We hope that, when the insects take over the world, they will remember with gratitude how we took them along on all our picnics.
As if seen through the prism of a fly’s eye, this multifaceted glimpse of creatures that have lived alongside us for millennia is qarrtsiluni‘s Insecta edition. Keen entomologists have not examined these insects with more love, fear, and respect than the poets, writers, photographers, and artists in these pages.
We asked our contributors to aspire to a final transformation of their work — to achieve what in insects is the fully-formed imago. We have not been disappointed. The range here is as vast and surprising as the difference between a delicate fairy-fly and a Goliath beetle. The flight paths of dragonflies meander above the sea, a litter of broken chitin and antennae drift across our rooms, and a weird scraping music fills the air.
Welcome to the Dominion of Insects.
—Ivy Alvarez and Marly Youmans
Ivy Alvarez (website, blog) is an Australian poet currently living in Cardiff, Wales. She’s the author of Mortal (Red Morning Press, 2006), and recently received grants from the Australia Council for the Arts and Academi to write poems for her second manuscript. In addition to poetry, she also writes plays, reviews and articles.
Emilie Zoey Baker (MySpace page [work alert: automatic audio player], atomic lady bomb) is the 2006 World Performance Poetry Cup champion. She’s been featured at many venues and festivals, including the 2007 Melbourne International Arts festival, The Melbourne Fringe, The Big Day Out, Broken Hill Poetry Festival and Mildura Writers festival. She has had work commissioned by the Melbourne Aquarium, the National Art Gallery Of Victoria and the Next Wave Festival. She has been published in Australia, the U.K., Germany and the USA and has appeared on ABC TV and radio. Her first book, She Wore the Sky on Her Shoulders, is out now through Hit And Miss Publications.
F. J. Bergmann lives in Wisconsin and at fibitz.com. When she sits in the dark, she implodes.
Polly Blackley lives in Yorkshire. Her work has appeared in Smiths Knoll magazine, and she recently won a poetry competition run as part of the WEA Yorkshire and Humber’s Create07 Festival. She is a qarrtsiluni regular, with previous appearances in the Making Sense, Education, Short Shorts and Lies and Hiding issues.
Therese L. Broderick, MFA, is a freelance poet and teacher residing in Albany, New York, with her husband and daughter. Her poems have won national and local awards and have been published nationally and locally. Visit her “Ekphrasis” blog at poetryaboutart.wordpress.com.
Chris Clarke is a California-based science and nature writer, and blogs at Creek Running North. His essay in this issue is adapted from a forthcoming book on Joshua trees. Previously on qarrtsiluni, a post from Creek Running North appeared in the Greatest Blog Hits issue.
Cynthia Cox (The Twitching Line) teaches high school English in Katy, TX. Her poems have appeared in various publications over the years, most recently in Cider Press Review, Albatross, and Epicenter magazine.
Natalie d’Arbeloff (Blaugustine) is a multinational artist and writer living in London. Her latest book is The God Interviews, which first appeared as a comic strip on her blog. Previous books and limited editions are shown on her website. This is her tenth appearance in qarrtsiluni.
Charles Dayton is an environmental lawyer who practiced in Minneapolis for 40 years. He led the fight in the 1970s to increase the Wilderness protection for the Boundary Waters Wilderness, and was named by the Minnesota Chapter of the Sierra Club as the Environmentalist of the Decade for that and other work. Since retirement in 2003, he has worked as a volunteer at the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy (MCEA) on energy and global warming issues. He currently serves on the Minnesota Climate Change Advisory Group, appointed by Governor Pawlenty to develop policy recommendations for reducing Greenhouse Gases.
Michaela A. Gabriel (website, blog) is very grateful for her father’s photography and writing genes. When she is not out and about looking for that perfect picture or writing poetry, she is blogging, reading, watching movies, listening to music, or hanging out with her friends.
Arturo Lomas Garza is an Austin, Texas musician, PCB layout designer, video and audio producer and photographer. He blogs with Katherine Durham Oldmixon at Katudi Artists Collaboration, and his expertise in audio was sorely tested by the Flash player’s pickiness about sampling rates for Katherine’s MP3s in this issue.
Matt Hetherington is a musician and writer based in Preston, Melbourne. His latest collection is I Think We Have (Small Change Press, Brisbane, 2007). He is also on the board of the Australian Haiku Society, and his haiku can be found in the First and Second Australian Haiku Anthology.
