Torch 2018

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© 2018 ​Torch​. All rights revert to individual contributors upon publication. Contents may not be reproduced without explicit permission of contributor. Cover Art: ​Morning Cup ​by Monika Teal Cover Design: Jenny Teague Typesetting: Martina Litty Torch ​is set in Gill Sans (text) and Josefin Sans (titles). ​Torch ​is Richmond Community College’s Literary Arts Magazine that serves students, faculty, alumni, staff, and friends of the college.

Torch ​has generously been given permission to use “Our World,” “Longing,” and “Old Barn: South” from ​Our World​, by Shelby Stephenson, copyright 2018, published by Press 53. Reprinted by permission of the author.

ISBN-13: 978-1717313850 ISBN-10: 171731385X

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Richmond Community College 1042 W Hamlet Ave. Hamlet, NC 28345


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torch /tôrCH/ noun 1. a handheld source of light; wood, cloth, or oil ignited in order to illuminate 2. a quality, value, or belief that must be defended or sustained

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STAFF Editor-in-Chief Art Editor Managing Editor Art Assistant Editor Literary Assistant Editor Marketing Director Marketing Production Technical Production Contributing Staff Faculty Advisors Guest Editors

Martina Litty Kasey Singletary Alani Evans Madison Andrews Esmeralda Garcia Jamiah Harris Jalen Campbell Jacob Myers Richard Orvin Jessica Lowery Kayla Luther Gavin Terry Morgan Cain Idol Jenny Teague Dr. Karen Helgeson Stephanie Hammond


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Torch​, founded in 2017 by Morgan Cain, Martina Litty, and Jenny Teague, is a student-led literary and arts magazine published annually in the spring. The journal showcases the literary and artistic achievements of Richmond Community College students, faculty, alumni, staff, and friends of the college. Well-known North Carolina artists and writers are also featured in ​Torch​. The magazine is an opportunity for Richmond Community College students to gain vocational skills, network with professionals, and interact with notable authors and artists. Each academic year, the Editor-in-Chief is selected based on academic records at Richmond Community College, literary and artistic achievements, and work experience. The Managing Editor, Art Editor, Marketing Director, and Assistant Literary Editors and Assistant Art Editors are selected by the Editor-in-Chief in conjunction with the English and Art Faculty Advisors. All other positions are selected through a similarly rigorous process in the fall academic semester. All staff members of ​Torch participate in regular staff meetings and attend mandatory professional development. As often as possible, Torch ​staff members are provided with professional mentors in their respective fields. These professional mentors are digital content strategists, magazine editors, graphic designers, cybersecurity experts, software developers, and marketing professionals. ​Torch staff members learn to network with these professionals and learn much-needed vocational skills to ensure their success at Richmond Community College and in their future careers. The ​Torch Editor-in-Chief is responsible for overseeing the magazine, managing staff meetings, working with Faculty Advisors to establish professional development seminars for staff, and selecting poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction submissions for inclusion within the magazine. The Editor-in-Chief works closely with Faculty Advisors to establish interviews with notable authors and artists in the fall semester. The Editor-in-Chief and Marketing Director are responsible for marketing the magazine, advertising submission deadlines, and soliciting poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction for the magazine. The Art Editor is responsible for soliciting visual artwork and photography for the magazine, selecting art submission for inclusion within the magazine. The Managing Editor is responsible for acknowledging submission receipts, gathering submissions, and pro- 6​ ​


viding blind submissions to the Editor-in-Chief and Art Editor as well as the Assistant Literary Editors and Assistant Art Editors. All staff members may submit their work for inclusion ​Torch​; however, staff members’ work can only be selected for inclusion at the discretion of the Faculty Advisors. In the spring, ​Torch staff work to produce a literary arts magazine that demonstrates the artistic and technical training they have received throughout the academic year. Disclaimer: The views expressed are solely those of the authors and artists and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Richmond Community College or ​Torch staff. Richmond Community College and Torch make no representation concerning, and do not guarantee the source, originality, accuracy, completeness or reliability of any statement, information, data, finding, interpretation, advice, opinion, or view presented.


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As is the case with all literary arts magazines, there were many people who played an important role in helping see this production through to completion. We would like to begin by thanking Richmond Community College for their unwavering support of this publication. We are grateful to the college for their exceptional support. We’d also like to extend our gratitude to Dr. Shelby Stephenson, North Carolina Poet Laureate, our featured writer. Dr. Stephenson graciously opened his home to magazine staff, gave us a tour of Plankhouse, his Benson, North Carolina homestead, and allowed us to publish the titular poem from his forthcoming collection entitled ​Our World​. Thank you, Dr. Stephenson, for all of your supportive and encouraging words about ​Torch and your commitment to literary magazines—even the small ones. We appreciate you. Monika Teal, our featured artist, thank you. Your commitment to women in the arts and willingness to share your experiences with Torch staff are appreciated. We are thrilled to showcase your art in this publication and equally as thrilled to know you. You have inspired and enlightened us in so many ways. We thank you. Dr. Karen Helgeson, thank you for serving as our guest editor for this volume of ​Torch​. In many ways, you have served, not only as our guest editor, but as our publication expert. We are indebted to you for your many kindnesses from the business proposal beginnings to magazine production. Thank you for inspiring, encouraging, and supporting our humble endeavor. Thank you, Michael Litty for loaning ​Torch ​the technical equipment and providing expertise about recording interviews and creating graphics. Thank you for your support of ​Torch​. We appreciate you and value your expertise. Thank you, Andrea McIver, for working with our magazine to ensure that the students in Richmond County were included in this volume. You were a liaison between ​Torch and the students whose work appears in this volume, and we thank you.

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In the spring of 2017, English Faculty Advisor Jenny Teague and I discussed the possibility of creating a literary arts magazine at Richmond Community College. During our discussions, Art Faculty Advisor Morgan Cain joined our team. After receiving administrative approval in August 2017, we began working on ​Torch, the literary arts magazine that we hope will become a fixture at Richmond Community College. Our inaugural year of magazine production has been eventful. We met with and attended a book signing by U.S. Poet Laureate, Tracy K. Smith. We interviewed North Carolina Poet Laureate, Dr. Shelby Stephenson​; ​former North Carolina Visual Arts Fellow and Joan Mitchell Foundation Award recipient, Monika Teal; and National Museum of the American Indian artist, Loretta Oxendine. The ​Torch staff has also worked with the faculty advisors and professionals who taught us many skills. We’ve learned about networking, digital content strategies, and targeted and broad-based marketing strategies. We’ve learned invaluable skills and worked together to create the inaugural issue that you hold in your hands. Torch ​has provided us with irreplaceable and unimaginable opportunities. The cover, ​Morning Cup, ​by Monika Teal, depicts a woman in an armchair, paintbrushes clasped in one hand and a cup in the other. Her eyes are closed, perhaps with exhaustion, or because she is deep in thought. Is she tired? Is she in mourning? We are, all of us, in this painting somewhere. We are in the weight of her eyelids coming down, pulling the blinds on the outside world to search deep within for answers to difficult questions. We feel the tight grip of her fist, holding onto whatever instruments of communication she needs. This painting show us what ​Torch ​is about—going through life the only way we know how, having a morning cup and searching ourselves for the light that we know is waiting to shine through our art. It has been a privilege and an honor to serve as Editor-in-Chief. With this inaugural volume, I have worked diligently with the staff and faculty advisors to set the tone for what ​Torch ​is and what it will


