Poets of the Central States

LP Records, mixed media, by Suvan Geer


“The Sap-Rich Glory”: The Poetry of Guest Judge Ann Fisher-Wirth 

I am so pleased to introduce the Guest Poetry Editor for the Central States region, pioneering eco-poet, scholar, and editor Ann Fisher-Wirth. Her seventh book of poems, Paradise Is Jagged, will be published by Terrapin Books in February 2023. Her sixth is The Bones of Winter Birds (Terrapin Books, 2019) and her fifth, a poetry/photography collaboration with Delta photographer Maude Schuyler Clay, is Mississippi (Wings Press, 2018). With Laura-Gray Street she coedited the ground-breaking Ecopoetry Anthology (Trinity UP, 2013) now in its third printing.


Many of Ann’s exquisite poems concern loss and grief; they have been described as possessing “moral gravity” and an “abundance of compassion.” Consider her poem “Prayer,” included in The Bones of Winter Birds, which opens with a heart-warming memory of a Christmas when her five children were small enough to feel the wonder of the holidays. They’d asked to sleep by the tree. Remembering “the beloved tumble of arms/ and legs,” the speaker recalls that when she first learned about war, she couldn’t fathom the cruelty of men in war, for instance: “That a man could choose to tear a baby / from its mother’s arms.” We readers can immediately think of specific scenes from earlier wars, although we needn’t recall distant times in history. As the poem subtly references in closing: “But so we see it now, each day.”  

Ann is a poet whose lyric attentiveness extends outward in ripples of empathy, from family to the environment, and from there to the world with all its struggles to survive, its wars, its small and real hopes. One short example is a poem from her forthcoming book, “The day lays down”: 

            The day lays down
            first summer heat as we drive
            beyond Clarksdale through the Delta
            past cotton silos, Baptist graveyards,
            little swamps with floating trash,
            sometimes an egret. We turn on one-lane roads
            leading past alfalfa fields
            and a yellow cropduster gassing up,
            getting ready to spray poison.1 


The scene creates a nearly bucolic sketch of the rural South—cotton silos, graveyards, egrets—in details that indicate not only lives of hard work, past and present, but also that which poisons and pollutes them. As it concludes, we realize that at its heart, this poem encompasses an act of compassionate witness. Here is a poet who can see both beauty and its ruin. As she remarks in a poem from which I’ve drawn my title, “Nearly April”: “the sap-rich glory does not stop for grief.” 

As reviewer Wendy Taylor Carlisle puts it, Ann Fisher-Wirth’s work is “a wonder, providing as it does sadness entwined with… hope.” And wisdom, for it gives us the means to witness and not despair, a way of thinking through grief in order to feel the bright life of spring return. 

I invite you to check out more of her poetry, whether online or in her poetry collections. For now, however, please scroll down and enjoy the exciting and moving poetry she has chosen to feature in this beautiful winter issue of Persimmon Tree.  

1 “The day lays down” was first published in Dispatches from the Poetry Wars: POETICS FOR THE MORE-THAN-HUMAN WORLD: An Anthology of Poetry and Commentary, ed. Mary Newell, Bernard Quetchenbach, and Sarah Nolan (Spuyten Duyvil Press, 2020).


Introduction to Poets of the Central States

What an arc these sixteen poems describe. My first thought as Guest Editor for this issue of Persimmon Tree was to make selections based on some pre-existing theme. But as I read the hundreds of submissions and made my final choices, what struck me was their diversity. Short poems, longer poems; narrative poems, lyrics, experimental poems—together they create a rich array of voices and formal possibilities. 

As I have arranged the issue, it begins with two poems that celebrate the power of language, of poetry itself. Next come several narrative poems which evoke pleasurable or difficult personal histories connected with the rural past, song, food, sex. There follow a cluster of poems about the body: the aging human body, the fiercely inhumane body politic, the beautiful, damaged body of the earth—and then a liturgy, a prayer. And the issue ends with several poems about different varieties of love, whether in the past, present, or future; whether full of ambivalence, joy or grief; love that blossoms and endures past death.   

