DONNA BAIER STEIN

Donna Baier Stein

 

Hi,

Welcome to #letsdeconstructastory! Today I’m happy to talk to Donna about her story “A Landing called Compromise” from her prize-winning collection Scenes from the Heartland.

The way the blog works:

  1. Please read the story, “A Landing called Compromise” here at The Saturday Evening Post.
  2. Listen as we “deconstruct” the story below.
  3. Afterward, please purchase the book at the link provided below.

Enjoy!

** We had a few technical difficulties in the middle of the recording and I’m sorry for those, but I am a writer, not a techie, and have not been able to fix them myself! I’ll keep working on it 🙂

 

 

Bio:

Donna is the author of The Silver Baron’s Wife (PEN/New England Discovery Award, Bronze winner in Foreword reviews 2017 Book of the Year Award, Will Rogers Medallion Award and Paterson Prize for Fiction, more), Sympathetic People (Iowa Fiction Award Finalist and 2015 Next Generation Indie Book Award Finalist), Sometimes You Sense the Difference (chapbook), and Letting Rain Have Its Say (poetry book). She was a Founding Editor of Bellevue Literary Review and founded and publishes Tiferet Journal. She has received a Bread Loaf Scholarship, Johns Hopkins University MFA Fellowship, grants from the New Jersey Council on the Arts and Poetry Society of Virginia, a Scholarship from the Summer Literary Seminars, and more.

Donna’s writing has appeared in Virginia Quarterly Review, Saturday Evening Post, Writer’s Digest, Confrontation, Prairie Schooner, New York Quarterly, Washingtonian, New Ohio Review, and many other journals as well as in the anthologies I’ve Always Meant to Tell You (Pocket Books) and To Fathers: What I’ve Never Said (featured in O Magazine).

Donna was also an award-winning copywriter for Smithsonian, Time, World Wildlife Fund, The Nature Conservancy, and many other clients in the direct marketing industry. www.donnabaierstein.com

Purchase Donna’s book at Bookshop here or Amazon here.

KEITH TAYLOR

Keith Taylor (photo credit: Doug Coomb)

 

Hi Everyone,

I hope you are all doing as well as can be expected during what is HOPEFULLY the last few months of this pandemic.

I’m so thrilled to share this audio recording of Keith Taylor reading from “Let Them Be Left” his stellar new chapbook from Alice Greene books! The poetry in this chapbook is wonderful. It transported me to a better place.

Alice Greene & Co. books are so aesthetically pleasing. If you don’t know this publisher, check them out here. I’m just in love with their products. You will not be sorry to own this stunning book.

Another beautiful one to check out from Alice Greene is Holly Wren Spaulding’s new book, “Familiars.”

Also, I am happy to announce I’ve started a podcast! Keith Taylor’s reading is also uploaded to Spotify as the first episode of a podcast called “Let’s Deconstruct a Story or Enjoy a Poem.” You can enjoy Keith’s reading on Spotify anytime if you go here: https://open.spotify.com/show/0Z3kQKEci3XNxgjIpH9Obn

 

KEITH TAYLOR READING FROM “LET THEM BE LEFT.”

 

 

 

 

Bio:

Keith Taylor is originally from Western Canada, but has lived for the past 45 years in Michigan. He has authored or edited 18 books and chapbooks. His most recent are Let Them Be Left (Alice Greene & Co., 2021), and Ecstatic Destinations (Alice Greene & Co., 2018). His last full-length collection, The Bird-while (Wayne State University Press, 2017), won the Bronze medal for the Foreword/Indies Poetry Book of the Year. His poems, stories, reviews, essays, and translations have appeared widely in North America and in Europe. More than two years ago, he retired from the University of Michigan, where he taught Creative Writing for 20 years.

 

Before that, he worked as a bookseller in Ann Arbor for almost 20 years, but over the years he has also worked as a camp-boy for a hunting outfitter in the Yukon, as a dishwasher in southern France, a housepainter in Indiana and Ireland, a freight handler, a teacher, a freelance writer, the co-host of a radio talk show, and as the night attendant at a pinball arcade in California. Taylor has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and from the Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs. He has been Writer/Artist In Residence at Isle Royale National Park (twice), the Detroit YMCA, The International Writers’ and Translators’ Centre of Rhodes, Greece, the University of Michigan Biological Station, and Greenhills School.

Purchase Let Them Be Left here.

MY PERSONAL FAVORITE: Karen Schubert

 

Karen Schubert

 

At this moment in time, which of your own poems is your personal favorite, and why?

 

Currently, my favorite poem is:

 

I Miss You, Chicken in Every Pot

 

The party theme is idioms, so I pocket a toy block. We arrive late, and every counter is crowded with coconut bars, pizza, eggs on the half shell that look like eyeballs with green olive pupils, lying on red squiggly pasta brains. Are you Left Holding the Bag? I ask Luke. He fishes out a pair of dentures, clenched shut with green Duck Tape, a fresh shell poking out between them. I’m Biting the Bullet, he says. Bats in the Belfry asks me about my costume. I hold up my prop. Writer’s block is not an idiom, she says. Then I’ll take the cake, I counter. Penny For Your Thoughts says, Eat dessert first. Chalk and Cheese walk in. They’re British. We have to look it up.

The t.v. is hooked to an extension cord in the driveway, and Dressed to the Nines, Two Peas in a Pod, and Tears Before Bedtime are watching the Cleveland Indians rack up runs in the championship game. A fire burns in the firebowl, even though the night is freakishly warm. Bored to Deaths stride in with a board on their shoulders, skeleton faces. Three Sheets to the Wind pours us drinks with sparkling wine and violet liqueur, like drinking fragrance. Bite the Bullet tells us he feels awkward at parties, never knows what to say. Half Bored to Death is a good listener. I keep missing Mike, who died so quickly in June. He’d be Chicken in Every Pot, a big social justice guy. Or maybe Role Model, brown pillow/bun in fishnet stockings.

The host, Cat Out of the Bag, gives us ballots. We know Bats in the Belfry will win, even though she knocked over the pizza and left her belfry on a chair. You should have seen her a few years ago as Phyllis Diller. I vote for Three Sheets to the Wind, who looks a bit like Westward Expansion. To me, Halloween’s a spectator sport, I tell Raining Cats and Dogs. But look, I say, Now I’m Eastern Bloc, holding my arm all the way out. I’m Blockhead, Artist’s Block tells me. We came together. When we leave, we take the cake plate, empty.


Karen:

Thank you for asking about my favorite poem! At this moment in time, I am partial to “I Miss You, Chicken in Every Pot.” It was a fun poem to write. Much of it is true—my friend throws wonderful Halloween parties. I consider Halloween a spectator sport; I’d rather spend half a day making a dessert than a costume, and although the costume-committed may take a little swipe at my lame-osity, they also like dessert, so I’m a tiny bit off the hook. This poem is meant to immortalize their amazing talent and enthusiasm and to express my affection.

I like the way the theme of idioms lent me an opportunity to mess around with humor, the funny contradictions, and double-meanings. I hope the mention of death doesn’t feel jarring in a light-hearted poem, but rather an emotional layering. We’re always feeling more than one thing, no? The prose poem format is a nice package for storytelling and scene-building while retaining its poemy resistance to backstory and context.

The poem was a finalist in Winning Writers Wergle Flomp contest, which was a real kick. I included it in Dear Youngstown, a chapbook of poems centered around my adopted home, where blight and struggle are set against the arts and people working so damn hard to keep this place whirring. It’s also in my new book The Compost Reader, with maybe a longer lens and also several Halloween poems.

One more note about the content of the poem: when I wrote it, I was thinking about Mike, who had died the summer before. Every time I turned a corner, I expected he’d be standing there. Last week, our friend Luke, Bite the Bullet in the poem, also true, also died, and now with COVID, it feels cruel to be grieving without coming together to cry, remember, raise a toast. So here’s to you, Luke, and to all friends, yours and mine.

