Writing in the Dark,, an apt metaphor for anyone who has ever tried to tap out words on a  backlit screen.  This book, a collection of essays gathered by Max van Manen, shows how "different kinds of human experience may be explored, the methods for investigating phenomena contributing to human experience…the process of inquiry, reflection and writing…a valuable and rich resource".   That is to say, writing is an attempt to reflect what goes on inside us.  Inside us is where "story" occurs.Scott Popjes maintains a busy schedule, writing, producing and editing major theatrical trailers, promos and EPK's and developing and producing TV series and films, such as "The Remarkably 20th Century" and "The Long Ride Home".  Born and raised in suburban New Jersey, this everyman director/editor loves making movies.Ernest Hemingway - The man who ran with the bulls.  His literary sparseness and compression, well-worn and well-earned, captured the attention of critics and public in a volatile age.  In 1952, he received the Pulitzer for The Old Man and the Sea.   In 1954, he received the Nobel Prize for his "powerful style-making mastery of the modern art of narration."  He wrote from life.  Until his life subdued and rescued him.Will Shakespeare - Aka "The bard".  Arguably the best English writer to ever glide pen to page, populist hero as well as aristocratic raconteur, though we wish he had used all women instead of all men to populate his plays.  (Not a prejudice, just a fact.)   His sonnets remain divine.  Rare is the writer who can scribble successfully in one genre, let alone two.  Some postulate this poet and playwright was, in fact, more than one man…or woman.  What would he have done with film, we wonder?Though he produced fewer than 40 paintings, Dutch painter Jan Vermeer is one of the most respected artists of the European tradition. He is known for his serene, luminous interiors populated by one or two figures. Vermeer grew up in Delft, Holland, joined the painters' guild in 1653, and worked as an art dealer to support his wife and 11 children.  In 1672, war with France ruined Holland’s economy and Vermeer's business failed.  Soon after, he died of a stroke at age 42, leaving his family bankrupt.  Vermeer's paintings were largely forgotten for nearly 200 years, until 1858 when a French critic began to write admiringly about his work.  Interest in Vermeer surged again recently with his work exhibited at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.  Contemporary writers have also been inspired by him, including Tracy Chevalier whose novel Girl with a Pearl Earring imagines the life of the girl in Vermeer's painting of the same name. L.Ron Hubbard - Whatever you may think of his other worldly beliefs, the full body of L. Ron Hubbard's work includes more than 5,000 writings and 3,000 tape-recorded lectures, spanning five, highly productive decades.  A humanitarian and adventurer, he  believes, "There are only two tests of a life well lived: Did one do as one intended? And were people glad one lived?"  We add, "And can one write about it, anyhow?"Johannes Vermeer's "Lady Writing a Letter with Her Maid" records a prior chivalrous age where class decorum reigned.  (Oh, well, you can't have everything.)   One of the most talented painters in the Dutch Golden Age, that's the 1600's, Vermeer's work was forgotten for centuries.  The most brilliant artists of any century are probably never discovered, their paintings hidden till ruin, their pages dropping to dust in unfound attics.  We find this oddly comforting.  No martyr of time, this particular masterpiece hangs in the National Gallery of Ireland.  Definitely worth a gaze.Jules Verne - Ode to childhood and the player within us.  Verne was born, aptly, in Nates, France in 1828.  He promptly ran off to become cabin boy on a merchant ship but was caught and sent back to his parents.  Thus constrained, his imagination wandered.  He wrote story after story, became very rich, bought a yacht and resumed his initial intent - to sail around the world.  Or Europe anyhow.   Our favorite remains Twenty Thousand Leagues.
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The Writers Place
February 2011 – January 2012
Poetry Review
1st Place Winner 2nd Place Winner
3rd Place Winner Honorable Mention

First Place Winner
Michael J. Trach

Michael J. Tach
Author Bio:

I was born in New Haven, Connecticut and grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio. I earned a bachelor’s degree from Syracuse University and an M.A. from The University of Iowa. My short story, “Ghosts of the Morning,” was published in The Syracuse Review.

I have won accolades for my work from The New Century Writer Awards, Fade In Magazine Screenwriting Awards, Moondance International Film Festival, and the Chesterfield Film Company Writer’s File Project, among others. I currently live in Thousand Oaks, California with my wife and daughter.


