Invisible Bear 2016

Page 1


2016, Volume Two Durham, North Carolina



Jessica Q. Stark David Dulceany I. Augustus Durham Raelynne Hale John Paul Stadler Daniel Stark


Sarina Mitchel

© 2016

Summer 2016, Vol. 2

The Invisible Bear is published annually in the summer. Address all correspondence to The Invisible Bear Attn: Jessica Q. Stark, 328 Allen Building, Duke University, Durham, NC, 27708. Single copies $5.95. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to The Invisible Bear Attn: Jessica Q. Stark, 328 Allen Building, Duke University, Durham, NC, 27708. All rights reserved by the authors; all poems and artworks in the magazine are works of imagination. The Invisible Bear features poetry, visual art, and occasional scholarly criticism or interviews. We do not accept hard copy submissions. Please submit according to our guidelines on our website to The Invisible Bear accepts simultaneous submissions, but all work must be previously unpublished. The Invisible Bear is partially supported by annual funds affiliated with Duke University’s English department graduate poetry working group. For more information about The Invisible Bear and submission guidelines, please visit:


The Back Polina Bakhtina

10 Margot Sarina Mitchel 15 Untitled Chase Gregory 19 Thrust Audrey Gascho 20 Hurry Taryn Hilsman 24

My Friends Divided Matthew Hambro

27 Demeter Polina Bakhtina 28

Starry Eyed Sarina Mitchel

37 Inopportune Audrey Gascho


Charley Haley D.J. Parris


Summer Afternoon Francine Rubin

12 Sectarian Rami Karim 13

Effects of a Rainy Doom Jack Granath


Contributor’s Note Jack Granath


Geodetic Survey Along the Central Meridian Jeffrey Alfier


Love Humbling Itself for Service Katherine Gibbel

Portions for Foxes Katherine Gibbel

18 180 Audrey Gascho 21

The Colors in Between: Poetry of Black and White Oluwatomisin Oredein


A Lunch Daniel Chang Christensen

23 Café Ryan Simmons 25 Kinetic Rami Karim 26 Crisis Steve Luria Ablon 29

The Weeping Philosopher Timothy B. Dodd


Taking the 10AM Away from Here Tobi Alfier


The Lizard paul singleton iii

INTERVIEWS 32-36 Little Corner Tête-à-tête: A Conversation with Tyrone Williams I. Augustus Durham 38

Artist Spotlight: Sarina Mitchel


We collectively dedicate this issue to love in solidarity, to the work that Srinivas Aravamudan has left us, to effaced topographies, to the exiled, to Prince and David Bowie, to the disenfranchised, to queer singularities, to re-writing histories, to the unwelcomed, and to the creative minds that came together to build this issue. Thank you. The Editors of The Invisible Bear


Dear Reader, I am very pleased to present you with the second volume of The Invisible Bear— a delicately tense collection of works that evocatively focalizes the minute pieces that compose the perception of our surroundings, of ideas, and of ourselves. It is with great love and admiration for our contributors that I invite you to take a moment to consider the ways in which we define the wholenesses that come to delineate our imagined worlds. Story. Race. Love. Body. Gender. Image. Person. Organ. Nation. Sexuality. What new casts emerge when we gaze steady at the fractions within these moving designs? What rare shadows invite the pleasant ravage of familiar and restrictive forms? I invite you to move. Warmly, Jessica Q. Stark Editor-in-Chief The Invisible Bear

CHARLEY HALEY by D.J. Parris I said “Gravity always makes me...”. Don’t tell me how Am you are “...pulls me/ is finely tuned”. To take him to the place he needed to be, gravity. Light on his feet. Moved like the inevitable. Taking the only best path t’th’QB,

same way water makes best time to ground from sky. Hands pushing hard, swat

away, reaching high, grasp -ing. Wave Ing goodbye. Now a nude noun. Noun sans verb. Facts. Horrible unchanging past. Mistakes made by another man. if


you get there from the beginning, same way water do, the middle gets forgiven.

