Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Red Elegy: Beginnings Gasping Their Last

by Bacopa Literary Review Senior Editor Mary Bast
An elegy is a lament. It sets out the circumstances and character of a loss . . . in all societies, death constitutes a cultural event . . . as well as an individual loss. (pp. 167-168, The Making of a Poem: A Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms, Mark Strand and Eavan Boland, New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2000).
Of the two poems we nominated for a Pushcart Prize last year, an earlier post describes Raphel Kosek's "When the Saints Come Among Us." Bacopa 2019's other Pushcart-nominated poem is "Red Elegy," by Miranda Sun.

As do all elegies, Sun's connects us, invites us to mourn together, echoing shared memories, seeking consolation in our common grief.

Classic elegies ("Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard," "Epitaph,"  "A Dirge," "Stop all the clocks") have no characteristic metrical structure. What most denotes this poetic form is its public utterance. And so all of us are called to Miranda Sun's "Red Elegy" from its beginning line, "Morning comes over the hills like war," to tulips with "blood rising in their throats," to salmon "gasping their last," to a fox "burned black to the bone," to holding a new born rabbit knowing "that is all you have:"
Morning comes over the hills like war.
Once we bore witness, you and I, with
our child eyes. To dawn with her
rosy fingers rubbed raw, knuckles blistered
with horizon.

That meadow we used to run through.
Tulips repeating themselves, red iteration,
blood rising in their throats.

Salmon returning to rivers, full of scarlet,
life spawning warm from their bodies. Beginnings
gasping their last against the gravel. I hope you know
that's not the only way to come home . . .
(Read the rest of Miranda Sun's "Red Elegy" (pp. 58-59) and other works
in Bacopa Literary Review 2019, Print Edition or Digital Format)

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Miranda Sun is twenty years old. An alumna of the NYS Summer Young Writers Institute and Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshop, her work has been nationally recognized by the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards and published in Body Without Organs, Lammergeir, TRACK//FOUR, Red Queen, riverbabble, Sobotka, YARN, The Gravity of the Thing, and more. She loves bubble tea and aquariums, and currently reads for Ninth Letter Online.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

No Way I can SHRINK my Story into 100 Words!

By Bacopa Literary Review Short-Short Fiction editor Kaye Linden

Cutting a 1000 or 750-word story to 100 words is a lesson in bare bones writing. Why shrink a story down to its essential storyline?

The process offers significant awareness in the art and process of discovery. When honing a story to its foundation, writers will not only realize the essential storyline of a longer work, but might find infractions of other story elements; for example, inconsistencies in point of view (whose story is it?), benefits of past versus present tense, overuse of to be verbs, excessive dialogue or screaming dialogue tags, and the use of too many characters or their names. If a story appears awkward, rambling, disappointing, confusing, or needs rewriting, then shrinking is the way to go. (PS: this works for novels, as well!)

The first step in this process, of course, is to write the initial story without judgment or editing. This uncensored experience of rambling might intimidate new writers and challenge the experienced to allow wordiness.

In the second step of the process, the writer cuts the story from 750 words to 250 words, then reads the 250-word version to others to hear where the story might benefit from a rewrite. In my class, students offer positive feedback to help identify areas for improvement.

The third step in the process, cutting to 100 words, challenges writers the most. They do not want to get rid of their favorite lines or characters. Their egos begin to shout. Grimaces and moans appear out of nowhere. If willing, this is where writers will learn the most about clarity. The experience is a freeing, mindful lesson in letting go and regrouping. If the piece of work reads as confusing in 100 words, then the story essence needs a rework.

The fourth step in the process is to rethink and expand back out to a 750-word story. The contrast in skillful techniques after this "write of passage" is inspiring. The students in my class take six weeks to complete this process while workshopping each step. The catharsis, the celebration, the liberation is extraordinary.

Join us for the upcoming short story class with workshopping:
Writing Very Short Stories, Santa Fe College Adult Education, ENG0020.1F1 
The class begins April 2 and runs for six Thursdays from 6 PM to 7:30 PM. Registration opens March 11, 2020.

Kaye Linden
35 Tips for Writing a Brilliant Flash Story 

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Wood for the Taking

by Poetry Contributor Matthew J. Spireng

My poem "Wood for the Taking," which appeared in Bacopa Literary Review 2017, is included in my full-length book manuscript, Good Work, which has just won the 2019 Sinclair Prize and is to be published by Evening Street Press.

