“A fine cigar and good literature―two of life’s most enduring pleasures.”
When those little green knuckles start pushing through the rich soil, gradually unfolding, stretching, growing into the lush greenery of spring—one can’t help but think about beginnings. This spring, I think about the beginnings of The Smoking Poet, five years past.
Back then, I had little concept of where I was going with this. I just knew I wanted to work with good writing and sharp writers. I wanted to do it in a classy and meditative atmosphere, something like a cigar lounge, where one entered a dusky place to relax, enjoy an hour or so of indulgent pleasure. I could see fine art on the walls. I could hear a jazz quartet playing in the corner. I could imagine the poet leaning against the polished wood of the bar and reading a poem.
Five years later, I can look back on how far we’ve come, and I feel proud. Proud for all of us. We are—editors, writers, readers who want to share our hearts’ passion with others. We are enthralled with the power of language. We are mesmerized by the beauty of art, whether our tool of the trade is a pen, a pencil, a keyboard, a paintbrush, a camera, or a musical instrument.
On April 28, in the comfortable and dusky ambiance of The Wine Loft in Kalamazoo, Michigan, a group of us are coming together to celebrate five years of The Smoking Poet. Putting on the Dog: TSP Celebrates 5 will be an evening of 15 authors who have appeared in our pages reading their work. Jazz will be playing in the corner. Poets will be leaning against the polished wood of the bar, poems in hand. Dean Hauck of Michigan News Agency will be selling books. And the community will gather around us to listen and join in our celebration. If you are in Kalamazoo on that evening, please join us.
The event is being sponsored by the Friends of Poetry, Inc., with the devotion of two women in particular that are exquisite poets … but by now, also my exquisite friends. I have been honored by their help in organizing this event and am ever grateful. Amy Newday and Lynn Pattison, you have honored me and all the good writers who have graced these pages. To Erica Vitkin of The Wine Loft—this toast is to you.
And so we go on, bringing you yet another remarkable issue. Among our feature writers and artists are Stuart Dybek, Judith Fein, Holly Friesen, Marjory Heath Wentworth. In our pages of fiction, nonfiction and poetry are great talents, some with a long history of publication, some yet fresh with spring dew. Our Kalamazoo & Beyond page showcases how rich in local talent is the southwest Michigan region. Don’t miss our ever-smoky Cigar Lounge and Andris’ Blue Note. Book reviews will be added throughout the season.
Drum roll: We are also announcing our fifth contest, our first to combine both prose and poetry. Please read the submission guidelines and send us your work—we would love to read your very, very best.
Please celebrate with us. Reader or writer, or both, you have played an immense role in creating the pages you see before you today. We offer you emotional and intellectual nourishment. We hope that it moves you to consider a gift to The Smoking Poet. Our hope is to publish an anthology before the end of 2011 to put between covers and on paper the best of our best. We will need your help in doing this.
Thank you, from the heart, to my best of the best editors—Joanie Kervran Stangeland, poetry editor; Mick Parsons, cigar editor; Andris Sīlis, music editor. Lost without you.
With a good word,
Causes Zinta Aistars Supports
Women for Women International