The Smoking Poet

The Editors

A Good Cause
Feature Author: Bonnie Jo Campbell
The Poetry of Bonnie Jo Campbell
Second Annual Short Story Contest Winners' Circle
A Chat with Poet Shaindel Beers
Feature Artist Viestarts Aistars
Novel Excerpt
Non Fiction
Poetry II
Poetry III
Cigar Lounge
Zinta's Reviews
Skye's Reviews
Submission Guidelines
Links and Resources
In The News
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. Zinta is also poetry editor at Her Circle Ezine and on the editorial board of insolent rudder. Zinta also does media work for the Stulberg International Competition.


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



Bonnie Jo Campbell grew up on a small Michigan farm with her mother and four siblings in a house her grandfather Herlihy built in the shape of an H.  She learned to castrate small pigs, milk Jersey cows, and, when she was snowed in with chocolate, butter, and vanilla, to make remarkable chocolate candy.

When she left home for the University of Chicago to study philosophy, her mother rented out her room. She has since hitchhiked across the U.S. and Canada, scaled the Swiss Alps on her bicycle, and traveled with the Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus selling snow cones. As president of Goulash Tours Inc., she has organized and led adventure tours in Russia and the Baltics, and all the way south to Romania and Bulgaria.

Her collection Women & Other Animals details the lives of extraordinary females in rural and small town Michigan, and it won the AWP prize for short fiction; her story “The Smallest Man in the World” has been awarded a Pushcart Prize. Her novel Q Road investigates the lives of a rural community where development pressures are bringing unwelcome change in the character of the land. Her new short fiction collection, American Salvage, consists of fourteen lush and rowdy stories of folks who are struggling to make sense of the twenty-first century.

For decades, Campbell has put together a personal newsletter The Letter Parade, and she currently practices Koburyu kobudo weapons training. She received her M.A. in mathematics and her M.F.A. in writing from Western Michigan University. She now lives with her husband and other animals outside Kalamazoo, Michigan.




Lorena Audra Rutens, our new “A Good Cause” editor, developed and maintained oversight of Chicagoland Community Organizations Active in Disaster (CCOAD), a coalition of Chicago’s largest and most influential nonprofit organizations and government agencies.

In response to the Midwest flood of 2008, and per the request of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Lorena rapidly mobilized the CCOAD to provide services to elderly and disadvantaged families suffering from a wide range of long term recovery issues and property damage. While working within Heartland Human Care Services, Inc., a partner of Heartland Alliance for Human Needs and Human Rights, she was asked to serve as an advisor to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services regarding the role community agencies should have in public health security policy.

The Federal Reserve Bank recently sponsored Lorena to attend the National Conference of Corporate Community Investment. Following the conference, she was invited to participate in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce 2009 disaster preparedness tabletop exercise in Washington D.C. to train alongside leaders from the public sector and Fortune 500 companies.

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 not only proudly served her country, but lobbied and presented to numerous city and county officials and business leaders the merits of social service programming. 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. Rutens 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. 

Lorena's published work appears on Voices From the Field, National Resource Center on Advancing Emergency Preparedness for Culturally Diverse Communities.


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Skye Leslie, TSP’s new assistant editor, is a poet, essayist and writer living in Portland, Oregon.  Skye has made writing a habit for over forty years.  As a retreat leader, she has taught the art of journaling, poetry and led writing workshops for survivors of domestic violence.  Because of extensive travel in foreign countries, Skye is fascinated by the stories which develop out of diverse cultural experience with a particular interest in the stories of women.  She is currently at work on a series of essays with the working title of “My Story as Told by Hair,” and a novel with working title of Prisoners of War, a creative nonfiction work based on WWII, the return of American soldiers and the Japanese internment camps in the United States.  She has also written two books on writing in the retreat experience for which she is seeking publication. 

Skye has been a student of Tom Spanbauer and his "Dangerous Writers," is a member of Portland's Writers' Dojo, Ken Arnold's Buzzaroonies, Cross River Writers, Portland Literary Arts and also posts on Open Salon.  This summer she will spend eight days studying at the Fishtrap writers’ retreat.

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