Spring-Summer 2011




Spring/Summer 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.


Judy Brackett has taught creative writing, composition, and literature at Sierra College and creative writing at U.C. Davis Extension. Her poems and short fiction have been published in Arizona Quarterly, Alaska Quarterly Review, Real Fiction, The Long Story, Other Voices, Sierra Journal, Prairie Schooner, The Squaw Valley Review, and other journals, as well as in Hip Pocket Press's anthology Sierra Songs and Descants. One of her stories won a PEN Syndicated Fiction Prize and was broadcast on NPR's The Sound of Writing. A native of Fremont, Nebraska, she has lived in northern California’s Sierra Nevada foothills for many years. 

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, but it wasn’t long, though, before he was asking questions about cameras. There was something intriguing about that magic box, and 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

Casey Francis has received a Bachelor’s of Arts degree from Quincy University and is pursuing a graduate degree in English at New Mexico Highlands University. He will be moving to Illinois this summer. He has published or work is forthcoming in Boston Literary Magazine, Verse Wisconsin,the Red River Review, and the Blog for Rural America (www.cfra.org/blog).

Daisy Hickman grew up in Pierre, South Dakota, and recently moved back to Brookings, South Dakota, from Indianapolis. She has published poetry in the Vermillion Literary Project Magazine, Fine Lines Journal, and Pasque Petals. Daisy has a master's degree in sociology from Iowa State University and is a frequent contributor to Advancing Philanthropy (having spent many years working with nonprofit organizations). Her blog can be found @ www.DazyDayWriter.com

Ricki Mandeville has edited and co-edited more than a dozen volumes of poetry and is a co-founder of Moon Tide Press. Recent work is forthcoming or has appeared in The Raintown Review, She Writes, The Adroit Journal, and Spot Lit. She is the author of A Thin Strand of Lights (Moon Tide Press, 2006) and a chapbook, Beneath My Bed (Far Star Fire Press, 2000). She lives, works and writes poetry near the ocean in Huntington Beach, California.

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.

Caroline Misner was born in a country that at the time was known as Czechoslovakia. She immigrated to Canada in the summer of 1969. Her work has appeared in numerous consumer and literary journals in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom, including The Windsor Review, Prairie Journal, and Dreamcatcher. Her work can be viewed on line at www.thefurnacereview.com, www.glass-poetry.com and www.millerspondpoetry.com. Her short story “Strange Fruit” was nominated for the Writers' Trust/McClelland-Steward Journey Anthology Prize in 2008. She lives in Georgetown Ontario where she continues to read, write and follow her muse, wherever it my take her.

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, Illinois, with a passel of dogs whom, when they’re not chasing tennis balls and each other’s tails, also serve as willing subjects for the camera.

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.

Matthew Walz is a recent graduate from the University of Minnesota and is residing in Minneapolis. He was raised in northern Michigan where he enjoyed playing sports and running through the woods. But early on an accident left him nearly blind in the left eye and his athletic career was abruptly halted. It was then that he found his love for literature. His most recent publication, a selection of poems, has appeared in the online literary journal Burning Word. His fiction will be seen in the upcoming winter 2011 issue of the literary magazine Calliope.

A Pushcart-nominated poet, Phyllis Wax lives and writes on a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Her work has appeared in many journals and anthologies, among them Out of Line, New Verse News, Free Verse, Lilliput Review, Ars Medica. She co-edited the 2002 Wisconsin Poets’ Calendar. Nature often provides inspiration for her poetry. She may be reached at poetwax@yahoo.com.