Archives for posts with tag: photography

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How to Be a Malacologist
by Stephanie L. Harper

Remember when
your child’s heart led your head
like a garden snail’s head leads its footed belly.

Think back to when you were seven
& your adopted pet / school project, Kiddo,
gnawed away at a slice of banana on a glass slide
as you watched, thunderstruck, from beneath him
(find out on Wikipedia that he was using his radula
a structure akin to a tongue used by mollusks to feed).

Recall how proud you were of Kiddo when he not only lost
the school snail race, but redefined it, by turning around
at the half-way point, staying in his own lane, & crossing
the start-line before any of the other snails reached the finish.

Wonder why your teacher didn’t mention anything about Kiddo
& his compatriots being hermaphrodites, or how (if they chose)
they could all be both father & mother to their tiny-shelled progeny,
& realize how simple it would have been for her to call a snail’s powerful,
innate mechanism of retracting its tentacles into its head for protection
by its technical name: invagination.

Then, understand, finally, that if you’d been born with the ability
to operate yourself like a puppet, & pull yourself outside-in
by drawing your head down into your belly & out
through your foot, to invert your once-vibrant
body into an empty sock, how many times
you would have done exactly that.

First published in Panoply.  

Photo by Katarzyna Załużna, used by permission. Read about the photographer’s portraits of snails at mymodernmet.com

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: When a friend and fellow poet asked me in a recent interview, “From where or what do your poems sprout?” I experienced this question viscerally. Poems really do sprout, don’t they? I mean, for me, whether they come up silently or explosively, and whether they arise all sallow and reedy, vivid and sweet, or tender, or sour, or even barely perceptible—at some point prior to their births, they are pollinated by my virtue of my orientation toward Life and how I apprehend, synthesize, store and/or ruminate on every experience—of my former and current human relationships; of all that being a mother means; of my interactions with animals, mountains, forests, rivers, lakes, oceans, rocks and sand, the sky and its heavenly bodies, manmade physical/technological and social infrastructures, literary, visual, and performed arts . . . Each one then germinates beneath the soil until something incites it to erupt: Whether the something is a disquietingly still and protracted fallow interlude, an intense or even haunting dream, an epic bout of insomnia that I wouldn’t wish on anyone, or one of the millions of much more innocuous ways I might be moved in the course of a day, what it never is, is predictable. In the whole scheme of things, though, it’s become dependable.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Stephanie L. Harper is a recently transplanted Oregonian living in Indianapolis, Indiana. Harper is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee and the author of two poetry chapbooks: This Being Done and The Death’s-Head’s Testament. Her poems appear in Slippery Elm Literary JournalPanoply, Isacoustic*, Cathexis Northwest, Riggwelter Press, Moonchild Magazine, Dust Poetry, Whale Road Review, and elsewhere. Visit her online at slharperpoetry.com.

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How to Kiss a Woman
by Jon Pearson

First, go out and buy yourself a box of matches,
stove lighting matches, the long wooden ones.
You got that, pal? Cuz someday you gonna
have to learn the fine art of listening. So, you got
your matches. Now get yourself a pitcher of milk,
a can of worms, and a map of South America.
Just do it. You come here for advice and I’m givin’ it
to you. First damn thing is to learn to follow directions.
What kind of kisser you think you can be without
you can follow directions. Now, get yourself two
saw horses and a tank of live lobsters and set that up
in the backyard. Of course near an outlet so you can
plug in the tank and keep the water warm. Good.
Now stick up a couple of liquor stores to get the juices
flowing. Leave the money on the way out, no need
to be an asshole. Take off your shoes, put them under
your bed, and walk barefoot to Algernon, Mississippi.
It’s a small town, lovely little smells, nice people.
Get a root beer float at Kathy’s next to the laundromat.
Then, shut up. Get very quiet and start feeling
southward from the corners of your mouth. Stop
for once being a damn man and start feeling something
from the corners of your mouth. Run your tongue over
your lips and lapse back into childhood. Make it up.
Now pour the milk over yourself…not for real…
now light yourself on fire…and start feeling all
lobster-like.