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become in the upcoming years. It is a collection that demonstrates what happens when writers take their pens or pencils to paper, artists take their paint brushes, fountain pens, or charcoal to canvas, and photographers take their cameras, lenses, and tripods into the world. For the writers, artists, and photographers featured in these pages, Torch brings to light your work, providing an opportunity for the Richmond Community College community and beyond to see your talent. The inaugural volume of ​Torch showcases talented works from writers and artists in Richmond and Scotland counties and throughout North Carolina. As we worked on the magazine, we were overwhelmed by the number of writers and artists who submitted their work. We received over a hundred submissions for this issue, and we owe thanks to every contributor. This magazine is evidence of Richmond Community College’s commitment to diversity, to veracity, and to authenticity. Without all of these incredibly talented contributors, and without you, the reader, ​Torch ​would not exist. Thank you. Martina Litty Editor-in-Chief

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POETRY Zycoria Adams Craig Kurtz Martina Litty Shelby Stephenson Jenny Teague Mallorie Veshinski

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Dear Black Girl Tax the Poor It’s Not Like Falling Our World Longing The Old Barn: South Martin The Ocean



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From the Living Room Self-Portrait Three Sisters Grandpa Heritage Goldfish Cow Selfie Surprised Wake-Up Call Yellow

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Focused Loneliness Suburban Dreams Lost City Grand Canyon Sunrise Resting Fiery Sky

FICTION Tamra Wilson

VISUAL ARTS Latasha Baker Shavayshia Beard Bea Brayboy Preston Coker Carolina Palenzuela Jenna Staub Monika Teal Nic Wilkes Katelyn Wright

PHOTOGRAPHY Anthony Kubiak Xzavier Omri Ingram-McDonald Elias Reyes Bailey Sloop Caleb Snyder


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Rebecca Wallace


Marco’s Deck

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Artist to Artist: An Interview with Monika Teal Poet to Poet: An Interview with Shelby Stephenson

INTERVIEWS Martina Litty and Kasey Singletary Martina Litty and Jenny Teague

CONTRIBUTORS Contributor Notes


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Dear black girl, I know how hard it is to wake up And have the world expect you to be woke. How you're thrust into the morning light, Only to have your body prodded and poked. Dear black girl, With eyes still hazy from slumber, You're force-fed the knowledge That the world you're expected to nurture despises you, That your hand is wanted the least in marriage. I know how hard it is to get out of bed, How the weight of the world holds you down, Suffocated by unspoken words, As your convictions are kept underground. I know how much it hurts to detest your temple Singing songs of self-loathing as if they were hymns, Only to realize the mistakes of your body, your lips, your hair Are deemed gorgeous on the form of someone with a different complexion. Dear black girl, I know your feelings of indignation. The ones that you are unable to express Because you don't want to feed into the stereotypes, The angry black girl with emotions bottled in her chest. Dear black girl, It should never be a peculiarity For you to find yourself enchanting, To understand your culture is in your palms,


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That you deserve to stay standing. Every emotion you feel is valid— Anger to fear to melancholy, Jubilance and hope, Tenderness to insecurity to sexual desire. Realize that your curls and kinks are beautiful, That mahogany and amber make up your eyes. Fall in love with even the thought of yourself And allow those feelings to manifest. Dear black girl, I know how hard it was to wake up. What a burden your heart wears when you’re awake. But allow the truth to captivate you— For other black girls are at stake.

Self-Portrait​ Shavayshia Beard

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Resting​ Bailey Sloop


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They tried it, going door to door, but us well-heeled can spare no more; now since we run the government, let’s tax the ninety-nine percent; we gave them votes and human rights, then they set our cash in their sights; we gave them schools and libraries— I say, these folks are hard to please; the rich are very rightly vexed— democracy, gad knows what’s next; why always tax the very few, the idle rich have feelings, too; you give the poor healthcare, and then they’ll want free homes, nine out of ten; but craving all these luxuries doesn’t mean that money grows on trees; the rich are really sick of it, so squeeze the ​hoi polloi​ a bit; these paupers all want this and that, so let’s tax them, right off the bat; the deadbeats get most benefits— so cough up, like good Soviets; they’ve got a lot of nerve to think I’d do without my yacht or mink; why, I’ve worked hard for all I got— try getting born in Camelot; the good life’s not a sliding scale, so get a job or go to jail; they’re always saying “life ain’t fair”— just wait until they pay their share; they’ll can their causes and slogans and end up right Republicans. let’s tax the poor, all in one lump, and blame it all on Donald Trump.

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​From the Living Room​ Latasha Baker


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Her shoulder brushes mine as she shifts, arm moving, and then there are small sounds of pencils knocking together as she pulls one from the disarray. Scritch-scratch​ sounds, the scraping of graphite on paper. "Let me work it out, hold on, it goes something like this." Two taps if it's her— Two taps on the lunch table before she sits across from me. Two taps on my desk, and I hold out a hand so she can pass papers back to me. Two taps on my front door, and then she gets impatient and rings the doorbell, but she still presses the button twice. Sometimes I can't sleep and I call her, because she told me I could, and she reads to me until I fall asleep or until she does. "It's just your circadian rhythms that need some work." Her words distort as she talks around a cough drop, her voice like sandpaper. She has insomnia, too, but not like mine. Weekends are the worst, so sometimes she sleeps over, and even though we go to sleep without touching, it doesn't startle me when I wake and she is draped over me. If she's bored, she'll draw freckles on my skin, 18​ ​


dots of cold ink. I draw them on her when she's finished. She picks the color— "Red." The pliant sweetness of strawberries. She looks at what I create, dots clustered in patterns that she doesn't understand. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Each time two columns, three rows. Some spots empty. Dots made with pen ink. They'd have to be raised for me to read them again, but I know what they say. I-L-O-V-E-Y-O-U "The dots, are those words?" “No.” ​Yes. It's not like falling. It’s not like missing a step on the stairs because no one points out that the height changes. It's being guided down a busy street and she says, “Lets take a couple steps right,” and I step without asking why, and she tells me that we didn't have to move, really, she just wanted to find more even ground so I'd walk better. It's little things. I play guitar and she listens; she says that I should get a dog. She used to take pictures with her phone but after she met me she bought a camera so I could hear the ​snikt​ of the shutter going off. It's not like falling.


