Saturday, April 12, 2014

Improving Your Poetry Karma - a Second Chance

A hearty thank you to all who've donated to Crab Creek Review, an independently run literary journal. We are filled with gratitude~

We all love second chances, and are offering a new prize! If you donate by April 30 you will be automatically entered to win this canvas photo print of a Singer sewing machine,  photographed by editor Ronda Broatch.

Donate today! And you might receive a new art piece for your wall, our undying thanks, and continued great writing coming your way from CCR.


Monday, March 24, 2014

Introducing Crab Creek Review Co-Editor Ronda Broatch

“Everything you didn’t understand / made you what you are.”
    Charles Simic

This is the epigraph to Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem,”Who?” which appeared in Crab Creek Review’s Bread for This Hunger, an anthology of poems published in 1996, that respond to the final two lines of William Stafford’s poem “Listening at Little Elkhart” :

“The world has this voice; it wanders; it is lost / in the night and the stars. It cannot find where to go.”

I came to poetry in college. A student of art from a very young age, poetry allowed me to make sense of what I didn’t yet understand. The words came to me, and from me, and went in directions both exciting and surprising. Poetry was so immediate, allowing a freedom of expression that in speech came in fits and starts. I’d often tell people, “I’m better on paper than I am verbally.” I was finding my voice in the written word, when spoken ones frequently teased and eluded me.  People often said to me, “you are such a good listener.” Sure, I thought. It’s because my voice gets stuck on its way out of my mouth. It gets lost.

Much conspired to bring me to the medium of poetry. From the age of 3 months I came to be raised primarily by my grandparents. In around 1940 Karl and Theodora made the trip to Seattle from Vienna, putting distance between them and a mother country suffering beneath the growing weight of Nazi oppression. My grandfather worked at the Ullstein Haus, a publishing firm in Berlin founded by Leopold Ullstein, and carried on by son Hermann. Jewish born Ullstein junior emigrated from Nazi Germany in 1938, following the rise of Hitler. Because of his connection to Ullstein Haus and other publications he either created or took part in, and that were against the Nazi regime, my grandfather, Karl, a writer and editor, spent 4+ months in Dachau before he, too, left Germany and Austria behind, taking with him his wife and two young children. My grandmother, Theodora, was an artist and illustrator of children’s books, who was also known for her compelling political illustrations that also went against the highly charged and changing times in the place they’d called home for so long.

Shihab Nye’s poem, “Who?” begin with the lines, “I studied German for years / but all I can remember is ‘over the chimneys, / here and there’,” and I can’t help but think about how my grandparents arrived in Seattle, and there remained until they passed away, never once returning to the land of their birth. Because it was deemed best at the time, I spent my week days in their home, and weekends with my young, working parents. Even as they were far from “home,” I was well cared for and nurtured by these people who spoke a strange and exotic combination of German and English in conversation. I - rebellious or self-conscious, I don’t know - never mastered their language, but did take from them the gifts of written language and visual arts that permeated the air I breathed, so that had I been forced to move suddenly into a house without these things in it, I might be quite lost. Wandering room to room in a place devoid of the sounds of typing, bookshelves filled floor to ceiling, the smells of paint, the swish of brush in water, pen to paper.

How is it, then, Karl and Theodora were able to hold onto their “language?” That they, having become separated from the familiar and shunted (thankfully, by some kindness) to the safety of new terra, didn’t leave behind also their words and art?

“It’s impossible to understand / where things go, / how we get / other things back / when they are missing.”

Shihab Nye’s poem ends without explaining, and yet implying so much. With my quiet mentors gone now, I still question my place in the world. I write about that, leaving behind my voice in journals, and capturing what I see in minute detail in photos, like a little trail of crumbs. And at times I remember some little event or interaction with either of my grandparents, and marvel at the brief flash of understanding that comes, informing my work, and at the same time pulling me forward to the next point of discovery. Maybe we don’t get everything back, but we can, in time make sense (and poetry) of the things that are missing.

Shihab Nye, Naomi. (1996). Why? In L. Clifton, & C. Orlock (Eds) final issue of Crab Creek Review anthology Bread for This Hunger (pp. 9-10) Seattle, WA: Crab Creek Review Association.

