Poet and Editor Krysia Jopek on “Diaphanous: an e-journal of literary and visual art”

GRAPHIC DESIGN BY Dale Houstman (c) Diaphanous Press

Diaphanous Press was founded in February 2017 to publish contemporary, cutting-edge poetry, short fiction (under 750 words), and art in the online journal, Diaphanous. As a poet, literary fiction writer, scholar of postmodern literature and poetics, and wannabe visual artist (my predilection as a child was to be a painter first, then a writer), I wanted to provide a free, high-quality, e-journal to showcase and promote the creative work of writers and artists—and in turn, offer a wide audience free access to the best contemporary literature and visual art that I can find.

logo (c) Diaphanous Press

I chose the title “Diaphanous,” as the word evokes an image of a light, gauzy material (such as gossamer); a veil or dress draped elegantly over a woman or the semi-sheer, wind-tossed curtain covering a window or storm door. The word “diaphanous” often elicits images of a fragile, intricately-constructed spiderweb that can be destroyed with the swift swat of a human hand or a broom. The word and its image have also been thought of historically—as a filmic layering over one’s vision, the ancient Sumerian, Hindu and Buddhist Veil of Maya that prevents humans from perceiving “true reality” or representation; reminding us, as philosophers have, that perception; experience; emotional, intellectual, psychological responses to art and life; and the meaning we confer upon all of these human facets—are subjective and take place in the non-transparent, human medium of language that is a bi-product of civilization and one that evolves in its historical and cultural contexts over time.

As the title “Diaphanous” implies, I’m interested interested in writing and art that is slightly opaque or hazy, like language itself—that invite the reader/viewer in to experience the process of creating the specific text/image that is embedded in the final product–and to ascribe/construct possible meaning(s) and values to/for the linguistic/aesthetic experience. My hand-picked, small editorial staff and I gravitate towards a postmodern poetics and aesthetics that, as aforementioned, engage the reader/viewer in the experience the texts and images offer each, subjective reader. We are interested in language-centered poetry that foregrounds the medium of literary texts as slippery at best versus traditional, “I-centered” lyrics or straight, narrative poetry. Similarly, we value short fiction with challenging uses of language, composition, and condensed plot.

We are huge fans of writing that blurs the boundaries of genre (prose poetry, hybrid, flash fiction, micro-fiction) and subsequently, choose to feature experimental writing or writing that “leans toward the experimental,” as I like to say. Our Art Editor, Dale Houstman and I, solicit visual images that like the writing we value, are postmodern, experimental, and for the most part, non-representational. At the end of the day, we appreciate and choose to publish amazing, arresting, and haunting works of art. We have featured paintings, photography (acrylics, watercolors, and mixed media), digital art, mixed media collages, visual poetry, collage poems, text-based art, asemic writing, communal calligraphy, architecture—and seek to incorporate sculpture into our 2018 issue.

In terms of submissions, we receive a ton of poetry, a lot of art, and some fiction (not enough yet) due to the tagging of members of our facebook community and creative peers, direct soliciting from writers and artists, and now–as a result of our incredibly well-received inaugural Spring 2017 and Fall 2017 issues, people who have seen what kind of writing and art makes us swoon as well as the high-quality of our journal. In addition to the continued flow of poetry submissions, we would like more art and fiction submissions as well as more submissions from non-US writers and artists.

In our first two issues, we have published writers and artists from Australia, Tunisia, South Africa, Iran, Macedonia, Hungary, Italy, and England. We would love to represent talented writers and artists aligned with our mission statement in even more geographical locations across the globe. We are proud of a balance of male and female, established and new contributors—and the inclusion of diverse contributors in the context of ethnicity, race, and social status. Well, let’s face it, many artists and writers, yours truly included, are a bit financially-challenged due to the life choices we make that enable us to create and work in creative and academic environments, when possible. Many of us hold non-creative day jobs or temp when needed to support our art. Others, like Dale Houstman, are “gleefully retired” per his facebook bio description.

