Virginia Literary Journal


DIANE “DEE” BOWLIN grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and moved to Oklahoma to attend Oklahoma City University. After graduating with a mathematics degree, she became a Corporate Trainer in the insurance industry and later in life, opened her own barbecue restaurant. While visiting the east coast in 2012, the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains captured her heart and she moved to Roanoke, VA. Dee’s award-winning poetry and song lyrics are as diverse as her life. Her poems have been published in Encore, Golden Words, Lucidity’s April in the Ozarks, and Virginia Literary Journal and her lyrics set to music and performed on stage. She is an experienced poetry contest judge and also teaches a lyric-writing class. She was honored as the 2011 Poetry Society of Oklahoma Poet Laureate and accepted into The National League of American Pen Women in 2012. Dee is now a member of The Southwest Virginia Songwriters Association, Roanoke Valley Christian Writers, Roanoke Valley Pen Women, and the Poetry Society of Oklahoma and Poetry Society of Virginia. 

 A native of Washington, D.C., WENDELL HAWKEN moved to Loudoun County, Virginia in the 1970s and never looked back.  She raised her children in Leesburg when Leesburg was a small town. Craving the rural, she found herself pushed westward by the ever-expanding D.C. suburbs and now lives on a grass and cattle farm in the northern Shenandoah Valley.
               Hawken came to poetry late in life, after retiring as a marketing executive with an international company. Thirty-nine years after receiving her B.A. from Vassar College, she earned her M.F.A. in Poetry at the low-residency Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College in Swannannoah, North Carolina. Her work has a strong narrative thread and draws from her rural Virginia lifestyle where the weather means more than what clothes to wear.
                Her first chapbook, Mother Tongue, was published by Argonne House of Washington, D.C. A full collection, The Luck of Being, was brought out by The Backwaters Press of Omaha, and her second chapbook, The Spinal Sequence, by Finishing Line Press of Georgetown, KY. Individual poems have appeared in various literary magazines.

Inspired by rural imagery, such as blue mountains and the slant of sun along fields, SARAH E N KOHRS savors life in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Having earned a BA in Classical Languages and Archaeology from The College of Wooster in Ohio, as well as a Virginia state teaching licensure endorsed in Latin and Visual Arts, Sarah infuses her art with a love of languages and antiquity. SENK creates written and visual art that seeks a unique perspective on how surroundings can kindle hope in even a disparaged heart. Her poetry and photography have been published in From the Depths and Virginia Literary Journal, respectively. Life experiences that bolster her artistic pursuits include homeschooling three young sons, creating pottery for a local Empty Bowl soup supper and farmers' markets, and serving in altruistic roles, such as managing editor of The Sow's Ear Poetry Review and master gardener with Northern Shenandoah Valley Master Gardener Association. Find her online at

BRANDON PATTERSON grew up in Glenvar, Virginia, and currently resides in the Commonwealth’s Queen City of Staunton, where he is accompanied by his ravishing wife and rambunctious son. He matriculated at Virginia Tech and Hollins University, and escaped the poverty traps of successive English and Creative Writing degrees by lucking into a professional life fundraising for nonprofits. At the moment he writes grants and helps humanities faculty secure research backing at Washington and Lee University.  There’s also some dabbling with freelance work performed on the side, but it doesn’t amount to much these days.  In the community Brandon serves as a board member for Fine Arts In Rockbridge, which supports performances and education in the Rockbridge region; he is also a member of the Staunton Waynesboro Augusta Group of the Blue Ridge Writers Club.  His latest stories have appeared in Thin Air, Free State Review, Young Adult Review, and Night Train.  Detours into nature writing and creative nonfiction are on his plate at the moment; at some point in the (likely distant) future, he hopes all the little tales he’s written over the years will be nestled into a collection or three. He credits his family for providing him with the space and support to keep his fingers on the keyboard over the years.