Ronda Broatch is the author of Shedding Our Skins, (Finishing Line Press, 2008), and Some Other Eden, (2005). She has received Pushcart nominations, an Artist Trust GAP Grant, and has been a finalist more than once for the May Swenson Poetry Book Award. Ronda is Co- Editor for Crab Creek Review. In her spare time she photographs birds and poets in their natural habitats. Schnitzel and Zwetschkenknödel have the power to bring her world into balance.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

We Have a Winner!

Congratulations to Kelly Cressio-Moeller! Kelly is the winner of the "Deviled Crab Creek Review" tray! Thank you to everyone who donated to Crab Creek Review! We appreciate your incredible generosity, and look forward to bringing you the next issue of the journal this spring.

Stay tuned for Phase 2 / Prize 2 of the Crab Creek Review fund drive!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Crab Creek Review 2014 POETRY CONTEST is Underway!

2014 Crab Creek Review Poetry Contest

The entry period for the 2014 Crab Creek Review Poetry Contest begins on February 15th with entries accepted until May 15, 2014. A $200 prize will be awarded for the winning poem. 

This year's judge is Sarah Vap (Arco Iris, End of the Sentimental Journey: A Mystery Poem). 

Picture Sarah Vap grew up in Missoula, Montana. She attended Brown University, where she studied English and American Literature. She received her MFA from Arizona State University, and is completing her PhD at the University of Southern California.

Vap is the author of four collections of poetry. Her first book, Dummy Fire, was selected by Forrest Gander to receive the Saturnalia Poetry Prize. Her second, American Spikenard, was selected by Ira Sadoff to receive the Iowa Poetry Prize. Her third book, Faulkner’s Rosary, was released by Saturnalia Books in 2010. Her fourth book, Arco Iris, was just released in November, 2012, and was named a Library Journal Best Book of 2012. Her book End of the Sentimental Journey is forthcoming from Noemi Press in 2013. She is a 2013 recipient of an NEA Fellowship for Poetry.

Vap has taught poetry and literature at Arizona State University and University of Southern California, and for many years now she has taught creative writing to kids in public schools.

She lives with her family in Santa Monica, CA. 


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Contest Submission Guidelines:

*We welcome up to 3 poems per writer, 6 pages maximum.
*The entry fee is $10 per submission. Multiple submissions are allowed, but each batch must be submitted separately, with its own entry fee.
*Please submit works in .doc, .docx, PDF, or .rtf format.
*Choose a standard 12 pt font (Arial, Times New Roman or similar), and standard margins between 1” and 2”.
* Do not include graphics or embed any objects in your document.
* Poetry may be single spaced or double spaced. If formatting preservation is a concern, please send your submission in PDF format. 

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The winner and finalists will be featured in the 2014 edition of Crab Creek Review. In addition, all entries considered for publication. 
Submit to Crab Creek Review today!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Improve Your Poetry Karma ...

. . . with a donation to Crab Creek Review. Crab Crab Creek Review is committed to publishing the best writing from the Northwest, and beyond. 30 years have passed since founder Linda Clifton put together the first issue of Crab Creek Review. Much has changed since 1984, but one thing remains the same—our love of literature and dedication to publishing fine poetry and prose.

If you love literature too, we hope you will consider helping Crab Creek Review continue to bring innovative and thought-provoking writing to the literary community. Become a friend of Crab Creek Review and the authors and audience of the journal become your friends. A nonprofit company, Crab Creek Review depends on the kindness of strangers, and the generosity of friends like you.
Donate to Crab Creek Review now through March 15th, and your name will be entered for a chance to win this devilishly handsome vintage poet-tray, signed by poets Nikky Finney, Dean Young, and Nick Flynn, generously donated by Kelli Russell Agodon, out-going Editor.

Thank you for your support, and may the muse be ever at your side.


