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Issue 30, July 31, 2017
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Our National Treasure:

Robert Pinsky, United States Poet Laureate (1997–2000)

Translator, Essayist, and Teacher


Robert Pinsky’s first two terms as United States Poet Laureate were marked by such visible dynamism, and such national enthusiasm in response, that the Library of Congress appointed him to an unprecedented third term. Throughout his career, Pinsky has been dedicated to identifying and invigorating poetry’s place in the world.


As Poet Laureate, Robert Pinsky became a public ambassador for poetry, founding the Favorite Poem Project, in which thousands of Americans — of varying backgrounds, all ages, and from every state — shared their favorite poems. Pinsky believed that, contrary to stereotype, poetry had a vigorous presence in the American cultural landscape. The project sought to document that presence, giving voice to the American audience for poetry. The anthology Americans' Favorite Poems, which include letters from project participants, is in its 18th printing. The most recent anthology, An Invitation to Poetry, comes with a DVD featuring 27 of the FPP video segments, as seen on PBS. In April 2009, WW Norton published Essential Pleasures: A New Anthology of Poems to Read Aloud, with a CD of Pinsky reading aloud.


Elegant and tough, vividly imaginative, Pinsky’s poems have earned praise for their wild musical energy and ambitious range. Gulf Music (FSG, fall 2007) is his most recent volume of poetry. His The Figured Wheel: New and Collected Poems 1966-1996 was a Pulitzer Prize nominee and received both the Lenore Marshall Award and the Ambassador Book Award of the English Speaking Union.


Pinsky’s Tanner Lectures at Princeton University were published as Democracy, Culture and the Voice of Poetry (Princeton University Press, 2002).  His other books about poetry include Poetry and the World, nominated for the National Book Critics’ Circle Award, and The Sounds of Poetry, a brief guide treasured by many young poets.


Robert Pinsky’s landmark, best-selling translation of The Inferno of Dante received the Los Angeles Times Book Award and the Howard Morton Landon Prize for translation. He is also co-translator of The Separate Notebooks, poems by Nobel Prize winner Czeslaw Milosz.  Pinsky’s prose book, The Life of David, is a lively retelling and examination of the David stories, narrating a wealth of legend as well as scripture. Pinsky also wrote the libretto for Tod Machover’s opera Death and the Powers: A Robot Pagaent, which will premier in Monaco in fall 2010.


The poetry editor for the online magazine Slate, for seven years Pinsky appeared regularly on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. He was elected in 1999 to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Pinsky’s poems appear in magazines such as The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, The Threepenny Review, American Poetry Review, and frequently in The Best American Poetry anthologies. He teaches in the graduate writing program at Boston University. Robert Pinsky is also the winner of the PEN/Voelcker Award, the William Carlos Williams Prize, the Lenore Marshall, the National Foundation for Jewish Culture’s 2006 Jewish Cultural Achievement Award in Literary Arts, and the 2008 Theodore M. Roethke Memorial Poetry Award. He is one of the few members of the American Academy of Arts and Letters to have appeared on “The Simpsons” and “The Colbert Report.”




Diana Arterian is a student at the California Institute of the Arts, currently earning her MFA in poetry writing.  She is the honored recipient of the Beunter Family Award and works for California's Poet Laureate, Carol Muske-Dukes on her various creative and state projects.


Ross Barkan is a writer from Brooklyn, New York. He has just completed his first novel Aflame We Laugh. When not editing Stony Brook University's new literary magazine Spoke the Thunder and writing an endless thesis on the representation of reality in the works of Henry Miller and Virginia Woolf, he enjoys throwing tantrums during baseball, softball, tennis, and handball games and making low-brow offensive jokes with his friends.


Lily Bax is a graduate of Cambridge University where she studied Anglo-Saxon and Viking History and Literature.  She is a lawyer and lives and works in the City of London but escapes from her documents whenever possible to read and write poetry. Her main influences are history, myth,, journeys, the city around her and the futile pursuit of dreams versus reality, which includes, of course, love. Lily would, if she had to pick a fictional character to inhabit for one day, be Phileas Fogg. 


Thompson Boling is a student at Emerson College currently working on her MFA in poetry. She completed her undergraduate work at UMASS Amherst in 2005 and spent 7 years living on Nantucket Island, which provided her many quiet winters to read and write. Her work has appeared in The White Whale Review and The Furnace Review.