THE BACK by Polina Bakhtina


MARGOT by Sarina Mitchel

SUMMER AFTERNOON by Francine Rubin

In air gently dancing we bathe: hands, knees, chests, thighs, wrists, our parts interspersed, the heat soft as gossamer. We bathe: hands, knees, chests, thighs, wrists, which formed an eight-limbed, delicate creature. Heat soft as gossamer dampens your skin, wilts your hair. Formed an eight-limbed, delicate creature: where will it go when we unwind? Warm air churns, wind sifting through the window’s crack. Unwinding wends its way through skin and air. Bells hint a time. Things move faster outside: from beyond the window, a voice here, then gone; a shadow thrown against the wall. Bells echo outside, inside, the sun a ball of light wavering, shadow and sound reverberating against walls, distinct forms taking shape from shadows. Dusk floats inside. Cool skin, a clear boundary, your body separate. Distinct forms emerged from shadow: scientist, daughter, teacher, neighbor. The singular, delicate creature is gone. In its place: other parts played, other people – scientist, daughter, teacher, neighbor in air quickly cooling, fading. 11

SECTARIAN by Rami Karim

Soaring preceded operational mechanics. Without form, everyone soared. Like rain on another planet, sight in another universe. Kind of like forgetting the time except aleatoric. Juridical excess is obscured in that jargon is beautiful and we’re still reading. I dream of missing my father like I miss Los Angeles. You only learn the city once old enough to drive. In Arabic there is a
word that means spirit and go forth. Hamra scented youth like gasoline and saltwater. Etching mountain, carving humans from sediment.



Paper boat in the gutter and the season’s tenth record storm, two lovers cling to it, mice maybe or seed ticks or very small office clerks, and the wind a weird animal and the cars dashing by like heroes or movie stars. Why do they resist the ineluctable relief of drowning, is it just for the clutch of each other, the candle of warmth and the smooth touch of skin, hair, and sympathy—not pity for the wet, garbage death, just connection in this drenched and violent place? Eventually, squashed in some unexpected way, their discolored corpses wash up on the curb, and nobody bothers to scrape them and they agree. The sun shines down on what was their love and they agree. The paper boat record of it is gone and they agree. The other lovers come out like grass, rubbing in the rising wind and the sky darks and they agree.



Howard Handpad teaches writing at Ruffbottom University. His poems have appeared in journals too numerous to name, Including Spritz!, Build That Enchilada, and the Dry Bob Review. He has been nominated for two Pushcarts and Employee of the Month. He is allergic to his own sweat. This poem pays tribute to the rolling hills of Ruffbottom, Where he lives with his wife, Peg, writes poetry in the predawn, and drinks out of the faucet. It is less the creation of one man, he notes, than a product of the spirit of the place, Its old homes of weathered wood, its restless river, and its vengeful faculty in the Modern Languages Department. He wants to thank that place—its people and its things and especially Its local librarian for catching some errors in an early draft and also for helping him with his taxes. He thanks all seven members of the Ruffbottom Worshipful Interpretive Writing and Drum Circle, Where this poem had its first exposure to the light And its first serious beating in the rainy parking lot of life. And of course he thanks Peg, his wife, for being there, For never holding the small tantrums against him, And for understanding that poems are fictions, even those that feature fantasies of raw sex with a local librarian. Handpad’s manuscript, tentatively titled I NeverWanted Any Anyhow, seeks a publisher.


UNTITLED by Chase Gregory 15


by Jeffrey Alfier

Wind carries the musk of a vanished river over light-drenched fields. Ochre billows of dust devils pass close, rattle a fence line gnawed into dust – the sound of chaff on the threshing floor. We unburden the van, ferry, like spearmen, our tripods and backpacks up switchbacks into foothills where our eyes inherit an uneven earth. Behind us, mute peaks of cordilleras serrate altitudes we’ll attack tomorrow. Two hours in the sun and we trundle downhill, back to the van. A flush of mule deer bolt from rimrock above us. The broad span of a Harris hawk flares and hovers in an updraft, almost stilled, like something in glass. Like a kite a father and son fly that has finally reached its zenith, a plumb line, with the wind slipping through the frameless, immeasurable light, as if touching them one last time.



