Thursday, February 23, 2023

GAS Featured Poet: Karlostheunhappy

Karlostheunhappy is a Welsh born resident of the dark Forest of Dean in England, just on the Welsh border. His work has been featured in it (International Times) and Beatdom as well as numerous anthologies. His first collection, OBLIVION: 200 Seasons of Pain & Magic is the summation of 30 years of writing and is available now through Amazon on both sides of the Atlantic and good
independent bookstores. He is the current International Beat Poet Laureate for England 2022-23 as awarded by the National & International Beat Poetry Foundation (US). Find out more at

porch chimes
the arrival of the wind


Commit bodies unto the soil
or receive them as wisps and ash;
pour souls of the long universal night into the air,
absorb them into memory,
mean less than birdsong,
more than mortar.

autumn – she disturbs
leaves with a wave of her palm
of air; carefree, bored


Snow gazing,
the son of a samurai
walking days to collect
flower gifts for city friends.

Finding haiku
with each floating colour
of Spring blossom,
each moonlit temple.

Thursday, February 16, 2023

GAS Featured Poet: Karen Pierce Gonzalez


    Karen Pierce Gonzalez’s poetry credits include True North (Origami Poems Project microchap), and the forthcoming chapbooks: Coyote In the Basket of My Ribs (Alabaster Leaves), Down River with Li Po  (Black Cat Poetry Review). Her fiction, non-fiction have appeared in numerous publications, and two of her plays have been staged.

    She is also an assemblage artist who follows the grain of tree bark, the threads in textiles, and endless streams of color. Her art has shown in several galleries and has also appeared in several literary journals.

The heartbreaking geometry of an origami heart   


is there in the tri-fold red and white rice paper I stuff into the cracks of my four chambers to stop them from splitting apart. Asymmetrical sheets once square, now creased, slip into the seams, slide down beating walls; stick to the flesh of prayers.


Layered, diagonal and vertical lines swell; rectangular corners round out just enough for me to stand odd-angled, chest high in new dreams: grey grassland cranes, blue-tail butterflies, and wet, jumping frogs rise up from the crevices.


*after Restoration, Jenifer Yuriko Nogaki




 In a Bird Cage   (Haibun)


Strong coffee with cream, Ruby’s favorite. She slowly pours boiling liquid into her favorite cup, thick and hand-painted like her. Then stirs in condensed milk, easy to store in very small spaces. With broad strokes, she spoon-mixes the two until hot and cold meld. Hands rubbing the mug’s decorative buds, she whistles to her canary wake up. When it warbles back, Ruby sits on their shared plaid perch and sips as it sings.


winter blooms stay closed

morning sunlight too late

petals won’t blossom


Isotropic stardust: me 

Behind a star in Hercules’s shoulder,

I hide from astronomer probes

searching to dissect, colonize


leaked radio waves, barely heard,

whisper there are cracks

in this constellation’s armor


I tightly hold his upper arm.


If I let go, I could drift into a black hole valley

or sink to the bottom of a frozen planetary sea

partially thawed by the heat of my despair -


I would be lost. 


Beneath me, Earth— a pinball

in a game I no longer play—

pings against others in the Milky Way


my first home, once-believed-to-be my only home,

moves too closely to others, has boundary issues,

does not yield enough


As above, so below

the sages of that world explain

the constant push-pull;  at first too small to be seen


my body rippled

from collisions billions of years away,     

I space-swam to this kneeling giant—


nicked by asteroids, poked by scientific claims—

and now kiss his shifting seams -

love them, for their own fractured sake.


on track

sun and moon lights, wired together over a railroad junction, signal to flagmen


stop  go    stop  go    stop  go


in the train’s coach, we whir by a town: flat walls, blank windows, street lamps unlit  


stop  go    stop  go    stop  go


the conductor eyes the horizon rising above parched sidewalks, unpeopled streets and stokes steam-powered engine; smoke 

billows up –

stop  go    stop  go    stop  go


the end of that line is a tree branch climbing into the sky,

mouths open, we see our reflections


in the rail car’s leaf-streaked glass 



Among Phantoms

                             After Ghost Forest, Jack Bedell



If I do this

            lay down in the boat


so as not to fall out

             I will miss the silhouette


of nothing here

            a thinning horizon


a cypress graveyard 

            haunted grove of leafless limbs


stripped by oil-greed

a wasteland


crows no longer murder

            beavers no longer dam.




