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  inside. About Ink & Ashes  
Francesco Levato
Lauren Mathews Levato
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Winter in Chicago does not tease people. She starts settling on everyone in October, moving in heavy and cold like a stone. By early December the sun is setting at 3 in the afternoon. That’s when people begin setting their minds to dreaming. Strangers gather in huddles at the bus stop, waiting longingly for CTA no. 66, which in their minds heads up Chicago Avenue, turns down Michigan Avenue, and drives straight into Palm Springs. While they bury their faces into the soft down of Sunny Florida dreams, two poets Waltz between snowflakes into a candle-lit cafe somewhere in West Town. The exposed brick walls lure them into a corner table where the poets huddle in and order endless cups of coffee, a muffin, and soup in a bread bowl. The twirling dance of snow and wind-whipped commuters outside conjures up promises, memories, and conversation about the power of ink and the importance of ashes.

Ink & Ashes is founded on the belief that all art, writing, and poetry is – or more rightly should be – a multi and extra-sensory experience that people need to express and share. Please visit our submissions page for more information on how to submit and be published in Ink & Ashes. For more on our staff editors (and contributing editors as they appear) keep reading. Thank you for your interest in and support of Ink & Ashes.


Francesco Levato

Activist poet, Francesco Levato is the author of Marginal State (Fractal Edge Press 2006), a collection of poetry that tackles issues ranging from domestic violence and exploitation to war and political unrest.  He is a vocal advocate of using literary arts as a form of political engagement and social responsibility, as well as a force to create change. He is the founder of the Samizdat Series, a reading series of socially conscious poetry, and is the founding editor of the literary journal Ink & Ashes :: a journal of the senses. Some of his work has appeared in Witness: Anthology of Poetry (Serengeti Press); Out of Line; Poets Against the War; Voices in Wartime; Shark Forum; Poems Niederngasse; and After Hours. His awards include a poetry fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center.

For more information on Francesco or the organizations he’s involved with, visit:

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Lauren Mathews Levato

Writer, artist and feminist activist Lauren Mathews Levato is Literary Editor for Ink & Ashes. She writes and makes art to uncover and reveal the tragic, beautiful, and sacred landscape of women and femininity.

She, along with her partner Skye Enyeart, is the founder and executive director of Survivor Circle, an Illinois Not-for-Profit working to educate and advocate the use of art as a fundamental healing process in the aftermath of sexual and domestic violence. Additionally, Lauren is the poetry coordinator for Woman Made Gallery and is also the co-host for R.A.W. Chicago.

Lauren earned her degrees in Professional Writing and in Women’s Studies from Purdue University and studied political journalism at Georgetown University. Her work has appeared in After Hours, PoetryMidwest, and The Pedestal Magazine. She has exhibited at Woman Made Gallery, Havana Gallery, and Around the Coyote.

For more on Lauren or any of the organizations she is involved with, visit

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