a festival! a festival! a writerly type, wonderful festival! how lucky to have been there!

When you go to an amusement park and ride every roller coaster, it’s hard to remember later what exactly happened on which one.  You just know you had a ball.  That’s sort of how I feel when I look back at the festival.  I can remember the readings, and I can recall lines that stuck out to me.  I can’t remember everything, though.  The festival isn’t like going to a reading to hear a few poets.  It’s an intense, all day event with twists and turns of phrases that make you feel so much.  That’s how the festival was for me; I felt so much.

After going to the Arboretum with our friends from New Orleans, some of us read with them on the Gorgas House Lawn on Friday.  I liked the outdoor setting.  It was a smaller reading of about 50 people.  People sat on blankets or the grass, and it felt extremely intimate.  It was the first time we heard the New Orleans kids read and vice versa.  We had a lot of fun there.  My mother came, and I was glad she got to hear my work and understand exactly what I was doing in the internship and in college as a whole.  She was able to understand that I was a part of a community of writers, and I was happy that she could share that with me.  Will

I’m not used to feeling so early in the morning, but at 10 AM on Saturday, Bruce Covey opened the festival with the coolest poetry I’d heard in a while.  I wanted to lean forward, take it in, and memorize everything he read to us.  From that point, I realized we were in for some crazy awesome stuff.  That’s another thing—these readings weren’t normal.  Usually, I go to readings and sit with three or four friends.  This time, I was with all of the interns and the kids from UNO.  It was fun being with so many friends at a reading.  Ethan Saul Bull (author of In the Hour and a Bedroom Later from Slash Pine Press) closed the reading with beautiful work from the chapbook some of us worked on last semester.  I loved being able to meet and listen to the poets whose work we knew so well in Slash Pine.  Being the first reading of the day, we got to see what was in store for the rest of the day.  We knew the rest would be just as amazing.

The reading at Green Bar was full of some power houses.  Ashley McWaters sticks out  to me from that reading.  I remember listening and thinking that I wanted to write like her, and I felt so lucky to be involved in a community of artists in Tuscaloosa where I could hear poetry that made me feel inspired to write.  Some of the other interns, like Blake, read at the Green Bar.  His parents were there, and it was the first time they were able to hear him read.   It was amazing watching them listen to him.  They were so proud of his (really awesome) work, and it was neat to watch them understand his function in the community of writers.

Mellow Mushroom was our last reading, and I’m pretty certain that it was my favorite.  I was thrilled to hear Cindy St. John after reading Be the Heat (also out from Slash Pine Press), and she was amazing.  I was also fortunate to hear Carolyn Hembree, a professor at UNO who brought our friends, read from her book Skinny.  Her poetry is jaw dropping.  It was probably my favorite reading of the festival.  After the festival was over, we were all in sort of a daze.  So many words were jumbled in my head, and I wanted to remember and make sense of them all.  I couldn’t, but that’s okay.  Remembering everything wasn’t important.  What was important is the inspiration and sense of community I took away from the festival.  There were so many people at each reading supporting the community of artists.  It felt amazing to understand that this community of artists isn’t insular.  It isn’t just the university, Tuscaloosa, or Alabama.  It’s a nationwide community.  It’s about coming to some poetry festival in Alabama to read with friends.  Watching the exchanges between the poets was awesome.  It was so cool how everyone seemed to know each other, and it gave me hope that one day, our own little Slash Pine internship community will be all over the place and at the same time be together in our community.