What trunked certainty I had

            about regrowth wavers


without windbreak

            lichen cannot cling 


fog skirts roll up

            sawgrass shores, naked.




Nature’s margins

are now muted


evolutionary prattle 

            rains from low-lying clouds


onto this skiff                                   

            spine absorbs water


hull heavy, I sink to the bottom

            of what little I know.


Silt cradles me —

            innocence rises to the surface


ebbs towards ghost forest

            fingers trace bark braille



stories remember being told.                        



Still in the Sea 


Wednesday, February 8, 2023

GAS Members Interview Artist and Poet, Karla Van Vliet

GAS:  What medium/media do you work in and why did you choose those?

Karla: Over the last several years I have moved away from a painting technique I called scored painting; a process where I scored into a gessoed surface and then applied thin layers of acrylic paint to fill in the scoring and create an etching-type look. I started using ink on paper, scoring into wet paper with an inked tool. The ink created a strong line along the scoring but also held a softened color field on the paper where it had been wet. This intrigued me and I started to experiment more and more with inks. As I brought asemic writing into my work it made sense to me to work with ink, pen and ink, as inks relate to writing historically. 

This past summer I started making my own inks using flowers from my gardens. I really loved working with the natural elements, making color from petals. This led me to earth pigments. My newest paintings are made with these natural earth pigments. I mix them with an acrylic medium to create paint. I then paint on cut paper. I mount these pieces to a heavy watercolor paper or to a cradled board. 

I love the groundedness of these materials. As well, I was starting to work on a series of paintings inspired by water, the river, and the stones of the river. It felt right to use earth pigments for this series. In this series I am only using three pigments, indigo, earth green, and earth red.

GAS:  Can you speak on being a woman in the art world? 

Karla: I really don’t think about myself as a woman in the art world. I think of myself as an artist in the art world. What comes to mind when I read this question is an implication of a hardship, 

that there is an implied difficulty about being a woman in the art world, and I guess if you look at the percentages of women in museums and galleries there is some argument for that. 

However, what I’ve had to overcome in the art world, more than being a woman, is having grown up poor and the poverty mentality that resides in that experience. Another hardship is being an artist living in a rural area where there are fewer opportunities for showing work (unless there’s a cow in your painting) or of being exposed to the work of others. The internet has helped, somewhat with this, and I am grateful for all the many artists who share their work on fb and Instagram. 

On the other hand, I believe being a woman has been an incredible asset in the creation of my artwork. I feel there is a kind of inner strength that comes from negotiating the world as a female being. And a kind of permission, given more often to females, to follow one’s feelings, intuition, and to make art from those places within the self. 

This is a huge topic which can be seen from so many viewpoints. I feel I’ve just skimmed the surface in this response, but I will leave it here. 

GAS:  How did the pandemic impact the artist community you’re part of?

Karla: At the beginning of the pandemic I felt a lot of guilt; although I knew so many people where suffering terribly, I felt blessed in many ways. For one, Vermont was fairly insulated from the worst of the Covid consequences. Yes, I watched the news every day and was horrified by the stories of body bags piling up, yet here there were only rumors of someone from town or a nearby town being sick. No one I knew. It was over a year before someone I knew, a second cousin, got sick and died. 

Secondly, I am very much of a homebody, and an introvert, so having to stay at home relieved me of the stress of being out among the people. And I had time to paint, and paint, and paint. 

As I noted above, I live in a rural area, already my “in person” artist community was small. Most of us brought our studios back into our homes. Shows in the few nearby galleries were canceled and the strings that held us together frayed and many broke. 

But much of my artist community was already online, and that community grew as I immersed myself in the study of asemic writing. I reached out to my publisher with a book proposal on asemic writing which was given the go ahead, and soon after another publisher, one I had connected with through my online art community, reached out to me asking to publish a work of my poems and asemic writings. In 2021 I had two books published, astonishingly. I also decided to start my own online gallery to bring my own art and the artwork of those I admired into the world, a community much wider than my hometown. 

