Contributing Toads {1:2}

Dan Bern

Dan Bern's Art? Excerpted from the interview I’m pretty good with all eggs. Soft boiled, poached, scrambled, fried, I can not-harm an egg pretty good. Soft boiled is kind of a science. That’s always intriguing, when you can make the perfect soft boiled egg, which, unlike all the other eggs where you can see what’s happening, it’s always sort of this exciting moment when you crack that thing and see that the white’s solid and the yolk’s runny which is what you want. Bio: Bern's father was a concert pianist who emigrated from Lithuania to Palestine in 1939, a Jew who was one step ahead of the Nazis. Later he met and married Bern's mother, a German Jew, a singer and poet who had also escaped the ravages of World War II. In the late 1950s they emigrated again and settled in Mt. Vernon, Iowa, where Bern was reared, the cello-playing, baseball-loving progeny of two Old World artists in the American heartland. In time Bern found the guitar, and his way to the West Coast, whre he got his footing in the neo-folk music scene in Los Angeles in the early 1990s. He put out his first album in 1997. Breathe is his seventh. In between, he's amassed a strong underground following, built in part on his prodigious output of intellectual and topical songs. He's frequently been compared to Bob Dylan, because like the young Dylan, he's funny and smart and has a regally Semitic nose. Like Lenny Bruce, Bern can also be joyously obscene, which shouldn't be obscene at all, as well as tender and even devout. "God Said No," a wistful song from New American Language, continues a device he's fond of: Bern's persona interrogates God and indulges in a little speculative time travel. It sports a sensibility that seems to derive as much from Yiddish folk tales as Douglas Adams's "A Hitchhiker's Guide to The Galaxy." "There's a long history of that kind of thing," Bern said. "I recall reading things where a man is talking to God--the Bible's full of that. I kind of feel the same way about that as I do about songwriting. People say, 'Why do you write songs?' and I say, 'Why did you stop?' You know, little kids make up songs, it's a natural thing... and then one day they stop, some of them." "They told us in high school that writers write, and when they don't write they read," he said. "The writers that I love, some of them are songwriters, but a lot of them are story writers. The best of the lot, at least my favorite ones, are not writers that write in florid strokes so much as very vivid ones, like James Thurber and Ring Lardner, Charles Bukowski, John Fante, Hemingway. They're not writers who are so in love with their own words; the picture's what's important. "When I was making this record, New American Language, it was like, 'Let's be in service to the song -- what do the songs want, what does the story want, what do the themes want?' It's hard to get out of your own way. When people are trying to master their craft, it's more about learning to get out of the way." Excerpt from Robert Meyerowitz article in the Anchorage Press His website is danbern.com.

John Brandon

John Brandon's two novels are 'Arkansas' and 'Citrus County,' both published by McSweeney's. His short work has appeared in ESPN the Magazine, GQ, Oxford American, Mississippi Review, McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, Subtropics, The Believer, The New York Times Magazine, and other places. For the 2010 season he blogged NCAA football for GQ and this coming season he will do the same for ESPN. He has been a Grisham Writer-in-Residence at University of Mississippi and will soon take up a post as Tickner Writing Fellow at Gilman School in Baltimore. His next novel, tentatively called 'A Million Heavens,' is due out in 2012. Now that John has a child, he sees what an art it is to speak about important things without cursing.

Ray Kass

Ricardo Cortes

Ricardo Cortés has written and illustrated books about marijuana, terrorism, the Jamaican bobsled team, and children who can't Go the Fuck to Sleep. He considers many aspects of his life as art, including keeping a very clean kitchen. You can find more of his work at: Rmcortes.com.

Darrin Doyle

Darrin Doyle is the author of the novels The Girl Who Ate Kalamazoo (St. Martin’s Griffin) and Revenge of the Teacher’s Pet: A Love Story (LSU Press). His short fiction has appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Night Train, Puerto del Sol, Harpur Palate, The Long Story, and other journals. He teaches at Central Michigan University.

George Eklund

George Eklund has taught creative writing at Morehead State University for twenty years. His work as appeared in The American Poetry Review, Crazyhorse, The North American Review, and, most recently, The Iowa Review. His book The Island Blade (ABZ Press) and chapbook Wanting to Be an Element (Finishing Line Press) are forthcoming this fall.

Matt Hart

Matt Hart's most recent books of poems are Wolf Face (H_NGM_N BKS, 2010) and Light-Headed (BlazeVOX, 2011). His next book, Sermons and Lectures Both Blank and Relentless, will be published in 2012 by Typecast Publishing. In general, he tries hard not to think about art (or life) very much (because both just lead to thinking about death). Instead he does everything the weirdest way he can (often this involves listening to Slayer and adding tons of coarsely ground black pepper). Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. A co-founder and the editor-in-chief of Forklift, Ohio: A Journal of Poetry, Cooking, & Light Industrial Safety, he lives in Cincinnati where he teaches (ironically, and occasionally sincerely) at the Art Academy of Cincinnati.

