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.

Upcoming Events and Some News…

Invite to Book Club template

Hi Everyone,

This blog will return for regularly scheduled programming on June 15th, and will now include interviews and features with prose writers as well as poets.

In the meantime, I have listed some news, recommendations, and upcoming events below.

BOOK NEWS!

I didn’t want to ask Julia Glass (National Book Award-winner, Three Junes) for another blurb because she gave me one for Garden for the Blind, but I was thrilled when she wrote to me that she’d read the book:

“What a beautiful book! As I finished the last of these astute, moving, and often funny stories, I was reminded of something a fellow writer once said to an audience of fans: “What I want is not so much that you’ll get into my book but that my book will get into you.”

I was also really psyched when Nina Lorez Collins and The Woolfer endorsed I Have the Answer! Here’s what they said:

Woolfer Reads: I Have the Answer
“Kelly is a longtime Woolfer, and a poet, and she lives in Michigan, where many of these Ann Beattie-esque stories are set. Nina LOVED this collection, and we also highly recommend Kelly’s poetry collection, Goodbye Toothless House.”

Upcoming Events:

Tuesday, June 16th at 7pm: I’ll be talking to the Harrison Public Library on Zoom. The event is free and open to all. Here are the details: Michigan Notable Prize-winner, Kelly Fordon reads and discusses selections from her new short story collection, talks about the writing process, and offers advice for aspiring writers. Her 30-minute presentation will be followed by time for Q and A. Sign up here.

Saturday, June 20th at 1pm: Workshop with Pages Bookshop (details below).

Saturday, June 27th at noon: St. Clair Shores Literary Walk with ML Liebler. More information to come.

Here are some other recent articles and reading lists, as well as an interview with Shelley Irwin at WGVU:

Kirkus Reviews

Authorlink Interview with Ellen Birkett Morris

North of Oxford review

Entropy: Quarantine Reading: Books You Shouldn’t Forget to Buy, March 13, 2020

The Big Other’s Most Anticipated Books of Spring 2020

The Book Slut Review

Largehearted Boy’s I Have the Answer Playlist

Hypertext Magazine interview with Desiree Cooper

Lit Hub’s The Best of the University Presses: 100 Books to Escape the News

Shelley Irwin at WGVU on April 8th, 2020

Silly cat

I could use some Review Help…

It’s been a few weeks now since the book was released and I think it’s fair to say it was not an optimal time to release any book, however I am grateful to those who purchased it and have posted and shared about the work.

If you’ve received your copy and have had a chance to read it, I would be so grateful for a rating or review. It takes about two minutes on Amazon or on Goodreads.

If you’ve never left an Amazon review before, this is how to do it:

Steps

  1. Sign in to your account. …
  2. Click the Orders menu. …
  3. Locate the order containing the product you want to review. …
  4. Click Write a product review next to the order. …
  5. Select an overall star rating. …
  6. Add a photo or video (optional) of the product. …
  7. Type your review. …
  8. Click Submit.

Again, thank you for your support.

PS: I adapted this “help me with reviews” template from a writer I really admire, Cynthia Kane, who also released a new book in April 2020. I’ve enjoyed all of her work and her latest is called: How to Meditate like a Buddhist. I highly recommend checking out all of her books.

***

Favorites:

Favorite show of 2020: Normal People on Hulu

Favorite recipe is from Cristina Garberding. This one is quite involved, but worth it: https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/mac-and-cheese-recipe2-1945401

Favorite baked good of 2020 (with the caveat that this is grain free and probably doesn’t compete with a really decadent muffin) https://detoxinista.com/raspberry-chocolate-chip-muffins-grain-free/

My Review of Grief’s Country by Gail Griffin is here. I highly recommend it!

Books read during Quarantine, see my Goodreads Reading Challenge.

Please share some of your favorite books with me. I need more reading material!

**Trigger Warning**

I have one last update, however I do have to issue a trigger warning here, so if you are triggered by mention of assault or sexual assault in particular, please don’t read below the below this.

**

Last month, I talked about my sexual assault here on Bookstr.

And upcoming later in a June, an essay about the “real” experience will be out in River Teeth Journal.

As my friend Desiree Cooper says, it takes a long time to learn how to be an advocate. I’m not quite there yet. I want to be a part of the solution. I want to be open and honest. I have forced myself to write about it. I admire fierce advocates who can get up in front of people on panels and share their experience. It took just about everything out of me just to write that sentence above. I still go into a fugue state sometimes (even right this minute) when I think about it. Recent developments forced me to either face these grave injustices or remain silent, and remaining silent did not seem like the right personal choice given the tremendous bravery of other survivors.

It’s a sad fact that there’s no medal, and often much ridicule, for putting yourself on the line, but I’m also 100% sure the more people stand up and speak, the harder these crimes will be to ignore. Many of the people you talk to on a daily basis have been assaulted. In fact, the World Health Organization estimates that 1 in 3 (35%) of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime.

