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Black River Review 2023


Black River Review 2023
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Jefferson Community College
State University of New York
Watertown, New York

Spring 2023


Dr. Christine Pristash, Editor in Chief
Lucinda Barbour, Art Editor
Roy Romano, Aleksin Ortega, and Corey Pentoney, Literary Judges
Ashley Collins, Emma King, Descrendre Sforza, and Corey Starks, Student Literary Editors
Josh Dickinson and Jess Leigh, Literary Editor/Proofreader



"Hidden Truth" by Jess Okai is a light brown-skinned female from collarbone up red auburn hair with large luna moth covering both eyes and philodendron monstera leaves along inner edge of frame

Jessiah Okai,

Outstanding Artwork Contributor for
Hidden Truth
(mixed media)

Opinions expressed by the authors and artists do not necessarily reflect those of the editors or of Jefferson Community College.



Lucinda Barbour

      Springtime brings a surge of creative energy and opportunity for growth, and it is the time to release a new edition of the Black River Review. The 2023 edition has themes with a great range of topics: the passage of time, forgotten items, inspiration found in nature, the importance of humor, and a surprising number of wonderful, winged things! Some of the subjects are as subtle as the rhythm of ripples on water; others are mysterious with twisting vines and cobwebs. Several delve into painful memories, and another playfully explores making new patterns with a bird's feathers. Art and literature can help us find our voice, strength, and resilience, as well as a positive way to shine a light and to move forward.

      The Black River Review is always a result of collaboration. This edition exemplifies the teamwork of faculty, staff, contributors, and student literary editors who helped with the selection of written works. Since the magazine’s inception, the cover has featured a current student artist. This year’s cover-art called Hidden Truth, by Jessiah Okai, with its carefully observed lunar moth masking a young woman’s face, implies that there are things yet to be discovered or known. Butterflies and moths can represent transformation or a flight of the imagination.

      Jefferson Community College has a wealth of thoughtful people to be found in the students, faculty, staff, and alumni. The Black River Review is a creative outlet that allows us to celebrate and enjoy endeavors from this talented group. It is a true gift to have time to explore, practice, and create in a safe and supportive place. This is my 27th year as Art Editor for the magazine. In May, I will be stepping back from full-time teaching in order to have more time to make art, and I want to wish the college and this marvelous journal continued success.


Black River Review Contributors, 2023

* Indicates Outstanding Creative Writing or Art Contributor





  • * Jessiah Okai, "Outside My Shell" (collage) - Outstanding Artwork Contributor
  • Arsynio Robinson, "Survival" (ink drawing)
  • Corey Pentoney, "Stickworks, Tupper Lake Wild Center" (photo)
  • Kylie Thomas, "Connected as One" (ink drawing)
  • Rae Knapp, "Emperor Moth (Saturnia pavonia)" (ink drawing)
  • Pamela Dixon, "A Rare Breed" (photo)
  • Paige Soules, "Escape" (collage)
  • Hannah Cooley, "Loon on Lake" (collage)
  • Madison Truesdell, "Rainwater Revival" (ink drawing)
  • Joshua Rowe, "Right Where I Need to Be" (collage)
  • Arsynio Robinson, "Be Not Afraid" (ink drawing)
  • Madison Truesdell, "Life of the Great Sphinx" (collage)
  • Erin McCarthy Greene (Class of 1974), "Otter Creek Snowfall" (photo)
  • Hannah Cooley, "Spotted Lion" (ink drawing)
  • Joshua Rowe, "Snailsman the Salesman" (collage)
  • Elena Dickinson, "Luna Moth" (photo)


  • Black and white geometric design of a loon surrounded by ripples of water.
  • Geometrical black and white design of a sea turtle surrounded by various sea grasses.
  • A tiny wizard sits front and center on top of a giant toadstool. The wizard has a look of content and peace. It is a bright sunny day with rolling hills behind him. There is a tower in the distance and clouds hanging over the sky. This image is made up entirely of tiny black paper pixels.
  • A humanoid looking snailman is presenting to the viewer of snail that is sitting in their tentacle. The snailman is wearing a big grin and a nice suit with a polka dot tie. There is a speech balloon coming from the snailman saying ‘they make great pets!’
  • This image depicts 3 lab rats bursting out of a cage ‘escaping’ from the lab testing. The left side is mostly black with a white silhouette of the cage and the tails of the rats. The right side is mostly white with a black silhouette of the heads and bodies of the rats to signify the rats breaking out of the darkness and into the light.
  • A geometrically designed head of the Sphinx lies in the center of the composition. The piece is reverse of value, thus helping to show the two sides of night and day. The daytime depiction shows an undamaged and beautiful head of the Sphinx with a hot sun in the top left corner. The night side, however, shows cracks, wear, and tear on the Sphinx, including its missing nose. Stars decorate the night side. Two diagonal lines come from the Sphinx, depicting a power or commanding energy. The intent is to show resiliency.

