Friday, January 29, 2021

GAS Featured Artist: Paula Damm, by Sylvia Van Nooten

Paula Damm

Paula’s work is a powerful statement about women’s traditional ‘work’ and art.  I’ve often wondered how many brilliant women artists expressed themselves through their textile art but were never recognized as artists.  Paula reflects on that question in her work, in a sense, speaking for and to these women in our collective past and in the present.  I find poetry in her work and voices, voices we need to remember and acknowledge.  Here is Paula Damm in her own words.  ~Sylvia Van Nooten

1)What is behind your artistic vision? 

(Why do you do art?)

Truthfully, it has taken a long time to realize that what I do IS art.  Or rather, as I allowed myself more personal confidence and freedom to expand what I have done for years, I believe it has BECOME art.  To explain, I have always created things with fiber/thread and needle. I always thought of it as being a continuance of honoring the history of women's work this knitting, sewing, embroidery, weaving.   A few years ago I found a bubbling up of dissatisfaction with my “creations” - an acute and discouraging feeling that they were successfully rendered but empty because they were designed by someone else - and copied by me. This coincided with a visit from my sister, Terri Witek, the amazing poet. During her visit she was describing merging poetry and weaving. I had no idea what she was talking about.  We spoke about words, space, void, marking, and pattern, the hidden and the revealed.   I felt the electricity happen and the world opened up. Our collaboration from this visit was actually accepted in Deeper Than Indigo:Southeast Textile Symposium, St. Augustine, Florida (2018). A poet’s statement written on my weaving fiber, fractured and woven into 2 delicate indigo pieces with gold (her words) scattered throughout.  The magic had begun for me.  I gave myself permission to look at my “women’s work” in ways I never would have imagined.  It was life changing.   I realized that all the weaving, sewing, knitting, embroidery I had done throughout my life was my preparation for my future as an artist.  Plus my gratitude to my sister is everlasting.

2) How does being an artist help you communicate with the world

Social media has been great for people like me who are emerging as artists.  I put things out there and I get some likes.  I would get hearts and comments!!  Not tons, but enough to validate and encourage me forward.   I have “met” many other artists and have been inspired by them and their work.   Being in the middle of a pandemic also spurred my creativity and gave me time to work consistently since the school where I am the nurse went remote. 

3) Have you built or joined a community of artists around the world? How did you do this?

As I have said, social networking has been a godsend and people have been very gracious in allowing me to participate in their groups.  I was astounded at the international reach these groups have - really, I was very naive - yet most were kind and welcoming.  I felt embraced when I joined  GAS: Poetry, Art & Music, Women Asemic Artists & Visual Poets//WAAVe.   I am most proud to have built a community through my TogetherVoice project.  I reached out to people from around the world and asked them to send me an audio clip of their voice saying TOGETHER in their language.  I then changed their voice into a sound wave and embroidered it onto a lovely piece of vintage linen.  When I received a request to participate from individuals in the Casina Project in Milan Italy I was blown away.  The piece contains the lovely voices of women in a prison in Milan, Italy and individuals from the Casina Project as well as my mailman, family members, friends, other artists -   I cried and realized this piece was no longer mine but belonged to everyone, whether they have participated or not.  My latest masks using a plaster cast mold of my face were a direct result of viewing Miya Turnbull’s masks on instagram @miyaturnbull.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Heidi Blakeslee's review of TODAY IS A MICHIGAN GHOST TOWN by Matt Borczon (Concrete Mist Press)

Matt Borczon’s writing has grace. If I see a Borczon poem anywhere, I immediately know it is his just by looking at the form.  The idiosyncratic line that he has developed for his unique voice is both superb and bold.  Every word belongs.  Every simile fits.  He never misspeaks. 

The poetry flows down the page and the speed of the lines can lull you into a false sense of comfort, but only for so long.  I know that there is almost always a punch in the gut, or three or four coming soon.  Truth bombs.  Unequivocal, relatable, and sometimes downright dirty.  Every poem has at least one and every bomb resonates throughout the rest of the book.  He expertly weaves his musings on the rough sides of life with the delicate skeletons of his past. 


Favorite themes in this work include: the strength of nature, feeling like you are one against the world, getting lucky, dogged determination, music, and loves both lost and lingering.

Best of all, at the end of the work is an interview with Scott Thomas Outlar which provides a wonderful cap of information about Matt’s start in writing, and his inspirations.

