“Flotsam & Jetsam” in SLAB

My poem “Flotsam & Jetsam” appeared in Issue 11 of SLAB (Sound and Literary Art Book), distributed this spring (2016). The magazine is produced by undergraduates at Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania. According to their website, SLAB publishes “on-the-cusp poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and text-based graphic art. Students who are involved in SLAB have the opportunity to develop themselves as leaders, gain valuable experience in editing, attend national conferences and in some instances, to work with famous authors.”


The Association of Writers and Writing Programs awards two National Program Directors’ Prizes for undergraduate literary magazines each year to outstanding journals– one for content and one for design. SLAB received the award for content in 2012, which included a $1,000 cash prize, announcements in the Writer’s Chronicle and other national media, and acknowledgement during AWP’s Annual Conference and Bookfair.

My micro-fiction “A Distant Landscape” also appeared in SLAB, Issue 9, distributed in the spring of 2014.  

See: https://www.awpwriter.org/contests/national_program_directors_prize_previous_winners for more info on the National Program Director’s Prize for Undergraduate Literary Magazines by the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP).

For more information on SLAB, go to: http://www.slablitmag.org/index.html 


ArtWeek Boston: Writers at Work

ArtWeek BostonPresented by Highland Street Foundation and produced by Citi Performing Arts Center, ArtWeek is an award-winning bi-annual creative festival featuring more than 100 unique, unexpected, and creative experiences that are participatory, interactive, or offer behind-the-scenes access to artists or the creative process. Born in Boston, ArtWeek has grown so rapidly since its 2013 launch that it now serves communities throughout all of Eastern Massachusetts.

On May 5 between 4 and 8 PM, Boston area residents are encouraged to visit Writers at Work in the professional workspace of The Writers’ Room of Boston located on the 5th Floor of 111 State Street in the Financial District. Themed booths throughout the writing space will allow visitors to Ask a Poet or Novelist or Memoirist, among other genres, their own questions—both practical and creative—about life in the literary arts. Our own writers’ work will be displayed and read aloud. Visitors will be invited to craft and share their own creative responses to fun writing prompts and can display their own work alongside ours. Stop by and say hello—you can find me in the Short Story booth. 

“A Brush with the Past” in GAMBAZine’s 4th Issue: The Awakening

GAMBAZine published my short creative nonfiction “A Brush with the Past,” a story that turns from a chance encounter with a woman on a subway platform in Boston to reflections on a conversation with a rickshaw driver in Kathmandu. “The Awakening” was the theme for this fourth issue of GAMBAZine. Editor Melissa Hunter Gurney calls it the “awakening of new perspectives. Moments when one observes their environment and makes a different impact because of this observation. Moments when an individual goes from no sensory input to being flooded with it.”

To read the fourth issue, including “A Brush with the Past,” visit: http://issuu.com/gambazine/docs/gambazine_awake

GAMBAZine Logo

Lifetime Arts Creative Aging Roster

In the winter of 2013, I was honored to teach a free creative writing workshop to a vibrant group of older adults through the South End Branch Library of Boston. The workshop included poetry and flash fiction and was funded by a grant from Lifetime Arts.

Founded in 2008, Lifetime Arts is a nonprofit organization that serves to inspire and engage America’s growing population of older adults. Their mission, as stated on their website (http://www.lifetimearts.org/about/) is “to encourage creative aging by promoting the inclusion of professional arts programs in organizations that serve older adults; to prepare artists to develop the creative capacity of older adult learners; and to foster lifelong learning in and through the arts by increasing opportunities for participation in community based programming. Our approach releases provider and participant from outdated stereotypes that define older people as needy, incapable or frail. While we partner with and advocate for creative aging initiatives that serve all people within this range, we focus on serving independent adults interested in exploring creative expression in a social group setting.”


Lifetime Arts has included me on their “Creative Aging Roster” of teaching artists who are “trained to create and deliver meaningful programming for and with older adults in a variety of settings.” The organization recently contacted me with a request to update my profile  as they prepare to launch their “new look” later this month. The new Roster will appear on June 21, 2015. I am thrilled to be included with a network of talented teaching artists from across the country.  To see the Roster, please go to: http://www.lifetimearts.org/roster/


“One Coffee to Go” in GAMBAZine’s Issue on “Memory”

IMG_0287I love the community that editors Melissa Hunter Gurney and Chris Carr are building around GAMBAZine and am honored that my story “One Coffee to Go” was included in Issue 3 published in February 2015.

Here is the editors’ philosophy for the Zine:

“GAMBA is a provocative new publication inspired by the goal to challenge set truths through the generation of authentic, momentary, boundless, art. Hunter Gurney, an independent writer, set out to display raw thought without the pressures and restrictions that come with the publication process on the larger more media-driven scale. The idea spurred from extensive conversations about accessibility of independent and international artists who avidly practice their craft but may not be recognized in the public eye. GAMBA is a place where people can find literary and visual art rooted in passion and thoughtfulness without the politics of publication.”