Ink Drawing

  • Ink drawing featuring a women with long flowing hair and jellyfish in the foreground.
  • Ink drawing, the subject is a birds nest with 2 birds and an egg resting on a tree branch.
  • This image has a central dark figure of a woman with a flower for her head, three sets of open angel wings at the top of this form, and butterfly wings are to either side of the hips. There are eyes on the wings and at the navel and serum of the body. The background has a pattern of eyes surrounding the figure, there are clouds and sparkles in the four corners and a flaming sword at the center of lower edge of picture.
  • A long-haired man with a bristly beard has his head upturned to the sky, his eyes closed. His look is peaceful as a soft rain falls around him. The rain drops consist of Morse Code with words such as ‘alive’ and ‘revived.’ The intent of the piece is the show newfound clarity and acceptance.
  • Piece depicts and emperor moth in the center and around it there are ferns curled inward towards the moth. Around the border of the paper, the top has a wildflower branch on each side and the bottom half of the border has a wavy vine-like design.


  • Black and white image of a field, grass, trees, including a white birch on right-hand side of frame during a snowfall.
  • Upward view toward shining sunbeams among treetops with surrounding woven sticks along left, top, and right-side of frame.
  • Left-hand side profile of bird with light colored head and altered swirl graphics along upper body.
  • Luna moth rested on plant with some of plant pot showing along bottom of frame.


Contributor's Notes

plans to go on for her Bachelor of Fine Arts before pursuing her master's degree in Medical Illustration. She has an amazing attention for detail and a great deal of patience -- especially for refining her drawings.

is a writer, actor, recording artist and arts educator originally from Watertown, NY. Most recently, her poem "Love Letter" -- ode to the North Country -- was featured as a part of the Adirondack Center for Writing's PoemVillage2022 installation in Saranac Lake, NY. She has also been published in several anthologies, including Breath of Love, and in the fall of 2021, her work was chosen to be part of the U.S. debut of the Of Earth and Sky outdoor exhibition and its corresponding poetry anthology.

is a JCC alumnus who has enjoyed writing in the North Country since his graduation.

is a junior at Beaver River Central and an EDGE student. She enjoys reading the work of L. M. Montgomery and hopes to pursue a career in medicine.

is an Associate Professor of English at Jefferson. He participates in the National Novel Writing Month contest each November.

holds an associate degree and bachelor's degree from Franklin University. A JCC employee, this fall, she will reach her 17-year milestone as a member of the Marketing and Communications Office. She enjoys gardening, photography, hiking, reading, and JCC fitness challenges.

is a Humanities and Social Science major at JCC, graduating spring 2023. After graduation, she will continue to travel the world and attend concerts with her spouse, spend time with their two kids, friends, family, and simply enjoy the journey.

enjoys writing and photography.

is an editor at the Thousand Islands Sun newspaper, Alexandria Bay, and she frequently submits her photos for publication.

graduated from SUNY Potsdam in 2016 and did post-grad work at the University of Rochester. He now lives in his hometown of Brownville and is finishing up an apprenticeship in the pipe trades.

lives in Barnes Corners with her husband, Doug. She is currently writing a collection of stories and poems. She enjoys spending time with her children and grandchildren.

returned home in 1980, after teaching in Virginia, and has been writing about it ever since. By writing about the North Country, and those who call it home, he hopes to make others see the value of this place. He hopes to honor his neighbors, thanking them for making him who he is becoming.

was born and raised in Clayton, NY. They have had a love for art since box televisions were popular and big boxes of crayons didn't cost more than $10. They are currently enrolled in JCC as an Individual Studies major and strive to be an art teacher to inspire our youth.

