Sunday, January 2, 2011

Stephanie Ann Paulk, 1972-2010

Amid the holiday hustle it was sad to learn of the death of Atlanta poet and performer Stephanie Ann Paulk, known to many in the writing community by her pen name, JS van Buskirk. She was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2001 and died from complications on Tuesday at the age of 38.

Even after her diagnosis Stephanie was active on the poetry scene, including appearances at the Decatur Book Festival and at Java Monkey Speaks. She was the founder and original MC of the variety show INFO DEMO, performed with the Atlanta Poets Group and collaborated with artist Julie Püttgen on the multi-media project, "An Infinite Variety of Similar Things." She also created the "Opoyol~ Trading Cards" for the Art-o-Mat Vending Machine (invented by Clark Whittington) and published two books, Tiny Bedtime Stories and Just Got No Hustle.To read and discover more of Stephanie's work, visit

View from the river

JS Van Buskirk (May, 1990)

I don’t know, she said,
It’s like that time at the American History Museum
with the flag and the train and the jukebox,
They had hot water and soap in the bathrooms,
I believe our nation’s capitol is the only place
in the world, she paused,
thinking of Americana
as she coughed on her bare
trembling thighs
and gulped down another summer’s evening
of whatever was served
on screen porches,
while the mosquitoes have to wait
at the back door
and they only the scraps;
the little children running in dusty lawns
and the somber drunken teens
pawing for a hold of something real,
clutching the cold aluminum
or warm skin,
whichever clutches back first;
and she was once one of those
and she remembered hoping the scars would disappear
when she was grown to be a woman,
those damn mosquito bite scars you get from
scratching them
all summer
and they never do heal ‘til the wind turns back

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