The Life and Times of a Literate Sasquatch: Sasquatch Talks Art

People are surprised when they find out I’m interested in art. I don’t tell them that I’ve become something of an art aficionado amongst my colleagues in the LMDOES (Living Myths Defending Our Existence Society).

My interest in art began when I heard some overenthusiastic travelers talking about some things they’d seen before heading out west. Initially, I got a little offended that they were so preoccupied with manmade art that they hardly said a thing about my mountains. But, I finally got around to looking up some of the stuff they’d mentioned and I had to stop grumbling. There’s something to be said for attempting to make beauty, not just relying on nature for aesthetic pleasure.

My own first work of art was inspired by the hikers discussing some monks in Rome who use bones from their dead predecessors to decorate their tombs. I had a small pile of bones from my pre-vegan days in a corner I hadn’t cleaned out yet, so I arranged them on the back wall of my cave, around the family portraits. It’s not great, but, for my first work of art, I’m pleased.

Then I got into the 20th century stuff. The combination of the aesthetic, emotive, and intellectual really gets to me, as well as the drive to push boundaries, of course.

I tried my hand at Jackson Pollock. I think he’d appreciate that I went the food route instead of paint, since sauces were easier to get at the nearby grocery store. By using sauces, I employed taste and smell as well as feeling and sight. I’m particularly proud of a nice mix of mayo and guacamole I got to contrast with the mustard.

After I posted a picture of this work on social media, others in the LMDOES got into art. I’m trying to convince Hydra to try out Picasso. I think he could really capture the whole “all perspectives in one painting” thing. A few of his heads have some self-esteem issues, so we’ll see.

My best friend Nessie tried out Duchamp’s readymade and assisted readymade style with rocks and seaweed. It looks great from the photos. She said her favorite Duchamp is “The Fountain.” No idea why. I prefer “Bicycle Wheel.” If it were here instead of in New York City (of all noisy places?!), I would spend hours spinning the wheel. I’m easily entertained. You have to be when you live in the mountains and your neighbors don’t think you exist.

Apparently things didn’t go so well when Kong decided to perform John Cage’s 4’33”. No one realized there was a performance going on and it really hurt his feelings that no one clapped. I told him to try composing something like Cage’s prepared pieces. Yesterday, he posted an announcement for a concert this coming tourist season, debuting a work titled “Splash.” I’ll have to wait for the video recording since I don’t do well in crowds.

In the morning, I am going to gather some feathers and an abandoned nest I saw the other day. I’m planning on channeling Rauschenberg in my next piece with these, some red twine, and a few black and white postcards.

Stop by sometime to see it. Or not. My Pollock imitation is starting to smell.

BR&S Spotlight: Meet Steven Hall

Introducing Steven Hall!

photo w EzSteven’s journey with Black Rock & Sage began during the spring 2009 semester when he registered for the Literary Magazine course. This was during his first year as a doctoral student in the English department. In the fall of that year he became the Prose editor for BR&S and the following year he became the editor-in-chief, a position he held for four years. During Dr. Goslee’s sabbatical year he filled in as the faculty advisor for BR&S, which included teaching the Literary Magazine course. All combined, Steven says that working with the magazine was one of the most rewarding experiences he had while completing his degree.

In 2014 he received his Ph.D. and then spent one year as a faculty instructor for the English department. In 2015 he was hired by the Student Success Center to join a new program called First Year Transition. Steven, along with a terrific team of colleagues, works as an instructor/academic coach charged with the task of improving the retention of freshmen at ISU. In order to do so they teach a number of orientation courses and each mentor around 100 freshman at a time. They also operate a summer program for incoming freshmen called Bengal Bridge.

This month we had the opportunity to ask Steven about his favorite places, books, and hobbies-as well as really important subjects, like how speed-reading would be a fantastic superpower. Steven also offers some great, practical advice for aspiring artists and literary magazine editors. 

  1. What three traits define you?

Contemplative. Faithful. Loyal.

  1. What’s one thing you couldn’t live without?

My little family.

  1. What is your greatest fear?


  1. Where is your favorite place to be?

My dad’s cattle ranch in southern Oregon (especially during spring or early summer).