PHOTO: California Kiss (Malibu, 1955) by Elliott Erwitt, All Rights Reserved.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote “How to Kiss a Woman” at breakneck speed. I wanted to see if I could write something without stopping or correcting or futzing. It was fun because my head felt like a wind tunnel. I felt sucked forward by a what? a power greater than myself or, at least, greater than my hope-I-get-this-right self. I often begin with whatever stray title flies into my mind and then run with it. Usually what happens then is a “voice” takes over, a character, and as the character speaks I write as fast as I can to keep up. I like to write quickly to outstrip my inner critic and tap the wild, candid river of thinking “beneath” my thinking. But this was especially fast. It felt like I was driving blindfolded without brakes. Not something I would recommend. Except, of course, on the page.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A writer, speaker, artist, and creative thinking consultant, Jon Pearson has been a cartoonist for the Oakland Tribune, an extra for the New York Metropolitan Opera, a college professor, and a mailman. His work was nominated for a 2016 and a 2014 Pushcart Prize, as well as a 2014 Million Writers Award, and has appeared in Baltimore Review, Barely South Review, Barnstorm, Carve, The Citron Review, Crack the Spine, Faultline, Forge, Hobart, Lake Effect, Pretty Owl Poetry, Reed Magazine, Sou’wester, Stickman Review, Superstition Review and elsewhere. Find him online at jonpearsoncreative.com.

PHOTO: The author with his wife, Elya Braden.

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How to See the World: Hunger
by Paula J. Lambert

When I first moved from Massachusetts to Indiana
I didn’t know how to see the flat black fields stretching

all around me as anything but oceans of mud. It took
time to understand the lay of that land, its change

of season, and that newly turned soil as black as that
held every promise of richness, newness, nourishment,

food. I began to see it wasn’t quite flat, that not all the
soil was so dark, that every rise or mounding, every

possible shade of brown was a different kind of soil,
meant for a different kind of planting. But while it was

still new to me, when I felt the first pangs of homesick,
a wanting that has never left, I sat down on the edge of

one of those fields next to the man I knew by now I was
destined to marry (still blessedly ignorant I was destined,

too, to divorce him) and gestured hopelessly across the
landscape. There’s nothing to see here. Nothing to look at.

The bleakness of what stretched around us matched
only the bleakness of what was inside. To his credit, he

didn’t lash out or take my observation as insult. He said
one of the few things I ever thought wise or helpful.

I’ve been to the mountains, he said, and I also thought there
was nothing to see. Those mountains were always in the way.

PHOTO: Cornfield and the Milky Way, Greenfield, Indiana. Photo by Eric Fleming on Unsplash.

NOTE FROM THE PHOTOGRAPHER: When I stayed at a working farm outside of Indianapolis, I knew I wanted to take photos of the Milky Way while I was there. I was hoping for a clear sky but it was pretty cloudy this night, I took this shot during a short break in the clouds. I had the cornfield in my head before I took this shot because I thought it was a great representation of rural Indiana.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem is one of four “How to See the World” poems in a collection by the same title, published in September 2020 by Bottom Dog Press as part of their Harmony Series. “How to See the World: Hunger” is the first of the four, the rest are “Thirst,” “Fire,” and finally, “Breath.” They are meant to correspond with the elements of Earth, Water, Fire, Air. The full collection was written in the spring and early summer of 2020 when we first self-quarantined and then stayed put. The poems were largely a sort of “how to get through the day” meditative response to the pandemic, though, as kindly written by Rose M. Smith in one of the book’s blurbs, they are about much more: how interconnected we all are while teetering at the brink of change… “How to See the World: Hunger” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Paula J. Lambert of Columbus, Ohio, has authored several collections of poetry including How to See the World (Bottom Dog Press 2020). Recipient of two Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Awards and two Greater Columbus Arts Council Resource Grants, she has twice been in residence at Virginia Center for Creative Arts. She owns Full/Crescent Press, a small publisher of poetry books and broadsides through which she has founded and supported numerous public readings and festivals that support the intersection of poetry and science. Learn more at paulajlambert.com. Visit her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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How to Get Lost, Anywhere, Anytime, for No Reason
        How in the world did a person get to be where i was?
                                    Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible
by Ed Ruzicka

