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Our 2017 Siskiyou Prize judge is Jonathan Balcombe

We are thrilled to announce that our 2017 Siskiyou Prize judge is Jonathan Balcombe.

Jonathan’s most recent book is the New York Times bestseller What a Fish Knows: The Inner Lives of our Underwater Cousins, an extraordinary journey underwater that reveals the vast capabilities of fishes. He is also the author of the books The Exultant Ark, Second Nature, Pleasurable Kingdom, and The Use of Animals in Higher Education.

Jonathan has three biology degrees, including a PhD in ethology (the study of animal behavior) from the University of Tennessee, and has published more than 50 scientific papers on animal behavior and animal protection. Formerly department chair for Animal Studies with the Humane Society University and senior research scientist with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Jonathan is currently Director of Animal Sentience with the Humane Society Institute for Science and Policy in Washington, DC. Learn more at jonathan-balcombe.com.

This year marks our fourth annual Siskiyou Prize, and we are delighted to be offering a $1,000 prize and a four-week writing residency thanks to the generosity of our amazing prize partner PLAYA. All manuscripts submitted for the prize will be considered for publication by Ashland Creek Press.

Please visit the Siskiyou Prize website for complete details about the prize — submissions open September 1, 2017. We look forward to reading your work!

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Book Review: Even In My Dreams: A collection of vegan poems

“Why a book of vegan poetry?” asks editor Emma Letessier in the introduction to Even In My Dreams: A Collection of Vegan Poems. As a poet herself, Letessier has found writing poetry to be cathartic; like many vegans who live with the daily awareness of the suffering that inspired them to choose this way of life, she writes that “poetry allows us to take emotions that are raw and painful and transform them into something beautiful, powerful.”

And the poems in this collection do just that. There are poems for every reader in this book, from the fun and the playful to the thought-provoking and heartbreaking. Many poems articulate the cruel processes of farming—babies taken from their mothers, animals caged and shorn—often asking readers to take the animals’ point of view. Other poems are conversations: animal to farmer, vegan to non-vegan, horse to rider.

Nicola McLean’s “Time,” calls out the hypocrisy of those who love animals continuing to eat them. In “Those Little Deaths,” Ashley Capps writes of toads, mosquitos, and spiders:

 

…I remember an enormous spider we smashed,
the difficult flag she’s put up
in our doorframe, the way she just hung in the middle
and breathed. …

 

While many of the poems may be distressing to read, there’s humor to be found as well, as in Dominic Berry’s limerick “A Vegan from Slough.” And there’s inspiration in poems that encourage activism and that celebrate the earth and animals, as in Kat von Cupcake’s “Goat Power”:

 

… I know I may look
like a delicate flower,
but do not underestimate
my immense caprine power.

 

In reading this collection, vegans will be reminded of why they live the way they live. Non-vegans, Letessier hopes, may capture a “glimpse of the world through our eyes, a chance to lift the veil, allow yourself to feel our compassion for the suffering of other sentient beings and understand the very tangible consequences of our everyday choices.” In other words, this book invites us to connect—not only with one another, but with the creatures with whom we share the planet.

All proceeds from Even In My Dreams will benefit the Barefoot Vegan Farm & Animal Sanctuary. Learn more at the Barefoot Vegan website, where you can also subscribe to Barefoot Vegan Magazine.

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