Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Writer's Notebook featuring Jamie L. Olson, PHD: On Translating Russian Poetry

Jamie L. Olson's translations of Russian poet, Vyacheslav Kiktenko's poems appear in the Summer '09 issue of Crab Creek Review. We asked Dr. Olson about his translation of Kiktenko's work and the process he went through to convey both the thematic and structural elements of the original Russian poems. He graciously agreed to write an entry for our Writer's Notebook Series:

On Translating Russian Poetry (and Kiktenko in Particular)

I suspect that my translations of the three poems by Vyacheslav Kiktenko that appear in the Summer 2009 issue of Crab Creek Review must have contributed to the editors’ impulse to dub this the “corpse issue,” as they did in their introductory note. Reading the first of Kiktenko’s poems—which incidentally are not arranged in any meaningful order—we experience a distinct sense of Jekyll-and-Hyde grimness as Kiktenko’s speaker gazes into a forest puddle and finds that, through his reflection, he has been “exposed as a monster.” His soul becomes “blackened” in the puddle’s “contrary hell-pit.”

The real gloom, though, arrives with the second poem, “A Cry in the Night,” which is dedicated to Sadako Sasaki, the Japanese girl who developed leukemia after being exposed to radiation in the U.S. bombing of Hiroshima. (The poem seems to be voiced for her as well.) A Japanese legend has it that anyone who folds a thousand paper cranes will be granted one wish, so with an eye towards calling for peace, Sasaki spent her last months transforming whatever paper she could get her hands on into origami cranes. Alas, she never reached her goal. Still, Sasaki’s effort has become a unifying symbol for the peace movement, and a statue memorializing her stands in Seattle Peace Park in the city’s University District.

In Kiktenko’s poem for her, however, we have only the disease, the suffering, the futile desire for life—not the peace movement that found inspiration in her, nor even the paper cranes that caught the world’s attention. By the poem's climax, all that remains is a hunger for red blood cells to displace the “white blood” (belokrovie) of the disease:

In the stars, the night keeps a cache
of blood cells slyly hidden.
And the stars transfuse the sultry,
cherry heat with a scarlet hue…
A butterfly, a chalky butterfly
flits about beneath the moon!
Ah, but for a bit, just a drop,
of those rich, crimson globes…

Although we know that the speaker’s desire for the “rich, crimson globes” goes ungratified, just as Sasaki never finished folding her cranes, the poem remains nonetheless poignant and even uplifting; sometimes, just wishing is enough. (If everyone wished for peace, wouldn’t it ultimately happen?) But the uplift of “A Cry in the Night” comes from the form of the poem as well—a chant that builds to an exultant shout. Indeed, form in its most traditional guise is fundamental to much contemporary Russian poetry, and I hope I’ve left more than a trace of Kiktenko’s forms intact in my translations.

Let me jump right to a key point: most Russian poets would never play “tennis with the net down,” as Frost put it. That is to say, free verse doesn’t dominate Russian poetry as it does American poetry. In fact, more Russian poems are composed in tetrameter quatrains—the 4x4 blocks favored by Russian poets at least since the beginning of the nineteenth century—than in any other form. (Among Kiktenko’s poems in Crab Creek Review, the third one, “A yellowish moon,” consists in practice of tetrameter quatrains, though it lacks stanza breaks.) When translating a poem from Russian, therefore, one must consider not only the form of that particular poem, but the general preponderance of formal poetry across Russian literature. To put it another way, a Russian translator would never translate an American poem without carefully and conscientiously recreating its form in Russian, so shouldn’t I play by the same rules?

A. E. Stallings wrote in the February 2009 issue of Poetry that stripping a poem of its form amounts to a kind of pillaging: “Translators who translate poems that rhyme into poems that don’t rhyme solely because they claim keeping the rhyme is impossible without doing violence to the poem have done violence to the poem. They are also lazy.” To my mind, the violence that Stallings speaks of becomes multiplied when a Russian poem is poorly translated—that is, when it is translated without careful attention to form. In a tradition of formalism, form matters all that much more.

On the other hand, even the cleverest translator can’t always find an equivalent phrase in the target language while maintaining form, meaning, and tone, so to some degree translation must be an “act of compromise,” as Brian Boyd explains in his recent introduction to Nabokov’s Verses and Versions: no matter how much we translators strive for perfection, we must acknowledge that our task is an “inevitable compromise between the resources of From-ish and those of To-ish.” Still, we should keep striving. The mere awareness of an apotheosis of perfection, elusive as it may be, should ensure that we don’t grow complacent—or “lazy,” as Stallings puts it—and leave form by the wayside.

Others who translate from Russian to English also struggle with the issue of fidelity to form. Jim Kates, the editor of several collections of contemporary Russian poetry in English, describes an exchange in his afterword to In the Grip of Strange Thoughts that I think expresses well the tension that Russian-to-English translators feel between the two traditions:

Once in Moscow I was reading my own poems—all of which begin in strict rhyme and meter, and many of which stay that way—as well as my translations of Mikhail Aizenberg. In the critical discussion that always follows a Russian poetry reading, I explained my reasons for translating the strict forms of the Russian verses into slightly looser structures in English—a practice understood and approved by Aizenberg. But one prominent critic stood up and commented, “That’s all very well. You make a good case. But you should try harder.”
Since then, I have tried harder.

Kates has chosen, as I have, to do his best to maintain form in his translations of Russian verse, but others have made the opposite decision with sometimes impressive results. Indeed, wherever you land in the debate, you would be foolish to wish that Clarence Brown and W. S. Merwin’s marvelous free-verse translations of Mandelstam had been written any other way. In the end, the only true test of a translation comes when you ask yourself the question, Is it poetry?