"Wood for the Taking" is one of many poems I've written about woodcutting. I heat two houses in upstate New York with firewood I cut and split by hand on my 54 acres of woodland. Confronted with a huge uprooted shagbark hickory--about the best firewood there is--I mulled its dangers and wrote this poem as I did. Ultimately I got a logger friend of mine to cut through the upper of the hickory's two trunks, making it possible for me to reduce the tree to firewood with less possibility of winding up in the ground myself.

 *    *    *
Matthew J. Spireng's books are What Focus Is (WordTech Communications); Out of Body (Bluestem Press), winner of the 2004 Bluestem Poetry Award; and Good Work (Evening Street Press), winner of the 2019 Sinclair Prize. His is also the author of five chapbooks and is a ten-time Pushcart Prize nominee.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Fees: An Obstacle to Best, Most Diverse Writing

by Bacopa Literary Review Senior Editor Mary Bast
A $3 fee might not sound like much, but the average short story might receive around 20 rejections before it's published . . . Reading fees also pose an extra obstacle in the literary community's efforts to be more diverse . . . Fees ensure that people who have disposable income will submit the most . . . ("Should Literary Journals Charge Writers Just to Read Their Work?" Joy Lanzendorfer, The Atlantic, Oct. 25, 2015)
Every year our editorial board reviews the finances of publishing a print journal, and considers the obvious arithmetic of submission fees to offset the cost of prizes, layout, printing (we editors are volunteers). There's more to consider than the obvious, though, when our goal is to publish top quality work from a diverse group of writers and poets.

Any journal of our size is in competition with thousands of other print and online literary magazines for the best work. So it's helped me to draw from my former business--built on writing and internet presence--to think of Bacopa Literary Review as a small, nonprofit business with a vision, goals, and action plans. As with any organization that wants to succeed in its field, our core values and their priorities must be clear: Economy? Service? Excellence?

Of course excellent writing is key, and going into my fifth year as Senior Editor, our team has become more and more clear that "excellence" includes a diversity consistent with worldwide diversity of fine writers--diversity of age (and thus cohort groups--whose styles, issues, and concerns differ decade by decade), of gender identification (not just males and females--an increasingly useless dichotomy), of geographic location (authors in our 2019 issue come from 12 countries and across the U.S.), of literary background (from well-published septuagenarians to recently hatched MFAs of all ages, to a college student who's never published before).

A close second to excellence in our vision is service, interacting with and congratulating writers and poets by email, in this blog, Facebook, and Twitter; making sure they see within days that their submissions are being reviewed, responding quickly when we know a submission is not quite a fit for a given year's issue, and accepting especially good pieces right away so we don't lose them to another journal. When contributors notify us that they've later published books, we feature them here. Starting with the 2019 issue, we've also invited contributors to send posts about their work in Bacopa, to promote our writers and poets as much as we can.

Economy runs third as a core value for Bacopa--important, but not as important as excellence and service. We've experimented with fees, and though the current team has never charged more than $3 per submission, it is clear that we receive the finest and most diverse writing when we don't charge a fee. We do stay within the budget of a general annual cost estimate, and we're fortunate that our sponsor, Writers Alliance of Gainesville, is willing and able to foot the average $3000/year (not including the many hours donated by our editorial team in what is mostly a labor of love). If we charged fees we'd have fewer submissions, and thus less work, but we'd also lose some of the best writers and have a much less diverse publication.

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On April 1, our literary doors will open to writers of 
fiction, short-short fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, and humor.
Join us!!!

Monday, January 27, 2020

Submit, Submit, Submit

by Bacopa Literary Review Senior Editor Mary Bast

Lynn Geri, contributor to Bacopa Literary Review 2016 and one of our Pushcart nominees, has recently published two collections with Brierly Press, Mother and I Submit.

In the letter to us that accompanied copies of her books, Lynn wrote ". . . you were the first people to give me encouragement to continue writing. Thank you with all my heart for your support."

Lynn included the following in I Submit's "About the Author" section:
After a lifetime of moving around the world, Lynn Geri has settled on the west coast of the United States, Bellinghham, Washington, with her sweetheart Richard. She has moved from Alaska to Florida, Salt Lake to Los Angeles, China to Germany and too many stops between.
     She didn't begin writing until she reached her seventh decade. She bought one of those old people's recliners and picked up a computer. It's all been flying pages since.
     Her 356th submission was accepted for publication in a literary magazine. So, she tells all dear beginning writers, rejection letters are part of the process. Laugh, actively surrender . . . Submit, Submit, Submit. It's such a good life practice.