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Lost City​ ​Elias Reyes

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Marco’s Deck​ ​Rebecca Wallace


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If today the sun should set and clothe me From top to bottom and free up certain Perfect, hard unknowns to lead footsteps you And I trace for all to see our troubles, Should we shower shine as the simple joy I feel from being close to you in rhyme, As you sway kitchen’s clattering foil To wrap a piece of rindy-kicking lime? And as you hand a drink to me, my hand Outreaching, touching yours, surely you know The sense our world’s weather cannot contain That deep and wide gladness Eternity Places blisses surrounding where we go— Is our harmony all without a stance?

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Three Sisters​ Bea Brayboy


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Sometimes I sing along the edges to see how things stack up in taking stock, seeing the farmers in their fields, the slaves, the mules, plus the poor who are Have-nots in a past shaping now and part of a fabric here on Paul’s Hill and across the road in the Nimrod Stephenson Memorial Cemetery. The dogs howl over destruction of sways and changes history forms: Long Valley Cricket and Long Valley Jamie—Tony, too, Butler, and the rest of my father’s thirty-five, including Slobber Mouth, and those named for movie-stars—Bing, Bob, Rock, Ginger, Bette: they keep their noses on track to help me tell consideration’s properties: income rises and falls out of dirt and Time’s condensation to gauge and dust off information. Memory changes to incorporate what was a plantation’s dark spot Jart could spit on and watch his collards come up, there, at Old Jart’s Jungle: the soil was black and that rich: may he labor for space from Pap George’s plantation: let the children, all nineteen, feel vibrations in water under docks somewhere in Africa many hundred years ago, as slaves assemble to come to Jamestown, Virginia, in ships jostling cries of women and children to make lives possible on the edge lived right up to mid-nineteenth century when the slave-girl, July, house-worker and servant, brought another world to me. In gulfs I keep starting the story. Away from what she finds for me to know and imagine we shall not be moved.

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Grand Canyon Sunrise​ Bailey Sloop

Fiery Sky​ Caleb Snyder TORCH​

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Call​ ​Nic Wilkes

​Cow Selfie​ Jenna Staub 26​ ​



I return to the homeplace, the long path down Magnolia Lane, and find only the ghosts of July and her ancestors. I hear the spirituals that dance over a century after Homer Plessy refused to sit in a Jim Crow car. Plessy vs. Ferguson cries from briefs: ​do something toward carrying out Brown vs. Board: ​ I measure my life against the white sheets holey with eyes in the road-deafening muffles warming and lifting away violence and climax toward the slippages of lovers in sheets while wives swing from bedlam to rage against promises the​ Good Ship Jesus ​docks, churning carry-outs to bigotry among the big oaktrees swaying​ the past cannot die, memory simmering with dangling tongues deep in the wide swatch of ​I’ll Take My Stand​, trying to cry, “Why me,” in the caught-loll-thirst.


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I often think about the stroke that slammed down the right side of his cheek, twisted his mouth. As he gathered his limbs, tended pecan trees; we could only watch. I often think about the stroke that left him monosyllabic, hands pleated in themselves, laid in overalls, unrooted in the evening fog.

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Grandpa ​Bea Brayboy


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Cool, calming waves Crashing onto the soft shore. The sound of screaming children piercing the peaceful air.

Goldfish ​Carolina Palenzuela 30​ ​


Focused​ Anthony Kubiak

Yellow ​Katelyn Wright TORCH​

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Heritage ​Preston Coker 32​ ​



Carolyn had never met anyone in the middle of a bonafide midlife crisis until last Thursday, on the way to Greensboro. She and Jaki Stallets were sharing a ride to a teacher’s workshop, one of those Continuing Education classes aimed at keeping their teaching certification up-to-date. “The Future of the Multinational Classroom,” “eBooks for Easy Readers,” “Multitasking.” Jaki was driving. “We’re heading to Salt Lake City next weekend. Bobby Ray has been stalking Vanagons.” “Beg your pardon?” Carolyn said. At fifty-seven, her hearing could use a little boost. She had difficulty hearing in the school media center. Kids mumbled. No manners. Here, the road noise muffled Jaki’s voice. “You heard me right, girlfriend. He’s been interested in the Vans since our carefree days in the seventies. Since he’s retired, he’s been scouring Craigslist for a deal. He found one—a 1975 Vanagon for $20,000.” “Wow.” “It’s wow alright. He’s lost his mind to pay good money for a forty-year-old oddball thing like that.” Carolyn couldn’t quibble. Salt Lake City was two thousand, maybe twenty-five hundred miles away. What on Earth was Bobby Ray thinking of? “So you’re going all the way out there?” “Let me explain,” Jaki said. “We’ve been keeping his Mama for months now, being as how she can’t care for herself. I keep telling Bobby to let his twin sisters take over, but Sharlene has a house full of teenaged girls and plenty of drama. Marlene is an HR manager at a furniture plant over in High Point, so she hasn’t the time to do a decent job of it.” “But she’s not your mother.” “Tell that to Bobby Ray.” Bobby Ray was a happy-go-lucky guy who had retired at fifty-five from the Iredell County Purchasing Department. He was always looking for a deal, but this one had backfired on him. Now with his mother underfoot, Bobby had lamented the reverse of the graveyard humor: “Wish I’d spent more time at the office.” He had retired too early, in Carolyn’s estimation. What’s a man in his retirement to do but get himself into trouble?


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Genevieve Stallets had been Bobby Ray’s New Year’s present, thanks to an agreement between his sisters who rarely let him in on anything. They were older and called the shots. Their Mama wound up being a shared project between Bobby Ray (i.e., Jaki) and Sharlene, on two weeks, off two weeks. It so happened that the Salt Lake City trip would come at the beginning of Mama’s stay at Sharlene’s. “We live in a prison of sorts,” Jaki said wistfully. “I think this is Bobby Ray’s way of saying enough is enough.” “I would have said that a long time ago, before Mama ever set foot on the place,” Carolyn said. She knew how trying such arrangements could be. Her own mother had stayed in an assisted living home, “one of those old folks’ warehouses,” as her mother had called it, until dementia set in. She was upgraded to skilled care and died a year later. From what she could tell, Genevieve might be nearing the dementia threshold. She couldn’t remember if she’d left the stove on or the dryer or if the doors were locked. She had left her purse in the grocery cart and driven home and unpacked the car before she’d realized something was missing. “She runs that blasted television night and day, on the ​Game Show Network​, no less. I can barely stand it, especially when I’m trying to grade papers.” “Have you tried earbuds?” “She won’t do it. We even set up a TV in her room, but she won’t stay in there. She likes to be in the middle of things, in the middle of our life,” Jaki said. She let up on the gas pedal. “At first, I felt obligated to sit and watch TV with her, but she always falls asleep. If I turn the thing off, she wakes up. She’s no longer a guest, that’s for sure.” Mama’s one you kiss goodnight and grow to tolerate​, Bobby had told her. “Now, while we’re heading out west, Bobby’s taking Mama to Sharlene’s. One of her daughters is getting married that weekend. Turns out, Mama doesn’t approve, so she’s wearing this god-awful dress she wore to our wedding twenty-six years ago.” “Let me guess. Pink?” “Powder-blue.” “Well, at least I’m not letting her wear that silly picture hat that went with it. It got sat on and ruined anyway. So Mama sits there and watches ​Dancing With the Stars or ​The Bachelorette​. They’re god- awful shows.”