Laura Flowers

Something like a weird little family–new orleans

It’s hard to know where to begin with the story of our trip to New Orleans.   I could sum it up as “life changing” or “damn near indescribable,” but I’ll try to give you a bit more than that.  It was a trip the six of us had been yearning for for two weeks.  We had been missing our UNO pals a great deal after they left Tuscaloosa.  I didn’t realize it was possible to miss people I only knew for four days, but all of us had a hankering to see them and explore New Orleans.  We loaded up the van early Thursday morning to meet our friends at 6 PM that night, even though it’s only a 5 hour drive.  Trips with Joseph are never from point A to point B, and that is more than all right with me.   Our conversations in the van were intense and silly without much room for anything else.  I’ve always seen SP as a family, and going to New Orleans was like going to visit our cousins.  Fortunately, we rarely fought, and “Dad” was pretty patient with us throughout the trip.  We stopped in Abita Springs for some food and to visit the Abita Mystery Museum.  This is where words will start to fail me, so forgive me.  The museum was what every tourist   trap should be: weird, fun, and a little frightening.  I met Darrell the Dogigator (exactly what it sounds like), and we had our fortunes told amongst other fun things.  We felt like we were in a dream.  The museum was disorienting.  When I left, I felt like I was walking on pillows.  It was an entertaining experience I wouldn’t trade for anything.

We met our pals that evening at a burrito place.  It was truly like visiting family.  There was constant chatter and joking.  It felt comfortable.  I felt like I could do or say anything, and it would be received by open, loving minds.  Kyle, Alexandra, and I stayed at Max’s place during the trip.  Max lives in a house that is truly Max.  There’s a scary bunny piñata and a cool, decoupaged coffee table.  It was a welcoming, awesome place.  Max is a welcoming, awesome guy.  We toured the city the next day.  Carolyn Hembree, balling poet and amazing professor at UNO, taught us how to drive in New Orleans, and we walked to Café Du Monde for beignets.  Eating them in the square in front of the cathedral was relaxing.  It was the perfect place to write and work on our hellcat catalogue.  Later, we explored the city, ate African cuisine, and hung out.  While at the market, Summer and I went on a mini-shopping spree and treated ourselves to Mardi Gras masks and matching purses.  Sure, it was a little touristy, but we needed to be a little touristy in a new place.  Plus, that’s my favorite purse ever.  That night we went to an amazing Halloween party and met wonderful people.  Riley said that Summer and I were going as tourists to the party, but I don’t recall him dressing up.

My favorite part of the trip was when we hung out at Joseph’s friend’s house.  The house itself was a beautiful, vine covered duplex.  Sitting on the porch was like sitting in a bird’s nest.  We sat around reading poetry to each other (Joseph even finally read for us!) and talking about what it means to be a writer, to be an artist, and to be a human.  I’ll carry those conversations with me always.  There was a sense of peace there that I will never be able to duplicate ever again.  We were together, and that was all that we needed.  On our last night there, Joseph cooked for us at the house.  We went to Rouse’s (the best grocery store ever), and he sent us all around for quests to get different ingredients.  Since the kitchen was small, only a few of us could help him at a time, but I think we all helped at one point.  Joseph is not only and excellent English teacher, but also an excellent chef.  By the way, the food was magnificent.  We were like vultures.  We didn’t want to use up all of the dishes, so we all ate out of the same bowls.  I have never felt such a sense of community than I had that night cooking, talking, reading, and eating.

Visiting New Orleans was the most emotionally exhausting trip I have ever been on.  I have never felt so much in my life, and my writing benefitted from that.  I benefitted as a person from that.  The friends I’ve made from New Orleans are magnificent people.  You should meet them, if you get the chance.  My friends from Slash Pine, well, they’re like the brothers and sisters I never had.  It was the perfect family road trip, and I would jump at the chance to do it all again.

I should note that I left out a lot of stuff like Max’s sweater Will wore, the beautiful poetry reading on the ferry, Carolyn Hembree being the coolest cat this side of the galaxy, Faulkner House Books, Kyle and I accidentally sharing a couch one night, Summer reading the I-Ching, Prime Example, and the night we hung out at Riley’s.  Ask me about those sometime.

Laura Flowers

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The Other Words Conference1 was held in the nation’s oldest European-founded town. Slash Pine interns ventured to Flagler College2 in St. Augustine, Florida this past November to attend the conference. We were inspired by the conference guests, Flagler College, and the city itself.