Keeping that in mind, when you speak to anyone about sexual violence perhaps it would be better not to assume that they have been lucky.

On June 20th and July 18th I will be conducting two workshops in partnership with Pages Bookshop about writing through trauma in fiction and nonfiction. My hope is to offer a few pointers about protecting your own mental health while writing about traumatic events. In my own experience, writing has helped me unpack my feelings about the event, first by using fiction as a way to distance myself from it, and later by confronting it head-on in nonfiction. The goal of these workshops is to help other writers express themselves while taking good care of themselves at the same time.

Here’s a link to the event signup.

Be kind and stay safe and well.

Kelly

#metoo

 

AUDIO CLIP and I HAVE THE ANSWER ONE WEEK ANNIVERSARY.

Hi Everyone,

hi resolution I have the answer

This is the one week anniversary of the I Have the Answer launch! Thanks to everyone who ordered it, and cheered the book on from afar. It has meant a lot to me that you were so kind when we are all going through this COVID-19 nightmare.

This is the first of two final blog posts about the book. The next one will take place next Tuesday on the two week anniversary. After that I will return to the regularly scheduled programming. (This year on this blog I’ll be talking to both poets and writers about their upcoming books and posting once per month.)

I discovered these two amazing audiobook narrators, Denice Stradling and Larry Petersen, through my good friend, Robin Martin, and I am so grateful to her for putting me in touch with them! It’s a surreal experience to hear my work read by such talented people. I am posting the first of two amazing recording clips from the book here. Next week I will post Denice reading from “The Devil’s Proof.”

Here’s the first recording of Larry Petersen reading “Superman at Hogback Ridge. I hope you enjoy it!”

 

In other news….

Keith Taylor posted a very nice review on Goodreads here and on Stateside Radio at the 27:30 mark here.

I came up with a playlist to go along with I Have the Answer for Largehearted Boy here.

And talked to Desiree Cooper about writing over at Hypertext.

The book is available from your local bookstore (online) here at Indiebound or here at Wayne State University Press or on Amazon.

Thanks so much, everyone. Stay safe and well!

 

 

“I Have the Answer” launches April 7th

A scene from Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason

 

Well, I have to be honest, I am feeling rather uninspired. After two years on this blog interviewing poets about their favorite poems, I had decided to switch things up this year and ask people silly questions in a good-humored attempt to promote my book (see below).

But, you know what?

I would rather burrow under the covers and eat chocolate right now. I would rather binge watch “Ozark” or “Sanditon” or “Tiger King.” I would rather attend an all-day zoom cocktail party with my friends or try to figure out how to be of service to some of the brave people who have to venture out into the world every day. Yesterday, I ran into a nurse who lives down the street from me and I almost burst into tears thinking about the tremendous contribution she is making to the world. My best friend is sewing masks. Other people are making signs and gift bags for the doctors and nurses at our local hospital. It’s impressive and inspiring, not to mention all the young people (including my four kids) who are handling being cooped up in the house with mom and dad for months on end without the slightest complaint. All I’m really hoping for now is that we all stay safe and well.

BOOK LAUNCH: APRIL 7TH!

cropped-I-HAVE-THE-ANSWER-COVER-AUGUST-29-2019-e1575305448536

My book is still launching on April 7th, and I hope you will consider buying one.

I’m giving a two-minute reading at A Mighty Blaze on April 7th to celebrate, and I would love to see you there.

The book is for sale at Pages Bookshop, the Wayne State University Press site and Amazon. I’m also available for zoom book clubs, so please feel free to contact me anytime.

Here are some recent reviews:

North of Oxford.

The Book Slut.

And lists:

Quarantine Reading at Entropy.

The Big Other Most Anticipated Small Press Books 2020.

Recent Pre-Publication Awards!


One of the things I miss most during quarantine is our local library where I work as a sub in the circulation department. I miss seeing people milling around in the library. I miss the book recommendations. I miss handling the new books and reading the jacket copy. I miss my awesome, zany co-workers. I hope this book recommendation list will be of some assistance until we have our real librarians back again!

Much love to everyone.

BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS FOR QUARANTINE:

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Beautiful “memoir in pieces” about the lived phenomenon of grief.

They Came Like Swallows (Vintage International) by [Maxwell, William]

A stunningly beautiful novel about the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic. If that is the last thing you want to read about now, I completely understand, but it is ultimately about love, and what it means to be human and Maxwell’s quiet, lucid prose is mesmerizing.

Know My Name: A Memoir

I could not believe the woman who wrote this memoir is only in her 20s. Riveting. Necessary.

Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

OK. So this is another one about death. But death as the prism through which we better view and appreciate life, so beautiful, imho.

 

Weather

Jenny Offill is just a terrific writer. Period.

