Gris-Gris, an online journal of literature, culture & the arts
Contributors’ Notes, Issue 6

Les Bohem was part of the great Los Angeles Music Scare of the 1980s. After his burgeoning career in rock and roll stopped burgeoning, Les found a job writing screenplays about rock and roll musicians whose careers had stopped burgeoning. He’s written some movies and some television, including the miniseries, Taken, for which he won an Emmy. His short novel, Flight 505, has just been published by UpperRubberBoot, and his new album, “Moved to Duarte,” will be up and out any minute.  He is currently producing his series, “Shut Eye,” for Hulu.

Mark Brazaitis is the author of seven books, including The River of Lost Voices: Stories from Guatemala, winner of the 1998 Iowa Short Fiction Award, The Incurables: Stories, winner of the 2012 Richard Sullivan Prize and the 2013 Devil’s Kitchen Reading Award in Prose, and Julia & Rodrigo, winner of the 2012 Gival Press Novel Award. His latest book, Truth Poker: Stories, won the 2014 Autumn House Press Fiction Competition. He wrote the script for the award-winning Peace Corps film How Far Are You Willing to Go to Make a Difference? Brazaitis’ writing has been featured on the Diane Rehm Show and the Leonard Lopate Show as well as on public radio in Cleveland, Iowa City, New York City, and Pittsburgh. A former Peace Corps Volunteer and technical trainer, he is a professor of English and the director of the West Virginia Writers’ Workshop at West Virginia University.

Ron Burch’s fiction has been published in numerous literary journals including Mississippi Review, Cheap Pop, Eleven Eleven, Pank, and been nominated for The Pushcart Prize. Bliss Inc., his debut novel, was published by BlazeVOX Books. He lives in Los Angeles. Please visit:

Howie Faerstein’s full-length book of poetry, Dreaming of the Rain in Brooklyn, a selection of the Silver Concho Poetry Series, was published in 2013 by Press 53. His work can be found in numerous journals, including Great River Review, Nimrod, CutThroat, Upstreet, The Comstock Review, Off the Coast, Cape Cod Review, Mudfish, and on-line in Gris-Gris, Connotation Press et al. He lives in Florence, Massachusetts and teaches American Literature at Westfield State University.

Karen Garrison is a native Memphian who still resides in the Bluff City where she has been a high school teacher for over thirty years. She has taught Honors and Standard English, as well as Creative Writing and African-American Literature. Also, she has served as a Poetry Consultant for her school’s literary magazine, Avatar, a magazine that she took to national prominence before giving over both the quill and scroll to her colleague. She has minimal publishing credits that include Essence Magazine and Molly Peacock’s book, Intimate Kisses. After a long hiatus from writing, she got her mojo working—at least, that’s her story.

Lois Marie Harrod’s 13th and 14th poetry collections, Fragments from the Biography of Nemesis (Cherry Grove Press) and the chapbook How Marlene Mae Longs for Truth (Dancing Girl Press) appeared in 2013. The Only Is won the 2012 Tennessee Chapbook Contest (Poems & Plays), and Brief Term, a collection of poems about teachers and teaching was published by Black Buzzard Press, 2011. Cosmogony won the 2010 Hazel Lipa Chapbook (Iowa State). She is widely published in literary journals and online ezines from American Poetry Review to Zone 3. She teaches Creative Writing at The College of New Jersey. Read her work on

Donika Kelly is the author of Bestiary, selected by Nikky Finney for the 2015 Cave Canem Poetry Prize, forthcoming from Graywolf Press. She holds an MFA in Writing from the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas at Austin, and she is a Cave Canem graduate. Her poems have appeared in various journals including Hayden’s Ferry Review, West Branch, and Indiana Review.

John Krumberger has poems published recently in Great River Review, The Comstock Review, Another Chicago Magazine, Rhino, and Poetry East. A volume of his poems, Because Autumn, will be published in 2016 by Main Street Rag Press. A previous volume, The Language of Rain and Wind, was published by Backwaters Press in 2008.

Jan Lamberg is a writer, teacher, translator of Spanish and French, and family advocate living in Western Massachusetts with her three daughters and one cat.