Start where streets
that run East-West
radiate off a river so old
it dodders between banks
that loop and rope at their leisure
or off a coast line of Ss and Cs.

Maybe this city’s or that’s
cross streets fall across one another
in an abandoned game of pickup sticks.
Follow your feet. Now evening
can tune its orchestra up while
the maestro waits in the wings.

Sunset glazes shop windows.
Doors three inches thick. Faint
hiss of neon. A dog pees. A horn blasts.

Assume that comes from the harbor.
Walk that way though alleys become
fly-blown and loose fists of men idle
in front of stoops and broken fence lines.

Come out in a small park freckled
with palm trees. Listen to pigeons
whose language can seem closer
to yours than what the locals mutter.

On the other side is the river.
Its traffic churns sluggishly,
as if already wheeling towards sleep
while stars start to prick black air.

PHOTO: The Bicycle, the hat, and the moon by Alfred Freddy Krupa (2016), used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I went through a period when I was penniless by romantic decree, needed naught but tin cans in the cupboard, fathered insubstantial plans. For wheels, I had a fearless J. C. Higgins bike. That is when I developed a knack for getting lost. If curiosity lends you nine lives, cash in. I don’t think you can really learn a city or a countryside without getting lost. If I once, twice, thrice, in countless places, took pleasure in the openness of an afternoon, please, don’t blame me now, half-retired and back at it. My wife and I soak up what quiet we can on a patio that backs-up to the rest of the world.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ed Ruzicka has published widely including two full length books of poetry. His recent issue, My Life in Cars, is a sort of tell-all-tale in which freedom marries the American highway. Ed began working in his father’s Rexall drugstore at age eight. He became unmoored from Illinois cornfields in 1970 and has traveled widely. He worked as a deckhand, short order cook, oil-field roughneck, tree trimmer, welder’s assistant, barge cleaner, social worker, and more. He settled in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he practices Occupational Therapy and lives with his kind wife, Renee. Visit him at edrpoet.com.

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Making Eggplant Croquettes with the NYT Food Page
by Robbi Nester

To make this dish, you have to plan ahead.
One day, two eggplants occupied the shelf
in my refrigerator. I baked them, purple
as a nimbus cloud about to split. They fell in
on themselves, all steam and soft white flesh.
Then I left them overnight to cool, bitter
black juice seeping into the bowl. The next
day, I slipped off their blackened jackets,
chopped the yielding shreds, grated in
four cloves of garlic with a microplane,
mixed in some green-gold olive oil
and salt. I wasn’t finished yet!

After another day of waiting, I spread
a sheet of parchment paper in a pan,
poured in the eggplant mixture, wedged
it in the freezer. Next afternoon, I cut it
into greyish squares smelling of sweet
garlic. Finally, it was time to cook!
I arranged three bowls of beaten egg,
flour, and seasoned panko, dredged
the squares of frozen eggplant,
heated the cast iron pan till waves
of heat shimmered like a spirit
over the oil, lowered the croquettes
into their sizzling bath. They hissed
and spit like cornered cats, and crisped
immediately, the insides creamy
on my tongue. Sometimes, cooking
is like a séance, calling forth from plain
ingredients what’s been there all along.

PHOTO: Eggplant by Edward Weston, silver gelatin print (1929).

