Category Archives: Street Talk

2023 Poetry Contest Winners by Fred Wilbur

Photo of white flowers with green leaves

It is our pleasure to announce the Winners and Honorable Mentions of the annual Streetlight Magazine Poetry Contest. How did we arrive at our choices? We read a lot of poetry. We are both writers/poets. We have, no doubt, the same aspirations for our work as those submitting to this contest.  We are sensitive to every entrant’s intention and effort. Sharon and I do not use screeners so we separately read every anonymous entry independently. We then present each other with our preferred dozen or so and begin the back-and-forth process of willowing. In this … Continue reading 2023 Poetry Contest Winners by Fred Wilbur

The Best Piece of Writing Advice Most Writers Don’t Listen To by Lauren Sapala

Photo of two ends of a cord, unplugged

For most writers, writing is a strong inner calling. It feels like a passion that they can’t ignore, a destiny they must fulfill. And for writers who feel blocked, or are cut off from the act of writing for some other reason, the lack of writing in their life results in a state of low-grade misery. A writer who isn’t writing feels unfulfilled, listless, and can easily fall into creative despair. Writer’s block is extremely common among writers. Most people assume that the most typical form of writer’s block stems from a lack of ideas, … Continue reading The Best Piece of Writing Advice Most Writers Don’t Listen To by Lauren Sapala

The Closet Full of Darlings by Erika Raskin

Photo of person against long row of shelved boxes

Lots of people have gotten credit for the literary adage advising writers to kill their darlings. In fact it was Arthur Quiller-Couch. I think. Anyway, the exhortation is important because it acknowledges how scribes sometimes become overly attached to “ornaments” of their own creation. As your piece evolves, plot twists and descriptions may no longer serve you. Characters, too, may overstay their welcome. Even really, really good ones. (Move along. Here’s your hat, what’s your hurry?) The positive news is that when you cut something from your current work, you don’t have to actually vaporize … Continue reading The Closet Full of Darlings by Erika Raskin

Writers’ Joy by Fred Wilbur

Photo of row of books

Writers or bloggers who write about writing often express the difficulties of practicing the craft in romantic terms of justification. Maybe not the physical pain of carpel-tunnel syndrome, butt-rot, or screen-induced headache, but certainly the mental frustrations, the endless angst of word choice, unruly character quirks or plot twists. And to end this state of anguish, these literary pundits suggest self-help books (disguised as instruction books), literary conferences, newsletter screeds, low-res MFA programs, or some esoteric meditation strategy. Anything for day-job relief. Trouble is, this advice implies a degree of inadequacy in the recipient. For … Continue reading Writers’ Joy by Fred Wilbur

The Paintings of Jeannine Regan

Painting of creek through snow covered banks

    Art runs in my family. My great grandfather was an architect in Germany before they immigrated to the U.S. before WWI. His daughter, my grandmother, was a businesswoman, but painted in oils and pastels most of her life. Early on, I remember my father’s beautiful blueprint drawings of the houses he designed and the funny cartoons he loved to draw. He painted in oils. I’ve always drawn, and began private oil painting lessons at fourteen. I attended the Honolulu Museum of Arts  Academy, a two year degree in commercial and fine art. I’ve … Continue reading The Paintings of Jeannine Regan

The Importance Of Interior Design In Writing by Erika Raskin


The way someone curates their personal space conveys who they are. For a writer, that’s hugely important. “Show, don’t tell” is a guiding principle of effective storytelling. To wit: the oft-repeated movie scene featuring a wiseass sidekick walking into the leading man’s apartment, lousy with unpacked boxes, and saying, “Love what you’ve done with the place.” The old saw is employed because decorating—or its opposite—carries a lot of information. If you’re writing a character, ask yourself if the character’s home is consistent with other aspects of the personality you are trying to impart. As a … Continue reading The Importance Of Interior Design In Writing by Erika Raskin

Why I Loved the 8-Track by Karen Weyant

Photo of stacks of 8-track tapes

Today, we stream any song we can find, google obscure one-hit wonders, and watch anyone make their own music videos on TikTok, but back before they were delegated as punch lines to jokes about music history, we loved our 8-track tapes. The 8-track tape, a magnetic tape sound recording device enclosed in a plastic container, was popular from the late 1960s until the early 1980s. Although the quality of the sound was problematic, the protective casing was rather sturdy. Plus, 8-track tapes had the added bonus of continuous play, unlike their counterpart, the cassette, that … Continue reading Why I Loved the 8-Track by Karen Weyant

