Contributing Toads {6:1}

Kelli Allen

Kelli Allen’s work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies in the US and internationally. She is a four-time Pushcart Prize nominee and has won awards for her poetry, prose, and scholarly work. She served as Managing Editor of Natural Bridge, is the current Poetry Editor for The Lindenwood Review, and holds an MFA from the University of Missouri St. Louis. She is the director of the River Styx Hungry Young Poets Series and founded the Graduate Writers Reading Series for UMSL. She is currently a Professor of Humanities and Creative Writing at Lindenwood University and teaches for The Pierre Laclede Honors College at UMSL. Her full-length poetry collection, Otherwise, Soft White Ash, arrived from John Gosslee Books in 2012 and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.

“For the past year, all 12 weird months, an obese raccoon has been visiting my back door every night just as the sky darkens. He arrives at the first step, extends his long fingers to tap on the door’s glass, and he waits. The moment I am close enough to bend low and look at his face, he hisses and runs, full backward, away. This pattern persists every single night, regardless of rain or clarity. The art, the intention in this routine, is that we both return, and the expectation is that one of us will greet the other with joy. This, too, is how we send our words into the world. And wait. Sometime we get a hiss. Sometimes, we get a paw against our own.”

Jennifer Jackson Berry

Jennifer Jackson Berry’s first full length collection of poetry The Feeder is forthcoming from YesYes Books in 2016. Her poems have appeared in journals such as Booth, The Emerson Review, Harpur Palate, Moon City Review, Stirring, and Whiskey Island, among others. She lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

“Art is when my husband thinks his hair is too long, but I think it’s just right, albeit a little fluffy–my fingers in that hair, his kiss on my neck.”

David Gardner

David Gardner lives part-time in San Francisco and part-time in a 26 ft. Lazy Daze motorhome, christened Carpe Diem, pursuing his photographic interests across the continent. He is largely self-taught, but considers his longtime friendship with fine art photographer Stephen Johnson, and the likes of Richard Misrach, Linda Connor and Bob Dawson to be the basis of his photographic inspiration and proficiency. David studied graphic arts and multimedia design at San Francisco State University, and he attends classes and lectures at the San Francisco Art Institute as time permits. His photographs have been exhibited across the country.

Over the past 30 years, David has attempted to hone his vision to better reflect the essence of the landscape as he sees it. During that time, his approach became quite contemplative, and resulting images more intimate and simple in design. He believes the true genius of nature lies in the subtlest of moments.

Recently David has shifted his emphasis, as the difficulty of isolating landscapes free of human intervention has increased. He not only includes evidence of human impact, but now people, in the context of the landscape, appear. He is looking more at how we use land and what we communicate through that use. In order to preserve what we have, he believes it is important to reveal what we are losing.

“Being a landscape photographer living in a city, I find it important to always be present in whatever landscape I inhabit. Whether walking through my neighborhood to the hardware store, or through Canyonlands National Park, my attention is outward to the scene before me. I look for, and let wash over me, form and color in all environments, and sometimes I take a picture.”

Alex Grybauskas

Alex Grybauskas’s films have played at festivals such as the Maryland International (Best Short Film), HollyShorts International (Best Horror Short) and Boston International (Independent Spirit Award). His 17-part web-series for Rold Gold Pretzels won a 2015 Webby award for branded content.

“I see art in every person I cross paths with. Characters are what drive great stories and I’m constantly amazed and inspired by the unique personalities of everyone I meet, the varying sets of hopes and dreams and fears and passions that make us who we are. Whether I love them or hate them or some measure in between, I see art in every human being.”


“I consider art buying Hamnet’s music, but one must understand that I am his manager. I am not an artist. My daily routine is to wake up every morning, have a piece of chocolate bread with a knifing of honey butter, and walk down the block to the metro. Riding on the metro I listen to one of five things. 1) A finance podcast; 2) A politics podcast; 3) This American Life; 4) the sound of the people around me; 5) an album from Hamnet’s Leipzig Days. I like those songs the most, but I offer no comment on the quality of my morning. It is just my routine, and I do not like or dislike anything in this world. I simply am. Once I get to work I see if anyone has — if they have not, I wonder why. I’ll walk down to the Public Library and log on a computer and visit, and then I will write a comment, ‘Good music. Continue to make art.’ As I walk back to my office, listening to the sound of passing cars, I wonder why no one likes Hamnet or listens to his music: perhaps because they have a new finance podcast they must hear. I understand this, but naturally Hamnet does not. I lie to him. Your music is on the top of the charts, I say. Before he says even a word, I show him a chart. He is on top. I tell him that others have indeed listened to his music. Famous celebrities, baseball players, and graphic designers have all heard his music. And they like what they hear. I pay for his music myself sometimes so that he has something to eat. Last night I called Hamnet and asked if he had read the essays of Wallace Shawn. He had not. But he had a dinner of roast chicken, and he said it was good.” —Friend Biberkopf, Paris 2016

Ashton Kamburoff

Ashton Kamburoff is a poet from Cleveland, Ohio. He currently lives in San Marcos, Texas. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Shadowgraph Quarterly, Toad, Blast Furnace, and other literary journals.