 I would recommend TODAY IS A MICHIGAN GHOST TOWN  for anyone looking to dig a little deeper.  For those gnarled punk rock souls who love the stew.  For hard-fighting dogs.  For hard-drinking youths who need communion.  This is for all of them, and you.

Southern gothic


unblinking stars

blind cats

bump along

the alley

and nobody

begs change

on the

street corners

of this

dead city

ghosts haunt

the doorways

and the

diners as

lost children

call home

and leave


on ancient

answering machines

in the

hum of

the tape 

noise they

tell their


they are

ok still

alive still

moving like

sharks swimming

across the

deep south

where they

listen to


without lightning

and know 

it is only

the devil

setting the


they know

this because

the devil 

is the

only one

who doesn’t

have to

wait for

the rain.

Matthew Borczon is a poet from Erie Pa. He has written 15 books of poetry so far. He publishes widely in both print and online journals. He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a Best of the Net. When not writing he is a nurse for developmentally disabled adults. He is married and has four great kids.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

GAS Featured Poet: Tom Montag

 Tom Montag's books of poetry include: Middle Ground; The Big Book of Ben Zen; In This Place: Selected Poems 1982-2013; The Miles No One Wants; Love Poems; and Seventy at Seventy. His poem "Lecturing My Daughter in Her First Fall Rain" has been permanently incorporated into the design of the Milwaukee Convention Center. He blogs at The Middlewesterner. With David Graham he recently co-edited Local News: Poetry About Small Towns.

"The Woman in an Imaginary Painting is a series of more than 350 poems which explore, I suppose, the intersections between imagination and reality, between surface and substance, between hope and loss of hope. The series started as an attempt to understand and record a very clear initial image of the woman sitting as a model which came to me out of the blue of imagination; and it has since spread to the far reaches of a possible life and death on the other side of the surface of that painting."

"The Woman in an Imaginary Painting"

She does not have a land-
lord, for she pays no rent.
The room she inhabits

is imagined, an artist's
rendition of the space
around her. The museum

the painting hangs in is
honored to have her there.
People pay to see her.

At night, in the darkness,
she is grateful to have
a place to call her own.

"The Woman in an Imaginary Painting"

She has
only this
morning, this

The artist

the room to
enclose her.
There is sky

out the small
Hope lasts

a long time
if you've got
nothing else.

Attachments area

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Kevin M. Hibshman's review of DARLING (CD) by Jon Bennett

According to his bio, Bennett is “a longtime member of San Francisco's underground music scene who mixes narratives with a finger picking style sometimes referred to as Texas flat picking. He is also a novelist and poet and his writing can be found in on line zines such as Red Fez, The Indiana Voice Journal, Medusa's Kitchen, Mad Swirl Poetry and many others. His music can be found on Pandora, iTunes, Spotify, Deezer and other music streaming sites. Darling is his sixth CD release and is available on Amazon.

        His phrasing and slightly raspy voice bring Bob Dylan to mind immediately. The lyrics reflect the concerns of gifted waifs longing for love but spending most of their nights drunk, roaming inner city bars. Each of the ten songs paints a vivid and complete picture of wayfaring wounded souls under three minutes time. The music sucks you in and ends leaving the listener gratified but wanting more. 

        I detect a little of The Flaming Lips on the whimsical “Awesome Possum” and the ghost of Nick Drake drifts by on a couple tunes. These possible influences in no way prevent this from being a highly original work. Bennett clearly has developed a signature style, showing it off to great effect. A sampling of the lyrics from “Black and Blue:” 

now there's a razor blade/in a pool of after shave/maybe I will/on second thought, well maybe not/it's always been the time/that I need to kill"


To be honest, I've fallen in love with Darling and recommend it strongly to any music fan who simply admires true artistry when it decides to rear its lovely, rarely seen head. This ranks with the best indie folk available.

Jon Bennett

Saturday, January 23, 2021

GAS Featured Artist: Kristine Snodgrass, presented by Sylvia Van Nooten

Kristine Snodgrass is an artist, poet, professor, curator, and publisher living in Tallahassee, Florida. She is the author of Rather, from Contagion Press (2020) and the chapbook, These Burning Fields (Hysterical Books 2019) as well as  Out of the World (Hysterical Books 2016) and The War on Pants (JackLeg Press 2013). Her poetry has appeared in decomP, Versal, Big Bridge, 5_TropeShampoo2 River View, Otoliths, and South Florida Poetry Journal among others. Kristine’s asemic and vispo work has been published in Utsanga 
(Italy), Slow Forward, Asemic Front 2 (AF2). Her work was just featured in the Asemic Women Writers Summer Exhibition Online. Snodgrass has collaborated with many artists and poets.

