Submissions Reopening January 1, 2021

Here at peculiar, we are so excited by the submissions and support we’ve seen for the journal, and we are so excited for all the amazing queer writers we have published and will be publishing soon.

Yesterday closed our submission period for issue 9, so as we move into 2020, we’ll be taking issues 8 and 9 to print, and we are so excited for you to read them.

Another goal for 2020 is getting more organized on our end of the journal. As a volunteer staff, we all stay very busy with full-time jobs and personal lives, and because of this, we want to take a little down time from editing and producing new issues just to get the business end in tip-top shape. We’ve wanted to officially become a nonprofit for awhile now, so hopefully we’ll have things in order when we open for submissions again!

So for this organization to happen, submissions will be opening back up January 1, 2021. Until then, we’ll still be running the journal, updating our blog, and working on peculiar in case you have any questions. Keep creating and get ready to send us all your wonderful work in 2021. Let us know if you have any questions at any time.

Love and support to you all,
peculiar staff

What’s the Gang Up To?

Hey, all,

We thought we’d give you an update on what everyone on staff has been up to and where in the process the next issues of peculiar are. We’ve been busyyyy.


Jack

Jack just recently started a brand-new job teaching in Baltimore! He’s loving it, and we are so happy for him!

Best food in the last month: “Homemade Honduran food, specifically baleadas 😋

Last great book: Anger Is a Gift by Mark Oshiro

Bekah

Bekah is currently livin’ in the sun deep in the California desert and running a Kickstarter for the release of her first book, which she co-authored with her dad. You can find all the details for the Kickstarter here and check out her story on her blog!

Best food in the last month: Curing a post-Billie-Eilish-hangover at an Indian buffet in Vegas.

Last great book: Before Us Like a Land of Dreams by Karin Anderson

Emily

Emily, our amazing designer, has just started another semester of school in Utah (Computer Engineering, her THIRD degree), and she’s studying hard while putting the finishing touches on Issue 7!

Best food in the last month: “I only eat paper scraps from homework lately.” She also lists coconut mountain dew.

Last great book: “I’m loving the artist Steven Vigil. Found him at the park city arts festival!”

Spencer

Spencer has found his way back into the peculiar family, and we are so happy to have him on staff again! He’s recently relocated to Portland, a city Aaron approves since they can have weekend adventures.

Best food in the last month: “Recently I put a whole jar of pure blended garlic cloves into my spaghetti because I thought it was just a type of pasta sauce.”

Last great book: Don’t Call Us Dead by Danez Smith

Aaron

Aaron is shuffling around the streets of Seattle, hiding from the last rays of the summer sun, praying for rain, and starting edits and typesetting for Issue 8!

Best food in the last month: A copious number of dumplings from Dough Zone in Seattle.

Last great book: Bloom by Kevin Panetta and Savanna Ganucheau


We’re also open for submissions for Issue 9 and our Utah Contest. Check it out, and don’t miss the deadline on December 8!

Thank you so much for your continued patience. We love peculiar so much, and we can’t wait to keep bringing you more and more queer creators.

Q&A with Featured Artist: Trevor Burt

Q&A with Trevor Burt

Trevor Burt, a young photographer and peculiar‘s newest Featured Artist, encapsulates a biosphere of pattern and story. Each image reads like a river stopped—you still feel the rumble flowing before and after. The seen and unseen keep us looking back, and for this we have chosen Burt as our featured artist. Burt earned his BFA in photography from Utah Valley University, but hails from the golden hills of Sacramento, California.

When did you start creating art?

I have always been drawn to the arts but had no idea what medium to choose. It wasn’t until I had my very first camera (a brand so extinct I can’t even remember the name) and went to New York for a middle school graduation—bougie, I know—and started snapping everything I could see. From there I graduated to more and more expert cameras and found my passion.

Why are you an artist/photographer?

Art is my therapy. It has been the most consistent passion, hobby, and coping mechanism in my life. It has never abandoned me, and I will never abandon it. It has done so much for me in how I see myself: someone who is capable and ever changing. We all need to find something that does that for us, and art, mainly photography, has been that for me.

What photographers do you most admire?