The Russian originals of the poems by Kiktenko that appear in Crab Creek Review were first published in a Moscow journal called Druzhba narodov, a phrase whose figurative meaning could be rendered in English as “multiculturalism” or “cultural diversity,” and whose literal meaning, “Friendship of the Peoples,” is a Soviet-era cliché—the idea being that international communism happily held together a diverse bunch of ethnic groups from Central Europe to Central Asia. Indeed, Kiktenko was born and spent much of his life in one of those far-flung corners of the Soviet empire that were home to non-Russian “peoples”: Alma-Ata (now Almaty), Kazakhstan’s former capital and largest city. And although he relocated to Moscow a few years back, he has continued to be involved in Kazakh literary culture, often sustaining Kazakh-Russian “friendship of the peoples” as a translator himself, so it seems appropriate that his poems should now reach another people in another language—beyond even the post-Soviet audience in Baku or Belarus that one might expect him to have. I just hope that I have done my job and turned Kiktenko’s poems into something more than mere wooden renderings: with any luck, they have become English poems in their own right.

Jamie L. Olson teaches in the English Department at Saint Martin’s University in Lacey, Washington. These are his first published translations.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Guest Blogger: Kathi Morrison-Taylor

Today's blog post is by poet Kathi Morrison-Taylor, author of By the Nest...

The Oven Timer

On the first day of the MFA program, a professor asked our class, “Why do you write?” We wrote in our notebooks and then discussed our responses in class. A surprising number of students, myself included, answered “Because I have to.” At 22, I was bewildered by the sort of gentle scolding that ensued. What was wrong with this debonair, senior poet that he didn’t understand the inescapable power of the muse? But now I get it– I don’t have to write. The choice to write can become inconvenient and difficult. The choice to write is something I have to fight for, fighting harder, perhaps, as my life grows richer.

My husband is more practical than I am and knowing how much I cherish free time to write, he asks me questions: Why are you baking those cookies for your students? Why are you reading The Lord of the Rings to our children? Why are you planting tomatoes again this year? (I don’t have to.)

It’s August; this last August. (Remember August?) The oven timer is on, and I’m at my computer. The oven timer is serious business in our house. When it goes off you better be ready to move on – out the door to the bus stop, or off the computer game to the homework task, or back inside and into the tub.

While my family is loading the car for our annual long weekend at the ocean – the last hurrah before school begins—I am trying to pry my weekly poem from a pop culture prompt, and I’ve put myself on the clock. I’m in one of the final weeks of a poetry contest modeled on Project Runway – Dustin Brookshire’s Project Verse. I find myself tangled in emotions and details: a scene from Star Wars, my father’s autopsy report, a rubberband ball of grief, longing, anger, regret...

“Where’s the crabbing net?!” someone yells from upstairs.

Little feet coming down...”Mommy, when are we getting new sandals?” Then, “Oh, I forgot...your poem, the contest.”

The timer is on – something my kids understand. I have one hour and forty-eight minutes left. While none of us imagines I’d really be left behind, the threat seems more real with that digital countdown.

Now, watching my middle school students and my own children grow and learn, I feel the years accelerating, becoming both more fleeting and more pressing. In a good way—in a garden tomato way, sweet and labor-intensive. Milestones matter. Bilbo is eleventy-one at the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring, a milestone of a birthday that never fully registered in my childhood reading of Tolkien. At 111 Bilbo makes his own new beginning, as he leaves the Shire to write his book. In fact, it was the magic age of 40, combined with missing my final opportunity to enter the Yale Younger Poet’s Prize (that was the year the deadline changed) that convinced me to put away my old manuscript. I began something new, By the Nest, which became my first book of poems, dedicated to my family. And, off the page, dedicated to the oven timer that helps me manage the childish part of myself and focus on writing, something I have chosen to do.


Monday, November 23, 2009

Pushcart Prize Nominations for 2009!

Crab Creek Review would like to congratulate the following contributors whose work we nominated for this year's Pushcart Prize from either our Fall/Winter 2009 issue or our Summer 2009 issue--

Shannon Robinson for her story "Everyone Has A Tell"

Martha Silano for her poem "Women are Not Alone and That"

Tod Marshall for his poem "Bait"

Fernando Perez for his poem "In The Mirror When You're Wearing Someone Else's Clothes"

Lisa Allen Ortiz for her poem "The Tortoise Survives the Fire"

Elizabeth Austen for her poem "Humans"

Congratulations! And good luck!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Lisa Allen Ortiz featured on Verse Daily (from Crab Creek Review's Summer '09 issue)

Lisa Allen Ortiz's poem, The Tortoise Survives the Fire, from Crab Creek Review's Summer '09 issue is featured today on Verse Daily. You can read Lisa's poem here.

The poems of Lisa Allen Ortiz have appeared in Zyzzyva, Comstock Review and Literary Mama among other places. She lives in Santa Cruz, California with her husband and two daughters. Lisa wrote this about her inspiration for The Tortoise Survives the Fire: My seven year old daughter has a voice for our cat—when we hear this voice, we in the family know it is the cat talking. I have a similar voice for the cat, also for a horse I keep out in a barn in the country. It’s funny to me how we understand the animals in our lives this way: by the narratives we improvise when we watch them. Someday, you should go to the zoo and look at the tortoises; I swear, you will open your mouth and their opinions will pour out.

Congratulations, Lisa!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Verse Daily features "Wonder" by Kascha Semonovitch (from our current issue, Summer '09)

Congratulations, Kascha!

You can read Kascha Semonovitch's poem, Wonder, here on Verse Daily. The current issue of Crab Creek Review (Summer '09) features this poem along with two other poems by Kascha.

Kascha Semonovitch is completing an MFA in poetry at the Warren Wilson College and a PhD in philosophy at Boston College. Meanwhile, she teaches philosophy at Seattle University. Her work has or will appear in the Kenyon Review, Broome Review and Tar Wolf Review.