I “met” Kristine Snodgrass on the Facebook page,  Asemic Writing: The New Post Literate several years ago.  At first I was intimidated by her credentials and hesitated to get to know her.  Once I got past my own neurosis I found her to be the most supportive, listening, creative and FABULOUS person.  She is not necessarily aware of how much she supports and encourages other writers and artists, but she does.  Her work, both the poetry and art, is enigmatic, deeply thoughtful and with an underlying playfulness that adds to the richness.  In her own words, here is Kristine.  ~ Sylvia Van Nooten

-What's behind your artistic vision? 

I think my answer may be similar to other artists: I do it because I have to. It is not just expression, or a politic, or an outlet, it is my life. A good friend once told me that I had an integrity to my art that was great. My life and my art are the same. There is such a small boundary between what I make and who I am. I think for many of us, we are caught in a gray area that seems liminal, and that is all consuming and becomes a place of ecstasy. I have said this before about ecstasy. Do you know that song, “Starry Starry Night”? Listen to it. Go ahead. There is a recognition there of Van Gogh and his love that cost his sanity. In the song there is a lyric, “With eyes that know the darkness in my soul” referring to VG and his ability to see the human consciousness and if that is the case, if he could see that forever in us, how torn up and diseased he must have been? How years later one observer could look at him, really look at him and understand this. And the loneliness, too. This is the artist. And I don’t want to liken myself to Van Gogh, not at all, but to lay light on this condition. Maybe I see that darkness, too. I think I am misunderstood, mostly.  I don’t know what ppl think about me. I think I make ppl angry. I think I have been angry, too. If I can show them what I see, then that is good.

-How does being an artist help you communicate with the world?

I think I am horrible at communication. People are always mad at me. I don’t know what that has to do with my art. Maybe I suffer and the art is supposed to take that over. The art is something I almost can’t control. So my body must be trying to tell me something, or tell the world something. I often have this fantasy of being in a big space, like a warehouse, and rolling around on the floor in many buckets worth of paint. Yellow, blue, orange, pink. I don’t even have to be naked! What communication! I miss being in public spaces, arting and reading poetry. I think that COVID has made me realize that there is a touching we need from others. I need to see and feel an audience, or watch another poet or artist. Don’t get me wrong, all of the work I am doing now long distance or distanced is so wonderful, I just miss that here, now thing. 

-Have you built or joined a community of artists around the world?

YES! My best friends are artists around the world. I have met so many people in Facebook groups! I also am on Twitter and there are some really cool folks there. I would say, without hyperbole, that being on Facebook in the asemic groups has changed my life. My work has grown so much in such a short period of time. I have been able to collaborate with so many wonderful artists, and to share work through mail and the Internet. I have met dear friends and also some really great mentors. It is so weird because we “hate” social media, you know?


Thursday, January 21, 2021

GAS Featured Poet: Susan Darlington


Susan Darlington’s poetry regularly explores the female experience through nature-based symbolism and stories of transformation. It has appeared in Fragmented Voices, Dreams Walking, Re-Side and Anti-Heroin Chic among others. Her debut collection, ‘Under The Devil’s Moon’, was published by Penniless Press in 2015.  



She painted birds on the walls:

a goldfinch perched on the dado rail

and seven magpies caught in flight,

secrets hidden in their pinhole eyes.


She talks to them every day.

Uses a rigger to touch up their colours

when they start to fade; keeps them

from falling ill or growing old.


One Sunday, when the window was open,

a magpie peeled itself off the wall

and flew out before she could catch it.

The next day her mother died.


Now she keeps the casements locked

and has bricked up the front door;

swallowed the silver key that clatters

against her hollow bones when she moves.


We see her looking across the street

from inside her cage of yesterdays

as one white feather flutters down,

lands on the swell of her shoulder blade.


(“Then at one point I did not need to translate the notes; they went directly to my hands” - Francesca Woodman)


And then one day

I didn’t even need the piano.


I swept its ivory keys

into the concert of my skin


and laid them in the caesura

between my vertebrae.


I cut the hammer strings

from the unwritten frame


and stretched them along

the steel line of my nerves


until my whole being vibrated

with translated notes.


