Letter From the Editor Issue #6

Read Whirlwind #6

Hello, and many thanks for reading Whirlwind issue #6. Instead of requiring a theme for this issue, we’ve gathered together a collection of diverse and urgent voices speaking on many different topics. However, there’s one common thread here, in that every work of writing we’ve published this time around just so happens to be poetry. This was only accidental, and yet it’s a happy mistake.

The first poem we have for you is by a stunningly talented fifteen year old girl who lives in Canada by the name of Farah Ghafoor. Her poem “buoyancy” looks at the catastrophic effects of climate change and pollution from the view of sea creatures. The next piece is by a young Jamaican woman, Gervanna Stephens, who speaks about what it means to live in a complex environment with conflicting emotions. The next two poets, Stella Pierides and Lynn White, both reside in the United Kingdom and share with us their feelings about the current migrant crisis in Europe. Then we have Glen Wilson, an Irish poet who reflects on an experience he had witnessing poverty in Paraguay.

After an extraordinary string of talent from overseas we have some impressive locals, Joe McCullough and Michelle Caporale, who give us two entertaining and intelligent manifestos on non-conformity and creativity. Then there’s San Francisco based Shizue Seigel, a past contributor from issue #5 who creates powerful images in the eyes of the downtrodden. Two Philly poets, James Feichthaler and Jennifer Schifano, have written about people on the streets. Feichthaler strikes the reader with his witty observations of a discarded slice of pizza and then examines the dichotomy of two definitions of the word bum. Schifano then moves us with her short yet powerful prose-poem about a destitute woman and her troubled past.

Another Canadian poet appears to continue the theme of poverty from our last issue, as J. J. Steinfeld ironically titles his poem “Property Values.” The piece uses humor and quirkiness in order to denote the absurdity of homelessness and the state of contemporary language. Howard Winn, an emeritus professor of English at SUNY and past contributor to issue #4, offers an ode to the great Lawrence Ferlinghetti. The poem, entitled “CITY LIGHTS,” effectively explains why the aforementioned poet and publisher has been such a vital influence on American poetry. We continue the San Francisco vibe with three haiku pieces by Frank Clayton that are beautiful poems describing the geography of the mysterious West Coast city. “Song of Yourself” is another subtle Clayton poem that meditates on Walt Whitman and asks why the grey poet chose a crypt to be buried in, among other questions.

The final two poems in Whirlwind issue #6 are by Rocky Wilson and Lamont Steptoe. Rocky’s “Tripping” is a commanding, allegorical piece set on a whale watching trip. Steptoe’s “Loose Ends” may have been written in the eighties, but it’s all the more relevant now in a world where violence, state oppression, and extremism run rampant. We conclude this fall issue with two reviews of brand new books by Prerna Bakshi and Dr. Mary Weems. Both Bakshi’s debut poetry collection, Burnt Rotis, With Love and Dr. Weems’ play collection Blackeyed are available to purchase online and certainly worthy additions to your library. There’s also a review by Jim Cory, a contributor from our first issue, who has shared with us his thoughts on two poetry collections by Jack Veasey. As always, we are grateful to our contributors and readers for supporting this publication. We look forward to sharing with you our next issue on indigenous peoples, and are open to submissions for it until January 1st, 2016.


A Review of Prerna Bakshi’s Burnt Rotis, With Love

This review will appear in Whirlwind Magazine issue #6 due out in mid-November.

At Whirlwind we like to support our contributors even after publication. We’re honored to be a part of an international community of diverse writers and artists focused on social justice and human progress. That being said, we’re happy to announce that the talented sociolinguist Prerna Bakshi, a poet of Indian origin currently based in Macao, is publishing a collection of poems called Burnt Rotis, With Love that will be available in December through Les Éditions du Zaporogue.

Prerna Bakshi graced page nineteen of Whirlwind Magazine Issue #5 with her moving poem “Let it Rain!” The title of this piece serves as a refrain at the end of each stanza, culminating in an effective repetition of the phrase. Bakshi laments at the state of her poverty stricken home-country, as well as her new adopted home in China. Through the eyes of this poet it’s apparent that the world is on the brink of environmental catastrophe. In “Let it Rain!” Bakshi beckons the sky to open up for “…the drought stricken land…” as she bears witness to the struggles of people with disabilities, children, and factory workers, as she listens to “…a farmer’s outcry…” and also the “distant scream” of indigenous people fighting “…against the state’s repressive forces.”

Along with the aforementioned poem, there are over a hundred pages worth of urgent and meaningful poetry in Burnt Rotis, With Love. For the book’s themes Prerna Bakshi says that she “…will explore and interrogate the narratives of Partition of India/Punjab post British colonialism, women’s identity, gender and class struggle. The poems in this collection will cover themes of violence, oppression, exploitation, abuse, struggle, survival and resistance.” The advance reader’s copy certainly attests to this, and it makes for a powerful read.