Lucy Kempton (box elder) is British, living in France with husband and dog, sometimes teaching English. She also had photos in the Making Sense and Ekphrasis issues, but this was her first contribution to include poetry. Previously, she had described herself as “a displaced dilettante and prosaic spirit, who may yet entertain poetic angels unawares.”
Diane Kendig (website), a poet, writer, and translator, is author of three chapbooks, most recently Greatest Hits, 1978-2000 (Pudding House). Her poetry and nonfiction have appeared in the journals Colere, Ekphrasis, the minnesota review, Mid-America, U.S. 1 and Slant, among others, as well as the anthologies Broken Land: Poems of Brooklyn and Those Winter Sundays: Female Academics and their Working-Class Parents. A recipient of two Ohio Arts Council Fellowships in Poetry, a Fulbright lectureship in translation, and a Yaddo Fellowship, she currently lives in Lynn, Massachusetts.
Mike Libby (Insect Lab) is a multi-disciplinary artist who makes highly detailed sculptures, models, collages and drawings. He has been in many solo and group exhibits, in Maine, throughout the US and Canada, and his work is housed in collections worldwide. “Through diverse materials and methodologies,” he says, “I explore themes of science, nature, fantasy, history and autobiography, highlighting illogical and acute correspondences between the real and unreal.”
Dana Guthrie Martin (My Gorgeous Somewhere) lives and writes in the Seattle area. Her poetry has appeared in Fence and is forthcoming in Canopic Jar. She will begin pursuing her MFA in creative writing at the University of Washington this January.
Leslie F. Miller (A Doggy’s Life) is a freelance writer living in Baltimore. She has won awards and grants for fiction and nonfiction, and her poetry has appeared in Kit-Cat Review, Yowl, High Horse, Sojourn, Attic, Maryland Poetry Review, and more. She has written a book about cake.
Jean Morris (tasting rhubarb) lives in London where she works as a university administrator and freelance editor and translator. A couple of years ago she began to rediscover a long-lost creative impulse through the inspiration of writers and photographers met online. She is a qarrtsiluni regular, with previous contributions appearing in the Ekphrasis, Come Outside, First Time, Greatest Blog Hits and Short Shorts issues.
Robbi Nester teaches composition classes to mostly unwilling freshmen at Irvine Valley College in Irvine, California.
Michael Nickels-Wisdom has been writing in haiku and related forms for 17 years, after discovering them while working in a public library. His work received an Honorable Mention award in 2007’s Tokutomi Memorial Haiku Contest, and has appeared in recent issues of Modern Haiku, as well as in the First Time issue of qarrtsiluni. He lives in Spring Grove, Illinois.
Alistair Noon lives in Berlin. His poetry, reviews and translations from German, Russian and Chinese are online at Litter, Shearsman, Nth Position, The Recusant, RealPoetik, Intercapillary Space and Cipher Journal. Alistair coordinates Poetry Hearings, the annual Berlin Festival of Poetry in English.
Katherine Durham Oldmixon is Associate Professor of English and Director of the Writing Program at Huston-Tillotson, an historically Black university on Austin’s East Side. A poet active in the community, she also serves on the board of Texas Folklife, is the current president of Austin Poetry Society and is a Research Associate of the Humanities Institute of the University of Texas at Austin. She and Arturo Lomas Garza blog about their artistic projects, many of which are collaborations, at Katudi Artists Collaboration.
Christina Pacosz (webpage) has been writing and publishing prose and poetry for almost half a century and has several books of poetry, the most recent, Greatest Hits, 1975-2001 (Pudding House, 2002). She lives in Kansas City, Missouri.
Andy Pokel is a student at St. Olaf College and is an active poet, performer, and comicker. He thanks God for a world in which art can exist to teach and heal us.
Cati Porter (blog) is the editor of Poemeleon: A Journal of Poetry, and associate editor for Babel. She has recent or forthcoming poems in kaleidowhirl, mamazine, Mannequin Envy, and Umbrella, as well as the anthologies White Ink: Poems on Mothers and Motherhood (Demeter Press), Bedside Guide to No Tell Motel – Second Floor (No Tell Books), and Letters to the World, the Wompo anthology (Red Hen Press). Her chapbook, small fruit songs, is forthcoming from Pudding House Publications.
