Contributing Toads {1:1}

Dorthea Lasky &Matthew Zapruder

Dorothea Lasky lives in New York City, and is the author of two collections of poetry, most recently Black Life. Matthew Zapruder is the author most recently of the book of poetry Come on All You Ghosts. Dottie and Matthew have been friends for a long time. These poems were written collaboratively, when Dottie was staying in San Francisco with Matthew. Dottie and Matthew feel the French are all too often unfairly maligned, and hopefully these poems are a small gesture of affection, which we consider a high form of art in everyday life.

Remica Bingham

Remica L. Bingham earned an MFA from Bennington College and is a Cave Canem fellow. Her first book, Conversion, won the Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award, was published by Lotus Press and shortlisted for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. A book of her selected poems, The Seams of Memory, will be translated into Arabic and published in 2010 in conjunction with the Kalima Project. Currently, she serves as the Writing Competency Coordinator at Norfolk State University.

“The Body Speaks” is a twelve-part piece based on an account from the book of Judges chapter 19 in which a visiting woman is raped by a mob of townsmen. The woman dies shortly thereafter and, upon finding her dead, the woman’s husband cuts her into pieces and sends her body parts into each of the twelve tribes of Israel.

One aspect of everyday life that I consider art is prayer, as I use it to humble myself, to keep myself aware of my limitations, to show gratitude for the beauty around me and to respond to this constant movement toward something more.

Elisabeth Tonnard

Elisabeth Tonnard (1973) is a poet and visual artist from The Netherlands. Her work is a contribution to the field of artists’ books, photography, visual poetics and literature. Books such as Let us go then, you and I, Two of Us, Contemplation, In this Dark Wood and The Man of the Crowd are included in numerous public and private collections. She holds an MA in Literature from the Radboud University in The Netherlands and an MFA from Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, NY. She exhibits both in the US and internationally. For more information:

Part of this series was previously published in the magazine Tortuca, Rotterdam, May 2003.

Amit Majmudar

Amit Majmudar’s first book, 0°,0° [Zero Degrees, Zero Degrees], was released by Northwestern University Press/TriQuarterly Books in late 2009. His second manuscript, Heaven and Earth, won the 2011 Donald Justice Award. His first novel, Partitions, will be published by Holt/Metropolitan in summer 2011. His poetry has been featured on Poetry Daily several times, has appeared in Poetry Magazine and The Best American Poetry 2007, and is forthcoming in The New Yorker.

Randall Horton

Randall Horton is the author of The Definition of Place and the Lingua Franca of Ninth Street, both from Main Street Rag. He considers art to be in the way our bodies move through the universe. We are always already “ever-forming” art. Art is a reflection on our human condition. We must “see” and “look” in order to create that which is “ever-forming.” Randall is the recipient of the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Award, the Bea Gonzalez Poetry Award and most recently a National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship in Literature. His creative and critical work has most recently appeared in Callaloo, Crab Orchard Review, and The Packingtown Review. Randall is a Cave Canem Fellow, a member of the Affrilachian Poets and a member of The Symphony: The House that Etheridge Built. He has a MFA in Poetry from Chicago State University and a PhD in Creative Writing from SUNY Albany. Randall is Assistant Professor of English at the University of New Haven.

Jack Ridl

Jack Ridl’s latest collection is Losing Season (CavanKerry Press). More than 70 of his students have earned an MFA degree and are now publishing, and nine recent students have been published in the anthology Time You Let Me In: 25 Poets Under 25 edited by Naomi Shihab Nye. An aspect of his everyday life that he considers art: Making coffee every morning. It requires the right blend, perfect timing, must awaken and comfort at the same time. And the audience, wife Julie, awaits the first cup and receives it as a gift.

Ghangbin Kim

I was born in Champaign, Illinois but I grew up mainly in Blacksburg, Virginia, where of course I attended Blacksburg Middle and Blacksburg High. I currently work with Yes Yes Books.

