Contributors for Winter 2021 Issue

Gale Acuff has had hundreds of poems published in several countries and is the author of three books of poetry. He has taught university English in the US, China, and Palestine.

Mara Ahmed is a multimedia artist and activist filmmaker based in Long Island, New York. She was educated in Belgium, Pakistan and the United States, and has an MBA and a Master’s in Economics. She worked in finance until 2004, when she resigned from her corporate job to focus on art and film. She studied art at Nazareth College and film at the Visual Studies Workshop and the Rochester Institute of Technology. Mara’s artwork has been exhibited at galleries in New York and California. Her first film, The Muslims I Know, premiered in 2008 and started a dialogue between American Muslims and people of other faiths. It was broadcast on PBS. Her third film, A Thin Wall, explores the partition of India and possibilities of reconciliation. It premiered at the Bradford Literature Festival, in England, in 2015, won a Special Jury Prize at the Amsterdam Film Festival in 2016, and was recently acquired by MUBI India. Mara is interested in dialogue across both physical and psychological boundaries. In 2017, she gave a Tedx talk about the meaning of borders and nationalism entitled The edges that blur. She is now working on a documentary about racism in America, focusing exclusively on the voices of women of color. Her production company is Neelum Films

Paula Bonnell’s poems are currently featured in print and online journals in the U.S., the U.K., Canada, India, and Australia, and in several anthologies. Bonnell is a 2020 Pushcart Prize nominee, a Ciardi prize winner for Airs & Voices – her second collection – and has received awards from Kalliope, Negative Capability, Poet Lore, The New England Poetry Club, and the City of Boston.

Cynthia Bruckman is a dual U.S./Canadian citizen, currently living in Victoria, B.C. She teaches English to adult learners who are new to Canada. Her writing includes creative nonfiction, poetry, and plays. Her poetry book Endangered Species was published by Wind River Press. Her plays have been produced in New York City, San Francisco, and Seattle. A recent CNF piece, “We Are All Karolina”, was published in The Coachella Review. She is often out exploring the forests, mountains, and beaches of Vancouver Island. You can find her at

Kersten Christianson is a raven-watching, moon-gazing, high school English-teaching Alaskan.  She serves as poetry editor of the quarterly journal Alaska Women Speak. Her latest collection of poetry is Curating the House of Nostalgia (Sheila-Na-Gig Editions, 2020).  Kersten holds an MFA from the University of Alaska. Find her at

Shannon Cuthbert is a writer and artist living in Brooklyn. Her poems have appeared in Amethyst Review, Bangor Literary Review, and First Literary Review-East, among others. Her work is forthcoming in Dodging the Rain, Hamilton Stone Review, Déraciné Magazine, and Ink Sweat and Tears, among others.   

Adam Eaton is the Director of Rochester Artist Collaborative (RAC). He believes artists should be supported and allowed the resources to create art and share their gifts with everyone in the community. He loves collaborating to create opportunities and resources for local creatives. Adam’s photograph of the man in red graces the cover of our Winter 2021 Issue!

Juan Felipe Herrera is the 21st Poet Laureate of the United States (2015-2016) and is the first Latino to hold the position. From 2012-2014, Herrera served as California State Poet Laureate. Herrera’s many collections of poetry include Every Day We Get More IllegalNotes on the Assemblage; Senegal TaxiHalf of the World in Light: New and Selected Poems, a recipient of the PEN/Beyond Margins Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award; and 187 Reasons Mexicanos Can’t Cross The Border: Undocuments 1971-2007. He is also the author of Crashboomlove: A Novel in Verse, which received the Americas Award. His books of prose for children include: SkateFate, Calling The Doves, which won the Ezra Jack Keats Award; Upside Down Boy, which was adapted into a musical for young audiences in New York City; and Cinnamon Girl: Letters Found Inside a Cereal Box. His book Jabberwalking, a children’s book focused on turning your wonder at the world around you into weird, wild, incandescent poetry, came out in 2018. Herrera is also a performance artist and activist on behalf of migrant and indigenous communities and at-risk youth. Learn more about him HERE.

Baby-boomer Catherine Lee was born in Newark, NJ, raised in Clifton, spent most of her adult life in Boston, and currently resides in San Antonio, Texas. Her writing explores struggle to bridge her northeast Yankee upbringing with a community worldview developed in a formerly Confederate landscape now populated primarily from among those of indigenous, Mexican-American, and African-American generation. She writes of jazz music and social change activism, reads poetry solo, and performs with improvisers and senior reader’s theater actors. 