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I have always enjoyed reading and writing about food and cooking as well as watching professional chefs cook and talk about food. During the pandemic, I stopped going to restaurants. The highlight of my week has become going to the grocery store, mostly very early in the morning, when the markets are virtually empty, and I feel as though I am walking through my own personal pantry. ¶ Before, I was a careless cook. Though I have always loved culinary variety and innovation and sought to learn something from making new dishes, the pandemic has slowed everything down considerably, allowed me to spend more time on each step of the preparation. Now I have time to prepare dishes that I would never consider making in the before-world, like the eggplant croquettes I have written about in this poem, which I first discovered in the pages of the Sunday New York Times Magazine.

PHOTO: Smoky Eggplant Croquettes (New York Times, All Rights Reserved).

NOTE: The New York Times recipe site is subscription only. A list of ingredients for Smoky Eggplant Croquettes is available at copymethat.com. But the directions are only available at the New York Times subscription site, or in the above poem.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robbi Nester is the author of four books of poetry, a chapbook, and three collections of poems, the most recent is Narrow Bridge (Main Street Rag, 2019). She has also edited three anthologies, the most recent is The Plague Papers, published as a special issue of Poemeleon Poetry Journal, available to read at Poemeleon.me. Find more of her work at robbinester.net.

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How to Look at the Sea in Winter
by Massimo Soranzio

How do you look at the sea
when there is nothing to see
but a colourless expanse,
a flat and dull reflection
of a blinding sunless sky?

Will you just sit down and wait
for anything to happen
or anything to appear,
immersing yourself in thoughts
shallow or deep? Will you sleep?

Will you count the infinite
shades of grey, brown, palish green?
Will you close your eyes, content
with feeling a bracing breeze
from the sea, brackish and cold?

Will you imagine the lands
beyond that line you can’t see,
the places you have been to
and more you might have seen
had life not kept you ashore?

Will you choose to sit and look
without actually looking,
combining all your senses,
scanning colours, smells, and sounds,
to find a makeshift summer?

Or will you like what you see,
savour the melancholy
of a dismal empty beach
on a gloomy, cloudy day
and become all romantic?

And if you do get to sleep,
will the sea be in your dreams?
Dreams of mermaids or pirates,
holidays past, summer flings,
your collection of seashells?

Let me tell you what I’ll do:
I will sit on this old chair
someone forgot by the sea,
and I’ll look, I’ll look, I’ll look,
losing myself in the sea.

PHOTO: Adriatic Sea, Northern Italy. Photo by Angelina Soranzio (January 2020).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: There have been long periods, this winter, when due to anti-Covid-19 restrictions we were not allowed to cross the municipal limits of our town. But we were allowed to go out for a walk, so we often went for a stroll along the coast.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Massimo Soranzio is a teacher and translator living on the northern Adriatic coast of Italy. His poems have appeared online and in print in a few anthologies, including Silver Birch Press’s Nancy Drew Anthology. He blogs at reflectionspoetry.wordpress.com, where he wrote mostly about his lockdown for NaPoWriMo, in the month of April 2020.

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How to Write a Poem
by Robert Okaji

Learn to curse in three languages. When midday
yawns stack high and your eyelids flutter, fire up

the chain saw; there’s always something to dismember.
Make it new. Fear no bridges. Accelerate through

curves, and look twice before leaping over fires,
much less into them. Read bones, read leaves, read

the dust on shelves and commit to memory a thousand
discarded lines. Next, torch them. Take more than you

need, buy books, scratch notes in the dirt and watch
them scatter down nameless alleys at the evening’s first

gusts. Gather words and courtesies. Guard them carefully.
Play with others, observe birds, insects and neighbors,

but covet your minutes alone and handle with bare hands
only those snakes you know. Mourn the kindling you create

and toast each new moon as if it might be the last one
to tug your personal tides. When driving, sing with the radio.

Always. Turn around instead of right. Deny ambition.
Remember the freckles on your first love’s left breast.

There are no one-way streets. Appreciate the fragrance
of fresh dog crap while scraping it from the boot’s sole.

