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"Words that turn the page to flame."

Every spring we feel it—the softening and warming of the earth, the dried and dead moved aside to allow green new life to nudge up first growth. Tender leaves unfold, blossoms open like palms toward the sun-filled sky. It is spring, yes, spring! A time of renewal, and hope, and rebirth.

This spring has special meaning to me, for I have started a new life, a rebirth of sorts, of my own. I’ve left suburbia behind to move to a century-old red farmhouse on ten acres. I call it Z Acres. Half of the sloping land is woods and pond; the other half is tillable field that stretches toward the distant horizon. I am discovering the farmer in myself.

Not just farmer. I am discovering how the spirit unfolds when given such lush environs, a place of solitude that invites dreaming. The writer in me is stretching long cramped muscles. Nature is a wonderful muse. As the flowers come up, as the vegetable garden sprouts, so does my inspiration for fresh new words—and not to forget the careful weeding!

Enjoy the spring garden here, in our spring issue pages. Color and visual pleasure is brought to you by Margo McCafferty and Tom Rudd, artists from the Keweenaw in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. We have poetry, fiction and nonfiction as always, yet always new. A Good Cause is about the witnessing of life sacrificed for the meat-eaters that most of us are; the organic movement should involve this final and thoughtful connection.

Not to be missed: Kalamazoo & Beyond, this issue in three remarkable pages. These have been carefully and lovingly tended to by Kim Grabowski, our Kalamazoo College intern editor. Kim has also contributed insightful author interviews with Traci Brimhall and Laura Kasischke, adding in book reviews by these authors and others. And she has organized a tribute to her mentor, poet Diane Seuss.

And then there is our Joannie. Our very own poetry editor, and The Smoking Poet wouldn’t be so filled with words that turn the page to flame if it weren’t for Joannie Kevren Stangeland’s devotion. Joannie’s newest poetry collection, Into the Rumored Spring, is entirely dedicated to a friend who fought and won over cancer. Read about this tribute.

Read, be inspired, be moved, be turned to flame and perhaps plant a few words of your own. Celebrate spring.


With a good word,

Zinta Aistars

TSP Editor-in-Chief



Book Reviews


Into the Rumored Spring by Joannie Stangeland


The Raising by Laura Kasischke


Something Knows the Moment by Scott Owens


Space, In Chains by Laura Kasischke


Thirteen Departures From the Moon by Deema K. Shehabi



... and many more reviews coming throughout the spring season!

Lighthouse Mushroom, print by Margo McCafferty and Tom Rudd

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We appreciate your gift.

The Smoking Poet Spring 2012
Issue #21

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