The Smoking Poet - Summer 2008
Short Story Contest WINNER
Short Story Contest - Second Place
Short Story Contest - Third Place
Short Story Contest - Honorable Mention
Feature Author Interview
Feature Artist Interview
Feature YA Author Interview
Non Fiction
Poetry 2
Poetry 3
Poetry 4
Z's Reviews
J. Conrad's Reviews
Russell's Reviews
Cigar Lounge
Links & Resources
Submission Guidelines
The Editors

Welcome graphic

A fine cigar and good literature: two of life's finest pleasures.

And they arrived, and kept arriving, story after story, one better than the next. We were amazed and cheered at the riches at our door. Our first annual short story contest brought us stories from all points of the globe: all corners of the United States, as well as Italy, France, China, Spain and many more. One author was 16 years old, yet his writing certainly did not bespeak his young years. If not quite a prize-winning story, the potential was certainly there. Other authors had years of achievement pinned like medals to their chests—published novels, awards and prizes, publishing histories that blushed with authority. That was not our criteria of judgment, however. There was only one criterion: literary quality.


But you didn’t make it easy. Four of us read through stacks of stories—myself; TSP co-founder and cigar editor, J. Conrad Guest; three time novelist, our fiction editor, Russell Rowland; and Dominic Smith, novelist and winner of a laundry list of literary awards. Each of us read quietly in our corner, no discussion, and only when done with all the submissions did we exchange our personal lists of favorites. Suddenly, it was easy. All four of us had chosen the same three finalists in a list of five top choices. Two of us matched on four of five choices. Great minds think alike? But not entirely alike, because each of us also carried a torch for at least one other story we championed. Perhaps you will see some of these treasures in our coming issues.


But for now, we heartily congratulate the winners of The Smoking Poet’s First Annual Short Story Contest! Our unanimous first prize winner is Grace Delobel; second prize went to Martha Clarkson; third to Phil Haddock; and a very honorable mention to Paul Bowers. Enjoy! Great talents, every one. And to those who didn’t, this time, receive a nod—know yourselves worthy. Truly, you brought us great pleasure in reading and discussing your work.


After you’ve read our winning stories, join in the conversation with our line-up of literary and visual artists. Lynn Stegner (yes, that’s the William Stegner family, but Lynn’s a great talent in her own right) is our feature author. Kate Buckley is a courageous young adult author writing about the topics no one else will touch. Ed Rode is our artist-photographer; his stunning photography and paintings complete our pages.


Icing on the cake: our usual fine array of literary voices in poetry, fiction and non-fiction. The Cigar Lounge lights up with cigar reviews and smoky poetry—and an essay on sexism in the cigar industry that will make you think twice about the cigar you choose. Don’t miss our book reviews! We will be adding more reviews throughout the summer season, so come back often.


And now... lose yourself in literary pleasure.


With a good word,


Zinta Aistars

TSP Managing Editor



(posted throughout the summer)


Choices by Kate Buckley (forthcoming)


Inside Out Girl by Tish Cohen (forthcoming)


Belly of the Whale by Linda Merlino (forthcoming)


Bird's Horn & Other Poems by Kevin Rabas


Child 44 by Tom Smith (forthcoming)


The Beautiful Cigar Girl by Daniel Stashower


Because a Fire Was in My Head by Lynn Stegner


Notes from Refuge by Lana Maht Wiggins (forthcoming)


Notes from the Waiting Room: Managing a Loved One's End-of-Life Hospitalization by Bart Windrum (forthcoming)


Apples of Arcadia by Jeffrey Woolf (forthcoming)




J. Conrad Guest


Jason Mashak (poetry)


David Haegens (cigar review)


Laura Sobbott Ross (poetry)


Cigar Reviews 

  • Arturo Fuente Hemingway Short Story
  • Cohiba Siglo VI
  • Don Pepin Garcia Series JJ
  • Bolivar Robusto


Neil Diamond, in a Nashville Studio, takes a break from recording to enjoy a cigar. (Ed Rode)


Table of Contents

Summer 2008


Feedback, submissions, ideas? Email The Smoking Poet