Steal, don’t borrow. Murder your darlings and don’t get
caught. Know nothing, but know it well. Speak softly

and thank the grocery store clerk for wishing you
a nice day even if she didn’t mean it. Then mow the grass,

grill vegetables, eat, laugh, wash dishes, talk, bathe,
kiss loved ones, sleep, dream, wake. Do it all again.

Originally published in Indra’s Net, an anthology in aid of The Book Bus charity (Bennison Books, 2017).

PHOTO: Nautilus Shell by Edward Weston (1927).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My process sounds odd to most people, as I seldom know what I’m going to write about when I sit at the table. I simply start writing. Sometimes a word or a phrase sets me off. Or an image, or even a vague feeling, a discomfort or a pleasure of some sort. Life’s circumstances also come into play, and my landscapes, both emotional and literal, affect the output. The words carry me along, and at some point in the writing, perhaps only one or two lines in, but often much deeper in the piece, the poem, the flesh of it, starts coalescing. And then I backtrack and revise. In essence, my subconscious guides me, and such a guide is not always trustworthy or easy to work with, as many false trails are laid out and pursued. But even the false trails lead somewhere, often to greater rewards. ¶ Not knowing is central to my process. This probably sounds cryptic, or pseudo-zen, but it’s honest. I learn by questioning. By doing and failing and trying again. I revise during the course of writing, even during the first blush of creation, as well as after. The poems always sit and marinate for a while, sometimes for just a few days, sometimes for weeks or months, and there are a few that have stewed in their juices for years. When I return to them, I see problem points that weren’t apparent before, and I revise accordingly. At some mysterious point, the poems are done, or at least as done as they’re going to get, and I consider sending them out in the world.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Robert Okaji is a displaced Texan hunkering down in Indiana. He holds a BA in history, and once won a goat-catching contest. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Vox Populi, North Dakota Quarterly, Slippery Elm, Panoply, Book of Matches, Buddhist Poetry Review, The Night Heron Barks, and elsewhere. He blogs at robertokaji.com.

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Cabezon
by Ken Hartke

It rises like a ziggurat in the desert.
Torn by the wind.
Shattered by the elements.
Stabbed by blades of ice.
Blasted by the heat
of countless searing summers.
Hammered by lightning and
shook by roaring blasts of thunder.
The mythic monster’s head lolls
in its everlasting giant’s sleep.
The Diné’s old legend cast in stone.
Climb up. Go higher.
The far horizon unfolds
to reveal range after range of
fire-formed hills — blackened,
broken, and brittle in the sun.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Cabezon Peak, a volcanic plug, is a landmark of Navajo ancestral lands. It represents a slain giant’s head (Ye’i-tsoh) in their mythology. It is part of the Mount Taylor volcanic field and rises 2,000 feet over the desert in New Mexico.

Photos by the author. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Ken Hartke is a writer and photographer from the Rio Grande Valley in New Mexico, but was originally planted and nourished in the Midwest. His New Mexico images now inspire much of his writing. He has contributed work for the Late Orphan Project’s anthology These Winter Months (The Backpack Press), and Foliate Oak Literary Magazine. He keeps an active web presence on El Malpais, malpaisweb.wordpress.com, and other places.

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In honor of National Poetry Month, from Monday, April 20 through Friday, April 24, 2020, the Silver Birch Press BUKOWSKI ANTHOLOGY  is available for FREE in a Kindle version. Find the Kindle version here.

This 272-page collection features poetry and prose about Charles Bukowski as well as portraits of the author by over 75 writers and artists around the world. Contributors include people who knew Bukowski — friends, fellow poets, and people he met along the way — as well as those who feel as if they knew the iconic author.