There are an incredible number of photographers I’m drawn to, and they often change as I do. Currently I’m obsessed with Ed Weston, Nan Goldin, Platon, and Peter Yang to name a few. Photographers who can create a beautiful portrait or tell an amazing story can have as much of my attention as they want!

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“Storm” by Trevor Burt

What’s your artistic process?

I love pre-visualizing an image. I love searching for lines or textures or forms that stand out and then composing that into something complex or simple but interesting nonetheless.

What inspires you to create?

Not to sound hippy dippy, but to sound completely hippy dippy, everything around me. The way rivers collide. Buildings stacked on top of each other. The lines around a smile. The colors in the vegetable aisle at the store. Everything is radiating with energy and something unique that I’m itching to capture. Sometimes I don’t know what it is until I’m done editing and sometimes I know right away. But I am *insert clapping hands* obsessed with diversity. It drives me to keep breathing and exploring.

What’s your favorite thing you’ve ever created?

I have a lot of favorite images, but as of now it might be my undergrad BFA show: Seeing Slowly. I was super fortunate to go to Europe to study art history, and I was just enamored with all the sculptures we came across. I wanted to create images of these statues in a way people have never seen before. It felt amazing to accomplish that. I have a few publications with Utah Valley University that I’m proud of as well.

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“Textures” by Trevor Burt

What effect do you hope your photography will have on people?

Anything that inspires someone to FEEL something is a success in my book. If it stirs emotion, good or bad, it tells me people are growing when they see my imagery. If my work can inspire or change any part of a person to be something more or help discover a piece of themselves then that’s all I could ever ask for.

Where do you see yourself in the future?

I hope to be working in a studio or photographing for any of my favorite magazines. There are so many avenues and realms I want to explore with photography, but I hope I’m always doing it with a team or someone.

What’s it like being queer where you live?

Currently I live in northern California and I love it, but I used to live in Utah! I’m not an expert on queer communities, but I feel like each state has a queer community with different stories and habits while having similar themes. I love that each queer community isn’t identical but can be so much the same.

What makes you peculiar?

I love meeting new people. I’ve always found myself to be a wanderer instead of someone who roots himself in one place or with one group of people. I love listening and exploring. I think everyone has something that no one else has. Meeting people, hearing stories about their lives, or seeing how they choose to live their lives opens my eyes to how big and beautiful the world can be.

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Trevor Burt hails from the golden hills of Sacramento, California, but recently finished his BFA in photography at Utah Valley University. He has been featured in various UVU journals such as Touchstones, Essais, Warp + Weave, and recently collaborated on a book of fine art, “Arthur Futurus,” with the Art & Design Department at UVU. When he’s not behind the lens, he can be spotted at his local Target or Chipotle.

Find more of Trevor’s work online at trevorburtphoto.com or follow him on Instagram: @trevorburtphoto.

Upcoming 2019 Poetry, Prose, and Art by Queer Creators

Upcoming 2019

Amanda Steele

Life can get hectic, and it can be hard to take the time to focus on reading and enjoying art. If you feel like you used to love curling up with a good book and want to make more time for that in your life, supporting and participating in art and media by queer creators is always an admirable thing to do. We’ve put together a list of 10 upcoming books (some poetry, some prose) and a couple artists doing exciting things in 2019. You’ll want to get your hands on these, trust us.

Soft+Science+High-Res

Alice James Books

1} Soft Science by Franny Choi

This collection of poetry will be out in April and is created by one of our favorite contemporary queer poets. This poetry book is set to explore intimacy in its many forms and features Choi’s strong, singular use of voice. Expect a lot of humor as well as emotional moments from this chapbook.

when brooklyn was queer

St. Martin’s Press

2} When Brooklyn Was Queer by Hugh Ryan

At peculiar, we love great nonfiction in all its forms. Learning the history of queerness in the United States helps us understand being queer in the modern day. This book tells the history of queer Brooklyn starting in the 1850s and going up through to today. You can get this book starting March 5.

blackbird-1_3ac36ee880

Image Comics

3} Comic Book Covers by Jen Bartel

Comic books are the perfect medium if you love visual art as well as storytelling. Jen Bartel is a well-known comic book colorist and artist who creates vibrant, eye-catching covers for many Marvel comics. She also regularly opens her own shop and sells feminist and queer pins, patches, fan art, and more. You’ll definitely want to keep an eye on her work in 2019.