Jayne Pupek (website, Notes on the Writing Life) holds an MA in counseling psychology and has spent most of her professional life in the field of mental health. Her short fiction and poetry have appeared in numerous print and online literary journals. Her work has twice been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She is the author of one book of poems, Forms of Intercession (forthcoming from Mayapple Press, 2008) and two chapbooks: Local Girls (DeadMule, 2007) and Primitive (Pudding House Press, 2004). Her first novel, Tomato Girl, will be published by Algonquin in 2008. Jayne resides near Richmond, VA with her husband, two sons, and a menagerie of animal companions.
Monica Raymond is a prize-winning poet and playwright based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. She has taught writing at Harvard, the City University of New York, and the Boston Museum School. You can read an excerpt from her play The Owl Girl at the Massachusetts Cultural Council website.
Deb Scott (stoney moss) is a middle-aged tomboy living in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and pets. Her poetry is published in MReview 2006 and 2007, and she manages ReadWritePoem, an online community poetry site. She loves bugs — not all of them, but most of them.
Shem is the pen name of a Rockford, Illinois-based writer/photographer. You can read him regularly at Fourteen Twenty, a scrapbook-style weblog of observations, topical commentary and intelligent discussions. You can also see more of his photography at his deviantART page.
Carolee Sherwood is poet, wife and mother (purposefully in that order when push comes to shove, which it sometimes does). She blogs at The Polka Dot Witch and is a collaborator in Read Write Poem and The Fertile Ground Poetry Project.
Prize-winning photographer Anne Morrison Smyth (website) grew up in Ripton, Vermont and in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She moved to Belchertown in 1999 after living in Amherst for 30 years, where she raised her four children. Anne’s love for wildernesses of all kinds informs her work with an intimate, unflinching celebration of the diverse small realities that create a larger truth.
Paperweights by Paul J. Stankard (website) are in collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian, the Victoria & Albert, Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art, and many other major museums of the world. His portfolio in qarrtsiluni was solicited by guest editor Marly Youmans, who notes, “Paul Stankard is one of the world’s great artists in glass. His focus on botanical accuracy from root to flower transformed the medium of lampwork, moving it from craft to art. Many of his highly detailed works combine delicacy of observation and execution with dream elements like masks and root figures.” He has a new book of autobiographical essays, No Green Berries or Leaves: The Creative Journey of an Artist in Glass (McDonald & Woodward, 2007).
Jon Stone is the poetry editor of the roundtable review and part of the team behind Fuselit. His work has mostly been published in hot young things like Mimesis, The Wolf, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency and Toad in Mud (here and here), as well as in Bizarre magazine. He shares a website, Bandijcat, with Kirsten Irving.
Ray Succre currently lives on the southern Oregon coast with his wife and baby son. He tries hard. For inquiry, publication history, and information, visit him online [work alert: automatic audio player]. (Editor’s note: Ray has a much more interesting bio at his own site!)
Wendy Vardaman has a Ph.D. in English from the University of Pennsylvania, and has poems, reviews, and interviews published or forthcoming in a variety of anthologies and journals, including Poet Lore, Main Street Rag, Nerve Cowboy, damselfly, Free Verse, Pivot, Wisconsin People & Ideas, Women’s Review of Books and Portland Review Literary Journal. She has received several Pushcart Prize nominations and was runner up in 2004 for the Council for Wisconsin Writers’ Lorine Niedecker Award.
Carey Wallace (alice) is a writer from Michigan, living in New York, and working on a new novel about the invention of the typewriter. Her story “The Stranger’s Club” appeared in the First Time issue.
Jonathan Wonham (Connaissances) was born in Glasgow in 1965. He currently works as a geologist in Paris where he assists with the editing of Upstairs at Duroc, an annual fiction and poetry magazine. His poetry has been published in Poetry Introduction 7 (Faber) and a number of other anthologies including Future Welcome (Moosehead Anthology 10) and Radio Waves (Enitharmon). He was interviewed by Ivy Alvarez for qarrtsiluni’s Science as Poetry issue.
A seventh book from Marly Youmans (website, blog), Val/Orson, is forthcoming from P. S. Publishing (U. K.) in 2008. Set among the tree sitters of California’s redwoods, the story takes its inspiration from the legendary tale of Valentine and Orson and the forest romances of Shakespeare. Her prior books are: Ingledove (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2005); Claire (LSU Poetry Series, 2003); The Curse of the Raven Mocker (FSG, 2003); The Wolf Pit (FSG, 2001, winner of The Michael Shaara Award); Catherwood (FSG, 1996); and Little Jordan (David R. Godine, Publisher, 1995). As she is always playing tug-of-war between time for writing and the needs of a family with three children, she has entirely given up the mad, frolicksome habits that make reading these little biographies so interesting.
nested in the disobedience of your hair.