Marriage of the lamb. Holding the fold of the other’s foot twice each year. To look is not always to see—does it say more than words here we are, together. Put a stone on your ear but it is the whole wide ocean caught beneath the lip of cartilage. Such does breath deceive. To say what you mean say what isn’t: parable. The seas are full of fish, scales flashing in the chop—seas turned to stone beneath Christ’s feet, seas washed him—disciples he cleaned: the knife through a dorsal fin. Sometimes love humbles itself for service. Comforting her with apples: sometimes love is a weed among the daughters.

PORTIONS FOR FOXES by Katherine Gibbel

In the strong towers among cornfields and small country roads voices rise above the cream and daily sins. In song a daily worship arises. Song knows no chapel ceiling—it laughs its way through windows and doors. In two different churches the same psalm reminds me of my name—I hear a ghost with a round baritone singing from the pulpits in the strong towers, in a land where there are no mountains to be found. 17

180 by Audrey Gascho

points. all of which they determine aside from the ten allocated to a substance they presumed I’d never touch; scientifically better than ones consumed frequently, although not in their eyes. 180 seconds. entirely spent feigning bowel difficulties and floss dilemmas only to avoid addressing the unspecified ten panging for an exposition I anticipated facing at thirty— twenty-five even—but hell not 18. 180 fidgets.


THRUST by Audrey Gascho


HURRY by Taryn Hilsman



Emanuel I know what grief tastes like It has made my tongue bitter *** Flags When hate feels nostalgic it is not something to be lauded It is something to flee from to safely see from a distance ‌whether you can destroy it *** Storytellers I don’t have a story to tell At least in paragraphs All I have are short words Short sentences Cries Barb-wired into my soul Inescapable reminders That scars tell stories Just as well Just as loud


A LUNCH by Daniel Chang Christensen

“Sardines in Fresh Water” thirteen to a can. Thirteen small fish and one loaf of a man.


CAFÉ by Ryan Simmons Right-angled hydrangeas blind the windowframe to the bitter rotten clot of light over wrought iron chairs perched like insects beneath constellations of coffee stains while the red eyed frenzy of the night fast implodes in steam and speed: beleaguered soldiers boiling oil for the castle walls


MY FRIENDS DIVIDED by Matthew Hambro


KINETIC by Rami Karim

You were born in an airplane en route to America, diaspora, etc. Diplomatic publicity said to your father: come here, make yourself. It seems as though someone should have recorded this moment for safekeeping, a means of making nostalgia legible, written, photographed. The San Gabriel Valley is home to many immigrant communities. Nur came here from a small village she’d grown weary of. Vinegary fumes, acidic thunderstorms wore away paint on her grandfather’s Datsun. It’s called Nissan here. The rain is clean, invigorating, almost. A brochure said there would be so much to do here.


CRISIS by Steve Luria Ablon That blood clot gone berserk falls limbs broken, disc operations, the life long limps, funerals of friends, of family, every moment is a crisis or a crisis withheld, lifting out of bed, walking, deep breaths of summer, showers with mint castile cascading, the electric toothbrush polishing tired teeth, these are miracles submerged in crisis like the waves on the beach, froth hiding white teeth, the shark, hunting maybe passing by for now, not for long, that razor fin circling, circling right now.


DEMETER by Polina Bakhtina


STARRY EYED by Sarina Mitchel


THE WEEPING PHILOSOPHER by Timothy B. Dodd I was booking a tour to Ephesus --- via Kusadasi and preparing my seminar talk regarding publicity popular expansion when my phone died as a Bombay robot served me dinner years after Prince Charles spoke on the future of food In the afternoon it rained on my new umbrella since I had to walk across the parking lot to Dr. Indira’s office for my tumor removal, benign Sometimes the outside world fails a person-------At least it feeels that way Then my house disappeared one October evening Left a blank spot on the block People stood around scared to look down inside the shallow pit because someone had yelled out that little Ewok-like men danced around a fire down there, speaking in Pentecostal tongues Another pointed and said Look It’s my dead father But the others never looked only stood around counting money punching phone buttons shaking hands sipping coffee Their calmness comforted me ----- in retrospect ------ after I built a bigger house three stories, four bathrooms


