a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
“When We Are Lost / How We Are Found,” this issue of the About Place Journal, feels very personal to us–we needed healing as much as anyone.
We delighted in the whimsical approach some took to our call, through language play (Erin Clark and H. A. Sappho) or satire (Debra Dean’s brilliantly scathing essay about her beloved hometown and Amazon). We also rejoiced in the playfulness of scientists dancing as seed (Jacklyn Brickman and Kathryn Nusa Logan) or giving us the vibration of the forest (Sue Gwin). Like all of you, we needed a chance to laugh and revel in cleverness.
But we also recognized the need to not look away from the issues that continue to afflict our world. Ethnobotanist Robin Wall Kimmerer has stated “Action on behalf of life transforms. Because the relationship between the self and the world is reciprocal, it is not a question of first getting enlightened or saved and then acting. As we work to heal the earth, the earth heals us.” Thus, we are grateful especially for Nathalie Handal’s stunning photo essay about Palestine, Aghaghia Rahimzadeh’s piece about climate change for Himalayan apple farmers, DJ Lee’s about the Greenland Ice Sheet, and Emmett Wheatfall’s necessary prayer. Our cover artist, Lezlie Amara Piper, uses creation itself to heal. Her art made the four editors gasp with wonder.
The poets, fiction writers, essayists, visual and performance artists in these pages reflect the dichotomy of gravity and necessary play that we’ve all felt in these uncertain months. May they provide you with respite and healing as much as they have us.
Amanda Ngoho Reavey is a Philippine-born, Wisconsin-raised poet interested in how we can transform story and myth to reconnect ourselves to the earth. Her debut book, Marilyn (The Operating System, 2015), won the 2017 Best Book Award in Poetry from the Association for Asian American Studies. Amanda’s poems and essays appear in Construction Literary Magazine, Anthropoid, TRUCK, and Evening Will Come, among others. Most recently, her poems were published in Resist Much, Obey Little: Inaugural Poems to the Resistance, an anthology assembling the writing of over 350 poets from around the world responding to the 2016 presidential election, and Women:Poetry:Migration (edited by Jane Joritz-Nakagawa), an anthology of 50 women poets living in countries other than the one in which they were born. Currently, Amanda is a doctoral student at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and working towards certification as an applied poetry facilitator through the International Federation for Biblio/Poetry Therapy. Through her project, RestoryNation, she teaches creative writing workshops that help participants rediscover their origin stories. She earned an MFA in Writing & Poetics from Naropa University.
Arab American poet, essayist, and performer Claudia F. Savage, M.A. is the author of Bruising Continents (Spuyten Duyvil, 2017), “a love story that reveals eros properly seen is a force as monumental as continental drift,” as well as the chapbooks The Last One Eaten: A Maligned Vegetable’s History (Finishing Line Press, 2005) and the collaborative The Hour of Anjali (Forty Fingers Press, 2006). Her poetry, essays, and interviews have been published in numerous journals such as BOMB, The Denver Quarterly, Columbia, Nimrod, Water-Stone Review, and Anomaly (where she writes the series, “Witness the Hour: Arab American Poets Across the Diaspora”). She is a member of the Portland-based performance duo Thick in the Throat, Honey and co-runs a parent-artist podcast of the same name. She has performed at festivals such as The Improvisation Summit of Portland and No Fest. Her collaboration with visual artist Jacklyn Brickman, reductions, about motherhood and ephemerality, will be exhibited in 2022. She’s been awarded honors at Ucross, Jentel, The Atlantic Center for the Arts, Regional Arts and Culture Council, Mineral School, and University of Oregon and taught through Literary Arts and privately throughout the country.