Preface - by Dr. CarolAnn Russell Schlemper

This has been a year of change and unsettled calm. Even the moon shines more orange on the paltry snow, daring earth to drink the melt. The winter has been uncharacteristically warm. The war grinds on, after four years, in a place we see on television and news magazines, or bleeding on our computer screens--money and oil. Regardless of our politics, we choke on the word, soldier: tears or anger--it's all about fear. I remember a soft autumn in 1969, leaves falling, before the government instituted lottery to replace the draft. College boys were burning their draft cards on Saint Germain in St. Cloud, singing "All we are saying, is give peace a chance." Some were heading to Canada or turning themselves in. One jumped out a window and died. The war brought us to our knees and the battle home inside. The men who lived through the "mud and blood and shit of Vietnam," in the words of the poet Etheridge Knight, returned and were spit on, scapegoat for our guilt. Everything was in pieces.
 
When Rivers Meeting began in 1990-1991, the students moved it off campus on Monday nights to the Cosmic Java, a bohemian coffee bar, with a corner stage and a mike in front of the window on Fifth and Beltrami. Christian, the owner, loved jazz and poetry, and gave us our first downtown home. Everyone was welcome to stop by, and one night in walked Anthony Swann. He was new in town, fresh from Minneapolis via San Francisco, and rode a bicycle instead of driving a car. He'd read his poems, a sort of rebel jazz, politics, and bardic mix, and then hang out with us to talk. In the midst of the numb 1990s, he seemed like a ghost of hippies past. Somehow without losing his vision. Now, post 9-11, the Red Lake shooting, and neat virtual unreality, he is still writing. I join the editors in welcoming Anthony Swann as the first featured poet of the Rivers Meeting.
 
This collection of work by the student writers of BSU is proof--whether BS/BA, or Graduate--that unbroken threads yet bind us into a single creative community. These stories and poems remind us that living is colorful and wild, and that our families and lives contain the raw material of myth, what the alchemists called the prima materia. Welcome to ground zero.