 

 

 

 

Bio:

Karen Schubert was born in Portsmouth, Ohio, and grew up mostly in Orchard Park, New York, close enough to the Buffalo Bills’ stadium that if she climbed the pear tree, she could hear the rock concerts. She lived in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, for twenty years, then settled in Northeast Ohio, where one line of her family has lived since the early 1800s. She is the author of Dear Youngstown (Night Ballet Press), Black Sand Beach (Kattywompus Press), I Left My Wings on a Chair, a Wick Poetry Center chapbook winner (Kent State Press), Bring Down the Sky (Kattywompus Press), and The Geography of Lost Houses (Pudding House Publications). Her poems, fiction, creative nonfiction, essays, reviews, and interviews have appeared in numerous publications, including National Poetry ReviewDiode Poetry JournalDMQ ReviewGrist: A Journal of the Literary ArtsLouisville ReviewApple Valley ReviewWater~Stone ReviewAGNI OnlineAeolian HarpBest American Poetry blog and American Literary Review. Her awards include the William Dickey Memorial Broadside contest winner, an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award in poetry, and residencies at Headlands Center for the Arts and the Vermont Studio Center. She holds an MFA from the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts and is co-founding director of Lit Youngstown, a literary arts nonprofit with programs for writers, readers, and storytellers.

The Compost Reader is available for purchase here.

JOHN MCNALLY

John McNally
Hi Everyone,
I know it’s been a while since my last post but you know how life goes by…especially during the pandemic.
It feels like one day has passed but it’s been three months.
Or is it that three months have passed in the space of a day?
Or is that a different way of saying the same thing?
If you, like me, are having trouble grasping paradoxes that would not have troubled your pre-Covid-era brain, then I’m sorry, but I am sending one more your way, and I hope it doesn’t cause your brain to implode.
“The Phone Call” by John McNally, is a story that will deposit you deep in a closed timeline curve and though it is quite a trip, I have faith that you will make it back to reality in one piece.
In fact, I think you will find it quite enjoyable.
As a bonus, after you’ve read John’s story and watched our video, please loopback (!) and check out this video on time travel/time loops that I happened on by Vi Hart, which completely blew my already addled mind.
Here’s a refresher on #letsdeconstructastory because I have not posted anything new since December 1st:
#letsdeconstructastory is all about unpacking short stories to see how they work on a cellular level. It’s a place for writers to geek out about the work of other writers and hopefully add some new tools to their own toolbox.
Here’s how it works:
1.  Please read the story here first.
2. Listen to our discussion of the story below.
Enjoy!
Kelly

Biography:

John McNally is the author or editor of eighteen books, including The Fear of Everything: Stories, The Book of Ralph: A Novel, and The Boy Who Really, Really Wanted to Have Sex: The Memoir of a Fat Kid. His craft book Vivid and Continuous has been adopted in many college creative writing courses. He has also had screenplays optioned and in-development and his work for a Norwegian film company in 2019 took him to Norway’s Arctic Circle for research. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, John is Writer-in-Residence and the Dr. Doris Meriwether/BORSF Professor in English at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He is presently writing a thriller set in Thailand, where he plans to retire.
Buy the book:
John’s book is available for purchase: On Bookshop here or The University of Louisiana Press here or Amazon here.
Also! George Saunders has a new book out about deconstructing stories called “A Swim in a Pond in the Rain“:

“One of the ideas in the book is that, when we read a story, we read with the same mind we use to read the world. So, concentrating on a story and the way we’re responding to it can tell us a lot about ourselves. I’ve found it so pleasurable and clarifying to tune out everything but that one story, those specific lines. Reading a story is, really, an exercise in believing that other people exist and are valid—the writer of the story, but also those fictive people. We get to practice caring about some people we don’t know—good practice for real life.”

—George Saunders

JACOB M. APPEL

Hi Everyone,

I am posting a workshop today that I offered last month on #letsdeconstructastory about Jacob M. Appel’s story, “Creve Coeur.”  I’m also attaching the story–please read it before you view the video. I would love to hear from anyone who has other thoughts about this story. I’m sure I didn’t catch everything 🙂

 

New this month: A free writing prompt below!

 

On January 1st, I will return to author interviews and story discussions.

 

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday!

Kelly

 

jacob m. appel

 

Please read the story before you watch the video.

Creve Coeur

 

 

 

You can find Jacob’s books at Bookshop.com and Amazon.com.

 

Free Writing Prompt (you will need one hour at least): 

  1. Brainstorm about high school. What comes to mind? Don’t think too hard about this: just write down the first ten things that surface. For me: lemon creme cookies, Roy Rogers, nuns, my dog, Shannon, walking to school along cobblestone streets, etc…you get the idea. It doesn’t have to be anything riveting. In fact, your memories might be quite ordinary. That’s OK! We can work with that.
  2. Circle three items on the list that you think you could write more about. Set a timer and spend five minutes writing about each one.
  3. Read through the writing you generated during those fifteen minutes and circle one sentence that intrigues you. Write for five minutes with that sentence as your starting point.
  4. The goal now is to write a story under 1000 words. Take one word/item/object from the three sections in #2, as well as the writing you generated in #3. The goal is to use all four items in your story.
  5. Write the first draft of this 1000 word story in first person. When you do this, you may find that the narrator is essentially you, which may or may not work well in a fictional story.
  6. Write the story again in the third person and allow the narrator to do at least a few things you would never do, just to get some distance.
  7. I would love to hear what you come up with! Send me your story for a free two-line critique via my contact form! Good luck! 🙂

In other news:

Goodbye Toothless House is a finalist for the Eyelands International Award.

“I Have the Answer” received a nice review from Sundress Reads.

Also, Wayne State University Press is having a HUGE holiday sale. Use the code HOL1 for 45% off of all titles! Here’s the link to my books: I Have the Answer and Garden for the Blind.

The 2020 Rochester Writers Author Fair took place on November 28th and 29th and all of the author interviews are available via Youtube. Thanks to Michael Dwyer for including me!

 

RACHEL SWEARINGEN

 

I’m thrilled to talk with Rachel Swearingen today about a story from her new debut collection, How to Walk on Water! Rachel’s book was just mentioned in the New and Noteworthy section of The New York Times on Sunday, which is a huge deal! Check it out here.

 

To get the most from our conversation about the story, “Advice for the Haunted,” it’s best to read it first here: Advice for The Haunted.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Rachel Swearingen is the author of How to Walk on Water and Other Stories, winner of the 2018 New American Press Fiction Prize (October 1, 2020). Her stories and essays have appeared in VICEThe Missouri Review, Kenyon ReviewOff AssignmentAgniAmerican Short Fiction, and elsewhere.

She is the recipient of the 2015 Missouri Review Jeffrey E. Smith Editors’ Prize in Fiction, a 2012 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, and the 2011 Mississippi Review Prize in Fiction. In 2019, she was named one of 30 Writers to Watch by the Guild Literary Complex. She holds a BA from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and a Ph.D. from Western Michigan University and teaches at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago. https://www.rachelswearingen.com

You can find this fantastic book at Bookshop here or Amazon here.

 

IN OTHER NEWS:

My essay, Astraphobia, has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize by River Teeth.

My poem, Riding out the Pandemic in My Great Grandmother’s Bedroom, was nominated by the Museum of Americana for Best of the Net.

I Have the Answer is available for purchase, and I may be biased, but I think it would make an excellent and affordable holiday gift for your friends and family. I am happy to send a signed bookplate to anyone who buys the book. Please contact me via the website contact page, if you are interested. Stay safe and well, everyone!

LISA LENZO

 

     Lisa Lenzo

I’m so excited to talk to Lisa Lenzo today about her exquisite short story, “Lorelei,” which is a part of her award-winning short story collection, Unblinking, published by Wayne State University Press in 2019.

Please read “Lorelei” before listening to our discussion. It’s available in PDF format right here:

Lorelei

 

 

Lisa Lenzo is the author of three award-winning story collections: Unblinking, published by Wayne State University Press and the 2020 Midwest Book Award Winner for Short Story Collection/Anthology as well as a two-time finalist for the 2020 Next Generation Indie Awards; Strange Love, a novel-in-stories also published by WSUP and the recipient of a 2015 Michigan Notable Book Award as well as a finalist for three national awards; and Within the Lighted City, chosen for the 1997 John Simmons Short Fiction Award and published by the University of Iowa Press. Other honors include a Hemingway Days Festival Award, a PEN Syndicated Fiction Project Award, and seven Finalists and Honorable Mentions in story contests sponsored by The Missouri Review, The Bellevue Review, The Philadelphia Review, and Glimmer Train. Raised in Detroit, Lisa is a graduate of the MFA writing program at Western Michigan University. She has recently finished a novel, Before the Revolution.

