David Stone

Love Lines for Your Valentine

Still need to write your Valentine? Use lines from a local poet.

Someone seeking clarification about another’s romantic intent and who enjoys the use of lowercase letters like e. e. cummings might appreciate a line from Cindy Rinne’s “Another Park Poem.” Inspired by a walk in Riverside’s Fairmont Park, Rinne wrote, “did you try to carve the bark/ leave a heart…” Rinne lives in Redlands. Her next work is titled “Quiet Lantern.”

Courageous individuals who are willing to be vulnerable might use lines from Cati Porter’s poem “Clearly.” “Look at me/ and tell me that you want me, that you want to heart/ the distance and that you cannot in the object see/ a flaw, and though I am (flawed) I am for you, and/ there is a small tight thought that is wound in me,/ that knowing that you love, a lightning, a lightning/ on the inside: so that you see; so that you know.” Porter lives in Riverside. Her latest book “My Skies of Small Horses” comes out this month.

Seasoned lovers may like to use lines from “Litany” from Claremont poet Lucia Galloway’s latest chapbook “The Garlic Peelers:” “O love, what is your wish?/ We’ve half again as much to say as we have said./ Set down the goblet, and the carmine wine/ sheets down its sides to pool in the bowl./ Let’s drink our words instead of hoarding them.”

Sweethearts who remind you of characters from the The Big Bang Theory should appreciate lines from Marsha Schuh’s “You and Me in Binary.” Appropriately published in the computer textbook Schuh co-wrote with Stanford Rowe, Schuh imagines a world based on four, considers the dominance of the decimal in our world and closes her poem with pondering the numerical effects of becoming a couple: “Then we unlearn it all /learn to speak binary,/ a better way,/ two as opposed to eight or ten,/ the most significant bit,/ the least significant bit/ one-two, on-off, you-we,/ binary.” Schuh resides in Ontario.

Lovers in a more ambiguous relationship may resonate with lines from the Palm Springs poet and writer Ruth Nolan. In her forthcoming book, “Ruby Mountain,” she writes, “shouldn’t I pretend you did it for love/ shouldn’t I believe it was a mistake/ shouldn’t I wonder why not/ shouldn’t I wonder why. . . .”

Those pained may appreciate the words of the title persona in Nikia Chaney’s “Sis Fuss.” The poem “Syllogizing Sis Fuss” closes: “we all hurt. And if we all/ hurt then we all hurt/ each other and the next.” Chaney lives in Rialto.

Jennifer and Chad Sweeney from Redlands are a couple, who are both accomplished poets. Jennifer provides profundity and striking imagery in her book “Salt Memory.” She writes, “As water poured into the heart flows out the palms, so does love return, as thirst, as satiation—the shape the lost ocean has carved onto the salt brick desert.”

With characteristic quirky humor in his book “White Martini for the Apocalypse,” Chad writes, “It was love./ She taught me to drive her bulldozer./ I taught her to forge my signature!”

In earthier lines from his poem “Effects,” first published in Caliban, Chad writes, “The best sex in the world happens during conjugal visits. I’ve gotten myself into prison twice, just to have it. That’s why I’m calling. Happy Valentine’s Day!” Chad Sweeney teaches creative writing at Cal State San Bernardino.

The longing and transformative power of love comes through in the closing lines of Judy Kronenfeld’s “Listen” from her forthcoming collection, “Bird Flying Through the Banquet,” 
“Let your eyes rest/ on my face. Arrest me/ in turn. I will burst/ from the seed/ of myself.” Kronenfeld is professor emerita from UCR.

Ontario poet Tim Hatch gives words to the desire to comfort one’s dearest when he or she is gone: “Scatter my memory where my memories are sweetest. Gulls cry, salt breeze carries me away. When you’re there you can breathe deep, take me inside and remember.”

For a wider array of classic poems to use for Valentine’s Day, search the Poetry Foundation’s website for “Poems for Valentines” or the poets.org site for “love poems.”