It is critical for me to note that this labor of love would not have been possible without the beautiful website design of my dear friend and writing colleague, Michael Dickel (Meta / Phor(e) /Play). A shoe-string volunteer staff who are all passionate and talented writers and artists, including, Art Editor, Dale Houstman; Poetry Editor, Thato Andreas Mokotjo; and Managing Editor, Meg Harris–assisted in the stunning, well-received first two issues of Diaphanous. Dale will remain as Art Editor and Thato as Poetry Editor for our third, 2018 issue.

Due to time constraints with my own writing, the intense workload, and unfortunately, my own battle with a cluster of serious autoimmune diseases—beginning next year, Diaphanous will be an annual publication instead of biannual with a new, small staff in place working alongside Art Editor, Dale Houstman and Poetry Editor, Thato Andreas Mokotjo. 

Our reading period and release date for our 2018 issue of Diaphanous is to be determined. We will update our Diaphanous Press facebook page and our website, as soon as we know.

I thank all of those involved with this amazing Diaphanous journey and look forward to reading and showcasing more of the highest-quality, cutting-edge, and exquisite poetry, short fiction, and art from around the world.


1. Sleeping close to the reef, the traveler holds a teal cup to the ear to hear the blue-green kelp gone lazy and dry, lost from the ink [stomach].

2. The chair in the suitcase packed to find the third shore, [w]here another narration varies.

3. In the dirt lit with Chinatown, the refrain apprehended in part; the loss of the second hand.

4. Send for the sample only to be plagued by more questionnaires.

5. The contents of the bag turned inside out. Borrowed and given back: a loose tooth, address book, bit of red mountain in a jar.

6. The lover’s eye spinning estuary coin.

7. Pulled out of slumber across the daybook filled to echo formulas for [sw]allowed halos.

8. The clock in hand the confused woman swallows the key to a diary the pages disappear waiting for the trump finale.

9. The [n]arrow boatride toward daybreak before the mountains crumbled [into] sound.

10. Pendulum’s dialectic of true and false, and all those shades of gray in between conspire hungry.

11. To prove the best design, the tincture couldn’t be documented to ensure the singular.

12. The hemlock given with an even hand, the logician attacked in the folds of a proposition, knotted in the tide’s undercurrent, wakes to find everyone missing–all of the main beams.

© 2017, header illustration, logo, essay, poem and portrait (below), Krysia Jopek and/or Diaphanous Press, All rights reserved

Krysia Jobpek

KRYSIA JOPEK‘s (Krysia Jopek, poems and poetic fiction)  poems have appeared in many literary journals, including Great American Literary Magazine, Crisis Chronicles Cyber Litmag, Meta/Phor(e)/Play, Syllogism, The Woven Press, Columbia Poetry Review, and The Wallace Stevens Journal. She reviewed the poetry of Ann Lauterbach, Michael Palmer, Anna Rabinowitz, and Rosemarie Waldrop for The American Book Review as well as literary criticism for The Wallace Stevens Journal. Her first novel, Maps and Shadows (Aquila Polonica 2010), was praised as “a stunning debut novel, beautifully written, lyrical and poetic” and won a 2011 Silver Benjamin Franklin award in the category of historical fiction. Her sequence poem, Hourglass Studies (Crisis Chronicles, 2017) was nominated for a 2018 Pushcart Prize in Poetry. She holds four degrees: a B.A. and M.A. in English from the University of Connecticut, an M.Phil. in English from the City University of New York Graduate Center, and an M.F.A in Literary Fiction from Albertus Magnus. She is the Founding Editor of Diaphanous: an e-journal of literary and visual art. She can be contacted via Diaphonous Press  or her author website (linked above).