Unblinking is available at WSUP here or Bookshop here or Amazon here.

 

 

IN OTHER NEWS. “I Have the Answer” has been out for almost six months. There’s a birthday giveaway on Goodreads. As always, if you’ve read the book and enjoyed it, I’d love a review or some stars on Amazon or Goodreads. See you November 1st when I’ll be talking to Rachel Swearingen about her new collection, “How to Walk on Water and other stories.”

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

I Have the Answer by Kelly Fordon

I Have the Answer

by Kelly Fordon

Giveaway ends October 10, 2020.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

SHARON HARRIGAN

This week I’m talking to Sharon Harrigan about her terrific new novel, Half. Among many other things (including Michigan!) we discussed how she turned the award-winning short story, Half, published in Pleiades in 2013, into a novel.

In a starred review Booklist said, “Fans of Jeffrey Eugenides, Andre Dubus III, and Jane Smiley will adore Harrigan’s suspenseful, lyrical, and consuming exploration of two difficult lives, intertwined. . . Raw and powerful, Half will stay with you.”

Publisher’s Weekly wrote, “Harrigan’s bold stylistic choices and memorable voice lend the novel a sense of mystery and magic, well suited to the themes of childhood fears and adult disillusionment. Riveting and inventive, this is a cut above the average coming of age tale.”

Foreword Reviews called Half “gripping” and New York Journal of Books called the point of view “astonishingly effective.” Sharon is also the author of the memoir Playing with Dynamite. 

Sharon Harrigan has a B.A. in English from Barnard College, Columbia University, and an MFA in Creative Writing from Pacific University. She teaches writing at WriterHouse in Charlottesville, where she lives with her family. For more information, see her website here.

 

Purchase the book here at Bookshop or here at Amazon or here at the University of Wisconsin Press.

 

In other news:

I read at Lit Youngstown on August 30th and it’s up on Youtube. Ignore the hair dye. Sheesh! What was I thinking? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJ86ZXpvEHg&fbclid=IwAR3qT3EcEhgz-qMt69OsVvKhkbEYm1eVRJfQC2N-ABJJWAPVl4vB1K6aowA

If you feel like giving I Have the Answer some love on Goodreads or Amazon or any place else, I would greatly appreciate it! Thanks! Stay safe and well, everyone.

BILL HARRIS

harris picture

Bill Harris, Art by Nicole Macdonald from her Detroit Portrait Series

Today on the blog, Bill Harris and I will be talking about his story, “That First Year the Business Was Wood,” from his award-winning Wayne State University Press collection, I Got to Keep Moving.

Bill Harris is a Wayne State University emeritus professor of English. He is a playwright, poet, and arts critic. His plays have been produced nationwide and he has published books of plays, poetry, and reappraisals of American history. He received the 2011 Kresge Foundation Eminent Artist award. http://www.billharriswrites.com.

It’s best to read the story before listening to our discussion so we don’t spoil the ending for you. Just click on this link below:

That First Year the Business Was Wood from I GOT TO KEEP MOVING

 

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i-got-keep-moving-103670

 

“I Got to Keep Moving” is available from Pages Bookshop here or Wayne State University Press here or Bookshop here or Amazon here.

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I plan to continue discussing stories through the fall. Please let me know if you have a new book of short stories out so we can talk about it!

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I HAVE THE ANSWER: MARKETING HELP NEEDED! 

I Have the Answer has been out since April 11th. It was hard to market or even think about a new book this past spring, and if you are so inclined, I would love your help.

There are two main ways:

  1. Write a review on Amazon and Goodreads. Reviews at these places make a big difference and help drive sales. My hope is that people read the reviews and then purchase the book from their local indie bookstore like Pages Bookshop in Detroit!
  2. If you have already read and enjoyed the book, please let your friends know on social media with either a picture or just a suggestion that they might want to buy the book. Here’s a link to WSUPress for more information: https://www.wsupress.wayne.edu/books/detail/i-have-answer Please use the hashtag with #IHAVETHEANSWER and please tag @WSUPress and @kfor24. 

 

I recorded a podcast last week for Without Books and if you haven’t heard of them, I highly recommend the short messages they record by authors reminding us all about the importance of books.

Stay safe and well.

Love,

Kelly

 

LOLITA HERNANDEZ

LOLITA

Lolita Hernandez

#letsdeconstructastory

I had so much fun this past month deconstructing stories with Desiree Cooper and Laura Thomas, I plan to continue with this format through the fall. Please let me know if you have a new book of short stories out so we can discuss it!

Today on the blog, Lolita Hernandez and I will be talking about her story, “Process Server,” from her award-winning Wayne State University Press collection, Making Callaloo in Detroit.

It’s best to read the story before listening to our discussion so we don’t spoil the ending for you. Just click on this link below:

Process Server from MAKING CALLALOO IN DETROIT

 

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Kelly Fordon and Lolita Hernandez discussing “Process Server.”

 

Bio: Lolita Hernandez is the author of two collections of short stories: Making Callaloo in Detroit, a 2015 Michigan Notable Book, and Autopsy of an Engine and Other Stories from the Cadillac Plant, winner of a 2005 PEN Beyond Margins Award. Her short fiction and poetry have been published in a wide variety of literary venues. She is also a 2012 Kresge Fellow. After over thirty-three years as a UAW member at General Motors and twelve on the faculty of the University of Michigan Creative Writing Department at the Residential College, she recently retired to Las Vegas, Nevada from her native Detroit, Michigan.

 

making callaloo

 

Making Callaloo in Detroit is available at Wayne State University Press or Pages Bookshop or Amazon.

 

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I HAVE THE ANSWER: MARKETING HELP NEEDED! 

I Have the Answer has been out since April 11th. It was hard to market or even think about a new book this past spring. For that reason, sales are going slowly, and I thought I would give the book one more tiny push before letting it float off like a paper lantern into the night sky. If you have a moment, I would love your help.

There are two main ways:

  1. Write a review on Amazon and Goodreads. Reviews at these places make a big difference and help drive sales. My hope is that people read the reviews and then purchase the book from their local indie bookstore like Pages Bookshop in Detroit!
  2. If you have already read and enjoyed the book, please let your friends know on social media with either a picture or just a suggestion that they might want to buy the book. Here’s a link to WSUPress for more information: https://www.wsupress.wayne.edu/books/detail/i-have-answer Please use the hashtag with #IHAVETHEANSWER and please tag @WSUPress and @kfor24. 

Lastly, I do have one nice thing to report: I Have the Answer was chosen as a Top Indie Summer Read by Kirkus Reviews! Yay!

Stay safe and well, everyone.

Love,

Kelly

LAURA HULTHEN THOMAS

laurathomas

 

Let’s deconstruct a story!

Today Laura Thomas and I will be discussing the story “Sole Suspect” which first appeared in Midwestern Gothic and is included in her  2017 award-winning short story collection, States of Motion. 

In order to get the most out of our discussion, you might want to read the story first and then listen to our conversation afterward. Here’s a PDF of the story. (Below the video, you will find a link to purchase the book.)

Sole Suspect from STATES OF MOTION by Laura Hulthen Thomas

 

 

 

states-motion-105708

Available locally at Pages Bookshop or Indiebound or Amazon and the other usual suspects.

Bio: Laura Hulthen Thomas’s short fiction and essays have appeared in a number of journals and anthologies, including The Cimarron Review, Nimrod International Journal, Epiphany, and Witness. She received her MFA in fiction writing from Warren Wilson College. She currently heads the undergraduate creative writing program at the University of Michigan’s Residential College, where she teaches fiction and creative nonfiction.

DESIREE COOPER

Des headshot

Let’s deconstruct a story! Today Desiree Cooper and I will be discussing the story “Night Coming” from her 2016 award-winning short story collection, Know the Mother. 

In order to get the most out of our discussion, you might want to read the story first and then listen to our conversation afterward. Here’s a PDF of the story. (Below the video you will find a link to purchase the book.)