Thank you to everyone who submitted work for this competition. As we move toward winter, please enjoy this wonderful collection of poems from the Central States. It has been a pleasure to put it together.





Just-Sprung Mushrooms

I collect images scattered like just-sprung mushrooms:
deer in velvet                                  the fierce falcon      
that spits out the heads of songbirds
visions of my beloved wound in sheets
as if for burial at sea                the high winds 
that pulled the power rug out                 so the clocks bleed red 
night smothering        with its vague quilt 
covering clarity that always returns to the morning 
with the soft syllables of the loons.
The images run like skinny wild horses wanting feeding, 
dangerous with devil-may-care desperation, searching
for a place to rest with no need for vigilance;
so I rope, herd, corral, stand warily 
behind a buzzing fence, listen to them bucking
with high-kicking friction like dissonant tunes 
overheard, snatched, 
begging to be strung into harmony.
Their wayward power drags me
into something hidden, something
I never knew was there. 





Invisible Ink

Blue-lined paper. Six or seven
notebooks over-bursting 
with my poetry at sixteen.
Words—stirred by Ferlinghetti, 
Brautigan and ee cummings—
poured out, running onto the pages.
Fingers in a boy’s hair,
grievances eggplant-dark,
the crucifixion of humiliation. 
I had discovered a secret passage
out. Behind the door of a
black and white marbled cover.
But my mother hovered 
in the doorway, always, 
always asking to read. 
That request crawled darkly 
over the pages.
I had the chore of burning trash. 
Stoking a fire hot enough 
to torch corrugated boxes, 
melt plastic bottles, flare open 
pages, blue-lined, dense with ink.
The poems rose into spirit,
heat, and smoke. I was relieved
to have hidden them so well.
Sometimes now I find traces
in a bar of soap or drop of rain,
an old bathing suit, Yardley perfume,
cropped grass. Once in a while 
comes a decades-gone phrase:





Eggs for Sale

Seems that nailed-up sign might still be there 
till the cows come home, till kingdom comes
Faded hand-printing on a weathered board
a long wavy arrow pointing, faintly red
I’ve passed it all my life on this two-lane road
followed it sometimes to the chicken farm
Sandy and bumpy, a straight line cut into the heart 
of sorghum fields, green, child-tall and russet-topped
Left home as soon as I could, but I visit sometimes
All just memories now, fresh-laid eggs from fluffy hens
speckled and strutting, clucking, life-happy
the rooster king of more than daybreak
On a whim I make a U-turn, follow that old sign
knowing there’s hardly anything left there to see
Just the empty brick house and time-battled shed
where they used to roost, cooped up and safe
As quiet here now as cellar steps, not one single trace 
of the selling stand where the straw-hatted woman 
with cross-hatched cheeks sold us the eggs and bragged 
on her flock, called each of them by name
Saying goodbye this morning, the folks said I’ve changed
I said of course but you still recognize me
coming back is hard, so much happens in between
with only words to use, and so much left out
Back on the highway, my sandy tire tracks disappear 
like those used-to-be’s in our caravan of change 
Worth trying to remember in the still places we go
where we might find a white feather, a cracked shell





Whistler’s Daughter

I loved you easiest from the back seat,
driving home after Starlight Opera,
your suit coat, scratchy as your whiskers,
sideways over me, my legs tucked in to fit,
pretending sleep as streetlights passed
and the moon kept pace, as you whistled 
show tunes the whole way home.
I wanted words as years went on, 
but learned to recognize your pride 
in how a dimple deepened, 
happiness in how your chin tucked in, 
the way you rocked a little on your heels. 
Your love I learned from whistled songs.
You’d serenade our mother as you drove: 
“Daisy, Daisy, Give me your answer true…”
Now you are a blue jay feather in the grass,
the wind chime in the weeping cherry tree.
I see you in a gladiola’s bright orange blossom spike, 
in my own old body bending forward 
with a seedling and a trowel.
If I asked a medium to conjure you,
I would know it was really you
if there were no words,
only her surprised eyes,
and her puckered lips
warbling a love song
from a Broadway show 
she didn’t even know.
Some enchanted evening
if you came through,
every note from you 
would find its way to true,
like the open longing 
from a slide guitar,
like the bending weeping 
of a singing saw.