(Never-ending?) “Cognitive Passes” by Judy Kronenfeld

I reminded myself, this past week, just how faulty first drafts of poems can be, when, a few days after I wrote it, I looked again at a new poem I had been somewhat excited about. As I set to work trying to remedy the poem’s flaws, feeling that sense of chagrin that so often accompanies early, uncritical excitement, some part of me thought Be kind to yourself, be patient. It so often takes numerous “cognitive passes” over the developing draft. The idea that any work of the imagination, intellect, or both, gradually gets worked into shape has helped me so much, both in teaching—of expository writing, creative writing, and critical writing on literature—and in my own writing of all of these kinds, and I think it has helped students, too. I recall encountering inexperienced students in composition classes, whose underlying idea of the essay was that it should spring whole from their minds, like Athena from Zeus’s forehead, and who were stymied by that belief. The inception of an essay, poem or story (if not the actual beginning of the finished work) may be more like trying to grab the tail of a dream as it scampers off in the light of dawn. My advice: grab anything you can, and set it provisionally down. Don’t abandon it because it’s utterly incomplete, its purpose and potential development obscure. A will lead to B, then maybe, yes, a cross-out of A, but B leading to C, D and E, along with many indirections that may find directions out (to apply Hamlet’s words to our purpose). The notion of “cognitive passes” recognizes that there is just so much the mind can take in at one time, it reminds us to be kind and patient with ourselves. Successive layers of underbrush may have to be cleared away before one can see the shape of the ground. In writing an essay, sentence grammar may have to be clarified in order for the writer to understand her own thinking about cause and effect. Diction may have to become more exact before the writer really senses what she is writing about, and once diction and grammar are more precise, the larger structure the whole should have may become more clear. And there’s no necessary order of march. What’s heartening is how improvement in any aspect throws another necessary step into relief. Time is the writer’s friend in this process, although, so often, especially for students, it’s hard to build it in. Even a few days between messy rough draft and the next try can radically improve the writer’s perception, and start her on the path to becoming her own editor.

There is a sort of opposite to this messy, but ultimately cumulative process. Sometimes, when we are struggling with something we have written before it approaches wholeness (I have experienced this with poems), we can feel so ungrounded that the structure, or an image, or the rhythm or sound of a phrase appears to need changing every time we look at the work, and we find ourselves re-configuring one of these elements, and reverting to the status quo ante the very next day, and we keep doing this over a period of time, flailing. The mind is so flexible; it is all too easy to see the “rightness” of conflicting possibilities at different times. Maybe this is all part of the process—of poems, at least—finally a process of not having it every which way, of eliminating some paths, as well as of preserving the mystery and richness of the ones we choose.

It is amazing and intriguing to me, that the process of rereading one’s own work (especially if one is lucky enough to be able to put it away for some time between reads) seems to glean continued insights, new nuances. I find this to be true as I reread the new poetry manuscript I have begun to send out. Every change (such as a recent removal of some of the poems) has the effect of highlighting an aspect of the manuscript that was not quite fully illuminated for me previously, of throwing something else into salience. At the moment, thankfully, that new nuance I perceive feels as if it enriches the manuscript, rather than making me want to edit it further. For the moment, at least, I am at peace.

Theft by Judy Kronenfeld

I hope there is a special place among the lower circles of hell, perhaps among the serpents and the rivers of blood, for the thief who stole my husband’s suitcase and briefcase from our own driveway at the end of May, as we were getting ready to drive to the airport for a quickly arranged flight to New York where my cousin’s 48-year-old son had just died of a rare bone cancer he had fought with uncommon grace and optimism.

“Where are my suitcase and briefcase?” my usually calm husband exclaimed in near panic, coming back into the house. As if I might have gone outside and taken them in for safe-keeping. I wish. A well-trained New Yorker in origin, who knew how to carry her bookbag and purse in a way to prevent theft or groping on the crowded subway she rode to high school, and whose similar habits avoided the purse-slitting incurred by her companions in a market in Toluca, Mexico, I had always warned my husband not to leave anything on the driveway, even for the few seconds required to go back into the house for forgotten car keys (and yes, those seconds did wind up being distracted minutes). “You were right this time,” he said.

We had to go to New York. So my husband spoke to the police I had called, while trying to repack his pills. And I ran into the bedroom and threw clothes for him, in record minutes, into a small carry-on. We made it to Ontario with a half-hour to spare since I usually err on the side of allowing too much time to get to the airport. And aside from trying to compose a list of everything that was missing, and calling our insurance company, and my sending up a silent thank you to the powers-that-be that it wasn’t my suitcase, which I had not yet taken outside that morning, that had been stolen (in which case repacking in six minutes would have been a pipe dream), we shelved this annoyance in the midst of a tragedy, as we entered the world of a family devastated by the loss of an adult child, and a brother—still far too young—a loss putting material losses into the perspective they deserve.

