Harp & Altar

Shane Book is a graduate of the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop and was a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. His awards include a New York Times Fellowship in Poetry, an Academy of American Poets Prize, and a National Magazine Award. He teaches at Stanford and is producing and directing the documentary film Laborland.


Adam Clay is the author of The Wash (Parlor Press, 2006). He lives in Michigan.


Josh Dorman’s work has been exhibited in solo shows at galleries including 55 Mercer, The CUE Foundation, and Pierogi in New York, George Billis in Los Angeles, and Hallwalls in Buffalo. His work has also been included in group shows at the Drawing Center, the National Academy Museum, the Islip Art Museum, and Hunter College, among others, and has been exhibited internationally, in Traun, Austria, and Leipzig, Germany. He received his MFA from Queens College in 1992 and has been granted residencies at Yaddo and the Millay Colony. Images of his work are available at www.joshdorman.net.

A Canadian currently living in Brooklyn, Corey Frost's stories have appeared in Matrix, Geist, The Walrus, and other magazines. He was named the Best Spoken Word Artist in 2001 by the Montreal Mirror. He is currently writing a book about spoken word scenes around the world as part of a doctoral dissertation. A CD of his performances, Bits World: Exciting Version, is forthcoming. His books include The Worthwhile Flux (2004) and My Own Devices: Airport Version (2006), both published by Conundrum Press.


Sarah Gridley received her MFA in poetry from the University of Montana. She is the author of Weather Eye Open (University of California Press/New California Poetry Series, 2005) and is currently a Visiting Lecturer in Poetry at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.


Elise Harris is a freelance writer living in Brooklyn. Her profile of the poet Noelle Kocot appeared in the first issue of Harp & Altar.


Joanna Howard's work has appeared in Conjunctions, Chicago Review, Quarterly West, Western Humanities Review, Fourteen Hills, and elsewhere. Her chapbook In the Colorless Round, illustrated by Rikki Ducornet, was published in 2006 by Noemi Press. She received her Ph.D. in creative writing from the University of Denver in 2004 and currently lives in Providence, where she teaches at Brown University and is an editor for Encyclopedia Project.


Steve Katz was one of the founders of Fiction Collective (now FC2). He has taught creative writing at Cornell University, Brooklyn College, Queens College, the University of Iowa Writer's Workshop, the University of Notre Dame, and the University of Colorado at Boulder, from which he retired in 2003. He's also tended bar, worked construction, waited tables, and mined for mercury. His books include Creamy & Delicious, Wier & Pouce, Florry of Washington Heights, Swanny's Ways, Saw, Moving Parts, and Stolen Stories. His most recent books are the novel Antonello’s Lion (Green Integer, 2005) and the collection Kisssss?, which is forthcoming in 2007 from FC2. The stories in this issue are from an ongoing project of memoirs titled Memoirrhoids.


Joanna Klink's second book, Circadian, is forthcoming from Penguin in 2007. She teaches poetry at the University of Montana.


Michael Newton is a current MFA candidate at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan, though his artwork is kind of hard to explain. His gallery reviews also appeared in the first issue of Harp & Altar.


Peter O'Leary's book of criticism, Gnostic Contagion: Robert Duncan & the Poetry of Illness, was published in 2002 by Wesleyan. A new book of poetry, Depth Theology, appeared last year from Georgia. He lives on the West Side of Chicago, in Berwyn.


Katie Peterson was born in California. She is the Robert Aird Professor of Humanities at Deep Springs College in Deep Springs, California. Her book of poems, This One Tree, won the New Issues Poetry Prize and was published in 2006 by New Issues/Western Michigan University Press.


Johannah Rodgers is a writer who lives in Brooklyn. Her chapbook Necessary Fictions was published by Sona Books in 2003, and her short stories and essays have appeared in Fiction, CHAIN Arts, The Brooklyn Rail, Pierogi Press, and Fence. Her book sentences, a collection of stories, essays, and artwork, was published this year by Red Dust Press.


Brandon Shimoda’s writings appear in recent or forthcoming editions of MiPOesias, Free Verse, Practice, Washington Square, Xantippe, the tiny, and elsewhere. He has projects forthcoming from both Corollary Press and Flim Forum Press. He currently teaches at the University of Montana in Missoula, where he also curates the New Lakes reading and performance series.


Kate Schreyer is currently studying fiction in the MFA program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.


Michael Zeiss’s story “Notes Toward a Supreme Action Movie” appeared in the first issue of Harp & Altar.

Steve Katz

Pops performed at Bailey Hall. That was at Cornell, when I was vice president of the Rhythm Club. Ross Firestone was president. Both our tastes ran to bebop and cool jazz—Art Blakey, Lennie Tristano, Paul Chambers, Bill Evans, Kenny Dorham, Lee Konitz, Bud Powell, Charles Mingus, and etc. The popular resurgence of Louis Armstrong didn’t interest us. The Rhythm Club booked him to raise money for hipper events.

The band had already arrived by bus, and Louie was getting in an hour or so before the concert and leaving right after. My job was to pick him up at the Lehigh Valley railroad station in downtown Ithaca. At that time a train ran from New York City, through Ithaca, clear to Rochester and Buffalo. I recognized him immediately as he got off the train, the only black person on the platform. He was smaller than I had imagined, but there was that broad “pops” face, and lips that were all embouchure. I waved at him and approached. I was wearing a loose sweatshirt.

“Hey, babbadoo,” he looked at me with that toothy Louie Armstrong smile. “Look at that. You got bigger jugs than I do.” He grabbed my tit. I’d always been self-conscious about my flabby chest. I don’t know what color I turned. He was carrying only his trumpet case. I reached out to carry it for him, but he pulled it back. We got in a cab for Bailey Hall.

“Come on with me,” he said. He grabbed my sleeve and led me backstage. “Velma,” he said, as he pulled me into the performer’s dressing room. Velma Middleton, singer with the band, sat on a bench, staring at the floor. “Look at this boy, Velma. He got bigger tits than you do.” Velma looked up at me, a perfunctory smile on her face. “Sure do.” Louie let go of me then, and I crept backwards into my humiliation out of the room. I crossed the stage behind the curtain and went into the packed auditorium.

The concert had sold out. Ross Firestone wasn’t there. I would have preferred to leave. They gave a great concert. I enjoyed it more than I was prepared to. Louie’s bright hot trumpet sound and his abrasion of a voice against Velma’s easy blues styling brought the crowd to its feet. I kept thinking I’d rather be listening to Miles, or to Clifford Brown, to Fats Navarro, Dizzy, Little Jazz Roy Eldridge, even Red Rodney, Freddy Hubbard, Lee Morgan, Woody Shaw, anyone else who hadn’t so diminished me. I arranged for Pops’ cab back to the station, but didn’t ride with him. He took the last train back to New York City.