Carrie Hohmann

Carrie Hohmann is a graduate of New York University's Creative Writing program. She currently lives and teaches in Edinboro, Pennsylvania. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming in , Forklift, Ohio, Paper Bag, Salt Hill, and Sixth Finch.
The one aspect of everyday life that she considers art is breakfast: making it, eating it, and how it prepares you for the rest of the day

Lily Hoang

Lily Hoang is the author of UNFINISHED, THE EVOLUTIONARY REVOLUTION, CHANGING (recipient of a PEN Beyond Margins Award), and PARABOLA (winner of the 2006 Chiasmus Press Un-Doing the Novel Contest). With Blake Butler, she co-edited the anthology 30 UNDER 30. She serves as Associate Editor at Starcherone Books and Editor at Tarpaulin Sky. She teaches in the MFA program at New Mexico State University.

Eric Kocher

Eric Kocher's work has appeared or is forthcoming in Boston Review, DIAGRAM, Octopus, The Offending Adam, Washington Square Review, and elsewhere. He recently received an MFA from the University of Houston and will be spending the upcoming year as the writer-in-residence for Hub-Bub in Spartanburg, South Carolina. One aspect of everyday life he considers art is not deleting emails he is never going to read (keep 'em coming, Living Social).

Ashley Lamb

Ashley Lamb is a maker of things who presently lives and works in Chicago, IL. She has participated in shows on both coasts and in between. The art of walking down a busy city street during peek hours is not to be taken for granted. Not a marketable skill, but a survival technique that will get you far, farther, the farthest.

Keith Leonard

Keith Leonard is an MFA candidate at Indiana University. A recipient of an Academy of American Poets prize and an AWP Intro Journals Project nomination, Keith’s poems appear or are forthcoming in Best New Poets 2009, DIAGRAM, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Laurel Review, Quarterly West and Sentence.
Aspects of his everyday life that he considers art? Gardening, not watching Battlestar Gallactica all day, breakfast sandwiches.

John Milton Ensor Parker

John Ensor Parker is a painter, video and new media artist whose work draws upon both analytical and primitive processes. Inherent in his work is a holistic balance of both science and art. He studied physics and mathematics and worked as a mechanical engineer several years before devoting his full efforts to art. In addition to extensive solo and group exhibitions, he has created large-scale public art works such as "To the People of Orlando" a permanent public artwork adorning a full city block in Orlando Florida. In addition he has done several large-scale video-mapping projections including a recent project at the New Museum. Fall 2011 he is a visiting artist at Eugene Lang/The New School of new media studies and will instruct a course called “Art & Science” He is currently working on multiple new media projects and a video-mapping project for the Manhattan Bridge.

Tony Rauch

Tony Rauch has three books of short stories published – “I’m right here” (spout press), “Laredo” (Eraserhead Press), “Eyeballs growing all over me . . . again” (Eraserhead Press). He has additional titles forthcoming in the next few months. He can be found at www.trauch.wordpress.com.
His work deals with fragility, uncertainty, impermanence, the mysteries hidden in everyday life, a sense of discovery, escape, concealment, ennui, regret, loneliness, technology run amok, eerie vibes, irresponsible behavior, confusion, absurd situations, surrealism, modern fairy tales, etc.

Emily Toder

Emily Toder is a translator, archivist, and letterpress printer. She is the author of Brushes With, a chapbook from Tarpaulin Sky Press, and the translator of The Life and Memoirs of Dr. Pi, a work of short fiction by Edgar Bayley. She lives in Northampton, Mass.

Brian Trimboli

Brian Trimboli has poems published or forthcoming in The Indiana Review, Third Coast, Forklift, Ohio., and Gulf Coast. He was recently a fellow for NYU’s Veteran Writers Workshop, and now lives on Long Island with his Grandmother.
“Everything about every day is art. I’m sorry for that, but really. Once upon a time, I was walking around sunrise, and a single strawberry was growing from my neighbors’ front garden. There were cluster flies everywhere, so I reached my hand through and began to pick it. As I placed it on my tongue, I realized it was still on the vine, and I was nearly two blocks away. Every day life is a lot like that I think.”

Toni Wynn

Toni Wynn is a third-generation New Jersey girl who lives by the water in Hampton, Virginia.
Toni publishes limited editions of her poems with book-art artisans and visual artists. Her most recent volume is called Ground. Toni’s writing is featured in anthologies and journals such as Black Nature and The International Review of African American Art.
Toni designs and facilitates interdisciplinary arts experiences and writes for museums. She blogs intermittently at Call Your Mother on her website, www.toniwynn.squarespace.com.
Art cada día: My grey stucco 92 year old house as squirrels gnaw on it, songbirds construct nests in its gutters and hornets paste nests in doorjambs. Rain from the west splashes leaf gunk and river birch branches against the white wooden step risers. It looks different to me every day.