TINY TALKS WITH CRYSTAL BOWDEN

Tiny Talks is an interview series with Tiny Spoon’s talented contributors. This week we spoke with Crystal Bowden from Issue 8, Cut/Copy/Paste: The Original! Read her poem, “Dream State” in our eighth issue!

Tiny Spoon: What kindles your creativity?

Crystal: Giving myself the space and time to sit with ideas is essential for my creative practice. Also, reading is a constant source for me. Books live inside me, changing how I think and what I know. That inevitably bleeds its way into my work.

Poetry and collage are how I express myself and draw on my relationship with others in the most collective sense. In this way, each poem or collage I create tells a different story through interiority. I hope people find their own stories buried within the layers.

Tiny Spoon: Are there any artists/ heroines/ idols/ friends that you look up to?

Crystal: Too many to list for sure! Honestly, I find women ridiculously inspirational. Every time I see another woman doing something amazing, whether it’s a creative endeavor or not, I feel uplifted. I feel stronger. We all have so much potential within us that at any given time is being suppressed, both externally and internally; all I can think is BRAVO. Get it. We’ve got this.

Time

Tiny Spoon: Are there any natural entities that move your work?

Crystal: As humans, everything we are is rooted in the natural world, so I find that connectedness essential to my work. I love to make a study of nature. I’m an avid bird watcher – my yard is full of feeders! Peterson Field Guides and the App Seek are great for identifying things I cannot put a name to.

Tiny Spoon: We love insight into the creative process. Could you share what it is like for you, either with your work that appears in Tiny Spoon or in general?

Crystal: I’m a pen and paper person when it comes to writing. And I rarely write poems at the start, even though poems are all I write. Instead, I like to get my ideas and thoughts down loosely on the page before I ever try to turn them into something more structured and coherent. These usually look like lists more than anything else. Then I’ll take those ideas and start arranging and structuring them into a poem. Only after that will I move the poem from my writer’s notebook into a digital document for revisions. It’s best if I take some time between the original writing and revisions, so I lose some of my sentimental attachment to the original and view it more objectively.

When I create visual arts, I hardly ever go into a piece knowing my overarching goals or what will happen in the artwork. Instead, the process is intuitive and generally driven by mood and whatever is currently sitting heavily in my brain. Those inform my decisions, whether the color palette, imagery, or composition. I try not to overthink these things and let myself flow.

Simple Rhythm

Tiny Spoon: Do you have any current or future projects that you are working on that you would like to share?

Crystal: Currently, I’m working on a manuscript for my first poetry chapbook titled, Before the Exhale. The title comes from a line in my poem, Middle Spaces, about all the ways we live in between one thing and the next. These show up in my work in numbered and varied ways, and you’ll see this throughout Before the Exhale.

Tiny Spoon: What book, artwork, music, etc., would you recommend to others?

Crystal: For other poets, I highly recommend the book, Glitter in the Blood: A Poet’s Manifesto for Better, Braver Writing, by Mindi Nettifee. For those who love reading poetry, read Lord of the Butterflies, by Andrea Gibson.

Mood

Tiny Spoon: Is there anything else you would like others to know about you, your creations, or beyond?

Crystal: I regularly publish in magazines! You can keep up with new  individual publications by following me on social media. You’ll find my work included in upcoming issues from The Spring City Journal and Pile Press.

Tiny Spoon: Where can people learn more about what you do?

Crystal: My website | Instagram | Twitter

Interview with Aerik Francis, Spring Tiny Resident

We love insight into the creative process. Could you share what it is like for you, either with your work that appears in Tiny Spoon or in general? Do you follow any rituals or creative exercises to spark your writing process?

I had two poems appear in the Memory issue of Tiny Spoon, and both of those poems were inspired by thinking whimsically about everyday life. One poem was inspired by a moody portrait of my cousin, and the other was inspired by thinking about how sensory experiences contain the living memories of my family/ancestors. I ask myself questions, like what would it look like and mean to place all those sensations together. For “Remembering: Redux” what if I placed my passed on family members in the same poem– what sensory elements introduce them to the poem? At the end of that poem, there is a nod to a Frantz Fanon quote I’ve always admired, the final lines of Black Skin, White Masks. So another part of my inspiration is reading and being inspired into a kind of conversation with the authors. 

What inspired you to begin and maintain these practices?