Monday, January 20, 2020

What Aches: A Special Affection for Place

By Bacopa Literary Review 2019 poetry contributor Elena Botts

These sentences of what aches, below, broken into a verse, are (of course) formed due to memories. I expect I'll always be the kind to think that memories are a marvelous place to dwell. Of course, one might embrace a certain number of ideas over a lifetime, and these are often so broad they may account for a great amount of devotion in a person--religiosity or spirituality might come to be foundational for much of one's worldview and therein one might cultivate all sorts of emotion. Also, one might love people, which is particular though not small.

Place, though, fits somewhere in between, and I have a special affection for place, perhaps because it answers naturally to one's spiritual affectations while maintaining real substance and form, and as such, just being somewhere can be like contact with the beyond. Perhaps because mountains do not "feel" in return; they simply are, set against the sky. Here was something that was greater than anyone, but still I felt particular towards: I spent some time in "the hills" of Elizaville and Milan, in the wintertime, a landscape to which I suffered in addiction, one that I considered sacred and even now am still glad of, and mourn.

Eventually, however, I reached an end and due to my complete commitment to these brown hills and staccato power lines, I suffered from an illness profound enough to take me from this sacred place. It was a heartbreak derived from the thing I loved, from the insanity of my continuous destructive and holy escape, that caused me to part from it, not due to the end of desire but due to my own extinguishment, as paralleled by the limitations of my body, and thereafter I was as weak as an old man, moving slowly about an 18th century farmhouse, nearly falling through the white wooden floors, always in the delirium of loss, and beginning to summon ghosts with my thoughts. This was an easy death; this was the inevitable and sought-after end.

Of course, this was all but a tremendous mental exercise and even writing here demonstrates the extent to which one might come to delude oneself in the pursuit of meaning or feeling anything after all. Still, were you to ask if I believed in anything, I'd say: "the hills."

*     *     *    *
Elena Botts is author of six published books, winner of four poetry contests, her poems have appeared in dozens of literary magazines (including Madness Muse Press, The Opiate, ), and her award-winning visual artwork exhibited in various galleries. She's collaborated on, released, and exhibited sound and moving image art.

Read Elena Botts' "what aches" (p. 152) and other works
in Bacopa Literary Review 2019 (Print Edition or Digital Format).

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Three Haiku Sequences: “Shēngxiào / 生肖,” “Haiku Lessons,” “Still I Go”

by Bacopa Literary Review 2019 Haiku contributor Michael Dylan Welch

I am grateful to Bacopa editors to have had three haiku sequences in the 2019 issue of the journal. They are "Shēngxiào / 生肖," "Haiku Lessons," and "Still I Go." I'd like to share a few words about each of them.

Shēngxiào / 生肖
I wrote the first sequence at the very end of December in 2017 when the turn to the new year was high in everyone's consciousness. The year of the dog wasn't set to start until February 16, 2018, but the Western new year of January 1 got me thinking about the year of the dog a little early. I also knew my birth year was the year of the tiger. But I found myself curious about the other years and started surfing online to learn more.

Along the way it occurred to me to write a haiku for each of the twelve Chinese zodiac signs, also called shēngxiào. I learned that specific flowers are associated with each sign, too, as well as moods or tones, so I set myself the task to combine each zodiac sign with its associated flower, in as natural a way as I could, and hopefully to match the appropriate mood. I was not thoroughly familiar with all the flowers, such as cineraria and bleeding hearts, so that took some research.

Each poem is meant to stand on its own, rather than contributing to any kind of narrative. Haiku, as the starting verse for a longer lined form known as renga (or renku, a more modern and less rule-bound evolution), grew out of the tradition of linking from verse to verse but always shifting away--and thus "tasting all of life." I sought to present variety as much as I could, too, even while the flowers and zodiac names added common threads to each of the twelve verses.

As a result, the sequence turns from a violin to a letterbox, from a misty moon to an unfinished painting, from a fireplace mantel to an election, from a vase to a journalist's suit, from an encyclopedia (where the flower is present in name only) to a garden (where the flower is actually present), and finally, from a garden gnome to the concluding abstraction of abundance. Some of the links from verse to verse, such as going from a garden to a garden gnome, may be readily apparent, but other links may not be, such as a violin being a kind of enclosed box, which might obliquely connect to the next verse's letterbox.