tradition jericho brown

Copper Canyon Press

4} The Tradition by Jericho Brown

This book of poetry is the third collection put out by Jericho Brown and will be released on April 2. The poetry in this chapbook looks at evil and its normalization in both the past and present. Brown looks at topics such as queerness, fatherhood, trauma, and blackness, and he does so in ways that play with form in new and exciting ways.

unbecoming anuradha bhagwati

Simon & Schuster

5} Unbecoming by Anuradha Bhagwati

This memoir tells the story of Anuradha Bhagwati’s own life, and it’s sure to be an insightful, nuanced book. Bhagwati is a bisexual women of color who tells about her story as a daughter of immigrants from India who then became a queer woman in the military. Now, she’s an advocate for policy reform in the military and wants to change things such as the ban on women having combat roles. Available March 26, 2019.

these witches dont burn

Penguin Teen

6} These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling

While serious works of poetry and nonfiction are always loved, sometimes you just need a break to read something a little more fun and upbeat. This novel is about a modern witch in Salem who has to team up with her ex-girlfriend to save her coven and town from a Blood Witch. This book is definitely in the YA category, so if you’re looking for a little palette cleanser that’s a good time, this is a great option. Expected release is May 28, 2019.

jae nichelle

Jae Nichelle

7} The Porch (As Sanctuary) by Jae Nichelle

This collection of poems is the first by Jae Nichelle, a spoken word poet from Atlanta who has received national recognition for her work. Her poetry is sure to combine more traditional forms as well as spoken word techniques and her poems have been described as “eccentric and mysterious.” You can get this collection in July.

hellcat kate leth

Marvel

8} Art, Comics, and Writing of Kate Leth

Kate Leth is a well-known creator on Twitter. She’s a fangirl, hilarious tweeter, and talented artist. Probably her best-known work was Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat for Marvel, she has also written and created other comics. And, like any great queer artist these days, she makes her own enamel pins and fabric patches. You’ll definitely want to keep an eye on what she creates this year.

the music of what happens

Levine/Scholastic

9} The Music of What Happens by Bill Konigsberg

The Music of What Happens is love-story and coming-of-age story about two boys, Max and Jordan, who on the surface are opposites. One summer in Mesa, Arizona, the two start to fall in love and will have to figure out if getting what they want is worth the risks. If you’re looking for a sweet romantic story to keep you warm on a rainy weekend, you’ll definitely want to check this book out. Plus, this book is already available, so you can start reading it now.

black condition jayy dodd

Nightboat Books

10} The Black Condition ft. Narcissus by jayy dodd

This collection of poems is part-memoir and covers the author’s experience with starting gender transition, using the inauguration of the current administration as a timeline and paralleling device. The poems in this collection are described as being a mix of autobiographical to meditative, and you can get reading when the collection comes out in April.

The works on this list are only the start of all of the exciting, diverse books and art by queer creators being released this year. You’ll be sure to find something you love that makes you laugh or makes you cry, or maybe both.

You can also check out some more on these lists:

https://www.lutherxhughes.com/blog/2019forthcoming

https://bookriot.com/2019/01/02/2019-lgbtq-books/

https://www.hypable.com/most-anticipated-queer-ya-books-2019/

 

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Amanda Steele is a queer poet and writer with a degree in Creative Writing and Gender Studies from Utah Valley University. She was born and raised in Idaho and currently lives in New York City. Amanda works as a freelance writer and blogger and has been published in peculiar, The Dandelion Review, and Sun and Sandstone, among others. She loves to mix her love of writing with her passion for activism and fandom. You can follow her on Twitter: @adamantaflame or on her blog here.

Q&A with Featured Writer: Mia S. Willis

Mia S. Willis

peculiar‘s most recent Featured Writer is Mia S. Willis, who drapes you in their poetry; a small thread of it hooks to you, and before you finish, you trail the words behind you—a train of images you can’t shake. This poetry you can’t untangle yourself from is why we’ve chosen Willis as our featured writer. Their powerful words have earned them a Pushcart Prize nomination, several poetry slam titles, and a soon-to-be-published debut poetry collection. Willis took the time to answer a few questions about their craft, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to share their responses with you.