—Austin Hummel, “Mirror, Mirror”
Sonnets lurked in your contumacious hair,
crawling the stressed tresses of your plaits;
waved their frilled amphiboles everywhere.
Jointed, scuttling things: eight metered plates
in each thorax; six more abdominal,
abominable segments; an excessive
sum of twitching legs and feet; aggressive,
protruding jaws; and what seemed nominal-
ly like a tail,
…………………..but wasn’t. When I suggested
you get yourself de-versified and ana-pested,
that iamb-dip might more likely be effective
than anti-dandruff shampoo, your invective
became somewhat intemperate and catty.
I still prefer your previous hairstyle — batty.
by F. J. Bergmann
I am interested in blending mysticism together with magical realism to suggest organic credibility. I celebrate nature’s continuum and her primal sanity in glass, hoping to share these feelings with the viewer. The poetry of Walt Whitman and the literature of James Joyce inform my art work.
Rose Bouquet Orb with Figures and Damselfly, 2007, D. 5.5 inches
Morning Glory Bouquet Orb with Blueberries and Honeybees, 2007, D. 3.5 inches
Swarming Honeybee Orb, 2006, D. 5.0 inches
Tea Rose Bouquet Botanical with Mask, 2004, H. 5.5 inches
Tea Rose Botanical with Damselfly, 2004, H. 5.0″ x L. 2 1/4″ x W. 2 1/4″
In a field behind the stage, darkness rises from the grass
like distant music. Hard of hearing, blunt of sight,
I watch the stars unscroll their secret signs, while here
on earth, the fireflies begin their silent signaling.
Biologists declare Lampyridae’s insistent pulse,
as calm and regular as breath, to be “cold light”
because unlike the fire of sky or bulb, it generates
no heat. But this, while factual, cannot be true.
I witness now the quiet passion of a thousand sparks,
falling in desperate order like a scale, the measured
intervals of flash and counter-flash, telling particulars
of many lives. And while I know that this pursuit and pulse
says more of reproduction than of art, I think
of simple ganglia within my human brain.
What do they know beyond the business
of the moment, muscle’s twitch and synapse-
shock? But by the grace of their oblivious
connection, I catch the last few chords,
watch these green-gold lights, and parse
the pattern that contains this flight.
by Robbi Nester
Northwest Arizona, c. 1965
Father .. says pick ’em off
when you see ’em crush ’em
under this big flat stained
rock or a shoe .. the spreading
mess haunted long before
Kafka’s moth found me
before this grown girl
admired the sweet scent
tomatoes hot in a backyard
desert sun .. Bright grass-green
mythic beast as long as my palm
lumbers among vines rising
a foot above my crown .. One
horn five yellow spots too many
legs cling tight under shady leaves
he hides and grazes at night
Steady, a scientist or a child follows hatching eggs
caterpillar larva bury selves as sarcophagus
pupa before their dusky flutters find petunias.
Who else understands a winged monster inhabits
all cells? Did my dry-land farming granddaddy
relish last light grace or did spots signal only harm?
We sacrifice a few succulent globes for magic.
I caught a humming bird
hovering over twilight
at Mother’s honeysuckle
Now .. I know it wasn’t but
Insect hawk sipping nectar
by Deb Scott
Moth and rat
both gnawed holes in what was,
all garments holey. Moth and rat
knew no limit, would not
make a split
the dainty and the container
meant to contain it.
cashmere, vicuña, alpaca,
fine Italian wool —
omnivorous and multicultural
were moth and rat.
If you would steel
yourself against incursion
tooth and claw, bore and bezel —
if you would live
as metal, robot skin
impervious to dust or fission,
well, you must find
that route alone.
Even bone’s permeable
and my skin
pitted with beings
trying to get out or in,
leaving their stingers, cursed,
blessed, in my flesh
till I am dressed
in the milkweed cloth
they have left me,
tit for tat:
sucking my sweetness
as I sucked the fat
dew and honey, the sap,
where the sky showed through.
Filigree’s my map.
And what they did for me
I can do for you —
rat and moth, moth and rat.
by Monica Raymond