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“Here, here.” Carolyn pitied Jaki to a point. Why couldn’t she simply tell Bobby the truth? It was either her or his Mama. Of course, she knew she should not judge. She knew nothing of other people’s relationships, but clearly Mama and the sisters were having the upper hand with the baby of the family, never mind that he was sixty-one years old. “Did you know that one of the bachelorettes killed herself? That’s what Genevieve told me the other day. Then she proceeded to tell me how she took pills or this or that.” The right tires rolled over a strip of wake-up bumps at the edge of the pavement. “I couldn’t care less if they all killed themselves.” “Watch your driving.” “I’ve tried to get Mama interested in something besides the TV, like reading. I think I’ll go to the library and find that biography by John Edwards’s mistress . . .” “Rielle Hunter.” “That’s it. She looked slutty, like the bachelorettes, if you ask me. Maybe they’ll have it in large print.” “Doubtful. LP books only make large print in the most popular titles. Don’t believe that’s one of them.” “Well, I saw it awhile back when it came out and wanted to check it out, but didn’t have the nerve. I was afraid someone would see me.” Carolyn could sympathize, especially with the faculty at Mid Grove. Teachers could be catty. “You know I wouldn’t say a word. I’ll let you in on a secret. Local interest, right? I mean, Edwards was from Moore County, just down the road. Well, I checked the thing out; read it in two tub baths.” “Ick. I could imagine you’d want to take a bath reading that kind of trash.” Jaki had a good point. She’d never thought of that Freudian image. The car swerved. “Sorry,” Jaki said. “I thought that was a critter, but it was a dead shirt in the road.” They both laughed. “Lookie there. Leaves turning.” A stand of maples lined a parking lot, brilliant orange tips contrasted against the faded greens of the rest of the foliage. “There was a time I looked forward to October, but now there’s nothing but stink bugs. They’re everywhere.” “Medieval flying shields is how I think of them.” “And the sound they make. Ick. I can’t stand them. They’re on the porch screen, along the doors and windows, trying to get in. They’ve ruined fall.” TORCH​

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Carolyn was sure that Jaki thought of the stink bugs as a menace, an invader like Bobby Ray’s mother. “I’ll ask Mama if she wants anything. She loves tomato sandwiches, even though they claim the seeds will aggravate her diverticulitis. So Bobby found an easy way to slice a tomato really thin and remove the seeds. She loves them, so I’ll ask this summer, ‘Genevieve, would you like a tomato sandwich?’ I know good and well that she does, but she’ll just say, ‘I don’t care.’ If she don’t care, I really don’t freaking care. So next week there we’ll be, flying to Salt Lake, just Bobby and me. He’s already bought the tickets.” Carolyn couldn’t quite imagine Bobby Ray Stallets springing for that kind of expense, but then, the couple had no children and the county paid lifetime healthcare to retirees plus a cushy pension. They had the money. “Just like that? He didn’t ask what you thought?” “More or less. He said that this was his time. He’s been thinking a lot of that lately. I guess it comes with being sixty-one.” “I suppose,” Carolyn agreed. There was a time when sixty looked absolutely ancient. Now both she and Jaki were staring down the barrel of genuine old age. It bothered them both, though neither would admit to it. They would become pests, in the way, no longer guests, but pests for someone, somewhere. Sooner than they thought. “So when I get back home this evening, I’ve got to start packing for Salt Lake City. I told Danny that Bobby Ray has lost his mind, and that I needed a few days off. More like a week. At least Bobby was able to schedule this during fall break, so I won’t have to have a sub for long, but still, this is going to be one hell of a trip.” Carolyn pulled out her iPad, swiped the screen. “I’ll be worn out by the time we make it back to North Carolina. It’s 2,300 miles. I looked it up.” “You’ll have $25,000 in that van by the time you get home.” “More than that, by the time you add up the camping equipment we have to buy out there in Utah. Sleeping bags, pots, pans. The whole thing grosses me out. I don’t want to camp in that musty old thing, and I’m sure it’s musty, full of other people’s smells and accumulated dirt, used bathroom and beds and kitchen.” She could imagine the built-up soap scum, the mildewed drains, mold around the grout, stained mattresses. “Don’t ask. At this stage in my life I want to enjoy traveling, not be trapped into house work. I want to stop wherever and whenever I want, see things along the way, not worry about what’s in the cooler or what I’ll have to cook for supper.” “Does Utah have stink bugs?” Carolyn asked. 36​ ​


The car slowed. “That would be a bonus, wouldn’t it?” Carolyn looked up the question on her iPad. “Says here no stink bugs west of the Mississippi.” “Don’t bet on it. With our luck, we’ll pack them in our suitcases.” Pack them, along with their other troubles, and take them along. Try as they might, there was no escaping their life. And when they returned home, Mama and the stink bugs and work and cleaning and all the rest would be waiting. Bobby Ray would soon tire of the Vanagon. He would stalk something new to spend his money on. Within a year there would be a Vanagon for sale in the Iwanna ad sheet. Maybe he’d make a few bucks, maybe pay for part of the go-get-it trip, on the spur of the moment. Escaped. Sprung from prison. Free.


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Loneliness​ Xzavier Omri Ingram-McDonald

Suburban Dreams​ ​Xzavier Omri Ingram-McDonald 38​ ​


Surprised​ Monika Teal TORCH​

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Monika Teal, a Gibson, North Carolina native, began her painting career when she graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1974. Initially, she exhibited her work in Seattle, Washington. During the late 1980s, Teal returned to North Carolina and began showcasing her work here. In 1988, she graduated with a Master of Arts in Painting from Western Carolina University. In 1990, Teal received the prestigious North Carolina Arts Fellowship, and she is also a Joan Mitchell Foundation Award recipient. Throughout her prolific career, her work has been featured in exhibitions spanning seven countries. In the 1990s, she expatriated to Switzerland, and this seminal move changed the trajectory of Teal’s career. She currently resides in Bern, Switzerland. Editor-in-Chief Martina Litty and Art Editor Kasey Singletary conducted a video interview with Teal on December 1, 2017. Kasey Singletary: ​It’s an honor to have you speaking with us. Martina Litty: ​Yes, it is an honor for us to speak with you today. Thank you for allowing us to interview you. ​We’d like to begin by asking you a few questions about your career. How and when did you know that you wanted to pursue art as a career? Monika Teal: ​Nobody in their right mind would choose to be an artist. I think it chose me. It wasn’t something where I thought, “Do I want to be an artist or do I want to be a banker?” I think my whole life I was going to be an artist. There wasn’t a choice. I had encouragement from the school I went to—in the third grade, I was the class artist, and for Christmas, my father would give me something like a blowtorch, and things like that—my interest goes way back, and I received a lot of support. It was never a choice. I think if I were a boy, though, I maybe wouldn’t have had the freedom to be an artist, because the thinking at the time was that since I was just a girl, I would probably get married and a man would take care of me. If I had been a boy and said that I wanted to be an artist, my parents would have been afraid for my future, but since I was a girl, the attitude was more, “Okay, well, you’ll get married, so someone will take care of you.” 40​ ​