Call of the Wild by Trudy Hale

Photo of bear cub on tree limb

I wanted to write about hunting season here in the rural countryside, the howling packs of dogs, the men and women who sit in muddy trucks on the side of the road with loaded guns, waiting, and the orphaned black bear cubs. I also wanted to write about my Mississippi cousin who transported cross-country in the back of his Toyota pickup, a taxidermied bear’s head bagged on a Native American reservation in New Mexico. But October calls me, like the wild and wild things, to write about my wild nephew. He will be turning twenty … Continue reading Call of the Wild by Trudy Hale

Sinking by Deborah Prum

Photo of hands sticking up through water
Photo by Blake Cheek on Unsplash

I attended a state university that required you to pass a swim test to graduate. I will not mention the name of the institution because I’m about to malign them.

When the orientation materials arrived by snail mail, included in the package was an inquiry about whether I could swim. I could not swim. The thought of getting into a pool terrified me. I grew up in a city apartment surrounded by a sea of asphalt and concrete. We had no access to water for recreational purposes, not even a leaky fire hydrant. As a child, I did not swim laps at the neighborhood pool. As a child, I got my exercise running away from my combative companions at Smalley Elementary School.

I crafted a vague response to that swimming form which I hoped would lead them to believe I could swim. I assumed they’d take me at my word; to be precise, take me at my ambiguous words.

When I arrived at orientation, I received an invitation to come at the gym for swim test. The letter had a Mafia-like tone to it, succinctly stating that this was an offer I could not refuse.

On the way to the gym, I engaged in magical thinking: Dogs can doggy paddle, right? Who teaches them? Nobody. I am smarter than a dog. Certainly, I can doggy paddle if I try hard enough.

About fifty women stood shivering in a line around the perimeter of the pool. That autumn morning, the maintenance folks must have thrown ice in the water especially for us. An older woman stood next to the diving board, clipboard in hand. She wore a white polo shirt and a gym skirt, which irritated me no end. Why wasn’t she in a bathing suit? She should be prepared for all emergencies.

I stood about tenth in line. The first nine girls walked down the diving board, dove in, then swam across the pool. Clearly, they hadn’t lied on their swimming form.

As I reached the end of the gang plank, my knees began to buckle. Who was I kidding?

I yelled, “I can’t swim. Don’t make me!”

That gym teacher did not care. Not one bit. The forty freezing women standing behind me also did not care. They shouted, “JUMP!”

I jumped and sank to the bottom. Even dead bodies float, but my bones must be made of lead. The instructor took her sweet time pulling me out.

Feeling wobbly, I staggered to the locker room where I saw a bright burst of light in the left corner of my vision, then passed out. Over the months, I passed out more times. A doctor determined my problem likely stemmed from the many head injuries I’d sustained as a child, due to both my ill-advised risk taking (another story) and my combative schoolmates.

You may wonder how the university responded. They didn’t say, “Bless your heart, child, we are sorry you’ve been through so much. Take a relaxing poetry course. On us.”

Instead, they grudgingly waived the swimming requirement and forced me, the shortest person in the entering class, to take fencing with a horde of tall, aggressively wild women who spent a semester in a tiny room chasing me around with large fake swords. That’s why I see a therapist to this day.

The moral of this story?

I agree with Walter Scott who said, “Oh, what a tangled web we weave . . . when first we practice to deceive.”

Deborah Prum

Deborah Prum’s non-fiction has appeared in The Washington Post, Southern Living and Ladies’ Home Journal, and Huffington Post. Her fiction has appeared in The Virginia Quarterly Review, Across the Margin, McQueen’s Quinterly, The Virginia Writers Centennial Anthology, Sweetbay, and Streetlight Magazine. You can read her fiction and non-fiction writing at Prum’s radio essays have aired on NPR-member stations; here is an example of one. If you would like to hear a recording of SINKING, check out Prum’s blog at

Deborah Prum’s articles on writing have appeared in The Writer, The Writer’s Handbook, and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Bulletin. She works as a developmental editor and teaches at WriterHouse in Charlottesville, Va.

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The Thrill of the Sale by Emily Littlewood

Photo of woman throwing hands in air while looking at computer

Recently I was able to convince my husband to let go of a small part of his hoard/collectibles (vocab depending on who you ask). This was accomplished with the promise of selling the things, which was both a great triumph and a self-imposed curse. As the more computer literate of the two of us, it fell on my shoulders to post on eBay. In theory eBay is great. Someone a few miles away or across the world could want what you’ve got. Unfortunately if I haven’t done it in a while, I forget that the … Continue reading The Thrill of the Sale by Emily Littlewood