“A Night in Tunisia” and “Fiddle Fest Contestants” are included in Donald Levering’s Coltrane’s God, forthcoming from Red Mountain Press. His previous book, The Water Leveling with Us, placed 2nd in the 2015 National Federation of Press Women’s Creative Verse Award. Levering is a former NEA Fellow and won the 2014 Literal Latté prize. Visit

Rena Lesué-Smithey teaches high school English and youth writing camps at BYU, and in 2011 was a Central Utah Writing Project fellow and editor for the Utah English Journal. For a number of years, she wrote for The Daily Herald, and this summer she’ll graduate (in Dublin) with her MFA in Creative Nonfiction through Cedar Crest College’s pan-European program. Her prose has appeared in Segullah, Ruminate, and Superstition Review. Rena grew up in Texas, Nevada, Missouri, and Mississippi and now resides in Utah with her husband, two kids, and their dog, Spike.

Bruce Lowry is a Louisiana native who now resides in Summit, New Jersey. His poetry has appeared in numerous journals, most recently in Poet Lore, Iodine and Louisiana Literature. He is newspaper journalist who also teaches English at a nearby community college.

Rachel Mindell directs the Montana Book Festival. Her chapbook, A Teardrop and a Bullet , will be released this winter by Dancing Girl Press. Individual poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Pool, Bombay Gin, BOAAT, Horse Less Review, DESTROYER, Yemassee, Anti-, Cream City Review, inter|rupture, and elsewhere.

Alicia Mountain received her MFA at the University of Montana in Missoula. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, Pleiades, Barrow Street, Witness, Spillway, Zone 3, The Colorado Review and elsewhere.  She won a 2014 Academy of American Poets College Prize and was a 2015 Idyllwild Fellow. She is at work on her first collection.

Uche Ogbuji was born in Calabar, Nigeria. He lived, among other places, in Egypt and England before settling near Boulder, Colorado. A computer engineer and entrepreneur by trade, his poetry chapbook, Ndewo, Colorado (Aldrich Press, 2013) is a Colorado Book Award Winner and a Westword 2015 Award Winner (“Best Environmental Poetry”). His poems, published worldwide, fuse Igbo culture, European classicism, American Mountain West setting, and Hip-Hop influences. He is editor at Kin Poetry Journal and runs the @ColoradoPoetry Twitter project.

Matt Schumacher serves as poetry editor of the journal Phantom Drift. He has published two collections of poetry, Spilling the Moon and The Fire Diaries, and a chapbook of his fantastical drinking songs, favorite maritime drinking songs of the miraculous alcoholics, will be published this fall.

Judith Skillman’s new book is House of Burnt Offerings, Pleasure Boat Studio, 2015. Her work has appeared in Cimarron Review, J Journal, Seneca Review, Southern Review, Tampa Review, Prairie Schooner, FIELD, The Iowa Review, Poetry, and many other journals and anthologies. Awards include a Eric Mathieu King Fund grant from the Academy of American Poets. Currently she works on manuscript review:

Patty Smith’s nonfiction has been published in various anthologies, including One Teacher in Ten in the New Millinniem: LGBT Teachers Discuss What Has Changed and What Hasn’t (Beacon Press); Something to Declare: Good Lesbian Travel Writing (University of Wisconsin Press); Tied in Knots: Funny Stories from the Wedding Day (Seal Press), as well as in literary magazines such as Broad Street and Prime Number. She has an MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Matthew Ulland’s poems and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in MiPOesias, Illuminations, LIT, caesura, Hanging Loose, The Meadowland Review, and other journals. He is the author of the chapbook, The Sound in the Corn, and of the novel, The Broken World.

Multi-focused and self-taught artist R.R. Vagnini was born in Europe and educated there and in Virginia. He has worked in a variety of media—acrylics, pastels, pen and ink, watercolor, pencil, enamel, collage, and ceramic—and in styles ranging from realism to abstractionism, drawing technical inspiration from the spirit of the European surrealists and American abstract expressionists. In Carmel, California, he served a long and productive apprenticeship with noted ceramicist Joseph Hysong, himself a disciple of the eminent Japanese national treasure, Hamada. Vagnini has also applied the Japanese aesthetic, with its melding of art and function, to the design and execution of furnishings, bonsai, and other practical items, as well as to a large selection of carvings in a variety of materials. In his visual work, Vagnini experiments freely with color, structure and automatism, while striving for the simplicity of expression that characterizes primitive art. His work exhibits on the west coast, and has been collected internationally. He currently lives in northern California.