Kathryn Burak's stories and poems have been published in the Missouri Review, Western Humanities Review, Gettysburg Review and Fiction--among other places.  She teaches writing at Boston University.


Roland Goity edits fiction for the online journal LITnIMAGE. His stories appear in dozens of publications, including recent or forthcoming issues of Fiction International, Eclectica, Underground Voices, PANK and Monkeybicycle. He is writing a novel about football, celebrity, and the American Dream. 


Eric Howerton is a Fiction PhD student at the University of Houston. He received his MFA from The Pennsylvania State University and completed his undergraduate work at the University of New Mexico. His fiction has been published in Johnny America, Scribendi, Conceptions Southwest, Haggard and Halloo, The Bigface, and Duck and Herring Review.


M.J. Iuppa lives on a small farm near the shores of Lake Ontario. Recent and forthcoming poems in The Comstock Review, Tar River Poetry, Iconoclast, Bird’s Eye re View, Poetry Midwest, Apple Valley Review, The Puckerbrush Review, The Hurricane Review, miller’s pond and The Centrifugal Eye; in the following anthologies: From the Other World: Poems in Memory of James Wright, edited by Bruce Hendricksen and Robert Johnson, Lost Hills Books (2007); and forthcoming in Eating the Pure Light, Poems honoring Thomas McGrath, edited by John Bradley, Backwaters Press (2009); The Poets Guide to The Birds, edited by Judith Kitchen and Ted Kooser, Anhinga Press (2009); Beyond Forgetting: Poetry and Prose about Alzheimer’s Disease, edited by Holly Hughes, Kent State UP (2009); Eating Her Wedding Dress: A Collection of Clothing Poems, edited by Vasiliki Katsarou, Ruth O'Toole, and Ellen Foos, Ragged Sky Press 2009; a lyrical essay in GulfCoast, fiction in The Northville Review, and a poetry review in Tar River Poetry. She is Writer-in-Residence and Director of the Arts Minor Program at St. John Fisher College; and is currently serving as a poetry advisor for the New York Foundation for the Arts (2007-2011).


Andrew Kaufman  grew up near NYC and graduated from Oberlin College,  He earned his MFA in poetry writing at Brooklyn College, and his doctorate, with the dissertation on William Blake, at the University of Toronto.  Cinnamon Bay Sonnets won the Center for Book Arts chapbook competition in 1996, and Earth's Ends appeared in 2005 after winning the Pearl Poetry Award.  His poems have also been widely published in journals and magazines. Much of the travel they reflect was made possible by an NEA award in poetry.  Poet Kaufman said,  "I feel the time I've spent in Africa, Southeast Asia, and Latin America has been essential to my writing, in allowing me access to a fuller range of human capacities and experiences than would otherwise have been available to me."


Annam Manthiram is the author of two novels; The Goju Story and After the Tsunami, and a short story collection.  Her short fiction has recently appeared in the Chicago Quarterly Review, the Cream City Review, the Concho River Review, and Straylight.  A graduate of the M.A. Writing program at the University of Southern California, Ms. Manthiram resides in New Mexico with her husband and son.  Last summer Grey Sparrow published a story of hers and we were delighted when she volunteered to help the Sparrow as she is well qualified.  We're planning on Annam working at the Sparrow  for the next year.  


Kevin McIntosh’s short stories have appeared in the Beloit Fiction Journal, American Literary Review,

Potomac Review and have been nominated for Best New American Voices.  He writes and teaches near Boston.


Joseph Michael Owens is currently a graduate student "in between programs." He had been finishing his Masters thesis in English at Iowa State University until mid-2008. To that end, Joseph said, "It had taken much longer than I'd anticipated, due in large part to a myriad of life changing events–both extremely good and bad."


He transitioned to a Masters of Fine Arts program at the University of Nebraska in July, 2009. "To be perfectly honest," he said, "someday I'd love to just write for a living… as well as maybe teach a few writing workshops at a small Liberal Arts college and then just ride my bike the rest of the time. I mean, one can always dream, can't they?"