We Are Some Sad-ass Bad Cooks in My Family

We are some sad-ass bad cooks in my family.
The circle of writers shares sacred recipes
from ancestors we are here to explore.
My people left home because there was no food.
The circle of writers shares sacred recipes,
but all I call up is the back of a box.
My people left home because there was no food,
hoping the new world held fuller pantries.
But all I call up is the back of a box
of barley my mom used to make her soup.
Hoping the new world held fuller pantries,
we stirred pots over a hot plate in the back room.
Of barley my mom used to make her soup
along with scraps that lasted the week.
We stirred pots over a hot plate in the back room.
Specks of onion, chunks of celery, bits of carrot
along with scraps that lasted the week.
We added canned tomatoes and bouillon,
specks of onion, chunks of celery, bits of carrot.
Hearty vegetable barley soup supposes there is meat.
We added canned tomatoes and bouillon
so that the broth always tasted like beef at least.
(Hearty vegetable barley soup supposes there is meat.)
We are some bad-ass sad cooks in my family.


LP Records, mixed media, by Suvan Geer




Looking for It

There’s so much I can’t remember. Names and facts 
have a parlous impermanence in my brain. 
When I mislaid the blue sweater I got at J. Jill 
on sale, 60% off, that loss demolished me. 
Who secures something so perfect 
then releases it? I stomped around for days 
in my friend’s apartment saying, 
what a fool I am and it must be somewhere. 
But it was gone like my sex appeal. And why 
shouldn’t my mind be misplaced like that? 
I’m sure I was evil as Palpatine, although 
I don’t remember why and maybe I never knew, 
enmeshed as I was in my princess-in-distress myth
and trying to make something tender 
of the best bits of my life. Eventually, my friend 
found the sweater under a cushion in his sofa
but nothing brings back the name (oh what was it)
of that crazy, sexy, drunk Lithuanian poet.





This Aging Body

My body a footprint
partially erased 
will step out one day 
not return
become mud after a storm
its dark moist mouth 
its lovely grammar of acceptance.
Until then I remove my broken shoes
kiss them goodbye
leave them to their own resources  
run ahead 
into weeds and rough branches
to a place I remember
from before I was born
where an evening grosbeak 
waits. I will not leave her behind.
This river blue-black.
The heron almost the river’s color.
I think about diving into the muddy
low tide with him
search for fish with him
my body all powder down
my bill a harpoon
but herons are cautious 
of humans
and I agree it is best
I remain on the white cushion
of the pontoon
the sky in flames 
of cerise and neon
one thin long cloud
cruising away
my body trying to learn
its own constraints, its miracles.





the first hundred days

in the first hundred days the bees were relieved 
to be told they were no longer in danger 
of becoming extinct     & that     when they did
the drone pollinators would already be  
booted-up & running     & we were relieved to learn 
only the violent felons would be deported       
that is     only the violent felons with brown skin       
the others could stay     & when they
revised violent felons to violent criminals
then to criminals     & then defined criminals 
to mean anyone entering the U.S. without papers       
we went along     further instructed that entered means mothers 
risking rape & death to flee a fire 
laid and lit with our own gasoline & also means children 
walking across a desert without water just to be 
with those mothers     but when they did that       
no one noticed because they did it in fine print & the big print 
continued to say only criminals would be deported
& we watched while janitors & teachers & mothers & babies 
got sent away & the news got so bad 
it stopped feeling different     but was just the news 
& the rare joy of a day without some large-scale disaster & then 
the days without some large-scale disaster 
began to seem kind of     pallid & dull 
so we watched miniseries serving up expository torture 
& spandrel sex     like the news       
our understanding sneaking up by degrees     a hood
of soft microfleece still being     a hood       
& even we     who need not worry about being deported       
or shot when we run out for milk       
even we     feel something now encircling our throats       
something silken & long     & shit     
shit     shit     shit     what was that safe word again





