Fall-Winter 2010

Fall/Winter 2010 - 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 .

Poetry Editor

Kendra Langdon Juskus, a writer and editor originally from New York's Hudson River valley, now calls Illinois home and is daily surprised by the epic beauty of the prairie landscape surrounding her. She edits a faith-based environmental magazine called Flourish (www.flourishonline.org) and has had poetry or creative non-fiction published in the Prairie Light Review, Ruminate, Catalyst, and PRISM magazines. She and her husband live in a 1920s cottage in the suburbs of Chicago, where they endeavor to tend their home and garden as sustainably and joyfully as possible.


Ryan Allen is a course mentor in language and communication at Western Governors University, a writing instructor at Briar Cliff University, and the Creative Writing Editor of 605 Magazine. He received his Ph.D. in English from the University of South Dakota in May 2009. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in South Dakota Review, Platte Valley Review, The Louisville Review, the Oregon Literary Review, 605 Magazine, VLP Magazine, LEO Magazine and Planet Jackson Hole. He currently lives in Sioux City, Iowa, with his wife and son and dog.

John Barrett was born in Cork, Ireland, and lived there for the first thirty years of his life. He attended medical school at University College Cork and followed a surgical career after graduation. Because of his interest in trauma injuries, he joined Cook County Hospital and worked there as a surgeon until retirement in 2002. He is a fellow of both the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and of the American College of Surgeons. Following retirement, he has spent many hours in long distance hiking, including the Appalachian Trail, the Grand Illinois Trail, the Camino De Santiago in Spain, the Irish Coast to Coast Walk, and from Lands End to Canterbury in England ("The Canterbury Trail." He is currently engaged in an on-again-off-again walk from Chicago to the Atlantic Ocean. Due to a tendency to walk slowly in order to appreciate the journey, his trail name is Slow Walker. John holds a certificate in natural history from the Morton Arboretum, which helps him to better understand the natural environments through which he hikes. The last step of one journey is the first step of the next.

When Bob Fila was in high school, a friend hooked him up at the now defunct Chicago American newspaper as a copy boy. His dad, who dabbled in photography and collected cameras, suggested that he find out what kind of cameras were being used by the newspaper’s photographers, as well as the kind of film and how it was developed. Bob had no aspirations of being a photographer; as a matter of fact he hated it because his dad was always taking pictures of him. It wasn’t long, though, before he was asking his dad to how him how to use a camera. There was something intriguing about that magic box. Soon, he was hanging out in the photo department every spare minute. He photographed friends, girlfriends, and the neighbors’ kids. One day, the photo editor put one of his photos in the paper. Eventually, the staff photographers took him under their wing and Bob would come down to the paper on his days off and cover assignments with them. In the late sixties, he photographed hippies hanging around in Chicago’s Grant Park and the violence at the 1968 Democratic presidential convention. When he was 18, he was hired as a full-time photographer and spent the next forty years covering everything from fashion to politics, politicians to sports. He retired a few years ago from the Chicago Tribune – and still pinches himself to see if he has been dreaming. More photos can be found at his website, Bob Fila Photography: www.bobfila.com

Majkin Holmquist has poems published or upcoming in The Midwest Quarterly, LIT journal, and The Foundling Review. She was raised as the fifth generation of a family farm in Central Kansas and is now an eighth-grade English teacher.

Ken Kashian has been a professional photographer for thirty years. Since 1981, he has worked for the Illinois Farm Bureau, where he is Director of Photographic Services.  He has traveled thousands of miles throughout Illinois, photographing the diversity of rural Illinois’ people and landscapes. Exhibitions include: DETAILS, Architectural Details of Downtown Bloomington and its Surrounding Areas, The Mackinaw River Project, In The Eye of the Hurricane. He has produced a limited edition, bound volume, Along The Mackinaw River, that contains his photographs and poems contributed by Bill Morgan and Kirstin Hotelling Zona. Ken and his wife, Carol, live in Bloomington, Illinois.  He has also published an additional book, Along The Mackinaw River, which contains additional photographs and poems from eleven additional poets. He is currently working on a project called Artists in the Studio, which includes images that are environmental panoramic portraits of visual artists. His website is www.kenkashian.com

Maureen Kingston grew up in New England, but has lived among the corn and bean fields of eastern Nebraska for the past fifteen years. The prairie and plains opened her soul to the landscape of poetry and she hasn't been the same since. A full listing of her publications may be found at mockingbird.creighton.edu/ncw/kingstonbib.htm

Bruce Muench is an aquatic biologist; most of his writing touches on nature. He has lived with his family on a farm in northern Illinois for much of his life and has recently published a book, Please Don't Climb the Silos. He is also a World War II veteran.

Joan Peronto is a transplanted Mid-westerner and a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison who now lives on the East Coast. She worked as a reference librarian for thirty-four years. She has been published in Crossing Paths, an anthology of Western New England women poets, The Berkshire Review, The Rockford Review, Hummingbird and The Berkshire Sampler.

Sarah Rehfeldt lives in western Washington with her family. She is a writer, artist, and photographer. Her most recent publication credits include: Windhover; The Awakenings Review; Presence: An International Journal of Spiritual Direction; DailyHaiga; and Sketchbook. Her photography pages can be viewed here: www.pbase.com/candanceski

Don Thackrey spent his young years on farms and ranches in the Nebraska Sandhills and still considers the prairie as his home, although he now lives with his wife in Dexter, Michigan, where he is retired from teaching and administering at the University of Michigan. One of his passions in retirement is studying formal verse and trying to get the hang of writing it.

Kelsi Vanada finds inspiration for her poetry in place--most often, her grandparents' ranch in South Dakota. She is fascinated by the prairie, the family stories that take place there, the constant tension between the beauty of the place and its harshness.  She did a writer’s residency at the Prairie Center of the Arts in Peoria, Illinois, in the summer of 2010. Kelsi graduated with her Bachelor’s degree in English/Creative Writing and Spanish from the University of Denver in 2009. She works as a volunteer English teacher in Chile. Recent publications include Dos Passos Review, Matter Journal, Precipitate. Visit her blog at www.kelsivanada.wordpress.com.

Marian Veverka has lived most of her life in rural Ohio. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, she raised a family on a mini-farm and worked at local library. Her poems have recently appeared in Pitene's Fountain, Umbrella the Bumbershoot, Up the Staircase Heavy Bear -4, Main Channel Voices, and RWP anthology.