Towards a former career path, I read a lot of political theory and critical theory. I would find that they inspired thoughts and words, but that it rarely came out as neat and clean prose. When I leaned into those ideas as poetry instead of just as messy prose, it opened up how I could interact with what I was reading and thinking. It also made it easier to apply those ideas back to my everyday life. So it’s the same boring but true advice most writers have: read more and use the reading to get inspired to write. It’s never consistent, but I try my best to maintain a regular reading schedule, which in turn maintains a regular writing schedule.

Does your writing intersect with other creative practices?

Absolutely! As a poet, I try my best to operate as a musician. I am very interested in multi-media work and it is another reason why I love poetry: it is very amenable to many formats. My extended play project SYZYGY started out as poems and became music and short films. Also I have plans for my chapbook BODYELECTRONIC to have an experimental audio component to it as well. Even my paintings and visual art has found its way back into my poetry, with a few of my paintings now as cover art for poetry projects.

If your work was a song, what would it be?

Such a hard question, just one song!? I feel like my answer would change everyday. So today, my answer is Jupiter by Kelela. There is such a feeling, such a gravity to that song for some reason, that eclipses even the lyrics in sentiment. But the lyrics too– simultaneously, it feels like I’m eavesdropping on an intimate phone call and also being comforted by a close friend. I hope my work can evoke those kinds of feelings, regardless of what the words are. And that the words can maintain an air of mystery and intrigue, while also being comforting and familiar.

Are there any artists/ heroines/  idols/ friends who have been influential to your work?

So many! I gotta name my favorite musicians, of course, so Kelela, FKA twigs, Sevdaliza, Kllo, Jamie Woon, Purity Ring. Too many wonderful poets to name also, but poets like Liza Sparks, Beca Baca, Ashia Ajani, Hakeem Furious, C. Louise Williams – all of them friends but also talented poets who have impacted my craft and poetics greatly! Also, importantly, shoutout to my sister Alisha who was the first to teach me that creativity breeds more creativity. 

Are there any natural entities that move your work?

I don’t explicitly consider myself an eco-poet; however, nature, and especially a dire concern for the human damage upon nature, is always entering my poetry in one way or another. I focus on the body as an entry way into these discussions, as conversations about the body tend towards the environmental conditions and elements. So all kinds of natural entities move my work, always!

What is on your reading list this season?

There are always so many good books coming out, again too many to name. So I’ll share my current library book haul (I’ve started all of the books but am still working through each one): The Renunciations by Donika Kelly; Voyage of the Sable Venus by Robin Coste Lewis; Gumbo Ya Ya by Aurielle Marie; Eyes Bottle Dark with a Mouthful of Flowers by Jake Skeets; Heed the Hollow by Malcolm Tariq; and Exiles of Eden by Ladan Osman 

Can you share your philosophy on sustaining creative communities?

Probably the most important thing is to show up! Show up for your friends, attend their events and pay for their merch. Try to show up to events and meetings as often as you feel capable– and get involved, take on roles and positions. We have more power than we think we do– we can start our own open mics, our own publications, our own organizations. But also, there are always so many people already doing the work we want to do– partner up with other artists and organizations and work together to achieve those shared goals. The ultimate philosophy is simple: You shine, I shine, we all shine. 

What advice would you give to emerging writers?

Similar to the last answer. Just show up. Start now. There is always more to improve and more to learn, but the reality is that you truly are enough now. Start where you are and build up with the folks around you, build upward with your friends.

Is there anything else you would like others to know about you, your creations, or beyond?

Not to be a walking comercial, but just check out my work! There is a growing archive on my website phaentompoet.com . I write all sorts of poems, so if one isn’t for you, perhaps another might be! I have a chapbook out as well as a few music projects and single poems. Let me know what you think!

What projects are you working on? Can we find you at any upcoming events, etc.?

For folks in Denver, after the Sunday workshop in the evening, I am a featured performer in a fantastic lineup of a wonderful poetry and music show. Listen to Your Skin is teaming up with Jazzetry for their first in-person event on April 24th at 7pm at RIVER. I have full-length poetry collection manuscripts I’m working on. One is titled BODYPOLITIC and the other is titled ubiquities . Most pressingly, for my chapbook BODYELECTRONIC (which is out now!) I’m trying to put together an experimental audio experience as well as a set of events to celebrate its release. Stay posted on my social media for more info about that. 

Where can people learn more about what you do?

