Hamad al-Rayes was born and raised in Bahrain. He currently resides with his wife and two cats in Portland, Oregon, where he’s finishing his doctoral dissertation on the philosophy of G. W. F. Hegel. He writes short fiction whenever and as much as he can. His work has appeared in Mizna, where it was nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and as part of the Society of Misfit Stories anthology. His WordPress page can be found here.
Brian Michael Barbeito is a resident of Aurora, Ontario, Canada. He is a writer, poet, and landscape photographer. His prose and pictures have appeared at publications such as Fiction International, Literary Orphans, and Cv2: The Canadian Journal of Poetry and Critical Writing. Barbeito is a two time Pushcart Prize nominee and is published with Fowl Pox Press (Chalk Lines, 2013). Besides short form writing, he also writes about metaphysics at the blog Spirit Rescue and about spiritual practice at the blog called Nonduality.
A three-time Pushcart Prize & Bettering American Poetry nominee, Lana Bella is an author of three chapbooks, Under My Dark (Crisis Chronicles Press, 2016), Adagio (Finishing Line Press, 2016), and Dear Suki: Letters (Platypus 2412 Mini Chapbook Series, 2016), has had poetry and fiction featured with over 370 journals, including The Acentos Review, California Quarterly, Expound, Grey Sparrow, Notre Dame Review, Otoliths, Poetry Salzburg Review, San Pedro River Review, The Ilanot Review, Vayavya, Waccamaw, and Westwind, among others. She resides in the US and the coastal town of Nha Trang, Vietnam, where she is a mom of two far-too-clever, frolicsome imps.
Heather Bass is graduating Fayetteville State University in Fall 2017 with a Bachelors in English and Literature and plans to pursue a doctorate in English elsewhere. She is currently employed as a Supplemental Instruction Leader at Fayetteville State University for French and World Literature. In her spare time, she likes to read anything from Edgar Allan Poe to astronomy.
Michelle Brooks has published a collection of poetry, Make Yourself Small (Backwaters Press), and a novella, Dead Girl, Live Boy (Storylandia Press). She has just finished a book of photographs titled Illusion Warehouse. Once, Brooks found a bullet by her house in Detroit; a friend had it made into a necklace charm, which remains Brooks’ favorite piece of jewelry to date!
Michael Reid Busk is a graduate of the University of Southern California’s Literature and Creative Writing PhD. His work appears or is forthcoming in Iowa Review, Conjunctions, Gettysburg Review, Fourth Genre, Prairie Schooner, and Michigan Quarterly Review and elsewhere. He lives in Indiana with his wife and three children. Some of his favorite things include frogs (not to eat), pork (to eat), Dixieland jazz, Sonoma County, early Picasso, and fiction that pretends to be nonfiction (and vice versa).
Genelle Chaconas is genderfluid, queer, feminist, an abuse survivor, and proud. They earned their BA in Creative writing from CSUS (2009) and their MFA in Writing and Poetics from Naropa University (2015). Their first chapbook is Fallout, Saints and Dirty Pictures (little m Press, 2011). Their work is published or forthcoming in The New Engagement, A3, Sonora Review, Fjords, WomenArts Quarterly, Jet Fuel Review, Milkfist, Menacing Hedge, Image OutWrite, Crack the Spine, Third Wednesday, Bombay Gin, Calaveras Station, Late Peaches: Poems by Sacramento Poets and others. They are a volunteer reader for Tule Review and have a draft of a first ‘real book’. They recently performed at Sacramento’s Art Street with Library of Musiclandria and Friends, and continue to draft a nonfiction book with their mentor, B.L. Kennedy. They enjoy gangster flicks, cheap takeout, industrial/noise music, cut-up technique, queer art, cyberpunk and biopunk, and long walks off short piers.
Marc S. Cohen is a writer, artist and musician born in the United States and residing in Toronto, Canada. He writes existentially tinged fiction about good people doing bad things. His fiction thus far has been published in three countries, most recently in Canada’s Broken Pencil (Issue 68) and the US’s Nonlocal Science Fiction (Issue 3). His writing experiments, along with his family and two pugs, help him face his daily existential dread with courage and humor.