ML: At the time, I’m sure that your parents worried about your financial security in the same way that parents today worry about the financial security of their children who pursue the arts. However, at this point, you’re an artist whose work has spanned four decades; you have played a pivotal role in the transformation of the art world, as well. What would you say is your role as an artist in a dynamic society? MT: ​Your role depends on what kind of artist you are. Picasso once said that there’s a little “a” art and a big “A” ​Art, and for me, personally speaking, the little “a” art is decorative. It’s just to make money. The big “A” Art serves as the conscience of a society; those artists record history and force a busy society to be aware that certain things need to be maintained. For myself, those things that I feel responsible to maintain as an artist are senses of beauty, sacredness, and social responsibility. ML: That’s beautiful. ​I think that’s true. An artist does “force society to be aware” more often than we realize. We live in a busy culture, but an artist can inspire us to stop and recognize something that is sacred or beautiful. I think that your art carries that further by going into the natural world. In your current artistic statement, you discuss that, “[Your] Art comes from [your] personal life, reflected by lore, stories and myths. It is grounded in [your] heritage and in [your] past. As with many present day artists, [you are] engaging in real world issues. [You] want to breach the gap between life and Art by raising appreciation and awareness of the natural world.” Much of your recent work focuses on 3D masks and sculptures. Will you discuss your current masks and sculptures in more detail? MT: The animals and the masks that I make now are in response to the idea that nature is sacred and that while we become more technological, we lose touch with nature. I want to keep nature as the focus of my work because I would like to be part of the conscience of a society. I’ve found while making animal sculptures that there’s a lot of prejudices against animals. I did an installation in Paris with crows, and I was really surprised to learn that people don’t have neutral feelings about crows; they love them or they hate them. At that installation, my job became to educate the public about crows. With the masks, a lot of people ask me what the mask is meant to hide, but in a lot of cultures around the world, a mask is a ritual. A TORCH​

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mask presents a spiritual being, and my masks are part of a celebration of the natural world. I’m a believer in magic, in mythology, and in mysticism—not in some spooky kind of way, but in the way that those things are all a part of us. My work is about celebrating that, about celebrating the magical and the mystical in all of life. KS: Yes, I think that the idea of a mask is often associated—at least in our culture—with the idea of hiding something. Often, we don’t think of the ways in which masks are used in various cultures globally. You’ve discussed, to some degree, the materials that you use in your 3D works. Would you explain for us how the materials that you use inspire you? MT: ​Wherever I go, I always think of my work. There’s no conscious separation for me now between working and not working; I see potential in everything and take note of everything on a subconscious level. One time, while I was in Gibson, I saw a shattered store window, and the pieces of glass were absolutely fantastic, so I picked them up and took them with me to use in my work. Sometimes, people will just bring me things. For example, there’s teeth in a cake sculpture that I did, and those are from a sack of artificial teeth from a dental assistant. It helps to keep me thinking outside of the box, too, because different materials each trigger a different part of my brain. ML: ​It’s interesting that your inspiration can be materials that are found or given to you. While we’re on the topic of the inspiration for your artwork—in your artistic statement, you say, “Much of my art making is creating problems and then solving them.” Can you elaborate on that? MT: I think that the moment you, as an artist, make a mark, like on a piece of paper, for example, you’ve created a problem. You say, “Okay, now, what do I do with this mark?” You may have a concept in your head of what you want it to do, what you want it to be, or where you want it to go, but once that mark is made, I think the artist loses a certain amount of power over what that is going to turn into. It’s an important decision for me as an artist to allow that mark, in collaboration with me, to become what it needs to become as well as what I want it to become. That becomes a problem. When I dominate what my work is going to look like, it loses its magic. There’s an art piece on my website, a pig’s head, and I while I was making it, I hated it. It took me about six months to make, and every single day that I 42​ ​


walked into my studio, I wanted to send it crashing onto the floor. I could not make it become what I wanted it to become. Eventually, I said, “Okay, what do you want to be?” and it turned into this ridiculous, fun pig. When people come to my studio, it’s one of the first things they see that they love, and it’s because I finally let go. The problem for me is determining when I need to step aside and let the art be what it needs to be. The best art gives itself life. KS: “The best art gives itself life.” You’re right; when the artist steps aside, the art becomes what it will be—what it was meant to be. When I think about some of your works, I see some very interesting feminist overtones. Is this an example of art giving itself life? What do you have to say about that? MT: My feminist overtones are not planned or intentional. I am a woman and I see through the eyes of a woman. I don’t focus on fitting. I focus on my voice and vision. To be a female artist, or a female anything, requires hard work and being better. To succeed as a woman and/or an artist leads the way for others. Women are half the world. To succeed on any level inspires others to work hard for their own vision. I try to remain open to helping women because I know how hard the path is. ML: Success is hard to come by for many people. Artists, in particular, face a good deal of adversity. Still, you’ve managed to distinguish yourself and accomplish so much. Your work has been exhibited throughout the United States and Europe. You’ve earned numerous awards and honors in a career that spans more than forty years. When you think about your career, what do you consider the seminal experience in your career? MT: One of the most important experiences for me was receiving the North Carolina Arts Fellowship. That was an affirmation that I deserved statewide recognition for the quality of my work. The judges weren’t from North Carolina, so the nominees and the judges didn’t know each other. I was chosen for the quality of my work and that alone. I received significant affirmation from esteemed artists from other states. It was not only an affirmation from North Carolina, but an affirmation from something bigger.