Rethabile Masilo was born in 1961 in Lesotho and left his country with his parents and siblings to enter exile in 1981. The co-editor of  Canopic Jar, his poems have appeared in various anthologies and magazines, including Canopic Jar, With Our Eyes Wide Open, Seeing the Unseen, and others. In 2014 his poem ‘Swimming’ won the Dalro First Prize. The same poem won the Thomas Pringle Award for Poetry in Periodicals in 2015. In October 2016 he was part of the 20th Poetry Africa Festival, where he also represented The World Poetry Movement. That same year, Waslap was awarded the Glenna Luschei Prize for African Poetry. In 2018 his fourth book, Qoaling, was published by the Onslaught Press. 

Juan Pablo Mobili was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and is an adopted son of the City of New York. His poems have been published, or are forthcoming, in The Journal of American Poetry, The Worcester Review, The Red Wheelbarrow Review, Mason Street Review, and Spirit FIRE Review, among others. He also co-wrote a chapbook of poems, in collaboration with Madalasa Mobili, “Three Unknown Poets.” Additionally his poem, “Gods, My Father and the Bombing of the Churches” received Honorable Mention by the International Human Rights Art Festival for the Creators Justice 2020 Awards;andanother two of his poems (“Contraband,” previously published by Mason Street Review, and “Losing Your Parents,” published by Fire Spirit Review) were nominated for the Best of the Net 2020 Anthology.

Keith Moul is a poet of place, a photographer of the distinction light adds to place. Both his poems and photos are published widely. His photos are digital, striving for high contrast and saturation, which makes his vision colorful (or weak, requiring enhancement). His grayscale photos are digital, often striving for a charcoal drawing look and mood.

Rochester, NY Native Danielle Ponder has spent the past years rendering goose bumps by perfecting her style and charismatic performance. In 2016 the singer released her debut EP Blow Out The Sun. said  “Ponder’s vocals combine the spirit of the church with the speak-truth- to-power assertiveness of a movement leader. “  Jeff Spevak of the Democrat & Chronicle wrote “Ponder’s tough-sounding vocals on “Three Word Revolution (I Love Myself)” is a defiant call to self worth. That title track feels custom built as a room-shaking anthem for women in the audience.” In 2016 the Danielle would also enter the AfroPunk Battle of the Bands contest, where they surpassed hundreds of bands and made it to the final four. In 2019 Danielle released the single “Holding Me Down “and is set to release her debut LP  June 2020. Beyond Danielle’s musical talent, she is a former Public Defender and Tedx speaker.

Octavio Quintanilla is the author of the poetry collection, If I Go Missing (Slough Press, 2014) and served as the 2018-2020 Poet Laureate of San Antonio, TX.  His poetry, fiction, translations, and photography have appeared, or are forthcoming, in journals such as Salamander, RHINO, Alaska Quarterly Review, and many others. Octavio’s visual work has been exhibited at the Southwest School of Art, Presa House Gallery, Equinox Gallery, UTRGV-Brownsville, the Weslaco Museum, Aanna Reyes Gallery in San Antonio, TX, Our Lady of the Lake University, AllState Almaguer art space in Mission, El Centro Cultural Hispano de San Marcos, The Walker’s Gallery in San Marcos, TX, and in the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center / Black Box Theater in Austin, TX.  He holds a Ph.D. from the University of North Texas and is the regional editor for Texas Books in Review and poetry editor for The Journal of Latina Critical Feminism & for Voices de la Luna: A Quarterly Literature & Arts Magazine.  Octavio teaches Literature and Creative Writing in the M.A./M.F.A. program at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, Texas.  

Charles Rafferty’s most recent collection of poems is The Smoke of Horses (BOA Editions, 2017). His poems have appeared in The Southern Review, The New Yorker, Gettysburg Review, and Ploughshares. Currently, he co-directs the MFA program at Albertus Magnus College and teaches at the Westport Writers’ Workshop.

Julie Rochlin began her artistic life as a performance artist, switching to poetry midstream. Her poems appear in the inaugural anthology of 50/50 by Quills Edge Press. She is published in New Millennium and was a finalist for their Poetry prize. She’s been published in Chautauqua and nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her poems are forthcoming in the online journal, Leon. Julie lives in a cohousing community in Cambridge, where she hopes to leave a small carbon footprint. 