I tightened the tuning pins

in my fingertips


and my body became music

under my touch

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

GAS Featured Poet: Howie Good


Howie Good, Ph.D., a journalism professor at SUNY New Paltz, is the author of Gunmetal Sky, a poetry collection forthcoming from Thirty West Publishing.

Birds of New England

There’s scarcely a tree remaining in the area for a bird to sit quietly on and think. This is someone’s idea of progress. It’s just not mine.


I bought a book a couple of weeks ago at Costco called Birds of New England. It contains drawings of different kinds of birds – you know, wading birds, songbirds, migratory birds – and brief descriptions of their habits. What’s that screechy brown bird that wants to monopolize our feeder? I look from bird to book to bird to book to bird, only to finally realize just how hopeless this is, like trying to identify a 70-year-old from his first-grade class picture.


At a stoplight on Mass Ave., a panhandler in a New England Patriots jersey with a rip in the shoulder shuffled up to my car. He had eyes like peeling mirrors and a knobby nose that had obviously been broken more than once. I didn’t lower my window. I didn’t acknowledge him. I just stared straight ahead, willing the light to change. This is how the future creeps into the present. 


Almost a year ago now, I was sent home from the hospital just hours after surgery. The only instructions I can remember being given was to look for the tall weed whose milky white sap is said to relieve pain. And if I had to scream, to please scream silently. 



Sunday, January 17, 2021

GAS Featured Artist: Amy Rodriguez, presented by Sylvia Van Nooten

Amy Rodriguez is another friend from the asemic world.  Her art is exquisitely rendered, layers of color and shapes that speak pure visual poetry.  I have several of her works and what strikes me is how powerful they are in person, as if I am hearing words I can’t quite comprehend but can feel deeply.  Below, Amy describes the processes that create these pieces of loveliness. 

-What's behind your artistic vision? 

Art is an active meditation.

I create with the intention of holding up a mirror to the unconscious, but when mirror faces mirror, what is seen? My paintings are maps to unseen worlds, foreign realms, pockets of consciousness inexpressible by other means. Painting is a way for me to move past space, time and understanding. To express essence with color. To inspire contemplation in myself and others. To usher in the birth of something new. The Sun is a source of great influence and inspiration in my life and it features prominently in many paintings.  

Most of my work is done with India ink, water and sometimes pencil. I adhere to a process of layering color, washing, drying and layering again. Washing the pages feels like a sacred ritual and I will often wash 3 times before the final period of drying.

I add the asemic elements of my work last, writing from the depths of dark, empty voids. Each stroke is an act of processing, moving through the trauma and grief I have experienced in this life, toward clarity, light, sweetness and peace. 

Some of my greatest influences are the marvelous immensity of the known Universe, our beautiful Mother Gaia, the philosophy of Zen, and the writings of Carl Jung. 

"I was being compelled to go through this process of the unconscious. I had to let myself be carried along by the current, without a notion of where it would lead me." -Carl Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections (1962), p. 196

-How does being an artist help you communicate with the world?

I have always had a strong desire to share 'beauty medicine' in
whatever form I am able. A lot of my drive to create comes from that inspiration. I often choose bold colors because I find them uplifting and hope that those who view my art feel uplifted as well. 

-Have you built or joined a community of artists around the world?

I first encountered other Asemic artists through the Asemic Writing: The New Post-Literate group on Facebook. I was honored to be invited to become a member of Women Asemic Artists & Visual Poets // WAAVe Global after connecting with several wonderful women involved with the group such as Kristine Snodgrass, Sylvia Van Nooten and Nicola Winborn among many other creative and talented women. I am inspired daily by these outstanding Artists and feel grateful to be in their company, forging a new path together. 

In 2020 Amy was a featured Artist in The Attic Zine No. 7, Green and Purple 1 issue. Her work was also featured in Red Fez Issue No. 126. This year she was proud to be a part of the upcoming first edition of WAAVe Global Gallery, published by Hysterical books in the summer of 2021.

More of her artwork can be seen at:

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Su Zi's Review of CYBORG DETECTIVE by Jullian Weise


It’s vogue now to show diversity awareness, but as we step forward in our social discourse, we ought to consider the act of the step itself: we do not all walk the same, and some of us roll. Literally. When we go out. In Covid, we are your high risk: the woman on your daily stroll with the great garden, the woman in the chair you see sometimes in Walmart, the older guy at the pharmacy in today’s fashionista moment—do you see us?