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The panels assembled were thought-provoking and educational. They offered firsthand information from publishers and authors on topics such as the selection process of journals, submission advice, as well as commentary on travel writing.

We were privy to unpublished and soon-to-be published works, as well as anecdotes and flash fiction from a diverse gathering of authors. Particularly noteworthy readings were performed by Bob Kunzinger, Kelle Groom, Mark Powell, Patti White, Bob Shacochis, and Lucas Southworth.

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Our own workshop was a fun, interactive experience. We were able to introduce several Flagler students and authors to the art of hand-stitched chapbooks. Following our instruction, the group used a simple stitch to make a keepsake chapbook.

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One evening, the Slash Pine interns also participated in the Renga Reading. We joined other students and writers in the beautiful Ponce Hall to read our own creative works. Some of the work had been composed during the conference, while others focused on the theme of the conference, Wanderlust.

Throughout the conference, attendees were able to tour St. Augustine. By way of prompts, such as the scavenger hunt or finding impromptu inspiration, we wrote, jotted, and scrawled in our little notebooks to our hearts content.  Knowing we walked the same cobble stone streets as Zora Neale Hurston, stood in the same halls in Flagler College as Thomas Edison, and looked out into the same ocean that held the aspirations of generations past, inspiration was not hard to find. That, and we stayed in a hotel full of pirates3.

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1 http://www.floridarts.org

2 http://www.flagler.edu/

3 http://www.pirategathering.com/

—Debra Logan

REVIEW OF MEGAN GANNON: THE WITCHES INDEX

Megan Gannon’s The Witches Index:  Spells, Incantations, Poems from Sweet Publications feels like it should: an earthy, mystical, and intimate.  Gannon’s chapbook is simultaneously delicate and sturdy in design.  The brown cover stock is thick and dark.  It almost looks like a leather bound book.  To continue with the idea of an old, leather bound book, the cover text is pressed with a shimmering, gold ink.  The font is a delicate script, and the moth on the cover invokes a nature-y sense.  The stitch, which is what caught my eye on the sale table in the first place, is an open stitch with a woven, spiral twist.  The thread, thick and smooth, loops through the book and ends with a long tail serving as a bookmark.  The design of the book is the dream of every chapbook artist.  It’s edgy and interesting while remaining simplistic.  It keeps the DIY feel while showing true craftsmanship.  Inside, the design remains delicate and professional.  The transparent spacing page doesn’t feel like a piece of tissue paper in front of a graduation announcement.  Printed on it, again, is the moth and an epigraph from the Salem Witchcraft Papers.  Turning this page feels as though one is opening up a sacred text.  I must also note the text font of the book: Perpetua.  We at Slash Pine are currently having something my friend Alexandra describes as a “love affair” with the font, so I was happy to see the elegant, clean font used in the chapbook. 

The book matches its design.  Gannon’s elegant, intimate poems are all titled as spells.  There are what I would consider more conventional ideas of spells, such as the “Housekeeping Spell” and “Amnesia Spell,” as well as spells named after female authors and poets, like “Brontë Spell” and “Dickinson Spell.”  Gannon plays with form throughout the chapbook.  She uses line spacing and interesting shapes for each poem.  The forms are all extremely functional for each poem.  Her last poem in the collection, “Spell to Reconcile Warning Wills,” is a poem for two voices.  After reading the author’s note, I felt silly.  These poems feel like spells, even though the subject matter may not be, so I should have been reading them aloud the whole time.  Right?  I went back and read aloud all of the poems.  While some are more difficult to read aloud (See “Sappho Spell”), the poems share a lyrical voice throughout that is vulnerable, intimate, and strong, as all good spells should be.   

You can (and should) find Gannon’s book from Sweet Publications.  Read it alone in bed at night.  Read it aloud.  Listen to Gannon’s spells, and enjoy the intimacy of the chapbook.  

