I watch for the blizzard as I pack up my winter camping gear—I
am hoping for it. Three winters ago, I camped at Fort Custer, near Battle Creek, Michigan, in the midst of a blizzard, pitching a tent with my camping companion, Mary the dog musher. It was New Year’s Eve, crossing the threshold into 2008 (scroll down for the story and photos) and we stood in the shimmering white at midnight, three dogs around us,
and held our blue tin cups up to the fleecy sky in a toast to the New Year. On the morning of the New Year, Mary harnessed
the dogs to the sled and I hopped on for the ride. This silent slide over the snow, beneath the white-laced trees, was an
experience to remember.
So, this New Year’s Eve, crossing the threshold into 2011,
I’m doing it again. You’ll find me on the dog trail, racing through the snow. In my book, there is just no better
way to slide into new beginnings.
Speaking of books …
And, speaking of beginnings, new starts, open doors, crossing
thresholds, clean slates, fresh adventure—we bring to you a winter issue like none other. It’s a chatty one. We
talk to some fascinating people. Dorianne Laux, poet extraordinaire, talks to us about her fifth poetry collection, The Book of Men. Lisa Hickey, publisher of The Good Men Project Magazine, talks to us about good men, and why we love them that way. Michael Loyd Gray talks to us about his novel, Well Deserved, in four voices. Jen Knox shares with us her remarkable story, Musical Chairs, of her journey from being a stripper to becoming a writer,
editor and teacher. Lori A. May talks to us across a wide range—she does everything in writing. And, from Latvia, Laimdota Sēle talks to us about researching the many centuries-old history of Ventspils, city on the Baltic Sea, for her newest novel,
Cērt Zibens Marmalē (Lightning Strikes the Sea).
The artwork for this issue, in fact, is also from Latvia. The photos you see throughout our winter pages were taken by me and by coeditor Andris Sīlis. We met again this past fall, after 17 years, in Ventspils, Latvia, and spent a day exploring Cape Kolka at the northernmost
tip of the Kurzeme province, where the Baltic Sea crashes up against the Gulf of Rīga. It was a day of wonder and mystery,
swathed in fog, and we wandered among the fallen pines along the Baltic shore. Enjoy the photos—and the travel essay.
As always, our pages are filled with stunning contributions of
fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and cigar reviews. Book reviews and music reviews will be continuously refreshed throughout the coming season, so read them now and keep coming back for more. Links and Resources are ever expanding. Kalamazoo & Beyond shows off local talent.
For the first time, we are especially excited to open the doors
of Our Gift Shop. All proceeds go to support our ongoing efforts to showcase the very best in literary talent. Shop, enjoy, and do good for
writers who work hard to excel.
We want to wish all of you a wonderful winter season, celebrating
holidays, beginning a new year, stretching your literary muscle to reach your fullest potential. If there is space on your
gift list, please consider a gift to The Smoking Poet, to support our efforts to shine a light on some of today’s brightest and most promising new and established talent.
A special thank you to my editors Joannie Kevran-Stangeland,
Mick Parksons, and Andris Silis for all they do.
May 2011 be a year of great adventure.
With a good word,
Zinta Aistars, TSP Editor-in-Chief