The Memory issue is now available online through this link: http://issuu.com/gambazine/docs/gamba_memory_3?e=16760899/12400461

Folio Literary Journal 2015 Themed Issue on “Conflict”

To pre-order the issue, go to: https://foliolitjournal.submittable.com/submit/41443

JP Reads Flash Fiction Workshop & Contest

JPReadsJP Reads, first launched in the fall of 2012, is a community-wide literary celebration that joins together the Jamaica Plain neighborhood to read a single book by hosting an author talk, varied events and shared discussions addressing the themes in the book. This year the volunteer Advisory Board, composed of JP residents with representation from Jamaica Plain’s libraries and community organizations, have chosen Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles, winner of the 2012 Orange Prize for fiction.

JP Reads is sponsoring two Flash Fiction Contests—one for adults (20+) and one for teens sponsored by Tres Gatos, the Jamaica Plain Gazette and The Writers’ Room of Boston. The Winner of the Teen Contest will receive a $100 cash prize. The Winner of the Adult Contest will receive a $100 gift certificate for Tres Gatos. Both of the winning stories will be published in the Jamaica Plain Gazette. Winners and Finalists will also be published on the JP Reads website: www.jpreads.org. This year’s contest theme is ‘The Reluctant Hero.”

JP Reads is sponsoring a Flash Fiction Writing Workshop on Saturday, March 28 from 10 AM to noon at the Jamaica Plain Branch Library located at 12 Sedgwick Street near the Monument. Led by writer, teacher and JP resident Debka Colson and supported by funding from the Boston Cultural Council, the workshop is free but space is limited. Open to all writers, teens and adults, participants can preregister by calling the library at 617-524-2053. Though everyone will be encouraged to submit a story to the JP Reads Flash Fiction Contest, such entry is not required.

The deadline for submission to the contest is Monday, April 6, 2015. Full guidelines are available on the JP Reads website: http://www.jpreads.org/fiction-contest/.

See also: http://jamaicaplaingazette.com/2015/03/13/jp-reads-flash-fiction-contest-begins/

Folio Fiction Contest

From Folio Literary Journal:

Contest entrants, we love you all. Here are the results of our 2015 fiction contest, judged by Lydia Millet.

It is our pleasure to announce our winners this year as the following three authors:

11021127_1462669457287162_2596684385582548669_n1st place: Laura Distelheim, “Meanwhile, Over in Pima County, Arizona, the Medical Examiner Unzips a Body Bag Containing the Latest John Doe Brought in From the Desert”

2nd place: Michelle Wright, “Long Thin Strip”

3rd place: Debka Colson, “New Shoes”


Folio is a nationally recognized literary journal sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences at American University in Washington, DC. Since 1984, the journal has published original creative work by both new and established authors. Past issues have included work by Michael Reid Busk, Billy Collins, William Stafford, and Bruce Weigl, and interviews with Michael Cunningham, Charles Baxter, Amy Bloom, Ann Beattie, and Walter Kirn. Folio looks for well-crafted poetry and prose that is bold and memorable.

See Folio’s announcement: http://ow.ly/JVNsh and website: http://www.american.edu/cas/literature/folio/

Passing Through Literary Journal

Photo by Tara Colson Leaning

Photo by Tara Colson Leaning

Passing Through is an online collaboration between art and writing that seeks to capture, twice a year, the transient nature of our lives. The “road less traveled,” however interpreted, is a significant aspect of this journal, as is movement, intersections, wanderlust , nomadic people, tucked away corners, cities, odd homes, scratch-on-the-map towns, wildernesses, and rites of passage.

A prose/photography collaboration I completed with my daughter was included in the January 2015 inaugural issue of Passing Through.

See:  http://www.passingthroughjournal.com/#!debka-colson-and-tara-colson-leaning/c1gmz

Handmade Books

10690192_774866212573606_6202483622535661725_nI am now selling handmade books at the  new indie bookstore: Papercuts JP. Owned and operated by Kate Layte, the tiny 500 square foot store is located at 5 Green Street near Centre Street in the middle of Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood. For more information about the store, visit: facebook.com/papercutsjp.

I will be selling small books that include my flash fiction or prose poems, as well as blank books to be used as sketchbooks or journals. Here is a sampling:

A Gap and An Opening: An accordion-fold book that includes flash fiction, collage and hand-painted elements.

Inside Gap & Opening

Gap Back Cover






Thoughts About Laundry: Prose and hand-colored photographs that hang from a line of laundry.

Sometimes I Feel Overwhelmed

Laundry Copywrite







Sketchbooks & Journals:

2 Sewn-on Cord Books

B&W Sewn-on Cord








Red Sewn-on Cord Close-up

Red Sewn-on Cord

B&W Close-up