TAKING THE 10AM AWAY FROM HERE by Tobi Alfier They walked parallel roads to the station as storm-soaked poplars pealed chimes of drops in the end-of-summer wind. He kicked gravel and stone, whistled softly. She bent for a dandelion, a stray iris, twisted the stems into bracelets. His damp eyes shone like the oil slicks from ships wrecked against the breakwater. Hers saw nothing but tracks curve away between them. Someday he had to return— She would tack her heart to that hope, to the music all small towns let us carry until they snatch it back as we pass through. He’d lived here long enough to know it was time to leave. She’d lived here long enough to know it was time to let him. Gusts lifted dirt, silenced them. Everywhere, loosestrife rippled through the grass.


THE LIZARD by paul singleton iii i stay close to the ground as i move pausing to keep my body temperature low i nod my head in acknowledgement that i see you when you pass it’s something we do here in the South i puff out my throat to show off my colors now, show me yours


LITTLE CORNER TÊTE-À-TÊTE: A CONVERSATION WITH TYRONE WILLIAMS by I. Augustus Durham IAD: Last year, you published an article in boundary 2, questioning aesthetic authenticity, and even black aesthetic authenticity. How would you define such, and is it even definable? TW: Well, that’s part of the point of the article: to interrogate the very notion of aesthetic authenticity. More importantly, although this is a subtext to that article, it aims to raise the question of, or interrogate, the way that cultural or aesthetic authenticity has often been used to both include but also exclude, or marginalize, certain black writers within the history of the United States. So then part of what the article tries to figure out is the different places and levels of obscurity, or visibility, in terms of the work of [Ed] Roberson, Carl Phillips. But it was all about what counts as authenticity, both at the aesthetic level and more broadly at the cultural level. IAD: So that actually leads to my next question: near the end of the piece, you engage in this interesting reading of poets putting their pictures on the back of publications in order to essentially “race” their projects. In particular, you speak of Erica Hunt’s image on the back of Local History. Ironically, Ed Roberson, one of the article’s figures of inquiry, and Harryette Mullen, who writes a blurb for Hunt’s work, employ this photographic intelligibility. Here I am thinking about Voices Cast Out to Call Us In and Recyclopedia:Trimmings, S*PeRM**K*T, and Muse & Drudge. Can you give some insight into the pictorial decision made by you, or the publisher, of putting the black man on the cover of Adventures of Pi: Poems 1980-1990? TW: So starting with the latter, the publisher asked me for pictures, and that was a picture I had in my private archive which I thought would be a good picture to have on this particular book by a local Cincinnati publisher. Part of the reason I was comfortable with that decision was because, at least in Cincinnati, I know that people would automatically know who I was without the picture. But what started all of this was my first book, C.C., back in 2002. The publisher Krupskaya Books, based in San Francisco, asked me to contribute to the cover design, so I sent a bunch of pictures, some of which were of me and others which were of other African American men; part of what I wanted to do was a collage, sort of interrogating notions of identity and so forth. The publisher simply chose my picture and put it on the cover of my first book, which was not exactly how I imagined it, but fine. When I went out there to do a reading, a young poet, Giovanni Singleton, came to me and was very critical of the decision to put my photograph on that book. I did not know this at the time, but I was the first author of that press to have a photograph on the book. And so clearly, from her point of view, they were only doing this to highlight: “Here we have a black author; this is going to be a 32