Jenifer Lawrence & Ronda Broatch

Editors, Crab Creek Review
From left to right: Jenifer Lawrence, Editor, Ronda Broatch, Editor, Kelli Russell Agodon, former Editor~

Monday, February 17, 2014

Introducing Crab Creek Review Co-Editor Jenifer Lawrence

I first came across Crab Creek Review over 15 years ago while browsing used books at a secondhand store in Seattle. I fished a quarter from my pocket for a copy of the 10th anniversary edition of Crab Creek Review, this passage from Laura Kasischke’s poem, “Arms”, having caught my eye: “the cross/casts its shadow on the church lawn/as lovely as a naked man, arms/like wings without feathers/open to hold/the ions and electrons/that make us live.” I backtracked to the poem’s epigraph to learn that a woman and five children had been killed in 1945 when a bomb masquerading as a large silver balloon had exploded. The group had come across the balloon in a field, and went to inspect it, but then, Kasischke tells us, “May explodes like a bride’s bouquet/ tossed, accidentally, into a fan.” The poem ends on an image of white cranes exploding from the ocean “in a frenzy of feather and hydrogen” echoing the earlier image of the bomb that killed 6 people in Oregon.

Poetry offers a change of perspective. Inhumanity and intolerance, exposed, may engender empathy and tolerance. The images of the silver balloon exploding, and the white cranes bursting into the sky, seemed like a metaphor for my own life— oh, what a beautiful mystery life is, but venture too close to discovery, and you’ll suffer the consequences. A failed marriage, and parenting a pair of teenaged boys had sapped my energy and left me doubting my ability to make a difference in the world. I had long since abandoned poetry for engineering, and was working as a civil engineering technician for the government, where I reviewed design drawings for economic development projects. I understood the need for cutting trees and moving dirt to make way for apartment buildings, highways, and shopping malls. The damage to the environment seemed a necessary sacrifice, a byproduct of progress. Engineering includes both inventiveness and innovation—creative elements to be used for good or for gain. I appreciate the creativity and intellect it takes to design an underground transportation tunnel or an intercontinental air balloon. Engineers brought Seattle its crazy street layouts and its hillside communities. Engineers designed the site on which the Seattle Art Museum stands, and architects designed the building, and artists designed and built and painted and sculpted what fills SAM’s halls. I work with engineers for a living, but my life’s work is poetry. I need to be reminded of that from time to time, as I was on the day I first discovered Crab Creek Review.

Crab Creek Review just published its 30th anniversary edition. It’s been 20 years since we published Laura Kasischke’s poem, together with works by Rebecca Wells, Sam Hamill, William Stafford, Tim McNulty, Jody Aliesan, Sharon Hashimoto and more. Writers whose words continue to reach us, whose voices are joined in the new anniversary issue by Frances McCue, Peter Pereira, Susan Rich, Kathleen Flenniken, James Bertolino, Elizabeth Austen, and others. Old voices and new. Some of the poets in the 10th anniversary edition appear as well in the 30th. Voices that endure, poems and stories that outlive the damage we all experience just by being alive.

Engineers launched that silver balloon with its explosive cargo during World War II, a war my father served in, a war he survived. The balloon traveled thousands of miles before exploding in this country and changing a southern Oregon community forever. My father came home from the war changed forever; all soldiers are changed by that experience. What is it, exactly, that changes us? Trauma and damage, yes, but also experience and observation, healing and compassion. The soldier and engineer, the artist and poet are each influenced by living in this world. Each does his or her work, and thereby transforms the world. But can we save it? As writers, we enact change by the simple act of sharing our work, communicating with others. Kasischke’s words are a reminder of why we are here. Like the cranes, flying suddenly up from the water, [we] “fall into the sun/one by one/ through the arms of empty air/ that open/ not to catch us/ but to pass us on.”

Dear writers. Dear poets. Dear artists. Let’s pass our words into the atmosphere. Let’s save the world, or at least cast it in a different light. What strikes me about Kasischke’s poem is that the poet isn’t trying to save the world, she is trying to shine a light—a light that exposes pain and beauty in equal measure, that acknowledges the imperfectness of being human, of the harm we cause and the beauty we embrace in order to survive. This is why I write, why I am ecstatic that other people write, and why I am excited to join Crab Creek Review in its long-standing commitment to the best literature of the Northwest, and beyond.

