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The Editors


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Zinta Aistars, TSP’s founder and editor-in-chief, is the published author of three books. She is a publications editor and writer for a health care organization in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and was an editor and writer for LuxEsto (for which she still freelances), the Kalamazoo College alumni magazine for seven years prior to that. Her work has also appeared in the Kalamazoo Guide, Greater Guide of Southwest Michigan, Southwest Michigan Living, Kindred Spirits Magazine, Kalamazoo Gazette, County Wide News, Encore, Welcome Home, Parade of Homes, the Latvian newspaper Laiks, and the Latvian literary periodical, Jauna Gaita. She has published poetry, travel essays, stories, and articles in the United States, Latvia, England, Sweden, Germany, and Australia. Her work also appears on many ezines — including Xelas MagazineImpact Times, Gently Read Literature, Cezannes Carrot, Amsterdam Scriptum, Boston Literary Magazine, Outsider Ink, The Sidewalks End, Ghoti Fish, Menda City Review, Megaera Magazine, T-Zero, Fiction Attic, Saucy Vox, Ash Canyon Review, ThothWeb, Flash Me Magazine, Spoiled Ink, 63 Channels, Her Circle Ezine, Ascent Aspirations Magazine, The Redbridge Review, River Walk Journal, Flashquake, milk magazine, The Surface, BookCrossing, Serene Light, Word Riot, Burning Word, The Moon, insolent rudder, Bobbing Around, coilMagazine, Poems Niederngasse, The Paper, Poetry Life & Times, QuietPoly Writers Magazine, Midwest Book Review, Write Sight and others. 


Join Zinta and read her work on her Web site, MySpace, Facebook and at her blog. Or, tweet Zinta on Twitter.



Lorena Audra Rutens, our “A Good Cause” editor, is currently working on a campaign to get Robyn Gabel elected as State Representative to Illinois' 18th district seat. She has worked for over ten years in advocacy, coalition building and direct service for numerous non-profits. Lorena has coordinated business continuity planning seminars for nonprofit and government leadership; introduced individualized education plans to youth homes in a developing country; and created job training programs for underserved youth in Denver, Colorado. She has advocated for defendant rights during her undergraduate internship within the Leon County Public Defender’s Office in Tallahassee, Florida. She has also worked within the Florida House of Representatives on the Education Council and assisted State Representatives in the creation of legislation.

One of Lorena’s proudest accomplishments was her year of service with AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps during which she proudly served under  the motto of "getting things done". Because of her outstanding academic achievements while completing her Master’s in Social Work, she was nominated to the highest honor societies, Phi Kappa Phi and Phi Alpha. Lorena has studied internationally and analyzed social welfare issues and institutions in the Czech Republic, Poland, Germany, Latvia, Barbados, and Trinidad and Tobago. She has served on numerous volunteer committees and traveled to over 15 countries.

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David Blaine is our new cigar editor. David's poetry, prose, reviews and interviews have been published widely online and in print.  David lives and works with his family in rural Michigan.

He is an editor with the Outsider Writers Collective and his third book of poetry, Antisocial, was published in 2009 by Outsider Writers Press.

David's most recent work has appeared at Beat the Dust, Counterpunch, Gutter Elloquence, La Stanza Di Nightingale (translated to Italian) and is forthcoming in Heavy Bear and Zygote in My Coffee.  You may read more about him and find contact information at his blog, A. Hellow Whiskey, at

David prefers the robusto shape, 5x50, oscuro wrappers, fuerte or 2x fuerte.  “So far my favorite is the Montecruz Negra Habana, but I believe they are out of production right now.  Probably the nicest stick in my humidor at this time is the Chateau Real from Drew Estates.  A good Nicaraguan cigar that burns very well.”



Olga Bonfiglio is a writer who is interested in the local food movement, social justice issues, urban gardens (particularly in Detroit), and travel. As an academic, she has taught business communication at Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo Valley Community College and social studies education at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, five miles from her hometown of Melvindale in downriver Detroit. Olga is currently a professor and director of the Education Department at Kalamazoo College. She is also a participant in the Courage to Teach Program at the Fetzer Institute, and the Great Lakes Peace Jam. She lives with her husband, Kurt Cobb, and Tucker the Cat, in one of downtown Kalamazoo’s historic neighborhoods. Heroes of a Different Stripe is her first book.



Joannie Kervran Stangeland, whose poetry you can read on our first page of poetry, is our guest poetry editor for the upcoming spring issue of The Smoking Poet. Poetry sent in for the spring issue, deadline February 28 (see submission guidelines) will be read and edited by Joannie.


In addition to The Smoking Poet, Joannie Kervran Stangeland’s poetry has appeared most recently in Journal of the American Medical Association, Horticulture, Raven Chronicles, and San Pedro River Review. She is the author of two poetry chapbooks, and she hosts an online video series, “A Writer’s Guide to Microsoft Office.”





Kevin Morgan Watson, honorary judge for The Smoking Poet's Third Annual Short Story Contest, is founding editor of Press 53, an independent literary publishing house in Winston-Salem, NC. As a publisher, Kevin has worked with writers ranging from first-time published authors to winners of the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. As a writer, his short stories, poetry, and essays have appeared in numerous publications. He also serves as an advisor for short story adaptation to screenplay with the screenwriting faculty at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, School of Filmmaking. Part of Kevin’s mission at Press 53 is to help usher in a short story renaissance by ignoring market trends and publishing short story collections he loves while encouraging other small presses to do the same.

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