  1. What is your favorite thing to do?

Anything that involves spending time with my two children: reading books, taking walks, wrestling, cuddling, jumping, laughing, tickling, hide-and-seek, crawling into forts, and so on.

  1. Where is the best place you have ever visited? Why?

Don’t have just one, but many are memorable: Havasu Falls, Buddhist retreat in the mountains of South Korea, Sullivan Island off South Carolina, Cape Breton Island.

  1. What would be your ideal career?

Small-scale Farmer

  1. What is your favorite book, movie, and band?

I’ve never been fond of the word favorite. But for years I read Thoreau’s Walden about once a year. These days I’m always reading a memoir (Michael Ondaatje’s Running in the Family is tremendous) or something by Wendell Berry. One-time favorite movies have included Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, The Mission, and Waking Ned Devine. I’m usually content with “Today’s Hits” channel on Pandora.

  1. What is something that might surprise us about you?

I find too much of contemporary literary culture to be oversaturated with pretention.

  1. What is your favorite quote?

Don’t have a favorite. But here’s a couple for your consideration from Thoreau:

“Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?”

“Most of the luxuries, and many of the so-called comforts of life, are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind.”

  1. If you could have a dinner party with ANY three people (dead or alive), who would they be and why?

This sounds like a play written by Steven Martin. I always struggle with hypothetical scenarios, so I’ll just name three dead people I’d like to meet (even if they don’t appear to have much in common): the apostle Paul, Genghis Khan, Vincent van Gogh. What type of restaurant should we go to? Who do you think would pay the bill?

  1. If you had to eat one meal every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Too many good choices. Definitely some kind of comfort food. Let’s say pot roast, mashed potatoes, gravy from scratch, peas in cream sauce, my grandma’s homemade bread (still steaming), and cold whole milk.

  1. If Hollywood made a movie about your life, who would you like to see cast as you?

When I was younger and had longer hair strangers used to always say I looked like Owen Wilson. But I think I’d rather it be one of the men my wife has collected on a Pinterest board titled “Swoon”: Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, or David Beckham.

  1. If you were an animal what would you be?

Tough call. If I went domestic it would probably be a Border Collie or Australian Shepherd. If I go wild then how can you pass up something that flies—like an eagle—or floats effortlessly in the ocean—like a Humpback whale or Sea turtle.

  1. If you were stuck on an island, what three things would you bring?

As humans we need food, water, and shelter to survive. So it seems logical to say one palette of Spam, one palette of bottled water (preferably something fancy, maybe in a glass container), and a pre-fab mini-house (something from 500 to 900 square feet).  I believe in traveling light.

  1. If you could have a superpower, what would it be?

Speed reading.

  1. What kinds of hobbies and interests do you have outside of work?

Beekeeping, cooking, making jam.

  1. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Growing my small business on a small farm with my small family.

    19. Do you have any favorite literary magazines/publications that you’d like to give a shout out to?

Not really.

  1. Do you have any advice for aspiring artists and literary magazine editors?

Find a reliable day job.


For new spotlight posts, please visit our blog the second week of every month (but, of course, do come back more often than that!).


March Staff Picks

A few members of the Black Rock & Sage staff have some great book recommendations for the month of March. Check them out below!

Jeff Howard, Editor-in-Chief:9780544309906

Although I prefer the range of topics and voices presented in the Best American Essays 2015 anthology, the 2014 collection was also a great read. Many of the essays are amazing examples of how to deal constructively and meaningfully with sensitive themes and topics, including suicide, racial prejudice, and sexual abuse. One of my favorite essays from this collection, “Thanksgiving in Mongolia” by Ariel Levy, who was the guest editor of the 2015 BAE anthology, details Levy’s experience covering a story in Mongolia during her first pregnancy. The piece is a gripping account that I think compares in terms of its central theme and careful style to Jill Christman’s brief essay “The Sloth” (which was published in Brevity, not in BAE). Reading those pieces together, along with Cheryl Strayed’s essay “Love of My Life” (published in The Sun Magazine) has demonstrated to me in beautiful detail 1) how good these writers are, but perhaps more importantly 2) how essays on the same topic (grief and loss) can be so different in their final realization. All wonderful and tragic reads.