“Go for a walk by the nearest train track in your hometown. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch a freighter rolling past. That, my dear friends, is art. Something coming and going at a rapid pace through the place you once (and maybe still do) call ‘home.'”

Cheryl Kutcher

Cheryl Kutcher is an MFA Poetry student at Oklahoma State University. Her work has appeared in Life and Legends, The Tower Journal, and Postcard Poems & Prose.​

“Art is in everyday moments, like the dark brown pads on her puppy’s white-fur paws or the roadkill’s red insides splayed in the middle of a busy intersection or even the imprint of a bird wing on a high window. Art is everywhere, if one only notices it.”

Josh Loeser

Josh Loeser is a Phoenix, Arizona native and resident. He first made pictures at the age
of five, but took a little while longer to learn about photography. Josh received his BFA
from Arizona State University in 2014 and he continues to make work in the Phoenix
area. He regularly posts on tumblr (

“Conversation, physical gestures, caring for others.”

Bradley Meyer

Bradley K Meyer writes from Dayton, Ohio. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in decomP, DASH, Rougarou, Rust + Moth, After the Pause & others. He is the author of a chapbook, Hotel Room (Vostok East Press, 2013). He edits Pouch Magazine which lives at

“A method acting opossum, sauntering, with opossumlettes on her back.”

Benoit Paille

Benoit Paille is a 28 year old French-Canadian photographer. Although he started studying medical biology for 3 years, he turned to fine arts and finally became a self-taught successful photographer. His photos were published in several publications around the world. He had exhibitions in Canada, Japan, L.A, Barcelona, Moscow and Ukraine, Paris. He often holds workshops about photography and art around the world – Paris, London, barcelona, Amsterdam,Mexico, Turino, etc. and he collaborates with an advertising agency. His many project is are about people , portraiture, and the night time.

Julian Smuggles

Julian “Smuggles” Alexander is a Mexican-American writer currently living in Portland, Oregon. His work explores the struggles of being brown in a white supremacist society. Through the use of popular internet slang and aesthetics, he tries to dismantle the struggles of modernity.

“I think the presentation of the self through social media is art. From angles in a photograph to the thought process behind a post, a person’s internet presence is a self-constructed identity and a digital representation of the self, a curation of one’s life to establish a specific conversation with the world that is inherently artistically driven. Knowingly or unknowingly we all engage in this aspect of our life, a digital performance of ourselves.”

Julia Tillinghast

Julia Clare Tillinghast is from Michigan. She studied poetry at Sarah Lawrence College and Virginia Tech, where she received her MFA. She has spent a number of years, on and off, living in Istanbul, Turkey, and is Co-Translator, along with Richard Tillinghast, of Dirty August, a Selected Poems of the experimental 20th-century Turkish poet Edip Cansever. In addition to translations in Agni, Guernica, Arts & Letters, Poetry Daily, The Boston Review & others, she has original poems in The Leveler, Pleiades, Tin House, 3:AM Magazine, Passages North, Sou’Wester, Pank, and The Bakery. She lives in Portland with her son, Hamza.

“I think ‘art’ is a set of ways of looking at life and approaching our actions and can apply to almost any aspect of it, whenever we have the luxury, or have our fought our way to the leeway to choose the way of art. To look at an aspect of every day life as ‘art’ can be inherently radical when it means choosing to experience the moments of our life in and of themselves, not just as a means to an end: beauty for beauty’s sake, pain for pain’s sake, learning for learning’s sake – or when it means rejecting the criteria of others and asserting our own truths in our own languages, with our own rubrics, our own values. Art is radically subjective, and HEY I’M MAKING ART is the message we use to give that subjectivity cache, when institutions and other oppressive realities try make us account for ourselves.”

Amy Jo Trier-Walker

Amy Jo Trier-Walker is a tree and herb farmer in Indiana and the author of Trembling Ourselves into Trees (Horse Less Press 2015). Recent work can also be found in Forklift, Ohio, Handsome, Ghost Ocean, Word For/Word, and inter|rupture, among others, and she is the Poetry and Art Editor at Black Tongue Review. She loves the fact that, as she has recently found out, “say” is short for “dear” or “love” in Indonesian as if, to communicate, we must hold the world as intimately dear first.

“Art is having walked so much around the tree, struck three times by lightning, that the ground is indented. A warm wind. A spider web, noticed right before walking into it. The distant towns looking like another rising blood moon. A black muzzle covered in snow, suddenly in my palm. His palm on my back. A typo. Her little sighs. A well-built cabin-style fire. How the smoke lingers in my hair. A misreading that becomes a poem. These all become poems. Attention becomes poems.”