GAS:  How has your work changed in the last five years?

KarlaIn some ways my artwork hasn’t changed in that it comes from the same place. Listening to and following the call, my intuition, my curiosity, my fear / uncertainty, no matter how uncomfortable that is, pushing the envelope. 

In materials I moved from acrylic paint to ink and have now circled back to pigment in acrylic medium. 

But it was about five years ago I had a dream of asemic writing over a moon. This image over and over. I am a dream analyst and I pay attention to my dreams and have since I was in my early twenties. This led me to delve into asemics to see what was there for me. Asemics is a kind of writing-like mark, the gesture of writing, that is defined simply as “open semantic”. There is a lot of discussion on the how to define asemics which I find very interesting, and the movement is in flux around this issue. I was drawn to asemics because I am also a poet. I found myself, due to the political situation in the US and my response to it, without words. Asemics allowed my hand to be in the practice of writing when I didn’t have words. I often think of it as what is rising from within to be expressed. I feel it adds a layered element to my works that deepens the work. 

GAS: Do you feel a kind of osmosis of water, fire, air, earth that you work with in your art?

KarlaYes, my work is definitely inspired by nature, the elements of water, fire, air, and earth, the beautiful landscape of Vermont, the river, mountains, rocks, flowers, weather! All these elements inspire me by color, shape, sound, and sensation.

In my poetry I’ve often said that I use the descriptions of the exterior landscape to describe my internal landscape. As a seventh-generation Vermonter I feel this landscape is in my blood and so in my language, be that in word or image. 

GAS:  Are you formerly trained or self-taught?  

KarlaI did study art in college, briefly, but my formal training is in poetry. The philosophy of the school I went to was learning by doing. It resonated with me then and still does. I tend to jump into whatever I am doing... I rarely read directions all the way through, if at all. 

I’ve taken art classes, in college, in person, online, does this make me formally trained? I read books about art, I watch videos, I talk with other artists, does this make me formally trained? I also sit at my art table and work, try things out, follow what I’m called to experiment with, how to express myself, beyond what I’ve seen anyone else do, does that make me self-taught?

I live outside academia, I live in a rural area, I don’t belong to a formal group of artists, I do my own thing, does that mean I am a primitive, or outsider artist? I would love to see more exploration of these questions on a broad base. I am curious what others think about this subject. 

GAS: We haven’t seen any of your poetry on GAS but I’ve read you’re also an accomplished poet. Could you tell us something about your journey as a poet and present one or two of your favorite original poems?

KarlaI turned to poetry in a particularly difficult time in my early twenties. At the library I found books by Mary Oliver, Audre Lorde, and Adrienne Rich. There I found both a language to speak in and permission to speak. I thought of poetry as a way I could say what needed to be said but “slant” like a code. This started a long journey towards self-realization and expression. I had given up art and poetry gave me a creative release. 

I finished my BA degree and then my MFA in Poetry. And poetry has been a large part of my life. Right now art occupies a larger space in my life than poetry but I strongly believe they are really two ways of expressing the same inner call. And that they both support and honor each other, like music together they make the song of my creative expression, and that song is the better for both melodies coexisting. 

GAS:  Please tell us about your recent books and awards.

Karla:  Global Excellence award, Poet & Artist of the Year, Bacopa Literary Review’s Visual Poetry Award, Edna St. Vincent Millay Poetry Prize finalist,

Nominated for a Forward Prize, three-times a Pushcart Prize (three times), and a Best of the Net Prize

She Speaks Tongues, poems, asemic writing, Anhinga Press, 2021


Fluency: A Collection of Asemic Writing

Fragments: From the Lost Book of the Bird Spirit

The River From My Mouth

From the Book of Remembrance

first published in Orbis Quarterly Literary International Journal

Tell Me How 

The valley is a bowl of snow clouds
and the hawk is screeching in my own
chest’s hollow, the whole forest of me
taut with listening. Is the hawk not messenger
I ask you? And pray her words, caught on wind
in the wild storm, will hold some answer. 