Anelise Farris, Poetry Editor: 51p7fz4-7nl-_sx327_bo1204203200_

Everyone needs some light, fun reading on occasion, right? I certainly do, and my pick for this month is The X-files Origins comic book, written by Jody Houser and Matthew Dow Smith, with art by Chris Fenoglio and Corin Howell. The comic book traces two different story lines, as Mulder and Scully are young teenagers who live on opposite coasts. Even so, each of their narratives, though different, manage to weave together in such a way that it seems inevitable that Mulder and Scully would turn out to be such a fantastic supernatural-tracking duo. If you are a fan of The X-files this comic is a must, and the easter eggs throughout the series are delightful. Likewise, The X-Files Origins is the perfect comic to begin with if you are totally unfamiliar with the series and are looking for somewhere to start, especially for younger readers.28015100


Susan Goslee, Faculty Advisor: 

Bestiary: Poems by Donika Kelly.  Amazing!


BR&S Showcase: “To the Right of the Foothills” (2016)

The following is an excerpt from “To the Right of the Foothills,” a prose piece written by Stephanie Bachman.

The man, or sometimes woman, will thank me endlessly, and I’ll sit on the porch while they reverse their car and take a right. I’ll wait. Usually fifteen minutes is best. Most folks take their time on the roads, as one quick turn and they’ll skid off and tumble down the steep, sagebrush and pine hillside.

                Then, I’ll stick a cigarette between my teeth and hop into my pale mustard-colored 78′ Chevy and turn right.

                Their car is usually parked at the top of the hill, with them standing a few feet from it, hands acting as a visor against the bright sun as they search for said town. The smell of sagebrush and bluebell and warm, buttery air is strong up here. The wind turbines, which one person once said looked mystical, surreal, and alien up on these natural hills, will be in view, and their aw-shocking fans will usually be grazing the bluest skies.

 They’ll see my car, relief spanning their features, as they realize I’ve come to correct them on their directions.

                Then I’ll pull my Winchester out from my passenger seat, my finger on the trigger. If I’ve been lucky up to date, then this is the first time their faces will drain of color, or their chests will stop mid-breath. But by then, and if I remain lucky—and I’m always lucky—then they’re mine.

                The sun is a hot, blazing fleck in the empty sky when they first arrive. I sit on the porch, eating stewed carrots and beef cake, admiring the rust and pumpkin and scarlet-colored trees and purple-blue wildflowers sift from the cool breeze. Through the windows of their Chevy Tahoe, I see bright orange vests and denim coats draped across the back of the seats. I see two of them in the front, a man with a short beard and a woman—no, a teen girl—with an orange baseball cap drawing back her long hair. I see no orange and black flag on their window mirror.

                They slow at the sight of my house. The girl says something, and the man drives slowly until he eventually stops. The girl firmly holds two long, beautiful rifles against the seat.

                I tap my fork against my dish, thinking.

Want more? This piece was published in Black Rock & Sage Issue 15 (2016). Purchase a copy today!

The Life and Times of a Literate Sasquatch: Europe or Bust!

I was done with the mountains. Too much traffic. Too many trail runners, hikers, nudists, poets, nudist poets. It wasn’t about having space. It was about having my space feel like it’s supposed to feel: secluded, isolated, mine. Now I’m in Sicily. It isn’t quite like home, but at least it still feels authentic.

You may ask, how did you get halfway around the world without being spotted? Well, it isn’t like they’re trying to keep people in the U.S. right now. They’re all about keeping people out.

I made it to Puget Sound and sneaked on board a cargo ship. I didn’t know where the ship was going and didn’t really care. The hold was dark and quiet and smelly, so I felt right at home. Every so often I crept out of my hiding place and raided the galley for supplies. A few weeks later or however long it might have been (I couldn’t really tell down there in the dark), the boat docked in Palermo.

In a big city like this, it’s hard to remain undetected, and before long I stopped trying. My hair makes me stand out, but most people seem to assume that I’m either homeless or Zach Galifianakis. Being over seven feet tall makes me even more conspicuous. I am getting used to being out in the open, which is definitely new, and I don’t have to worry about being chased by people with guns and/or cameras or flashed by people with pens. As far as hygiene goes, Palermo is a lot like the wild, especially when you see the occasional old man who relieves himself on the side of a building, zips himself up, and walks on without shame.