Night Theater

Here’s the synopsis. I’m running out of bandwidth, so I’m just pasting it in. I loved this book:

A surgeon flees a scandal in the city and accepts a job at a village clinic. He buys antibiotics out of pocket, squashes roaches, and chafes at the interventions of the corrupt officer who oversees his work. But his outlook on life changes one night when a teacher, his pregnant wife, and their young son appear. Killed in a violent robbery, they tell the surgeon that they have been offered a second chance at living if the surgeon can mend their wounds before sunrise.

After I created this list I realized there wasn’t anything funny here in case you need to laugh, so here you go 🙂 David Sedaris is the best.

And here’s a song I found by Jack Lyle called “I Have the Answer.” Don’t you just love the title?

 

 

Jentel Artist’s Residency and a cross-country trek.

This summer I spent July 15-August 13th at the Jentel Artist’s Residency in Banner, Wyoming. I cannot begin to tell you how amazing it was to concentrate on my writing for a month with no dogs, no dirty dishes, no chores. I missed my family, until they sent me this picture and then every time I started to miss them, I remembered this:

Mom has been gone for ten days.

 

No dirty dishes here at Jentel.

 

Serenity.

The writing studio. Behind the tree to the left is the artist studio.
A panoramic view of the main floor. We all made our own meals. Mostly that meant beans and rice for me, but I was very impressed with the other artists” culinary skills.
You had to walk down the road for cell phone reception. Not this way, unfortunately. The other way–up a big hill.
Image result for jentel
=Thanks to Bryn Chancellor for this photo of the Sunrise studio. Here is where I wrote 30,000 words over the course of one month working from 9-5 every day. Of course, 3/4 of that was pure drivel, but that was pure drivel I might never have produced without Jentel.

The Other Artists at Jentel

Hortus Inconclusus_low res.jpg
Marisa Adesman http://www.marisaadesman.com Marisa is only 28! In fact, she turned 28 during the residency. This is the view of the table from underneath and according to her, it was quite a feat maintaining that perspective.
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Shoshana Akabas, fellow writer and awesome person finished her novel at Jentel! : https://www.shoshanaakabas.com/
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Christian Ruiz-Berman and Marisa Adesman were working on a film for an upcoming show in London.
Sueno Del Contador Enamorado by Christian Ruiz-Berman
Artist Gina Kamentsky (see picture below) made an amazing animated film at Jentel and this was one of her handmade props.
Gina Kamentsky
See her award-winning film, Silo, here: https://vimeo.com/241945234

ED Taylor, artist

E.D. Taylor was working on embroidery for a project while she was at Jentel, but she is also a performance artist. Check out the link below. It will blow your mind.
Her amazing video: http://www.edtaylorartist.com/becoming-dust.html

 

Jentel on a cloudy day.

I started to think I could be an artist and create a series of shadow portraits, but that notion was short-lived.

 

This majestic cloud turned into a tornado watch the last day at Jentel.
You don’t see many people in Wyoming, and I think they like it that way.
We got out once or twice: This is the Occidental Hotel in Buffalo, Wyoming.
On the wall: some of the permanent residents of the Occidental Hotel.
The reason I don’t take selfies. My college bestie, Heather Rue, and I met up in Livingston, Montana for a night. I enjoyed our stay at the Murray Hotel in Livingston, Montana. It dates back to 1904, and Anthony Bourdain apparently loved it as well, but I did take this photo below. of the hallway….


redrum redrum
I went through the Lamar Valley in Yellowstone on my way home, which made me cry a couple of times, it was so splendid. The only regret? I was too chicken to get out of the car.

Unlike these peeps. The next day someone was gored, and honestly? I’m not surprised. Look at this guy sitting out there like he’s not a little out of his weight class.
On the way back, I hit Custer State Park, which is my favorite park by far. This is Needle’s Highway, and here I am threading the needle. It was a little disconcerting. If you have anything bigger than a jeep, forget about it.
Custer State Park
Needles Eye Tunnel. This woman ran out to warn me not to try it until her friend drove through. Only room for one in this minuscule tunnel.

 

Camping cabin; Custer State Park.
Interior of my camping cabin at Custer State Park. $50 a night and very comfortable. The door locks (mandatory) and it even had heat and/or air conditioning. The bathroom is very close by and we have had a slide show later in the night about climbing.
Um, as I mentioned I didn’t get out of the car, but apparently some fool-hardy folks….

If you have any questions about Jentel, feel free to contact me. Thanks to the amazing benefactor, Neltje, and the staff: Mary Jane, Lynn, Melissa and Chris. Jentel meant the world to me.

Also, if you want suggestions for your own upcoming road trip, I have some ideas–Theodore Roosevelt National Park, the Badlands, Sioux Falls, SD, Madison, Wisconsin, I hit them all.

I wish I was still out there roaming around. Honestly, is there anything better?