Fall-Winter 2011




Detail of Springbok Prairie,
above left, by Connie Devendorf.

Detail of Echinacea in snow
by Gail Goepfert.

Fall/Winter 2011 - 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.


Dr. Jane Beal is an Associate Professor of English at Colorado Christian University where she teaches literature and creative writing. Her first book of poetry, Sanctuary, was nominated for the Conference on Christianity and Literature's Book of the Year Award in Belles Lettres. She is the author of other poetry collections, including Made in the Image, Tidepools, Love-Song, The Bird-Watcher's Diary Entries, Butterflies, Wild Birdsong, and Epiphany: Birth Poems. She also writes literary criticism, young adult fantasy literature, and memoir. To learn more, please visit sanctuarypoet.net.

After graduating from the Philadelphia College of Art (now University of the Arts) Connie Devendorf worked as a textile designer in New York City. In 1992, she started her own faux finishing business, Expert Faux Finish, specializing in murals that involve nature, fanciful landscapes for children’s rooms, and sophisticated floral motifs. She is a graduate of the botanical illustration certificate program at the Morton Arboretum, Lisle, Il., and a past president of the arboretum’s Nature Artists’ Guild. She also teaches art classes at the arboretum and is passionate about conveying the detail in nature that people often miss.

Poetry by Laurie Lee Didesch has appeared in: The Comstock Review, The MacGuffin, Karamu, White Pelican Review, Third Wednesday, California Quarterly, Artword Quarterly, Artisan: A Journal of Craft, The Awakenings Review, Arts Alive! Literary Review, Blood and Thunder, Poetry Cram, Voices on the Wind, Julien’s Journal, Shadow and Light: A Literary Anthology on Memory, Feast of Fools: Poems, Stories, and Essays on Sacred Fools and Tricksters, Child of my Child: Poems and Stories for Grandparents, etc.

Gail Goepfert is a Midwest teacher, poet, and nature photographer. Her story spans the Midwest in locations between the Mississippi River and northern Ohio. She has been published in a number of anthologies and journals including Avocet, Off Channel, After Hours, Tall Grass. Online publications include: Quill and Parchment, YourDailyPoem.com, Voices on the Wind, and Wilda Morris’s Poetry Challenge (July 2011) She spent many great years challenging and challenged by junior high school students. Of late, she is schooled by the wisdom of nature and poetry.

Merle Hazard has enjoyed writing for a long time. She lived many years in Appleton, WI. After the death of her husband she moved to Macon, GA, to be closer to family.

Teri McTighe grew up working with cattle and horse in Western South Dakota. It was there that she learned to love the wide-open spaces and the subtle and profound beauty of the rolling plains. She began her life around horses at an early age, learning to ride and work as soon as she could stay in the saddle, gradually learning how to train horses and work with them in true partnership. She also began exploring her artistic side as a tiny kid, when her mother first put the tools in her hands, eventually earning a B.A. in Fine Art in 2007. Her goal is to produce pieces that communicate what she most appreciates and enjoys about this life. She is always looking for unique ranch scenes, and especially enjoys capturing the myriad of moods and personality quirks that horses exhibit on a daily basis. She works with my own photography, and her mediums are mainly graphite pencil and watercolor, along with lifelike painted relief sculptures mounted on art board. All of her art is free-hand, meaning she creates without using tracing or projecting tools.

Timothy Milhorn is a high school English and drama teacher and soccer coach from Chico, California. He is the author of four plays, including Tender Yellow Sky, a play about teen suicide banned by his school district, but performed at The Blue Room Theatre in Chico and by the Black Butte Theatre Group. He has published numerous articles on music, soccer, and social commentary. His poetry has been published locally in The Chico News and Review and The Chico Beat. He is currently writing a novella called Down in the Grey.

Wilda Morris's love of nature was nurtured by her Uncle, John Norman Webber, 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, has received numerous awards for her poetry, including a Pushcart nomination. She is the president 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 .

Dave Seter studied creative writing at Princeton University, where he earned his degree in civil engineering. Born in Chicago, he has lived on both coasts, and currently resides in Sonoma County, California. His first published collection of poems, the chapbook entitled Night Duty, was published in 2010 by Main Street Rag Publishing Company.

Jill Spealman was born in DuPage County, Illinois, and grew up playing in the creeks and fields paved over by the current Interstate 355. A former school music teacher, she is a freelance technical writer and author of seven computer books published by Microsoft Press. She was introduced to nature writing and discovered the joy of poetry and haiku while taking natural history classes at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois. She lives near the Arboretum with her husband, Kevin, and West Highland White Terrier, Cooper.

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.

William John Watkins was a member of the founding faculty at Brookdale Community College in New Jersey from he recently retired. He has published more than 500 poems and over 100 stories in such magazines as Rhino, South Carolina Review, Hellas, Asimov’s, Cosmopolitan, and Commonweal.  A sonnet, "Wife of My Youth, Look Back, Look Back", won the 1994 Hellas Award. A short story, "Beggar in the Living Room", was a Nebula Award finalist, and the poem "We Die as Angels and Come Back as Men" won the 2002 Rhysling Award. Hobbies are racing motorcycles off road with his son, Chad, and teaching himself to draw realistically.