Eat at MartAnne’s; Donate to Thin Air!

MartAnne’s Burrito Palace is donating 10% of its entire sales on Wednesday, February 17 to Thin Air Magazine’s AWP fundraiser.

AWP, the Association of Writers & Writing Programs, is holding its 2016 conference and bookfair at the Los Angeles Convention Center, March 30 – April 2.

According to the AWP web site, “The AWP Conference & Bookfair is an essential annual destination for writers, teachers, students, editors, and publishers. Each year more than 12,000 attendees join our community for four days of insightful dialogue, networking, and unrivaled access to the organizations and opinion-makers that matter most in contemporary literature.”

Help represent Thin Air Magazine at the 2016 AWP Conference & Bookfair by eating at MartAnne’s Burrito Palace, voted Best Breakfast Place by Arizona Daily Sun readers. And remember: MartAnne’s now has a dinner and cocktail and beer menu and accepts credit cards. Eat well and support literature all day long!

Narrow Chimney Schedule Spring 2016

James Jay and Jesse Sensibar welcome writers and lit lovers to Uptown Pubhouse every Monday night at 7pm for libations and literature. Don’t miss out on this welcoming, homegrown event!

January 25 Elizabeth Hellstern & Jane Armstrong
Feb 1 Bryan Asdel & Sandra Dihlmann
Feb 8 Mathew Henry Hall & Jamison Crabtree
Feb 22 Natalie Rose & Barbara Lane
Feb 29 Lawrence Lenhart & Molly Wood
March 7 Jessica Martini & Beth Alvarado
March 21 Emily Regan & Andie Francis
March 28 Ian Keirsey & Jon Tribble
April 4 Eugene Munger & Laura Kelly
April 11 Jay “Jaybyrd” Willison & Jia Oak Baker
April 18 Seth Muller & Robert Isenberg
April 25 Shelly J Taylor & Renee S Angle
May 2 James Jay & Justin Bigos

“10-4” or “Things I Learned about Cops on my Civilian Ride Along”

by Camille Sinaguinan

When I told an officer of the Flagstaff Police Department last December that I was a writer, and that I was always looking for story, he suggested that I go on a ride along.  I wasn’t sold on the idea at first–couldn’t you get shot at on ride alongs?–but when I mentioned it to a group of writer friends, they insisted that I do it.

So, when I got back from California, I went to the Flagstaff Police Department and filled out an orchid-colored form.  I would not be issued a bullet-proof vest.  I would obey all commands given to me by my officer.

The next day, I received a call: my request was approved.  When would I like to schedule my ride along?  I chose a Thursday night from 5:30pm-9:00pm.  Our dispatch handle was “David 20”, and here are some of the things I learned:

  • The cops are the good guys.  At least in Flagstaff.  The officer I shadowed that night pulled over two vehicles for traffic violations.  Both drove away with warnings.  When I told the cop that I’d never been pulled over in California without getting an actual ticket, he said it’s probably different in larger cities.  I was both pleased by his kindness and disappointed in my hometown.
  • It is an unspoken rule that the older cops get the better patrol cars when on duty.
  • If you are accompanying a cop on a ride along, you are referred to as a CO or Civilian Observer.
  • Everyone knows everything that’s going on all the time.  It’s called dispatch.  There are no secrets in police work.  Also, a good dispatcher can save a cop’s life.
  • Civilians often use the police to do the dirty work for them.  Our first call was made by a woman who sent us to her ex-husband’s house so we could ask why he hadn’t returned her two-year-old daughter.  We find out after meeting the man that he always keeps their daughter until Sunday per their custody agreement, and he’s tired of the police coming over all the time to heckle him at his ex-wife’s behest.
  • Traffic stops–when a cop pulls a vehicle over–can be more dangerous than actual calls.  We did two on my ride along.  Both times I was told to stay in the car.  The second time he radioed for backup and approached the truck with his hand over his holster.
  • Cops wear around 40 lbs of gear when on duty.
  • Because of the nature of their work, cops have above average adrenaline levels when they are on duty.  When they’re off duty, their levels drop below average to allow the body to recuperate.  This constant high to low shift can cause real problems for officers.  Some manage the imbalance by working out and taking on hobbies.  The less fortunate can become alcoholics.
  • A lot of patrolling is driving the same route over and over.  This doesn’t mean the job is easy, though, because…
  • Cops are crazy multi-taskers.  Here was what my officer was doing minute-by-minute while we were in the car together: driving, checking vehicle registrations on his laptop with one hand, talking to me about the necessity of a police force, listening to the dispatch radio, listening to the regular radio, and looking out for traffic violations.  There were times when we would be talking and he’d stop abruptly, hearing something only he understood from dispatch.  Then the next second he’s making a U-turn to pull over a guy with a busted headlight.  After completing his calls or traffic stops, he would continue our conversation as if we’d never been interrupted.  It was really impressive, but it made me seriously wonder how adequate I was at life in comparison.
  • Working for the police can be like any other job.  Some people actually work, some don’t.  Some can be trusted, some can’t.  Bonds made doing difficult work are some of the strongest bonds around.
  • We let cops into our most private lives, sometimes without even knowing it.  One of our calls was a student who thought she heard someone inside her apartment when nobody should have been there.  My officer and one other did a sweep of her apartment before deeming it safe.  The girl was so grateful, and on the way back down to the patrol cars, the cops talked about how nice her apartment was.  When cops check our registrations from their patrol cars–and this happens every free minute they have–pulling up our license plate numbers brings up all our information: name, age, eye color, home address.  And we don’t even know our plates were run.  I watched my officer run a plate once.  I didn’t look long–it felt wrong, seeing that person’s information without them knowing.
  • Cops don’t have ticket quotas.
  • “10-4” is the most common code I heard over the radio.  It means something like, “Got it” or “Understood.”  When I asked the cop where the codes came from he laughed and said, “I don’t know.  I just work here.”

Not much happened on my ride along in terms of violence or crazy people, but I got as much as I could about the day-to-day.  For those of you that are curious, anyone can go on a ride along.  You just need to go to the Police Station and fill out that form.  Usually you can schedule to shadow the same week.

It’s a good thing to do, if you’re looking for story.  Getting to know the people we trust with our lives doesn’t hurt either.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

The Four Coolest People I Met at NonfictionNOW

The Four Coolest People I Met At NonfictionNOW (although picking is so hard.)

by Elizabeth Hellstern

I volunteered for the NonfictionNOW conference held at NAU at the end of October, in Flagstaff AZ. It was amazing. I attended four panel sessions and two keynote speaker sets per day, browsed the book fair, drank cocktails at a couple parties, read my own work (in Halloween pink hair) and found many interesting people to talk to. Many of my conversations have led to online sharing of writing and ideas. From now on, I am compelled to read work by people I met at this conference, because it provides context for understanding, good material for conversation with my new friends, and ultimately because there are so many good things out there to read that we have to have some way of choosing.

To that end, to I have searched and found four essays from some of the cool people I talked to. Believe me, there were many others, but for brevity’s sake, I will keep it to four. I won’t tell you all about each piece, but rather, I’d like to pull out some of my favorite lineslines that are so well-written that they stand apart as objects, as individual marbles I’ve been rolling around my mouth, saying them over and over and savoring the way they feel. I love the places they refer to, the people they mention and the ideas they embody.

 I remarked about our mutual wearing of orange as we were in line for coffee, and Lynette D’Amico referred to me from then on as “the first person that talked to me at the conference.” I’m really glad I did, because she’s an excellent writer and gave me the brilliant tip to google “vernacular photography” (just do it.) “Fictions of the City” her essay in Slag City Miniatures is a fabulous jewel. She writes about an experience on the subway, in New York City, how it reminded the narrator of hopes from her (and America’s) youth. The line that hit me was this, “The City was itself: an exhalation of overheated garbage and car exhaust, burnt sugar and burnt coffee, sweat and piss and fried foodequally rank and delectable.” Yes. Just yes.