When asked about the inspiration behind Wonder, Kascha wrote, I have been thinking about hospitality and how we encounter the unfamiliar--human, divine or animal. In Wonder, I take up that theme directly.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Crab Creek Review Co-Editor Wins White Pine Press Poetry Prize

Crab Creek Review's Co-Editor, Kelli Russell Agodon, has won the White Pine Press Poetry Prize for her manuscript, Letters From the Emily Dickinson Room.

Kelli's collection was chosen by guest judge, Carl Dennis, from over 500 poetry manuscripts.

Letters From the Emily Dickinson Room will be published in October 2010. Kelli is also the author of Small Knots (2004) and Geography, winner of the 2003 Floating Bridge Press Chapbook Award. Visit Kelli's website here.

White Pine Press is a non-profit literary publisher, established in 1973, which publishes poetry, fiction, essays, and literature in translation from around the world. For the past thirty years they have been at the forefront in bringing the rich diversity of world literature to the English speaking audience. White Pine Press seeks to enrich our literary heritage; to promote the cultural awareness, understanding, and respect so vital in out rapidly changing world; and to address complex social and human rights issues through literature.

Congratulations, Kelli, from all of us on the Crab Creek Review staff! You are both an incredible editor and a talented poet and we can't wait to read your new collection!

Visit White Pine Press here and learn more about Kelli's upcoming book. We will keep you updated on Letters From the Emily Dickinson Room , so check back often.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Crab Creek Review's Summer '09 Issue is Available!


Summer '09 is hot off the press! This issue is filled with some exceptional poetry and fiction (including Anne McDuffie's interview with notable Seattle poet, Madeline DeFrees) and features the beautiful cover art, Girl in a Green Room, by Emily Ruch. Two other works of visual art by Emily are also featured in the journal.

You can purchase your copy of Summer '09 here.

The poets/writers in Summer '09: Paul David Adkins, Judith Arcana, Nick Bacon, Kimberly L. Becker, Ashley Chow, Madeline DeFrees, Maya Ganesan, Ann Gerike, Ann Batchelor Hursey, Vyacheslav Kiktenko (translated by Jamie L. Olson), Eric Lee, Marjorie Manwaring, Chad Marsh, Tod Marshall, Buzz Mauro, Anne McDuffie, James McKean, January Gill O'Neil, Lisa Allen Ortiz, Alison Pelegrin, Fernando Perez, Paul S. Piper, Joseph Powell, Shann Ray, Shannon Robinson, Emily Ruch, Kascha Semonovitch, Joannie Kervran Stangeland, Katerina Stoykova-Klemer, Gail White, and Jill Crammond Wickham.

Here's a snippet from our Editors' Note:

As we read through the submissions for our Summer ’09 issue, we were struck by a consistent theme that echoed through each piece of work—struggle. The writers in this issue represent a variety of backgrounds in terms of culture, age, and writing experience, yet all of their work engages us in the struggle with life’s inherent difficulties, whether political, social, interpersonal, or philosophical. One of our editors jokingly referred to Summer ’09 as the “corpse issue” because many of the pieces deal with mortality and serious global concerns, but we believe the writing in this issue is ultimately an affirmation of the resilience of the human spirit.

Among the voices you will discover in this issue are two veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, an eleven year old girl, a ninety year old poet who is still publishing new work, several NEA winners, and a first time published high school teacher. We are proud to feature distinguished, established writers and several amazing emerging writers whose work impressed us. . .

Thank you to all of our contributors in this issue--it is an honor for us to publish your work.

An Evening with A River and Sound Review

Crab Creek Review Staff with Madeline DeFrees and Anne McDuffie (from left to right: Anne McDuffie, Madeline DeFrees, Nancy Canyon, Carol Levin, Lana Hechtman Ayers, Annette Spaulding-Convy, Jennifer Culkin, Kelli Russell Agodon, and Ronda Broatch).

A River and Sound Review's founder and host for the evening, Jay Bates.

Crab Creek Review joined A River and Sound Review's live performance on Oct. 8th at Richard Hugo House in Seattle for the release of our Summer '09 Issue. We enjoyed an evening of poetry, music, humor, and interviews hosted by A River and Sound Review's Jay Bates, Michael Schmeltzer, and Julie Case.

Special thanks to our readers: Ann Batchelor Hursey, Kate Lebo, and Joannie Kervran Stangeland. And special thanks to Anne McDuffie for her wonderful on stage interview with Madeline DeFrees, who will be turning 90 in November! We also enjoyed the incredible music of Andrea Wittgens (her CDs are available here).

Thanks to Hugo House and to the great Cabaret Cafe staff who invented a cocktail for the evening called, "The Crab Walk."

The performance will be posted soon (podcast) on A River and Sound Review's website, so please visit and download this musical and literary show. And we owe Jay and Michael a huge thank you for organizing the event.

Look for more photos of the performance to be posted soon on our website.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Crab Creek Review Fiction Contest, Judged by Kathleen Alcala

Crab Creek Review is currently accepting submissions for our Fiction Contest (Sept. 15th - Nov. 16th). We are delighted that author Kathleen Alcala will be the judge for the contest.

Submit your original, unpublished fiction (up to 3,000 words) and win $100 and publication in Crab Creek Review. All contest submissions will be considered for publication. $10 entry fee. Please read the complete contest guidelines here.

Kathleen Alcalá is a writer whose trilogy on nineteenth century Mexico was published by Chronicle Books. Her work has received the Western States Book Award, the Governor's Writers Award, a Pacific Northwest Bookseller's Award, and a Washington State Book Award. A co-founder and contributing editor to The Raven Chronicles, Kathleen teaches at the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts on Whidbey Island, a low-residency program.

She is the recipient of an Artist Trust/​Washington State Arts Commission Award for work on her new book, Cities of Gold. Her work was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and her most recent book received a Latino International Book Award and a ForeWord Magazine Award.

Kathleen is a member of Los Norteños writers group. Her work has been produced for public radio, and she co-wrote, with director Olga Sanchez, a play based on her novel, Spirits of the Ordinary that was produced by The Miracle Theatre of Portland, Oregon.