Well, Jillian Weise makes sure she’s seen. If you think to hashtag #Disability in your scrolling. And therein, call yourself out. As we move forward into our own history, and we feature bipoc lgbtq intersectionality, has even a thought fluttered by for those of us whom even a venture for essentials is literally a life risk? For how can we ignore Covid? We are scrolling more, reading more and those who are not are causing death in their wake. Some long haulers will never again be as abled. It is in our own and in social interest to give voice to those for whom our presence was, a best, ghostly. We turn to our social media, and there she is suddenly very present on Twitter and Instagram, and always glamorous, with wry and interesting posts. We find out she has written things, and it’s poetry and we love poetry. Disabled poetry: imagine.

Cyborg Detective , Weise’s 2019 volume (BOA Editions) has some interesting reviews, and those with a more literary bent to their reading out to note Weise’s work for that sake alone. Diane R Wiener in a review on , views the text as a reading challenge:

“[…]what is the degree of our engagement with ableist poetry and other writing’s norm,and what’s to be done about this pattern? No one is innocent.” And Wiener further states” Albeism, as infuriating as it is commonplace, is far too often taken for granted, or, if remembered at all, is last on a list of priorities” As further evidence of positing this text on disability written as poetry at that point of  literary intersectionality, is an essay by Anthony Madrid for Rhino posits Weise as a satirist of the highest caliber and mentions disability as “the writer is, page after page, sticking up for the humanity of disabled people, of which she is one (she has a robotic leg). She is everywhere fierce; she is not afraid to name names” except for those who would prefer to continue shadowy misdeeds, our public collections and our epicurean reading have evidence to posit Weisse’s work firmly within both academic and popular cultures.

But not every text that claims disability has disability credibility and we ought not to have to bring a note from the doctor: nonetheless, there are poseurs, there is glossy black vinyl and people who will throw scraps, our theoretical allies. For this, the work must speak. If we read the book backwards, because maybe we are that way,  the poem “ Anticipatory Action”  directly features a collective voice with terminology established in previous, and widely published poems as referencing disability: the cyborg. 

       […]sometimes you all  / come in and need us to assert/our powerlessness//.

       Of course, we trust you (75)”

In “ Biohack Manifesto”, Weise establishes herself firmly within disability culture,  “here I am at Walmart //Please, please can you make/ your children stop following me(70)”.  For while it might seem to be diversity inclusion to have pretty people of all genomes modeling trousers, the disabled are the unsightly, the don’t stare at stare, the high risk you hear about but might see as a peripheral blur.

    For anyone who looks, Weise can be seen. Her arguments are posed as poems, as posts, as a contributing voice to those of us who are maybe heard more so as our communities learn the forever effects of this horror that beleaguers us. As we reconsider who we are, we ought to move to include the voices of the disabled in our discourses, even down to the poetics of language, as Weise here proves. 

Jillian Weise was born in Houston, Texas, in 1981. A poet, performance artist, and disability rights activist, she studied at Florida State University, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and the University of Cincinnati.

Weise is the author of three collections of poetry, including Cyborg Detective (BOA Editions, 2019) and The Book of Goodbyes (BOA Editions, 2013), winner of the 2013 James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets, which recognizes a superior second book of poetry by an American poet

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

GAS Featured Poet: Mike James

Mike James makes his home outside Nashville, Tennessee and has published widely. His many poetry collections include: Journeyman’s Suitcase (Luchador), Jumping Drawbridges in Technicolor (Blue Horse), and Crows in the Jukebox (Bottom Dog.) He currently serves as an associate editor of Unbroken.

That Same Vincent of Alehouse Fame


If he found wrinkles he called them timelines, 

And read between. Firmly believed in survival 

Of the sleekest. So he put on makeup when 

He kissed up to anyone on stepstool or ladder. 

Despite a fear of his own height he played 

Through, was well played. 

Normally, kisses happened on clean shaven 

Days. That was not quite every day

Because of leap year extras. He was always 

Pocket-mint fresh, perfumed. So, of course, 

He loved daisies. There are over 

Twenty thousand daisy varieties. 

At night he counted them instead of sheep. 

He seldom dreamed of falling, but often of fields. 



She had a lot of secrets.

Some in the pockets of the summer dresses she wore year-round.

Some kept out back in an old shed beside oil cans and butt-busted cane chairs.

A couple were lonesome in the sugar jar, after she gave up pie.

Some were in the blonde first curl above her forehead.

One of the secrets was the type of music she kept in her glittery, flapper hat.

She kept that hat in the spare closet at the end of a hall she seldom went down.