Ordering info: http://www.sweetpublications.com/ordering.html

 

–Laura Flowers

From my town to Chi-Town

To be honest, as we mini-vanned our way into gut of the city that Thursday night I could have cared less about the big buildings with their highfalutin, sweet potato lights shining down through the fog and making me think I’d fallen asleep in a bowl of casserole. We were bumpin’ Kanye’s Monster and Colin was rapping his heart out side by sonic side with the esteemed Mrs. Minaj when we sidled up to the curb outside apartment 2222 (every number had a buddy). The first face I saw was Rachel’s—bouncing down the sidewalk, smiling like her face wasn’t big enough for all the happy. And then Al, Spence, and Marie on the stoop each waiting with a gangster lean on a big stone frame and a firm handhug (in the case of Marie a real hug ‘cause who shakes hands with a girl?) that seemed to say, “Welcome back.”

Slash Pine and Shotgun join forces to stitch “Tongues on the Tracks”!!!

You see, we Slash Piners and them Shotgunners (the press they started after we introduced them to the supreme fun of stitching was called Shotgun Press) had created a space all our own. And the trip to Chicago felt less like a journey to a foreign land and more like a return to this shared space that we carried around with us like a hamster ball (us, of course, being hamsters in said ball). As is customary, we frittered away the first night with a fine fusion of frivolity and foetry (shit, I mean poetry). The following day we made history live on radio and then rode a train in a catawampus circle. While aboard, I had Spence explain to me the finer points of eye contact etiquette as well as what to keep an eye out for whilst window gazing (apparently he’s seen a couple of folks in the nudie nude). The next day we combed the sidewalks, and I couldn’t help but notice the difference in pace between us Southern folks who are used to moseying through thick heat and the Chicagoans who walk with the wind. On our walk, Al and I bandied about the idea of getting an apartment together if I end up calling that place home, which is probably what’ll happen.

Tourist shot in THE BEAN!!!

Before I knew it, it was time to leave. The only real mark I’d left on the city was a splash of spit on a pigeon’s wing and a nose smudge on gigantic, shiny bean. However, if the mark my presence left on them city folks was half the mark they left on me, then that would still be a good-sized mark as far as marks go. Seriously though, I feel such a deep connection with those people. Through getting to know them, I have realized just what a fantastic and instructive bond creative writing can foster. Perhaps because the act of writing can make us feel so isolated and the presentation so vulnerable that when these acts are shared and are the thread that binds a group of nutty little scribblers together, the trust and red, white, and blue lurve that develop run deep.

-Will Gillette

An Encounter with Altitude: A Non Sequiter

When Kansas came to visit us Slash Piners, each group knew approximately one thing about the other group. I’m not sure what Kansas knew about us Alabamians (although I have a few guesses), but I know that we knew that the Kansanians lived in a land without altitude. The other thing we knew? We only had a week to plan a totally awesome whirlwind of writing, bonding, and poetry reading. If anyone ever wanted to know how such a thing is done, I can say that all it takes is a little knowledge of space and a lot of knowledge about people. So, we set to work trying to draw meaning from the relationship between high and low lands, and, understandably, with Slash Pine’s natural inclinations toward space-making we thought it would be fun to take the altitude-deprived Kansanians to a mountain, make them walk around a lot and talk to us a little, and hopefully gain some sense of communion with some like-minded, poetry-lovin’, outdoorsy people from across the nation.