It’s been over a year since I came here. Even though I have become more used to the way they do things here, I have also grown tired of my surroundings. Sometimes all I want is to go home. But I can’t very easily do that, can I? I think it will be very hard to get back in the U.S. without any ID or papers.

Most of the time I sit under café umbrellas writing on napkins. I decided that since I am now a self-proclaimed exile, I should write something extraordinary like Gertrude Stein or James Joyce did, although I prefer to write things that are more accessible.

The other day I sat in my usual spot at the café, eating the rest of a piece of pizza I found in the garbage, jotting down some lines. A little boy with a gelato, probably about six or seven, with dark brown eyes, approached me, a bit reluctant but obviously curious about what I was doing.

Che stai scrivendo? he asked and took another lick.

My Italian’s gotten rather good, although I don’t know how I managed it down here in Sicily where all of the letters get mixed around and truncated and slurred. I replied, Una piccolo poesia.

Me la leggi?

Certo, senz’altro. So I read him what I had:

Mi han fatto un cittadino senza paese

Il mondo mio é diventato una fossa

La vita intera ho vissuto solitario in buio, in prigione

E adesso ci voglio tornare e non posso

Magari la speranza c’è e non la vedo

Devo sempre aspettare un altra stagione

When I finished he just stared at me. By then his gelato was melting and running over and between his small fingers. A breeze picked up, blowing garbage down the street, ruffling his black hair and my reddish-brown. He came closer, put his non-gelato hand on top of my big, fat, hairy paw, and let it rest there. He wasn’t judging me; it was almost like he was inviting me to let myself be content. But a boy his age probably doesn’t know what it’s like to not be able to go home.

At that moment, his mother came around the corner and grabbed his shirt and yelled, “Che stai facendo, Pietro, eh? Mi hai provato di scappare di nuovo? She didn’t even look at me. She just hauled him off like a sack of tomatoes and left me there. Alone. I sat beneath in the shade for another hour, possibly two, and his eyes continued to stare, haunting me, until finally I ripped up the napkin and threw the pieces to the wind.

BR&S Spotlight: Meet Andrew Jones

Meet Andrew Jones!andrew

Andrew works at Tesla in the finance department at their SLC headquarters, and he manages a popular Flipboard magazine about Materials Science. He was an editor at Black Rock & Sage for two years while being a student at ISU, and, in the words of Andrew, “loved every minute of it!”

This month we had the opportunity to ask Andrew about his favorite places, books, and literary magazines—as well as really important subjects, like the beauty of urban Pokemon Go hikes and how being a stay-at-home dog dad would be a dream job. Andrew also offers some great advice for aspiring artists and literary magazine editors.

What three traits define you? Addicted to learning, frugal, loyal.

What’s one thing you couldn’t live without? Audible, but also my wife.

What is your greatest fear? My teeth falling out randomly.

Where is your favorite place to be? Vegas with my wife.

What is your favorite thing to do? Snowboard/Paddleboard.

What would be your ideal career? Stay-at-home dog dad, who is also paid to write science articles.

What is your favorite book, movie, and band? Current favorite book series, The Expanse by James S.A. Corey; current movie, The Accountant; current music, my Pandora is usually keyed to early 2000’s hip hop (Mike Jones, Nelly, Ying Yang Twins).

What is something that might surprise us about you? I got certified in Carbon Fiber manufacturing after I graduated. I wanted to do something with my hands.

What is your favorite quote? My brain doesn’t work like that, but I bet it could be found somewhere in “The Lies of Locke Lamora” by Scott Lynch. The Audible version has some fantastic performances in it.

f you could have a dinner party with ANY three people (dead or alive), who would they be and why? David Berry (Scientist), Head of DARPA, and probably Patrick Rothfuss (Author).

If you had to eat one meal every day for the rest of your life, what would it be? The Double Double with Bacon from Lucky 13 here in SLC.

If Hollywood made a movie about your life, who would you like to see cast as you? The Raphael Ninja Turtle suit from The Secret of the Ooze movie.

