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Crying Lullabies to Venus 2014
82” x 84”
by John Babcock

Photo by R. R. Jones


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Dear friends of phren-Z:

We would like to congratulate Alexandra Barylski for winning the 4th Annual Morton Marcus Poetry Contest with her poem "A Letter." And thank you to this year's judge, Stephen Kessler.

Alexandra Barylski was raised near the Atlantic but loves her new life near the Pacific. She is a writing teacher in the Bay Area, and she continues her poetry workshops with former students at the East Palo Alto library. She is working to make her writing workshops for teen girls in this low-income area regularly available and easily accessible. Her poetry has appeared in Echoes of LBI and Ruminate Magazine. Her prose is knocking about in various places on the internet.

In addition to the $1,000 prize, Alexandra will read her poem at the 6th Morton Marcus Annual Memorial Poetry Reading to be held at UCSC's Humanities Lecture Hall on Thursday, November 12, 2015, at 6:30 pm.


Alexandra Barylski

Morton Marcus 2015 Poetry Contest Winner

A Letter

  For my student who isn’t blonde
or visible in national news and didn’t win
a contest (grade levels behind
in reading and writing) but who depends
on poetry clearing quiet spaces through days
cramped with laundry, gunshots, too many cousins
under one roof and scars on wrists. I see you.

For my student who heard "Appetite"
for the first time and knows about stoops
difficult to rise from. This poem is witness
to that heart-hunger un-named,
elsewhere thoughts keeping you from
being usual first to lunch line. I see you.

For my student who knows visions
can rise over cockroaches and lice
and who asks, with Gwendolyn Brooks, how to keep
dreams clean. For my student who swears to god
and mother 8th grade graduation will happen.
For my student who makes tired summer school
promises and requests poetry in detention. I see you.

For my student who thinks metaphor is stupid,
thinks it won’t extend strong, won’t iridesce,
refuses the heart its power. For my student who receives
poetry as a serious answer to unspoken questions.
For my student who thinks I don’t notice back-row
ears listening as I read aloud. I see you.

For my student who’s never seen Nebraska
(or life more than forty-five minutes from our city)
and imagines Kooser's shoes, farm worn and mice filled.
For my student who didn't know poetry could be happy
about cheerful events, a good life. I see you.

For my student reading Loose Woman, seeing
familiar hips and language and laughing
where my limited Spanish bars admittance.
For you who teach me new signs and tell me stories
these poems are breaking open. I see you.

For my students who put unknown
words on their tongues, who trust in spells
these sounds cast and allow words to work
over their insides where they tear and build,
tear and build muscles of resistance and compassion.
For my students learning to see themselves
in language, I see you.


Our Summer 2015 - Issue 14 is now LIVE. We have a theme this issue, for the first time—Teachers who Write / Writers who Teach. Each of our authors this issue either are or have been teachers.

Come back soon to see who will be publishing and reading for our fall issue in early December.

Chuck Atkinson Farnaz Fatemi Julie Minnis Ken Weisner
Maggie Paul Refreshments will be served!
Veronica Zaleha
This Issue's Artist - John Babcock

Photo by R. R. Jones
John Babcock lives and works at his studio near Santa Cruz, California. His medium is paper, and his work has been shown in over thirty major museums in Europe, the United States and Japan. Shows include “Craft Today ,USA”, organized by the American Craft Museum in New York, “The Artful Object, Recent American Craft” at the Fort Wayne Art Museum, and “The Cutting Edge, New Directions in Hand Made Paper”, organized by the Kalamazoo Institute of Art. He has lectured and conducted workshops throughout the United States and in India including sessions for the Southwest School of Art and Craft in San Antonio, Texas; The University of Wisconsin; The University of Hawaii; The University of California, Santa Barbara; Haystack Mountain School of Crafts; and most recently at the Maharaja Sayajirao University in India. His work is included in many public and private collections including The Museum of Art and Design, New York, New York.


The editors.

Julie Minnis
Veronica Zaleha

Charles Atkinson
Farnaz Fatemi
Maggie Paul
Ken Weisner

John Babcock

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