this place

After 10,000 years, no Susquehannocks could be found in Ricketts Glen.
unlike those places whose dusted sunlight floats over pale faces of plaster saints,
where hard heels on tile floors make hollow piercing echoes,
where breath is slow and the prayerful sit silent with folded hands,
this place will plunge you down twenty-two sun enshrined roars and trickles
this place will give you damp moss covering slick grey shale,
this place will echo against you as you stand beneath wet stone.
Delicate are its ferocious crescendos.
Fierce is its whisper,               this place was once sacred
A tree uprooted in the wood,
presents a mandala, a tangle of rock, root, and soil
flat and facing you.
The canopy concedes no loss,
colludes with a bright blue sky,
conceals the missing flickered leaves.
The brilliant water still
dances over the escarpment between plateau
and mountain,
still beats against tossed boulders,
still breaks into atomized invisibility,
still fills and flows silently out of you.





Liturgical Mass (Hidden Valley)

after Kasey Jueds, “Litany (Paulownia)” [THE THICKET]

If not for the river, the road (yet)
If not for the road, the cabin (built)
If not for the cabin, gathering (family)
If not for the gathering (warm, with smoke)
If not for smoke rising from dry fir
no heat for the living (let the dead alone)
Let alone the dead who keep rising (warm)
Let alone their intention still warm (toward the living)
Till dead, the living keep rising, falling (if not
for smoke rising, smoke drifting)
If not for the drift filling the valley (hiding the hills)
If not for fires burning firs on the mountain
If not for the mountain wanting to worship
The worship of firs soughing in wind (wanting only
to sing birds to their rest)
At rest in the cabin (at rest on the road)
No rest for the smoke (or the flames racing near)
Flames racing nearer, intent on the living
(intent on the dead)





The Valley

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
 I will fear no evil: for thou [art] with me; thy rod and thy staff 
they comfort me.  Psalm 23:4

Yea, I walk.  Yeah, 
the valley.  Yea, the valley.  Yeah, 
the shadow of death.  Yea.  
I’ve heard it all 
before, try to take comfort 
where I find it.  Even 
from you, who, like every good god  
designs shady a place for comfort 
to hide, be found, chase 
the light around
like an animal with sharp 
and useless teeth, bitter 
with irony and how I try 
to argue an enemy 
into being a being 
I don’t believe to be.  Infinite,
my desire, elusive
your key.  How you persist
in me.


LP Records, mixed media, by Suvan Geer




Write Me A Poem About Love, You Say

I say, impossible request, the kind that prompts
Save your breath. You must be kidding. Let’s call it quits. 
And yet, 
today was sunny, unusually warm for late October. 
We hiked along a portion of the Ice Age Trail, the landscape
well into outline – the bur oaks spiky and bare, 
their witches’ fingers splayed this Hallowe’en,
milkweed pods opened, silk tassels lost on the wind,
a few lean seeds left on prairie grasses, one lemon-yellow
butterfly. We climbed part-way up an overlook, rested
on a wooden bench, talked about what our last days 
might look like, what each of us might need from the other
at the end. It was on the way back down that you stopped 
to look at the oak leaves, on branches and underfoot, 
remarked that there were so many in one spot, examined 
them, pointing out differences between black oak and white, 
bur and pin, leaves serrated or smooth, pointed or round.
Everlasting, you might have murmured, enduring, I might
have answered. Something like love. Will this do?