When did you start writing?

I wrote my first poem after the sudden death of my oldest sister, Brandi, in 2012. In fact, my early work is comprised mostly of lyrical missives to her à la Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Woman. These pieces stand as a monument to my grief; they were and perhaps still are the most benevolent but necessary exorcism both for Brandi and for me.

Why do you write?

I think of my writing as an extension of my Rinzai Zen Buddhist meditation; it allows me to understand the world and to survive it. In a way, I believe I’ve developed Stockholm Syndrome for life in this queer Black body. Some days it is a cage; others it is an oculus. I am alive on these days whether I want to be or not, and so long as this is true, I will write so that I can continue to, as Dominique Christina once put it, “crawl out of graves”.

What poets and writers do you read?

Danez Smith. Maggie Nelson. M. Less. Ariana Brown. Lindsay Young. Thích Nhất Hạnh. Dominique Christina. Rainer Maria Rilke. Justice Ameer. Asia Bryant-Wilkerson.

What’s your writing process?

My process is incredibly emotional; I am usually driven by questions of morality, of gender, of nationality, and of culture. These queries are typically products of happenings in my daily life; for example, the titular poem in my forthcoming chapbook, “monster house.”, serves as my exploration of the ways in which physical spaces have the power to exorcise those who inhabit them (either with permission or by force). It was borne out of a negative experience I had with a white cisgender man™ in which he appropriated work written by a feminine poet (who is also my partner) about their experiences in girlhood. The poem “how to exorcise a boy (monster house).” serves as my response to this offense: “this house is a monster ready to make a meal out of any mortal bold enough to desecrate its hallowed ground”.

What inspires you to write?

“Everything is everything.”  – NoName, Room 25 (2018)

What’s your favorite thing you’ve ever written?

I’m currently working on a collection of kwansabas (African American celebration poems) on the subject of my Black queer body. This creative process is allowing me to fall in love with both the words I write and the topic(s) on which I write them.

What effect do you hope your writing will have on people?

My favorite review came from a poetry slam attendee who said that my work is reminiscent of a “sadder, gayer Freddie Brooks from A Different World”. From this comment, I gleaned that my work gives most folx a joyful Black queer sandwich cookie with a dollop of melancholy in the middle. I’m largely content with that analysis.

Where do you see yourself in the future?

  1. Faithful to myself and others. “Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, a conviction of things not seen.”  – Hebrews 11:1, The Bible (4000s BCE-96 AD)
  2. Happy. “Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.”  – Marcus Aurelius, The Meditations (161-180 AD)
  3. In love with myself and others. “Every person is a world to explore.”  – Thích Nhất Hạnh, How to Love (2014)

What’s it like being queer where you live?

I grew up in North Carolina, a place where Black queer folx are hung either on the cross or in their closets. The hardest thing I have ever done is continue to live when I wanted to die. “Remember that none of it killed me; that all of it could have.”  – Dominique Christina, The Bones, The Breaking, The Balm: A Colored Girl’s Hymnal (2014)

Thankfully, because of my father and my queer chosen family, I survived the shame and I am still unlearning it. My queer family is multiracial and multigenerational. Our gender and romantic identities combine in more ways than mismatched socks. We counsel each other through good times and bad. We cook meals for one another. We read each other’s poems. We watch ridiculous television shows together. We give one another the space to exist exactly as we are. This is the kind of home I had to run away in order to find.

What makes you peculiar?

My undergraduate degrees are in Anthropology and Classical Civilization. I am currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Classical Archaeology and am writing my thesis on the syncretism of Apollo and the Thracian Horseman in Hellenistic Thrace. My education has trained me to be a student of the world in both the past and the present as well as to interrogate the motives of those who claim to be its teachers. My time in academia has demonstrated to me that a) Black is the beginning, b) queer transcends space, time, and language, and c) nothing is nothing, therefore no one is no one.