Night Coming from KNOW THE MOTHER

 

 

know the mother cover

Bio: Desiree Cooper is a 2015 Kresge Artist Fellow, former attorney and Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalist. Her debut collection of flash fiction, Know the Mother, is a 2017 Michigan Notable Book that has won numerous awards, including 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Award. Cooper’s fiction, poetry and essays have appeared in The Best Small Fictions 2018, CallalooMichigan Quarterly Review, The RumpusRiver Teeth, and Best African American Fiction 2010, among other publications. Her essay, “We Have Lost Too Many Wigs,” was listed as a notable essay in The Best American Essays 2019.  In 2018, she wrote, produced and co-directed “The Choice,” a short film about reproductive rights and recipient of a 2019 Outstanding Achievement Award from the Berlin Flash Film Festival, and Award of Merit from the Best Short Film Festival in Los Angeles. Cooper collaborated with the Dance Department at The College William & Mary to create a dance “Aloft” inspired by her feminist fiction which debuted in October, 2018. Cooper was a founding board member of Cave Canem, a national residency for black poets, and has received residencies at Kimbilio and Ragdale.

PURCHASE THE BOOK HERE:

WSUP here

Bookshop here

Amazon here.

 

In Other News:

 

Zilka Joseph is offering manuscript consultations and private classes right now! Joseph is an Ann Arbor poet whose work has appeared (or is forthcoming) in POETRY, Poetry Daily, Mantis, Kenyon Review Online, Michigan Quarterly Review, among other places and whose first full-length collection of poems Sharp Blue Search of Flame was published by Wayne State University Press (2016) and was a finalist for the Foreword INDIE Book Awards,  You can find out more information about her editing services here.

My new book I Have the Answer was named a Top Summer Indie Read by Kirkus Review!

Kirkus Review July 1 2020

If you have read the book and enjoyed it, I would truly appreciate a star rating on either Goodreads here or Amazon here. It only takes a minute and makes a big difference to authors like me.

If you are on Goodreads, please friend me so we can share our reading lists. I’m always looking for suggestions, but even more so during these isolating times…

See you in two weeks!

DORENE O’BRIEN

cover dorene
Cover photo Dorene O’Brien

 

WELCOME to this new version of my blog where I interview prose writers and post a short clip of each one reading from their book. Today on the blog, we will be listening to Dorene O’Brien reading from her new book, “What It Might Feel Like to Hope.”

 

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A Few Questions for Dorene

How did you come up with the title of your collection, What it Might Feel Like to Hope?

Unless a title sweeps into my brain seemingly unbidden—and this rarely happens—I really struggle. In fact, all the stories for WIMFLTH were written before I had a book title, so I searched for an underlying theme or connecting thread that knit together what on the surface are quite disparate tales. After all, there is a man whose mother sets him up on blind dates, a writer hoping to sell her zombie story to Tom Hanks, a health nut who communes with her neighbor’s pet lizard, etc. Many of these characters’ plights seemed so hopeless to me that the original title of the book was A Kingdom Called Denial. But then I flipped that coin when I realized that being in denial is tantamount to being hopeful, that these characters would never have found themselves dining with strangers or penning horror stories or talking to reptiles if they did not imagine a reward for their efforts. George Carlin once said, “Scratch any cynic and underneath you’ll find a disappointed idealist.” In these dark and anxious times, I chose to see my characters as idealists and not cynics, and then the title swept in.

Which of the stories in your collection provide you with the most hope?

The three women who lose their mother in “Little Birds” may seem hopelessly self-involved, squabbling over her possessions and, in one case, demanding a daughter enter the fray and growing obstinate when she refuses. But Dina, the teenage daughter, has inherited her grandmother’s quiet strength and steady composure, so giving her the opportunity to teach her elders a lesson—and giving her the final word—was deliberately optimistic. I felt hopeful for future generations of this family once Dina took control. “Harm None” has a similar vibe, the student becoming the master in the story’s final scene.

Which story in your collection would you say is your personal favorite, and why?

I’m going to cheat here a little and choose two, but for vastly different reasons. “Eight Blind Dates Later,” the only full-on comedy in the collection, offered an opportunity to lampoon the romance novel, which is utterly formulaic (heroine falls in love on page 38; heroine’s heart is broken on page 87; cad is punished on page 151). The story was just fun to write. Conversely, “The Turn of the Wind” was a bear to write because I made the mistake of studying and initially incorporating crystallography in a heavy-handed way so that it read like a science manual. Complicating matters was my giving the scientist narrator Alzheimer’s. I added and removed scenes; I changed the story from first-person to third-person point of view; I added mythological references and weathervanes. Then I let it sit for years until I could untangle and rewire it into a story of which I’m finally quite proud.

I’d love to know about the genesis of “Honesty Above All Else.” Have you ever studied the tarot or worked as a tarot reader? 

That’s an interesting story so I’m glad you asked! When the editors of Detroit Noir decided to put together the anthology, they reached out to local writers to request “dark” stories set in Detroit for prospective inclusion, making it clear that they would not select more than one story per region (Midtown, Delray, etc.). I set my story on Belle Isle and when I was halfway done a friend who had also been contacted told me she had finished her story, and guess where it was set? So I had two weeks to choose a new neighborhood and write my story. In order to avoid “competition,” I considered neighborhoods I thought might be overlooked because they were too small or too “sweet” for a noir story, and that’s how I chose Corktown and O’Leary’s Tea Room, which was an actual restaurant at Brooklyn and Porter with white lace tablecloths where tarot readings were conducted on Saturday afternoons. I set the story in 1999, a dark time for Corktown as the nearby train depot had closed, the Hudson’s Building had been razed and the Tigers had moved downtown after playing major league ball in Corktown since 1912. Voters were also faced with a third vote on whether to welcome casinos to the city (they had already voted against them twice but in typical “money talks” fashion, the issue would continue to appear on the ballot until the promoters got their way). So this was the backdrop for “Honesty Above All Else.” The landmarks–the Seven Sisters, the Parabox, DuMouchelles–are real, but Mrs. O’Leary, her young employee and the victims are fictional.

I am a collector of tarot cards because they are so visually compelling, and while I’m not a tarot reader, the cards did generate a large part of the plot. After a good shuffle, I simply turned them and then read their meanings in A Pictorial Guide to the Tarot before turning to the keyboard to type. Leaving plot to chance is atypical for me but it was really fun.

How long did it take to write the stories in this collection?

I wasn’t really writing a collection as much as I was amassing stories and then trying to corral them into a book. The oldest and darkest story in What It Might Feel Like to Hope, “Reaping,” was written while I was in college, and the newest and lightest, “Eight Blind Dates Later,” was written decades later. This was also the case with my first story collection, Voices of the Lost and Found, which features 11 first-person stories narrated by a variety of characters from different social and economic backgrounds and written/reimagined/revised over the course of many years. When I wrote those stories, I had not intended them to be part of a collection until I realized that the voices themselves could be the link, just as hope was the link in my most recent book.

Please share some of your literary influences.

Mark Twain was an early influence, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in particular. After reading it as a child I recall thinking, I want to do that! I’m a huge fan of Kurt Vonnegut’s funny yet biting social commentary and his blending of sci-fi and literary genres. Short story writers who inspire me are Andrea Barrett, who was trained as a scientist and showed me that it’s all right to get your geek on in writing. George Saunders has a brilliantly eccentric mind that inspires risk-taking, and T.C. Boyle’s wit and comedic timing confirm that writing can and should be fun. I also love the work of Lucia Berlin, Tobias Wolff, Lorrie Moore, Anthony Doerr, Flannery O’Connor, Raymond Carver and Ray Bradbury.

photo dorene

Dorene O’Brien is a Detroit-based creative  writing teacher and writer whose stories have won the Red Rock Review Mark Twain Award for Short Fiction, the Nelson Algren Award, the New Millennium Writings Fiction Prize, and the international Bridport Prize. She has won fellowships from the NEA and the Vermont Studio Center. Her work has been nominated for two Pushcart prizes, has been published in special Kindle editions and has appeared in the Baltimore Review, Madison Review, Best of Carve Magazine, Short Story Review, Southern Humanities Review, the Chicago Tribune, Detroit Noir, Montreal Review, Passages North, and others. Voices of the Lost and Found, her first fiction collection, was a finalist for the Drake Emerging Writer Award and won the USA Best Book Award for Short Fiction. Her fiction chapbook, Ovenbirds and Other Stories, won the Wordrunner Chapbook Contest and was published in 2018. Her second full-length story collection, What It Might Feel Like to Hope, was named first runner-up in the Mary Roberts Rinehart Fiction Prize and will be released in 2019 by Baobab Press. She is currently writing a literary/Sci-Fi hybrid novel. https://www.doreneobrien.com/

Buy Dorene’s book from Bookshop here or Pages Bookshop in Detroit here or Amazon here.