Kathleen is the author of a short story collection, Mrs. Vargas and the Dead Naturalist, and three novels: Spirits of the Ordinary, The Flower in the Skull, and Treasures in Heaven. Her collection of essays, The Desert Remembers My Name is available from the University of Arizona Press, and her previous books are all available in paperback.

For more information on Kathleen Alcala's work, please visit her website.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

And The Winners Are... (2009 Crab Creek Review Poetry Contest)

Our Poetry Editor, Lana Hechtman Ayers, wrote such a wonderful announcement letter to all of the poets who submitted work for our annual Poetry Contest, we are going to post it here verbatim:

All of us at Crab Creek Review sincerely thank you for entering our 2009 poetry contest. The hundreds of wonderful poems we received made it an enjoyable yet challenging process to judge. Aimee Nezhukumatathil has selected the following poems:

"bring back the knife" by Victor David Sandiego

“My Eyebrows” by Molly Tenenbaum

Honorable Mentions
"The Cure For Headaches" by Kate Lebo
"The Aprons of Adam and Eve" by Molly Tenenbaum

"And What If Bookmarks Are Claustrophobic" by Josh Cooper
"Fitness For Duty" by Rachel Contreni Flynn
"That Which I Should Have Done I Did Not Do" by Rachel Contreni Flynn
"Dear Reader" by Deborah Hauser
"Not Sorry" by Kate Lebo
"Greed" by Cati Porter

We are grateful for your confidence in Crab Creek Review and hope you will allow us to consider more of your work in the future.

Wishing you all the best in your poetry endeavors,

The Editors

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Upcoming Events/News--Crab Creek Review

Crab Creek Review welcomes autumn! Here are some of the things we are currently working on:

*Look for our Summer '09 Issue to be out by the beginning of October.

*Crab Creek Review will join A River & Sound Review for an evening of music, poetry, interviews, and humor at Richard Hugo House in Seattle on Oct. 8th. Check out A River & Sound Review here.

*Crab Creek Review staff will be involved with Dinner With An Author--a fundraiser for the Kitsap Regional Library Foundation. Kingston poets and CCR editors Kelli Russell Agodon, Ronda Broatch, and Annette Spaulding-Convy (along with Bainbridge Island poets John Davis and Janet Norman Knox, Poulsbo poet, Jenifer Browne Lawrence and Seattle poet/harpist, Monica Schley) will be reading from their work on Sunday, Oct. 18th at 7:00 p.m. at Pegasus Coffee House on Bainbridge Island. Crab Creek Review's graphic designer, Jessica Star Rockers, will also be performing her songs. For information on tickets for the Dinner With An Author Series please visit:

*Our annual Fiction Contest is underway (Sept.15th - Nov. 16th). Submit your short fiction (up to 3,000) words and win $100 and publication in Crab Creek Review. $10 entry fee. Our guest Fiction Judge is award winning writer Kathleen Alcala. Read complete guidelines here.

*We will be announcing the winners/finalists of our Poetry Contest soon! Many thanks to judge Aimee Nezhukumatathil, who chose four winners.

*We are excited about announcing our first annual 2009 Editors' Prize, awarded to the writer of an outstanding piece of fiction or poetry chosen from the two issues we have published this year.

*In early December, Crab Creek Review will post nominations for the Pushcart Prize. It will be a difficult choice because this year's issues are filled with exceptional writing, both poetry and fiction.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Crab Creek Review's Summer '09 Issue available at the beginning of October

We are in the final production phase of our Summer '09 Issue and we're very excited about the quality of the poetry, short fiction, the interview, and artwork.

Summer '09 will feature a "kitchen table" interview with the distinguished Seattle poet, Madeline DeFrees, conducted by Seattle writer, Anne McDuffie. Three previously unpublished poems by Madeline DeFrees are also included at the end of the interview. We will also feature our Fiction Contest winner, Shann Ray, and a short story that all of the editors found intriguing by Shannon Robinson.

As always, we have some incredible Seattle area and WA State poets in this issue: Joseph Powell, Tod Marshall, Marjorie Manwaring, Ann Batchelor Hursey, Kascha Semonovitch, Joannie Kervran Stangeland, Ann Gerike, and Jamie L. Olson, translator of the poetry of Russian writer, Vyacheslav Kiktenko.

This issue also features the artwork and poetry of Evergreen State College student Emily Ruch, an army mechanic twice deployed to Iraq. Poets January Gill O'Neil, James McKean, and Alison Pelegrin have poems in Summer '09, and we are also proud to publish some amazing emerging writers (one of them is only eleven years old!).

We can't wait for you to read this issue!

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Crab Creek Review was happy to sponsor and judge the poetry contest for the first ever Slug inFESTation (SlugFest '09!) in Kingston, Washington.

Our winner, a 5th grader from the community named Paige Lamar read her poem at the gallery's celebration that evening.

She was award a cash prize and certificate from Crab Creek Review and did a wonderful reading of her poem to a packed house!

We hope to be part of this wonderful event every year and are thankful to have so many incredible artists and writers in our community.

Read more about what the SLUGFEST is here in the Kingston Community News.

And see photos of some of the slugs and details about the event in an article from the KITSAP SUN.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A River & Sound Review

My favorite people River & Sound Review sent us an email saying their first issue of the RSR is online right now.

Here's the details. Check it out, they have some great writers included--

We at RSR are proud to annouce that our first issue of the RSR online journal is available now at our new website,, featuring the best in poetry, fiction, nonfiction, humor, and more.

Our first issue includes work contributed by Peggy Shumaker, David Huddle, Anne-Marie Oomen, and Brian Doyle.

Stay tuned for more details, as we are soon to open the reading period for our 2009 Poetry Contest, including a $500 first place prize. More info can be found on our website.

Let us know what you think, and help us pass the word of our new journal.