If I learned anything from this exchange, it was that I am NOT a special snowflake, which I was told by Kansas’s teacher/mentor Megan Kaminski when I insinuated that geocachers (who I have lots more respect for after our failed attempt to find a geocache per-instruction to follow a path while vaguely having to “look down and then up”) might not appreciate opening a box full of undergraduate poetry after a similarly long trek through the wilderness. I choose to interpret her comment to mean that spatial distance between people does not create interpretive walls between them. It applies to both the people in our exchanges and “mugglers,” a geocaching term, meaning: people who are not geocachers and steal things that geocachers work hard to place so that only other geocachers can find them. I think it’s important to not forget the mugglers of the world– the people who we writers assume have no desire to understand writerly doings. In this way, we remember that we are most certainly NOT special snowflakes, but that all snowflakes are special and so none of them are. Writers didn’t get the way they are by being special, they got that way by wanting to be special.

A great exchange requires a commitment to immediate openness and a will to accept the weirdness that inevitably comes when writers interact. I think after Chicago, Kansas, AND Fairhope, Slash Piners have developed more than enough moxy to be able to do both successfully. We’re practically world travelers by now. And our experiences have led us into more strange situations than I’ve entered into in (probably) my last 5 years of life. Seeing Joseph Wood bathing mermaid-like under a waterfall in the middle of the landscape of the greatest altitude Alabama has to offer with the sun coming down in all the right places through the trees is an image I’ll never forget. Slowly, intrepid Slash Piners and Kansanians alike became bold and forewent heavier articles of clothing to be able to plunge into the freezing cold waters. I couldn’t help but look at us all, suddenly, as a full-fledged group of special snowflakes, being young instead of writers and being people instead of Alabamians, Slash Piners, or Kansanians, each individual slowly becoming entrenched in the fabric of each others lives and becomingone giantic, spectacularly special snowflake.

-Summer Upchurch

Slash Pine interns descend on Fort Morgan

A week after our internship took us to the top of Mount Cheaha, it swept us back down to the beaches of Fairhope for the Gulf Coast Writer’s Association Conference. It was a weekend for literary conversation, sandcastles, and poetry readings–perfect, in other words, for us.

            On the first morning, we attended a reading by several incredibly talented writers, including Slash Pine’s own Brent House (his chapbook, The Saw Year Prophecies, was one of Slash Pine’s first chapbooks to publish!)

After the reading, we went to Fort Morgan with our beloved Patti. We explored the gorgeous old caverns and walls, and Laura gave me a very detailed explanation of the term “duportail” that later turned out to be completely fabricated.

I still don’t know what it means.

 

We sat in an amphitheatre-shaped cannon turret to write (maybe? I don’t know what it was, and I doubt Laura did either, but it was shaped perfectly for our purposes) and to read what we had written. Patti read to us from her book of poetry, and we were, obviously, rapt. It was hard to leave, but we took lots of pictures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next day was our busiest. We attended a panel led by the student editors of Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College’s literary magazine, Pegasus. We were so impressed that we went to lunch with them later, and that led to an entire hour of nonstop chatter about literature. We know we like a group of people when they get as excited about David Foster Wallace and Kurt Vonnegut as we do!

After the ABAC panel, the Slash Pine interns led a chapbook stitching panel, and had our participants assemble copies of Be the Heat. They loved the hands-on, personal aspect of stitching chapbooks, and they were so excited to take home their own copies. We got to talk about why we love Slash Pine, and it made me proud to be part of this group of people.

Between panels, readings (our own and others), and browsing chapbooks from other presses, the interns gathered on the beach to talk about authors we love and things that inspire us to write. We were already close—we spend absurd amounts of time together and pretty much have to love each other—but during the trip we felt like we became a family.

– Alexandra Franklin

Summer, flanked by Laura and Colin, heads fearlessly into the fort.

From Chicago to Alabama: an Exchange Story

 We first met at the Civil rights museum, both sides nervous but eager to accept and communicate. They were all strikingly good looking, and I was immediately struck by the impulse to correct my posture and extend my warmest smile.  I had never before heard of a student exchange. Two schools swap students to meet, greet, and otherwise exchange ideas. I knew there would be writing. I knew there would be a reading in which I would be required to bare my soul to the world. And of course, there would be the ever-present conceptualization of space.

