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“Words that turn the page to flame.”

Something about a New Year … a clean slate. Whatever didn’t meet our hopes and standards in the previous year can be left behind, marked “lesson learned,” and we can move ahead with reinvigorated creativity. Think of it as a rewrite—writers get that. Almost nothing comes off the pen, or the keyboard, without room for improvement, and it’s the rewrite that brings polish to the pearl.

2011 was an exceptional year for The Smoking Poet. The highlight of the year was our 5th year anniversary in April, a reading of 14 authors participating and an audience that left just barely room for standing. So what can we do in 2012 to beat that? Well, in our sixth year, we hope to expand our collaboration with Kalamazoo, Michigan’s NPR affiliate station, WMUK, bringing more author interviews to our readers—and our listeners. Not to worry if you don’t live within the 102.1 FM frequency. You can listen online at WMUK’s site or right here on our pages.

Now entering our sixth year, we bring you an artist, Ed Gray (Jikiwe by his Ojibwa name), and a group of writers and poets from the far north—the Keweenaw Peninsula in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Writer t. kilgore splake refers to their long winters on Lake Superior as “the long white.” That’s a time when bears go into hibernation, but artists surface, using that time of winter silence and solitude to immerse themselves in their art and emerge in the spring with new visions of creativity. We bring only a few of the Keweenaw and U.P. talents to you in this issue—there will be more to come in our spring issue.

Author interviews have expanded. Katie Alvord talks to us about divorcing our cars. Rick Chambers talks to us about self publishing. Kurt Cobb talks to us about peak oil. James Sanford talks to us about beating cancer. Recording broadcast interviews include Joseph Heywood, Michael Loyd Gray, Maryann Lesert, t. kilgore splake, Vic Foerster, and others to be added throughout winter.

And we have travel essays, memoirs, poetry, fiction to inspire you and keep you reading through your own long white. A Good Cause invites you to consider Miss Representation, how contemporary media portrays women with a stunning video and a challenge.

A warm welcome to Kim Grabowski, our newest intern from Kalamazoo College. She will play a big role in moving our winter into spring.

Got some holiday bucks to burn? Visit our Gift Shop, proceeds to writers and the maintenance of our online literary magazine.

Don’t miss our book reviews! We add to these pages throughout the season, so keep coming back—there is always something new here for you to enjoy!

With a good word,

Zinta Aistars

TSP Founder and Editor-in-Chief

Zinta Reviews


South of Superior by Ellen Airgood (Review by Tim Bazzett)


Divorce Your Car! Ending the Love Affair with the Automobile by Katie Alvord


Radiance by Rick Chambers


Prelude by Kurt Cobb


Diary of a Wilderness Dweller by Chris Czajkowski


How to Build Your Dream Cabin in the Woods by J. Wayne Fears


Naked in the Stream: Isle Royale Stories by Vic Foerster


Not Famous Anymore by Michael Loyd Gray


Force of Blood by Joseph Heywood


Cache of Corpses by Henry Kisor


Base Ten by Maryann Lesert


Siesta Lane: One Cabin, No Running Water, and a Year Living Green by Amy Minato


Bear Down, Bear North: Alaska Stories by Melinda Moustakis


Murder in the Keweenaw by Harley L. Sachs


The Sum of My Parts by James Sanford



... and more throughout the season.


Pottery by our feature artist, Ed Gray

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