I ended with the abstraction of "abundance" on purpose (in contrast to the more concrete images in the other verses). I hoped that the entire sequence would offer an abundance of spices, tasting all of life, with each of the animals, each of the flowers, and each of the other elements I added contributing their own flavours. Individually, too, I hoped that each verse might engage on its own terms. For example, if there's an abundance of hydrangeas, how does that benefit the pig? I do hope that readers will picture a real pig or other animal in at least some of these verses. Perhaps the pig will enjoy eating those flowers!

In many ways the sequence wrote itself, once the structure came to mind, and any mysteries it might have may be beyond my conscious explication. I hope it pleases and stimulates, and perhaps provides zodiac and flower information as well, reminding us of the cycles of life, and perhaps how we can be grateful for each year of our unfolding lives.

Haiku Lessons

The second sequence, "Haiku Lessons," is perhaps more playful. Haiku is widely misunderstood as being anything that fits a set syllable count. But no, haiku do not have to be 5-7-5 syllables in English (see this page at the website I run for National Haiku Writing Month, held for ten years every February--the shortest month for the shortest genre of poetry). Mere syllable counting takes no account of seasonal reference (using a season word or kigo in Japanese), a two-part structure (using, in Japanese, what's called a kireji, or cutting word), primarily objective sensory imagery, and other strategies.

Within this framework, though, haiku can fall into seemingly overused syntactical structures, using all-too-common tropes or images, which I poke a bit of fun at. The poet's challenge is always to keep things fresh, but that can be difficult with poems as short as haiku. How many poems can be written freshly about cherry blossoms, for example? Actually, a lot, but poets will sometimes have to cure themselves of the easiest or most obvious choices (such as equating falling blossoms to snow or to confetti--that's been done to death). It's in this context that I tried to have a little fun.

By some definitions the poems in this sequence are just short poems rather than haiku, but I hope they're at least in the ballpark. I've kept juxtaposition in each of the verses, and often a concrete image and seasonal reference, and then I name various parts of speech, almost as if one could "mad lib" the rest of each verse. In fact, why not give it a try? I also play with various modes of writing haiku in English, such as the pure nature image, abstractions more common in so-called gendai or "modern" haiku, and other variations. As such, perhaps the sequence might offer "haiku lessons." Or maybe not.

Still I Go

The third sequence, "Still I Go," is more personal, written about a time I had surgery. I ruptured my Achilles tendon in February of 2016, was not able to drive for three months, and could walk only short distances with crutches. After a surgery and months of rehab, I was finally able to walk in the woods again. But before then, I was glad I could still visit the infamous cherry trees in full bloom at the University of Washington campus in Seattle, near where I live, even if just on crutches. I wrote the poems for this sequence in February and March of 2016, around the time of my surgery. It took almost a full year to recover fully. And still I go to view the cherry blossoms when I can--taking the opportunity to do so much less for granted than I did before.

I have many other haiku sequences on my website. Of special note is "Avonlea," which appeared in Bacopa in 2016. It was written in 2008 to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of Anne of Green Gables. I use stars on the site to mark other favourite sequences (featuring both haiku and tanka), and if I might recommend a few of them, they would be "Fine Lines" (incorporating lines borrowed from famous poems), "The Haijin's Tweed Coat" (with each verse using names of haiku journals), "Kazooku" (for something fun), "Pop Fly" (baseball haiku), "Separation" (which appeared in Rattle magazine), "Text-ku" (a sequence from 2008, working in younger-generation texting acronyms), and "Thornewood Poems" (a spilling-out of nature poems from twenty-five years ago).

Of course, good haiku don't have to be in sequences at all. Sometimes just a single haiku, all by itself, will do.

Michael Dylan Welch
Sammamish, Washington

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Read Michael Dylan Welch's haiku and other works
in Bacopa Literary Review 2019 (Print Edition or Digital Format).

Saturday, January 11, 2020

A Loving Look at the Journey of Failure

by 2019 Bacopa Literary Review poetry contributor stephanie roberts

Gymnastics must be the definitive sport that is the purview only of the young. Naturally flexible, I enjoyed its tests of strength and mental courage, but it wasn't long before I was too inelastic to compete.