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Another significant experience was moving to Switzerland. It has truly rocked my world. I think people need their worlds rocked now and then. KS: ​North Carolina to Switzerland is a big leap. How did you find yourself there, and how has living in Switzerland influenced your journey—personally and as an artist? MT: ​I think it is important for an artist to have a wide view. Staying in one place leaves one being a bit myopic. Travel exposes one to a wider world and a wider vision. Switzerland became my home for several reasons. Having a European mother made me feel a bit different from the people around me growing up, knowing a part of me belonged over there. I have deep relationships now with my European family and many international friends. All of this has changed me, and it has challenged me to keep my core self. I find that Europe has stretched my vision and exposed me to a fascinating, multicultural world. I work hard as an artist, and I always have, wherever I have lived. When you leave your country, you leave your identity. You leave your support group, you leave your language, you leave everything. You can land somewhere totally different from your culture in every way, and you have to adapt, and it’s incredibly difficult. In the beginning, it’s romantic, but then the reality of it sets in, and you realize, “This is going to be work.” As an artist, I feel that art has a sense of place—art from an Australian has an Australian flavor, art from an American has an American flavor, and art from a South African has a South African flavor—so I had a hard time here in Switzerland in the beginning because my art was American. I had an American perspective, an American vision, and an American idea of how to handle problems. In order to adapt here, I had to remain open, and through that, I saw different expressions, different visions, different possibilities, different interpretations, and different problems. I have a curious nature; I get very restless in a comfort zone. If you remain open when you leave your comfort zone, you’re going to grow. I’m not the person that I was when I grew up in Gibson. KS: ​I think that’s important for all artists. I think that people don’t realize how broad the world is—even the artistic world, which has expanded and now includes digital art, traditional art, and hybrid art. 44​ ​


MT: ​I agree. One area of art that I love is children’s art, and that’s because it’s honest and magical, free and open. I love outsider art for the same reason; people who aren’t trained in art have a sort of honesty of expression because they’re not concerned with standards or outside opinions. There’s a museum here in Switzerland dedicated to outsider art, and it’s one of the most powerful museums I’ve ever been in. ML: ​That sounds interesting! Before we close out, ​at the beginning of the interview, you alluded to the hardships of being an artist and how you were able to pursue art because, as a woman, you weren’t expected to support yourself financially. I think that same pressure still exists for young artists today. There’s the cliche about the starving artist and, in some ways, it’s almost romanticized. That being said, what advice would you give to young artists who feel as if, as you said, “[art] chose them”? Secondly, what skill do you think is most important for artists to develop? MT: ​The most important advice I could give to a young artist is, “Get a job!” I think that if you’re going to do art, you’re going to do it, but in order to do art, you need money—it’s a very expensive habit. What I’ve done, and what I would encourage students or young artists to do, is get a job that’s art-related. I was a waitress for fifteen minutes, literally. Every other job I’ve had has been art-related. I worked in a frame shop, and now, when I need to frame my work, I know how it’s done. I earned a master’s degree so that I would be able to teach at the university level. I taught the history of women in art, I taught drawing, and I taught painting at two different universities. I learned art restoration and worked for an art restoration firm. On weekends, when I lived in Asheville, I worked for an auction company that is part of Sotheby’s. I had this need to learn everything about art, and I turned that need in my favor. There are jobs out there—you could work in an art supply store, for example, and become familiar with materials, or you could work in a gallery and learn about the process of art sales, or you could teach private art lessons and hone your own skills while instructing others. There are jobs out there that can teach young artists about the world and feed their knowledge of that world. To answer your second question, I think that every artist, regardless of the medium, should learn to draw. Not to produce great drawings, but because of the increase in one’s hand-eye coordination skills, and because it teaches one to slow down and really look. In a society TORCH​

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where everything is really fast, drawing is so integral to teaching people to slow down and truly see what’s around them in detail. I don’t drive in Switzerland; I take the train or the tram, and I always have a sketchbook for drawing the people I see around me. I do it every day. I’ve started to recognize people over the years when perhaps I wouldn’t have noticed them at all if I wasn’t taking the time to draw them. Drawing is an introduction to seeing, and seeing is what an artist does. It’s important not just for drawings to be analyzed, but for drawings to be able to stand on their own and have value that way. ML: ​Thank you for taking the time to talk with us. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed this interview. MT: ​Thank you. I love talking about art.

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Shelby Stephenson is the current North Carolina Poet Laureate. He was a professor of English at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke and Editor of Pembroke Magazine until his retirement in 2010. The state of North Carolina presented him with the 2001 North Carolina Award in Literature. Stephenson has received the Bellday Poetry Prize, the Oscar Arnold Young Award, the Zoe Kincaid-Brockman Award, the Brockman-Campbell Award, the Bright Hill Press Chapbook Prize, and the Playwright's Fund of North Carolina Chapbook Prize. He has published ​Middle Creek Poems, Carolina Shout!, Finch’s Mash, The Persimmon Tree Carol, Poor People, Greatest Hits, Fiddledeedee, Possum, Playing Dead, Play My Music Anyhow, ​and ​Family Matters: Homage to July, the Slave Girl. ​His most recent ​publication, from Press 53, is ​Our World​. Alongside his wife, Linda, Stephenson has recorded four musical compact discs: Hank Williams Tribute, Stephenson Brothers & Linda Sing the Old Songs, When Country Was Country, ​and Shelby & Linda Stephenson Sing Don Gibson. ​He currently resides in Benson, North Carolina. Editor-in-Chief Martina Litty and Faculty Advisor Jenny Teague conducted an interview with Stephenson on September 23, 2017.

Martina Litty: Thank you so much for inviting us to your home, giving us a tour of your beautiful property, and allowing us to interview you. It’s been an honor. This is your childhood property, your childhood house, and it’s full of memories—what can you tell us about that? Shelby Stephenson: The farm itself dates from 1767, when it was acquired by Solomon Stephenson. I got the family tree back to about 1651 when the Stevensons with a “v” settled in Virginia, which is now South Hampton County. After that, I dropped into a hole. They probably came from England. The Stephensons acquired the land by land grant in 1767—that’s before the revolution, we were England’s. Probably thousand of acres. When I was growing up, people became land poor. They had so much land that they couldn’t farm it all.


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My great-great grandfather Manley died in 1912. He’s across the road. He had two wives and they had nineteen children—he farmed children. He was in the Civil War, when that came along. He gave land away. My own father died in 1981. My mother’s name was Maytle. She had a garden that she loved. She was from Mt. Vernon, Kentucky, but she went up to Chicago with a band and sang on the radio. She named me for Shelby Dee Davis; she’d wanted a girl. I’m Shelby Dean and not Shelby Dee because my father loved baseball, so he named me after Dizzy Dean and the Cardinals. My father had thirty-four dogs, and he named them after movie stars. Our house was high enough that I could walk under it when I was nine. We didn’t go anywhere; we stayed home and hunted and fished. Hunted for game for the table. That’s how I grew up, food for the table. We didn’t have water, so I’d draw water from the well and put it in the reservoir, and my mother would heat it up on what we called the stove eyes. The nails on the walls were our closets. We slept under seven quilts in the winter time. We didn’t really have books in our house. There were two books: the ​Sears Catalog​ and the Bible. Childhood may be just about everything. Where’s your childhood, Jenny? Jenny Teague: ​My father was in the Marine Corps, so we moved a good deal. SS: Mobile. I always wondered, are roots mobile? You know? What do you remember most? Is there a place? JT: I think that they must be “mobile” or we wouldn’t know who we really are. Some part of us is always connected to a homeplace and childhood, as you said. You’ve also said that you didn’t have books in your house while growing up, but ​your work has been focused on the experiences of your childhood and time in North Carolina. ​Were there other aspects of your youth that imbued you with an interest in storytelling? SS: I grew up on bluegrass. I grew up on the old songs, you know; the old songs are poems. We grew up on music. The first guitar I ever played was an F hole S.S. Stewart. I saw Elvis in 1954, when he was 48​ ​