Diane DeCillis owned a gallery for over 30 years. Art informs, not only her poetry, but also colors her way of seeing just about everything. She’d like to say she’s an unapologetic sugar aficionado, but in fact, she suffers from confectionery guilt and denies Andy Warhol’s quote “All I ever wanted was sugar” is her guiding principle. Her poetry collection, Strings Attached (Wayne State Univ. Press, 2014) has been honored as a Michigan Notable Book for 2015, won The 2015 Next Generation Indie Book Award for poetry, and was a finalist for the Forward Indie Fab Book Award for poetry. Her poems have been nominated for three Pushcart Prizes, and Best American Poetry. Poems and essays have appeared in CALYX, Evansville Review, Minnesota Review, Nimrod International Journal, Connecticut Review, Gastronomica, Rattle and others. She’s currently working on a musical about a sugar addict.
Kara Dorris earned a PhD in literature and poetry at the University of North Texas where she teaches writing. Her poetry has appeared in Prairie Schooner, Southword, The Tusculum Review, Harpur Palate, Cutbank, Tinderbox, The Tulane Review, and Crazyhorse, among others literary journals, as well as the anthology Beauty is a Verb (Cinco Puntos Press, 2011). She has published two chapbooks: Elective Affinities (Dancing Girl Press, 2011) and Night Ride Home (Finishing Line Press, 2012). She is also the editor of Lingerpost, an online poetry journal. She has made a career of failing, of never being satisfied with her own writing. She loves slow country mornings rocking in porch swings and driving lonely highways fast, watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer and listening to The National’s High Violet, swimming laps and taking naps with her three pooches while dreaming of ekphrastic poetry . . . .
Iris Jamahl Dunkle is the current Poet Laureate of Sonoma County, CA. Her latest book There’s a Ghost in this Machine of Air (2015) is about digging up the untold history of Sonoma County, CA. Her debut collection, Gold Passage, was chosen by Ross Gay to win the 2012 Trio Award from Trio House Press. In 2017 Trio House Press will publish her third collection Interrupted Geographies. Dunkle is currently writing the first full-length biography of Charmian Kittredge London, Jack London’s wife. Dunkle teaches at Napa Valley College and is on the staff of the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference.
Howie Good is the author of Dangerous Acts Starring Unstable Elements, winner of the 2015 Press Americana Prize for Poetry. His other books include A Ghost Sings, a Door Opens from Another New Calligraphy and Robots vs. Kung Fu from AngelHouse Press (both 2016). He co-edits White Knuckle Press with Dale Wisely.
Larkin Higgins is a poet/artist/professor who traverses genres in text-based explorations. She also collects succulent plants and how-to manuals. Her poetic and hybrid pieces can be found in Diagram, Eleven Eleven (California College of the Arts), Visio-Textual Selectricity (Runaway Spoon Press), The L.A. Telephone Book, Vol. 1, and Vol. 2 and elsewhere. Mindmade Books published her Of Traverse and Template (poems and logographic drawings) and with Dusie Kollektiv she has two chapbooks, Of Materials, Implements and c o m b – i n g m i n e – i n g s, plus the broadside “Soil Culture, Frankenstein–Grafted.” Higgins’ visual poetry is included in the Avant Writing Collection/The Ohio State University Libraries and has been exhibited at Skylab Gallery (Columbus, OH), New Puppy Gallery (Los Angeles), Otis College of Art & Design, and Counterpath Gallery (Denver, CO). She has also created text-driven performance art for venues such as Highways Performance Space (Santa Monica, CA), BC Space (Laguna Beach, CA), Counterpath Gallery (Denver, CO), The World Stage (Los Angeles), and Beyond Baroque (Venice, CA).
Tricia Knoll is an Oregon poet who talks to trees and fondles wood. She is an avid gardener, volunteers to deadhead roses at Portland’s Washington Park Rose Garden with 10,000 rosebushes, and has been writing quite a bit of poetry of protest in recent months. Her newest book, Broadfork Farm, was published by The Poetry Box in Summer 2017 — and features poems in tribute to a small organic farm, its people and creatures, in Trout Lake, Washington where she regularly farmsits. She is searching for a title of a work-in-progress manuscript of poems about trees. Website: triciaknoll.com
Sam Leuenberger’s fiction has appeared also in Fourth & Sycamore and The Gravity of the Thing. He lives north of Pittsburgh, PA where he has written and directed three one-act plays and (sort of) continues to teach. He cuts grass and runs a weedwhacker for Thompson Lawn Care, for whom he has worked ten seasons.