You can find me everywhere @phaentompoet or via my website phaentompoet.com

More about Aerik Francis and our Tiny Residency can be found at https://tinyspoon.org/2022-tiny-residents/.

TINY TALKS WITH OORMILA VIJAYAKRISHNAN PRAHLAD

Tiny Talks is an interview series with Tiny Spoon’s talented contributors. This week we spoke with Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad from Issue 8, Cut/Copy/Paste: The Original! Read her poem, “Death Dream in Purple” in our eighth issue!

Tiny Spoon: What kindles your creativity?

Oormila: Everyday things! I believe there is magic in the commonplace. I see my art and poetry as documentations of my daily experiences — conversations I have with my children, the people I meet, sights and scenes I encounter on my walks, photos I take.

Tiny Spoon: Are there any artists/ heroines/ idols/ friends that you look up to?

Oormila: I can think of so many! Off the top of my head, I look up to Carolynn Kingyens for her luminous poetry that brims with tenderness and humanity, Zaina Ghani for her wonderfully imagistic works, Nina Bennett, Beate Sigriddaughter, Alexis Rhone Fancher, Sneha Subramanium Kanta, and Mandira Pattnaik’s for her lyrical flash fiction. Idols I admire — my friend Sandhya Devanathan. She is my role model.

Tiny Spoon: Are there any natural entities that move your work?

Oormila: I live in a green and leafy suburb of Sydney. I get visits from all kinds of lovely wild spirits:  bunnies, possums, magpies, bush turkeys, cockatoos, and lorikeets to name a few. I have published several series of mixed-media artworks and poems inspired by these beautiful creatures. My studio overlooks a lovely garden and during the lockdown, the wildlife was pretty much my social life. They figure prominently in a lot of my work.

Tiny Spoon: We love insight into the creative process. Could you share what it is like for you, either with your work that appears in Tiny Spoon or in general?

Oormila: I have several projects going on at any given point in time, and I keep switching among them. I like to work in an organized space which is easy when I am writing poetry. It’s the painting that gets messy and I find myself getting distracted and cleaning up in the middle of work very often! I always carry a sketch book and a notepad. In the pre-Covid days, a lot of my poetry drafts were written either on train commutes or while waiting to pick my kids up from school.

Tiny Spoon: Do you have any current or future projects that you are working on that you would like to share?

Oormila: I am working on two micro-chapbooks. Both my parents have milestone birthdays coming up this year. My mum turns 70 and dad turns 75 and I want to surprise them with two collections of poems dedicated to both! I also have plans to put together a full-length poetry manuscript at some point.

Tiny Spoon: What book, artwork, music, etc., would you recommend to others?

Oormila: Carolynn Kingyens’ books Before the Big Bang Makes a Sound, and Coupling. I am a huge fan of Gaia Rajan’s writing, and I loved her chapbook Moth Funerals. I would also recommend Phillip Hall’s brilliant collection of poems, Cactus, which is a heart-breaking exploration of depression and what it is like to live with it. I also recommend all Shankari Chandran’s books: Song of the Sun God, The Barrier, and her latest novel, Chai Time at Cinnamon Gardens.

Tiny Spoon: Is there anything else you would like others to know about you, your creations, or beyond?

Oormila: Besides writing poetry and painting, I play improv piano — some Metallica, Pink Floyd, Guns and Roses. I have a huge collection of odds and ends in my studio, and I use some crazy materials in my mixed media works sometimes. Recently, I made “cat wool” from the hair from my cat’s brush. It made for the most delicate silver wool, and I added it as accents to a few winter-themed mixed media landscapes. It looked great!

Tiny Spoon: Where can people learn more about what you do?

Oormila: I’m on Instagram and on Twitter.

TINY TALKS WITH SHANNON GARDNER

Tiny Talks is an interview series with Tiny Spoon’s talented contributors. This week we spoke with Shannon Gardner from Issue 8, Cut/Copy/Paste: The Original! Find her artwork, “Mother Monster,” “Nighttime Hue,” “A Joke to You,” and “Don’t Stop or We’ll Die” in our eighth issue!

Tiny Spoon: What kindles your creativity?

Shannon: Watching horror movies and studying paranormal kindles my creativity. The spontaneous process of nature inspires me to explore Earth’s unfound beauty and imitate its natural imperfections. I enjoy creating art depicting paranormal elements and iconography. 

