Writing Personal Truth Through Nature and Metaphor: An Interview with Margie Patlak

Interview by Brian Wallace Baker

Margie Patlak has been writing professionally for over three decades. Her articles have appeared in many popular newspapers and magazines, such as Discover and The Washington Post, and her creative nonfiction can be found in such venues as Hippocampus, The Hopper, and Cold Mountain Review. I recently had the opportunity to interview Margie about her extensive writing career, as well as her essay “Rock of Ages,” which received an honorable mention in JuxtaProse’s 2018 nonfiction contest and was recently published in Volume 20.  Continue reading “Writing Personal Truth Through Nature and Metaphor: An Interview with Margie Patlak”


On Writing Poetry, Part 2: Self-Implication & the Sense of Self

by Taylor Gianfrancisco

Pablo Picasso once said, “Good artists copy. Great artists steal.” Even though it is debated whether he is the first one to recognize the natural duplicity of all artists, the acknowledgment of the quote in this article is to emphasize that there are no original stories or poems. For writing (or any art in particular), the appeal of the work is in the different perspective it has. Continue reading “On Writing Poetry, Part 2: Self-Implication & the Sense of Self”

Volume 20 Now Available!



“Halloween” by W. Andrew Ewell

A general disarray characterized the evening. Candy wrappers tumbling down the sidewalk. Wind whipping up empty soda cans. The soul of the night seemed somehow damaged.

“Hail, Beast” by Jen Julian

But she’s trying to convince herself she didn’t see what she thought she saw, because it scares her. Because she knows she will long for it, and long for it, and it will have no use for her whatsoever.

“Other People” by Jason Zencka

How often did you see a person really frown like that, Peter thought, with the lips turned down like in a child’s drawing? Not very often, it seemed. His wife was remarkable.

“Gorgon” by Genevieve Plunkett

It happens most often when I am cleaning the house. The head arrives unexpectedly, anticlimactically, like a lost sock at the bottom of the hamper, or a deflated basketball in the garage. 


“Little Earthquakes” by Suzanne LaFetra Collier

They don’t even crack the plaster; they scarcely tilt the paintings. Things are just a hair off center, not like anyone would notice.

“Rock of Ages” by Margie Patlak

I want grounding, something stable to grasp, and what better way to find it than to understand the solid ground right underneath my feet.


“Tell Me Whatever Will Help Me Lay Hold of the Day” by Joe Wilkins

Up through the fire-scar we go,
& slow, kneeling at the spill creek

“Re:fuge Sonnet (2018)” by Cynthia Hogue

but rationalists thing is dangerous. Everything
depends upon identity-clarity.

“The Sycamore, the Walnut” by Idris Anderson

curls of leaves under foot. Wind-drifts like particles
of grammar fallen astray, prefixes and suffixes
and Latin roots for something I wanted to say.

“Come Again to the Woods” by Deborah Cummins

slowly, the way leaves come, arrive
at their turnings.

Two Poems by Jennifer Hambrick
          “Spitting Downstairs”
          “There Is Grass in This Death”

Third floor, Ishmael Apartments
no elevator even on grocery days—

“Six O’Clock on the Cape” by Bruce Lowry

On the Cape, everything
gets wet then eventually dries:

“The Molting” by Alessandra Lynch

See how the flowers
………..stammer around me?

Two Poems by Jenny Qi
          “Sun Setting on San Francisco”

Mostly, all I remember is fog. Fog and rain until wetness
became me, washed me up and wrung me out.

“In the Early Days of the Postcard” by Corinna McClanahan Schroeder

August hangs like a heavy dress.

“Mitosis” by Teresa Scollon

Strange, the silence
of anguish under glass.

“Chain” by Jayme Ringleb

A dried sweetcorn cob I left
on the deck for two
wild dogs

Two Poems by John Kinsella
          “Processing César Vallejo’s ‘Los Anillos Fatigados'”

Getting inside the blossom and dowsing in pollen
without causing damage, that’s the euphoria

On Writing Poetry, Part I: Abstract & Concrete Images

by Taylor Gianfrancisco

 Some poets rely on the most literary, beautified images – concrete or abstract – to express themselves. While the commercialization of poetry allows the public to expand their reading prowess, the poets though that rely on these basic images and concepts are often showcased rather than the ones who searched & revised their poems for clarity & unity. Continue reading “On Writing Poetry, Part I: Abstract & Concrete Images”

Interview with Xiao Yue Shan

Xiao Yue (Shelly) Shan, winner of the JuxtaProse 2018 poetry contest with her two poems “if beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror” and “search by no light,” is a Tokyo-based poet. We were fortunate to be able to discuss both her poetry and the beauties of poetry generally with her, despite a vast time zone difference. Her creative spirit and pinpoint focus were a joy to engage with, as you can read below.

