Friday, February 12, 2016

Poetry/Art Collaboration by Joy Sullivan and Kristin Calhoun

Poems by Joy Sullivan, art by Kristin Calhoun. An absolutely beautiful project! These pieces and more will be on display at EASE Gallery in Columbus, Ohio, as part of the exhibit "The Game Show," centering on collaborative works.


Tongues lap at open air
as we, sad animals of salt,
move towards the altar
sloughing strands of hair, sweat, skin,
the residue of bodies.

Show me holy.

Bone angle and bent exuberance,
the wafer beneath my tongue, fit of little
disappointments in my fist.

The chalice awakes, its open mouth
as whole and dark as your mouth,
a black-eyed susan toppled from the sun.

I turn and taste the drought.


When you meet the Beluga of your grief
in the open ocean, do not pierce or pet it.
Do not ride or tame it.
Do not feed it anything other than yourself.
Instead, let it roll you in its mouth,
mold you with its gargantuan tongue.

Let it swallow you whole.
Arrive like Jonah in the soft underbelly of lament,
in the whale of your own sorrow, drown.
Settle among the tattered fish, the carnage,
the fishermen's hooks carved into bones of rust.
Push your hands into the raucous heart,
feel it beat wildly against your palms.

Begin to crawl.

Up the colossal throat and past monoliths of teeth,
climb out like a hymn. Rise like a stupid miracle
flung upon some sun-fragrant rock,
shocked and land-hungry, wet with whale spit and resolve.
Cup your hands to your heart---full now with the sonar of sadness
Remember how it propelled you, breathless, towards the shore.


In autumn, I eavesdrop on winter.
I ruddy my cheeks up and go out.

You were my little shark,
cool beside my body, sluicing for blood.

Yet I remain unbroken, innocent as a goat,
clenched white in the lemon trees, sleeved in snow—

these are the shining days.



Joy Sullivan is a poet and educator living in Franklinton, Ohio. Currently, she teaches Creative Writing at Columbus State Community College, Columbus Academy and Thurber House. Joy earned an MA in Poetry from Miami University and her academic work reflects an interest in social justice, community development, and creative education. Her most recent publications include Periodisa Publishing, Boxcar Poetry, and Mirror Dance. Additionally, she currently serves as the Artist-in-Residence for the Wexner Center's Pages Program. 

Kristin Calhoun is an artist and illustrator living in Columbus, Ohio.

Monday, February 1, 2016

This Is Snow

"in-pulling light-years Merit, exploration," by Jonathan Sparrow

This Is Snow

I show you snow
because the larger world drops snow today
but in saying it to you I become conjurer
and guide I name what falls to help you learn
the sounds of our world Our snowglobe
Lately every poem I write has the word world
in it I once thought that speaking to a child
was small But I know now it is a macro act
This is snow When you hear it again may the sounds
easily find your mind Sure-footed and without work
As snow carpets each crevice of the trees
and hedges again and again calling each one
home As my gaze falls over your features
so automatically now Here is your nose
Here is the wall of your plumcheek
When I look at you I tell you about weather
Perhaps I can prepare you for this place
This is snow This is sleet Speaking of precipitation
I drink your tears
I don’t but it’s what we say to you when you produce
finally real tears with your cries
as if true sadness takes a few weeks to kick in for humans
In your puddled oil with a bluegreen sheen eyes
water readies itself and within you
you are building so many campsites Here is fear
Here is sadness Here is love and comfort
Here is snow You will remember none of this
early life with us in scenes But lodged in you will be
I hope the thought that there are at least two people
who hate whatever even considers hurting you
and also stored within you names of the weather
which is one way that the world whispers to us

[Image above by Jonathan Sparrow]

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

"Shiver & You Have Weather," by Matthea Harvey

"Sleeping Beauty," by June Sira
Shiver & You Have Weather
In the aftermath of calculus
your toast fell butter-side down.

Squirrels swarmed the lawns
in flight patterns. The hovercraft

helped the waves along. From
every corner there was perspective.

On the billboards the diamonds
were real, in the stores, only zirconia.

I cc’ed you. I let you know.
Sat down to write the Black Ice Memo.

Dinner would be meager &
reminiscent of next week’s lunch.