Many Thanks,

Jay Bates


We hope to be having our October reading with River & Sound Review, more details on that coming later!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Crab Creek Review Staff Changes

Crab Creek Review wishes the best of luck to two of our staff members who are beginning new projects and leaving their CCR positions: Design and Production Manager, Tonya Namura, and Fiction Editor, Kerry Banazek. Thank you, Tonya and Kerry, for all of the thought and time that you put into Crab Creek Review and for the high level of skill and professionalism that you brought to the journal. You will both be greatly missed and we wish you the best of luck in your future literary and design endeavors.

We would also like to welcome our new Graphic Designer, Jessica Star Rockers, who is the former Managing Editor of Willow Springs literary journal (Eastern WA University) and the Editor and Publisher of the strange fruit literary journal, which she both created and designed. Jessica has her MFA from Eastern WA University in literary editing and design. Welcome to Crab Creek Review, Jessica! We look forward to working with you.

Our amazing intern, Jen Betterley, is now Fiction Editor with Nancy Canyon. Jen did such outstanding work for us as an intern in marketing, reading, and proofing, that we know she will be an excellent editor.

And as always, thank you to our terrific staff whose positions aren't changing: Lana Hechtman Ayers, Carol Levin, Jennifer Culkin, Nancy Canyon, and Ronda Broatch.

Look for the new issue of Crab Creek Review to be out in October.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Crab Creek Review Reading at the Kingston Art Gallery (May 9th)

Crab Creek Review joined the Kingston Art Gallery at the Second Saturday Gallery Night on May 9th. The Gallery is currently featuring the work of printmaker/artist, Marilyn Liden Bode and potter, Betty Claire. Marilyn and Betty shared the stage with Crab Creek Review staff, who read poetry from the Fall/Winter 2009 issue, which features Marilyn's linocut/collage, We Are The Reason Our Ancestors Existed, on the cover (Marilyn's linocut/collage is currently on display at the Gallery). Poetry Editor, Lana Hechtman Ayers, Creative Non-Fiction Editor, Jennifer Culkin, Editorial Assistant, Ronda Broatch, and Co-Editor, Annette Spaulding-Convy read selected poems from the latest issue and then joined the Gallery's artists and art-loving members of the Kingston community for an array of homemade appetizers and creative conversation. Former Crab Creek Review Editor-in-Chief, Natasha Moni, also joined CCR in celebrating the release of the current issue at the Gallery.

Crab Creek Review would like to thank the Kingston Art Gallery ( for graciously hosting our reading and for selling copies of the Fall/Winter '09 issue. Special thanks to Marilyn Liden Bode for inviting the CCR staff to read and for enthusiastically letting CCR use her linocut/collage on the cover of the current issue.

Here's to many more evenings of poetry, art, good food, and inspiring conversation in Kingston!

Kingston Art Gallery's Second Saturday Gallery Night/Crab Creek Review Reading. Left to Right: Marilyn Liden Bode, Lana Hechtman Ayers, Natasha Moni, Annette Spaulding-Convy, Ronda Broatch, and Jennifer Culkin.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Eagle Harbor Reading (April 19th)

Crab Creek Review celebrated our Fall/Winter '09 Issue with a fantastic poetry reading on Sunday, April 19th at Eagle Harbor Books on Bainbridge Island. Many thanks to our amazing readers--Jenifer Browne Lawrence, Nancy Pagh, and Susan Rich. Special thanks to John Willson and Eagle Harbor Book Company for hosting our reading and to Marilyn Liden Bode for bringing her linocut/collage, which is featured on the Fall/Winter '09 cover.

CCR Staff and Readers with We Are The Reason Our Ancestors Existed (linocut/collage featured on our F/W '09 cover) at Eagle Harbor Books.

Left to Right: Jenifer Browne Lawrence, Ronda Broatch, Annette Spaulding-Convy, Kelli Russell Agodon, Marilyn Liden Bode, Nancy Pagh, Lana Hechtman Ayers, Carol Levin, Susan Rich, and Jennifer Culkin.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Crab Creek Review Staff Celebrates Book Releases

Crab Creek Review's Carol Levin and Jennifer Culkin have new books available.

Carol Levin is the Editorial Assistant (Seattle) for Crab Creek Review. Carol is in charge of the CCR database, which involves sorting the large amounts of mail we receive, entering author/submission information into our database, and passing the submissions on to our various editors.

Her new chapbook, Red Rooms and Others, is published by Pecan Grove Press. According to Carol, "Each poem in Red Rooms and Others has some relationship to a room. The rooms have many qualities and are scattered around the world. The room that inspired the original concept of the collection is our red guest bedroom where many people have rested throughout the years generously leaving an aura for us to enjoy."

Carol will celebrate the release of her new chapbook with a reading at the following bookstore:
Open Books: A Poem Emporium (Seattle)
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
7:30 PM

Carol's first chapbook Sea Lions Sing Scat was a semi-finalist in Finishing Line Press' open competition '06 and released from Finishing Line Press in '07. Her work appears or is forthcoming in The New York Quarterly, Gander Press Review, Aquila Review, Late Blooms postcard series, The Massachusetts Review, Third Coast,The Seattle Review, The Pedestal Magazine, issues #16 and 35 of the Cortland Review, The Comstock Review, Junctures Journal, Umbrella and others. Poems were set as a choral work by composer Carol Sams and have been performed by various choirs. She collaborated in translating Anton Chekhov’s four major plays, now being offered in a manuscript “The Three Sisters and Three More, Plays by Anton Chekhov." She also wrote a dictionary of Stanislavski terms for theater artists. Carol teaches the Alexander Technique in Seattle.

Carol's book is available for purchase at Pecan Grove Press, Amazon, and at Open Books.

Jennifer Culkin is the new Non-Fiction Editor for Crab Creek Review. In addition to poetry and short fiction, Crab Creek Review will begin publishing non-fiction in our next issue, due out in late summer/early fall of 2009.