is the birth-certificate name of Laurie Petersen, who taught English composition classes at JCC for eight years. About five hundred of her poems are out there somewhere.

plans to pursue a career in either illustration or graphic design. She intends to transfer to a four-year SUNY school to complete her BFA.

is a tutor, counselor, advisor, and all-around doer at Jefferson. His poems and stories appear at random in the world, but rarely are his photographs spotted. He lives here in Watertown with his wife Hannah and his two tortoiseshellcats, Quinn and Luna.

is currently looking to be a tattoo artist and is currently an apprentice. He/they are curious about what will happen next in life and are going with the flow.

is majoring in creative writing and art. After JCC, he intends to pursue classes in game design. His goal is to one day open his own independent game studio. He enjoys nature, music, science fiction, and horror. He's kinda funny, but not like "HA-HA" funny.

graduated from the Computer Information Technology, A.A.S. program and is a storyteller by trade. Whether it's news, a poem, film, or short story, Ashley's time at JCC has allowed her the ability to troubleshoot, brainstorm and develop her ideas over technological and creative media.

is in her second year at JCC. Afterwards, she wants to attend SUNY Polytechnic to get a degree in animation. She enjoys drawing, baking, and watching (or rewatching) anime and other animated movies.

is an aspiring tattoo artist and intends to continue her education at a four-year college with an exceptional art program in the near future. She is taking all the art classes she can to improve her skills.

is currently attending JCC with plans to transfer to SUNY Polytechnic Institute to specialize in art and Interactive Media Design. Prior to her first semester here, during which her entries were completed, she was entirely self-taught and had never received any formal art training, not even a secondary-level art class. Aside from art, she loves theater and acting, partaking in local theater productions and high school drama clubs. Madison also enjoys walks on the beach, funny films, and poking dead things with a stick (satirically of course).

is currently enrolled in Jefferson Community College with an aspiring degree in English Teaching. Writing has been her passion for over five years. She continues to search for any writing opportunities annually and always anticipates creating the best piece she can pull out of herself. She wants to personally thank her professors from Jefferson Community College and outsiders for taking the time to read; the rotten fruits, the change in the leaves, the sunshine, and the colors she is made of.

retired from the Melvil Dewey Library and the North Country to live in the Sunny Southland and seek his fortune.


The editors seek original submissions in the following categories:
Poetry: Up to 7 poems, not to exceed 50 lines each
Fiction: Up to 2 short stories, not to exceed 1500 words each
Non-Fiction: Up to 2 essays, not to exceed 1500 words each
Plays: Up to 2 one-act plays, not to exceed 1500 words each
Artwork: Up to 4 works In the original medium, such as black ink or charcoal drawing, computer graphics, b/w photographs, even if printed from color film
Music: Up to 2 composition 16 or more measures in length

Only submissions from Jefferson Community College students (full or part time), faculty, staff, and alumni will be considered. Include name, address, and phone number on each submitted work, as well as a biographical note of 30 words or fewer. Cash awards for outstanding work  will be awarded. All submissions become the property of the Black River Review. Submitted works will not be returned.

Submitting and presenting work:
For Black River Review submissions, include name, address, and phone number on each submitted work as well as a biographical note of 30 words or less when submitting for either publication. If submitting art or photography, include a short one-sentence description of the work as well. Email your submissions to or drop them off in person at the Arts & Humanities department, Jules 6-202.

All submissions become the property of the Black River Review, submitted works will not be returned. However, after first publication, all rights revert back to authors.

Award recipients are encouraged to participate in the reading of works and presentation of awards during the Black River Review unveiling in April 2024.

Deadline for Volume XXXIV: Friday, February 16, 2024


Publication of the Black River Review is made possible by support from the School of Arts & Humanities. Funds for student awards for outstanding artwork and writing are provided by the Jefferson Community College Campus Life Committee and Campus Activities Board.


Typing and layout for this volume of the Black River Review is done using Microsoft Word. Typing by Christine Pristash and Jess Jones; prize notification by Jess Jones. Printing by Mitchell's Speedway Press. Digital photography and logo design by Marketing. Website layout by Andrew Lackey and Jess Jones.

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Copyright © 2023 Black River Review
(After first publication, all rights revert to authors, artists, and composers.)