 Barrie Jean Borich is from Chicago, and like every blond woman from that town with sass and a curvy figure, she reminds me of my Aunt Claire. I was really excited to find her essay “Of Wearing My Red Dress” (in the anthology After Montaigne) so I could“talk” about fashion with someone who had similar style panache to Claire.  In her favorite red dress, Borich shows off her great cleavage and gets more attention than usual, then examines the situation, saying “I know the woman they see in this dress is made of a design, a bra, a posture, a stance, a mood, an attitude, and more story than body.” I get it! I also completely understand Borich when she says “the clothes werenever just clothes, but also the story of clothes, the longing represented by clothes” but“…clothes have no stories without the body, and without the human lives that clothes both project and protect.” I have always felt that my clothes tell a story, and I try to be conscious of which story I’m telling.

I first met Tarn Wilson when I gave her a ride to town from the Flagstaff airport. I knew I liked her when I found out she was also a vegetarian. Wilson is the author of The Slow Farm, a memoir with “artifacts” that illustrate her unique life growing up off-grid, with alternative-lifestyle parents in Canada. I read The Slow Farm as soon as I got home from the conference. Then I found a fabulous essay Wilson wrote called “The History Of My Teeth” in Inertia Magazine. She says “Several of my high school students with impaired social skills have told me–not as an insult but as a cheerful observation–that I look like a rabbit.” This line is so brave and funny and endearing—in ways that aren’t sexy or sophisticated but purely humble. Wilson has gone for the humor at the expense of her ego; and now I am a loyal reader.Jericho Parms may very well be my writing doppelganger. We both love to write about touch, art and hot springs. Her essay “Lost Wax” in the American Literary Review braids together impressions of classic sculptures of Cupid, Eros and Aphrodite with memories of her ex-lover and her parents’ relationship. She writes “material textures enclose our living impulses.”  I’ve started to get itchy thumbs, as I touch these impulses. Parms also says “these sculptures are myth and legend personified, allegories preserved”but although “created to uphold perfection, have inherited the imperfection of life itself.” The references to bronze and marble help me to feel the memories of lost love between my fingers.

There’s that famous question; which of your favorite writers would you want to have coffee with? These four authors are my top choices for coffee dates. If that doesn’twork out, then I’ll read their pieces with a hot cup of joe and be just as satisfied.

Review: The Lucky Hat

Review: The Lucky Hat, a children’s picture book by a local Flagstaff writer
Reviewed by Angelé Sionna


The latest children’s book by Flagstaff writer Matthew Henry Hall is also the latest release from the Grand Canyon Association.

The Lucky Hat is a local story that connects people through place and time. It takes readers along on the journey of a boy named Michael who loses the cherished hand-made hat his grandmother gave him in the Grand Canyon. He returns season after season in search of the hat with no luck. He eventually finds friendship and his future wife on the journey. The two share the love for hiking the canyon with their daughter while they continue the decade-long search.

Along the way, readers move through layers of the canyon on the different trails the characters search for the hat and get to see some of the creatures who live there, all beautifully illustrated by Utah artist Jim Madsen.

The story is a work of fiction, but reads like it could be a nonfiction tale. Hall says his idea came during a hike he and his best friend took on the Tanner Trail where they speculated about hats lost to the canyon’s flora and fauna.

As a mom of three elementary-aged children, I appreciated the lessons in this heart-warming picture book. It inspired us to talk about how we might have favorite “lucky” things but it’s really each other and doing things together that makes us feel loved and lucky in life. We also talked about all the animals in the canyon who become guardians of the hat through the years, so they learned a little something too. And of course, they asked to go back to the canyon again.

The Lucky Hat is Hall’s second picture book. His first, Phoebe and Chub, was a finalist for a Western Writer of America Storyteller award. Hall also has collaborated with Flagstaff-based artist Joe Sorren on two books.

Proceeds from the sale of The Lucky Hat directly support Grand Canyon National Park. It is available on their website as well as Starlight Books and Barefoot Cowgirl Books.