So what if I sat on the sectional?
As always I was beside myself.
[Image above by June Sira]
[Poem via Poetry Magazine]

Monday, January 11, 2016


"Fire Dragon," by Sandra Fiquet


The monster is misunderstood
The monster is left behind
Here are the pearls gritted in the jaws
of the songs and stories I love
and thus invite into the warm rooms
of your dreams Most often I sing to you
Puff the Magic Dragon The saddest
song that refuses to end happily
Over and over I listen to myself telling you
how Puff is forgotten and slinks back to
his cave It’s awful As a child I loved songs that
made me cry As an adult I am not so different
The other song I have always given you
is The Water Is Wide Even before you
were born This was my morning song
as I drove off to teach You in my belly
dozing beneath the steering wheel
In that song the only monster is water
and distance and time and how they threaten
to fray or bedraggle all our loves
I invite a dragon and a neverending river
into your lullaby so that they can
become your friends I will take their claws
As I sing the boat I am calling for rises up
around us and now I command every dark
and enormous thing Weeping dragons
in their echoing caverns Eddying waters
and the hungers that make them churn
Let them roar We will not fear them
Son in the depths of any monster
if we look we will see loneliness
As I have on my side take up your
paddle to row And monsters here Have
a paddle or swim alongside us Dear
I will never ever leave this boat

[Image above by Sandra Fiquet]

Monday, January 4, 2016

On Creativity: Wendy McVicker

I met Wendy McVicker in 2011 (I believe it was), when I moved back to Ohio. She came to read for Paging Columbus, and I immediately enjoyed her work and warm, playful artist's spirit. Since then, I've enjoyed following her poetry and creative projects, which often draw inspiration from other forms of art. (I especially enjoyed visiting Wendy and Becca J.R. Lachman, who is also featured here on The Storialist. Together, they run this wonderful radio show out of Athens about poetry, and were kind enough to feature me!) Her new chapbook, The Dancer's Notes, is no exception--I found it engaging, full of empathy, humor, and joy.

Here's a little exchange we had about her work (my question is bolded, and then you'll see Wendy's response). Be sure to keep reading after our mini Q and A--you'll find a poem from the book, and Wendy's bio below.

Q: The poems in your chapbook, The Dancer’s Notes, seem to be studies of movement and stillness (often within the same poem). How do you relate to these concepts as you write? Do you feel active/physical while writing? Or still?

A: Movement and stillness: the teeter-totter where I have spent my life trying to find balance. I was a bookworm growing up, but always took long walks, and played for hours and days in the woods with my brothers and other neighborhood kids. As a philosophy student in college, I took dance classes to get away from the desk and the library. After graduation, I debated grad school in English versus more dancing, and then followed love to Europe, where I had to learn to live in a new language: dance became my means of expression, while my love of language was stirred every day as I became more nimble in French.

Poetry is another way of seeking balance on this seesaw. Although in love with words — or maybe because I am in love with words — I am fascinated by and drawn to silence. My first “adult” poems bloomed in the silence of Quaker Meeting, after I had returned (with my love, and a toddler son) to America, and my mother tongue. Silence is where I find the words, and it is the setting for all the words. I think that this is why I like to have a lot of white space in my poems: the silence that surrounds the words is always present.

In much the same way, dance is born of stillness: each gesture arises from stillness, and there are no movements that are not the intended gesture. This is the goal, at least, just as the poet’s goal is to have not a single extraneous mark on the page.

I sit (or lounge) to write, in any number of places, at home and elsewhere, but I do take frequent breaks for fresh air and moving. I once lived by a long bike path, and would take lines I was working on to that path, and murmur them to the rhythm of my walking. I know writers who listen to music while they work. I can’t do this: if there’s music on, I have to get up and dance.  But then dance circles back to the poems and the poetry practice. In The Dancer’s Notes, I try to find words for this dance of the spirit — sometimes they come from stillness, sometimes from movement. It is a dance that never ends.

a poem from The Dancer's Notes

Big jump up

A fence, or stile
A river rock sunken
in the grass —

Leaping, once, as a child
she crashed
into the top rail —

pain, bright
firewheels splashing
in her skull, the vast
black sky and her mother

chiding — she
who hesitates is
— Now

she leaps and clears
the other kneeling
in light, and her heart
too lifts —
a big jump up —

her face spangled
with gold

About Wendy McVicker

Wendy McVicker is a Teaching Artist and Literature Field Consultant with the Ohio Arts Council’s Arts Learning program. She has always tried to balance writing and moving, contemplation and action. At Webster University, she studied both philosophy and dance, and her life in poetry is paralleled by her life in karate. She lived in French-speaking Switzerland for seven years, and her response to returning to her native tongue was to dive into poetry. Her poems have appeared in small journals online and in print, and in the anthology A Ritual to Read Together: Poems in Conversation with William Stafford (ed. Becca J.R. Lachman). In addition to offering poetry workshops and residencies in schools, galleries, libraries, community centers, prisons, and hospitals, McVicker performs with instrumentalist Emily Prince under the name another language altogether, often with dancers and other musicians. The Dancer’s Notes (Finishing Line Press, 2015) is her first chapbook.

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