Sparks

Goodbyes

By Julie Wilder-Sherman Goodbyes can come in so many forms.  There’s the long goodbye. The short goodbye. The swollen goodbye and the thin goodbye. The brittle goodbye and the overwrought goodbye. Short goodbyes can be quick for so many reasons. You don’t like someone, so you want to get away. You love someone too much and each moment of your parting makes you feel worse. Short goodbyes can occur because you’re ready to move on. Or you’re afraid. Or you’re late for an appointment. Or you just don’t like situations that drag on and on. Short goodbyes can be a brisk hug, a handshake, or even dropping someone off at the curb at the airport. Long goodbyes can be swollen with tears. They can get wet and messy and sweaty. Long goodbyes can leave puffy eyes and red noses. Long goodbyes can have kids tugging at their parents’ coats, rolling their…

Places to submit

Quarterly West

QW is looking for writing that is: Exciting. Challenging. Risky. Unpredictable. And Different. Send us your work. Seep in. Stomp in. Strike us. Set the familiar voice on fire. QW is open to submissions of new media, translations, and book reviews year round. We are also open for submissions to a special feature of short poetry: 100 Syllables. Quarterly West is open for regular submissions of poetry and prose from February 1 through April 1. Chapbook submissions will open in summer. Poetry and prose contest submissions in the fall. Submission Guidelines

Sparks

Shoes

By Caitlin Cunningham What is your obsession with shoes?  You have so many, many pairs of shoes! Boxes and boxes of shoes.  You have red shoes, blue shoes, teal shoes, pink shoes, silver and gold shoes, yellow shoes and black shoes.  So many black shoes!  Ones for staying in or going out, for dancing the night away, for long skirts or short skirts, or walking the dog. You have black shoes for every possible occasion! And this isn’t even counting all the boots. High ones, low ones, dressy ones, casual ones, ones for hiking, ones for the snow and ones just for rain. Boots galore! And all your shoes are even separated by seasons! Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall. And clear plastic boxes for each pair, neatly stacked in rows according to color and season. Your shoes are more organized than your taxes! Oooh! Can I write off all my shoes?…

Prompts

Writing Personal Essays

Make a list of issues and experiences, important and trivial, in your life right now. What frustrated you in the past month? What made you laugh or cry? What made you lose your temper? What was the worst thing that happened? The best? The most disturbing and weird? Write:  Choose one thing from your list and write about it. Write whatever comes to mind. Write what you would really like to say to the other people involved. Write what happened from your point of view. Prompt inspired from, “On Writing Personal Essays,” by Barbra Abercrombie, The Writer magazine, January 2003 Barbara Abercrombie teaches creative writing in the Writers’ Program at UCLA Extension, and a master class in memoir and personal essays via Zoom and Canvas. “We write the book we need to read and The Language of Loss is the book I needed when my husband died six years ago. It’s an…

Guest Bloggers

Writing Resilient: Why Write?

Guest Blogger Christine Walker: In the house where my husband and I live, there is a room we call the “library.” Books overflow the shelves. Along the walls, five bookcases contain hundreds of volumes stacked top to bottom, back to front, overhanging the edges. One shelf holds books by authors I know—friends, teachers, and teachers who became friends. More books are piled on the floor and in bags, but our local public library stopped taking donations because of the pandemic. The disarray — books, bags, file boxes needing to be sorted — mirrors my emotions. I need to make sense of this room and so much else in my life.  I’ve come looking for a paperback recommended for my zoom book group. I joined the group a year ago, on March 25th, 2020, two weeks after our county shut down for Covid on March 13th. That was the day my…

Guest Bloggers

Pausing to See the View from Here

Guest Blogger Rhonda Gerhard writes: Anniversaries are a time of reflection, whether it be for a celebration, like a wedding, or the loss of a loved one. We are now marking the anniversary of shutdown due to COVID. As we reflect back on this year, we can observe where we, both personally and as a people, are now, in this moment. Like many, I have observed myself navigate this past year on automatic pilot, at times not checking in, just marching ahead. Just marching is our need for survival. March is now here and time to reflect upon marching, right? With the availability now of the vaccine, and the possibilities for change ahead, we can pause. Take a deep breath and ask, “What is my deepest heartfelt prayer for myself at this time, right now?” “What do I really need for myself and how might I hold my life with…

Sparks

Color Play

By Cheryl Moore I had been looking forward to the beginning of 2021; 2020 had been such a sad year, then January 6th happened. Chaos and uncertainty filled me. Since the trouble at the nation’s capital, I’ve made an abrupt change in my paintings. Instead of the landscapes and fanciful trees from a nearby park, my usual work, I’ve been painting abstracts to capture the oddity life has taken. I start by drawing straight lines across a canvas then I add curves. I step back and study these charcoal marks and try to find some pattern, some way of organizing the geometric spaces I have created. It may take a day of looking. My color palette is usually blue, blue-violet, and purple with accents of peachy orange and pink. The contrast of light and dark pattern is important. I am not interested in making great art; I don’t expect to…

Book Reviews

A Painter’s Garden: Cultivating the Creative Life

A Painter’s Garden: Cultivating the Creative Life, by Christine Walker is one of my all-time favorite books. But don’t just take my word on it. Here are what other readers think. ***** The parallels between lessons in the garden, the studio, and life in A Painter’s Garden ring true. Christine Walker’s writing is intelligent, evocative, elegant, and articulate. She addresses universal truths about the creative process in an accessible and fresh way. And she renders very complex emotions in beautifully simple terms—weaving her experience of motherhood into an examination of her working methods in the studio, “feeling a cadence as measured as the breathing of a sleeping child.” —Eleanor Coppola is an American documentary filmmaker, artist and writer. She is the director of Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse and other documentaries. Eleanor is  the writer and director of the romantic comedies Paris Can Wait and Love is Love is…

Sparks

An Appropriate House

By Kristin Cikowski I suppose that if you are going to have a house, it should be a small enough house so that you can hear everyone at the same time. This is why I love my house  My bedroom sits just across the hall from the kitchen, which, at night, is a passageway for the light that comes from the lamp that sits on the table next to my dad’s arm chair in the family room. The family room is where the TV is located, and is not to be confused with the living room, which does not have a TV, and instead, has the teapot with the crane that is flying over the blue water and creamer that goes with it. They sit next to the wooden fisherman with his delicate fishing pole and line, and the sofas that we cannot jump on even though they have an…