ELLEN BIRKETT MORRIS

Lost Girls, ss,_5x8_paperback_FRONT

Hi Everyone,

This blog is back after a long hiatus due to Covid-19. This year I’ll be interviewing poets and prose writers about their upcoming books. Please feel free to contact me if you have a book forthcoming and I’d be happy to feature it!

Stay Safe and well,

Kelly

***

ELLEN BIRKETT MORRIS: LOST GIRLS

 

Ellen Birkett Morris is a writer I’ve admired for almost a decade now! We were classmates together at the Queens University of Charlotte Low Residency Program from 2011-2013. I’m thrilled to interview her below about her stunning new short story collection, “Lost Girls,” which comes out on June 26th and is available for presale now.

But first, here’s a clip of her reading a few minutes from “Religion,” a stunning story first published in “The Antioch Review.”

 

 

***

 How did you come up with the title “Lost Girls?” 

It comes from the title story written from the perspective of a young woman whose neighbor is kidnapped. At first she sees the loss only through the lens of her own drama, but over time she develops a ritual to mark the birthday of the girl each year. There are so many girls lost to kidnapping, domestic violence, and abuse. The experiences of women are lost to history, women writers absent from the cannon, there is so much collective joy and pain that goes unseen. I want these stories to reflect/illuminate the experiences of women in a meaningful way.

One of your stories, Inheritance, features a narrator who is a sin eater. Can you tell me about the origin of that story? Are there really sin-eaters, and if so where did you first hear about them?

I heard about sin eating from my sister-in-law Johnna, who is from West Virginia. She was talking about folkways her family practiced and mentioned keeping the hair of the dead, relics from surgery and people’s teeth. Sin eating came up as another old tradition and I was immediately impressed with the metaphoric possibilities of one person being paid to symbolically take away the sins of another by eating what were called corpse cakes that were placed on the body .

I kept the idea and worked on it for years. I was never able to make it come alive until now. The daily trauma of having a president who lacked respect for others and actively worked to deepen systematic oppression was a real inspiration.

I thought about how people in power are able to masquerade as if they are advocating for those less well off, how they keep power through oppression and the way people are forced to swallow so many indignities.

I’m not sure if sin eating is actually practiced these days or not, but it was a strong springboard for Inheritance.

I hate to ask two “origin” questions in a row, but honestly your stories are so magical, so fantastical that I can’t resist! Please tell me how you came up with the idea for “Religion?” That story literally knocked me out. I loved it.

I was thinking about how groups that we join can become cultlike in both good and bad ways. There is love and acceptance but also pressure to live a certain way and follow certain rules. Stories always need a twist and the idea of a virgin wandering into a breast feeder’s group and feeling so loved that she doesn’t leave really appealed to me. From there on it was a matter of getting in the character’s head and discovering her desires. Those desires led to action and conflict. What started as an idea morphed into a story that became about larger things like loneliness and belonging.

Who are some of your favorite writers?

I am forever in awe of Elizabeth Strout for how she made me fall in love with Olive Kitteridge. By the end of the book I wanted to lie down with Olive on the couch as she looked out the window and hold her in my arms. I love the writing of Stuart Dybek, especially his story “We Didn’t” which has a simmering energy. I loved Naima Coster’s debut novel Halsey Street.  I’ve also read some really beautiful work written for kids and you can’t go wrong with Kevin Henkes.

Do you have any advice for new writers?

My favorite advice came from Coster. It’s about learning from the work. She noted that there is no guarantee that a piece of writing will ever see the light of day. She said, “It is scary to admit that something is important if it only has worth for me. It brings up questions of self-worth and selfishness, but my work as a writer is linked to my own emotional and psychological development. One way to sustain my work is to value myself, my own mind, my own time. It is like climbing a mountain. What do you have to show for it? The place it took you to and the strength you gained going there.”

Do you have a favorite story in the collection, and if so, why is it your favorite? 

My favorite is “Religion.” The germ of the story was the way that mothers are judged for every choice they make and the idea that social groups can sometimes function like cults with an unquestioning adherence to arbitrary rules but also offering acceptance that feels like love. As I wrote the story it deepened into a funny/sad story about loneliness and wanting to be accepted. My heart still aches at the last line: “Sometimes, when I am cutting and pasting pictures, I feel a familiar pang of loneliness and think of the women sitting in a circle, the sun shining through the window, the babies’ small mouths sucking away, so hungry.”

Ellen Birkett Morris picture

 

ELLEN BIRKETT MORRIS is an award-winning writer, teacher and editor based in Louisville, Kentucky. Morris is the author of SURRENDER (Finishing Line Press). Her fiction has appeared in ShenandoahAntioch ReviewNotre Dame Review, and South Carolina Review, among other journals. Her commentaries have been heard on public radio stations across the United States. For more information see her website here.

Lost Girls is available for presale from Indiebound here, Barnes and Noble here and from Amazon here.

***

I Have the Answer, Upcoming Zoom Dates: 

If you are available and in the mood to Zoom, I have some programming coming up I wanted to share with you! 
 
I am reading via Zoom at the Harrison Township Library on Tuesday night at 7pm. The reading is free and open to the public. I plan to share snippets from three of the stories in “I Have the Answer” and discuss the writing process before opening up to questions.
 
Note: There is a little overlap from the Zoom program I gave during my launch in April, so if you attended that Zoom reading, you might not need (or want!) to attend again. Two clips are the same and two are different this time. 
Here’s the link for registration:
 
 
Also, on Saturday June 20th, I’m conducting a workshop with Pages Bookshop on Writing through Trauma. The workshop runs from 1-2:30pm EST and will include writing prompts. 
 

 

Second Audio Clip: I HAVE THE ANSWER

When I have the Answer but

Hi Everyone,

I’m happy to share my second audio clip from I Have the Answer, recorded by the phenomenal audiobook narrator, Denice Stradling. Here’s a link to her website for more information. I highly recommend her services to any other writers out there!

The story Denice is reading from is called “The Devil’s Proof” and is a fictional story about a sexual assault that takes place in Washington, D.C. during the 1980s. I wrote about the true story of what happened to me in River Teeth and that essay is coming out next month. This story is quite different from the true story, but features the same basic elements of fear and shame, which have dogged me ever since.

Also, the story features many of the same locations from my youth, chief among them Georgetown, where I lived, Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School where I attended high school, and Georgetown University, which was a frequent destination.

The other aspect of this fictional story that is technically true is that my father graduated from Georgetown University in 1949 and Bill Blatty, who wrote The Exorcist graduated in 1950. According to my father (and many other sources) Bill Blatty based “The Exorcist” on a story one of his religion professors told him about a supposedly “real-life” exorcism. My father was in Billy Blatty’s religion class and heard the story first-hand as well.

Here’s a link to the true story

And now without further adieu, Denice Stradling reading from “The Devil’s Proof”:

OTHER NEWS:

Tomorrow night, Wednesday, April 22nd, I will be reading online and answering questions at an online book launch via the Grosse Pointe Library. It’s free and you can register here.

This week, I posted a list of recommended reading via Electric Literature. They thought I lived in a flyover state, and, quite frankly, until I researched it, so did I 🙂 

You can buy a copy of I Have the Answer from Pages Bookshop in Detroit or Wayne State University Press or Bookshop(if you want to support local bookstores) or Amazon.

Stay safe and well, everyone! Thank you for reading!

 

Rosebud Ben-Oni’s List of Poetry Books

poetry image

Hi Everyone,

This is a list of poets published in 2019-2020 crowdsourced by Rosebud Ben-Oni and published on The Kenyon Review Online. It’s a tough time to be publishing (and everything else) so if you feel like reading during the quarantine this may prove a great resource for you and a big help to these poets!