Take a breath, I say to myself,
don’t go messing with this heartbeat
already erratic and outside your body
like the crows’ flapping wings pestering
the hawk to move along, tree to tree,
across state lines, and lines of conduct,
this hawk that wants to settle in the branches
and hunker down. 

You, there. The miles between us counted
in the thousands, like those wild pigeons now
extinct in their flocked migrations from coast
to mountain range. And yet here, I turn in my sleep
to your whispered voice calling my name.
   Tell me how this could be. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

GAS Members Interview Poet, Writer and Photographer, Lennart Lundh


GAS:  Can you describe the moment, event, or thought in which you understood for yourself what language is, and how it can be shaped, and that you yourself could shape it, and that you desired to? Maybe more than a single point.

LENNART:  That discovery was apparently largely intuitive, self-taught, and matter-of-fact. And on-going. I’m told I came into the world with swelling imagination and quick learning. By the age of 4, I was reading the Sunday paper’s comic strips, and understanding that the relationship between the drawings and the words formed a specific story; somewhere in that year, though I don’t remember what prompted me, I wrote my first sentence-long story: “gee i want to be a g-man.” At 6, going by the date on the yellowed, lined paper my father gave me a few years ago, I wrote a 2-page story about a bird, complete with illustrations. At 8, my mother and 3rd grade teacher battled with the local library to let me read from the “grown-up” shelves — Poe, Michener, and Heinlein come first to mind — which lead to writing short stories and mentally outlining novels by 10. I found Sandburg’s poetry by 15, which triggered my exploration of words as images instead of descriptors. I’m 74 now, my work has been in print since I was 17, and I’m still finding new ways to combine words into new shapes. 


GAS:  As a lover of ekphrastic work, I appreciate the skill with which you weave your inspiration. What are some of your favorite ekphrastic works by other poets?

LENNRT:  I’m one of those weird (in a nice way) people who don’t think in terms of favorites, whatever the topic of conversation. Even in the narrow terms of this question, my interests and delights are omnivorous and eclectic. Aside from the poetry I’ve devoured over the past 60+ years, in just the last dozen years I’ve attended hundreds of readings, a fair share of them with at least one very good ekphrastic piece. The Illinois State Poetry Society works regularly with groups of artists, writing poems to their visual art (and, at least once that I know of, writing poems to inspire them to create art), which adds scores of poems to the “I love all these words” category. Perhaps it’s an over-generalization, but no two poets write the same poems, good or bad, even to the same subject. There’s too much good for a simple hierarchy. 

GAS:  Photography question: Did you, or do you still use a darkroom?

Do you think that those silvers can ever be equaled?

What cameras and why?

LENNART:  I had the partial makings of a dark room in high school, but was never serious about it, perhaps because my parents were less than encouraging about my interest in photography (or my writing, for that matter).

Do I love black and white photography? Yes, but no more or less than color, form following function (and whatever, in the early years, was cheapest/available). From maybe 1960 to 1974, the majority of my work was in b&w, using over those years a Kodak roll-film point-and-shoot, an Argus C3 rangefinder, and a second-hand Ricoh twin-lens reflex. 

Shooting seriously as a historian documenting civil and military aviation and vehicles, I moved to color more and more out of necessity, with a couple of Olympus SLRs and a 20-box block of Kodachrome 25 always in my bag; some 7,000 images are in service museum and Smithsonian archives, and a fair number in both my books and those of several colleagues. Now, as historian and artist, I use a Nikon DSLR, and an iPhone 13 for unexpected opportunities, to shoot both b&w and color. Form still follows function, and my equipment is dictated by income. 

GAS:  Have you ever combined all of your arts into one piece of art?

LENNART:  I’ve shot the covers for most of my poetry books, as well as cover and inside photos for several anthologies that included my writing. More to your point, I think, as single pieces of art, I’ve created a few broadsides combining my images and words, and have had some publications of my photos alongside related poems. Overall, though, I don’t write for my photos or shoot for my words. The two arts feel very separate as products of my brain and senses, though they and my other creations fuel each other. 

GAS:  You've been publishing since 1965! Which of your art forms were you involved in first and which was published first?