A Final Arc of Sky: A Memoir of Critical Care, published by Beacon Press, is Jennifer's first book. Author Judith Kitchen describes Jennifer's essays, "This book gives us so much more than the details of Jennifer Culkin's experiences as an intensive care nurse; it lifts us into the world of the helicopter and into some of life's highest dramas. A Final Arc of Sky carries its 'mortal freight' with candid honesty as it addresses how we choose to live our lives, and sometimes how we end them. "

Jennifer will be reading from A Final Arc of Sky at the following bookstores:

University of Washington Bookstore (Seattle)
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
7:00 PM

Village Books (Bellingham)
Sunday, April 26, 2009
4:00 PM

Eagle Harbor Books (Bainbridge Island)
Sunday, May 3, 2009
3:00 PM

Jennifer is a critical care and former emergency flight nurse. In the course of a thirty-year career, she has cared for people across the life span, from the smallest premature infants to adults entering their second century. Educated at Russell Sage College & the Rainier Writing Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University where she received her MFA, Jennifer's essays have appeared in publications such as Utne Reader and The Georgia Review. She has received awards from the Atlantic Monthly and was a 2008 recipient of the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award.

Jennifer's book is available for purchase at Amazon and at local bookstores.

Congratulations, Carol and Jennifer!

The Writer's Notebook featuring Monica Schley

Monica Schley's poems have been published in Burnside Review, Cranky, Cream City Review, Naked Joy, Raven Chronicles, Wandering Hermit Review, and the Seattle Review. She also has a chapbook, Black Eden: Nocturnes, forthcoming from Pudding House Press. A classically trained harpist, Monica has worked on recordings or live performances with many reputable musicians including Bill Horist, The Dead Science, Degenerate Art Ensemble, Greg Sinibaldi, Masada, Kanye West, Lori Goldston, Monktail Creative Music Concern, The New Seattle Ensembles, Parenthetical Girls and Amanda Palmer. She has also worked with the butoh dance and performance art ensembles P.A.N. and Implied Violence. She is the former president of the American Harp Society Seattle Chapter.

Monica's poem, Nocturne #17, appeared in Crab Creek Review's Spring/Summer '08 Issue. At our Hugo House reading in October of 2008, Monica gave an amazing performance in which she read her poetry while playing the harp. We asked Monica to write her thoughts on poetry, music, and the inspiration for Nocturne #17:

On the Making of Diamonds

Nocturne #17, the poem that appeared in the Spring/Summer 08 issue, is part of a series called Black Eden: Nocturnes. All of the pieces are in prose, and were composed during evening hours, either just before sleep or after waking. They are heavily influenced by the surrealness of dreams, subterranean urban scenes and music. Writing Black Eden was a bit like working in a subconscious mine where I went down and chipped away every night.

Something new happened at the time I was writing this: I didn’t edit. It was as if NO filter WAS the filter, so I there was no judgement on myself. Because of that, the train was able to keep moving. Though I didn’t know what I was doing while I was doing it, the writing felt honest, so I just kept it up with encouragement from a close poet friend. Very importantly, I trusted that there were no accidents in this process, expecting nothing and improvising all along. Stephen Nakmonovich has a great book about these ideas called Free Play: Improvising in Life & Art. After a year had past and I had 70 pieces. Then, I started to edit.

The music part of these poems (nocturne means meloncholic evening piece for piano) encouraged me to play while simultaneously reading. Though a musician for most of my life, I’m a shy songwriter, but I used some of the poetry as a springboard for lyrics, which worked better than attempts in the past. Eventually, I called upon a dancer friend and other musicians to turn the piece into a performance.

As a shared performance, the poems were given aural space just as much as written space, which is something I feel pretty strongly about. I don’t think every poem has to become a performance piece, but I do believe a good poem has to both sound pleasing and look pleasing. This is not to say good poems are spoken versus written or vice versa – I don’t live in a black and white world. There just needs to be a balance of both expressions, and a writer should be conscious of this in order for the poem to live after she isn’t there to present it.

Donald Hall wrote that “poetry out loud is never quite so beautiful as poetry read in silence." I don’t agree with this much, but I do think that for a poem to last longer than the poet, it must be read privately. However, I do take his notions to into great consideration (even though in this specific case - because the nocturnes are prose - it was stylistically easier for me to do then say, write a sestina, or even free verse). Hall also wrote that “Keats exists without being spoken. Performance poetry flames out like a match.” Personally, I prefer to have my poetry live somewhere between those two places.

The narrativity that came out of these Nocturnes are loose and surreal, stemming from a first person perspective in a pychological underworld. In Nocturne #17, the use of woman’s make-up is a way to disguise the real from the unreal. Waking and dreaming are blurred concepts. In truth, the entirety of Black Eden is an exploration of those deep subconcious things we all know but don’t want to, or dismiss in passing moments. It is only when those thoughts ride up to our ears and whisper a little random joke that we might see a connection to something else more concious and wonder – what!? Where did that come from? I didn’t want to forget all of the randomness in life, because for the most part, I don’t believe its all that random.

One last thing that inspired these poems for me was Seattle. I love the city in which I live, even in its worst. And for all of our urban banalitites, inconveniences, and stereotypes, I wanted to capture that too. I think that’s something that all artists have the opportunity to do, which is perhaps the greatest challenge: to make sense of the garbage and take beauty from the wreckage – create a new message with your own voice.

That’s how you make diamonds.

Hall, Donald. Knock Knock II. American Poetry Review March/April 2005.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Tom Holmes and Crab Creek Review featured on Verse Daily

Tom Holmes' poem, "A Corpse of Vortices" —Sophie's Last Coherent Journal Entry to Henri from the County Mental Hospital, Barnwood Rural District, Gloucester, from Crab Creek Review's new issue (Fall/Winter 2009) is featured today (April 12th) on Verse Daily:

Tom Holmes is the editor of Redactions: Poetry & Poetics. He is the author of After Malaguena (FootHills Publishing, 2005), Negative Time (Pudding House , 2007), Pre-Dew Poems (FootHills Publishing, 2008), and Poetry Assignments: The Book (Sage Hill Press, 2009).