Still, when we came back home, glad we had been able to offer what little support we could to my cousin’s family, the annoyance felt increasingly annoying. The thief—or someone connected to the thief—had tried to use a check from our account (we had forgotten the checkbook when we made our list) for a considerable sum at a local store, so we had to cancel ours and open a new checking account. And, fearing some private information could have been found among our things, we cancelled our credit cards, but the replacement cards, although the package was listed as delivered by UPS, were nowhere to be found. At that point, a sense of being watched or targeted made me feel almost as uncomfortable in my own house as I had been when a roof rat took up residence inside for almost two weeks the previous summer. It turned out, according to the UPS person who successfully delivered yet another set of replacement cards a few days later, that the previous guy had never even been to our house, but had misdelivered packages all over our neighborhood, even dropping a pile of them on the street. A weird form of small solace?

It has taken several weeks, but we are emerging from the woods, are pretty much finished, we think, with all those calls to banks and creditors, those online morasses when we try to change our information—all of which made me coin a new acronym: NEWTWIST (Nothing Ever Works The Way It’s Supposed To).

I think now of a friend whose insurance company was less cooperative than ours turned out to be, and who gave up her claim; some valuable jewelry was stolen while her house was tented for termites (!), but the insurance people wanted pictures.

I think of what it might feel like to be less middle class, less able to deal with the re-arrangements of our finances, the collection and calculation of receipts for the insurance company, the replacement of essentials lost, or to have no insurance, no recourse, few or no “essentials.”

I think of what it might be like to feel targeted or vulnerable all the time.

Exemplary Friendship by Judy Kronenfeld

A good friend of my husband’s and mine, Theda Shapiro, who was Associate Professor of French and Comparative Literature in the Department of Comparative Literature and Foreign Languages at UCR, passed away in March, to our shock and dismay, after a somewhat precipitous decline due to cancer. We have been to two memorials for Theda, an informal one at the house of her close friend, Stephanie Hammer, in LA, and, just a week ago, one hosted by Thomas Scanlon, the Chair of her department, at the Alumni House on the UCR campus, and have thought about her a great deal from the onset of her illness; all of this has made me realize just what it is for a person to have a profound effect on other people, to create a lasting legacy of kindness and exemplary friendship.

For Theda, joy was so definitely not a zero-sum game—that is, if you have some good luck or some joy, there’s less to go around for me. Certainly, the extended family of my youth sometimes involved a certain zero-sum competition and even schadenfreude , especially among cousins’ parents. And I’ve had certain friends (should I call them that?) like the one who shot back an email, after I sent her a link to pictures of my kids and grandkids, saying “save these for someone who’s interested”—an expression completely inimical to someone like Theda. In her capacious mind, it was as if she had files and subfiles for all her many friends’ children and extended families. She kept up with those children and their accomplishments; she always asked to be remembered to them. Even after her awful cancer diagnosis, when I talked to her regularly on the phone, she made a point of asking about ours, and—hoping, perhaps, for more time than she had—looked forward to seeing some recent pictures of our grandkids. For Theda, if you had some good luck, or your kids gave you naches, it was her joy, too. She made herself into the best kind of family member for so many people—colleagues, students and younger faculty she mentored and mothered, and all her other friends. She was incredibly smart and knowledgeable, and also unassuming, kind, supportive, loyal, and utterly positive. There’s plenty of schadenfreude in academia; for Theda, with her amazing generosity, it was a place to share the wealth, to be supportive to students and faculty. Their testimonies at her memorials and the way in which her friends stepped up to help during her decline and afterwards made so clear how universal her generosity was, and gave me a heartwarming sense that the kindness she taught by her example is a living tradition, and will be passed on.

A Writers Week Reading and the Mystery of Poetry by Judy Kronenfeld

On February 3rd, the second day of Writers Week, I heard the UCR Creative Writing Department’s new poets, Associate Professor Katie Ford and Assistant Professor Allison Benis White read in the campus bookstore lounge. My friend, poet and artist Lavina Blossom, came with me. It was the first poetry reading I had been to since my knee replacement surgery in November, and the several months of intensive therapy and recovery following. And maybe, because of that, I was particularly delighted to be out in the world, and focused on the nuances and music of words. In any case, I think both Lavina and I were heart-struck, mesmerized. We each bought one of the poets’ books (and will be exchanging, soon).