To a Grandchild Not Conceived

How easy to fear what is unknown,
like looking into fog on the highway,
how it moves as ancestors do in dreams,
taking off their clothes as they go,
leaving their dresses and pants
and sensible shoes along the roadside.
We drive past with our windows up,
moving too fast to see their faces.
I want to give you their abalone buttons, 
that you might bind up what is loose,
and that you will bare what is
inside your heart. I want to give you
their pockets, warm from their hands,
linty and close, that you might always
feel safe. And I would give you 
their shoes, in case you get lost.






After six months of abstinence
those six ruby arils
must have burst against her tongue–
bright as remembrance
and as brief, a sweetness
barely slaking a deep thirst,
a bitter longing for home.





Frida Kahlo’s The Love Embrace of the Universe, 1949

A triangle of connection, 
nested Babushka dolls, 
worlds to clasp: sun, moon, music, 
art, words, dance, forests, lakes, loves—
never-ending realms within realms 
to layer, seam, embroider our lives, 
smother pain and fear,
purl us safe in intricate webs.
If only we can remember
the ways we are embraced:
the fervid green of soft moss, 
violin, harp, and cello’s liquid lilt, 
pierce of lilac and lily-of-the-valley,
how water cradles us silky-thick. 
Our first date—the tenor of your voice 
as you sang to me—blue notes 
tickling the plush dark.





The Red Thread

An invisible red thread connects those who are destined
to meet regardless of time, place, or circumstance.  
The thread may stretch or tangle but will never break.
Chinese Proverb


I felt it, even when you were in the ICU, then the vent-trach unit, 
then other hospitals and rehabs, that there was an invisible cord
binding us over the miles of icy roads, the units closed to visitors 
because of the virus. The thread was stretched thin, almost to breaking.

Now death has tangled it past unraveling.  A thicket of knots, a path
that’s impossible to follow, an impenetrable maze of thorns.  But 
my finger, like a phantom limb, still feels the tug, the tension.
Someday, I will follow the pull, and let it lead me back to you.





(These are from an unpublished manuscript called Liège about the years 1968-1971, when I lived in Belgium right out of college with my first husband.) 

Rugby. 1969

We traveled around by bus,
a smattering of wives or girlfriends

with the team, and the women asked me
if I knew how to make fries, and why,

since I was married, I didn’t have kids.
Sometimes the ground was frozen

but the team played anyway, and the wives
and girlfriends huddled in a nearby bar

or stamped back and forth along the field,
shouting Allez les gars, hands and faces

numb, breath steam rising. Sometimes,
as I leaned against the bus window

gazing idly at the rainy highways,
the soot-slicked hilly towns

and pollard trees, the guys’ voices
soared in a song I loved, Etoile de neige… 

Star of the snow, my loving heart 
is caught in the trap of your large eyes. 

I go on a voyage. Until my return, 
I give my word, ah yes, I give my word

But it doesn’t translate, the lilt,
the overcast skies, the big grimy athletes

and the song they sang
as the bus lurched through Belgium.



Guessing at Distances

What makes me think of the wide field near Senj,
the sea winds lashing the apricot trees
the first night we camped by the ocean? —A sign,
Kampplatz, pointed down the road, but when we drove

away from town, there was nobody there, no Kampplatz.
Then freezing rain and gale-force winds; all night I woke
to sponge the tent out and flip like a fish, warming belly,
then back, against the long shanks of my husband.

Once, I dreamed of bells, bronze goat-bells. The leaves
were becoming green, then, and tender, next morning when
we drove through clear wet light in the mountains of Dalmatia
to the sixteen lakes we’d heard of, Plitvice Jezera,

spilling down the gorge to fill the valley,
each lake because of stone or soil or weed a different jewelling.
Water was opal, turquoise, jade, or lavender with rushes, near-jet
beneath the fir trees, then sapphire, amethyst: shadowy.