The poem, "Middle-Age Cartwheel" is a loving look at the journey of failure. What the body can no longer execute still lives vividly in muscle memory. Sitting here, I can feel the completed act in every limb but I'm terrified at the challenge of attempt.
how i loathe the moment
the happiness of life
pivots on the webbing of carpus
and unity of eight innocent bones 
 In the poem the loss of the body's strength mirrors a loss of vitality attributed to life as people move farther from youth. It begins to seem like silliness to even attempt any apprehension of magnificence.
all for now this aching love
this tumbled shaken hour
upend and recovery now         breath
foot    handoverhand      foot    foot

*     *     *
stephanie roberts won first prize in The Sixty-Four: Best Poets of 2018. An avid dreamer, she is a four time Pushcart Prize nominee, and three time nominee for Best of the Net. Her full poetry collection rushes from the river disappointment, which includes "Middle-Age Cartwheel," will be released with McGill-Queen's University Press in May 2020. Twitter (@ringtales), Instagram (@ringtales), SoundCloud.

Read stephanie roberts' "Middle-Age Cartwheel" (pp. 120-121),
in Bacopa Literary Review 2019 (Print Edition or Digital Format).

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Threats of Execution: "Blood is Not Thicker"

by fiction contributor to Bacopa Literary Review 2019 Lucille Bellucci

I grew up in Shanghai and lived three years under the Communist regime, which was as brutal as depicted in my story "Blood is Not Thicker." In 1952 my parents, sister and I applied for exit visas but she and I were told we could not leave because we were spies for America. Six weeks of interrogation ensued, with threats of execution unless we signed a confession.

We refused. The pressure mounted. We were Italian nationals, which saved us from being shot, and in the end the police threw the visas at us and told us to get out. We left China for Italy with $50 each and one suitcase. Five years later the remainder of my family immigrated to the United States. After ten years in San Francisco I moved to Brazil, where my engineer husband worked on a hydroelectric project. We returned to California 15 years later. It is good to be home.

My novels and story collections are posted on Amazon and elsewhere, including Winning Writers and Narrative.

(Click on image to see a page from Bellucci's "Blood is Not Thicker)

Read Lucille Bellucci's "Blood is Not Thicker" (pp. 83-88), and other works
in Bacopa Literary Review 2019 (Print Edition or Digital Format).

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Disenchanted: On Fairy Tales and Their Modern Uses

by Bacopa Literary Review 2019 Poetry contributor Yania Padilla Sierra

What happens to the fairy princess when no one will rescue her? What becomes of the girl who decides to take instead of wait? To plot instead of pray? Fairy tales have always fascinated me; as I grow older, I am relating more to the 'villains,' often women who are 'past their prime;' women who are angry, who will have their due.
It's in the tower, it's through the wood; it's behind the curtain, up to no good.
The poem begins with a bit of song,perhaps a nursery rhyme sung about the speaker of the poem. A woman who wields power invisibly, who has knowledge born of difficult experiences. In this new world where only the young, naive, and beautiful matter, the woman is invisible. She watches the parade, the endless parade of her 'replacements,' full of sorrow and rage. She is sorrowful because their innocence means ignorance. She is rageful because their focus on baubles and underwire things means they may not be up to the task of wielding power as she does. She is rageful because the world will destroy the sweet things once their beauty is used up.
Little ones, follow me, let down your hair--the lace front tresses--no one will care  
The speaker wants to guide and save the sweet things before it's too late, before they become victims. The speaker may be inexorably drawn to helping the bad bitches and their too plump legs and cruelty free lips, but they are too trusting, too compliant, too beautiful. She then realizes that it is She who will devour them, as all predators do with prey, as it was meant to be. She also realizes She will likely meet her end in their undoing.
I love them like a stepmother with cinders in her mouth.

*     *     *
Yania Padilla Sierra is a Puerto Rican bruja/writer/artist and suicide prevention SME. Her work has been featured in various online literary journals, including Military Experience & The  Arts and The Write Launch, and will be published in the first AROHO anthology.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

A Brief History of "The Madonna of Main Street"

By Bacopa Literary Review 2017 Creative Nonfiction contributor Erica Verrillo

I was enormously surprised when Bacopa Literary Review not only published my personal essay, "The Madonna of Main Street," but gave it Honorable Mention. It had, like most of my short pieces, been turned down numerous times by literary magazines. For writers, rejection is a  way of life.

The Madonna is a real person, and my encounter with her, as told in the essay, is completely factual. None of the details of this story vary from what actually happened.

My reasons for giving a pregnant panhandler all my money that day were personal, but they came from a backdrop of having spent a decade working with Mayan refugees in Central America. When I returned home after years abroad, I found that we had our own domestic refugees--the homeless, the impoverished, the disabled, the "mentally ill"--all the discarded human detritus of society.