The poets indicated that Tom Lutz (Professor of Nonfiction in the Department) had suggested that they arrange a responsive reading, each poet “responding” to the other with a poem of her own. Because of this, it seemed that each poet saw some aspects of their own and the other’s work which had perhaps not been salient to them before. Each poet’s work is informed by an experience of personal trauma. Many of the poems in Ford’s Blood Lyrics (Graywolf, 2014) concern the very premature birth of her daughter and the uncertainty that she will live and thrive; the poems in White’s Self-Portrait with Crayon (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2009) are prose poem meditations on Degas’ art that body forth almost hidden feelings about abandonment by her mother when she was a child. However, it is clear from some comments the poets made during the reading, as well as from their work, that neither poet is remotely “confessional” in the limited sense; artistry utterly transcends the merely private.

I have been reading Ford’s Blood Lyrics and have been struck, as I was during the reading, by the ways her fierce poems keep turning and surprising with their diction and imagery. Here’s the opening of “Of a Child Early Born”:

For the child is born an unbreathing scripture

and her broken authors wait

on one gurney together.

And what is prayer from a gurney

but lantern-glow for God or demon

to fly toward the lonely in this deathly hour;

and since I cannot bear to wish on one

but receive the other,

I lie still, play dead, am delivered decree:

our daughter weighs seven hundred dimes,

paperclips, teaspoons of sugar,

this child of grams…

Ford’s poems confronting the public world are among the best “political” poems that truly are poems I’ve read. Here’s the beginning of “Foreign Song”:

To bomb them,

we musn’t have heard their music

or known their waterless night watch,

we musn’t have seen how already

the desert was under constant death bells

ringing over sleeping cribs and dry wells.

I have not yet obtained a copy of Self-Portrait with Crayon (though it’s on its way from Amazon). But I do want to report on a brief, wonderful conversation I had with Allison Benis White after the reading. I was absolutely struck by what she is doing in this book. I found an interview with her that allows me to share, in her exact words, something close to what she told me as we talked:

When I started writing prose poems that meditated on Degas’ artwork, I didn’t know I was writing a book. In fact, I wrote the first one as a random exercise in response to a postcard of Degas’ “Combing the Hair” I brought home from London—and in responding to that painting, I found, to my surprise, that I could write about my mother’s disappearance in a way I never could before.” So I tried again, with Degas’ “Dancers in Blue,” and it worked again. So I kept going. I had found a way in.

The first thing I said to Allison was something like this: “It’s the difference that matters, isn’t it, when you work from a piece of Degas’ art.” It had struck me forcefully that her use of Degas is one of those extraordinary lucky accidents at the heart of poetry. I asked if Allison had ever studied Degas and learned that she had not; these poems are completely apart from “academic” knowledge. It is just because the Degas works are completely other, though perhaps instinctively attracting, that this poet was able to use them in the most nuanced way to explore her abandonment, and even more. What started out as a “random exercise” completely metaphorizes her experience in the most visual manner. I felt that I was in touch with the mystery at the heart of poetry. And could only wish for the next transformative “accident” for my own work!

Here’s the first paragraph of “Curtainfall” (which I got from Google Books), so you can hopefully see something of how these meditations work:

Back to your own mind and the blank look of the curtain half-

lowered and red velvet. Their heads are already gone. Only

the closest dancer who kneels and looks away. Soon her head

and neck. Soon her shoulders. And when she is gone, only the

backs of their heads who stand and applaud into the absence

of movement. Nothing else will ever happen.

On Waiting for an Acceptance by Cati Porter

This week I opened my email to find an acceptance for my poetry collection, “My Skies of Small Horses.” This is the moment that so many people wait for—sometimes briefly, sometimes forever. The acceptance is from a press—WordTech Editions—that I have long admired from a distance as I’ve watched other friends like Judy Kronenfeld publish with them. But the road to book publication is often a winding one, and mine is no exception.

This particular book began as my thesis for my MFA in Poetry from Antioch University Los Angeles. I had high hopes when I began submitting my manuscript soon after graduation. After all, I had found a publisher for my first poetry collection, “Seven Floors Up” (Mayapple Press, 2008) before I even entered the program. Now, with credentials, shouldn’t it be easier? But only after five years of trying am I finally going to see it in print.