One lake was ringed with snowbells, bending water-laden
and so fragile. We walked in sun or shade beside the snowbells,
our boots seeped through with melt; we gathered bits of moss
and guessed at distances: How far have we come from this and this?

That world is gone, that marriage gone—and the hermit
who ran out gabbling, who waved his arms amazed to see us
because we’d taken the wrong turn at Senj
and drove five hours up an empty rutted goat-track

through dust, through sunlight, lost, off the map, not knowing
what we’d done, not knowing if we’d ever
find Plitvice Jezera…
how far have I come from that mountain, that springtime?



Guest Judge Ann Fisher-Wirth’s poetry has received numerous awards, including three Mississippi Arts Commission poetry fellowships, a Malahat Review Long Poem Prize, the Rita Dove Poetry Award, and the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Poetry Award. She is the recipient of the 2023 Governor’s Award for Excellence in Literature and Poetry from the Mississippi Arts Commission. A senior fellow and board member of Black Earth Institute, Ann has also received Fulbright fellowships to Switzerland and Sweden. She is Emerita Professor of English, Creative Writing, and Environmental Studies at the University of Mississippi. For many years, she taught yoga at Southern Star in Oxford, Mississippi, where she lives. Keep checking ArtsMart for updates on when you will be able to order her forthcoming book of poetry.

Cynthia Hogue’s most recent collections are Revenance, listed as one of the 2014 “Standout” books by the Academy of American Poets, and In June the Labyrinth (2017). Her tenth collection, instead, it is dark, will be out from Red Hen Press in June of 2023. Her third book-length translation (with Sylvain Gallais) is Nicole Brossard’s Distantly (Omnidawn 2022). Her Covid chapbook is entitled Contain (Tram Editions 2022). Among her honors are a Fulbright Fellowship to Iceland, two NEA Fellowships, and the Harold Morton Landon Translation Award from the Academy of American Poets (2013). She served as Guest Editor for Poem-a-Day for September (2022), sponsored by the Academy of American Poets. Hogue was the inaugural Maxine and Jonathan Marshall Chair in Modern and Contemporary Poetry at Arizona State University. She lives in Tucson. Go to ArtsMart to order both her most recent book of poems and her latest translated work.

Nancy Lael Braun, a life-long Midwesterner, lives in Lone Tree, Iowa. Her poems have appeared in Aquifer: Florida Review Online, Barbaric Yawp, Big Muddy, The Briar Cliff Review, Iowa City: Poetry in Public, Poetalk, Small Brushes, and TSR. Her book Heading Out is being published soon by Finishing Line Press.

Jayne Relaford Brown is the author of My First Real Tree (Foothills). Her poems have recently appeared in Passager, Negative Capability, and in Diane Lockward's The Strategic Poet. She was the 2019-2021 Poet Laureate of Berks County, Pennsylvania, and taught composition and creative writing at Penn State Berks until retiring in 2018.

Wendy Taylor Carlisle lives in the Arkansas Ozarks. She is the author of four books and five chapbooks and is the 2020 winner of the Phillip H. McMath Award. Her work has appeared in pacificREVIEW, Atlanta Review, Rattle, MomEgg, Persimmon Tree, and others.

Susan Carlson lives and works in southeastern Michigan.  Her work has appeared in various journals including Passager, River Heron Review, Gyroscope Review, Typishly, and Your Impossible Voice, and has been nominated for Best of the Net.

Barbara Crooker is the author of nine books of poetry; Some Glad Morning (Pitt Poetry Series) is her latest. Her work has appeared in many anthologies, including: Commonwealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania, Bedford Introduction to Literature, and Healing the Divide: Poems of Kinship and Compassion.

Emily De Ferrari completed the Nurse-Midwifery Program at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson Mississippi during the 20th anniversary of the 1964 Freedom Summer Project. That experience breathes in both her birthing and writing work; the latter has appeared in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Vox Populi Sphere and Italian Americana.