If you were an animal what would you be? My Frenchie, Karl.

 If you were stuck on an island, what three things would you bring? If I could bring living things, my wonderful wife, Karl, and some sort of drone ordering service to keep the island livable.

If you could have a superpower, what would it be? Super jumping with the ability to land, because flying is just too much.

What kinds of hobbies and interests do you have outside of work? I am very involved with the local Materials Science scene in SLC. I am mainly focused in composites that are associated with the space industry. I also workout every day and do the occasional urban Pokemon Go hike.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? My wife is in the Army, serving as a dentist, so wherever they tell me to go, I will be there. Hopefully I will also have a sweet job as well. I am already working within my third major industry so I am pretty flexible.

Do you have any favorite literary magazines/publications that you’d like to give a shout out to? Nothing specific, but I highly recommend any graduates to continue to devour anything that gets your creative juices going.

Do you have any advice for aspiring artists and literary magazine editors? Get a minor! The real world needs more artists and editors but it doesn’t always pay a livable wage right out of college. I highly recommend getting a minor in something that marks another achievement or hireable skill on your resume instead of taking that bowling elective for the 3rd time.


For new spotlight posts, please visit our blog the second week of every month (but, of course, do come back more often than that!).

February Staff Picks

A few members of the Black Rock & Sage staff have some great book recommendations for the month of February. Check them out below!

Jeff Howard, Editor-in-Chief:

Many of us have at some time or another perused or seen or heard of one or more of the many accounts and perspectives of the Holocaust, found in literature and film, including such classics as The Diary of Anne Frank, Roberto Benigni’s La Vita È Bella, Art Spiegelman’s Maus and Maus II, and Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning. These w41nu5n4s9-l-_sx322_bo1204203200_orks are cultural and historical touchstones by which those of us who did not directly experience the Holocaust or have the faintest inkling what it entailed catch glimpses into a series of events which are otherwise unimaginable. For my pick today, I would recommend adding an anthology called Holocaust Poetry, edited by Hilda Schiff, to the list of acclaimed Holocaust literature, of which there is a great deal. Poetry, as an art form, I believe, is uniquely suited to fill in the emotional gaps in our frequently porous cultural understanding—or, in my case, lack thereof—of the Jewish experience in the concentration camps. The polyvocal quality of the anthology too adds to the reading experience. The collection contains poetry by Anne Sexton, Paul Celan, Sylvia Plath, Elie Wiesel, Czeslaw Milosz, Primo Levi, Bertolt Brecht, and many others. United in this anthology, these voices present a mosaic of insight that implores the reader, to borrow a phrase from Wiesel’s stirring poem “Ani Maamin, A Song Lost and Found Again,” to “open your eyes and see what I have seen.”

Susan Goslee, Faculty Adviser: 




I recommend Elegies for Uncanny Girls by Jennifer Colville. Spectacular! And a recent guest writer at ISU!



Anelise Farris, Poetry Editor: 

unnamed-31One of my favorite comic books I’ve read recently is Snow Blind, written by Ollie Masters with art by Tyler Jenkins and letters by Colin Bell. Snow Blind centers on a teenager named Teddy, who is probably the coolest loner ever—who gets in trouble for sneaking into a library? Answer: my kind of guy. Any who, after Teddy posts a picture of his dad to social media, the FBI show up, and, long story short, Teddy finds out that his family is in the witness protection program and now they’re in danger. I don’t read a lot of crime comics, but this is so much more than that: it’s a really affecting coming of age story that has ridiculously beautiful art and fantastic lettering. This is one to read again and again.

Chris Swensen, Prose Editor: 

I recommend Suite françasuite-francaise-copyise by Irène Némirovsky. The story behind this collection is as tragic as its contents. Written in the days of Germany’s invasion of France, Némirovsky was a victim of the Holocaust. Her manuscript for these two combined novels were discovered years later and published. the novels themselves detail how the people of France both feared and coped with their German invaders.The novels  are an insightful and often bitter exploration of human vanity in the face of great historical upheaval. Having been introduced to these at school, I believe Némirovsky belongs in the canon of great modernists. A must read for lovers of literature from that era.