Cover Art: Mark Erickson and Katy Zartl (ALL RIGHTS RESERVED)

Contributing Editors: Jocelyne Desforges, S.A. Griffin, Suzanne Lummis, David Roskos, Joan Jobe Smith, Eddie Woods

Contributors (in alphabetical order): Christopher R. Adams / Sheril Antonio / RD Armstrong / The Art Warriors (Antonio Gamboa) / David Barker / William Barker / Black Sifichi / Harry Calhoun / David Stephen Calonne / Jared A. Carnie / Neeli Cherkovski/ Kim Cooper / Abel Debritto / Henry Denander / Jocelyne Desforges / Rene Diedrich / John Dorsey / Mark Erickson / Dan Fante / Paul Fericano / Karen Finley / Jack Foley / FrancEyE / Ed Galing / Joan Gannij / Anggo Genorga / Marjorie Gilbert / Jeffrey Graessley / S.A. Griffin / win harms / Donna Hilbert / Rodger Jacobs / Linda King / Harvey Kubernik/ Dana Laina / Lautir (Fabrizio Cassetta) / Suzuki Limbu / Michael Limnios / Gerald Locklin / Suzanne Lummis / Marvin Malone / Adrian Manning / Dean Marais / Germa Marquez / Catfish McDaris / Ann Menebroker / Heather Minette / Austin Mitchell / Richard Modiano / Jon Monday / Jeff Morgan / Paul Nebenzahl / Gerald Nicosia / Michael O’Brien / bart plantenga / David S. Pointer / Alvaro Pozo / D.A. Pratt / Wendy Rainey / Steve Richmond / David Roskos / Russ Runfola / Richard Schave / Raymond King Shurtz / Joan Jobe Smith / Ben Talbot / Mark Terrill / dirk velvet / Melanie Villines / Fred Voss / Scott Wannberg / Vanessa Wilken / A.D. Winans / Bradley Wind / Erik Woltersdorf / Pamela “Cupcakes” Wood / Tim Youd / Katy Zartl

Enjoy!

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As the world is in crisis and people are quarantined, we want to help bring some cheer! That’s why we’ve decided to convert some of our books to Kindle versions and offer them, at first, for free (Amazon only permits publishers to list titles as free for a few days each quarter) and then at the lowest possible selling price that Amazon allows. The Kindle version of our Alice in Wonderland Anthology is available for FREE from Wednesday, April 8 through Friday, April 10, 2020. Find it at this link.

Released on November 26, 2015 — exactly 150 years after the 1865 publication of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland — the Alice in Wonderland Anthology features work by 63 writers, artists and photographers.

Contributors include: Mary Jo Bang, Virginia Barrett, Sabina C. Becker, Roxanna Bennett, Rebecca Bokma, Ed Bremson, Kari Bruck, Cathy Bryant, Kathy Burkett, Julia Margaret Cameron, Lewis Carroll, Maureen E. Doallas, Kallie Falandays, Nettie Farris, Jamie Feldman, Jennifer Finstrom, Jackie Fox, Kristin Geber, Sandra Herman, Joanie Hieger Fritz Zosike, Trish Hopkinson, Valerie Hunter, Tatiana Ianovskaia, Justin Jackley, Mathias Jansson, Laura M. Kaminski, Kevin Korb, Jo Anna Elizabeth Larson, Ae Hee Lee, Renee Mallett, Char March, Alwyn Marriage, Karen Massey, Kim Naboshek, Michael O’Connor, Donatella Parisini, Erin Parker, Marybeth Rua-Larsen, Jayme Russell, Rizwan Saleem, Albert Schlaht, Anita Schmaltz, Elvis Schmoulianoff, Dustin Scott, Shloka Shankar, Sheikha A., M.M. Shelline, A.E. Stallings, Katarina Stanic, William Stok, Wendy Strohm, Robyn Sykes, Eileen Tai, Christina Tam, John Tenniel, Pablo Valcarcel, Amy Schreibman Walter, Lynn White, Martin Willitts Jr, Rachelle Wood, Andrew Woodham, Emily Yu.

We hope you enjoy this offering — and hope the collection brings you cheer!