Stay safe and well. Kelly

Open to All: A Crowd-Sourced List of Over 200 Mid-2019 to 2020 Poetry Titles

Rosebud Ben-Oni
March 13, 2020

 

I often think about this space here on The Kenyon Review. I think of the essays I’ve written here, the readers I’ve met because of those pieces, and the poets and writers with whom I’ve shared this space. But right now I’m thinking of the many poets who are missing or will miss out on book launches, readings, signings and celebrations because of the global health crisis. I’m thinking about community and kindness, and so I hope this list will spark some joy, though it’s not a replacement for those events so many of us are missing.

Here is a list of recent and upcoming poetry collections (with a couple of novels written by poets) that I crowd-sourced over on Twitter. If a book does not yet have a page on the publisher’s or author’s website, I linked to the general site associated with the poetry collection, and marked it Forthcoming.

Be well, everyone.

Note: This list was originally crowd-sourced. People recommended books to me; I didn’t choose the books myself. Please note this list is ongoing & updated.

In Alphabetical Order According to Author’s Last Name

Albert Abonado, JAW (Sundress)

George Abraham, Birthright (Button Poetry)

Allison Adair, The Clearing (Milkweed)

Nishat Ahmed, Field Guide for End Days (Finishing Line Press)

Francisco X. Alarcón, Snake Poems: An Aztec Invocation (University of Arizona)

Tom Alexander, One of these Years: Selected Poems 2003-2019 (Self-Published)

Lisa Ampleman, Romances (LSU Press)

E. Kristin Anderson, Behind, All You’ve Got (Semiperfect Press)

E. Kristin Anderson, We’re Doing Witchcraft (Porkbelly Press)

Kristina Andersson Bicher, She-Giant in the Land of Here-We-Go-Again (MadHat Press)

Jose Angel Araguz, An Empty Pot’s Darkness (Airlie Press)

Scott Edward Anderson, Dwelling: an ecopoem (Shanti Arts)

Francisco Aragon, After Rubén (Red Hen Press)

Jubi Arriola-Headley, original kink (Sibling Rivalry Press) – Forthcoming

Cynthia Atkins, Still Life With God (St. Julian Press)

Cameron Awkward-Rich, Dispatch (Persea Books)

Jia Oak Baker & Shawnte Orion, Gravity & Spectacle (Tolsun Press)

Madeleine Barnes, You Do Not Have to Be Good (Trio House Press)

Daniel Barnum, Names for Animals (Seven Kitchens Press)

Kat Ulanday Barrett, More than Organs (Sibling Rivalry Press)

Tina Barry, Beautiful Raft (Big Table Publishing Company)

Oliver Baez Bendorf, Advantages of Being Evergreen (CSU Poetry Center)

Rick Barrot, The Galleons (Milkweed)

Gigi Bella, big feelings (Game Over Books)

Steve Bellin-Oka, Instructions for Seeing a Ghost (University of North Texas Press)

Rosebud Ben-Oni, turn around BRXGHT XYXS (Get Fresh Books)

Mark Bibbins, 13th Balloon (Copper Canyon Press)

Tammy Bird, The Book of Promises (Flashpoint Publishing) – Forthcoming

Ryan Black, The Tenant of Fire (University of Pittsburgh Press)

Julie Bloemeke, Slide to Unlock (Sibling Rivalry Press)

Sara Borjas, Heart Like A Window, Mouth Like A Cliff (Noemi Press)

Traci Brimhall, Come the Slumberless to the Land of Nod (Copper Canyon Press)

Nickole Brown, The Donkey Elegies (Sibling Rivalry Press)

Norma Elia Cantu, Meditación Fronteriza  (University of Arizona Press)

Xánath Caraza, Corta la piel/It Pierces the Sky (FlowerSong Books)

Stephanie Cawley, My Heart But Not My Heart (Slope Editions)

Marcelo Hernandez Castillo, Children of the Land (Harper)* This is a novel, but Marcelo is also a poet!

Marianne Chan, All Heathens (Sarabande)

Andrew K. Clark, Jesus in the Trailer (Main Street Rag)

Adam Clay, To Make Room for the Sea (Milkweed)

Adrian Ernesto Cepada, La Bella Ajar (Clash Books)

Sumita Chakraborty, Arrow (Alice James Books)

Leila Chatti, Deluge (Copper Canyon)

Cortney Lamar Charleston, Doppelgangbanger (Haymarket Books) – Forthcoming

Conyer Clayton, We Shed Our Skin Like Dynamite (Guernica Editions)

Ingrid Calderon-Collins, Let the Buzzards Eat Me Whole (ANC)

Anthony Cody, Borderland Apocrypha  (Omnidawn)

Leslie Contreras Schwartz, Who Speaks For Us Here (Skull+Wind)

Eduardo C. Corral, Guillotine (Graywolf)

Brook Corfman, My Daily Actions, or The Meteorites (Fordham University Press)

Jim Cory (Editor), Have You Seen This Man? The Castro Poem of Karl Tierney (Sibling Rivalry Press)

Lisa Fay Coutley, tether (Black Lawrence Press)

Kathryn Cowles, Maps and Transcripts of the Ordinary World (Milkweed)

Dorsey Craft, Plunder (Bauhan Publihng LLC)

Cynthia Cruz, Guidebooks for the Dead (Four Way Books)

Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach, Don’t Touch the Bones (Lost Horse Press)

Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach, The Many Names for Mother (Kent State University Press)

Laura Davenport, Dear Vulcan (LSU Press)

Diana Marie Delgado, Tracing the Horse (BOA)

Shira Dentz, Sisyphusina (PANK Books)

Amanda Deutch, bodega night pigeon riot (Above/Ground press)

Todd Dillard, Ways We Vanish (Okey Donkey Mag)

Chelsea Dingman, through a small ghost (University of Georgia Press)

Jose Hernandez Diaz, The Fire Eater (Texas Review)

Natalie Diaz, Postcolonial Love Poem (Graywolf)

Caroline Earleywin, Lesbian Fashion Struggles (Sibling Rivalry Press) – Forthcoming

Melissa Ridley Elmes, Arthurian Things: A Collection of Poems (Dark Myths Publication)

William Evans, We Inherit What the Fires Left (Simon & Schuster)

Noah Falck, Exclusions (Tupelo Press)

Martin Jude Farawell, Odd Boy (Sibling Rivalry Press)

William Fargason, Love Song to the Demon-Possessed Pigs of Gadara (University of Iowa Press)

Ariel Francisco, A Sinking Ship is Still a Ship (Burrow Press)

Megan Fernandes, Good Boys (Tin House Books)

Jane Fleming, Violence/Joy/Chaos (Rhythm & Bones Press)

Charles Flowers, The Idea of Him (A Midsummer Night’s Press)

Kelly Fordon, Goodbye Toothless House (Kattywompus Press)

Erik Fuhrer, Not Human Enough for the Census (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press)

Benjamin GarciaThrown in the Throat (Milkweed)

Suzi F Garcia, Dear Dorothy: A Home Grown Fairytale (Skull+Wind)

Kristin Garth, The Meadow (Apep Publications)

Michelle Gil-Montero, Object Permanence (Ornithopter Press)

Marie-Andrée Gill, Spawn (Trans. by Kristen Renee Miller) (Bookhug Press)

Robin Gow, Our Lady of Perpetual Degeneracy (Tolsun Books)

Tanya Grae, Undoll (Yes Yes Books)

Sonia Greenfield, Letdown (The Marie Alexander Series)

Elizabeth Gross, this body / that lightning show (The World Works)

Roy G. Guzmán, Catrachos (Graywolf)

Andrew Hahn, God’s Boy (Sibling Rivalry Press)

Hedy Sabbagh Habra, The Taste of the Earth (Press 53)

Cathy Park Hong, Minor Feelings (Penguin Random House)

Chera Hammon, Maps of Injury (Sundress)

Chera Hammon, Monarchs of the Northeast Kingdom (Torrey House Press)

Lee Herrick & Leah Silvieus, The World I Leave You: Asian American Poets on Faith and Spirit (Orison Books)

Tamara Hattis, Colors of My Pain (Capra Publishing)

Zoe Hitzig, Mezzanine (Harper Collins)

Kyla Houbolt, Dawn’s Fool (Ice Floe Press)

Valerie Hsiung, You & Me Forever (Actions Books)