 

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Mia S. Willis is a 23-year-old African American artist and adventurer from Charlotte, North Carolina. Mia is a recipient of the 2018 Foothill Editors’ Prize for their poem “hecatomb,” which was also nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Their work has been showcased by WORDPEACE, Foothill: a Journal of Poetry, Button Poetry and Slamfind. In 2018, Mia ranked fourth out of 96 femme poets at the Women of the World Poetry Slam, placed fifth out of 150 poets at the Southern Fried Regional Poetry Slam, and won the Capturing Fire Slam. They were also a member of Tender Bitch, the winning poetry performance team at the 2018 Feminine Empowerment Movement Slam Tournament. Mia’s debut poetry collection, “monster house.”, was the 2018 winner of the Cave Canem Foundation’s Toi Derricotte & Cornelius Eady Chapbook Prize and will be published by Jai-Alai Books in April 2019.

11 Writing Prompts for Winter and the Holidays

by Amanda Steele

Writing Prompts for Winter.jpg

The holidays are here and winter is upon us. If you live in a colder climate, you might be enjoying a winter wonderland, and if you live where it’s warm, you get to enjoy the holiday season under the sun. Winter can be a great time to reflect on the year before and spend some time curled up by a fire or your holiday decorations. For writers, this makes December the ideal time to actually re-focus on your craft and write a few new poems or stories. With school breaks and days off work, even though the season is hectic, it’s always fulfilling to find some time to let things be still around you and write something new.

We know that finding inspiration can be difficult at times, and sometimes starting a new work is just a matter of beginning. If you’re looking for some winter/holiday themed prompts to get your creative blood flowing, we’ve collected eleven ideas to get you started. Often, you’ll find that once you get started, the words are there. Feel free to try just one prompt or to go through them all. Once you’re done, share your poem or story with us if you want as we would love to read it!

1: Write a poem that uses three of these words: cranberry, santa, snow, candles, solstice, crackle, dreidel, and tresses.

2: Write a poem or story describing what it feels like to go from a cold, windy day outside to the warmth of the indoors.

3: Write about a favorite holiday or winter memory, but write it in third person as if you’re the main character.

4: Write a holiday or winter poem that uses a lot of imagery, but don’t use any typical words like snow, white, santa, christmas tree, frosty, etc.

5: Look outside your window and write a descriptive paragraph or poem describing your view. To switch things up, choose a favorite poet or author and try to write using their same style.

6: Write a few winter haikus. Remember it’s three lines. The first line has five syllables. The second line has seven, and the last line has five.

7: Write an acrostic poem using a favorite holiday or winter word such as yuletide or Hanukkah. An acrostic poem is when the first, last, or middle letters in the poem write out a word or phrase.

Such as:

See the falling diamonds of water

Nestling into the snow-covered sidewalk

Over our heads the blackbirds circle and caw

Wildly, a cacophony of noise and dark above

8:  To switch things up, write some journal entries about your life or about anything that is going on. You can be as formal or informal as you want. Sometimes it just helps to start writing and get used to being in the habit again.

9: Write about a bad holiday or winter memory you have and put it in poetic form. Try to use concrete images where you use all of the senses. See if you can include descriptions for sight, taste, smell, touch, and sound.

10: Write a short story that is no longer than 300 words where you introduce the idea of winter as a persona or character. What would the character wear, say, look like?

11: Once you’ve written a few of these prompts, try splicing two of them together into a new form and see what you can create.

Now, get to writing! We hope you have a cozy and fantastic holiday and winter season!

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Amanda Steele is a queer poet and writer with a degree in Creative Writing and Gender Studies from Utah Valley University. She was born and raised in Idaho and currently lives in New York City. Amanda works as a freelance writer and blogger and has been published in peculiar, The Dandelion Review, and Sun and Sandstone, among others. She loves to mix her love of writing with her passion for activism and fandom. You can follow her on Twitter: @adamantaflame or on her blog here.

Finding Support as a Queer Person During Thanksgiving: Resources and Community

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by Amanda Steele

Thanksgiving can be a holiday full of delicious food that often only gets eaten once or twice a year like banana cream and pumpkin pies and all those homemade rolls. The idea of having a holiday where we can enjoy a feast with those we care about is a lovely idea. But, while some queer people have supportive family members, many others don’t. Thanksgiving and other holidays can be stressful or painful for anyone who has strained or broken relationships with their family members.