You can’t really buy a more local for a holiday present for your children – a story that takes place in Northern Arizona, written by a Flagstaff writer who got his MA in creative writing from NAU and is the artist in residence this year at Flagstaff Junior Academy published by a local nonprofit and sold currently only in locally-owned bookstores.

Letter to a Knucklehead NAU Student

Letter to a Knucklehead NAU Student by Natalie Rose

Dear Undergraduate Boy I Saw Walking On Campus In Flip Flops In Sub-Freezing Temperatures On Wednesday Morning,

Please put on some real fucking shoes.

The friend I see you walking with at least had the good sense to wear some thin cotton socks with his athletic sandals, but I’ll have to send him a separate missive about his choice to where a threadbare undershirt without a jacket. Back to you, Flip Flops.

Did we wake up this morning in different climates? When I woke up it was just 12 degrees outside. I had to put on four layers and my fleece tights under my jeans to feel warm enough to leave the house. Walking to the bus I had my scarf pulled up to my eyeballs. After carefully maneuvering my phone out of the pocket of my puffy coat with two sets of gloves on, I saw it was 17 degrees at the bus stop. Now, because we’re in the shade, it must be a few degrees below that, and I am worried about your toes. Do you think we’re in Miami?

(Are you on drugs? You can tell me. The first time I did edibles in college I hallucinated Betty Boop was flying around my apartment, trying to convince me to eat more weed. So if you are hallucinating that we’re in Miami, it’s OK. I’ve been there. But tell me so we can get you the proper medical treatment. #noshame)

Do you know, little darling cherub away from your hawk-eyed den mother for the first time in 18 years, what hypothermia is? Hypothermia occurs when the body is exposed to cold, aka when you don’t wear weather appropriate clothing. The body then can’t generate enough heat to maintain your internal temperature at 98.6 degrees, and this can lead to serious health problems, like permanent tissue damage. Up to 90% of our body heat can escape through our skin, so please, I beseech* you, put on some real fucking shoes.

I know this advice, coming from a woman old enough to be your mom (abet a very youthful, cool mom), is completely unsolicited. However, I feel obligated as the more mature person here to implore you to think about your toes and put on some real fucking shoes. And while you’re at it, some real fucking pants, too.


Me (your would be youthful, cool mom trying to be stealthy about inspecting your frostbitten toes while walking behind you on campus)

*Use in a sentence for extra credit: be·seech | bəˈsēCH/ | verb; ask (someone) urgently and fervently to do something; implore; entreat.

Unzip Me

Unzip Me by Hannah Baggott

Production by Gabriel Max Starner, Heather Hayden, and Joel Lain. After Samuel Beckett.

Hannah Baggott holds MFA from Oregon State University and is now a Lecturer of English at UNC Pembroke. She is a regular contributor with PDXX Collective and winner of the 2015 Jan and Marcia Vilcek Prize in Poetry from Bellevue Literary Review and the Joyce Carol Oates Commencement Award. Her work can be found or forthcoming in Passages North, PANK, Ninth Letter, HOBART, and through her website You can find her on Twitter @hannahbaggott
Gabriel Max Starner is a photo and video artist living in Nashville, TN. He’s currently pursuing his masters in marriage and family therapy, and he’s a weekly contributor to the Honest Liars Podcast. He’s on Tumblr at

Vintage Binoculars

Vintage Binoculars by Leah Browning
Danny found them on a shelf at the back of the shop.  The thin leather strap was worn to a string on one side, and missing its snap, but someone had looped it through and tied it in a knot.  They were otherwise in good condition, for their age.
He took them to school the day of the class picnic.  His mother rubbed sunscreen on his nose and the back of his neck.  She was wearing a skirt even though they were going on a short hike before lunch.
At the top of the hill, Danny turned back.  He lifted the binoculars to his face and adjusted the knobs.  He could see Greg’s dad, walking alongside his mother.  As they walked, Greg’s dad placed his hand on the small of her back.
Wildflowers were growing along the trail.  Some other boys started a game of tag, and Danny ran after them, holding the binoculars to keep them from knocking against his chest.