Amanda Galvan Huynh, Songs of Brujería (Big Lucks)

moria j., Bury Me in Thunder (Sundress)

Didi Jackson, Moon Jar (Red Hen Press)

Donny Jackson, boy (Silver Star Laboratory)

Constantine Jones, In Still Rooms (The Operating System)

Patricia Kirkpatrick, Blood Moon (Milkweed)

Ilyse Kusnetz, Angel Bones (Alice James Books)

Becca Klaver, Ready for the World (Black Lawrence Press)

Ben Kline, Sagittarius A* (Sibling Rivalry Press) – Forthcoming

Jee Leong Koh, Connor & Seal (Sibling Rivalry Press)

Genevieve Kaplan, (aviary) (Veliz Books)

Christopher Kondrich, Valuing (University of Georgia Press)

Sarah Kortemier, Ganbatte (University of Wisconsin Press)

Leonard Kress, Craniotomy (Moonstone Press)

Christine Larusso, There Will Be No More Daughters (Northwestern University Press)

Dorothea Lasky, Animal (Wave Books)

Cortney LeBlanc, Beautiful & Full of Monsters (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press)

Anna Lena, Smaller Songs (St Brigid Press)

Zefyr Lisowski, Blood Box (Black Lawrence Press)

Nancy Chen Long, Wider than the Sky (diode editions)

Lucia LoTempio, Hot with the Bad Things (Alice James Books)

Meagan Lucas, Songbirds & Stray Dogs (Main Street Rag)

Dora Malech, Flourish (Carnegie Mellon University)

Lilith Mae McFarlin, So Long, and Thank You for All the Waterproof Mascara (Sibling Rivalry Press)

Aloysius Mariotti, Scream into My Mouth as a Waterfall (Rhythm & Bones Press)

Diane K. Martin, Hue & Cry (MadHat Press)

Brooke Matson, In Accelerated Silence (Milkweed)

V.C. McCabe, Give the Bard a Tetanus Shot (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press)

Molly McCully Brown and Susannah Nevison, In the Field Between Us (Persea)

Kindra McDonald, In the Meat Years (Kelsay Books)

Megan Merchant, Before the Fevered Snow (Stillhouse Press)

Philip Metres, Shrapnel Maps (Copper Canyon Press)

Claire Meuschke, Upend (Noemi Press)

Jenny Molberg, Refusal (LSU Press)

Carley Moore, The Not Wives (Feminist Press)* This is a novel, but Carley is also a poet!

Gris Muñoz, Coatlicue Girl (FlowerSong Books)

Tom Murphy, Pearl  (FlowerSong Books)

John Murrillo, Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry (Four Way Books)

Rachel Neve-Midbar, Salaam of Birds (Tebot Bach Press)

Mark Nowak, Social Poetics (Coffee House Press)

Gabriel González Núñez, ese golpe de luz  (FlowerSong Press)

Kathryn Nuernberger, Rue (BOA)

A.J. Odasso, The Sting of It (Tolsun Books)

Bruno K. Öijer, The Trilogy (Action Books)

Lisa Olstein, Pain Studies (Bellevue Literary Press)

Jenny Sadre-Orafai & Anne Champion, Book of Levitations (Trembling Pillow Press)

Danielle Pafunda, Spite (The Operating System)

Deborah Paredez, Year of the Dog (BOA/American Poets Continuum)

Zeeshan Pathan, The Minister of Disturbances (diode editions)

Jonathan Andrew Perez, Cartographer of Crumpled Maps: The Justice Elegies (Finishing Line Press)

Aly Pierce, The Visible Planets (Game Over Books)

Maya Phillips, Erou (Four Way Books)

Maya C. Popa, American Faith (Sarabande)

Marko Pogacar (Translated from Croatian by Andrea Jurjević), Dead Letter Office (The Words Works)

Elizabeth Powell, Atomizer (LSU Press) – Forthcoming

Meghan Privitello, One God at a Time (Yes Yes Books)

Meaghan Quinn, Slow Dance Bullets (Route 7 Press)

Tatiana Figueroa Ramirez, Despojo (FlowerSong Books) – Forthcoming

Kimberly Ray, Coffee Shop Sessions II: Moving Mountains One by One (Self-Published)

Ricky Ray, The Sound of the Earth Singing to Herself (Fly on the Wall Press)

Ricky Ray, Quiet, Grit, Glory (Broken Sleep Books)

Maya Ribault, Hôtel de La Providence (Finishing Line Press)

Stephanie Roberts, rushes from the river disappointment (McGill-Queen’s University Press)

Elizabeth Lindsey Rogers, The Tilt Torn Away from the Season (Acre Books)

Andres Rojas, Looking for What Isn’t There (Paper Nautilus)  

Sam Rush, Swallow (Sibling Rivalry Press) – Forthcoming

Lauren Russell, Descent (Tarpaulin Sky Press)

Alana Saltz, The Uncertainty of Light (Blanket Sea Press)

Sarah Sarai, That Strapless Bra in Heaven (Kelsay Press)

Steven Sanchez, Phantom Tongue (Sundress)

Shannon Sankey, We Ran Rapturous (The Atlas Review)

Craig Santos Perez, Habitat Threshold (Omnidawn)

Greg Santos, Ghost Face (DC Books)

Kim-Ahn Schreiber, Fantasy (Sidebrow)

Andrea “Vocab” Sanderson, She Lives in Music (FlowerSong Books)

Lynne Schmidt, On Becoming A Role Model (Thirty West Publishing House)

Matt Sedillo, Mowing Leaves of Grass (FlowerSong Press)

James J. Siegal, The Gods of San Francisco (Sibling Rivalry Press) – Forthcoming

Jordan Smith, Little Black Train (Three Mile Harbor Press)

Monica Sok, A Nail the Evening Hangs On (Copper Canyon Press)

Sarah Sousa, Hex (Cow Creek)

Molly Spencer, If the House (UW Press)

Lisa Summe, Say It Hurts (Yes Yes Books) – Forthcoming

Page Hill Starzinger, Vortex Street (Barrow Street)

Jessica Q. Stark, Savage Pageant (Birds LLC)

Nicole Stockburger, Nowhere Beulah (Unicorn Press)

Adeeba Talukder, Shahr-e-jaanaan: The City of the Beloved (Tupelo Press)

Christina Thatcher, How to Carry Fire (Parthian)

Kelly Grace Thomas, Boat Burned (Yes Yes Books)

Jeffrey Thomson, Half/Life: New & Selected Poems (Alice James Books)

Gale Marie Thompson, Helen or My Hunger (Yes Yes Books) – Forthcoming

Zoe Brigley Thompson, Hand & Skull (Bloodaxe)

Eric Tran, The Gutter Spread Guide to Prayer (Autumn House Press)

Gina Tron, Star 67 (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press)

Bradley Trumpfheller, Reconstructions (Sibling Rivalry Press)

Tim Dlugos, New York Diary (David Trinidad – Editor), (Sibling Rivalry Press) – Forthcoming

Angela Voras-Hills, Louder Birds (Pleiades Press)

Candice Wuehle, Death Industrial Complex (Action Books)

William Woolfitt, Spring Up Everlasting (Mercer University Press)

Liliana Valenzuela, Codex of Love (Flowersong)

Claire Wahmanholm, Redmouth (Tinderbox)

Stu Watson, Communicatingroups (Mastodon Publishing)

Lesley Wheeler, The State She’s In (Tinderbox Editions)

Cori A. Winrock, Little Envelope of Earth Conditions (Alice James Books)

Lillian-Yvonne Bertram, Travesty Generator (Noemi Press)

Jihyun Yun, Some Are Always Hungry (The University of Nebraska Press) – Forthcoming

Felicia ZamoraBody of Render (Red Hen)

Su Zi, Chirp (Hysterical Books)

Rosebud Ben-Oni teaches poetry workshops at Catapult, The Speakeasy Project and UCLA Writers’ Program online. I highly recommend her workshops!

Kenyon Review Online

 

Dan Wickett of Dzanc Books

 

 

DOES DAN WICKETT HAVE THE ANSWER?

 

Dan Wickett pic

In honor of my new book, I Have the Answer, I’m going to spend the next year or so asking writers, readers, and random folks some silly questions. Here’s my first interview with the mysterious co-founder of Dzanc Books, Dan Wickett:

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Hi Dan, I’m just wondering if you have the answer?

