poems, Snapping Twig, and Literary Mama.

Through a continual mixed-media interweaving of acrylic, graphite, digital imagery, performance, film, and writing, Gabriel Embeha engages a diverse range of persons, places, things and ideas involved in different forms of disability and violence. His process involves an ongoing series of interrelated sacrificial acts and quasi-ethnographic confrontations with scientific representation, the state, conscience, and futility. He lives and works in Berlin.

Kat Lewis is the author of the short story collection In and Of Blood. Lewis graduated from Johns Hopkins University where she held the Saul Zaentz Innovation Fund Fellowship. In 2018, she received a Fulbright Creative Arts grant in South Korea. She is currently an MFA student at the University of South Florida.

Dave Malone is the author of nine books, including You Know the Ones (Golden Antelope Press, 2017). His work has appeared in journals such as San Pedro River Review, Plainsongs, and The Cape Rock. His poem “Spring Dress” was featured on Michel Martin's NPR program Tell Me More. Dave lives in the Missouri Ozarks and hosts the weekly Friday Poems series at his website,

Melanie Martinez is a BFA student at Texas State University in San Marcos. She lives in Austin and grew up in the Army town of Killeen. Her early life led her through many worlds from journalism to horticulture, then music and historic preservation. Now she focuses on interior design and painting. An interest in society and American Studies led her to examine the ways we live in the world today. Her style evokes the attractive, illustrative yet disturbing style of Rene Magritte while the subject matter places her in the world of contemporary social realist painters.

Sidney Muntean is a high school student in the creative writing program at Orange County School of the Arts. Her work has been recognized with second place in the Freedom to Read Art & Poetry Contest, and has been published in The Phoenix and The Loud Journal. When she’s not writing, she’s probably dancing up a storm. She firmly believes she was a ballet dancer in a past life because the routines she’ll come up with in the rain feel like a distant dream.

Mitchell Nobis is a writer, teacher, and adoptive dad in Metro Detroit where he lives with his family. His poetry has appeared in Exposition Review, Hobart, The Wayne Literary Review, English Journal, and others. His poetry manuscript was a runner-up for the 2019 Hopper Poetry Prize, and he coauthored the teaching book Real Writing: Modernizing the Old School Essay.Find him at @MitchNobis or

Hayley Patterson is a New York artist with a portfolio that displays achievements in both analog and digital media. Hayley’s knowledge of art history as well as current trends is reflected across all animated and illustrative work. In the coming year, other illustrations will be published by Flying Ketchup Press and Meat for Tea: The Valley Review. A recent college graduate who finished summa cum laude, Hayley spends most of her time doodling and working and doodling some more, looking for the next challenge.

Barb Reynolds spent twenty-two years as a child abuse investigator. Her chapbook Boxing Without Gloves was published by Finishing Line Press. Her poems have been published widely, and she founded & curate the Second Sunday Poetry Series in Berkeley, CA.

Eric Roe has won Chautauqua’s 2018 Editors Prize and The Bellingham Review’s 2015 Tobias Wolff Award for Fiction. Work has also appeared in TulipTree’s Stories That Need to Be Told anthology, the Best American Fantasy anthology, Petrichor (forthcoming), The Tishman Review, South 85, december, Redivider, Barrelhouse, and other literary journals. Eric lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and serves as the editorial assistant at UNC's Marsico Lung Institute.

Tonissa Saul is a writer and photographer from Arizona. She is the managing editor for Bodega Magazine and an editor for Rinky Dink Press. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Write On, Downtown, The Comstock Review, and the anthology Miles to Go, Promises to Keep Volume II. Additionally, her artwork has appeared on the covers of Rinky Dink Press.

Victoria Shannon has worked as a journalist in New York City, Washington, DC, and Paris, France, and now lives in the Hudson River Valley of New York State.

Laurence Williams writes, plays bass guitar and worked in the courts of the Bronx. He has been published in Middle Church Literary Journal, First Line Literary Journal, and Read650.