Amy Rose Lipsky may have an intense wanderlust streak but always ends up back home on Long Island. A graduate of SUNY Oswego with a creative writing degree, Amy writes mostly fiction, sometimes poetry and, occasionally, a combination of genres, much like her Black Hole series featured here. Aside from writing, she thoroughly enjoys the Indie section of Netflix, spending time in the salt water and is currently on the hunt for the best guacamole on Long Island. You can reach out to her on Twitter at @amy_rose_writes
Bo Niles began writing poetry after she retired as a magazine editor in the so-called “shelter” field of design and decor, and wrote several books on those subjects. She has two chapbooks from Finishing Line Press: intimate geographies and natural causes. Egg-wise, she birthed two, both sons, now grown. Chicken-wise, she takes theirs scrambled or over easy–never ever poached.
Stephanie Eva Painter works on her MA in English Literature at the Southern New Hampshire University. While Painter grew up in Germany and spent some time in England, she now lives in and stays in North Carolina to be near her three sons. She enjoys spending her time reading, writing, getting together with friends, and traveling.
Wang Ping was born in Shanghai and grew up on the island off Shanghai. Since she left home at 14, she’s been sailing from island to island, wandering from continent to continent. For her, home lies in the languages she speaks, writes and dreams with. She’s published 12 books of poetry, fiction, children book, translation. She’s also a photographer, installation and performance artist, a single-shell rower, figure skater, fencer, flamenco dancer, professor of English at Macalester College on the bank of the Mississippi. She has a Ph.D in comparative literature and MD in traditional Chinese medicine. She’s the founder and director of Kinship of Rivers, an international project that bridges all the rivers together through poetry, music, art, and prayer flags. She has trekked to the Everest Base Camp 4 times to install the prayer flags made by people from around the world.
Connie Post served as the first Poet Laureate of Livermore, California (2005 to 2009). During that time, she created a popular reading series in Livermore that continues today. She has an adult son with autism and has spent many years advocating, writing and giving presentations about the complexities of parenting a son with profound autism. She hosts a popular reading series in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her work has appeared dozens of journals, including Calyx, Comstock Review, Cold Mountain Review, Slipstream, Spillway Spoon River Poetry Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review and Verse Daily. She has written seven books of poetry. Her chapbook And When the Sun Drops (Finishing Line Press) earned the 2012 Fall Aurorean’s Editor’s Choice Award. Her first full length book, Floodwater (Glass Lyre Press 2014), won the Lyrebird Award. Her other awards include the Caesura Award and the 2016 Crab Creek Poetry Award.
J N Pratley earned his PhD at the University of Texas. After taking early retirement from his position as a cell biologist, he traveled to Greece where his research interests in philosophy and fiction inspired four novels and four short stories, all with Greek settings. No longer confined to the academy and the laboratory, Pratley enjoys “inventing data” and wallowing in “make believe” worlds. His hobbies include travel, bridge, and classical piano. He resides in the great state of Texas, but prefers souvlakia to barbecue.
Jesse Rice-Evans is a queer poet from North Carolina. Her first chapbook, Soft Switch, was recently published by Damaged Goods Press. You can read her work in Public Pool, Monstering, Moonsick Magazine, and others. Follow her @riceevans for posts about Rihanna, femme supremacy, and the teaching of writing.
Stephanie Sauer was raised in Rough and Ready, California (a real town), where she learned to sew and make art in 4-H on her way to becoming a member of the FFA. She instead became the author of The Accidental Archives of the Royal Chicano Air Force (University of Texas Press), and has published work in Drunken Boat, Verse Daily, Alehouse Press, Boom: A Journal of California, Alimentum, and Plastique Press. She currently teaches at the San Francisco Art Institute (also real), and continues to sew and make art.
Alafia Nicole Sessions was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. After graduating from UC Berkeley with a degree in Mass Communications, she began a career in TV/Film. In addition to working as a commercial actress, Ms. Sessions currently works as a birth doula, birth hypnosis instructor and sacred plant medicine apprentice.