selling point!” From that moment on, I started questioning when do publishers decide to put the picture of an author on the cover, what are the politics of that, what does it mean to have a photograph of a person. And so that article came out of that issue. But it also came out of this larger concern I have about the question of authenticity, and what that means in different contexts too—what does it mean when a black author has his picture on a book in a series where perhaps other authors do not? IAD: And what interests me, this being an addendum to the question, which I did not ask but we can riff off of here, is that when you see the picture, for someone who does not know that it is you, it appears to be a black man on the cover. And if the person does not know that it is you and has read the article, it appears that you are engaged in a kind of self-effacement, only to then see you, or know what you look like, and then recognize that this is you on the cover—it is not a typical headshot photograph. And it also made me think about the ways in which during the nineteenth century, whether Frederick Douglass or Sojourner Truth, figures have really interesting relationships with the photograph. TW: I become interested . . . in that first book, C.C., there’s a poem called “Study of a Negro Head, 1528,” and it is about a “real” experience I had when I went to MOMA in New York. I was looking at some drawings of Albert Dürer, the sixteenth century painter and illustrator, and he had drawn a picture of a Negro face which, to me, looked remarkably, as I say in the poem, like me—it was stunning for me to see in this prototypical, sixteenth century face that I found some resemblances to myself, never mind anybody else! That was also in my head: the function of the portrait in the history of painting. What is the function of pictures in the history of publishing? And of course, specific to Douglass and others, what it means to be photographed and the context in which those photographs appear. It is a reminder, and I have been pursuing this idea even beyond this, that we never get away from this question, not even from the most well-intentioned people, of the celebration of black visibility. There is a weird way in which black people, in general, are both too visible in public—police shootings and such—and, at the same time, too invisible. IAD: It’s Ralph Ellison! TW: It’s absolutely Ellison all the way! And by the way, that is one of my favorite novels. IAD: This segues perfectly into a question I have in light of the article. The calendar year of 2014 had these rather interesting moments of political and poetic intrigue that were revealed to me again while reading your essay. Which is to say, 2014 was quite an uncanny period for poets to engage in forms of racial masquerade. Three specific controversies that come to mind are: Vanessa Place’s Gone With the Wind Twitter curation; Kenneth Goldsmith’s reading of Michael Brown’s autopsy at Brown University, and that is with a portrait of Brown hanging in the background, and a quote from the event that said, 33

“Goldsmith essentially took us all hostage for 30 minutes, and as hostages to the work, we must try to interpret it without lashing out”; and Michael Derrick Hudson posing as Yi-Fen Chou to get his poem published in a well-known poetry anthology. Coupling those three things with the excusal of the former two occurrences by Marjorie Perloff, and subsequent responses to that excusal by a former teacher of mine, Fred Moten, and Jen Hofer, I wonder: are these instances ushering in a new aesthetic authenticity that could equally be read as problematic around race and poetry? At the same time, it seemed ironic that this was happening in poetry circles, as popular culture figure Pharrell Williams was talking about this “new blackness”—we are “new black” people, and we do this “new thing.” And in poetry, there is this “new form” mode occurring that could be equally problematic in tandem with “new blackness.” Certainly in cultural studies, specifically black studies circles, there has been a move to suggest that black people do not have a monopoly on blackness, that blackness is this fluid and capacious and open space where people can engage. Are we seeing a new aesthetic problem of authenticity that is going on in poetry, and larger trends in popular culture? This question is also in reference to two poems in Adventures of Pi: “In Whitef(f)ace (second f silent, invisible. . .)” and “A Black Man Who Wants to Be a White Woman.” For what you offer as titles, last year was an uncanny kind of role reversal of some sort. TW: In terms of the larger issues that you are addressing, and particularly in terms of what you said about this belief that blackness does not just belong to black people, I think of two other incidents that may have happened this year. A celebrity used the “n” word on TV, and she was saying, “I hear people use the word all the time; I’m using it just the way black people use it.” And then I think in Colorado where the cheerleading team spell out the “n” word, and the defense by the young girls: “Well, walking down the halls, we hear these terms all the time and we don’t necessarily associate them with black people per se.” So that goes to the issue of blackness and black people as two separate things. I think Ellison is pertinent here because in several of his essays, perhaps written in tandem with the essays in The Omni-Americans by Albert Murray, part of their argument is that African American culture will be the driving force for the “blackening” of America. The idea for both of them is that black culture will do what Civil Rights and black militancy have not been able to do, which is to say suffuse the entire culture with “blackness.” Obviously, that is absolutely true—hip-hop culture is ubiquitous today, as are TVs, commercials, etc. But the other side of this is, and many people have made this point, which may be disagreeable, Americans have always loved black culture, just not black people.You see what I am getting at? To me, the latter statement is absolutely pertinent to what we have been seeing over the last few years. There is this sense now, and recall that some of the incidents you referred to have different people coming from different perspectives along the political realm—some claiming and would defend that they stand in absolute sympathy with black people: Vanessa Place, Kenny Goldsmith, and others who just believe, “This is out in the culture and I can use it.” It raises the question: what does it mean that all of these images, symbols, values, and discourses that come from a particular community have become ubiquitous, so much so that they can be separated from their sources? 34