                As we browsed the opening exhibit, I thanked the heavens that we had some external form of stimulation to discuss.  Meeting people can be exhausting.   As the exhibits led from domestic artifacts to a darker room of translucent portraits hung from the ceiling and foreboding against the backdrop of white-hooded, white-men, the tone deepened.  I was weighed down by ancestral, white- guilt; I regretted bringing them here. They were unfamiliar with the South, and we chose to bring them here? In planning the itinerary, I tagged the Civil Rights Museum as a historic blurb before we got down to the business of literary conversation, but it was a gut-wrenching reminder of our cultural heritage, our shameful past, and the constant struggle for equality.  I guess our visit to the Civil Rights Museum set the tone for honesty. We confessed the worst of our Southern culture before showing off our cuisine, our campus, and ourselves.

                On the car ride home, one of the DePaul Students  remarked that the Birmingham city and highway landscape was similar to his home in Cleveland, and his home in Chicago. “How quickly we homogenize”  He said. It is true that cities across America are similar. The differences are in the details.  How do you dress, where do you go at night, what do you feel when you are surrounded by people?  There are city dwellers vs. suburbanites, East vs. West, North vs. South, and all the overlays that comprise a place.  I cannot think of a better way to experience a city than by communing with the locals.  Although I was not able to experience Chicago this way as of yet, the chance is not lost! Perhaps in August I’ll tag along with Katarina to Lollapalooza. I can look forward to more conversations of place, of space, and of beginnings within!

 The exchange experience as done by Slashpine is one of the most genuine informal ways to learn about the heart of a city: its people.  If it had a tourist-travel-pack modeled after it, I would recommend it.  I had the opportunity to host four of the kindest people I have ever met, and for this, I am grateful.

Rebecca Cape 

Depaul/Tuscaloosa: Exchange

Tuscaloosa

DePaul University visited us first; four students—Al, Spencer, Marie, and Rachel—flying in from Chicago, while we drove up from Tuscaloosa to meet them in Birmingham. The theme of the exchange was movement. Itt was fitting that we started out with physical movement, from place to place, and visited the Civil Rights museum, an exploration of social movements. After eating at Al’s, we went to Becca’s apartment and wrote an exquisite corpse poem—the typical idea of fun for writers.

The next day, we headed out to the train tracks to write for a few hours before we hiked down to a small creek, reading the raw things we wrote for the camera. Afterwards, after eating at Mugshots, we went down to the model train station and read the poems we had written for the reading, Tongues on the Track. It was a small, intimate setting, one that juxtaposed our theme of movement against the still train, the quiet resting of the shadowed figures that sat, listening to the reader.

The weather next day was not conducive to camping, as we had originally wanted to do, so we stitched chapbooks with DePaul instead—an exercise they heartily enjoyed. We worked quickly, growing more sure as we worked. The camaraderie knit itself around us, and I realized just how much I would miss these people I had only known for a few days.

Chicago

When we came to Chicago, I was still groggy from my nap, but awake enough to be struck by the faint, sparkling beauty of the city—how the buildings faded into fog like a myth, the lights sweeping over our faces like they were searching us. We found Al’s apartment and went out to eat before coming back. I stayed up that night to write my poem to read on the radio the next day; my bed was next to the gigantic window that looked out onto the street, struck by how the light seemed different here.

In the morning, we walked to DePaul University and read our poems for the DePaul Writers’ Series. We talked about Slash Pine and the exchanges, as well as about writing in general. We rode the El and walked around downtown Chicago to write for a while—I jotted down notes, but couldn’t think of anything to write yet. We went to the Bourgeois Pig, a café that had literary names for sandwiches—such as the Great Gatsby and the Walt Whitman. We also visited the Poetry Foundation, which was beautiful—it held a lot of books, and we walked around looking at chapbooks before plucking a volume of poetry off the library shelf to read for a while.