MARILOU SCHUNTER is a poet from Culpeper, Virginia. Although a native New Yorker, she has found her muse in the beautiful Piedmont area of central Virginia. She also writes poetry about her travels to places both wild and urban - Alaska, the Galapagos, and most recently Antarctica; and Miami, San Francisco, and London. Marilou taught poetry for the Culpeper After School Arts Program for several years, and chaired the Windmore Foundation's Brown Bag Poetry contest for elementary students for ten years. Recent work appeared in issues of The Blue Ridge Anthology, Blue Ridge Parkway Celebration, and Skyline 2014. She was a shortlist finalist in the 2014 Shann Palmer Poetry Contest.

WILLIAM VOLLRATH was born in the middle of America, into a middle class environment during the middle of the twentieth century.  Eventually, he decided edgy is more interesting than the middle, and after two college degrees, brief stints as a freshman English instructor, gravedigger, real estate appraiser and bartender plus some thirty years in advertising and financial services careers, he began to seriously focus on his poetic expressions.  More recently, William retired to beautiful and historic Charlottesville, Virginia, along with his lovely wife, dog and cat.  In addition to writing (when the muse chooses to speaks to him) William stays busy playing baritone horn in a Charlottesville concert band, taking courses at the University of Virginia, searching for good fishing holes with a local fishing group and staying connected with local and state politicians who seem in need of a little common sense direction.
               William’s poetry tends to be condensed, but multi-layered, and often contains elements of philosophy, spirituality or humor. He has been published in a variety of journals, anthologies, e-zines and web sites including: The Prairie Light Review, Rockford Review, Your Daily Poem, Voices on the Wind, Echo, Eye on Life, Live Poets Society, Om Times and an Illinois State Poetry Society Anthology.  Awards include: Chicago’s Poets and Patrons contest free verse and humorous categories, Highland Park Poetry’s Bus Lines contest and Ohio Poetry Day’s literary figure category.  William has published two chapbooks of poetry Neon Windows and Make Mine Rare.  He hopes sharing his perceptions, frustrations and joys will be both good therapy for himself and provide some lasting illumination for others.

JUDY WHITEHILL WITT grew up in Pittsburgh and Cleveland, but abandoned the chilly climes when she went to Duke University. After a career designing computer applications and a brief stint selling new homes in Florida, she’s finally indulging her passion for playing with words. Her poetry has recently appeared in The Quotable, The New Poet, Virginia Writers Club Virtual Anthology, and Atlanta Review. Over the past several years, Judy’s writings have won numerous awards, including the 2014 – 2015 RhymeZone Poetry Prize. She’s querying agents for her first book, Twice upon a Trip: His Story in History, My Story and a Mystery, the dual travelogue from which an excerpt has been published online in Hippocampus Magazine. Her current work-in-progress, a mystery novel set in Ashland, Virginia, pits a young woman and her distant mother against a downward spiral of disasters in the midst of 2008’s real estate crash. From her home in Glen Allen, Virginia, Judy blogs about writing, travel, and genealogy at

Virginia Literary Journal - Issue #2

Contents and Contributors

A 21 Line Salute to Arlington by Judy Witt
A Condensed History of Words by Sara Robinson
At the Footbridge by Dee Bowlin
Blue Ridge Mountains: View from Route 29 by Marilou Schunter
Blue Ridge Sunrise by Stan Galloway
Chicken Gravy by James Gardner
Cicada by William Vollrath
Common Ground by Dee Bowlin
For an Unknown Ancestor by David Black
Graduation at a Small College in Virginia by Susan Robbins
Great Blue Heron by Molly O’Dell
Jackson River by Molly O’Dell
Kayaking the Jackson by William Vollrath
March 23rd, Half Way Down the Valley by Wendell Hawken
Of a Place by Molly O’Dell
Panther Creek by Clyde Kessler
Route 29, Brandy Station by Marilou Schunter
Route 60 to Richmond by Brandon Patterson
Sometimes the Little Town by Sara Robinson
Touch and Go by Stan Galloway
Uncle Harvey’s Deer by David Black
Winter in the Valley by Dee Bowlin
With the Ham Radio Guys at Rocky Knob by Clyde Kessler

First Snow by Dee Bowlin
Cardinal in Winter by Lena Greer
The Fence by Sarah Kohrs
Azalea by Sarah Kohrs
Winter Rye by Sarah Kohrs