Leah Browning is the author of three nonfiction books for teens and pre-teens and three chapbooks. Her fiction and poetry have recently appeared in Chagrin River Review, Fiction Southeast, Toad, The Blue Hour Magazine, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, Mud Season Review, and Glassworks Magazine.

The Reason I Read: Or Seven Synchronicities I’ve Had With Books Lately

The Reason I Read: Or Seven Synchronicities I’ve Had With Books Lately by Elizabeth Hellstern

Carl Jung coined the term synchronicity, saying that events are “meaningful coincidences” if they occur with no causal relationship, yet seem to be related. For me, synchronicities mean that I’m on the right path. They give validation to my muses, to my imagination, to my direction. I’ve often had social synchronicities, but recently I’ve started having literary synchronicities. Thoughts I’ve had coalesce and are reflected in the books and magazines I’m reading. The authors take my words to the next level or give me the perfect information I need for my next idea. This makes reading so fun! I have to pay attention to find the clues for my next step in life.

Here are some I’ve had recently:

1. I was thinking about starting my own library that was open to the public. That same day, I’m reading Ander Monson’s Letter to a Future Lover, and BAM! Suddenly Ander is talking about it too, telling me how to do it!

He says “Take the books that mean the most to you and set them on an empty shelf. Now label it. Add a note about who you are and what you’re here for if the books you choose do not reveal enough. Then leave it, hope it will become a home to someone searching for reminder that our intelligence is good for something besides depression.”

2. In a reverse case of synchronicity, my son brings up feminism and shows us a cartoon that illustrates what he thinks feminism should be:


WAZAA! Turns out I’m reading Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay and get to talk to him about it. “I believe in equal opportunities for women and men,” she writes. “I believe in women having reproductive freedom and affordable and unfettered access to the health care they need. I believe women should be paid as much as men for doing the same work.”

3. I’m writing a piece about an artist with telekinetic powers who can feel the energy of the material she is working with. I’m wondering how to convey her experience and do a “tarot reading” on the book The Reenchantment of Art by Suzi Gablik. The “tarot reading” game I thought I made up is actually called bibliomancy—where one can foretell the future or answer a question by interpreting a randomly chosen passage from a book. Gablik’s synchronistically opened page reads “The ability to enter into another’s emotions, or to share another’s plight, to make their conditions our own, characterizes art in the partnership mode. You cannot exactly define it as self-expression—it is more like relational dynamics. Once relationship is given greater priority, art embodies more aliveness and collaboration, a dimension excluded from the solitary, essentially logocentric discourses of modernity. Partnership demands a willingness to conceive of art in more living terms.” WOOOHHHH!

4. In a case of pure object synchronicity, I visit the thrift store and see player piano scrolls. OOOH! I haven’t seen these in ages! They’re cool, and bring back memories, those punched dots that played notes, and I realize I haven’t thought about player pianos in quite a while. Where did they go? Just that afternoon, I KID YOU NOT, I read Ander Monson’s essay in Letter to a Future Lover, and he says “Those piano—pianola—rolls were manufactured until the first Thursday of 2009, when QRS Music Technologies of Buffalo stopped the assembly line grind for the last time and everything was silent for a moment, then stayed that way.” Question answered.

5. I’m wondering if anyone else gets excited about these meaningful bits of information dropped into one’s day like pieces of magic gold. YES! I read that the ecofeminist writer Gloria Finam Orenstin calls it “the methodology of the marvelous”—the inexplicable synchronistic processes by which one attracts, as if by magnetism, the next piece of vital information.

6. I’ve been working on a public art installation for a few months. It’s called the Telepoem Booth and invites the public to enter a 70s rectangular aluminum phone booth, look up a poet in the Telepoem Directory, and dial that number listing to hear the poem through the earpiece. SHAZAAM! I’m reading an interview that poet Albert Goldbarth gave—he’s talking about conserving poetry, words and telephone booths in the same breath.