Katherine Edgren’s latest book, Keeping Out the Noise, has just been released by Kelsay Books. In addition to her first book, The Grain Beneath the Gloss, published by Finishing Line Press, she has two chapbooks: Long Division and Transports, and has appeared in numerous journals. She lives in Michigan.

Rebecca Foust’s fourth book ONLY earned a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly. Recognitions include the Pablo Neruda, CP Cavafy and James Hearst poetry prizes, and fellowships from Hedgebrook, MacDowell, and Sewanee. New poems are in Five Points, Ploughshares, Poetry, Quarterly West, and Salamander. 

Karen George, author of Swim Your Way Back, A Map and One Year, and Where Wind Tastes Like Pears, appears in Slippery Elm (winner of 2022 poetry contest), Valparaiso Poetry Review, Cultural Daily, and Poet Lore. Her short story collection won the Rosemary Daniell Fiction Prize, and is forthcoming from Minerva Rising Press in Spring 2023.

Ronnie Hess is a award-winning poet and essayist who lives in Madison, Wisconsin. She is the author of six poetry books, the latest a collection of ekphrastic poems published by Kelsay Books. She has also written two culinary guidebooks on France and Portugal.

Ann Hostetler is the author of two poetry collections, Safehold and Empty Room with Light, and editor of an anthology, A Cappella: Mennonite Voices in Poetry. Her poems have appeared in The American Scholar, Poet Lore, and Quiddity, among many other places. She lives in Goshen, Indiana, where she was a Professor of English and Creative Writing at Goshen College for 22 years.

Athena Kildegaard's sixth book of poem, Prairie Midden, is recently published by Tinderbox Editions. Her poems have appeared in Conduit, Beloit Poetry Journal, SWWIM, The Colorado Review, Prairie Schooner, Ecotone, and elsewhere. She teaches at the University of Minnesota Morris.

Karen McAferty Morris writes about nature and the concerns of ordinary people. Her poetry, recognized for its “appeal to the senses, the intellect, and the imagination,” has appeared in Sisyphus, The Louisville Review, Black Fox Literary Journal, and Lyric Magazine. Her collections Elemental (2018), Confluence (2020), and Significance (2022) are national prize winners. 

Susan Shaw Sailer has published three collections of poems—The Distance Beyond Sight, The God of Roundabouts, and Ship of Light—and two chapbooks—COAL and Bulletins from a War Zone. Sailer lives in Morgantown, West Virginia, and is a member of the Madwomen in the Attic program at Carlow University, Pittsburgh.

Roberta Schultz, author of four chapbooks and one full-length collection of poetry, is a songwriter, teacher, and poet from Wilder, Kentucky. She writes some of her songs on a mountain in North Carolina. She is co-founder of the Poet & Song House Concert Series with her Raison D’Etre trio mates. You can find out way more than you’d ever want to know about her at these websites: robertaschultz.com and raison3.com. Go to ArtsMart to purchase Underscore, her poetry collection.

Amy Small-McKinney’s third chapbook, One Day I Am A Field, was written during COVID and her husband’s death (Glass Lyre Press, 2022). Her second full-length book, Walking Toward Cranes, won the Kithara Book Prize (Glass Lyre, 2016). Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, including being translated into Romanian and Korean.


Suvan Geer is a Southern California artist whose drawings and photographs often playfully examine the liquidity of time and memory. In the face of global despair over Climate Change her series“LP Records”illustrates the species that surprising survived earth’s prior extinction events and are still with us, such as bees, trees, turtles and more. Each page incorporates things like pollen or other substances linked to their species’ subject. Her works have been included in Speak For The Trees, editor Andria Friesen, and Lure of the Local: Senses of Place in a Multicentered Society, by Lucy Lippard.


  1. Yet again, Cynthia has given us an amazing judge and Anne Fisher-Wirth has sifted through so much talent to showcase these many delights. Thanks to all of you for making my day a joy.

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