NEWS, NEWS, NEWS: 100TPC Fund Raiser; Moe’s Books; Successful Launch of “Spearing Dreams” by poet Amy Barry; Sequestrum Editor’s Reprint Awards (2018) open for submissions

“What is a poet? An unhappy man who hides deep anguish in his heart, but whose lips are so formed that when the sigh and cry pass through them, it sounds like lovely music…. And people flock around the poet and say: ‘Sing again soon’ – that is, ‘May new sufferings torment your soul but your lips be fashioned as before, for the cry would only frighten us, but the music, that is blissful.”  Søren Kierkegaard, Either/Or

MICHAEL ROTHENBERG 100TPC Co-founder with Terri Carrion: Join Michael in support of this worthy cause from which so many poets benefit as they use their poetry for peace, sustainability and social justice. Michael is raising money for 100 Thousand Poets for Change (a modest $1,000). Whether you donate $5 or $500, your contribution will make a difference. Details HERE.

Join The BeZine 100TPC 2018 discussion page on Facebook.

This is our new poster for 100TPC 2018. It was designed by Corina Ravenscraft (Dragon’s Dreams)

MOE’S BOOKS, Berkeley, CA  is one of the most interesting bookstores. It has a long history.

“Since its inception back in the heyday of the Beatnik era, Moe’s Books has managed to become more than just a great bookstore–it has achieved the rarified status of a beloved landmark institution as well. Situated just four blocks from the University of California campus, Moe’s has managed to mirror the often turbulent and triumphant times that have come to epitomize all that is exciting and unique about Berkeley.”

Currently, novelist Todd Stadtman (Dec. 6) and poets Kevin Lozano, Jacob Kahn, and Shiloh Jines (Dec. 7) are scheduled to do readings. Details HERE.

The last time I was able to visit Moe’s there was a reading of Philip Whalen’s poems from Prolegomena to a Study of the Universe with photos by Tinker Greene.  Michael Rothenberg and Tinker Greene were among those reading that day.  (The woman in blue with the camera is Terri Carrion.)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

“Do you know why the San Francisco Chronicle said ‘India has the Taj Mahal. Berkeley has Moe’s?’ Moe Moskowitz of Moe’s Books [est. 1959] was a kind of loud mouth beatnik father to a generation. Moe embodied radical politics, radical theater, and radical bookselling. He put fun into being an intellectual and helped democratize literacy. If you were young in the 1960s in Berkeley when he held court at his counter, sharing jokes and politics, opinions, both warm and offensive, maybe you have wondered why he opened his monumental bookstore?” Moe’s Books  on Radical Bookselling: A Life of Moe Moskowitz

Radical Bookselling by Doris Jo Moskowitz on her father offers a wealth of images, event posters, “happenings” on Telegraph Avenue through the 60s, and memorabilia from Moe’s life prior to his Berkeley days in 1955.

BRAVA! Amy Berry for the successful launch of Spearing Dreams on November 17 in Ireland and as reported by James Fogarty in the Rosecommon Herald, her hometown paper.  Direct message Amy on Facebook for info or check out the FB page dedicated to the book.

Poet Amy Barry (c) Philip Mann

Amy Barry being interviewed by James Fogerty of the Rosecommon Herald (c)  Philip Mann

I am tickled to note that Amy quoted me (Sweet, my friend. Thank you!) in her presentation:

SEQUESTRUM 2018 EDITOR’S REPRINT AWARD is open for submissions and deserves breakout from weekly Sunday Announcements because it’s rather unusual. There’s not all that much by way of opportunities for “reprints” and this one awards $500 to writers of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. There will be a first-prize winner and “a minimum of two runners-up per genre.”  $15 entry fees. Deadline: April 30, 2018. Details HERE.

Value added courtesy of Michael Dickel (Meta / Phor (E) / Play) who shared it with us:


“Soulmates” author, Kenchana Ugbabe, to serve as Writer at Risk in Residence at Fordham University

Kanchana Ugbabe (photo courtesy of and (c) Penguin India

The Fordham Department of English has welcomed a new colleague, Kanchana Ugbabe of Nigeria, to serve in the newly created position of Writer at Risk in Residence for one year beginning this fall.

The pilot position was made possible through the efforts of the Creative Writing program in partnership with PEN America, Artists at Risk Connection (ARC), Westbeth Artists Housing, ArtistsSafety.net, and Residency Unlimited. The residency is the second effort of the New York City Safe Haven Prototype, a multi-organizational artist residency program designed to house, integrate, and nurture artists at risk.