I don’t believe I have the answer to nearly any questions I ever consider. I might search for them–yet they do a fine job of staying just out of (or sometimes quite far out of) reach.

That is very disappointing. 

Silence.

OK, um, Dan, given that you are clearly not going to lead us out of the abyss, what do you say to people who believe they have the answer?

To be succinct–I’m amazed by their confidence, or faith–whichever is the case.

What’s the first word that comes to mind when you think of the world right now?

>Sigh<

I know you visit the zoo frequently. Which is your favorite animal and why?

A seeming ever-changing answer to that one–right now, the pronghorns. They arrived a couple of months ago, seem quite young and so still interested in people. When they get moving they’re amazing–they’re basically created to not be able to be caught–able to jump sideways at near full speed and keep going. And their coloring of a light brown and white helps.

pronghorn

Picture of a Pronghorn by Dan Wickett, Detroit Zoo.

I’m assuming you bring books with you to the zoo and read aloud to the animals. If so, which ones have they enjoyed the most lately?

Ha! It IS indeed rare that I go out without some reading material. Not a ton of reading aloud to the animals, but the last book I took around with me and sat and read in view of more than one of the animals was Christina Kallery’s collection, Adult Night at Skate World.

adultskate_1024x1024

Were the animals scandalized?

I think they survived it pretty well.

Thanks so much, Dan Wickett. You are the first person who has failed to provide the answer, but I predict you will not be the last. 

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If you want to see Dan Wickett in the real world you might try the Detroit Zoo or you might try Brain Candy events on the third Mondays of the month at Green Brain Comics in Dearborn where he hosts a poet, a prose writer, an artist, and a musician.

Dan Wickett founded the Emerging Writers Network in 2000, Co-Founded Dzanc Books in 2006, and Brain Candy in 2018.

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Perhaps the pronghorns have the answer?

Lewis and Clark made several other observations on the behavior of the pronghorn… They described the animal, which they referred to as the “Antelope” or the “Goat”, as follows: 

“Of all the animals we have seen the Antelope seems to possess the most wonderful fleetness. Shy and timorous they generally repose only on the ridges, which command a view of all the approaches of an enemy … When they first see the hunters they run with great velocity …”

 

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kid i have the answer

I am happy to announce that my new collection of short stories, I Have the Answer, is forthcoming from Wayne State University Press in one month and seven days! Woot!!

BUT I have a few copies now for the prelease low price of $15. If you are interested, see below:

I Have the Answer

Kelly’s new short story collection signed by the author. ($15.00 + $1 for shipping)

$16.00

The first official book launch is tentatively scheduled at the Grosse Pointe Public Library on May 5th at the Central branch (10 Kercheval) of the Grosse Pointe Libary at 7pm.

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My Personal Favorite: Karen Paul Holmes

Karen Paul Holmes

 

At this moment in time which of your own poems is your personal favorite, and why?

 

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What Will You Do, God, When I Die?

 

            —after a line by Rilke

 

Will you become me, and I you

as I leave this body, the only home I remember?

Will rejoining be serenity,

even more than I feel

lying drowsy in my love’s embrace?

 

I believe you are the light

that passes through every body, the space

occupying each atom, water

permeating the sponge

of all flesh, all matter.

They say I am that, but in this human

being-ness, have forgotten.

 

Will you give me a white tassel, light as breath

for passing all my lifetimes?

Or send me back to trudge again through

the thousand lessons I failed?

 

This time, I think I learned to love

the right way, to find you in my core.

I have felt sorrow’s blade

carving a place for grace to fill.

Am I ready to rise with this mist

lifting from the river in morning’s silver?

 

  • Karen Paul Holmes from No Such Thing as Distance (Terrapin Books, 2018).

Poem originally appeared in Diode

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Thanks for asking me this, Kelly.

This poem came from a prompt (the Rilke poem) at a workshop in San Miguel de Allende. I chose the poem for three reasons. First, it was a pleasure to write—the words flowed onto the page from somewhere outside of me. There’s no better feeling than receiving a gift like that. It didn’t even need much editing, which is unusual for me, and was one of the few times I felt able to successfully share deep spiritual beliefs through poetry. As a teen, I had read Kahlil Gibran and what stayed with me profoundly was his idea of pain carving out a hole for happiness to fill. I was grateful that made its way into the poem. Then I was grateful Diode (a dream journal for me) accepted it rather quickly. Thinking about writing the poem, also reminds me of my week in the lovely Mexican colonial town (with great food!) studying with poets like Kevin Young and the then Poet Laureate of Britain Carol Ann Duffy. I’m happy, too, that the poem fit well into my book. I guess that’s more than three reasons.

 

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Karen Paul Holmes Cover

Available from Terrapin Books or other locations listed on the Terrapin site.

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Bio:

Karen Paul Holmes has two full-length poetry collections, No Such Thing as Distance (Terrapin, 2018) and Untying the Knot (Aldrich, 2014). She was named a Best Emerging Poet by Stay Thirsty Media, and publications include Prairie Schooner, Valparaiso Review, Diode, and Pedestal. Recently, her poems were featured on Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac and Tracy K. Smith’s The Slowdown. Holmes is a freelance business writer who also teaches poetry workshops and hosts The Side Door Poets in Atlanta, GA and a monthly open mic in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

 

 

MY PERSONAL FAVORITE: Nicole Zdeb

NICOLE ZDEB

Nicole Zdeb

 

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At this moment in time which of your own poems is your personal favorite, and why?

 

 

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Forbidden Monologue

                                                                                                              After Forbidden Music by Louise Glück

After lights dim and actors find their spots and audience exhales in embryonic dark and curtain rises and words bloom and one child actor exits after delivering lines with winning squeak, there comes a scene called the forbidden monologue. It is called such because it cannot, under any circumstances the dramaturg specified during rehearsals, be spoken. Therefore, they never rehearsed it.

Yet it must be spoken because it has been written.

The lead actress craves to speak those words, to release them from the prison of her gorge.

Tonight, the director decides, it WILL be included. He is young. He wants to make his mark. Or he is old. He wants to leave a legacy. Either way, the words will root in the duodenum of all those people sitting on dusky rose velveteen cushions.

Wobbling a little, he informs the lead actress in that backstage twilight just before curtain. She faints, then quickly recovers. The other actors and stage manager do not know. They are collectively pissed when she veers off-script. Selfish bitch!

The child actor afloat in the wings witnesses something he has never seen before and can’t verbalize. Watching the actress who plays his mother become pure word, pure sound, pure meaning, he wonders, Who am I?

Holding his hands in front of him in the gathered light, he repeats the question, Who am I now?

 

 

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Why I like this poem:

I like this poem for a couple of reasons. Formally, I challenged myself to work with a longer line than I usually do. This required a different thinking and breathing cadence.

In looking for inspiration and models, I came upon the poem “Forbidden Music” and felt moved. A little stunned and transported. It offered me a meaningful reading experience and had the formal elements I admired.  Glück. She delivers.

In gratitude and to learn, I used her poem as a jumping off place. So it reminds me of her and it reminds me of a fulfilling reading experience, which is one way I mark my human time.

Finally, I enjoy it thematically. It attempts to peel back the layers of how art impacts people individually and collectively, and explore the range of art’s impact on different people, from fueling the ego to facilitating an experience with the sublime.

 

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Bio:

 

Nicole Zdeb is a writer based in Portland, OR. She has a MFA in Creative Writing from Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a certificate in translation from CUNY. She has taught writing K-16, had a fulfilling career in education research, and now she’s enjoying her second act as a real-estate agent in the Portland metro area. Nicole serves as Board Secretary and Director of Development for Twilight Theater Company.

Bedouin Books published her chapbook, The Friction of Distance. 

 

Friction of Distance NICOLE ZDEB

Available for purchase here.

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And in other news:

Coming up two weeks from today in Detroit!

The East Side Reading Series

Saturday, February 15th from 3-5pm

The Commons: 7900 Mack Ave, Detroit

#theeastsidereadingseries #poetry #fiction #creativenonfiction

This event is supported in part by Poets & Writers, thanks to a grant from the Hearst Foundations.

  

 

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