recording for Sun, and about a week later, he got a contract with RCA. I grew up with talkers; if you listen, marvelous things come from the mouths of people. Point-of-view is the thing that fascinates me the most. How do you tell a story? It’s not all rational. It may not be at all so you give the story to somebody else. You make up someone. So talkers. Hunters would come home and they would always have a toddy for the body—homemade whiskey. And those are my memories, my father would tell these marvelous stories. I heard my father say once that an adverb could be part of chicken manure for all he knew, which is the best definition I’ve heard. ML: It makes sense that growing up in a family of “talkers” would readily lend itself to great writing. You stated earlier that you think that writing can’t really be taught; instead, there has to be an environment created to foster writing. Your environment sounds like it would be conducive to that. In a 2015 interview published in ​The News & Observer​, you mentioned that you had never taken a writing class, but you ​earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1960, a master’s in English from the University of Pittsburgh in 1967, and a doctorate in English with a minor in Comparative Literature from the University of Wisconsin in 1974. Based on your experiences, how much importance do you think a formal education has on the quality of one’s writing? SS: I have no idea. Many of the writers before us lacked formal education—Hemingway never went to college, Faulkner didn’t go much beyond the fourth grade—many writers were self-taught. On the other hand, beautiful writers, like William Stafford, had PhDs. James Wright from Martins Ferry, Ohio had a doctorate from the University of Washington in Seattle. He studied with Theodore Roethke, one of my favorite poets. I myself never had anyone to guide me; I learned by trial and error. I kept a diary, and that was my schooling for writing. ML: And even having been a self-taught writer, you were the Editor of the internationally known ​Pembroke Magazine and taught writing and literature at University of North Carolina at Pembroke for over three decades. Can you talk more about your experience teaching writing?


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SS: ​I’ve heard that there are some writing teachers who will say “hey, it’s not there, you ought to try something else”—but that’s not me. Here’s the main thing about a writing class, in my opinion: you get a chance to say something you never could say or write in any other class. You get a chance to be yourself—whoever you are. Isn’t that wonderful? You don’t learn that in freshman English. Nobody has a monopoly on how to do anything. That’s the hardest thing to do, to tell a student, if you can tell your story, your family’s stories, the dirt roads. It’s worth doing. And the more open you are, the more the words find themselves. And you find that you’re grooving, that you’re doing something. ML: I think that students learn by stepping out of the composition classroom as well. Creative writing is an opportunity to say what they don’t get to say in composition classes. When you think about creative writing and “good” poetry; what do you consider good poetry? When you read a good poem, what sort of qualities does it have? Do you have a favorite poet? SS: I love the music in the lines. Nursery rhymes, too. “Hey, diddle diddle, the cat and the fiddle, the cow jumped over the moon.” It’s all been said, Martina. Melville gave us ​Moby Dick​, a classic, but he stopped giving the public what they wanted. It’s very subjective. A human being shouldn’t be able to write the lines that Whitman wrote, “When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom’d, / And the great star early droop’d in the western sky . . .” He’s probably my favorite. There are tons and tons of writers, and they’re all different. The hardest part and the easiest part is not to be afraid and to go ahead. JT: “The hardest part is to not be afraid and go ahead.” That’s very true, but it seems increasingly difficult for people to do. Can you explain the difference between that type of writer and the one who is afraid? SS: The first poem I ever had published was called “Whales Are Hard to See,” and I was thirty-four when my first poem came out. It came out in the ​Davidson Miscellany​, which is no longer. I mailed it from Wisconsin. I didn’t know enough to include a self-addressed, stamped envelope (SASE). I think I was reading Wallace Stevens. I was imitating. I was not writing, as we say, out of my locale. You can’t tell that I wrote it. 50​ ​


JT: So when you think about “Whales Are Hard to See” and where you are now there’s a huge difference. In fact, former Poet Laureate Joseph Bathanti has said that you are truly the "voice of North Carolina." How did you transition from imitating what you had read to authentic writing and becoming the “voice of North Carolina”? SS: ​Well, I never thought I could do that. I never thought that I could write about those things. I have a poem called “Tobacco Days.” I wondered if I could ever write about tobacco, tobacco worms, suckering tobacco, working in that six weeks of hell in the summertime. Well, I wrote this, and I showed it to a guy named Sam Reagan who edited ​The Pilot​. He read it and published a little draft of it. He was a great promoter of writing and the arts. I worked on that poem, and then I sent it to ​The Ohio Review ​and Wayne Dodd—I never met him, but he took it. In his acceptance, he said, “I’ve been trying to get the gum off my hands all my life.” I don’t know if he knew about tobacco, but “Tobacco Days” came out in a very good magazine. Everything is changed by this culture here. I never thought, during the time I was growing up, about writing about my father’s thirty-four dogs, and the chickens. I had to make that transition. I just came back to this place with a vengeance. So you write about that. Or give it a body or a text. That’s what I try to do. So, what I was trying to say is, you can’t be born in a museum. In terms of writing, I never thought I’d try to write. And if you write, you can’t—at least, I don’t think so—be superior to anything, you know. Everything is what it is. The arts salvaged my life. ML: Before we conclude, as someone who submitted to literary magazines and as the former Editor of ​Pembroke Magazine​, can you explain to our readers how submitting to literary magazines helps a novice writer? Secondly, what advice would you give to young writers? SS: ​I’ve probably published eight hundred or so poems in three hundred or four hundred magazines. All the big poets published in little magazines—Eliot, Pound, Monroe. In 1912 Harriet Monroe started ​Poetry Magazine​; I have a subscription. The best thing about a literary magazine is that it exists because a community of writers exists. I learned that any poems that have a regional or local topic should be sent to magazines as far away from home as you can. I wrote about chickens and hogs; those things are more unique and interesting to someone out-of-state who doesn’t experience rural life every day. It always excited me to see that my poem was accepted TORCH​

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into a magazine. It wasn’t about the money; I didn’t make a lot of money from that. Well, that’s another thing. You know I was head of the North Carolina Writers’ Network. Marsha Warren asked me to do it in 2000 and something. You can’t do it by yourself. The North Carolina Poetry Society was meeting in Asheville, must have been in 1975, and I went. I started going to these things; I was later asked to lead them, and I did. That’s basically how it happens. You cannot do it alone. If you can, get out and be a part of things. That’s how the world is today. There’s so many writers in this state and they’re so helpful. It’s a cliché that you can’t walk without running into a writer in this state—but it’s true. ML: ​Thank you for taking the time to talk with us and inviting us to your home. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed the tour and the interview. SS: ​Thank you.

