About me

tintype portrait by Alastair Cook

tintype portrait by Alastair Cook (click to enlarge)

I’m a writer, editor, and web publisher from the Appalachian Mountains of central Pennsylvania. I aspire to be a good minor poet and a great reader. These days I guess I’m most widely known as the publisher of Moving Poems, a daily compendium of poetry videos from around the web.

I’ve been publishing my own material on the web since 2003. In 2010, Phoenicia Publishing brought out Odes to Tools, a small book of 25 poems that originally appeared at my literary blog Via Negativa. My latest Via Negativa-derived collections are Breakdown: Banjo Poems from Seven Kitchens Press, part of their Keystone Chapbook series; a self-published chapbook of photos and poetry, Twelve Simple Songs; and a collection of cartoons, Words on the Street, from Bauble Tree Books.

me in a tree

in an English oak

Some more of my poems are collected at Shadow Cabinet and Spoil, two self-published e-books, and I keep a daily journal of prose-micropoems at The Morning Porch.

From 2006 to 2013, together with Beth Adams I published qarrtsiluni, an online literary magazine that pioneered the use of blog software and MP3 audio files to deliver themed issues in daily, multimedia increments.

I live in Plummer’s Hollow, Pennsylvania, part of the Juniata drainage, Chesapeake Bay watershed. I’m on the board of the Juniata Valley Audubon Society, based in Altoona, PA., despite the fact that I am not a real birdwatcher.

Personal Stuff

me as Ampelmann in Berlin

in Berlin

I was born in 1966, but still have the basic mentality of a five-year-old. I live alone, though my parents are right across the road, so some people call me a hermit. But the reality is that the internet (I have slow high-speed access) keeps me connected with the world in all kinds of ways — I’m even in a long-distance relationship, thanks mostly to Skype. I don’t write about myself very often (and please don’t assume a poem in the first person is autobiographical), not because I have anything to hide, but because I don’t interest me very much. But when I do write about personal or family stuff, it gets filed under Memoir at Via Negativa.

Family on the Web

My mother, Marcia Bonta, is a naturalist-writer, the author of nine books and more than 300 magazine articles. My father, Bruce Bonta, curates Peaceful Societies, the best source for information about nonviolent societies on the web, with new articles appearing every week. My brother Mark is a geographer and the high achiever of the family, but my other brother, Steven, is a linguist and no slouch either. I am the black sheep. Or actually…


North American porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum) and Allegheny woodrat (Neotoma magister). I love trees, caves, rocks, and solitude, and I have powerful, rodent-like teeth. (But if I ever start getting all New-Agey about this, you have my permission to shoot me.)

Publication credits

me with porcupine

a typical threat display

In addition to the aforementioned Odes to Tools and Breakdown: Banjo Poems, I have poems in several anthologies, including The Book of Ystwyth: Six poets on the art of Clive Hicks-Jenkins and an anthology of blogger-poets called Brilliant Coroners. I have an essay in New Sun Rising: Stories from Japan. I’ve placed poems, videopoems and translations in Art Times, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, Awkword Paper Cut, Bamboo, Bird Watcher’s Digest, Broadsided Press, cur.ren.cy, Frogpond, Gnarled Oak, Haiku Zasshi Zo, Pivot, Poetry for the Masses, Poets for Living Waters, Reimagining Place, Secrets of the Sea (an exhibition and accompanying chapbook), Studies in Contemporary Satire, The Rolling Coulter, [Slippage], The Sun, The Sylvanian, West Branch, Whale Sound, Wind and Z Miscellaneous. A poem from Odes to Tools was reprinted in Verse Daily. My photos and essays have appeared in Cha, Galatea Resurrects, The Mobility ForumNYC Aesthetic, Sawmill and Woodlot, tinywords, the New Hampshire Public Radio website, Cracked.com, the second edition of the college textbook Insect Behavior (two photos), the second edition of The Golden Eagle by Jeff Watson, Vibrant Words: Ideas and Inspirations for Poets by Erica Goss, and various other places I’ve lost track of. My videopoems have been screened at the International Film Poetry Festival in Athens (November 2012), the Poetry, Places & Soundscapes exhibition at the Cube Gallery in Leicester, UK (April 2014), and V Festival Internacional de Videopoesía – VideoBardo in Buenos Aires (November 2014). And finally, I’ve supplied texts for videopoems by other people, including the Australian multimedia artist Marie Craven: native land remix; and the Belgian artist and filmmaker Swoon (Mark Neys): 5 X Pepys, Taking the Waters12 Simple Songs and five films based on my absurdist “Manual” series.