Abby Barickman’s Poem

Please enjoy Abby Barickman’s poem, “You Love Me, Right?”

Abby says,

I wrote this poem because it’s exactly how I felt and what was going on in my life. I was in a bad relationship, that I now know was abusive, for way too long. That might sound odd, but I really didn’t know it was abusive. I knew that I got hit and that I wasn’t always treated with respect, but I never once thought of him as an abuser or myself as a victim. I rationalized that he just had a temper and that, like he always said, he just loved me too much. I used to think that if someone was abusing me, I would not only leave, but I would hate them. Unfortunately, that is not at all how it happened. After a sequence of events that basically forced me to, I left. But I didn’t hate him. I still don’t. Instead of feeling empowered and good like everyone told me I would, I felt lonely and low. I missed him and I knew that I shouldn’t. I actually missed the abuse, the highs and lows. It was like I’d become addicted it. I was conflicted and hurt and embarrassed by those feelings. They bled into all other aspects of my life. I didn’t understand how I could still love and want this person that did all of these terrible things to me. I was too ashamed to talk to anyone about it, so I wrote instead.”
Abby Barickman is a 23 year old waitress. After taking a few years off, she is trying college for the second time, hoping to graduate next fall with a degree in Communication Studies and an emphasis in Interpersonal Communication. She wants to work in a domestic violence shelter after graduation, helping others who find themselves in situations like she did. Abby enjoys painting, reading and spending time with family and friends.


James Groh- I’m Fine

Check out a sweet video one of our contributors, James Groh, made for his piece, “I’m Fine”.

James Groh is a recent graduate from the University of Wisconsin La Crosse, where he obtained his Bachelor of Science in Biology with a Biomedical Concentration in addition to Minors in Chemistry and Creative Writing. Currently, he is attending graduate school at the Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee where he is focusing on epidemiology as well as the social determinants of health.

Writing has always been a part of his life, offering an escape, a release, and a way to understand who he am and the world around him. “I’m Fine” represents the thought process of a person who is inside their own head and cannot get out. Trapped by their own thinking, the speaker attempts to distract themselves, knowing that they are overanalyzing their thoughts, but they cannot stop the racing thoughts in their mind.

“Initially, this poem started off as a note that I wrote when I myself was inside my head as a way to process what I was thinking about. I didn’t come back to the note until a few months later when I was looking for inspiration to write a poem. From the original note I broke it up into different fragments from which I edited and expanded upon. Many of these fragments were broad, overarching thoughts that did not connect to one another. In order to connect them I focused on incorporating specific images that make the poem more tangible. Earlier drafts of the poem varied greatly in form. Form is my favorite aspect of a poem to experiment with. I chose one continuous stanza controlled by minimal punctuation to parallel the motion of chaotic thought.” -James Groh

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.