Fariel Shafee was born in South Asia, but has lived in many vibrant cultures. Her travels took her through the UK and Italy where she fell in love with art. Later, Shafee completed degrees in physics and math at MIT and Princeton. Initially, art allowed her to relieve stress. Since she began to dedicate herself more seriously to her craft, Shafee has exhibited paintings and digital art in Australia, Italy, Greece, Spain, the UK, and the US. Visit her website at: http://fshafee.wixsite.com/farielsart
Claire Marie Stancek is the author of MOUTHS (Noemi Press, 2017). With Lyn Hejinian and Jane Gregory, she is co-editor and co-founder of Nion Editions, a chapbook press. With Daniel Benjamin, she co-edited an anthology of contemporary Australian poetry, Active Aesthetics (Tuumba / Giramondo, 2016). These poems are taken from her second full-length book of poetry, Oil Spell, which is forthcoming from Omnidawn in spring 2018.
Mariya Taher graduated with her MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University in 2016, where she received the 2014 Graduate School of Arts & Social Sciences Dean’s Merit Scholarship and the 2016 Lesley University Graduate Student Leadership Award. She is a prolific writer in fiction and nonfiction with essays and short stories appearing on NPR, Ms. Magazine, Huffington Post, The Fair Observer, Brown Girl Magazine, Solstice Literary Magazine, The Express Tribune, The San Francisco Examiner, The Flexible Persona, Cecile’s Writer’s Magazine, and more. She is also an avid chocolate taster, runner, and beginning climber. Follow her on Twitter @mariyataher83
Originally from Monterey, AJ Urquidi has studied poetry in Southern California and NYC. AJ’s work has appeared in Faultline, Chiron Review, Riprap, and Foothill, among other publications. Winner of the Gerald Locklin Writing Prize, AJ is a co-founder and executive editor of indicia, an online international literary journal based in Long Beach that actively abstains from publishing what has come to be known as the “Long Beach style” of poetry, and he has taught poetry at Cal State Long Beach and Beyond Baroque (in Venice Beach). Though he agrees with David Foster Wallace’s critical notion that “Postmodern irony and cynicism’s become an end in itself, a measure of hip sophistication and literary savvy,” he often struggles himself to break out of their hilarious and sassy chains.
Lesley Valdes, born in Tampa and raised in Miami, FL, makes poems in a South Philadelphia row house. A graduate of the Peabody Conservatory of Music, she spent two decades as a classical music critic whose perks included following the Philadelphia Orchestra to Beijing and Buenos Aires, Daniel Barenboim to Berlin and Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Tour. In 2015 she earned an MFA from Warren Wilson. Her poems have appeared in Shadowgraph, Innisfree, The Curator, Pantheon, The Boiler Journal and others. She pays for her creative habit as an Airbnb host.
A native Texan, Jamie Wilson now calls Lawrence, Kansas home. She graduated from Fayetteville State University with an MA in English in 2014, and currently serves as an academic advisor in the Undergraduate Advising Center at the University of Kansas. Prior to taking this position she taught developmental English courses at Fayetteville Technical Community College in Fayetteville, NC. In her free time it is most likely that you will find her with her nose in a book, usually a supernatural or dystopian young adult novel. Her book buying problem is known far and wide, and army movers fear her house when it comes time to pack because How can there be so many books?! She also enjoys traveling and spending time with her husband, Jim, and their two extremely spoiled pets, a cat named Chester and a dog named Clint.
Bill Wolak has just published his fifteenth book of poetry entitled The Nakedness Defense with Ekstasis Press. His most recent translation with Mahmood Karimi-Hakak, Love Me More Than the Others: Selected Poetry of Iraj Mirza, was published by Cross-Cultural Communications in 2014. His collages have appeared recently in Naked in New Hope 2016 and The 2017 Seattle Erotic Art Festival. In 2016, he was a featured poet at The Mihai Eminescu International Poetry Festival in Craiova, Romania; Europa in Versi, Lake Como, Italy; The Pesaro International Poetry Festival, Pesaro, Italy, The Xichang-Qionghai Silk Road International Poetry Week, Xichang, China; and Ethnofest, Pristina, Kosovo. Mr. Wolak teaches Creative Writing at William Paterson University in New Jersey
Jim Zola has worked in a warehouse, as a security guard, in a bookstore, as a teacher for Deaf children, as a toy designer for Fisher Price, and currently as a children’s librarian. Published in many journals through the years, his publications include a chapbook — The One Hundred Bones of Weather (Blue Pitcher Press) — and a full length poetry collection —What Glorious Possibilities (Aldrich Press). He currently lives in Greensboro, NC.