Over those five years, I submitted my book over forty different times—sometimes to the same contest year after year, other times to presses whose aesthetics I thought matched my own, changing it slightly each time, adding and subtracting poems based on editorial comments, feedback from other writers, or just a gut sense of what works best. I tried on different titles for the book, different section titles, reordering the poems, trying to find the book’s most perfect form.

What I discovered? It’s easy to second guess your first impulse, and it’s equally easy to overlook flaws that other readers might see because you’re too close to the work. It’s taken countless critiques and rejections to get my manuscript to where it is now. And there is always the issue that good poetry is almost entirely subjective. Was it fine the first time out? Could it still be improved? Maybe, and probably!

As those five years dragged on, I kept coming back to the question, how was waiting for a publisher better than publishing it on my own? There is no one right answer. Seeing my work rejected was often painful, but publishing it too soon would have been equally so.

Waiting for a publisher, for me, meant that I spent a lot more time with the poems and made changes to the overall manuscript, that I otherwise may not have if I had gone straight to self-publishing. I could have saved time and money and had a book in print five years ago, but what I have to show for those five years, having waited, is an honorable mention, four semi-finalist nods, and one finalist—so, a little closer every time, and more time to submit work to journals, which is like vetting the poems—knowing that someone else finds value in and appreciates the work validates all the hours spent.

Self-publishing can be a viable option for those who can’t or don’t want to wait, or who, like me, have waited to no avail and have grown tired of waiting. The most important thing to consider is whether or not you have examined all of the options and revised the book to some form of finished that you feel good about.

Before the acceptance last week, I had in fact given some thought to self-publishing. There is something appealing about being able to control the overall aesthetic experience of the book, and most publishers are not willing to allow you to micromanage the process. But for me, waiting has meant that I now will have the support of an independent press whose experience outweighs my own.

As an editor and publisher as well as a writer, I’ve seen the system work from both sides, and am hopefully the wiser for it. Which is why it gives me a great deal of satisfaction to create new publishing opportunities, in order to bring more writing into the world.

In my time with Inlandia, we have expanded our imprint from books published solely through our publishing partner Heyday to adding independently published Inlandia Imprint books. I am grateful to have a great Publications Committee and volunteers who help select and prepare works for publication, and who have helped to shape the vision for publishing with Inlandia.

With the success of our first book of poetry—Vital Signs by Juan Delgado and Tom McGovern, and because of this expansion, coupled with my own love for poetry, I am beyond thrilled to announce that we are launching a poetry book competition.

The Hillary Gravendyk Prize is a poetry book competition with two winners—one drawn from a national pool and one from a regional (i.e. based in Inland Southern California). Each will have it’s own $1000 prize and book contract. Chad Sweeney, poet and faculty member at Cal State San Bernardino, will judge the inaugural contest.

The submissions window opens February 1 and will close April 30, at the end of National Poetry Month. For guidelines, please visit: http://inlandiajournal.org.

Thinking about France in Her Moment of Terror by Judy Kronenfeld

Like so many others, my mind has been on France these last days. And like many others, I feel a visceral connection to this often visited country where my husband and I first traveled on a sort of second honeymoon in the late 60s, filling our picnic basket with the delights of the charcuterie and the boulangerie, where we traveled with friends and our combined kids during a spacious summer in the 80s, where we spent a long sabbatical in the 90s, where my daughter and son each studied, researched, or worked in their twenties, and to which we have all returned quite a few times. Horrified by the brutal and shocking murders of the journalists at Charlie Hebdo and the shoppers at the kosher supermarket, I felt the vulnerability and fear of the French, of all of us in this new (renewed?) world of terror in which the murder of innocent people can be cold-bloodedly planned and executed in the name of religious belief, and we can be helpless to stop it. I was stirred to see the million people, led by heads of state linking arms, marching in the capital of liberté, egalité, fraternité—Enlightenment ideals so contributive to our own—to demonstrate those ideals, to resist fear and intimidation.