Later that night, we visited a writer’s house to hear two authors read from their books—it was another close, intimate experience that reminded me of the reading we had done on the train tracks. It struck me that this was something that something most people didn’t think about when they thought about writers—a kind of support that didn’t necessarily involve fame or lofty recognition, but a personal approach that meant so much more than impersonal acknowledgement.

The next morning, we stitched our chapbooks before taking the El downtown. There was a man dressed in silver clothes, painted silver, who danced to music in a robotic fashion—something that rarely happened in Tuscaloosa. After eating and walking through Millennium Park, we visited the Chicago Cultural Center, to look at the typography exhibit and write. Then we walked to Wicker Park to read what we had written, ending with a freestyle rap by Will. We visited a few bookstores—one carried an eclectic stock of chapbooks and enigmatic works by local authors, and was delightfully quirky.

We packed up our bags early in the morning and said goodbye. I said goodbye to Chicago, but not forever. Years from now, I will be telling my children the story of how I fell in love with a city. About trains and people and the biting cold, the bookstores tucked away in the façade of the city, the poetry that fell from our lips onto park benches.

– Lin Wang

Wooing Across the Country

As we drove into the city of Chicago, Illinois, the office lights of the architecturally stout buildings twinkled through the softly rolling fog blanketing the dark night sky. Great waves crashed against the lake shore, while the runners seemed unconcerned from the spray. We—Katerina, Colin, Lin, Will, Luke, and myself—all stared out the windows of the university provided van, taking in the city’s welcome.

The next day I commented on the ride in saying, “It was all very romantic.”

That perfectly sums up my feelings over the entire exchange process with the DePaul University students. I was wooed by these students and the conversations and doings of each separate weekend. And I feel as if the feeling was reciprocated.

When the DePaul students were headed home at the end of their time in Alabama, one of the students, Rachel, threw a mock fit in the airport, refusing to leave and tossing her things onto the ground.

She said later that we gave her a lesson on how to be a good person. Our southern hospitality apparently wooed them too.

It is things like that that make me realize how successful our exchange time together was. During DePaul’s time in Tuscaloosa, we spent four days working under the theme of movement. During the weekend, we moved from very industrial spaces and things, like Birmingham and the Civil Rights Museum, to more natural spaces and things, like a stretch of grass lining an old train trestle. We took them to the small food dives to get a taste of authentic Tuscaloosa. We even had a reading at the Northport Train Depot called ‘Tongues on the Track’. Clearly, we like trains. Our poems and prose that we read even focused on movement, whatever that might have meant to each individual person.

And then, in Chicago, our theme was privacy in public spaces. As is the nature of a bustling city, people are elbow to elbow every day without even noticing each other, sharing intimate moments without realizing it. Our task was to take the time to notice each other. We spent time riding the subway, walking the streets of the city, plunging into small bookstores, attending a poetry reading in a private home, and recording a radio show. There was so much immersion happening, but what made the exchanges successful were the people.

The point of the student exchange is to push you out of your physical and mental boundaries and drop you into an unknown environment, with fresh people and fresh ideas. Slash Pine attempts to extend our community of writers and form friendships with these people. And with Chicago, we accomplished this.

While DePaul was in Alabama, we taught them how to stitch chapbooks and discussed the world surrounding chapbooks. When we arrived in Chicago, we learned that DePaul had been so inspired by this that they had started their own chapbook press called Shotgun Press. They surprised us with their first chapbook, ‘Tongues on the Tracks’—a collection of the poems from our reading in Alabama. I joked that we gave them Chapbook Fever.

Something wonderful happened during our time together and I don’t quite know how to explain it. I consider myself blessed to have been a part of it and a part of Slash Pine. Blame the nostalgia on my graduating this weekend, but Slash Pine made such an impact on my life and I am so thankful for the experiences that the internship provided me with. The best way for me to describe it is, it was all just so very romantic.

—Sarah Jennings