Jan Parker lives in the wonderful historic district of Fuquay Varina, NC with her dear husband Mr. Parker. Malaika King Albrecht and she co-host a popular Open Mic Night for poets and writers at the town's Cellar 101 Wine Shop (sponsored by Main Street Rag out of Charlotte NC). She is an active member of the NC Writers' Network."

Gregory A. Poland is a physician-scientist living in Rochester, MN.  He strives to bring a physician's eye to the art of interpreting the world around him.  He has always felt that words, language, and visual images represent and bring forth the most powerful feelings.  Dr. Poland is also a motivational speaker and provocateur who tries to bring new insights into everyday events, in a way that benefits others.  You can visit him at 


Grey Sparrow was granted posthumous first publication rights for print and ezine by Phillip Scott Rader's

daughter.  Phillip's poem, Declined Invitation was written at an online writing workshop. His biography, where he wrote for years,  follows:

"I live and write in San Diego, California. My stories have been published in Balloon Life, Georgia Sportsman, a QPB paperback titled "The World's Greatest Shortest Stories" and in several ezines online.

I also write poetry on this site and elsewhere. I am an Army Brat (now matured, greatly), lived all over, have a rage to live, and I've done a heap of raging in my time: South China Seas, Philippines, Japan, Hawaii, Canton Lagoon in the Phoenix Group, and on the East Cape of Baja where gallant marlin run. I'm hibernating to write a novel, but I'd love to hear from you."


After many years of attempting to avoid any form of work, James Rawbone has succumbed to the inevitable fate of a History graduate and is now a teacher. He has had several short stories and flash fiction pieces published, and is currently tying up the loose ends of his novel, ‘All You Have Is Your Soul’ which can be viewed on He likes to think his prose is based on metaphysical and ontological concepts, although the more he probes into such philosophy, the less he knows. Somehow he finds such a realization of his profound ignorance comforting. He is 33, still not dead, and lives with his patient and beautiful wife in rural Kent, England.


Michelle Reale is an academic librarian on faculty at a university in the suburbs of Philadelphia.  Her work has been published in a variety of venues such as Eyeshot, Word Riot, Smokelong  Weekly, Monkeybicycle and others.  Her fiction chapbook Natural Habitat was recently published by Burning River.  Her fiction/prose poem chapbook , Like Lungfish Getting Through the Dry Season, will be forthcoming from Thunderclap Press. 


Dave Reale has photography featured in the fall 2010 printed issue of Grey Sparrow Journal.  Many thanks, Dave, for the wonderful work.


Nancy Skinner lives in Manhattan and New Jersey after many years in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest. Her writing focuses on life's subtle experiences and the quiet strength of ordinary people. She loves the fact that writing gives her an excuse for fixating on why people do the things they do, and finding the simplest of lives fascinating.


Rae Spencer is a writer and veterinarian living in Virginia. Her poetry has been published in Town Creek Poetry, vox poetica, Poem2Day, Willows Wept Review, The Driftwood Review, and elsewhere.


L. Todd Spencer is a Virginia-based photographer whose work has been recognized on the state, national, and international levels. A 1993 graduate of the Rhode Island School of Photography, he worked as a freelance commercial photographer and photojournalist before joining The Virginian-Pilot newspaper's photography staff in 2000.


Kelly Lynn Thomas wrote her first story in third grade and hasn't been able to stop writing since.  She graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 2009 and received an Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Fellowship from Pitt in 2008 for her writing.  You can find her work on the web at  Kelly's fall story was featured in our summer print journal.


Sayuri Yamadajust finished the third year of Creative Writing at the University of Winchester, England and has been accepted for Creative and Critical Writing in MA next year.  


Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé has edited more than 10 books and co-produced 3 audio books, several pro bono for non-profit organizations. Trained in book publishing at Stanford, with a theology masters in world religions from Harvard and fine arts masters in creative writing from Notre Dame, Desmond is a recipient of the Singapore Internationale Grant and Dr Hiew Siew Nam Academic Award. He has recent or forthcoming work in Copper Nickel, Cricket Online Review, Folly, Presence, Mascara Literary Review, Notes from the Gean, Titular and Walnut Literary Review. Also working in clay, Desmond sculpts commemorative ceramic pieces for his Potter Poetics Collection. These works are housed in museums and private collections in India, the Netherlands, the UK and the US.