I thought back to those visits, extended or brief, which, for all the complexities of being a non-native speaker in a foreign land, for all the occasional tawdry or shabby or even disturbing underside of French glamour, fulfilled the romance I began with France at the time I first pasted a picture of La Tour Eiffel on my fourth grade book report cover. I thought of how aestheticized and ceremonious life seemed in France, and how it felt to me as if, in speaking the language (which passed before my mind’s eye as I spoke it, because I was just not that proficient!), I became part of this ceremony. As I wrote in an essay called “Speaking French”:

The words passing before my mind’s eye—even the simplest of them, like thé for tea—with their rakish accents, their smart little hats, had a cachet that went with the pastel curls of ribbon in the white boxes from la pâtisserie, the white frills on the rack of lamb in the butcher shop, …the ceremony that accompanied the daily events of life, particularly the taking of meals.

Observing the few cultured West Africans walking down the streets of Paris in the early 90s, it seemed to me that they (if not the poor black maids who worked in hotels) were fully part of that aestheticized and stylish Frenchness—walking French, talking French, dressing French—if a bit exotically so. It seemed to me they wanted to be French and felt at home, and were welcomed into France’s proudly republican, secular (and anti-clerical) culture, a culture that thinks of itself as a fraternité with egalité, as long as one accepts its values, aesthetics, ideals, in short, assimilates. No one ever breathed a word against such people in our long sabbatical year in the 90s.

But the same was not true in the case of Arab, Muslim immigrants, of which France now has, of course, the largest population in Europe, most often living in the enormous apartment blocks surrounding Paris and other French cities, which remind me of the often squalid “projects” of my native New York City. It didn’t take much for heated words about them to spill out on several occasions.

In accordance with republican and secular values, and historically centralizing tendencies, even in accordance with an idea of egalité, the French, famously, have attempted to legislate a certain unmarked sameness of appearance in the public schools, prohibiting the wearing of “ostentatious” religious symbols, including the Islamic hijab or head scarf for women, the Jewish kippa, and large Christian crosses. (See Wikipedia, “Islamic Scarf Controversy in France,” for an interesting summary.) Our college student daughter, who lived for some months in Marseille (soon after our extended stay in France ended in 1994) researching French attitudes towards Muslim immigrants there gave us our first insights into some of the complexities involved. Among other things, she discovered that young women newly arrived in France and enrolled in the public schools felt comforted and protected by the traditional head gear. French culture is certainly overtly eroticized (it was hard not to notice building high car ads sporting naked women) and, as my daughter pointed out, there’s a certain feeling that a woman should show off her allure, including her hair, rather than modestly protecting it and herself from sexual scrutiny.

Some feminist French Muslims as well as other French people think of the head scarf, as many Westerners do, as a symbol of female oppression and subservience to men, and therefore agree with the law banning it in schools. Others, both Muslim and not, feel that freedom of individual choice is violated by that ban. Some Muslims and others see the veil as a sign of belonging to a Muslim community; it may be a way of suggesting the unavailability of young women for marriage outside that community. The head scarf remains multivalent, polysemous, as Wikipedia’s article on the controversy makes intriguingly clear. One can see, in any case, how the ban would be disturbing or alienating to many, if not all Muslims. Yet, as the article indicates, even if a significant majority of French Muslims in a 2004 survey (50-60%) preferred that their wives or daughters had the choice to wear the hijab, a much greater majority (90%) claimed to “subscribe to culturally French principles such as the importance of the Republic and equal rights among men and women.”

As the novelist Tahar Ben Jelloun, winner of the Prix Goncourt, says in today’s New York Times (“For French Muslims, a Moment of Truth”): “Most Muslims in France feel completely French, and want the majority of French society to accept them as such.” But alienation, poverty, the increasing stridency and power of France’s right wing and racist National Front, and, as Ben Jelloun says, the efforts of “Islamists … hard at work in prisons, industrial suburbs and neighborhood mosques, peddling a strong religious identity and hope for the future to disaffected youth” make a few of them vulnerable to extremism.

Nothing excuses the murder of innocents.

But, just maybe, mockery is not always the best choice in our interconnected world. Maybe, as Rabbi Michael Lerner suggests in a blog, “Mourning the Parisian ‘Humorists’ Yet Challenging the Hypocrisy of Western Media,” it is time for the media to consider “what it would mean to a French Muslim, living among Muslims who are economically marginalized and portrayed as nothing but terrorists, their religious garb banned in public, their religion demeaned, to encounter a humor magazine that ridiculed the one thing that gives them some sense of community and higher purpose, namely Mohammed and the religion he founded.”