The fact that this is happening in poetry—Fred Moten is right on: this is just a form of incredible racial naïveté, as well as a good reminder that just because people are sophisticated, smart, intelligent, in one spirit or several, it does not necessarily mean they are sophisticated or smart in terms of racial politics. I have different takes on the Goldsmith and Place controversies. My take on Goldsmith is that it is a form of naïveté: I know him, and I know he was genuinely perplexed by the reactions to that performance, he could not understand it. Now that is the sort of thing I teach in college; I would expect from my first and second-years. But that shows that because someone has a long career, engaged in varied aspects of avant-garde poetics, it does not necessarily mean they know jackshit about racial politics—that is a sign of his naïveté. But a sign of his hubris, from my point of view, would be: I could accept everything about the performance, while feeling it problematic on a number of levels, that and the picture, not just because of the way he uses it, but the fact that it first appeared from or by Michael Brown’s family. But it is interesting to me that, and someone else said this, that in situations like this, there is this almost knee-jerk reaction to immediately mollify the public by saying he was just “a good boy”—here is the graduation picture, he was going to school. As though, if he weren’t doing those things, he deserved what happened to him. So on that level, it is disturbing. What is the most egregious error, however, for Goldsmith is announcing that he was going to give the money, the fee, that he got for that performance to the Brown Family—not that he donated the money, but that he announced that he was donating it, as if the money itself could compensate. It was hubris to the point of incredulity: that was the most offensive, more than the original performance. We can engage and talk about the negative aspects, of which I have another complete take. At the same time that he was giving that performance, by which I mean at the same time in the general period, a good friend of mine at Eastern Michigan, the poet Rob Halpern, was writing a book, since published, about the Guantanamo prisoners’ autopsies. So he has engaged in something very similar from a point of view regarding gay sexuality and his reactions to the prisoners in Guantanamo, sort of working through Walt Whitman’s Drum Taps, but using some of the same language, including the phrase “unremarkable genitalia.” But I think that is a separate issue we can talk about. But the racial aspects of this is that race is an independent sphere. To go back to Ellison, the whole debate about class and race for Richard Wright, particularly his decision to get kicked out of the communist party because he didn’t feel they were dealing adequately with the conception of race. And for Ellison, it is an illustration of how race stubbornly remains an independent force issue that cannot easily be conflated with class, or anything else. It is not a unique phenomenon to America, but the way we categorize race is unique; other countries, like Brazil, have different classifications. But there is no question the American situation is peculiar in terms of how we deal with race. That is a huge question, but that’s a small piece. IAD: Yes! And even with you suggesting we can talk about the sexuality piece later, maybe this question can open up the space to think about it. When you say race is a kind of indeterminate and deeply determinative sphere of some sort, again, when reading your essay, near the end you invoke Elizabeth Alexander. In the back of my mind, I 35