I started producing and selling art the latter part of my senior year in high school. My work is mostly narrative illustration. In terms of tools, I use mainly pen and ink, but most of my work is collage and therefore uses most materials (marker, pastel, charcoal, ink, watercolor, tracing paper, watercolor paper, vellum paper, etc).

At the risk of sounding like a teenager, I say art is everything; not necessarily the way people say, “music is life” but literally everything.

Whatever you produce is digested perception. If art is honest, you send everything seen, heard, thought, touched, even tasted and smelled, through a million different bifocal-lenses before it comes out on paper, clay, metal, etc.

I am currently a freshman, studying at Parsons The New School for Design, majoring in illustration.

Susan Schorn

Susan Schorn writes Bitchslap: A Column About Women and Fighting for McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband, two children, and hundreds of books by dead authors, most of whom she never met and none of whom she killed. Among the everyday acts that she considers art are:

– Riding on elevators with strangers;
– Coffeemaking;
– Tipping generously yet discreetly;
– The judicious use of exclamation marks in work-related email (she is not very good at this one);
– Saying no;
– Parallel parking.

Kimberly Grey

Kimberly Grey’s poems have appeared or will appear in TriQuarterly, The Awl, Linebreak, Barrelhouse, The Brooklyn Review, Gargoyle Magazine, Anti-, and other journals. She lives in New York City and teaches contemporary poetry at Adelphi University.

Katherine Bode-Lang

Katherine Bode-Lang’s chapbook, Spring Melt, which won second place in the 2008 Keystone Chapbook Contest, was published in 2009 by Seven Kitchens Press and recently won the 2010 New England Poetry Club’s Jean Pedrick Chapbook Prize. Katherine’s poems have appeared in Subtropics, The Mid-American Review, The Beloit Poetry Journal, Rattle, and Hayden’s Ferry Review, among others. She was an Editor’s Choice for The Mid-American Review‘s James Wright Poetry Award in 2007 and 2008, and she received Academy of American Poets Prizes three times from Penn State and Hope College. Katherine holds an MFA from Penn State University, where she is now the Assistant Director of The Methodology Center, a research center addressing issues in the behavioral and health sciences. She lives in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, with her husband, Andrew, and their cat, Frannie.

“I think that making coffee is an art. Every morning, the beans have to be ground till they’re right and the water is a few minutes cooled from boiling. Our coffee pot looks like a large science beaker, and my husband pours water over the ground beans at mysterious intervals till we have coffee. No morning cup is the same, but it always tastes exactly as I hoped when I arrive at work and open the black, insulated lid of his morning, ritual art.”

Lisa Norris

My daily art form is a dance beginning with the mini-Aussie’s percussive bark insisting that it’s time for her breakfast. That sound rouses the aged whippet, who syncopates the rhythm with toenails clicking on laminate floor, and the two dogs circle me, noses extended upward, eight paws moving, to encourage my pirouette between refrigerator and dog bowls. It’s a ballet of symbiosis: meeting their needs awakens me; getting me up nourishes them. Gotta love that symmetry.

None of that has anything to do with my story “Sex Toys.” The writer–unlike her characters–has found faithful, nonhuman company unbothered by their human’s age or sexual prowess. “Sex Toys” is included in my forthcoming book of stories, WOMEN WHO SLEEP WITH ANIMALS, winner of the Stephen F. Austin Fiction Prize, due out in Fall 2011. My first book, TOY GUNS, won the Willa Cather Fiction Prize and was published by Helicon Nine Press. I have also published or have forthcoming stories, essays and poems in a variety of literary magazines–most recently Blueline, Ascent, South Dakota Review, Smartish Pace, Segue, and Shenandoah. I am an assistant professor of English at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Washington. You can find out more about me at