Kasischke, Laura. (1994). Arms. In L. Clifton, & C. Orlock (Eds) Crab Creek Review Anniversary Anthology (pp. 114-115) Seattle, WA: Crab Creek Review Association.


Jenifer Browne Lawrence is the author of One Hundred Steps from Shore. Awards include the Orlando Poetry Prize, the James Hearst Poetry Prize and a Washington State Artist Trust GAP grant. Recent work appears in Bellevue Literary Review, Los Angeles Review, Narrative, North American Review, and Rattle. Jenifer lives in a seaside community west of Seattle, where she is co-editor of Crab Creek Review.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Welcoming Aimee Voelz, our new Staff Assistant

Aimee Voelz has recently joined the Crab Creek Review team as a Staff Assistant.  She is a Seattle area writer and consultant working on her first book, a self-help guide for people seeking career changes.  Here are a few words from Aimee:

“My love for reading and writing started early and absorbed much of my attention.  Maybe too much – as a kindergartner I was reading so intently on the bus ride home from school that I didn’t get off at my stop.  I didn’t look up from my book until I heard my mother’s voice and realized that the bus had completed its route, parked at the bus barn, and the driver had phoned my mother to come pick me up!   Since then, I’ve enjoyed reading many genres and writing poetry, fiction, song lyrics, and creative non-fiction.

Each professional role that I’ve held also incorporated writing for marketing communications, print materials, reports, or social media.  Recently I left the corporate world to work as an independent consultant.  That career change allowed me to spend July of 2013 at the Summer Writing Program at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, where the experimental approach to creativity took my poetry-writing up a notch.  Currently my non-fiction material is focused on my book and blog, where I write about doing meaningful work that is true to individual values:

I’m very happy to join the Crab Creek Review staff as a volunteer assistant in its 31st year of publishing high-quality literary works.”

And we're pleased as punch to have you on board, Aimee!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

In Which We Welcome our New Fiction Editor, Sayantani Dasgupta

Barely six months after my essay, Why My Mother Should Take Over the World, got published in Crab Creek Review, I was invited to join its editorial team as the fiction editor. I was delighted and honored, not only because of CCR’s fine reputation but because it would give me an opportunity to exercise my editorial muscle that had been dormant since I stepped away from the world of publishing in 2006 to pursue writing, both as a teacher and student. 

While Crab Creek Review has a history of publishing renowned writers, I am also hoping to find fresh, new voices. I am looking for stories that will stun me with their characters and conflicts, and those that will surprise me with the way they turn. One of my favorite short stories is Jhumpa Lahiri’s Mrs. Sen’s. I have read it countless times and each time I am heartbroken by Mrs. Sen’s loneliness, by her attachment to all the ordinary objects with which she surrounds herself and how they constantly remind her of home. Another favorite is Dan Chaon’s Bees where the father’s day to day existence is scarred by his son’s nightmares and the memory of a past he cannot forget. It’s a deeply haunting story and the author’s grip over its pacing and tension are its greatest strengths.

Since graduating with my MFA in 2006, I have had the privilege of meeting with a variety of writers, and talking to them about craft and process. I have learned about their daily writing practices, favorite books, and so on. I have met writers who prefer to talk only about what has been published and keep under wraps their current projects. And I have also met those who make changes to their manuscript only after discussing it at length with their writing groups. But if there is a way I can distill their collective wisdom and pass it on further, it will be to trust your instinct but not wait for the muse to strike.


Born in Calcutta and raised in New Delhi, Sayantani Dasgupta’s writing has appeared in several American and Indian journals. In her writing, Sayantani likes to explore the intersection of personal story juxtaposed with political turmoil, popular culture, and religious fundamentalism, especially in the context of South Asia, along with answering the question as to what constitutes an Indian identity in an increasingly global world. She lives in Moscow and teaches writing and South Asian literature at the University of Idaho.

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Important FYI regarding fiction submissions: There are still five days left to submit your stories (and poetry) to Crab Creek Review. Our deadline ends 15 December. Send us your best! We'll read it with care.

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