Celeste Schantz is the editor of Mason Street Review. She was the runner-up for the 2018 Stephen Dunn Prize in Poetry, judged by Terrance Hayes. She was the recipient of a full Katharine Bakeless Nason endowment to attend the Bread Loaf Environmental Writers Conference, where she studied creative nonfiction with the author Helen Macdonald. Her poems appear in Solstice, Stone Canoe, and other publications. Her essay “Strata” appears on PBS’s Next Avenue’s “Telling Our Stories” podcast. Her essay “Lake Under the Sea” appears in Fugue. Celeste lives with her teenage son in Western NY, where she supports his differently-abled schooling and inclusion programs and champions autism rights.

G. E. Schwartz is a poet, short factionalist, playwright and performance artist. He’s the author of Only Others Are (Legible Press), World (Furniture Press), Thinking In Tongues (Hank’s Loose Gravel Press), as well as the forthcoming Murmurations (Wheeler Hill) and Chaos & Old Night (Legible Press.) He lives in Upstate New York.

Phillip Shabazz is a Poet, Writer, and Arts Educator. He is the author of three poetry collections, Freestyle and Visitation, and XYZoom, and Flames in the Fire. He is also the author of a novel in verse, When the Grass Was Blue. His forthcoming collection of poetry is titled: Moonflower. His poetry has been included in the anthologies, Literary Trails of the North Carolina Piedmont: A Guidebook, and Home Is Where: African-American Poetry from the Carolinas. Some of the journals his poems have appeared in include The American VoiceObsidianand The Louisville Review.

Alex Wells Shapiro (he/him) is a poet and artist from the Hudson Valley, living in Chicago. He reads submissions for Another Chicago Magazine and Frontier Poetry, and is a co-founder of Exhibit B: A Reading Series presented by The Guild Literary Complex. His work is recently published or forthcoming Blood Tree Literature, Boudin, Pangyrus, and Digging Through the Fat. More of his work may be found at

Michael T. Smith is an Assistant Professor of English who teaches both writing and film courses.  He has published over 150 pieces (poetry and prose) in over 80 different journals.  He loves to travel.

James Thurgood was born in Nova Scotia, grew up in Windsor, Ontario, and now lives in Calgary, Alberta.  He has been a labourer, musician, and teacher – not necessarily in that order. His poems have appeared in various journals (most recently, Trouvaille Review, A New Ulster, Broadkill Review, Umbrella Factory), anthologies, and in a collection (Icemen/Stoneghosts, Penumbra Press).  He is also the author of His Own Misfortune, a work-in-progress. (

Anastasia Vassos’s poems appear in Thrush, Gravel Mag, RHINO, Rust + Moth, and Comstock Review, among others. She is a reader for Lily Poetry Review. Her poem End of Life Directive was awarded honorable mention by Marge Piercy in the 2020 Joe Gouveia Outermost Poetry Contest. Anastasia is a BreadLoaf Poetry alumna. She is fluent in three languages, and is a long-distance cyclist.

Scott W. Williams lives in Buffalo, NY where he is Professor Emeritus at The University of Buffalo. Since his 2013 retirement, his poetry and/or flash fiction have appeared in Mason Street Review, Scryptic Magazine, Juniper Poetry, Punch Drunk Press, Peach Mag, Le Mot Juste, LitGarden and three newspapers. His recent literary publications include Bonvibre Haiku (CWP Press-2017), Natural Shrinkage (Destitute Press-2018) and a three volume anthology series A Flash of Dark (Writers Den-2018, 2019). 

Danae Younge is a queer, biracial writer and an undergraduate enrolled at Occidental College. She was one of 25 national winners selected by The Live Poets Society of New Jersey to be featured in the 2020 issue of Just Poetry!!! Literary Magazine and was awarded third place in the It’s All Write international writing competition for her poem, “If I Could Pinch a Moment in Time.” Her work is also forthcoming in Academy of the Heart and Mind. At Occidental, she plans to major in English with a creative writing track.

Mantz Yorke is a former science teacher and researcher living in Manchester, England. His poems have appeared in print magazines, anthologies and e-magazines in the UK, Ireland, The Netherlands, Israel, Canada, the US, Australia and Hong Kong. His collection ‘Voyager’ is published by Dempsey & Windle.

Jim Zola is a poet, photographer and children’s librarian living in North Carolina.