He says “A lot of my own private life is devoted to a sense of conservancy…I conserve objects and ideas in my life. In fact, it hurts me when I see public telephone booths and post office drop-boxes disappearing from the American landscape. Some of my poetry implicitly asks to be a body that freezes some of those objects and the sensibilities they stand for in time. In fact, any poem, whether one wants it to be or not, is necessarily a block of language that to some extent holds firm a group of words and maybe the ideas those groups of words are meant to represent against the depredations of time. To that extent, I think almost any writer is a conservator.”

7. My friend sends me the great poem “The Laughing Heart” by Charles Bukowski. I’m putting the whole thing here below. The italics are mine, and although they are obvious they illustrate my AHA moment.

The Laughing Heart

your life is your life

don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.

be on the watch.

there are ways out.

there is a light somewhere.

it may not be much light but

it beats the darkness.

be on the watch.

the gods will offer you chances.

know them.

take them.

you can’t beat death but

you can beat death in life, sometimes.

and the more often you learn to do it,

the more light there will be.

your life is your life.

know it while you have it.

you are marvelous

the gods wait to delight

in you.

All of the synchronicities that my books are giving me lately make me think that this life is my life—and everyone else’s too.


by Natalie Rose


noun ad·just·ment  \ə-ˈjəs(t)-mənt\

: a change that makes it possible for a person to do better or work better in a new situation

After living in big cities on the east and west coast, and even in that Jackson Pollack-esque splatter of freeways and tract houses two hours south of here, Flagstaff can sometimes feel like that ambitiously small pair of jeans in the closet that never stretch to my actual size. At just under 70,000 people, it’s the least populated place I’ve ever lived. It is by far the most intimate.

Flagstaff is a web of connectivity, and its connectedness can be an advantage. It takes less than ten minutes to drive across town. Even at the peak of dinner hour on a Friday night, I only have to wait five minutes at that quirky pizza place with pies that transport me back to Brooklyn. Any time I’m walking about town, I see someone I know. When I ask how they’re doing, they reply by gushing about the art they make or the hikes they like or the status of the 1950s telephone booth they purchased.

Before I moved to Flagstaff, I liked my cities big. Big cities allowed me to be unknown. I could walk down the street and no one would say hello or ask me how I was doing. I could go to the bodega at three o’clock in the morning to buy cigarettes, beer, frozen yogurt and toilet paper and the clerk wouldn’t bat an eyelash as long as my money was green. (Speaking of bodegas, in the big cities, they’re open 24/7.) I could engage in questionable behavior with questionable people and not one soul cared. After a childhood of exposure, this anonymity was like fire in the dark – intoxicating.

In contrast, the exposure in Flagstaff makes me re-evaluate almost every public thing I do. Was I fake nice enough to that store clerk who was genuinely nice to me? Was it necessary to bitch out the realtor last summer who screwed us over on a house deal? He had all the decent listings last summer… The other night at aforementioned quirky pizza place, when the hostess sent us to a bar to wait for twenty minutes, then called us back for our table after only five and wouldn’t let us drink our freshly purchased beers there, I almost lost it. As we walked back to the bar to finish up, I fumed, “If this was New York this wouldn’t happen!” I’m sure my fiancé was thinking, “If this was New York we wouldn’t even sit down for another two hours.” We drank our beers and went back for the best pizza I’ve ever had.

No one that I know says, “I have to live in Flagstaff.” It’s not like there’s a wealth of resources here, no booming industry that I can see, unless you count the Purina dog food plant. The largest industry is the university, and that seems like a pretty sweet gig to me. The point is Flagstaff is not a town where you get stuck. It’s a town you fight to be in, and if that requires change, it’s change for the better.

I don’t miss those big-city-living days. They’re for the young and the restless, like Keith Richards or Patti Smith. I’m not quite acclimated to smallish town life (I flipped of a truck the other day that cut me off, calling the driver a reckless, sh*t-eating jellyfish), but I’m adjusting.

*from Merriam-Webster

A publication by Northern Arizona University's MFA Program