kept hearing, “Can you be black and look at this?” So there is a certain kind of, cache wouldn’t be the right word, of reading practice or acumen that you bring to the text, such that there may be a question about how (non)black are you when you read it. Near the middle of your piece in boundary 2, you make this really deft rhetorical move that I really like when you play on blackness and time by way of a Hank Lazer poem. It’s a moment that is just . . . it’s so . . . you kind of want to shout Amen! It is so deft, and the way I categorize it, and why I love that moment is you do this black vernacular reading of what could be deemed the poem’s nonblackness. So you are doing the in and the out, the visible and the unvisible. So in thinking about that part and the kind of specter, auricular specter, that is Elizabeth Alexander’s “Can you be BLACK and look at this?,” one question is: do you write black poems? And if so, can one be nonblack and look at them? TW: Yes and yes. I think some of the poems in Adventures of Pi announce their blackness as it were. But there are some other poems that do not do that as much in terms of codes and signs, if we are just talking about the poetry, nevermind the cover picture. My response to this would be: it is very difficult for me to imagine reading an author and the question of blackness can come up, as a question, if you don’t know the author is indeed black, by certain codes and signs within the text. That is an interesting question to ponder, and it doesn’t matter what the answer is because what constitutes blackness is an interesting question. Going back to Ellison and Murray, if it is indeed a Hank Lazer poem, all that demonstrates is what they said: black culture is everywhere even when white people don’t know that it is everywhere. Can you be a nonblack person and read? Yes! But I don’t think there is any question, at least for me, that when people read some of my poems, even my more abstract, experimental poems, I have seen black audiences react quite differently to those poems than white audiences, particularly older, black audiences closer to my generation. They get them in ways white audiences don’t, especially when it comes to humor, black humor like Richard Pryor. I don’t know what this means, but in a certain way, when I’ve read some of those poems—and I’ve read some of the poems from Howl, some of them very abstract and difficult poems, in Detroit and at Buffalo State College—to primarily black audiences, and people were on the floor. Absolutely for a poet, that’s great, because they get the jokes and the humor. I’ve read those poems to white audiences and they’re appreciative of the dexterity but the humor does not . . . So the humor becomes a sort of dividing line, at least in my work. There are people who can get the humor, white and black, but, and this question came up regarding C.C.—who do you imagine you are writing for? And I say, “I always imagine I am writing for my generation and my father’s generation”—that’s the perspective I am coming from. So yes, anybody can look at these poems, and hopefully get something out of them. But I think, for better or worse, my poems are black through and through.


INOPPORTUNE by Audrey Gascho


ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: SARINA MITCHEL My name is Sarina Mitchel, and I graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design, BFA 2015. I grew up in Wayne, New Jersey (but still haven’t been to the Jersey shore). I have always wanted to be an artist for as long as I can remember. Mostly, I never understood how other people didn’t want to draw and paint and create and go to art school. My biggest regret is growing up.


For now, I am living and working in Providence, Rhode Island, a small city in the smallest state, occasionally and nonironically referred to as the new Brooklyn. One thing I love about PVD is that there are so many artists, art organizations, and community events happening. This year I have been working with local middleschool students in an after-school STEAM (STEM + art) program. Teaching pushes me to find intersections between artistic and mathematical (or should I say mathemagical?) ideas, which is something I’d like to continue to explore in my art and

My favorite artists include Joan Miró, Thomas Woodruff, Mary Grandpre, and Lynda Barry. It’s always challenging when people ask me to summarize my work, because if you look at the hundreds of pieces of art I’ve made over the years, you will see many very different personalities showing through.You will see angst-ridden scratch-marks on canvas, blotted ink and torn-paper portraits, charcoal digressions of self, streamlined graphic designs, cartoon cocoon Julias, old books wheat-pasted pat into sculptures, spiraling doodles of spiraling thoughts...the list goes on. I get bored easily. I hop between subject matter and media. My life is in flux. The artwork I make is a running record, constantly changing, an accumulation of glimpses of my own changing persona and perceptions. Future plans? Where the winds will blow me next, no one knows. Keep drawing, learn everything, buy a button-maker. Check out: to see more of my art.


