Holy Pyro-Technics! The Toad is on fire—and so is Peter Drakula, who provided us with this cover image of his favorite inflamatory pastime (provided, that is, that we don’t reveal his true secret identity, which could be professionally damaging). Point being: the Toad is ablaze in issue #5—which, because it’s a double-themed issue, we’re dubbing “The Hot-Found Issue.”
Why? First of all, because it’s already been established (above) that the Toad is on fire. That is a given. And secondly, since our last issue was “The Lost Issue,” we can therefore claim that we were lost, but now we’re found. And thirdly, we found a lot of hot stuff to publish in #5. Take our flagship piece for example: a letter we found by Beat legend Jack Kerouac, which hasn’t seen the light of day for twenty burning years! This little beauty comes complete with an intro by Nate Jordon, publisher and founder (pun intended) of Monkey Puzzle Press. But we also have a hot-off-the-press essay by Poet Laureate Diane Di Prima, and a letter by the mythic Slinger Ed Dorn, which we find humorous and colorful. These works appear in our Critical Intel section along with reviews by C. Prozac, Tom Lavoie, and the searingly precise poet-scholar known as klipschutz, who investigates Di Prima’s new book of poetry alongside some other iconic works. We also found some red-hot commentaries by Francine Rubin and Amber Peckham, which make the Toad a better place.
This issue, I should mention, is definitely heavy on the poetry, which you’ll find in abundance throughout. As for the High-Octane Poetix section, we’ve got the extremely flamable verse of Marcus Slease, Aaron Lee Moore, Stephanie Dickinson, Ha Kiet Chau, Jillian Phillips, Vanessa Johnson, Kevin Heaton, Dennis Lynn, and the fiddlific Ken Waldman spontaneously combusting on the page. In fact, this stuff is so dang torrid that we recommend you read it in a state of complete nakedness.
The creative nonfiction that found its way to the Toad in this issue includes work by the incandescent Alva Maxine Beach, the fiery Cass Cross, and the luminous Linda King recalling her days running with Charles Bukowski. We’ve also got some really hot Forces of Lit in the kindling that you hold in your hands, including a piece of psychedelic Surrealism by renowned Belgian poet Henri Michaux, translated from French by Gillian Conoley. Another celebrated Belgian bard, Marcel Lecomte, cranks up the heat as well, thanks to K.A. Wisniewski’s splendid spelunking of the Benthic Dada Mind.
Our Fixion, on the other flaming hand, we find to be scorchingly provocative. Bangladeshi writer Rahad Abir found his subject matter in a bizarre divorce ritual, Nancy Gold narrates a story about finding a random arm, and Erica Mosley tells the tale of firing at bikers her narrator finds annoying.
As usual, our Arkansawyers are blazing bright in the fracking night. Adam Clay waits for “roots to catch fire,” Lisa Ference recounts a burning bed, Adam Stengel’s date inhales “hot toddies, humping all the wrong things,” and we’re fired up to include Stacy Kidd. Then here comes Tim Lepczyk, whose fiction has found a new way to make the personals work. This is all followed by a whacko host of images to be found in the Toad Suck environs.
As for our Artist-in-Rez feature, our new Assistant Editor Benjamin C. Roy Cory Garrett put it best when he proposed the concept of “found out” for the Toad Staff’s sweltering interview with Jericho Brown. To quote Ben, he noted, “I think that this would work on a number of different levels, connecting with people’s ideas about being exposed for who we really are and the fear of being revealed as a fraud. It suggests an enlightened finding out” of one’s sexual identity. But whatever the case, we based this interview on three blisteringly acute poems from Jericho’s newest book, which we published in this feature as well.
Then comes our globally warmed Eco-Edge section, wherein W.C. Jameson finds himself among beasts in the wilderness, while Jenny MacBain-Stephens finds inspiration in her own back yard. Laurie Maley finds a perfect broken syntax to express the concept of an eco-Godot who can’t be found, because we are still waiting. Wendy Sue Gist then tells the tale of two characters who find themselves treed by a wild pig as Kayla Rae Candrilli finds dead birds to turn into art.
We’ve also got some hot-as-hell illustrations by Janne Karlsson, some really cool bird sketches by hotshot artist Katherine Bailey, and photographs by Rob Butler of some super-hot specimens (and I’m not talking about his human subject matter—you’ll see what I mean).
Ultimately, our own Associate Editor, John Vanderslice, finds himself performing Last Writes via life-long Toad-Sucker Jaypea Atkinson, whose research into the linguistic evolution of our fair moniker is sure to cause a heated debate.
Meanwhile, all jacked up on Kerouac, the Toad is ready to hit the road, “mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time.” Okay then, see ya next time!