Ugbabe is a professor of English and African Literature at the University of Jos, Nigeria, and the author of a collection of short stories, Soulmates (Penguin Books, 2011). She has edited two collections of essays on the writings of the Nigerian novelist Chukwuemeka Ike and contributed three chapters to the Dictionary of Literary Biography focusing on African writers. Ugbabe holds a doctorate from Flinders University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia. She holds a master’s in English literature from the University of Madras, India.

Since arriving at Fordham in mid-October, Ugbabe has been visiting English classes as well as courses in other departments, such as “Women and Independence in Africa,” taught by Fawzia Mustafa, Ph.D., professor of African and African-American studies and English. This spring, Ugbabe will teach her own class, “Creating Dangerously: Writing from Contact Zones.”

Over the last decade, the political crisis over ‘indigene’ rights and political representation in Ugbabe’s home city of Jos has developed into a protracted communal conflict affecting most parts of the area.

As a writer and South Asian woman settled in an increasingly unstable part of Nigeria, the risks and uncertainty became personal, Ugbabe says. These risks weighing upon her became intrinsically associated with a place she considered home—the town of Jos, which in the early days was a quaint, attractive outpost but has now devolved into a deeply fractured, overpopulated town rife with ethno-religious conflict. Ugbabe and her family, along with Nigerian friends, colleagues, and neighbors, found themselves at the center of the vortex of events. Disruption of work and a climate of insecurity escalated over the years as Jos deteriorated and the town became divided along ethnic and religious lines.

An invitation from Harvard University, to serve as Visiting Scholar with the Women and Gender Studies program, enabled Ugbabe to leave Jos and continue her writing and academic work in the peaceful environment of Cambridge, Massachusetts. The period also enabled her to distance herself temporarily from the tumult in Jos and to gain new perspective on the risks faced by fellow writers and academics in her beloved home country, Nigeria. As that fellowship neared its end, the Artists at Risk Connection (ARC) reached out to Ugbabe with the new opportunity at Fordham. This year-long pilot position will allow Ugbabe to continue writing and make headway with her research while being part of an enriching, safe, and encouraging community.

Street Scene: Jos, Nigeria The pollution comes from thousands of motorbikes which are the main transport in town. Photo courtesy of Andrew Moore under CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic license

Jos is a city in the Middle Belt of Nigeria.

“The city has a population of about 900,000 residents based on the 2006 census. Popularly called ‘J-town’, it is the administrative capital of Plateau State.

“The city is located on the Jos Plateau at an elevation of about 1,238 metres or 4,062 feet high above sea level. During British colonial rule, Jos was an important centre for tin mining. In recent years it has suffered violent religious clashes between its Muslim and Christian populations in 2001, 2008, 2010, and 2011.” MORE

A Decade of Suffering

“In the past decade, more than 3,800 people have been killed in inter-communal violence in Plateau State, including as many as 1,000 in 2001 in Jos and more than 75 Christians and at least 700 Muslims in 2004 in Yelwa, southern Plateau State. In November 2008, two days of inter-communal clashes following local government elections in Jos left at least 700 dead.” MORE

Some of the killings in Jos hit very close to home for Ugbabe. In 2007, a university professor was kidnapped and never found. Around that same time, church members were attacked, a neighbor’s home was set on fire, and a colleague’s daughter was killed in a bomb blast, to name just a few incidents.


This feature is compiled courtesy of Artists at Risk, PEN America,  Human Rights Watch, Fordham University and Wikipedia 

The Artists at Risk Connection (ARC) brings together organizations around the world that are committed to defending and promoting artistic freedom of expression, and to ensuring that artists everywhere can live and work without fear.

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. It champions the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Its mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.

Human Rights Watch

If you are reading this in an email subscription, you’ll likely have to link through to the site to view this video.