Ol Poogley-Pie, Collage, 2021

Tiny Spoon: Are there any artists/ heroines/ idols/ friends that you look up to?

Shannon: I am inspired by German Expressionism artists like: Edvard Munch, and Tim Burton. Surrealist artists like; Picasso and Claude Cahun. Expressionists like Egon Schiele and Contemporaries like Polka-Dot artist Yayoi Kusama. My process is similar to artists who encourage exploring the taboo and Surrealist/Psychic Automatism or the act of creating art disconnected from consciousness. My work focuses on exploring the unconscious mind as a way of creating art, resulting in innate, dream-like imagery.

The Arm, Watercolor and Ink on Paper, 2021

Tiny Spoon: Are there any natural entities that move your work?

Shannon: Supernatural entities continue to inspire my work, paranormal phenomenon. The surrealist unbridled reign to the consciousness is how I approach art making. I have an ambition to spend my life studying the occult and paranormal. I enjoy projects that involve a proactive and sustainable message. 

Siren Song, Watercolor and Ink on Paper, 2021

Tiny Spoon: We love insight into the creative process. Could you share what it is like for you, either with your work that appears in Tiny Spoon or in general?

Shannon: I enjoy line and dot work, stippling and cross-hatching, clusters of value implying crisp texture and depth, giving the illusion of change through time. My serendipitous approach to watercolor and ink creates a profound contrasting aura with my surrealist illustrations. Through my process, I attempt to disassociate my hand from my consciousness, work directly from instinct. As a result, I have found my best work is created when I’m not thinking.

I often draw on paper with an ink pen an interesting idea, inspire in the spur of the moment. I enjoy creating multiple line pieces over a relatively short period of time. The pieces sit unfinished until I find enough time where I can devote myself to paint all the pieces with watercolor. This makes a cohesive palette of color throughout multiple pieces. 

Mommy’s Girl, Watercolor and Ink on Paper, 2021

Shannon: I usually paint when I work in my studio. I enjoy painting from a used palate, working off pigment from previous sessions to avoid wasting materials. I find working on paintings in the mornings while working on drawings at night yields the best results. I am currently working more in collage, assemblage, and sculpture. I have always worked in 2D with an emphasis on the outline, so when branching out to 3D I am enjoying playing with the minimalist relationship between figurative and abstract work.

I have much confidence in my work; as a result, I have been featured in dozens of publications worldwide. I understand that if you apply yourself the worst outcome is a formal rejection with appreciation of your submission. I have the ability to create a plethora of work in order to meet deadlines and ensure quality work.

David, Watercolor and Ink on Paper, 2020

Tiny Spoon: Do you have any current or future projects that you are working on that you would like to share?

Shannon: I’m currently working with Collage-Lab where I’ll be teaching a workshop on how to incorporate hand-drawn illustrations and collage. There I will explain Surrealist Automatism and how to think of collage making as a spontaneous process. 

I am also involved with an online Zine called Continue The Voice. Released quarterly as a platform to share art and voices of all kinds. My original illustrations are featured throughout and exclusively on the Coorie Moments pages.

All-Star, Watercolor and Ink on Paper, 2021

Tiny Spoon: What book, artwork, music, etc., would you recommend to others? 

Shannon: A book that I’m currently into is called, Begone Satan: A Soul Stirring Account of Diabolical Possession in Iowa, a 19th century exorcism of a woman local to where I am from. For inspiration I would suggest researching and finding books from your childhood that encouraged you to read as a child or that inspired you in any way. Revisiting those stories may help or unlock things that can benefit you in the future.

Optometrists, Watercolor and Ink on Paper, 2021

Tiny Spoon: Is there anything else you would like others to know about you, your creations, or beyond? 

Shannon: What I value most in my work is honesty and confidence. As an artist I strive not to be a perfectionist, I seek to make mistakes. Appreciating the process of nature, death, and decay I practice the Asian technique of Wabi Sabi; the aesthetic within imperfections. I strive to explore the unearthed beauty and imitate the natural imperfections. I live for crooked lines and brushstrokes. The human journey is not a straight line but a labyrinth of twists and turns, an imperfect spiral with one way in and out. Through my work I hope to embody those imperfections. My goal is to show the audience the importance of appreciating people, emotions, achievements and pain. I strive to evoke a haunted aura of remembrance that death and decay reflects the evident future of life. All parts of Earth’s cycle should be celebrated, not overlooked or forgotten.