About the background of his poem, Tom told Crab Creek Review, "Henri is Henri Gaudier-Brzeska--Modern French Vorticist Sculptor who died in WWI at the age of 23. Sophie is his lover."

Congratulations, Tom!

And thank you, Verse Daily, for featuring Crab Creek Review.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Annie Lighthart and Crab Creek Review featured on Verse Daily

Annie Lighthart's poem, There Were Horses, from the new issue of Crab Creek Review (Fall/Winter 2009) is featured today (April 11th) on Verse Daily:

Annie's poem won the Crab Creek Review 2008 Poetry Contest, judged by Kathleen Flenniken.

A mother and environmental writer, Annie lives in Portland, OR. Her poems have appeared in Cimarron Review, CALYX, Good Foot, and So To Speak, among others.

Annie told Crab Creek Review about the inspiration for There Were Horses: "Writing this poem was like sensing a storm coming on. By degrees, I felt a change in the air, remembered being a small creature among the magic ones in the fields, felt the encroaching world."

Congratulations, Annie!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Article on Crab Creek Review in the North Kitsap Herald

Crab Creek Review awoke to a lovely surprise this morning--an article in the North Kitsap Herald, which not only talks about our journal, but also discusses National Poetry Month here in Kitsap County and the numerous writers hidden in our forests.

The article is entitled, "National Poetry Month Shines Light On The Recluse" and can be read online:

An excerpt:
A pair of North Kitsap residents, and poets, Kelli Russell Agodon and Annette Spaulding-Convy have taken the volunteer editorial reins from former editor Natasha Moni, effectively “placing” the longtime Seattle-area journal’s operation in Kingston. Which, given the wealth of writers scattered throughout the woods of North Kitsap, isn’t all too surprising.

We have moved a portion of our literary operations to Kingston, but Crab Creek Review is still partly housed in Seattle. Look for us on both sides of the Sound!

(Special thanks to Bill Mickelson for the great interview at the coffee house)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Elizabeth Austen and Crab Creek Review featured on Verse Daily

Elizabeth Austen's poem, Humans, from our new issue of Crab Creek Review is featured today (April 9th) on Verse Daily,

Elizabeth is a Seattle poet and is the literary producer for KUOW, 94.9, public radio. Her audio CD, "skin prayers," is available on her website,

Elizabeth told Crab Creek Review about the inspiration for her poem: "Humans came together while I was in residence at the Whiteley Center on San Juan Island. I spent many hours watching birds and wondering if they found human behavior as interesting as I found theirs."

Congratulations, Elizabeth!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Writer's Notebook featuring Jenifer Browne Lawrence

We are delighted to feature Seattle area poet, Jenifer Browne Lawrence, in our Writer's Notebook series. Jenifer is the author of One Hundred Steps from Shore (Blue Begonia Press, 2006) and her work has appeared in Court Green, North American Review, and Potomac Review, among others. She is also the recipient of a Washington State Artist Trust GAP Grant.
Jenifer's poem From Involution appears in Crab Creek Review's Fall/Winter '09 issue, and here the poet talks about her writing process:

Last weekend, the wind blew hard enough to knock out the internet connection for a few hours. At loose ends, my partner and I opened our (paper) notebooks and wrote together. We gave each other writing prompts as the sky turned black and freezing rain pelted the glass. The storm blew in and out overnight, and brought a few pages of words written in the dark. Sunrise brought a clear sky and a bald eagle to the battered Douglas fir outside our window.

I don't know how the rest of the world writes, but I have a confession: At the top of the page, I have no idea where I am going. In fact, I seldom begin with an idea at all. Writing, for me, begins with words—a phrase from a novel or poem I've been reading, a newspaper headline, or a fragment of speech I've overheard somewhere. Waiting for the ferry the other night, I eavesdropped on a cell phone conversation, and stole this line: "If you eat red mango three times…" The line is waiting for me somewhere, just outside the margin.

I am a vivid dreamer. Occasionally, I dream in words. Printed or spoken, a word may be the only image I recall upon waking. I like the idea of word as image, and perhaps this is why, when I open my notebook in the morning, the first word I write is outside the margin, prompting me from the top of the page.

This morning my dream contained the word Star. It was the name of somebody's dying grandmother. Perhaps a poem will come from that image. Written in snow that was stuck to a car window, a previous dream contained the words Mr. Soft. Nothing has come of that, other than a raised eyebrow from my partner when I shared the dream with him.

A word from a dream prompted a series of poems using various definitions of the word, coupled with personal or world events. In that dream, (I'll spare you the embarrassing details) a list of songs on the back of a CD included the title Involution. When I woke, I looked up the word's definition to see if it held any significance for me. I was surprised to find nearly a dozen entries in the dictionary. The poem Involution (7) began as a response to one of the definitions combined with details from a brochure about a behavioral therapy treatment method. If I were writing the piece today, however, I'd have to rethink item 4a: because look who's running the country.

I have never been the type to wear a t-shirt emblazoned with the image of the nation's latest heartthrob. Maybe that's because, even at seventeen, I knew that Mick Jagger's face did not belong on any woman's chest. Although if Hugh Jackman could sing Satisfaction as well as he plays Wolverine … lately, though, I have been sleeping with the image of another man. I've been wearing one of my partner's t-shirts as a nightgown. Printed on the shirt is a pixilated image of Barack Obama and the date 01-20-09. But it's not the shirt influencing my dreams these days. Even as spring resists entry into the northwest—yes, we did have snow in the Seattle area in April—I believe we are heading toward a warmer world, a more compassionate world, that is. After all, if Queen Elizabeth and Michelle Obama are hugging in public, can world peace be far behind?

