Contributing Toads {5:1}

Cynthia Arrieu-King

Cynthia Arrieu-King is a former Kundiman fellow and teaches creative writing at Stockton College. Her books include People are Tiny in Paintings of China (Octopus Books 2010) and Manifest (Switchback Books 2013). Her poems will appear this year in Fence, Drunken Boat, and Sink Review.

“Trying to keep your bowl empty is an art form.”

Leah Browning

Leah Browning is the author of three short nonfiction books. Her fourth chapbook is forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press. Browning’s poetry and prose have recently appeared in several literary journals, on bookmarks from the program Poetry Jumps Off the Shelf, with audio and video recordings in The Poetry Storehouse, and on a broadside with original artwork by her sister, Sarah Browning.

“The natural world is full of art. I find it often in the outdoors—in the forest, for example, or the ocean—but also in the physical details of people and animals. A cat’s ear is a work of art.”

Edgar Cardenas

Edgar Cardenas is an artist-scientist. Born in California, raised in Wisconsin, educated in New England and the Southwest. He studied Psychology at Gordon College (BA), Industrial/Organizational Psychology at University of New Haven (MA), and is a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Sustainability, with one foot in the School of Art, at Arizona State University. Edgar’s photographs have been exhibited in galleries as well as in scientific journals. He believes the next creative mashup should be between art and science, so he works in both spaces. Specifically, his work explores the ecological, cultural, and technological relationships humans have with land.

“I guess I would reframe the question of everyday art in the context of artistic intention. I would say, “What aspects of everyday life do you consider for art?” I personally think you can take just about anything. I like the work of Abelardo Morell, who has done just that. He sits with things, be they books, his kids’ toys, a paper bag, it doesn’t matter. The art to me comes in the reframing or the heightening of awareness around a particular subject. For me, the backyard was full of possibilities; I had to just keep looking. In fact, the title is from Aldo Leopold, It is fortunate, perhaps, that no matter how intently one studies the hundred little dramas of the woods and meadows, one can never learn all of the salient facts about any one of them. I just kept changing the resolution on my observations, close-up, far away, speeding up time, slowing down time, anything that helped me see with fresh eyes.”

Mark Columbus

Mark Columbus is a good person and an OK director.

He is a Student Academy Award® finalist for making Battle of the Jazz Guitarist. His works have played at the 2014 Telluride Film Festival, International Documentary Film Festival of Amsterdam (IDFA), Rooftop Summer Series, Palm Springs Shortsfest, and Vimeo Staff Picks.

“I consider the the small conversations in life, however mundane they may seem, to be art”

Marisa Crawford

Marisa Crawford is the author of the poetry collection The Haunted House (Switchback, 2010) and the chapbook 8th Grade Hippie Chic (Immaculate Disciples, 2013). Her writing has recently appeared in Fanzine, The Hairpin, and Bitch, and is forthcoming in Electric Gurlesque (Saturnalia, 2016) and The &NOW Awards 3: Best Innovative Writing (&NOW, 2015). Marisa is founding editor of the feminist website, WEIRD SISTER, and lives in Brooklyn, NY.

“When I put shimmery stuff all over my eyes and lips and face in the morning, then let the magic feeling of wanting to look a certain way today pull me toward the clothes in my closet, that’s like art. I also write marketing copy all day, which is the worst kind of art.”

Cassandra de Alba

Cassandra de Alba’s work has appeared in places like Skydeer Helpking, The Nervous Breakdown, Vector Press, and the edge of your vision in darkened rooms. She is currently completing two graduate degrees, but still can’t turn a cartwheel or ride a bike. You can find her online at

“I consider picking up things that other people have dropped (pennies, pencils, playing cards) to be art.”

Lawrence Eby

Lawrence Eby lives, writes, and edits in Southern California and is the author of two books, Flight of August (Trio House Press, 2014) which won the 2013 Louise Bogan Award, and Machinist in the Snow, forthcoming from ELJ Publications in 2015. His work has appeared in Passages North, Arroyo Literary Review, Superstition Review, as well as others. He is the founder of Orange Monkey Publishing, a poetry press, and a founding member of PoetrIE, a literary non-profit in the Inland Empire of Southern California.

“Much of experience is in the peripheral. Sound, especially, is subject to this. So when I’m working on a new project, I try to let all of the moments, objects, or sounds that usually fall out of memory, into the work somehow. Odd facts that I may overhear might be the key to a poem, or the weird sounds of a construction zone, or kids playing, or even the hum of traffic, can be a great source of feeling. In a way, I think daily life and all of its aspects, especially (or maybe just as intensely?) those in the peripheral, have a feeling, and when combined together, the complexities of it are astounding. This is what I want my poetry to do. I want to mimic daily life’s almost surreal complex feeling, the images in the focus, the surrounding periphery, and the memory of ideas that are fearlessly fading away.”

Jill Khoury

Jill Khoury earned her MFA from The Ohio State University. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in numerous journals, including Lines+Stars, Bone Bouquet, RHINO, and Inter|rupture. She has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes and a Best of the Net award. Her chapbook, Borrowed Bodies, was released from Pudding House Press. You can find her at

“I think that art happens when we allow ourselves the backing-off of ego; then we can surrender to the creative process. Grace rather than force. Everyday life moments that could be considered art: 1) persuading a cat to do something 2) talking to (as opposed to performing for) strangers.”

Vincent Poturica

Vincent Poturica’s stories and poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in The Atlas Review, The Baltimore Review, Birkensnake, Columbia Poetry Review, and New South. He lives with his wife in Long Beach, CA.

“Joy, survival, kindness.”

Nance Van Winckel

Nance Van Winckel’s newest books are Ever Yrs., a novel in the form of a scrapbook (Twisted Road, 2014), Pacific Walkers, her sixth collection of poems (U. of Washington Press, 2013), and Boneland, her fourth book of linked stories (U. of Oklahoma Press, 2013). The recipient of two NEA Poetry Fellowships and awards from the Poetry Society of America, Poetry, and Prairie Schooner, she has new poems in The Pushcart Prize Anthology, Poetry Northwest, Field, and Gettysburg Review. She is on the MFA faculty of Vermont College of Fine Arts and a Professor Emerita in E. Washington University’s Inland Northwest Center for Writers.

“I actually do not consider daily life to present much in the way of art. I envy others who do. Art, for me, speaks BACK to daily life with what is more ethereal, beyond the spectrum of dailiness. I do appreciate daily life, though, and believe much art happens in the transmutation OF it.”

Shanti Weiland

Shanti Weiland is a poet by nature but sometimes enjoys a visit to the other team’s dugout, where she dabbles in prose. She has recently been published in Bop Dead City, Front Porch Review, and Third Wednesday and has poems forthcoming in Mad Hatter’s Review and Two Cities Review. She received a PhD in Poetry from the University of Southern Mississippi and currently teaches at The University of Alabama. You can find her online at

“Empathy, conversing with a rattle snake, remembering the past the way it really was, growing vegetables.”