Flower Child, Watercolor and Ink on Paper, 2021

Tiny Spoon: Where can people learn more about what you do?

Shannon: You may purchase my work here

View my original artwork quarterly here

Sign up for my newsletter at UneasyViewing@gmail.com

Human//Body: SPOTLIGHT ON AERIK FRANCIS, SPRING TINY RESIDENT

_Facial Recognition_ by Aerik “phaentompoet” Francis

iHave doubted my smile–
if it existed in the face
of those mouthing

of my ubiquitous grin.
but iDo know when
my smile smiles– feeling

the evidence in its departure.
here, it wasn’t the picturesque
Los Angeles January Sun,

but a removal of a tether’s
never questioned presence.
such a wonderful good-bye

greeting a lucky camera.
happy, it seems, visited
me in spontaneous burst.

my personal captured volta–
iCan hear a cackling Yes
so loud iForget the sound

was always an exclaimed No
so closed-eyed, so mouth-wide,
so smiled it blurred–

––This work was first published by Mixed Mag

phaentompoet aka Aerik Francis is a Queer Black & Latinx poet & teaching artist based in Denver, Colorado, USA. They are a Canto Mundo poetry fellow and a The Watering Hole fellow. They are also a poetry reader for Underblong poetry journal and a coordinator with Slam Nuba. Aerik recently released an EP of poetry-songs called SYZYGY (available now on bandcamp), and they have a chapbook titled BODYELECTRONIC forthcoming April 2022 from Trouble Department Press. They have poetry published widely, links of which may be found at their website phaentompoet.com. Find them on IG/TW/youtube/soundcloud @phaentompoet

Learn more about Aerik’s upcoming workshop HUMAN//BODY: BODY POLITICS & BODY POETICS.

Issue 8 Feature: Jackie Partridge

Our 8th Issue is packed full of exciting artists and writers! Our blog is an extension of the issue so we can share even more experimental, beautiful work with our readers! This piece is also in print.
Looking In

Process Note: Establishing Roots first created in 2016 inspired the later series of altered atlases What Is and What Was. Establishing Roots uses a world atlas and as each page turns one house shape is hand-cut from the page. 

What Is and What Was from 2018 includes four wooden stools circling a table inviting viewers to sit down and view four altered North American and Canadian atlases. As the pages turn houses are removed from the page showing the changing landscape both through the altering of cut-outs and the found object of the atlas continuing to outdate itself. Looking In is one of the featured atlases in this piece. 

Establishing Roots
Establishing Roots

Bio: Jackie Partridge is a mixed media artist working with handmade paper, recycled maps and objects living in Wellesley, ON, Canada.

Workshop Intentions: AERIK FRANCIS, SPRING TINY RESIDENT

I want to approach this workshop openly and simply: Each session we will come together and read poems and talk about them and write our own poems. That’s it! That’s the basic gist with the added twist of thinking about and engaging our bodies in relation to the poems and the writing. The workshop is another opportunity to practice craft and connect with other artists interested in doing the same. The workshop’s themes will hopefully allow us to more critically consider our own bodies and what our relationship to them is in practice as well as in our writing.

What do our bodies need right now? How can our writing work towards fulfilling those needs?

I hope the workshop can generate thought and answers towards those questions. The body is always communicating, so the question always comes back to if we are paying close attention. Hopefully at the end of this workshop participants will write new poems and meet new people. But above all of that, I hope this workshop inspires new relationships with bodies, our own and otherwise. 

phaentompoet aka Aerik Francis is a Queer Black & Latinx poet & teaching artist based in Denver, Colorado, USA. They are a Canto Mundo poetry fellow and a The Watering Hole fellow. They are also a poetry reader for Underblong poetry journal and a coordinator with Slam Nuba. Aerik recently released an EP of poetry-songs called SYZYGY (available now on bandcamp), and they have a chapbook titled BODYELECTRONIC forthcoming April 2022 from Trouble Department Press. They have poetry published widely, links of which may be found at their website phaentompoet.com. Find them on IG/TW/youtube/soundcloud @phaentompoet

Learn more about Aerik’s upcoming workshop HUMAN//BODY: BODY POLITICS & BODY POETICS.

