Fall-Winter 2009




Prairie clover photo (left) by
Jack Shouba.

"After the Storm" painting by
Marilynn Brandenburger.

Witch hazel photo by
Jason Sturner.

Fall/Winter 2009 - Contributing Editors and Artists

Editor and publisher

LeAnn Spencer, the founder of A Prairie Journal, is a lifelong journalist and co-editor of the women's nature journal Seeding the Snow. She worked for nearly three decades at the Chicago Tribune as an editor and writer, where her stories still  appear on occasion. Since 2003, she has been a regular contributor to Chicago Wilderness Magazine, a private publishing consultant, a member of the editing team for the Fifth Wednesday Journal, and instructor of nature writing at the Morton Arboretum. LeAnn’s love for the natural world stems to her childhood on an Indiana farm where she first learned to identify birds and discovered the joys of walking in the woods. She has a Master’s of Liberal Arts degree from the University of Chicago, a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Indiana University, and  holds a naturalist certificate from the Morton Arboretum, Lisle, Illinois.


Erin C. Arellano lives in Omaha with Jerry, her husband of 30 years. She has three grown children, three grandchildren, and  one more on the way. Though she grew up a city-girl, she considers herself half country-girl and spent her childhood summers in the sand hills of north-central Nebraska. She received an M.F.A.in Writing from the University of Nebraska's low-residency program in January, 2009.

Marilynn Brandenburger grew up in Chicago, but now lives in Atlanta where she has worked as a studio artist and art instructor for more than thirty years.   Marilynn specializes in painting landscapes and interiors, using either watercolor or acrylic gouache, an opaque water-base paint. She exhibits her paintings regularly around the country, and her work has appeared in regional and national publications, including the Nature Conservancy Magazine and the Isle Royale Natural History Association’s book, The Island Within Us. In addition to painting, Marilynn creates illustrated nature journals in ink and watercolor and teaches this craft to other nature enthusiasts in workshops around the Southeast. An avid hiker and amateur naturalist, Marilynn has visited more than sixty national parks, monuments, and preserves. She dreams of visiting all the national grasslands. Now that her son has moved to Chicago, Marilynn and her husband, Allen, a photographer, return to the Midwest regularly, where they enjoy painting and photographing tallgrass prairie preserves. Marilynn’s prairie series can be found on her blog: www.marilynnbrandenburger.blogspot.com; and more of her work at www.brandenburgerstudios.com.

Terri Kirby Erickson is the author of two collections of poetry, Thread Count and Telling Tales of Dusk, (www.Press53.com). Her work has been published by or is forthcoming in Basilica Review, Blue Fifth Review, Christian Science Monitor, JAMA, Muse India, Oak Bend Review, Pisgah Review, Smoking Poet, Toasted Cheese Wild Goose Poetry Review, and many other journals and anthologies. Her web site is: terrikirbyerickson.wordpress.com.

Ann Joachim is a marketer and writer living in Oak Park, Illinois, where she runs her own firm, Ann Joachim Associates, Inc. In a previous career, she worked as a tour manager in Egypt and earned an M.A. in Near Eastern Studies from the University of Michigan, where she developed a keen interest in the poetry and spiritual literature of the Middle East. Ann’s love of gardens and the natural world has deep roots in her grandparent’s grape vineyards in southwestern Michigan.   When she isn’t reading, working with clients or cooking for family and friends, Ann can be found tending her garden of tomatoes, arugula, and herbs.

Stan Long is a Canadian writer in solitary except he is also raising a fifteen-year-old daughter who spends most of the day at school thus allowing him plenty of time to write.

Joan McNerney’s poetry has been included in numerous literary magazines such as Boston Review of the Arts, Kalliope, Mudfish, Spectrum, and Word Thursdays. Four of her books have been published by fine literary presses. She has performed at the National Arts Club, State University of New York, Oneonta, McNay Art Institute, and other distinguished venues. A recent reading was sponsored by the American Academy of Poetry. Her latest title is Having Lunch with the Sky, A.P.D. Press, Albany, New York.

Wilda Morris's love of nature was nurtured by her Uncle Norman, who took her walking across country fields and fishing in a small lake. Her book, Szechwan Shrimp and Fortune Cookies: Poems from a Chinese Restaurant, was published in 2008 by Rockford Writers' Guild Press. Wilda, who has published in numerous journals, newspapers and anthologies, is the workshop chair of Poets and Patrons of Chicago and a past president of the Illinois State Poetry Society. Her poetry blog is found at wildamorris.blogspot.com.

Brian Osborn, a 51-year-old aircraft mechanic living in Sahuarita, Arizona, graduated high school in Rock Springs, Wyoming in 1976. In 1978, he enlisted in the U.S.Air Force and retired from active duty after twenty years. He holds a master’s degree in business administration and works for the Department of Defense in Tucson.

For decades Mary Ramsden rarely picked up a camera but after she became grandmother to twin girls in 2002 she found herself catapulted into the world of photography. Since then, she’s taken thousands of pictures of the girls. Then, after annoying even her most indulgent friends, she began taking pictures of two of her other great loves: nature and the rest of her family. Ordained a priest in 1987, her life is rounded out with police chaplaincy, dog training, music, and a most patient husband. They live in Summit, Il., with a passel of dogs who, when they’re not chasing tennis balls and each other’s tails, also serve as willing subjects for the camera.

Jack Shouba has had several new part-time careers since retiring from teaching biology and chemistry at Lyons Township High School in Western Springs, Illinois. He works to save and restore open space as Open Space Development Coordinator for Campton Township in Kane County and volunteers for various conservation organizations. He teaches local flora, tree identification, and other classes at The Morton Arboretum. An avid photographer, he uses his photos in his teaching and in public lectures. His pictures have been used on calendars and by conservation organizations, government agencies, and Chicago Wilderness magazine.  For more information contact him at jackshouba@gmail.com.

Jason Sturner was born in Harvey, Illinois, and raised in the western suburbs of Chicago. He is a member of the Illinois State Poetry Society and has published three books of poetry: Kairos, 10 Love Poems, and Selected Poems 2004-2007. He resides in Wheaton, Illinois and works as a botanist at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle. Please visit www.jasonsturner.blogspot.com.

Fredrick Zydek is the author of eight collections of poetry. T’Kopechuck: the Buckley Poems is forthcoming from Winthrop Press later this year. Formerly a professor of creative writing and theology at the University of Nebraska and later at the College of Saint Mary, he is now a gentleman farmer when he isn’t writing.  He is the editor for Lone Willow Press. His work has appeared in The Antioch Review, Cimmaron Review, The Hollins Critic, New England Review, Nimrod, Poetry, Prairie Schooner, Poetry Northwest, Yankee, and others.  He is the recipient of the Hart Crane Poetry Award, the Sarah Foley O'Loughlen Literary Award and others.