Maybe, as my friend Robert Moore suggests in his blog, “Je Suis Charlie (99.9%),” “avoiding intentional insults to religious beliefs is similar to avoiding ethnic or racial slurs,” that is, “more a matter of common decency” than of “overly timid political correctness.” Maybe avoiding such does not so much impair one’s free speech, as make one feel “respectful.”

And maybe, as Tahar Ben Jalloun suggests, there is much work to be done in France’s schools, “where textbooks should be revised to reflect the diversity of French tradition and new courses offered on racism and on the history of religions.” Maybe it is time for proudly secular and centralized France to more explicitly acknowledge the multiplicity of the cultural and religious traditions of its citizens.

I offer the thought with deference because I much admire the French: their charm, their enjoyment of beauty—even their treatment of the animals they eat!—as well as their social system that confers education and health benefits on each citizen as his or her right. We lack much that they have, even if we are perhaps closer to an ideal of multiculturalism just because we have been and are a nation of immigrants. We must remember that we ourselves have defamed or maltreated many of those in the successive waves landing on our shores.

Contributor Biographies

Cynthia Anderson is a writer and editor living in Yucca Valley, CA. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, and she has received poetry awards from the Santa Barbara Arts Council and the Santa Barbara Writers Conference. Her collaborations with photographer Bill Dahl are published in the book, Shared Visions.

Lee Balan was the first editor and art director for Beyond Baroque Magazine in Venice, CA.  His poems and stories have been featured in several magazines including Phantom Seed, Sun-Runner, and Storylandia. He was the facilitator for the Tenderloin Writer’s Workshop in San Francisco. His background in mental health has been a major influence on his work. Lee has been the featured poet at several events and venues including the Palm Springs Art Museum.  Recently, Lee self published his first novel Alien Journal.

Nancy Scott Campbell has been a desert hiker and resident for more than twenty years.  She has been a mediator, has taught English as a second Language, is a physical therapist,  and is delighted with the workshops of the Inlandia Institute.

With their girls grown and independent, Marcyn Del Clements and her husband, Richard, have more time to pursue their favorite activities: birding, butterfly and dragonfly watching, and fly-fishing. Marcy is published in Alaska Quarterly Review, Appalachia, Eureka Literary Magazine, Flyway, frogpond, Hollins Critic, Literary Review, Lyric, Sijo West, Snowy Egret, Wind, and others.

Mike Cluff is a fulltime English and Creative Writing instructor at Norco College. He has lived steadily in the Highland and Redlands area since 1998. His eighth book of poetry “Casino Evil was published in June 2009 by Petroglyph Books.

Rachelle Cruz is from the Bay Area but currently lives and writes in Riverside, CA.  She has taught creative writing, poetry, and performance to young people in New York City, the Bay Area, Los Angeles, and Riverside. She hosts “The Blood-Jet Writing Hour” Radio Show on Blog Talk Radio. She is an Emerging Voices Fellow and a Kundiman Fellow, she is working towards her first collection of poems.

Sheela Sitaram Free (“Doc Free”) was born in Mumbai, India and has spent equal halves of her life in India and in the United States. Her BA in English Literature and Language, MA in English and American Literature and Language, MA in Hindi, PhD in the Contemporary American Novel-novels of John Updike-and her twenty four years of teaching all across the United States in Universities, colleges, and community colleges reveal her lifelong passion for the power of words, especially in the context of world literature and writing. Her collection of poetry entitled “Of Fractured Clocks, Bones and Windshields was published in February 2009 and nominated for the Association of Asian American Studies as well as the Asian American Workshop awards in 2010. She has been writing for over 20 years, but it was the Inland Empire that inspired and motivated her to publish; she has simply loved being a part of it for 9 years now. It is home to her and she draws a great deal of material from it in her poetry.

Karen Greenbaum-Maya is a clinical psychologist in Claremont, California. She has been writing since she was nine. In another life, she was a German Literature major and read poetry for credit. She has placed poems and photographs in many publications, including Off the Coast, Umbrella, Abyss & Apex, qarrtsiluni, Poemeleon, Lilliput Review, In Posse Review, and Sow’s Ear Poetry Review. She was nominated for the 2010 Pushcart Prize. Her first chapbook, Eggs Satori, received an Honorable Mention in Pudding House Publications’ 2010 competition, and will be published in 2011.

Valerie Henderson is an MFA Fiction student at CSUSB. More of her work can be found in The Sand Canyon Review.