TINY TALKS WITH ALEX WASALINKO

Tiny Talks is an interview series with Tiny Spoon’s talented contributors. This week we spoke with Alex Wasalinko from Issue 8, Cut/Copy/Paste: The Original! Read her poem, “Apocalypse Next Tuesday” in our eighth issue!

Tiny Spoon: What kindles your creativity?

Alex: I love finding an image, a word, a piece of art, even a corny tabloid heading that moves me to think How can I include this in my work?  It was never intentional, but found language and objects are often the entryway to my flow. So much of my writing and art begins with repurposing and repositioning the pieces of inspiration I find into new contexts. Being out in the world and taking lots of walks gives me so much material–either physical things I can interweave into a bigger project or some fresh perspective to get everything down on paper.  Creativity for me comes when I gather these pieces together, kind of like a treasure hunt.   

Tiny Spoon: Are there any artists/ heroines/ idols/ friends that you look up to?

Alex: One of my all-time favorite writers is Sarah Ruhl.  I read Melancholy Play early in the pandemic and purposefully took extra time to move through it because I never wanted it to end.  I’m also a giant fan of Adrienne Rich’s poetry, and she has really shaped how I approach writing.  In terms of the Big Figures who influence me, Ruhl and Rich make the top of the list.  I’m wildly fortunate to have circles of friends who are some of the most brilliant people that I’ve ever met, in their art, the way they move through the world, their dedication, their care.  Honestly, I look up to each of them daily.

Tiny Spoon: Are there any natural entities that move your work?

Alex: The first thing that comes to mind is flowers.  So much of my work circles back to flowers.  They’re steadfast.  And I know it’s not “natural” in the same way flowers are, but I think I would categorize a city as a natural entity here, too.  I live in Philadelphia at the moment and I’ve written more in the relatively short time I’ve lived here than maybe ever before, and so much of it comes back to moments, sights, sounds, all the little entities that have moved me around the city.  It’s the street art and graffiti, the nonstop construction that pops up overnight that reshapes the landscape, even commuting on the El train from 30th Street–it got to a point that I was writing so much either while waiting for the train or on it that my phone began to suggest I open my notes app pretty consistently around the time I commute.  Not all the sensory elements that I encounter appear in my writing, but there’s something electric about it that gets me into a flow.

Tiny Spoon: We love insight into the creative process. Could you share what it is like for you, either with your work that appears in Tiny Spoon or in general?

Alex: My piece that appears in Issue 8, “Apocalypse Next Tuesday ” came about pretty differently compared to my collages, poetry, or hybrid work.  It began from a devising writing group I joined in the spring of 2021 with some former college classmates and mutual friends.  We always kicked off our writing sessions with idea brainstorms and word association games to generate some raw, fresh material.  “Apocalypse Next Tuesday” was first drafted as an impossible stage direction activity–where the laws of nature cannot limit what happens on the stage–using some of the elements from my list of items from the collaborative brainstorms.  Then, like almost all of my pieces, I let it rest until I was ready to make it into something fuller and (hopefully) more refined.  At the core though, the process had a similar start, of taking a small occurrence and thinking “Okay, now how can I build something full from this phrase?”

Tiny Spoon: Do you have any current or future projects that you are working on that you would like to share?

Alex: I’ve been itching to get back into my Internet Oddity zine series, which takes the very mysterious yet lyrical Google search results for robo call numbers or exact searches for unusual word pairings.  It’s a trippy time, but I really love extracting the weirdness of it all.  Next time you get a random spam call, I highly recommend exact searching the number to see what pops up. 

In terms of publications, I’m revising some works to send out for some open calls.  Ideally, before the end of 2022, I want to have some kind of manuscript ready to be sent out.  Fingers crossed. I have a poem appearing in Perennial Press’s anthology force / fields, which I’m super excited about!  

Tiny Spoon: What book, artwork, music, etc., would you recommend to others?

Alex: I recently revisited Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven, and highly recommend, especially if you watched the show.  I find the book to be more hopeful, but then again I didn’t get past two episodes of the series so maybe I need to be proved wrong here lol. 

If music is your speed, I’ve been on a very big Dr. Dog kick lately, and always recommend them if you’re looking for some fun beats and witty lyrics.  They’re masters of their craft.  

Art–I always recommend my favorite artist Phoebe Anna Traquair’s The Progress of a Soul series.  They’re massive silk embroidered tapestries that are simply breathtaking.  Every few months I return to them for some inspiration.