After writing the story of the beatific Madonna, I launched a nonprofit, AMMES, to help severely ill people from becoming homeless. You can read about the nonprofit here.I also write a blog that provides publishing resources for struggling writers: Publishing ... and Other Forms of Insanity. Writers need all the help they can get.

*     *     *
Erica Verillo has published Elissa's Quest, Elissa's Odyssey, and World's End (Random House). Her short work has appeared in more than a dozen publications. She holds degrees from Tufts University (BA - History), Syracuse University (MA - Linguistics), and has done doctoral work in Anthropology and Speech Communication (UT Austin).

Read Erica Verrillo's Creative Nonfiction Honorable Mention,
"The Madonna of Main Street" (pp. 51-54), and other works
in Bacopa Literary Review 2019 (Print Edition or Digital Format).

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Haiku: Concision, Juxtaposition, Immediacy

by Bacopa Literary Review 2019 Haiku contributor Robert Witmer

I wrote the three haiku published in the 2019 issue of Bacopa Literary Review while I was teaching a course in modern poetry at a college in southern India. It was the semester break at my university in Japan, and I intended to enjoy my time in Goa, where I lived in a lovely little village just a 15-minute walk to the sea. Long walks along the nearly empty beaches, punctuated with delicious seafood and cold beer, proved to be an ideal situation for writing.

Moreover, I was energized by the possibility of having some haiku published by a mainstream literary journal. The haiku community has mistakenly, in my view, distanced itself from what many of its members consider the poetry establishment. To my mind, haiku is a kind of poetry, differing from other kinds of poetry only in the brevity of its form.

All three of my poems illustrate the primary features of the haiku form: concision, the juxtaposition of concrete particulars, and an immediacy and suggestiveness. Two of the haiku ("bubbles rise" and "friends pass away") are, I suppose, manifestations of the inevitable process of aging. An old mentor of mine said that the hardest part about growing old is losing more and more of those who were dear to you. Yet, I believe, we can hold onto a part of our childhood. Isaac Newton had to suffer a blow on the head to comprehend the inescapable force of gravity: alas, stones sink--yet bubbles rise. Each of our lost loved ones was as unique as any snowflake, and we can hold their singular beauty close to us for as long as we live.
bubbles rise
past a sinking stone
childhood dreams

friends pass away
melting against the window
My "sunlight on snow" poem was rather more mysterious in its provenance: one of those blessings of the muse that suddenly light the imagination. It seems to me that the poem contains the possibility of magic, a sudden awakening into life. Rabbits do not hibernate during winter; rather, they sleep a lot, about the same as humans do. To sleep, to dream, to wake. The sun warms the pure white snow; the black hat of the magician rests on a table behind the stage. When the time is right, the rabbit springs from its dreaming place. Spring has come, and we are delighted.
sunlight on snow
a rabbit sleeps
in the magician's hat
*     *     * 
Robert Witmer is an American, semi-retired college professor who has lived in Japan for the past 40 years. In 2016 he published his first book of haiku, Finding a Way. His haiku can be found in several online journals, including Parody, Gnarled Oak, The Heron's Nest and Autumn Moon Haiku Journal.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Trailblazer: "Dad, 1948"

by Bacopa Literary Review 2019 Poetry contributor Tara Campbell

I wrote this poem in honor of my father Lawrence E. Campbell, Jr. He started flight training with the 332nd Fighter Group at the Tuskegee Army Airfield in 1944, and was discharged at the end of World War II in 1945. He rejoined in 1947, and in 1948 became the first black man to fly a jet for the U.S. Air Force.

He was a trailblazer throughout his career, becoming the first African American member of the Alaska Air National Guard, and subsequently the first black Air National Guard group commander in the nation.

The thing was, though, he wasn't one to boast--and when I was younger, I didn't have the foresight to ask. Years after his death I began going through some of his papers, and one newspaper article in particular captivated me: "Negro Fighter Pilot Finds Flying Jets To Be Easy but Terrifying Experience."

The article contained quotes from him about his first jet flight that were so vivid and personal, I had to write something about it:

Lawrence Edward "Larry" Campbell, Jr., Papers 1940-1992.
at Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum

*    *    *
Tara Campbell is a Kimbilio Fellow, fiction editor with Barrelhouse; author of a novel "TreeVolution," hybrid fiction/poetry collection "Circe's Bicycle," and short story collection "Midnight at the Organporium" which garnered a starred Publishers Weekly review. She has an MFA from American University.

Read Tara Campbell's poem "Dad: 1948" (pp. 174-175) and other works
in Bacopa Literary Review 2019 (Print Edition or Digital Format).