A Little Bit of Magic: That’s what happens when a singer/songwriter and a poet team up

What’s it like for a poet and a singer/songwriter to pool their talents and produce an album? That’s something I’ve wondered about. I thought perhaps some of you have as well.  When I found out that Diane Barbarash and Allison Grayhurst did just that, I asked them to share their experience with us here. / J.D.

Diane Barbarash:

The collaboration for the album River began on New Year’s Eve 2016 when I was reading Trial and Witness –Selected Poems by Allison Grayhurst.

I should first explain that Allison and I were extremely close friends back in Toronto, my old hometown. Several years ago I moved 3,000 miles west, landing in Vancouver on the west coast of Canada. I think it’s hard to maintain friendships with such distance so over time we focused more on our private lives and lost our regular communication.

Sometime in 2016 Allison and I reconnected, and it was as if we had never skipped a beat. I truly felt a piece of myself had returned and so it followed that I downloaded her compilation and was immersed in the book on that auspicious New Year’s Eve. I don’t even know what possessed me, but I remember the moment clearly. I suddenly picked up my guitar, scanned the poem I had just read and a verse flowed from a few of the lines like magic. It came so easily; musically it sounded like “something.”

So I went to another poem and had a similar experience. I should insert here that I was at that time fresh off of a three-year creative block in which I was only able to write a few songs, not many for such a time period. When these two random verses came forward from Allison’s poetry I felt more alive than I had in a long time. I can’t tell you how I knew but I knew something big had opened. The following day I contacted Allison and proposed the project. She very kindly gave me her blessing and her trust, and then I got to work!

The first poem that became a song was Animal Sanctuary. I think I sent Allison the first half, just to see how she felt. She loved it. I remember feeling nervous because I had changed the wording of course, the order of things, because a song is going to demand its own unique rhythm and one that flows with the chord progression. Even with just a half a song, we knew we had something. The writing of the album continued from January until July 2017. It was recorded in four days in August and mixed and mastered that same month.

River has been the most beautiful artistic relationship I have ever experienced. I’ve previously co-written with other musicians and one other Canadian poet, so I have had some collaborative experience, but mostly it’s been a solo road, writing my own material. I admit I am biased here… I think Allison is truly a great writer and I have not read poetry that moves me so deeply into my human rawness as hers does. It’s an honor that I’ve been able to bring her work out into the forefront.

Songs, like other art, cannot be forced by the mind. They have to come from the heart and you have to give yourself over to them as they flow out. This is how I’ve always known I am in the presence of true love, the unexplainable lyrical and musical combination that gives birth to what becomes a song.

Composing with Allison’s poetry became this kind of pure-heart experience. I am changed because of this album and definitely hope that there is more to come.

– Diane Barbarash

DIANE BARBARASH started writing songs even before she learned how to play guitar at thirteen. She was an active performer in Toronto’s folk club circuit before moving to Vancouver where she perused her love of recording. She has released three albums prior to River but considers River her true debut.

River songs from the poetry of Allison Grayhurst was released in October 2017 and is available on Bandcamp, iTunes, and Amazon.  Diane’s Amazon page is HERE. . . Diane on Soundcloud.

Allison Grayhurst:

When Diane first approached me about this project, my initial response was surprise and trepidation, along with excitement. I didn’t think such a thing was possible – for although there is a natural rhythm in my poetry, I didn’t think there could be music. I was nervous that I wouldn’t like what I heard. Even though I completely trusted Diane and was already a fan of her musical abilities, I was full of scepticism. However, after hearing how Diane combined her musical gifts with my poems to create separate identities – songs – I was blown away. I never imagined such a thing possible and I can’t imagine that anyone but Diane could have tuned in so well to my poems, creating songs from my poems that I would be happy with. Her instinctual genius, both musically and vocally, astounds me and resonates in complete harmony with my poetry. She has honoured my work every step of the way. I am in awe of Diane’s talent and brilliance.
Diane wrote the songs using my poems. Once the songs were complete, Diane sent me each song as an mp3 and a word file of the lyrics. I went over the lyrics meticulously and got back to her with any changes I wanted. There weren’t many changes, but there were a few that I felt necessary to keep true to the poems. Diane made the changes upon my suggestion – sometimes sending me back several versions. We did this until it fit musically for her and I was happy with it lyrically. As we both mutually respect each other’s artistic integrity, the process was quick and easeful.
– Allsion Grayhurst