Tiny Spoon: Is there anything else you would like others to know about you, your creations, or beyond?

Alex: I don’t think I formally gave my little artist statement introduction so: I’m a poet by way of training, but in practice I consider myself a more interdisciplinary and self-taught writer-artist.  Much of my work begins as an experiment.  Sometimes it takes off and sticks with me, a lot of times it doesn’t, and I’ve learned that’s okay.  I’m happy with how my work and my approach to creating evolved over the past couple of years.  It feels really wonderful to be making and to have the space to do so, a sentiment I acknowledge regularly. 

Tiny Spoon: Where can people learn more about what you do?

Alex: At the moment only my instagram.  It’s a dumping ground for anything I’m working on and some process reflections, announcements, etc. Maybe in 2022 I’ll finally launch a website, or a Patreon? The only way you’d know if that will happen is if you follow my IG!

Finding the Body [Poetic]: Spotlight on Aerik Francis, Spring Tiny Resident

_Growing & Positioning Systems (GPS)_

Aerik Francis

“I’m going look for my body yeah/ I’ll be back real soon”

-Solange Knowles

what is in [this] finite wonder      full body     but a map

to a home that itches & improvises?

our heads, our hair      each     keys & paths

to ourselves, layered membrane.

digits five & five tend body expanses

teeming in memory & texture.

read tomography in touch & GPS trust

gut bubbles as butterfly & cardinal.

 

each sense a direction & each scent a message

desperate to caress trajectory into flesh like lotion.

 

hair braided bosque & shea into compass rose

crowned in code & cartography, wrapped in

emerald satin. ruby stitched skin blanketed

in pimpled topography & thimbleless thumbs. 

armed & equipped barber razor, nocturnal buzzing

grid to scalp to shadow fade legendary:

 

line-up spans forehead prime meridian,

edges sprout curl & coordinate formation.

 

dry dandruff flakes fall as bread crumb trails

as routes to roots & bare fruit.

 

as is lymph node, as erogenous

zones, as knee caps & finger

 

tips along dermal margins & purple bruises

desperate to impress each & every location:

 

the bounce & the grease – the crusting

decay of busting bud & zit. the cysts

 

benign reminders of cycles sublime. what are sweat & tears

but drops of pin? but salt circles? but clepsydra water clocks?

 

And us but vessels                 who keep losing

our ways, only finding fresh And                  intimate questions

––This work was first published by Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review

phaentompoet aka Aerik Francis is a Queer Black & Latinx poet & teaching artist based in Denver, Colorado, USA. They are a Canto Mundo poetry fellow and a The Watering Hole fellow. They are also a poetry reader for Underblong poetry journal and a coordinator with Slam Nuba. Aerik recently released an EP of poetry-songs called SYZYGY (available now on bandcamp), and they have a chapbook titled BODYELECTRONIC forthcoming April 2022 from Trouble Department Press. They have poetry published widely, links of which may be found at their website phaentompoet.com. Find them on IG/TW/youtube/soundcloud @phaentompoet

Learn more about Aerik’s upcoming workshop HUMAN//BODY: BODY POLITICS & BODY POETICS.

Issue 8 Feature: Ali Bryan

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is blog_announce_header.jpg
Our 8th Issue is packed full of exciting artists and writers! Our blog is an extension of the issue so we can share even more experimental, beautiful work with our readers!

Ghost

The ghost always appeared when Noel was in the shower. A pervert ghost, she thought. How lucky. The ghost itself wasn’t a surprise. The house—a four-story Queen Anne that smelled like the Boer War and had been turned into flats—was full of them. For the most part, they stuck to the usual hijinks and tricks. They appeared when you didn’t expect them, rearranged the furniture, banged on the pipes, messed with the lights. Occasionally, they cried.

Candace, in apartment one, got a kid ghost. Scrappy thing with a bowl cut and a sailor suit. He mostly hung out under her kitchen table, like a dog, and scratched at her feet. Noel once found his tiny navy necktie near the basement washing machine. Candace was relieved when Noel returned it—the ghost, she said, had been looking for it.

A lady ghost lived upstairs with Deb in apartment four. Unlike the others in the house, Deb’s ghost was modern. Sixties era. Big-eyed and barefoot. Janis Joplin hair. Pouty. Noel had only seen her a couple of times: once in the backyard, and a second time near the mail slot. The tenants all agreed the crying they heard was Deb’s ghost, though Noel always wondered if it was in fact just Deb, sobbing over her latest break-up, or the sight of her Roman nose.

