Top Lit Mags that REALLY do publish emerging writers



Baltimore Review It is always nice to see a prestigious journal publish fresh, new voices. Such is the case on a routine basis for the Baltimore Review. Most recently, you can check out Priyatam Mudivarti’s “Blue Flame.”  It’s a beautifully weird and hauntingly rich story about aging, photography, and death:

At ninety-two, when I close my eyes and suck my breath, I see fire and ash, playing in smoke.

At the count of one hundred: a mountain, the remains of the cut down trees, a man with a beard and without any clothes, rotting under his limbs.

At one hundred and one, my body grows fiery, as if a log from the pyre rolled into my spine and burned my chest.

One hundred and seven. My heart comes to a full stop. I learned to stop my breath. My chest expands out of my ribs, stretches my neck.

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He just doesn’t get it: The Further Adventures of Governor Clueless

Governor Clueless

Slavery? What slavery?

Lord Jesus, stop this man or get me out of this state! Yes, Bumbling Bob is back in the news.  Not satisfied with cutting educational funding while declaring universal pre-k is not essential, now Bob thinks this is a dandy time to declare Confederate History Month. 

Slavery?  What Slavery?  Smiling Bob felt slavery wasn’t “significant enough” to merit his mention.  Please Lord, send one of Jesse James’ or Tiger Woods’ chicks after him.   His tenure as governor can’t end soon enough! 

Did I mention he re-opened 20-some thruway rest areas , a week after gutting education & social programs?  

 Yes, school districts must slash their budgets, cancel alternative programs for at-risk teens, pregnant mothers, and gifted students,  and start firing teachers, staff, and support personnel. 

But, by George, when Americans are out there recreating on Virginia’s highways they won’t have to worry about soiling themselves en route to the next Tea Party rally.  

Not since George “Shrub” Bush became president has an elected official’s image illicited such an immediate negative reaction in me.   Not to mention the emotional wretching his actions provoke.

It seems he has a myriad smug expressions to accompany his incomprehensible actions.

Click here for full story on  Governor Clueless is at it again….

Where is our treasure? Where is our heart?

Education Budget Shortfalls Hit Close to Home

For where your treasure is, there also will be your heart....

Dear Honorable Legislators and Senators,

 I am writing to you because I am concerned about the enormous shortfalls in our state budget, and the huge impact this will have in every school district throughout Virginia. 

 I ‘m a mother of a 6 year old who attends elementary school in Virginia Beach, VA.    Shortfalls in Virginia Beach’s education budget will directly impact my son and his peers. 

 I’m also a highly qualified, highly educated, special education pre-school teacher in the City of Norfolk.   Our superintendent, who just announced his retirement, has made it clear that with a $40 million budget shortfall, which we are facing for the 2010-2011 fiscal year the situation is grave.  I believe it is dire. 

 Our district will be forced to enlarge classes, offer fewer alternative and specialty programs, fewer opportunities for enrichment, and reduce the technical and instructional support provided to our schools. 

 As a teacher, though highly qualified and rewarded with tenure, I have seen my pay freeze at a level that has caused my family hardship. I have had difficulty paying for basic needs, as well as any enriching opportunities I have wanted to offer to my son.  

 I am saddened and angered that I do not have a ready response for my child as to why his talented, educated, experienced and highly motivated mother is not able to enjoy a higher level of monetary success and professional respect. 

 In our country, success and respect often go hand in hand, along with money.  I want my son to know and believe that our society will reward hard work, education, and perseverance.   He knows I worked for eight long years to earn my first degree, a BA, and then went on to earn two more advanced degrees, the most recent while I was pregnant with him and on a fellowship. 

 I want him to see that all my hard work has paid off for both of us, and to be encouraged to continue applying himself, his talents, and aptitudes toward his own education and his own success. 

 Matthew 6:21 reminds us: “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” I hope and pray that you will vote for measures that make it clear that both the heart and treasure of our state is invested in education, from pre-k to grade 12 and beyond. 

When it comes to education, the question is: do we pay now, or pay later?  Do we fund education fully and wisely now? Or do we fund more prisons and bare-bones social programs later?  Do we pay highly qualified teachers what they deserve now? Or do we push them into other lucrative positions, only to have to pay more for the problems caused by teacher shortages, lack of morale, and qualifications?  Please consider my words as a mother and a teacher when you face our state’s budget. 

 Thank you, Maura Alia Badji, ECSE, MFA, MS Ed.

Awaken Savor’s all natural spice blends

Ras el HanoutGrocery store brands, dollar store finds,  more local fruits and veggies, less red meat, and home-cooked meals over take out—these are some of the cost-cutting measures I’ve adopted during this long recession. 

I like the challenge of saving the most money while getting the best food for my small family.

However, there are two things I won’t stint on: good dark chocolate and fine spices. The right spices and marinades can dress up economical meals, enriching flavor and enhancing texture.  I consider it a double win if I can find reasonably priced fine spices and herbs. 

Awaken Savor’s fine spice and herb blends offer exotic and enticing tastes from around the world at prices that don’t break your budget. 

One of my favorite Awaken Savor blends is Ras el Hanout , a rosy-hued rub which includes saffron stigma, mild paprika, cumin, ginger, coriander seed, cassia, turmeric, fennel seed, allspice, green cardamom seed, whole dill seed, galangal, nutmeg, rosebud powder, bay leaves, caraway seed, cayenne pepper, clove, mace, cubeb pepper, brown cardamom, lavender flowers, and orris root.

Its subtle yet intense aroma, which reminded me of the Chicken Tikka Masala I had enjoyed for years at my favorite restaurant in Seattle, Cedars on Brooklyn, compelled me to prepare a home-cooked version. 

I also prepared chicken breasts, marinated in olive oil and pomegranate-infused wine vinegar with a pinch of salt (a habit I haven’t totally dropped), and then grilled  for a quick lunch with steamed jasmine rice and greens.

Za’atar is a peppery, smoky traditional Middle Eastern blend of thyme, oregano, basil, savory, whole dry marjoram, ground sumac berries, sesame seeds, orange peel, and hyssop.  

Za’atar is something of an aquired taste.  However, I enjoyed Awaken Savor’s version much more than  Penzey’s Fine Spices blend, which I used a few years ago and found to be a little bitter. 

I whipped up a simple olive oil and lemon juice based marinade with a pinch of salt and chopped chives.  There was enough to divide for use on grilled tilapia filets one day and baked chicken breasts the next.  The blend has a multi-layered flavor which enhanced both the poultry and fish.

I approached Texas Tear Dropper meat rub with some trepidation. A fiery blend of chipotle, cayenne, aleppo, chiles, black peppercorns, wasabi, and mustard, I had been warned it was HOT. However, after marinading a London Broil in the rub with red wine vinegar and a little olive oil and grilling it to medium rare, I found the spice-infused meat extremely flavorful with just the right amount of heat.  It also has a strong and delicious aroma.

All Awaken Savor blends are salt free; I added a small amount of salt to two of the marinades I prepared, but you can easily do without.  They are all natural and each product comes with a recipe card that includes the origin of the blend.

Awaken Savor products are available at, and at many fine food stores.  (This article originally appeared 06/13/2009 on Eat.Drink.Memory: satisfying the craving for good food, drink, culture & travel, where I’m a Contributing Writer.)