Three poems by Allison Grayhurst

I will run my breath across your eyelids,
go to you, trace the edges of your hands,
finding infinity inside your torment. I will
drift into you like wind and you will not mind
my lips like a concentrated shadow on your skin,
darkening but leaving no weight. You will let me
be inside your picture, a background to your lyrics,
softly at first, I will heal the red in the whites of your eyes.
I will release my wardrobe for you and you will be the mania
that I climb through to reach tranquility. I will
cup your flesh and stretch you through this intimacy because
I own you as you own me and it is not a bad thing, not
blasphemy or anything
to fear. It is your hands, mine – these
poignant burial grounds that have been excavated,
these days of standing close, depending upon the ease
of our mutual exposure. I will speak in your ear and you
will step into my voice
like stepping into a river.
First published in InnerChildPress

Now I am Two

It is this way, togetherness:
A covenant with tenderness and speaking thoughts
only glimpsed.
The snow falls like rain as the afternoon moves
without time, our hands pressed as one,
lips and then, something better. Always
miraculous, unexpected, awakening. Always
us, vanishing and then re-emerging with these things
of harmony and friction engulfing our scent and path. Soon,
the tiger lilies will bloom and being just us will be made difficult
with the children gathered in our arms. But this ‘difficult’ is
whole and adds to our liberation – making coffee, laughing
at things shared and only ours.
It is what was prayed for, what years and hardship has not
diluted, but has fused into an unbreakable bond – us –
the summoning of all our parts – ancient, immediate
so that even when death comes or fate and terrible sobbing,
neither of us will ever be again
without the other
First published in Anchor & Plume: Kindred, Issue 5, Nest

Animal Sanctuary

He turns his hawk head
to view the shells of turtles streaking
the still-shroud of water in tanks
as blue as sky.
He lifts a leg and talons tensed,
pivots to defend against an enclosing shadow.
With whitish eyes and an impossible urge
to fly, he hops along his man-made perch toward
the cages where squirrels leap
from metal to wood, scattering like leaves
in unpredictable flurry.
He listens to the ducks’ lipless sounds.
Spring, he will never experience again, nor know
the scent of a pent-up life released like
sunflowers blooming, or the feel of the moon,
colder but more comforting than being touched.
He is without time or tribe,
and like fire, he haunts
by just being.
First published in UC Review, 1996/1997
All three poems are © Allison Grayhurst, All rights reserved, posted on The Poet by Day with Allison’s permission.

ALLISON GRAYHURST (Allison Grayhurst.com)  is a member of the League of Canadian Poets. Three of her poems were nominated for “Best of the Net” in 2015, and one eight-part story-poem was nominated for “Best of the Net” in 2017. She has over 1125 poems published in more than 450 international journals and anthologies. Her book Somewhere Falling was published by Beach Holme Publishers, a Porcepic Book, in Vancouver in 1995. Since then she has published sixteen other books of poetry and six collections with Edge Unlimited Publishing. Prior to the publication of Somewhere Falling she had a poetry book published, Common Dream, and four chapbooks published by The Plowman. Her poetry chapbook The River is Blind was published by Ottawa publisher above/ground press December 2012. In 2014 her chapbook Surrogate Dharma was published by Kind of a Hurricane Press, Barometric Pressures Author Series. In 2015, her book No Raft – No Ocean was published by Scars Publications. More recently, her book Make the Wind was published in 2016 by Scars Publications. As well, her book Trial and Witness – selected poems, was published in 2016 by Creative Talents Unleashed (CTU Publishing Group). She is a vegan. She lives in Toronto with her family. She also sculpts, working with clay.  Allison’s Amazon page is HERE.