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Anna Lena Phillips Bell

Anna Lena Phillips Bell is editor of Ecotone and the magazine’s sister imprint, Lookout Books. Her poetry collection Ornament received the 2016 Vassar Miller Prize, and was released in spring 2017 by the University of North Texas Press. Her writing appears in 32 Poems, the Southern Review, Colorado Review, and Southern Poetry Review, among others, and is forthcoming in the anthologies Big Energy Poets: Ecopoetry Thinks Climate Change, Counter-Desecration: A Glossary for Writing in the Anthropocene, and A Literary Field Guide to Southern Appalachia. She is the recipient of an Emerging Writers Award from the Southern Women Writers’ Conference, and of a 2016 North Carolina Arts Council Fellowship in literature. She makes artist’s books and other objects under the imprint To Do in the New Year, including Forces of Attention, a series of printed objects designed to help people mediate interactions with screened devices, and A Pocket Book of Forms, a travel-sized, fine-press guide to poetic forms, released in 2014 and included in exhibitions at Abecedarian Gallery and Asheville Bookworks. Formerly senior editor at American Scientist, where she remains a contributing editor, she teaches in the creative writing department at UNC Wilmington, and calls Appalachian square dances in North Carolina and beyond.

Material Life

Oh, plastic, scourge of the Anthropocene, shaped into adorable shapes and dyed multifarious colors; plastic, who will be with us forever: it’s easy to forget about you, but when I remember you’re here, I’m annoyed and freaked out all at once. I’ve been thinking about plastic more than usual as we prepare this Body Issue. Petrochemically derived plastic is, more and more, part of our bodies, and the evidence for its hazards grows steadily clearer. Not only does this material stick around for thousands of years, it disintegrates into smaller and smaller particles that attract and concentrate toxins in seas, soil, living things. It pervades even the air, according to studies published in 2016 and new work out this year, lodging in lungs and carrying the same toxins to those chambers. Tali Weinberg’s woven data map Bound, featured in this issue, speaks to these hazards and the hazards of climate change all at once. Beginning with plastic medical tubing, she marks out data on annual average temperatures in cities and countries around the world, then shows that data by wrapping the tubing with hand-dyed, color-coded thread.

Letters to a Friend

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of the U. S. Postal Service. Sending and receiving letters is one of the things I love most. Here at Ecotone we’re about to have one more reason for writing letters,…

The Craft of Editing

How do editors learn to edit? It’s a question I think about a lot. And it includes an assumption I fear is threatened in these lean times, as publishers lay off staff and streamline processes: editing is a craft. A…

Fidelity to Fact

April—every day a new flower scent to try to identify; every day warmer—and I’m thinking yet again about a perennial conundrum. Amid distraction, and amid so much information, how to hold in mind the many present threats to ecological balance?

An Editor and a Poet

During the past nearly three years, we at Ecotone experienced some great luck—the company of Jason Bradford, our coeditor for poetry, and of his mother, Shirley Niedermann. Early this year, just after the semester’s first meeting of the graduate practicum…

Crickets, Cicadas

Lying in my tent before falling asleep, the sight of the festival grounds neatly zipped away, I still hear the layers of music filtering in. Earlier in the evening, in groups scattered among the campsites, so many fiddle and banjo…