Peter Tonningsen

Born, raised and residing in Alameda, California, I earned both my BFA (San Francisco Art Institute) and MFA (San Jose State University) in photography. With an emphasis on fine art and documentary photography, my work generally explores the relationships between history, region, memory and place. I was a recipient of the James D. Phelan Art Award in Photography, am included in several private collections, as well as the permanent collections of the Oakland Museum of California, City of Walnut Creek, and Kala Art Institute (where I am also currently an artist-in-residence) My work has been widely published and I have an extensive fifteen-year exhibition history of group and solo shows and I was recently selected for the Hahnemühle Anniversary Collection, currently on world tour. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Artists Gallery, Kala Art Gallery, Bering Art Collective, Benham Fine Art Gallery, and by LensWork Special Editions represent my work. An active adjunct instructor, I regularly teach photography at Academy Art University and have also taught at the San Francisco Art Institute, San Jose State University and in Castlemont High School’s art enrichment program. I am the proud father of two boys.

Samples of my photography and information on current exhibitions, books, and projects can be viewed at my website,

Quinn Latimer

Quinn Latimer’s poems have appeared in Boston Review, The Paris Review, and The Last Magazine, among other journals. Her first book, Rumored Animals, won the 2010 American Poetry Journal Book Prize and will be published in 2011. A chapbook of poetry and prose written with Tenzing Barshee is also forthcoming from Zurich’s Karma International Press. Her art criticism appears regularly in Art in America, Artforum, and Frieze, as well as in various artist monographs and catalogues. She lives with her husband and a California expat Chihuahua in Basel, Switzerland. An aspect of everyday life that she considers an art? All of the above.

Ashley David

Ashley David’s poems and essays have appeared in Alimentum, Center, Greensboro Review, Hanging Loose, Michigan Quarterly Review, Mid-American Review, The Offending Adam,The Southern Review, Verse, and Women’s Studies Quarterly. Op-ed features on education, the environment, and social justice have appeared in The Flagpole, and scholarship on Toni Cade Bambara is forthcoming in anthologies from CUNY Press, SUNY Press, and Cambridge Scholars Press. She is the editor-in-chief of Mandala Journal and the blog editor for Michigan Quarterly Review.

As for daily life and art:
The quotidian sits at the heart of the art I make and much of the art I find interesting. How we do and don’t negotiate the material world and whatever sense of spirit we collide with along the path create and reveal tensions and emotional truths that art frames and shapes into chunks of beauty that cause us to gasp and say aha.

Caren Beilin

Caren Beilin’s fiction has appeared or will in McSweeney’s, Fence, Post Road, and Pear Noir! The first chapter to a novel will be in an upcoming issue of The Lifted Brow.

Brandon Downing

Brandon Downing is a poet and visual artist originally from California. His books of poetry include The Shirt Weapon (Germ Monographs, 2002) and Dark Brandon (Faux Press, 2005), while a monograph of his collages from1996-2008, Lake Antiquity, was released by Fence Books in 2010. In 2007 he released a feature-length collection of collaged digital shorts, Dark Brandon: Eternal Classics, with a 2nd volume forthcoming in 2011. A longtime member of the Flarf Collective, He lives in New York City, where he co-curates the Poetry Time Reading Series at SpaceSpace.

Daily habit acting as art:
I compulsively annotate movies. Everything I watch, at least at home, is accompanied with me taking detailed notes of all sorts of different elements: dialogue, soundtrack entry points, awkward visuals, mistakes, etc. At first, for several years, this task sort of founds its way into poems only, and existed more as an OCD exercise, a way to reach new writing processes through distracting labor. But, about six or seven years ago, I actually started preserving the actual video where these elements occurred, and making my own “collages” of these footages, synthesizing them into new video works, which are just incredibly fun to make.”

“On another note, any visit to a real movie theater, with a chance to clutch snacks instead of a pen, in the unwriteable darkness, becomes an unbelievably freeing exercise from my own notational tyranny.”

Toad asked: Favorite Movie Snack? “White yogurt peanut clusters!”