If you’re a queer person who finds yourself without family support during this time of year, it can be difficult to face. This is often why finding a support group of friends and creating your own family is so important to many in our community. It’s something many of us talk about frequently. Often out of necessity, queer people band together to create strong bonds of support and love with people they aren’t related to. This idea of a found family can be especially needed during Thanksgiving and other family-centered events.

Thanksgiving can be especially difficult for marginalized members of the queer community. Certain members of our community face even more ostracization and bigotry in society, and sometimes among others in the community, sadly.

Transgender people find that they face even more discrimination and violence than cisgender members of the queer community. There are resources out there to offer support and help to transgender individuals.

Here are just a few of the resources available. If you are struggling during this time of year, the trans lifeline is a hotline you can call for help and support.

https://www.translifeline.org/

https://www.equalityutah.org/issues/transgender

https://transgenderlawcenter.org/

When talking about Thanksgiving, it’s also important to talk about Indigenous people in the United States, especially Indigenous queer people in our community. Across the country, indigenous queer folx, and nonqueer people too, face increased difficulties and dangers surrounding violence toward indigenous women, youth suicide, education, health, and other issues. The way that Thanksgiving is presented as a positive sort of mythos in the country can be very problematic. While we aren’t saying you can’t enjoy food with your family and friends and be grateful for what you have, it’s important to listen to Indigenous voices and provide support.

Here are a few resources to start learning how you can help:

https://firstnations.org/about

https://indianlaw.org/issue/ending-violence-against-native-women

While the holidays can be a rough time for many of us, you are not alone. Search out specific resources in your community that you can reach out to for help. You can also find national resources. It can be hard to reach out on your own, but often people in your community are already putting together events in your area to help you find community and support.

If you are in a position that you can, one idea to help your fellow queer people out is to host a Friendsgiving dinner of some kind either before, during, or after the actual Thanksgiving Day. And, if you know someone who isn’t welcome or comfortable at their family Thanksgiving dinner, invite them to yours if possible.

It’s vital that those in our community who have support and privilege use their resources to reach out to others in the community who are still struggling or who face more bigotry and oppression. Those of us who have the ability should work to support others and try to do our part to cultivate a spirit of giving, connection, and intersectionality during this time of year.

If you need support during the holidays, you can reach out to these resources:

https://www.thetrevorproject.org/get-help-now/#sm.0001vfwqsbv55f2z11gnlf94cpepp

https://www.translifeline.org/

https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/help-yourself/lgbtq/

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Amanda Steele is a queer poet and writer with a degree in Creative Writing and Gender Studies from Utah Valley University. She was born and raised in Idaho and currently lives in New York City. Amanda works as a freelance writer and blogger and has been published in peculiar, The Dandelion Review, and Sun and Sandstone, among others. She loves to mix her love of writing with her passion for activism and fandom. You can follow her on Twitter: @adamantaflame or on her blog here.

Writ & Vision—Curating a Culture Where Voices Are Heard

Writ and Vision storefront

The front window display of Writ & Vision on historic Center Street in Provo’s downtown.

by Jack Garcia

I met Brad Kramer, the owner of Writ & Vision in downtown Provo, Utah, for the first time last month when peculiar was cohosting a queer poetry open mic at his location. I walked into the shop, noticing the playful religious candles with white-shirt-and-tied missionaries in the front window along with other obvious nods to the Mormon faith, and headed toward the sound of his voice. A long, narrow shop, the front half looked like your typical bookstore, but the second half blossomed into an open, airy, gallery space with a second-level balcony. He shook my hand, wearing a t-shirt featuring the ladies from The Golden Girls.

“I have that same shirt!” I told him.

He smiled. I knew instantly that Brad Kramer was a very cool guy.

I’ve since learned that Kramer’s love of literature and history runs deep. He studied Russian Literature at Brigham Young University, then earned a Masters in US History at the University of Utah before moving to Ann Arbor to earn his PHD in anthropology from the University of Michigan. He is currently a professor of anthropology at Utah Valley University, aside from the owner of Writ & Vision—a fine art gallery and rare books dealer.

“So how did this all come to be?” I asked him, gesturing around me while sitting on the steps leading to the upper level that looks down at the gallery space. He was hanging canvases—stunning woodblock prints—while he spoke, hammering nails and using a level to make sure everything was just right.