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ZYCORIA ADAMS is a current Scotland Early College High School and Richmond Community College student. She is pursuing an Associate in Science degree. LATASHA BAKER is a current student at Richmond Senior High School. SHAVAYSHIA BEARD ​is a current student at Richmond Senior High School. BEA BRAYBOY ​is a Lumbee artist whose work has appeared at UNCP’s Native American Museum. ​She taught Spanish in public schools in North Carolina and South Carolina for more than thirty-four years. She was named school-level Teacher of the Year in three school districts and named district-level Teacher of the Year in one district. Dr. Ray and Bea Brayboy established the Beatrice Locklear Brayboy Endowed Spanish Scholarship at UNCP in the spring of 2014. PRESTON COKER is a current student at Richmond Senior High School. ANTHONY KUBIAK ​is a current student at Richmond Community College. He is pursuing an Associate in Arts degree. CRAIG KURTZ ​has written and recorded poetry since 1979. Current endeavors include ​Antick Comedies​, a versification of Restoration plays illustrated by Anni Wilson and ​Wortley Clutterbuck’s Deplorable Poems​, an opera buffa in two acts. ​His most recent work appears in ​Clinch Mountain Review​, ​New Plains Review, Seems, and Straylight Literary Magazine​. MARTINA LITTY ​is a current Scotland Early College High School and Richmond Community College student. She is pursuing an Associate in Arts degree. Litty is the founding Editor-in-Chief of Torch​.


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XZAVIER OMRI INGRAM-McDONALD ​is a current student at Richmond Community College. He is pursuing an Associate in Arts degree. CAROLINA PALENZUELA ​is a current student at Richmond Senior High School. ELIAS REYES ​is a current Scotland Early College High School and Richmond Community College student. He is pursuing an Associate in Science degree. KASEY SINGLETARY is a current Scotland Early College High School and Richmond Community College student. She is pursuing an Associate in Arts degree. Singletary is the current Art Editor of ​Torch​. JENNA STAUB ​is a current student at Richmond Senior High School. SHELBY STEPHENSON ​is the current North Carolina Poet Laureate. He was a professor of English at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke and Editor of ​Pembroke Magazine ​until his retirement in 2010. The state of North Carolina presented him with the 2001 North Carolina Award in Literature. Stephenson has received the Bellday Poetry Prize, the Oscar Arnold Young Award, the Zoe Kincaid-Brockman Award, the Brockman-Campbell Award, the Bright Hill Press Chapbook Prize, and the Playwright's Fund of North Carolina Chapbook Prize. He has published ​Middle Creek Poems, Carolina Shout!, Finch’s Mash, The Persimmon Tree Carol, Poor People, Greatest Hits, Fiddledeedee, Possum, Playing Dead, Play My Music Anyhow, ​and Family Matters: Homage to July, the Slave Girl. Alongside his wife, Linda, Stephenson has recorded four musical compacts discs: ​Hank Williams Tribute, Stephenson Brothers & Linda Sing the Old Songs, When Country Was Country, ​and Shelby & Linda Stephenson Sing Don Gibson. BAILEY SLOOP ​is a current Scotland Early College High School and Richmond Community College student. She is pursuing an Associate in Science degree. She plans to transfer to a four-year college and major in forensic science.

CALEB SNYDER is a current Scotland Early College High School and Richmond Community College student. 54​ ​


JENNY TEAGUE ​is a founding Faculty Advisor for ​Torch and is currently an English instructor at Richmond Community College. Her work has been published in ​The Aurochs. MONIKA TEAL is ​a Gibson, North Carolina native who holds a Bachelor of Arts from from the University of Minnesota and a Master of Arts in Painting from Western Carolina University. She was a 1990 North Carolina Arts Fellow and a Joan Mitchell Foundation Award recipient. Her painting, ​Leaving Home​, is located in the permanent collection at Asheville Museum of Art. She currently resides in Bern, Switzerland. MALLORIE VESHINSKI ​is a current Richmond Community College student. She plans to further her education by attending North Carolina State University in fall 2018. REBECCA WALLACE ​is a current student at Richmond Senior High School. NIC WILKES ​is a current student at Richmond Senior High School. TAMRA WILSON ​is ​the author of ​Dining With Robert Redford and Other Stories, short fiction about small-town life. She is a North Carolina Humanities Council Roads Scholar and has been published in North Carolina Literary Review, Epiphany, Our State, The MacGuffin, Southern Women’s Review, ​and ​Crossroads Journal of Southern Culture​. KATELYN WRIGHT ​is a current Scotland Early College High School and Richmond Community College student. She is pursuing an Associate in Arts degree. She plans to further her education by attending Fayetteville Technical Community College to become a dental hygienist.


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1. Short fiction, creative nonfiction, and book review submissions should not exceed 2,000 words. Poetry submissions should be no longer than 50 lines in length. 2. Writing submissions must be electronically submitted as .doc, .docx, or .rtf files. 3. Writing submissions must be formatted using 12 pt. Times New Roman. 4. Single-space all writing submissions. 5. The title of each artwork submission and author’s name, address, telephone number, email address, and brief bio that includes (if applicable) your degree/diploma program at Richmond Community College as well as future academic/professional plans for the future must be included on a cover letter with the submission. The cover letter should also include acknowledgement that, “I have read the editorial policy and accept the terms outlined within.” 6. The author’s name must not appear anywhere on the submission itself. 7. The title of each work should appear on the submission itself. 8. Writing submissions should be labeled as poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, or book review. 9. Simultaneous writing submissions are acceptable, but please notify Torch​ immediately upon acceptance elsewhere. 10. Previously unpublished submissions only.

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ARTWORK SUBMISSION GUIDELINES PRINTS, PHOTOGRAPHS, DIGITAL MEDIA, PAINTINGS 1. Submit no more than four artwork submissions. 2. All artwork submissions must be submitted electronically as .jpg, .jpeg, or .png files with a target dpi of 300. 3. The title of each artwork submission and author’s name, address, telephone number, email address, and brief bio that includes (if applicable) your degree/diploma program at Richmond Community College as well as future academic/professional plans for the future must be included on a cover letter with the submission. The cover letter should also include acknowledgement that, “I have read the editorial policy and accept the terms outlined within.” 4. The artist’s name must not appear anywhere on the submission itself. 5. Entries should be labeled according to their type. Photographs should be labeled 2-D Visual Art. 6. Simultaneous writing submissions are acceptable, but please notify Torch​ immediately upon acceptance elsewhere. 7. Previously unpublished submissions only.


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