Web Exclusive: Charleton Skinner, “Silent Conversation”

As a way of saying “Happy Summer!” The Catalyst invites you to spend some time indoors with writer / creator Charelton Skinner.

Of “Silent Conversation,” Charleton writes: “My aim is  to represent communication. I had telepathy in mind which sounds like hocus-pocus to some people, but to me, there is something to it. Effective communication happens when I predict you and you predict me. There are many muscles in our faces. All those little muscles move and shape you and me depending on what we’re thinking and feeling. In our micro-expressions there is a wealth of hints, so pay close attention. You might not have to say anything if I look into your face. I can guess and you can say yes with your eyes. In the end it’s 50/50. We can only say yes or no.”

Charleton Skinner graduated in 2016 with an English literature major and creative writing minor. He thinks of religion as the misplaced worship of our most adored object, the sun.


Spring 2016 Issue Is Up!

Volume 14 of The Catalyst has arrived, featuring a fresh spring scent, unrecognizable bird songs, and blossoms on the vine. And also:

Art and photography by: Jordy Schmidt, Elise Burns, Dahli Durley, Danielle Nolden, Allison Johnson, Kaitlyn Kaufenberg, Elizabeth Brown, Danielle VanBrabant, Abigail Voye, and Nhouchee Yang.

Prose and Poetry by: Joshua Jarrett, Madison Haus, Libbie Miller, Abby Barickman, Christina Griffin, James Groh, Elizabeth Brown, Fue Yang, Brooklyn Massey, Jennifer Surber, Jennifer Morales, Mikayla Peters, Kyndra Rothermel, and Jill Sisson Quinn.

Watch for more web exclusives over the summer months, and stay tuned for the announcement of the fall issue’s theme and deadlines. Enjoy!

Web Feature: Holly Mueller reads “The Dime”

20160211_092808Holly Mueller’s “The Dime” is featured in The Catalyst Volume 13, page 20The Catalyst asked Holly what inspired her to write this poem and she said:

“When I was four and my brother eight, we made a bet. I think it involved racing down the driveway on our bikes. At any rate, we bet a dime. I lost the bet and refused to pay. He never let me forget this. Throughout the years, he would tease me that I still owed him a dime. When he was 38, he was caught in what we consider a love triangle. We will never know the exact details. From what we surmise, the gun that killed him was not suppose to have gone off, it was only meant to scare him. At any rate, he died instantly. As he lay in the casket, I did take a dime and place it in his pocket.”

Holly Mueller’s Bio:

“I am currently seeking my English degree with a Literature Emphasis.  I have my B.S in Community Health Education from UW-La Crosse.  Currently, I am a Certified Medical Assistant working at Gundersen Health System.  I enjoy reading, scrapbooking, and playing board games with my granddaughter.  I have a new puppy named Popcorn and she really does love to eat popcorn!”

Web Feature: Haolin Huang’s “Mirror” Video

“Mirror” is the seventh part of Haolin Huang’s complete poem “Love Letters,” which is featured on page 46 of the current (winter 2015-2016) issue of The Catalyst. She created this lyrical video feature of the poem:

The Catalyst asked Haolin about her inspiration and the process behind the poem. She said:

unnamed“Mirror is… the combination of a true story from a dear friend and some bit of my own sentimental experiences, a gathering up of the slow learners in love. Akin to a piece of note you’d be holding and reading in a mutual help group, it’s a written down cliche moment of life. While making my poems, I intend to be a bold raconteur rather than merely a recorder. Not that I never let my interior monologue knock the bottom out of it – sometimes layering the contours up so that they become meaningful just appear to be more interesting and intriguing.

“My process of writing is simple: whenever a scene is smashing my brain, I write it down before it wears out. Poetry writing, in my humble opinion, is more personal and vivid than most creative process even when it’s hardly realistic. In place of most other textual approaches, poetry is the closest to our mind due to its empathetic and emotional nature. A thing to be noted is that when you’re writing, sometimes you have a feeling that you’re sitting like a pretzel amongst all the human beings as a heart in repose this lasting day; meanwhile you stray away from this natural/unnatural world to be an egg yolk looking thing in the central of the universe. This is the time you know that you’re writing some good stuff.

“Carnality and the cosmos are the things I write about the most. An individual’s sex desire will influence this person’s aptitude and eventually frame his/her choices of life. It forces you to find out why you’re budging from your former decisions, what comes to you from the others as something of a shock, who would accept you when you’re looking for love, and etc. You have to go through all these corridors and mazes, and sometimes they look like dreams. (Why do I write about the cosmos? Because it’s freaking cool!)”

“Nothing defines us.
Our time is limited.
Pack your courage and say goodbye to this borough.
I will show you another world. ”


Samuel Petersen reads “Garden Crust”

Samuel Petersen’s vignette, “Garden Crust” is featured on page 32 of the current (winter 2015-2016) issue of The Catalyst. We asked Sam about the process behind the piece, he said:

“The piece ‘Garden Crust’ was mostly inspired by the summer I worked in a large vegetable garden. The garden was the center of my everyday life, and everything else I did that summer was a ripple spreading from the garden. Also, the piece is inspired by some vague ideas about transcendence or something similar.