“Well, I moved back to Salt Lake City to work on my dissertation…” he began. While researching what he describes as the patterns of silence and “unmentionability” in the structuring of the sacred in Mormonism, he was working for the Mormon press Greg Kofford Books where his favorite responsibility was planning the book signings and panel discussions. Many of the events were held at what was then Zion’s Books, where Writ & Vision now resides.

Kramer and Ryan Roos, the owner of Zion’s Books, developed a great working relationship and Kramer “kinda became his defacto public events manager.” Eventually another opportunity came Roos’ way, and he asked if Kramer would like to take over the bookstore for him. At first Kramer said no, worrying about the financial risks of keeping a brick-and-mortar bookstore afloat, and it wasn’t until he had a conversation with an artist he knew, Kirk Richards, that he even began to entertain the idea—but not just as a bookstore.

“If you buy it and turn it into a gallery, I’ll sell my stuff,” Richards said, in Kramer’s recollected paraphrase.

Another friend of Kramer’s, Glen Nelson, co-director of the Mormon Arts Center, invited him to New York City to tour dozens of art galleries, meet with curators and gallerists, and really get a feel for running an art gallery.

Returning to Utah, Kramer took the plunge and told Roos, “Okay, I’ll run it.”

In April 2015, Zion’s Books was rebranded as Writ & Vision. “We have to give credit to Rusty Clifton, who did the brand design,” Kramer interjected. “He did phenomenal work.” As for the name, it was crowd-sourced on Facebook.

Writ & Vision’s first art show naturally featured Kirk Richards, whose work is very popular—“not Deseret Book art,” Kramer quipped, but work that “pushes the boundaries of devotional art”—and sold very well.  Of his hybrid bookstore/gallery, Kramer commented, “A bookstore is much more inviting, not ‘snooty’ like a gallery, but it’s the art that pays the bills.” Since then, the store has done an art exhibit a month, as well as hosted music performances, poetry readings, author meet-and-greets, and other community events.

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Writ & Vision’s Brad Kramer with his daughter.

Like most living in Provo, Kramer grew up a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) and still attends church once or twice a month where he plays the organ. Admittedly, his wife Tracey and their five children attend much more regularly. I commented that while his store is first and foremost a Mormon establishment, I’ve noticed that he, himself, is very liberal—which some might find to be a contradiction.

“I have one foot here and one foot there, and whenever I feel like I’m being pulled too far one way, I work really hard to regain a toehold.” He still believes many tenets of the LDS faith, but also feels disillusioned with current leadership and recent policy changes—specifically a change announced last year regarding a ban on baptisms for the children of same-sex couples. “What we’re doing to queer kids is the wickedest thing going on in the Church.”

“I want Writ & Vision to be a gathering place of diverse Mormon voices,” Kramer told me. “A place where marginalized Mormons feel safe: queer Mormons, feminist Mormons, Mormons of color, even ex-Mormons…” As an ally, he feels he has an “obligation to help queer Mormons. It’s the most important thing we can be doing.” But he also recognizes the balance between being proactive and staying in his “own lane.”

In coordinating the queer poetry open mic the month prior, I had asked for his input several times, even asking if he would like some time to speak at the event, to which he had humbly declined. “This is your reading. I don’t want to interfere. This should be a space where the queer community can feel safe and have their own voices heard.”

He earned points with me for that one. Almost as many as for the Golden Girls tee.

Copies of peculiar can be purchased at Writ & Vision, located at 274 W Center St in Provo, Utah.

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Jack_StaffPic SQUAREJack Garcia is the co-founder and co-editor of peculiar. A Utah Valley University graduate with a BA in English – Creative Writing, he has had poetry and prose published in journals such as Touchstones, Essais, Orogeny, and Brown Bag Magazine. When not writing with the Rock Canyon Poets or working his boring day job as a jewelry store manager, Jack loves binge-watching The Golden Girls with his boyfriend and paying his student loans until he dies.

7 Poetry Prompts to Help You Out of a Writing Slump

by Amanda Steele

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We all have those days, or maybe if we are being honest weeks or even months, where we just can’t seem to find inspiration to write. While it can be easy to get into a writing slump, it is a lot harder to pull yourself out of one. Waiting for the muse to strike can be infuriating and disappointing, so sometimes we all have to seek out a little push in the right direction to get those creative juices flowing.

