Putting On the Dog: TSP Celebrates 5
Short Story and Poetry Contest
A Good Cause
Our Gift Shop
The Artist: Holly Friesen
Kalamazoo & Beyond
Talking to Stuart Dybek
Talking to Judith Fein
Talking to Marjory Wentworth
The Poetry of Marjory Wentworth
Fiction 2
Fiction 3
Poetry 2
Poetry 3
Cigar Lounge
Zinta Reviews
Andris' Blue Note
Links & Resources
Marketing & Donations
Submission Guidelines
The Editors

“A fine cigar and good literaturetwo of life’s most enduring pleasures.”

When those little green knuckles start pushing through the rich soil, gradually unfolding, stretching, growing into the lush greenery of spring—one can’t help but think about beginnings. This spring, I think about the beginnings of The Smoking Poet, five years past.

Back then, I had little concept of where I was going with this. I just knew I wanted to work with good writing and sharp writers. I wanted to do it in a classy and meditative atmosphere, something like a cigar lounge, where one entered a dusky place to relax, enjoy an hour or so of indulgent pleasure. I could see fine art on the walls. I could hear a jazz quartet playing in the corner. I could imagine the poet leaning against the polished wood of the bar and reading a poem.

Five years later, I can look back on how far we’ve come, and I feel proud. Proud for all of us. We are—editors, writers, readers who want to share our hearts’ passion with others. We are enthralled with the power of language. We are mesmerized by the beauty of art, whether our tool of the trade is a pen, a pencil, a keyboard, a paintbrush, a camera, or a musical instrument.

On April 28, in the comfortable and dusky ambiance of The Wine Loft in Kalamazoo, Michigan, a group of us are coming together to celebrate five years of The Smoking Poet. Putting on the Dog: TSP Celebrates 5 will be an evening of authors who have appeared in our pages reading their work. Jazz will be playing in the corner. Poets will be leaning against the polished wood of the bar, poems in hand. Dean Hauck of Michigan News Agency will be selling books. And the community will gather around us to listen and join in our celebration. If you are in Kalamazoo on that evening, please join us.

The event is being sponsored by the Friends of Poetry, Inc., with the devotion of two women in particular that are exquisite poets … but by now, also my exquisite friends. I have been honored by their help in organizing this event and am ever grateful. Amy Newday and Lynn Pattison, you have honored me and all the good writers who have graced these pages. To Erica Vitkin of The Wine Loft—this toast is to you.

And so we go on, bringing you yet another remarkable issue. Among our feature writers and artists are Stuart Dybek, Judith Fein, Holly Friesen, Marjory Heath Wentworth. In our pages of fiction, nonfiction and poetry are great talents, some with a long history of publication, some yet fresh with spring dew. Our Kalamazoo & Beyond page showcases how rich in local talent is the southwest Michigan region. Don’t miss our ever-smoky Cigar Lounge and Andris’ Blue Note. Book reviews will be added throughout the season.

Drum roll: We are also announcing our fifth contest, our first to combine both prose and poetry. Please read the submission guidelines and send us your work—we would love to read your very, very best.

Please celebrate with us. Reader or writer, or both, you have played an immense role in creating the pages you see before you today. We offer you emotional and intellectual nourishment. We hope that it moves you to consider a gift to The Smoking Poet. Our hope is to publish an anthology before the end of 2011 to put between covers and on paper the best of our best. We will need your help to do this. If everyone who visits this site donates just $5, we would have enough to fire up the presses and print an anthology ...

Thank you, from the heart, to my best of the best editors—Joanie Kervran Stangeland, poetry editor; Mick Parsons, cigar editor; Andris Sīlis, music editor. Lost without you.

With a good word,

Zinta Aistars

TSP Editor-in-Chief


Cigar Lounge

36th by Jack Dollar

Carmine Pietro, cigar review by Mick Parsons

Padron Delicias, cigar review by Mick Parsons

The Cigar Basement by Matt Perkins


Andris' Blue Note


Last Chance to Play by Andris Sīlis (in Latvian), translated into English by Zinta Aistars





Book Reviews


The Endless Repetition of an Ordinary Miracle, poems by Marjory Heath Wentworth

Life is a Trip: The Transformative Magic of Travel by Judith Fein


Meet Me at the Met by Eric G. Müller


Once Upon a River by Bonnie Jo Campbell


Pacietības Mērs (The Limit of Patience) by Lelde Stumbre

Strike Dog (A Woods Cop Mystery) by Joseph Heywood


More book reviews will be added throughout spring. Check back!




Patient One by Holly Friesen

Integration by Holly Friesen

THE SMOKING POET is raising funds to become an LLC, a limited liability company, so that we can begin taking in revenue from appropriate ads and, from that revenue, to pay our hardworking editors and excellent writers. We are also raising funds to publish an anthology commemorating our first five years, collecting in print the best of our best.

Thank you to all our writers, editors and readers. You are helping us grow. You are helping us continue to develop a place where we can help your art shine.

Please visit our Marketing, Advertising and Donations page to learn more.

We appreciate your gift.

The Smoking Poet’s Short Story and Poetry Contest—On Now!


Submission Guidelines


Deadline is November 30, 2011


Send us your very  best—and win a cash prize and publication.

The Smoking Poet
Spring 2011 - Issue #18 


İAll materials, print, artwork and photography on this site are copyrighted and not to be reprinted without written permission by The Smoking Poet.