“ Ventura County Fair (The Big Slide) ”

What's shocking is how
fast it all goes by--
a glimpse of the blue-green Pacific,
smell of popcorn, blaring
music, screams,
wild laughter,
your wife and daughter waving…

And, as you near the end --
           an unexpected jolt --
your daughter runs to you, crying,
"It's my turn!"


Second Place Winner
Denise Whittaker

Denise Whittaker

Author Bio:

Denise Whittaker currently resides in British Columbia, Canada. She has won a number of awards for poetry and prose, and her short film The Girl in the Lay-by was nominated for a BAFTA and won best short film in the Las Palmas Film Festival. Her fiction and non-fiction has appeared in publications in Canada, the U.K. and New Zealand.

Denise also uses her writing skills to raise funds and awareness for The One Person Project, a grass roots organization that is helping two communities in East Africa to become self-sustaining.


“The Cull”

The Blackfoot brave chose not to take part
in the driving of the buffalo. He was young
and by definition, foolish.

Instead, when his people, the Plains people
drove the buffalo over the sandstone cliff
he chose to stand below the overhang
and watch the bodies fall. Feel the thrill
of a black bellowing waterfall.

When his people came to do the butchering
they cleared the last carcass and found
the brave, with his skull crushed in.

A hell-of-a-way to get a town named after you.

(Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump – Alberta, Canada.)


Third Place Winner
Diana Anhalt

Diana Anhalt

Author Bio:

Diana Anhalt, author of A Gathering of Fugitives: Voices of American Political Expatriates in Mexico 1948 – 1965, (Archer Books) a chapbook, Shiny Objects, and numerous essays is a former resident of Mexico City, who currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia. Her poetry has appeared in Nimrod, The Litchfield Review and Cloudbanks, among others, and is forthcoming in The Comstock Review, The Southern Poetry Anthology, The Atlanta Review and Sow’s Ear.


“ Instructions for Redemption ”

Believe. On rock-strewn Tepeyac Hill––stranger to rain––
roses flourish. An apparition of Virgin Mary drifts through
the bath house. She settles above a showerhead, mingles
her tears with fresh water. Sage grows here. Hang a handful
in the threshold to bar bad blood, stem small pox.

As for the afterbirth, bury it by the door. God willing,
your wife remains fertile, your daughters never stray.
Watch as Nautla waters drench the shore. The river
reverses course. Church bell clamor keeps nightmares
at bay while birds fall mute. Secure a lock of lover’s hair

in scarlet thread to shackle your man to your side
and wear twisted strands of milagro charms around
your neck. It forestalls drowning. Pass a witch’s
egg down a sinner’s spine. The yolk will curdle,
the white run black. And remember:

The only way to fend off death is to carry your creed in your pocket.


Honorable Mention
Leslie S.Townsend

Leslie S. Townsend

Author Bio:

Leslie Smith Townsend is a licensed marriage and family therapist who writes memoir, essays, and poetry in her spare time. She is a graduate of Spalding University’s MFA in Writing.

Townsend is a recipient of a Studio Saturday award from the Indiana Arts Commission (2004), the Betty Gabehart prize from the Kentucky Women’s Writers Conference (2005), a grant from the Kentucky Foundation of Women (2007), and a Vermont Studio Center fellowship (2008). Her personal essays have been published in Louisville Eccentric Observer, New Southerner, The Louisville Review, Arable, and Church and Society.

An excerpt from Townsend’s memoir, Lucky Girl, Guilty Woman, is included in Voices of Alcoholism, an anthology published by The Healing Project (2008). Her poem, “Home,” was published in the Christian Science Monitor (May 2010).


“ Haunted ”

I grew up in the shadow of Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath,
my mother’s friends, 3 girls from Wellesley (not the school,
the town) with suicide plans in their hip pockets. After
The Bell Jar, I abandoned the poets, seeking
to make myself sane, no easy business
after cutting, bingeing, purging, and overdoses
but I succeeded, friends of Mother’s be damned,
“I am not a poet,” said in the same breath as,
“I am not crazy.”