LENNART:  The writer came first, followed almost simultaneously by the photographer and historian. By my early teens, all three were happening concurrently, influencing each other, and inevitably improving all of my skills as a whole. For the record, I had no writing classes as such, no photography classes at all, and no serious history classes until high school; I learned by reading, looking, and attempting. 

GAS:  What collaborations have you done? What are the best things about collaborations.  What are the worst?

LENNART:  As a photographer and fiction writer, none. As a poet, only the ISPS / Arts Guilds events mentioned above. As a historian, I’ve provided images and primary-source documents with colleagues, as they did with me, but the writing that resulted was never collaborative. I’ve also never workshopped or had beta readers, and seldom take an editor’s advice. I’m extremely possessive and protective when it comes to my arts, which probably comes from being self-taught. 

GAS:  Please tell us about this experience: "Navy’s Amphibious Ready Group Bravo in support of Marine Corps operations in South Vietnam during 1968 and 1969. In late 1970, he was discharged as a conscientious objector. Both events continue to influence his life and writing."

Young Lennart

LENNART:  I was a pacifist before I was a teen. When it came time to register for the draft, I applied for an exemption as a conscientious objector, which had two results: my father, who worked on Defense Department contracts, threw me out of the house, and the Draft Board turned my application down. When Lin and I talked about going to Canada, my father threatened her with bodily harm. With my draft number coming up, enlisting in the Navy was at least less likely to put me in direct combat. I served on a helicopter carrier off Danang, supporting about a thousand embarked Marines and three helicopter squadrons. Part of the support we provided consisted of several full surgical suites, a morgue, and freezers for bodies. A few months after that deployment, I was assigned to a river- and coastal-patrol ship headed for Nam at the same time that Nixon made the secret wars in Cambodia and Laos official and public. A Navy legal officer advised me that there was a process to apply for an honorable discharge as a conscientious objector, which was long and complex but resulted in a rare CO discharge in accordance with regulations. I regret my military service, and remind people who thank me for it that the war I went to was based on lies. I still have traces of PTSD, and memories I could do without, as well as poems born of them. 

GAS:  How did your interest in Aviation begin?

LENNART:  It began as a passion and became, for about 25 years, a second job. I have an uncle who’s nine years older than me, and has always been more like an older brother to me. He shared his interests in all things aviation with me, as well as a broad spectrum of music and art. It helped that I lived near Chicago’s Midway and O’Hare airports for five decades before 9/11, years when access to a never-ending flow of transient aircraft was virtually unrestricted to an enthusiast with a camera. 

GAS:  What is your favorite form of artistic expression and why?


LENNART:  All of them, each in their own way, just like my daughters and grandchildren. The sole great-grandchild has no competition at this point. Poetry, photography, history, and fiction are different in some ways, similar in others, and I set no hierarchy on the satisfaction and meaning they bring. 

GAS:  What is you latest project or book?

LENNART:  The latest book released is Cutting a Sunbeam, a collection of ekphrastic prose poems from Kelsay Books. The next collection will be How I Went Into the Woods, which is all ekphrastic free-verse poems; Katherine James Books hasn’t given me a release date. In between, I’ll be doing my tenth annual fundraiser for St. Baldrick’s in April, which will result in a chapbook titled Poems Against Cancer 2023; keep watching Facebook for details. 

My mother was legally blind in her final years. I’m in the beginning stages of converting my self-published books into large-print format through KDP, following the 2006 standards established (and largely ignored) by the National Association for the Visually Handicapped. I’d like to do audio books as well, but my vocal chords aren’t young, and professional readers aren’t in my Social Security budget. 

I’m continuing to photograph aircraft and fire equipment for my colleagues as my opportunities and their needs come up. At the same time, I keep adding to my fine arts portfolio. 

I’ve entered photos in a a local gallery’s February open show, and will do the same in April and June’s announced shows. I’m also working my way through the paperwork to request exhibition space at a nearby college and one of the local libraries. Photos for “ROCO 6x6x2023” (my tenth participation) have been mailed and receipt acknowledged. 

Other than that, work on my artist’s Web site and the YouTube poetry readings channel are demanding attention. And there are at least three open mics on the calendar every week. Life is good, and certainly not boring. 

My books are at and other online vendors. Recordings of many of my poetry and fiction readings are at A small sample of my photography is at