I love how writing begins with a sense of not knowing (That's not an original thought—who was the writer that first talked about "not knowing"?). By the time a poem or story makes a path into the world, however, the words should be measured and deliberate. Sometimes meaning takes a long time to discover. My writing progresses in small steps—a word at a time, some days. After a longhand draft, I type up what's there and print it out. I fiddle with the poem a little while, then slip the draft into a manila folder, where the words sit, sometimes for months. What I find in the folder often surprises me. For me, coming across that unexpectedly perfect line is one of the great pleasures of writing. It doesn't always happen like that, of course. There's a lot of revision, editing and thumb-biting involved in the process. And sometimes there is no path. Sometimes I slip the page into the recycle bin and pick up my notebook. Maybe I catch the Seattle ferry, hike to Pike Place Market, where I wander among the stalls, on the lookout for red mangoes.

From Involution

Involution (7) the process of raising a quantity to some assigned power [syn: exponentiation]

Generalized Anxiety Disorder is often a result of childhood experience in the family of origin. A family skilled at secrets fosters the ability to cope by learning to covertly control most situations. When the control is threatened, anxiety emerges. Psychologist Albert Ellis in 1955 developed a type of therapy designed to help an individual reshape his or her thinking to a more positive, rational pattern, thereby relieving emotional distress.

He named his work Rational-Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT). It is not pronounced "rebbet" and is not a frog. That is, if you kiss this therapy goodbye, no prince will magically appear to rescue you.

Ten Irrational Ideas:

  1. It is critical for a person to be loved and approved of by everyone for everything.
    1. Because you were always/never daddy's favorite.
    2. Because you were always always/never.
  2. A person must be competent, adequate, and successful in every aspect.
    1. See irrational idea 1a.
    2. See irrational idea 5b.
  3. Certain people are bad, evil or villainous and should be punished for their sins.
    1. Because Cain slew Abel.
    2. Because Santa Claus keeps a list.
    3. Those heathens next door.
  4. Human unhappiness is externally caused. People have little control over their sorrows and are unable to rid themselves of negative feelings.
    1. Because look who's running the country.
    2. Because in sorrow shall you bring forth.
  5. It is justifiable to be completely preoccupied with and upset about something scary and/or possibly dangerous.
    1. Because why are we supposed to be boyscout-ready?

  6. I said that's enough, young lady.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Our New Issue (Fall/Wtr 2009) is Available! (and other Crab Creek Review news)

Visit our website to purchase a copy!

We are so happy to tell you our new issue of Crab Creek Review (Fall/Wtr 2009) is available with new work from: Denise Duhamel, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Peter Pereira, Susan Rich, Martha Silano, Peggy Shumaker, Nancy Pagh, Jenifer Lawrence, Elizabeth Austen, Barbara Crooker, Susan Elbe, Michelle Bitting, Jim Daniels, Kevin Miller, Bethany Reid, and others.

You can purchase your copy or subscribe here.

For a little peek of what's inside, here's the opening from Denise Duhamel's incredible poem, "Kiss Me You Fool," When we were first datingI bought you a pair of wind-up lips...

Or sample Nancy Pagh's poem "At the Erotic Bakery" where There are no cameras allowed.

Or discover with Peter Pereira as he reads the newspaper who had three wives, a lover/never married, lived alone, in his poem, "Reading the Obits."

We have a feeling this issue is going to sell out, so order your copies soon:


Also, we've begun our 2009 Poetry Contest and our judge this year will be Aimee Nezhukumatathil, author of At the Drive-In Volcano (2007) and Miracle Fruit (2003). The Crab Creek Review Poetry Prize is $150 and publication in Crab Creek Review. All entries are considered for publication. For complete guidelines, please go to:

We are now on Facebook! Join our Crab Creek Review group and receive the latest news and updates.


Thank you all for your support of our literary journal! We are glad to have you as readers and hope to bring you the best poems and short stories. And now we are accepting creative non-fiction essays for our next issue!For more details on our journal or how to submit your poems, stories, or creative non-fiction, please visit our website at:

Kelli Russell Agodon
Annette Spaulding-Convy

Winner of the Crab Creek Review Fiction Prize Announced --

The editors of Crab Creek Review would like to congratulate--

Shann Ray
, winner of the Crab Creek Review Fiction Prize for his short story, Rodin's the Hand of God...

Other finalists: Jim Bainbridge, Zan Agzigian, Laura Gibson, Richard Fellinger, Debra Brenegan, and Gary Parks.

Thank you all for the fine work and our thanks also to all the other writers who participated. We greatly appreciate your support of our journal. Thank you!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Mark Your Calendars for April 19th!

Save The Date for Crab Creek Review's April Reading at Eagle Harbor Bookstore
Sunday, April 19, 2009 at 3:30 pm
Eagle Harbor Book Company
Bainbridge Island, WA

Join us for an afternoon of poetry, featuring writers from our Fall/Winter '09 Issue with

Nancy Pagh
Peter Pereira
Susan Rich
Jenifer Lawrence

Kingston artist, Marilyn Liden Bode, will also be at the reading with her beautiful linocut, We Are The Reason Our Ancestors Existed, which is featured on our cover.

Join us for National Poetry Month to celebrate these poets and our new issue!

See you there!

Pushcart Prize Nominations from Crab Creek Review--

Crab Creek Review would like to congratulate the following writers for their good work and nomination for the Pushcart Prize--

Kathleen Alcala, The Accidental Zoo
Patricia Fargnoli, Lovers
Sidney Hall, Jr., What the Loon Must Have Known
Marjorie Manwaring, You Ask About the Letting Go
Kay Mullen, The Tent
Peter Munro, The Fatman Can’t Get a Country and Western Tune Out of His Head: ‘Mamas, Don’t Let Your Sons Grow Up (To Be Intertidal Ecologists)’

Thanks for being part of our publication!