Continue reading “Interview with Xiao Yue Shan”

Interview with Erin McGraw

Erin McGraw is the author of “Joy,” published in the current issue of JuxtaProse. Her short fiction has also appeared in The Atlantic, The Southern Review, Ploughshares, and The Kenyon Review. She’s a Pushcart Prize winner three times over and the author of several novels, including The Seamstress of Hollywood Boulevard and Better Food for a Better World. Her most recent publication, a collection of short stories titled Joy, was released March 5th.

When I spoke to her in preparation for this interview, we discussed how Joy became the title not only for a short story, but also for a whole collection. McGraw allows that the title can be taken as either ironic or straight; it’s a word that leaves room for more than one interpretation. This touches on the depth of experience waiting for the reader at the outset of “Joy.” Characters are given the space to explore the shifting definitions of emotions like grief, which exist in a suspension of judgment for the span of the story. In the past, McGraw has called herself a writerly “magpie,” and “Joy” is rich with small details placed like treasures for the reader to find. In similar fashion, we hope you’ll find some valuable insights into writing and craft in the following interview. Continue reading “Interview with Erin McGraw”

What Is Literary?

By Lisa Gregg, Poetry Editor

It is almost certain that if you are reading this, you have given creative writing a try at least once. I’m pretty sure most literate people who reach adulthood attempt it at some point. Whether as an assignment in third grade, to release heart-pangs in the midst of teen angst, after reading a comic book or seeing something really meaningful, we as human beings, having experienced the beauty and release of the written word, feel the need to reproduce it. Continue reading “What Is Literary?”

Volume 19 Now Available!



“Detours” by Kate Dusto

The road trip, that great American pastime, ought to be accompanied by anthems of open roads and freedom. Instead of Springsteen, they have been listening to Sadie’s tireless rendition of ‘The Wheels on the Bus.’ The only thing Nadia wants freedom from right now is the inside of this blue Ford Focus.

“What Have We Here” by Amy Silverberg
Best American Short Stories contributor

I did feel drunk, come to think of it. I guess I’d lied before though I hadn’t meant to. At that point, I remember looking up at the ceiling and watching the patterns of stucco whirl. Parts of the story shift as I retell it, slide in and out of focus. Memory is tricky.

“Joy” by Erin McGraw
Pushcart Prize winner

Now, I thought, Now, the word’s meaning teasingly out of reach.


“Tents” by M.C.K. Carter

It is a more conscious and mindful parent driving this year. Correction: a woman trying to be a more mindful parent.

“Unwritten” by Emily Sinclair

For me, it’s a time during which I intend to come into the person I want to be: a hard-bitten reporter, albeit one with hot-rollered hair, because I’m a Texas gal.

“Unearthing the Frail Children” by Kathryn Winograd

Mother says: “Absolutely nothing here.”


Two Poems by Xiao Yue Shan
          “If Beauty Is Nothing But the Beginning of Terror”
          “Search by No Light”

I was a blue summer evening too. my body an honor of moonlight
pressing her open mouth to your window.

“Groove” by Troy Jollimore
National Book Critics Circle Award winner

don’t complain about my incoherence,
my lack of planning and organization.

“Tale of the Tortoise” by Bruce Weigl
Pulitzer Prize finalist

I found her near a nest of her eggs where the garden had already begun to turn to autumn.

“Ars Poetica” by Kristina Bicher

Because when she rolled away the stone, nothing.

“Adjacency” by Chera Hammons
PEN Award winner

Someone is building a house
on the land behind ours.

“Suit of Swords” by Karen Holman

as far as the dead hummingbird
… I could take it or leave it

“Stages” by Susan Eyre Coppock

By now
I know the practice

“Patient” by Betsy Johnson-Miller

your hair will grow back in wispy gray

Two Poems by Brian Michael Murphy
          “Dead, for the Second Time”

The afterlife is not paradise,
nor hellfire, not oblivion,
but eternal downtime

Two Poems by D.R. Shipp
          “Alzheimer’s As Though We’ve Never”
          “Alzheimer’s As Ancestry.com Says I Have the Markers”

Rot slips under the door, silent
as a postcard.

“To the Man Who Tried to Grab My Face Through the Car’s Open Window” by Carolyn Oliver

Uninvited rabbit clips clover in quick bites
skitters over the rhododendron

“Tomato, Tomato” by Doug Ramspeck

My wife and I are arguing about the pregnancy
of pauses. How knocked up that space is.

“A Light” by Jennifer Whalen

the grasses’ stretch doesn’t reach anywhere,
just winds back in & touches itself.

“Confessions” by Leah Nieboer

I never got up expressly to see the sun rise
what sort of person is that—

“The Sea” by Garret Keizer
          from “Three Days in Savannah”
Best American Essays and Best American Poetry contributor

Our friend bags seashells
____ like coins, but hold out your hand:
________She is no miser.

Two Poems by Jennifer Atkinson
          “Bells No Longer Ring the Hours”
          “Ribbon Tied to a Hawthorn Branch”
Pushcart Prize winner

An aphasia this saying and saying
Tree spring hair-tie moss