Other highlights in the book include the dramatic “Guns and Graves,” where Bakshi writes an elegy for the many innocents killed by the Indian state in its dispute with China over a relatively unheard of area called Arunachal Pradesh. It’s poems like these that stand out to the reader, especially because they shed light on topics and events that too often remain shrouded. The further one gets into Burnt Rotis, With Love the more one begins to fall in love with not only the poems in the collection, but also the invaluable footnotes that accompany some of them. After “When the Poor Woman ‘Leans In’…” Bakshi writes that the “poem is written from a critical, Global South Marxist feminist perspective, in response to Sheryl Sandberg’s corporate feminism of ‘Lean In’ and its approach to feminism and work.”

One critique of Bakshi’s work could be that she’s often very forward and unequivocal in the points of views that she displays. However, that more often than not makes her writing accessible and heightens the clarity of her poems. What’s important about Prerna Bakshi’s poetry is that it can be easily read by anyone. The messages that she delivers are vital stories about oppressed people around the world that Westerners should especially be made aware of, and it’s clear that Prerna Bakshi deserves critical praise and recognition for her brave and touching new work, Burnt Rotis, With Love.


sometimes you have to destroy

things to make space

we live in an abandoned city

this is where my father was born

across the river my mother was born

this is how you speak

when the world

has gone

our children

are bombarded by images

will our machines

remember us when we die?

A Stampede Averted

once, while herded out

of the sixers game

at the now corporate named

subway station in south philly

the crowd got jam packed

at a bottleneck to pay the turnstile

machines and naturally our bodies

rushed so we didn’t miss the train

and would have to wait

on the dark and stuffy

underground platform

burly police officers

watched the commotion

until they determined

things got out of control

the cops shoved us back

which we didn’t mind so much

until one big pig yelled

“move the fuck back”

in his booming voice

and a collective silence rose

then broke by a dude w/ an afro

in the front who said

“man fuck you back in the day this train

was free now you gotta pay $2.25 a ride

this is bullshit man”

the guy straight up walked

past the cops like it was nothing

and guess what they didn’t beat his ass

and we went on with our nights

like nothing happened

even though something did

and it was beautiful

Letter from the Editor Issue #5

Whirlwind Magazine Issue #5

Poverty. The word carries a lot of weight. It means different things to different people. Poverty is mostly understood as a state of being in a material sense, but it can also be described as a spiritual or psychological experience. These experiences are told through poetry, stories, and art within issue five of Whirlwind Magazine.

Welcome friends, to our one year anniversary issue. We are excited to share these stories and images with you, the reader, our beloved supporter. It’s been a wondrous journey these past 12 months, thanks to the bold and fiery poetry in our first issue of Dennis Brutus, Nzadi Keita, and Jim Cory, to the words of revolt and wisdom in issue #2, featuring the late Sam Allen and dedicated to James Baldwin, to the visually stunning artwork and beautiful Spanish poetry of Karina Puente and the late Justin Vitiello in issue #3, and finally to all the veterans who contributed in issue #4, especially Preston Hood and our founder Lamont B. Steptoe.

Fatima Ijaz, a resident of Lahore, Pakistan, begins this issue with a short and seemingly simple poem about a boy on a street. Brooklyn based Daniel Jones puts us into perspective with a thought-provoking piece on a pauper. John Elliott offers a more abstract approach to handling the idea of  inner conflict and struggle. Debra McQueen’s gripping, vivid poetry on exploring the hilly jungles of Guatemala will help you understand what it means to feel out of place. Ree Villaruel takes us to the Philippines, where a group of children’s innocent routine is broken, leading to unfortunate consequences. Jeff Burt’s post-apocalyptic tale of hoarding challenges those who believe they can withstand the forces of mother nature.

Sneha Sundaram’s haibun depicts the travails of a woman watching the wealthy from an alleyway; her use of the fascinating form of haibun is worth noting, as it is a centuries-old technique that combines haiku and prose in order to depict a complex story through poetry.

Award-winning writer Evan Guilford-Blake brings us a short story that displays how deep poverty can damage an individual. Richard King Perkins II also writes on the pain this causes, but through astounding poetic observations. Luke Coulter instead speaks about the other side of the same coin by writing on the ignorance of the privileged. Meanwhile, Bob McNeil’s unique voice comes out in full force in his two poems that are featured. Diane Funston shares a poem full of wisdom and gentleness that is quite remarkable. Shizue Seigel confronts the reader in a powerful piece about oppression in the deep south. Prerna Bakshi sings us a song of resistance for the underdogs of the world. Stephanie Han’s poetry is so intricate and profound, it’s amazing. Diane Payne’s story reveals how a domineering man performs his job as a social worker could prove to be a traumatizing experience for a woman. Rashaad Thomas strikes the heart with his portrayal of what it means to be black and arbitrarily stopped by the police. Marco Pina’s poem about a body bag is a must-read. And finally, we bring you the gripping poetry of Joel Salcido, a Mexican-American poet with an awful amount of talent. Salcido has a bright future ahead of him as a poet, and we have the honor of featuring three of his poems in this issue.

We end this issue on a note of reflection in memory of Sam Allen. The archival letters and photographs that appear are just a small, but captivating glimpse into the mind of a man who was a phenomenal poet and a good human being. Thank you so much for reading our one year anniversary issue. Let’s hope for many more anniversaries to come.

whirlwind #5 cover