CONTRIBUTORS Steve Luria Ablon has published four books of poems: TornadoWeather (Mellen Press, 1993), Blue Damsels (Peter Randall Press, 2005), and Night Call (Plain View Press, 2011). His work has appeared in many magazines. He won the Academy of American Poets Award in 1963. Jeffrey Alfier won the 2014 Kithara Book Prize for his poetry collection, Idyll for aVanishing River. He is also author of TheWolf Yearling, The Storm Petrel and The Red Stag at Carrbridge (2016). He is founder and co-editor of Blue Horse Press and San Pedro River Review. Tobi Alfier is a multiple Pushcart nominee and a Best of the Net nominee. Her most current chapbooks are The Coincidence of Castles from Glass Lyre Press, and Romance and Rust from Blue Horse Press. She is the co-editor of San Pedro River Review ( Polina Bakhtina is a Russian visual artist based in NYC, where she studies fine arts at New York University. Growing up, she was always passionate about the arts, and it was only natural to follow this passion in her choice of a career path; by age 18, she had already been in two major galleries and an advanced university exhibition. Polina is most interested in the diversity of people and how various personalities could be portrayed with paint on a canvas. Her painting style is inspired by Impressionism, Expressionism, and Abstraction, mixed with a contemporary feel to match the vibrant world we live in today. Daniel Chang Christensen is an artist living in Brooklyn, creating work under the name Anobelisk. Timothy B. Dodd is from Mink Shoals, WV. His poetry has recently appeared in The Roanoke Review, The William & Mary Review, Ellipsis, The Nassau Review, and elsewhere. He is currently in the MFA program at the University of Texas El-Paso. I. Augustus Durham is a fifth-year doctoral candidate in the English department at Duke University. His work focuses on black studies from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century, interrogating the construction of melancholy in his objects of interest, and how that melancholy catalyzes forms of genius, or performances of excellence. He has published articles in Palimpsest: A Journal on Women, Gender, and the Black International and Journal of Religion and Health. Audrey Gascho is currently pursuing a BFA in Studio Art at New York University. Although born and raised in California, she moved to New York in hopes of tapping into the contemporary hub of creative work and exploring her passions for making, writing, social service, social justice, and the humanities. Previously, these interests spawned her involvement in the TEDxYouth@SanDiego annual conferences and the Envision Visual Arts Conservatory, and more recently led to her engagement with NYU’s Journal of Human Rights and the LUX Art

Institute. At the moment, she is perplexed by the product of bodily routines, notions of time and space, and the blurred region between conscious “realities” and dreamt ones. She contemplates these interests, or rather obsessions, in her most recent visual and written works. Katherine Gibbel loves secrets, but is bad at keeping her own. She grew up in Brooklyn, NY and does not have a favorite color. In the Fall, she will begin her MFA at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. Her writing has appeared in Broadly, East Coast Ink, and xoJane. Jack Granath is a librarian in Kansas. Chase Gregory is a graduate student and a shirt enthusiast. Originally from Minnesota, Matthew Hambro is training to become a German teacher or professor in the Carolina-Duke German program. In addition to teaching, he is interested in visual culture and narrative art. Currently, Matt is approaching the end of a ten month stay in Berlin where he has been working on his dissertation about German comics and graphic novels. Taryn Hilsman is a 2D artist based in New York and Colorado. She is currently working on her undergrad in studio art and history at NYU. Her work can be found at: Rami Karim is a writer and artist based in Brooklyn. They are an MFA candidate at Brooklyn College, where they are the recipient of the Himan Brown Award for poetry. Oluwatomisin Oredein is a Th.D. candidate in Christian Theology and Ethics at Duke Divinity School. Her work focuses on the intersections of African identity, Christian theology, gender, race, ethnicity and culture. D.J. Parris has had recent work in American Chordata, Abridged, HOUND and The Nomadic Journal. He lives in Aldie, VA with his wife and son. Francine Rubin’s poetry has appeared in the chapbook Geometries (Finishing Line Press), the pamphlet The Last Ballet Class (Neon), and the David Mikow Art Gallery. Online, she is at Ryan Simmons lives and works in Durham, NC. He has previously lived in Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., and Madagascar. He writes whenever possible, even if he hates doing it in the third person. Poet, Artist, Educator + Creative Arts Therapist paul singleton iii is the author/illustrator of Sometimes Mama’s Just Like That, When My Hero Left, and free movements. His work has appeared in Maple Leaf Rag, in NPR’s “On Being” blog, and in Duke University’s The Invisible Bear. His forthcoming poetry book is called home.

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