Jun lived down the hall from Noel in apartment two. A Masters student, he was into robotics, cycling and potted plants. Cat ghost. Every Monday, Jun left a fresh can of tuna outside his door. Noel noted, it was sometimes empty by the end of the week.

Apartment five was vacant, but there were ghosts there too.

Noel kicked off her running sneakers, chucked her socks in the laundry and stripped out of her gear. 31:13. New personal best. She cranked the tap in the tub, waited for it to get hot, lit a candle, and turned on the shower. She liked the steam. The way it cleaned her pores, rid her body of the city smells that lingered on her skin: pigeon shit, sauerkraut, Saturday night, the dead lilacs and dumpsters.

Just as she went to rinse the shampoo from her hair, there he was. Pervert ghost. Six foot-threeish, hipster beard, fucked up ears—the kind sported by kick boxers and wrestlers. This was the third time this week. Go away, she hollered, elbowing the shower curtain. Do something useful like make me a sandwich. Take out my trash! Fix the little screw that keeps coming off the radiator. Fuck.

Noel finished rinsing, turned off the water, climbed out of the claw-foot tub. Was that an impression on the plush bath mat? Size eleven? Twelve? Her imagination. There was only one print. She smiled. My pervert ghost has a peg leg. A pirate. She towel dried. Went to bed.

A week passed before pervert ghost reappeared. Noel was at Candace’s with the rest of the tenants for their monthly potluck.  Jun had brought a seafood casserole and she hoped he’s hadn’t used the hallway tuna. Candace made salad. Deb brought KFC. It was Noel’s turn to bring dessert and she’d stopped at a bakery on the lower eastside to buy a six-pack of fancy donuts. For fun, she bought a sprinkled one for Candace’s ghost.

“Anyone got news?” Deb asked, on her third drumstick.

“My girlfriend’s coming to visit,” Jun replied.

“From China? Ooh,” Candace teased, making a kissy face. “And what about you, Noel? Seeing anyone lately? Any Lumberjacks or Cross-fitters we should know about so we don’t kick ‘em out of the building?”

“Nada,” Noel smirked, licking the icing from a coconut donut. She was still hopeful she and Todd would get back together after his residency. Just wait ‘til he saw her legs.

“By the way,” Deb said. “Landlord was in this morning. He finally fixed the lint trap.”

“It’s about time,” Candace sighed.

Noel hadn’t seen him. Must have come during her run.

Jun said, “I’d given up and was using the campus Laundromat.”

“Alright neighbors.” Noel stood. “Gotta go. I have a massage in…” she paused to check her watch. “Twenty minutes.”

“Have fun!” Deb called.

“Want your donut?” Candace asked, plucking a sprinkle from the top.

“I’m good.” Noel waved, and walked out the door.

After her massage, Noel wanted to take a shower. She hated the feeling of oil along her hairline. But the spa was out of hot water. Something about the construction site next door. Noel wrapped her hair in a bun and walked home.

No ghosts greeted her. Only flyers in the hall and Jun’s bike. She climbed the stairs, opened the door to her apartment, and dumped her purse in the front entry.  She found sprinkles in the living room. Maybe pervert ghost and kid ghost have swapped units. Candace has bigger boobs and Noel could use a more youthful vibe. The massage therapist told Noel her skin was starting to sag and sent her home with hyaluronic acid.

Noel tossed her sweater on the radiator. Finally. The Landlord had fixed the loose screw. She grabbed a towel from the linen closet, went to the bathroom and turned on the fan. Fuck a shower, she thought. I’m having a bath.

She filled the tub, added bubble bath and slipped into the water. Within a few minutes, pervert ghost was there, face hovering inches from the shower curtain marred by the steam and the curtain’s Paris motif. Now what?  She thought. Do something other than just watch. Like get me a glass of wine! There’s Pinot Grigio in the fridge. Noel laughed, plugged her nose and dunked her head under the water.

When she resurfaced, pervert ghost was gone. She threw on her robe and went to her bedroom. An amputee with cauliflower ears stood in her doorway. A man of size. She could smell him. Cat food, donuts, and sweat. He held up a glass of wine and winked.

Bio: Ali Bryan lives in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies, where she explores the what-ifs, the wtfs and the wait-a-minutes of every day.