You can find many fun and inspiring poetry prompts out there, but we’ve curated a few of our favorites to get you started. If you have any favorite prompts of your own, please share them with us! We would also love to read any poems that are inspired by the prompts below.

The first two prompts come from this creative list from Kelli Russell Agodon. These are two of our favorites, but you should really check the rest of the list out. You can find her on Twitter @KelliAgodon.

  1. Write a seven-line poem about one of the 7 Deadly Sins that only contains seven words in each of the lines.
  2. Write a poem that is really a love letter to an old flame. To make sure it’s doesn’t slip into sappy,make sure one or more of these words are in the poem: dung beetle, politician, nuclear, exoskeleton, oceanography, pompadour, toilet, copper mug, corn flakes (or any cereal), corkscrew.
  3. This is a poetry prompt I made up. I would love to read your poem if you use this one, and you can find me on Twitter @adamantaflame.
    1. Line 1: Include a color in this line.
      Line 2: Verb a noun. Example: I “tigered”
      Line 3: Use synesthesia in this line
      Line 4: Highlight the sense of smell
      Line 5: Incorporate a strong action verb
      Line 6: Highlight the sense of taste
      Line 7: Make this line rhyme with the last (slant rhyme is fine)
      Line 8: Incorporate the word “sidewalk” into this line.
      Line 9: Use a simile that has to do with the sense of hearing
      Line 10: End with a line that is unexpected and changes the direction of the poem.
  4. Simply put, a tanka poem is a Japanese poem and is similar to a haiku but has two additional lines. A tanka consists of 5 lines and 31 syllables. These poems do not have titles. You can look at some examples here.
    Line 1 – 5 syllables
    Line 2 – 7 syllables
    Line 3 – 5 syllables
    Line 4 – 7 syllables
    Line 5 – 7 syllables
  5. Write a landay. The landay is a form of folk poetry from Afghanistan that is made up of one single couplet. The first line is consists of nine syllables and the second line of thirteen. You can read more about the form and find examples here.
  6. Do a translation. Either of a poem in a second language into your native language, or a poem in your native language into another language if you’re really feeling adventurous. You could also “translate” something from a different medium (like a movie, book, painting, song) into a poem.
  7. Write a found poem. You can use tangible, real material if you want. Cut something up and rearrange it. Black out words on a page. Anything that inspires you.

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Here are a few other sources. Poetry prompts are fun, and sometimes you just can’t get enough. So, why stop with seven?

Between the BarsWriter's DigestLitbridge

Utah Pride Festival Poetry Mad Lib Contest Winner

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Marketing Director, Spencer Ballard, and Co-Editor, Aaron Gates, at the peculiar booth.

We recently had the honor of tabling at the Utah Pride Festival in Salt Lake City, Utah, June 2nd – 3rd. While there, we engaged visitors with a fun poetry prompt dreamed up by poet and Utah Valley University professor, Rob Carney. The prompt begins, “April isn’t the cruelest month…” and proceeds like a Mad Lib with fill-in-the-blank suggestions all along the way. Jack, one of our co-editors, did this poetry prompt years ago as a student of Carney’s at UVU, and the full prompt was shared online by the Creative Writing Guild. If you enjoy writing at all, you should give it a try!

Booth visitors who participated were entered into a contest, with the winner receiving $25. We are pleased to announce our winner: Anna Slagle! There were so many wonderful entries—mostly silly—but this poem really stood out among the rest for its poignant sense of heartbreak. You can find more of Anna’s poetry on Instagram: @poeticinkk

Dear Georgia, the One She Loved So Dearly
by Anna Slagle

April isn’t the cruelest month, that would be December,
when I kissed her head
and scratched my skin until I bled.
In April—dreary,
dark, discreet.

Maybe if you’d written a letter to Frida that night
then she could have explained, could have said,
could have told us just how to fix our broken pieces.

No, it’s December that’s cruel because the snow
falls from the sky as the birds
fall silent and I yearn for her voice
among the roses.

Maybe one day we’ll meet again
and you’ll smell sweeter than I remember.

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