Edward Jones is a graduate of UC Riverside’s MFA program and has been published in Faultline, Crate, Mosaic, and Inlandia: A Literary Journey.

Judy Kronenfeld is the author of four poetry collections including “Ghost Nurseries,” a Finishing Line chapbook (2005) and “Light Lowering in Diminished Sevenths”, winner of the Litchfield Review Poetry Book Prize (2008). Her poems, as well as the occasional short story and personal essay have appeared in many print and online journals including Calyx, Cimarron Review, The American Poetry Journal, Fox Chase Review, The Innisfree Poetry Journal, Natural Bridge, The Hiram Poetry Review, Passager, Poetry International, The Spoon River Poetry Review, Stirring, The Women’s Review of Books, and The Pedestal, as well as in a dozen and a half anthologies or text books, including Bear Flag Republic: Prose Poems and Poetics from California (Greenhouse Review Press/Alcatraz Editions, 2008), Beyond Forgetting: Poetry and Prose about Alzheimer’s Disease (Kent State University Press, 2009), and Love over 60: An Anthology of Women’s Poems (Mayapple Press, 2010). She is a lecturer Emerita—after twenty-five years of teaching in the Creative Writing Department at UC Riverside. Her new poetry collection, “Shimmer,” has just been accepted by WordTech Editions.

Associate Fiction Editor Ruth Nolan, a former wildland firefighter and native of San Bernardino and the Mojave Desert, teaches Creative Writing and Literature at College of the Desert in Palm Desert. She is a poet and prose writer with works forthcoming in New California Writing, 2011 (Heyday, 2011) and in Sierra Club Magazine. She is editor of No Place for a Puritan: The Literature of California’s Deserts (Heyday, 2009) and a contributor to Inlandia: A Literary Journey (Heyday, 2006) She has collaborated on two film projects, “Escape to Reality: 24 hrs @ 24 fps” with the UCR-California Museum of Photography (2008), is a writer for a film in progress, Solar Gold: the Killing of Kokopelli (2011), and represents our region’s deserts in the “Nature Dreaming: Rediscovering California’s Landscapes” public radio series sponsored by Santa Clara University and the California Council for the Humanities (2011) She lives in Palm Desert.

Cindy Rinne has lived in the Inland Empire for 29 years. She is an artist and poet. Her poetry includes nature inspiration, parts of overheard conversations, observations on walks, life events, and her response to her own artwork and the works of others.

Except for a short-lived adventure to Long Beach, CA, Heather Rinne has lived in the Inland Empire her entire life. She grew up in San Bernardino and attended college at Cal Poly Pomona where she received a BFA in 2008. She  loved and still loves exploring the art community in the downtown Arts Colony. A fire took her parents’ home, the home where her childhood memories lived, in the fall of 2003. Even with the unexpected chance to move, her parents decided to rebuild on the same lot. Back in the place where she grew up, she makes new memories. She currently works as a Graphic Designer and Photographer out of her home office and dances at a studio in Redlands. She enjoys Redlands because it has a lot of history and is only a short trip to the desert, the city, the mountains, and the ocean.

Ash Russell is an MFA candidate at CSUSB. She has been telling stories since she learned how to speak and writing since she learned to string the alphabet together. She relearns regularly that the magnitude of space is emotionally devastating.

Mae Wagner is firmly rooted in the Inland Empire area and sees Inlandia stories everywhere just waiting to be told. She says, “writing has always been a passion, but was largely relegated to the back burner while she focused on raising a family, earning a living, and going to school.” Over the years, as a longtime Inland Empire resident, she has written for a public relations firm, the Riverside Chamber of Commerce, The Chino Champion newspaper, and had several columns published in the Op-Ed page of the Press-Enterprise when it was locally owned, including a noted investigate journalism series focused on a landmark environmental case involving the Stringfellow Acid Pits in Glen Avon, just west of Riverside. She currently writes a column for her home town paper in Hettinger, North Dakota and is enjoying being a member of the Inlandia Creative Writing Workshops, which she has attended since its opening session in the summer of 2008.

As a child, Rayme Waters spent some time each year at her grandmother’s house in Rancho Mirage and watched the desert cities grow up around it. Rayme’s stories have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and the Dzanc Best of the Web and have been published most recently in The Meadowland Review and The Summerset Review.