“My process for writing ‘Garden Crust,’ as well as for almost everything ‘creative’ that I write, is fairly straightforward: go for a bike ride, maybe draw a few pictures in my sketchbook, listen to some music, then begin writing (sometimes this order is reversed and I end up writing on a mental tablet while I bicycle). Once I actually have something down on paper I tend to re-read and re-write a lot, as most writers probably do.

“At this point as a writer I like the vignette as a creative mode. It is close to a journal entry—something not too grand, yet still possibly intense. You can have a meaningful encounter with it, toss it aside, forget about it, chance upon finding it again and have another meaningful encounter with it. It is kind of like a pop song you like, or a little picture you have on your fridge that you forget is even there most of the time, but when you remember to look, what you see is actually pretty interesting. So, ‘Garden Crust’ is that: a magnet on my fridge, depicting a little period of life.”

SamPetersen20162Sam Petersen currently lives, works and goes to school in La Crosse, Wisconsin. He grew up across the river in La Crescent, Minnesota, spending his formative years making noise with a group of friends in his parent’s garage. His heart is in Iowa, whose geography and inhabitants give him constant inspiration.



Hello hello hello!

So, we’re halfway through the submission period, and we need more submissions! If you’re thinking about publishing your work, let us know! We would love to hear about college or flowers or how stupid your ex is. Send your submissions to catalyst@uwlax.edu and we will read them all! GET CRACKIN!!!!

Whadja do for summer vacation?

It’s 90 degrees. The sun’s like a big delicious mango in the middle of a bright blue sky. But it’s “fall.” Back to school. UWL’s The Catalyst is gearing up for another year of boostin’–we’ll publish issue 13 this winter, full of plush student writing and art, and we’ll put together some exciting programming events for everyone to get together and celebrate life. Kind of like this poem, part of our current issue. It’s “Three Waters,” by Jennifer Glasgow. Warning. The following text contains overtly Canadian scenes, crustaceans, awkward family encounters, and uplifting realizations to make you feel alive.

Three Waters

Jennifer Glasgow


One summer, my family went on vacation

before my brother left for college.

We travelled to Canada to see the falls,

whose roaring waters mesmerized me

and made me feel so insignificant and small.

And it was so hot that day.

We baked inside our plastic ponchos

when we rode on the Maid of the Mist,

like potatoes in a roasting bag.

Then we went to Maine.

Where we ate lobsters, watched whales,

and my father flirted with hypothermia

in the coast’s aquamarine undulations.

Not a shimmering pool of gemstones

could be more beautiful than that ocean.

And our last stop was Redbank, New Jersey,

to go swimming at the shore with my peculiar family,

whose oddness compared to the ocean that day.

Those slate gray, choppy waves paled in comparison

to the others many miles away in Maine.

There were disturbed winds floating through the air,

and the undertow tossed me as a giant would flick a fly away.

I remember thinking in that moment,

tossed and turned and disoriented,

how amazingly formidable the power of the ocean was.

It is so indifferent.

So unaware of its potential to harm

And I was so small, so easily spun like a leaf in a hurricane.

It was indescribable.

As if even my words are too small.

And when I surfaced from that water,

my lungs searing,

gasping, stunned,

I heard the voices.

“Where is Evan?”

When my dad brought my brother back,

he collapsed in the sand,

arms spread wide, heaving.

His body was decorated with large red streaks,

burns from the rope that saved his life.

Which he clung to as the mighty ocean,

in increments too quick for him to breathe,

forcefully washed over him,

unconcerned about the jetty of rocks

a few feet away.

And in a week or so after we returned home,

my aunt sent my mother an email.

A news article reporting the death

of a young man

who died swimming in that same water.

And I wondered if he too was taking a vacation before college

to commemorate the beginning

of the rest of his life.

“What Are You Waiting For?”–the new issue is here!

Check out the Spring 2015 issue of The Catalyst here: http://issuu.com/uw-lacrosse/docs/thecatalyst_vol12_spring2015

Table of Contents


Black Lamb

Sylvia Neumann


Jessica Fanshaw

Winter and Cactus

Mikaela Kornowski

From infancy to clarency; womb to tomb

Rhiannon Fisher


Molly Duggan

Photo of Mom and Dad at Uncle Tommy’s Wedding

Mikaela Kornowski

The God, The Drone, and The Dead

Rhiannon Fisher


Molly Duggan

Three Waters

Jennifer Glasgow


Molly Duggan



Prose/Short story

The Puppy Dilemma

Dani Weber


Samuel Fischer

The Doorbell

James Groh





Danielle Nolden


Danielle Nolden

In The Garden

Molly Duggan




Emily Plachetka


Dylan Bloch


Imani Paul (Bones)