Published: Labyrinth Anthologies

I was just notified the other day that my poem “(critical) mass” will be included in this anthology that is due out sometime this spring. They publish three anthologies a year, one each for poetry, prose, and art. I am thrilled to have made the cut for poetry. You can check their website here for any news and upcoming submissions.

Read. Write. Support Small Press. Be kind to each other.

Aleathia

Hiking: Finger Lakes Trail 60: Part One

This image borrowed from FLT60 webpage, not my original work.

The Finger Lakes Trail turns 60 this year! To celebrate they are making the challenge 60 miles instead of 50 miles in a calendar year to earn this beautiful badge. If you are in the Upstate NY region and would like to participate in this challenge, you can go to the FLT60 page and sign up. As an incentive, all non FLT/branch trails count toward your numbers until the end of March, but you have to be outside!

I am going to be logging my miles and journey on here because this is a big deal to me. I found about about FLT50 midway through the year last year, and though I had done 22 miles on my big three day hike, I didn’t do anymore FLT the rest of the year. This year is my year. A girl loves a good badge. Let’s just say the tiny Girl Scout in me is very excited about badges.

1/1/2022

This year for the first day of the year hike I decided to go solo instead of hike with a group. There were some things I needed to work out in my head and getting muddy by myself is the perfect way to do this. It was warm and I overdressed, again. This is the story of my hiking life. One of these days I will find the right layering.

I had to park very low before the entrance because it was muddy and my tiny front wheel drive would not have made it up and most likely got stuck. The bulk of this hike is on a logging type road. There are trails per All Trails, but no one had done upkeep on them and they are very poorly marked. Most of the paths are used by mountain bikers by the looks of it. So, I stayed on the road which was sort of boring, but better than getting lost…which I did anyway. The incline was about 18% but it didn’t feel like much after last year’s massive inclines which made me feel really good about myself.

On the map there was noted to be a series of ponds and a pond loop, but I had a hard time finding a singular pond. I did see an older couple hiking up an off shoot to the road and asked them where it was and it was down the road from where they came. I thanked them and made a mental note of the road I was on and how it continued forward thinking maybe there were more ponds that way. But that would have to wait for another hike.

Photo by Aleathia Drehmer

This was my prize for getting lost, getting muddy, for showing up when I really didn’t feel like it. Winter sometimes gets the best of me, but then I hear my father’s voice in my head tell me to put my feet on the ground. He was an avid hiker who completed the AT, something that both fills me with pride and amazes me. I only wish I knew more about it when he was alive. I would have loved to record his stories. So now when I need his wisdom, I put my boots on. I cried at this pond because it was pristine and beautiful. I cried because I missed my Pop. He would have loved it here.

Photo by Aleathia Drehmer

This hike to the pond and back was 4 miles. I can’t wait to go back and try to find the Erwin Pond Loop which seems to go around 5 ponds. The muddy season will be upon me soon and this hike will be slippery and challenging, but I’d love to do it again.

See you out on the trails! Stay tuned for the next installment of my FLT60 where I hike part of M12.

Book Launch: Running Red Lights Available Today

Graphics by Michele McDannold

I am so happy to announce that my collection of poetry, Running Red Lights, is available today from Gutter Snob Books. Michele McDannold has been a great publisher to work with and I am thrilled to work with her again. She was here a the start of my career and published my first ever collection in 2006. Her belief in my work has always held a special place in my heart.

This collection is largely about observing the small moments in the world that other people glance over. Some of these were observed by me, others were back page stories in the news. Here are a few poems to tempt you:

Staring down a white-tailed doe

Small town factories
put the hard line
on faces. All of them
in a vertical destruction of youth,
skin hanging there
a wrinkle of time.

Generations
pulling long hours
sucking in black death,
diamond death,
poverty death.

It is all tattooed
on the inside of lungs,
painted over eyes,
along the jaw
clenched unknowingly.

The subconscious is the only faction
aware that there were
once dreams
of something more
than making rent and car payments,
of cigarettes and six packs

consumed.

Toothless

Parked in front of the KFC drive-thru speaker,
a toothless woman hangs out the open window
of a rusty blue Chevy truck, arms flexed,
and crossed over the door tightly as if she
fears falling the two feet toward the ground.

Her right hand cradles her cigarette like a lover
dragging its breath hard and long enough
to cave her cheeks inward to meet each other
over tongue and under palate,
cutting off the smoke
so it slips weakly
from the corners
of her mouth.

Book Reviews: February 2022

Do you know how sometimes you are resistant to buying a book? For some reason I couldn’t get myself to pick this one up despite LOVING the cover art. My local book seller had quietly nudged me toward this book several times and I finally caved. She is a voracious reader and said it was in her top 5. That day another patron had also sung this books praises, so it was time.

This book is a journey through the age old question of what happens after we die? This is a speculation of course because we don’t really know, but it is one that I would like to keep close in my memory. It is a book about death, the time after death, and grief that is present in both those who are left behind as well as those who have passed. It is also a book about friendship and selflessness. It is a book about how we keep going in the face of hardship. I cried for the last two hours I read the book. Sometimes they were tears of joy and others sadness. I don’t always recommend books, but I don’t think it matters what genre you usually love, you will love this book.

This is a quick read both because it is more novella sized and the writing is very good. I had never read a book by this author, but picked it up because I am a nurse and it sounded relatable. It is a story about a girl from an immigrant family who lives in NYC and works as an orderly in one of the county hospitals. It is a book about family and friendships and about having the faith in yourself to move forward and upward in life.

This book I listened to which was a good choice. The setting is India and there I’m sure the pronunciation of many of the cultural items and names of things would have been butchered in my mind. It was nice to hear them pronounced as they should be. This is a story about a girl and her mother living in Pune, India. The mother is a bit eccentric for the times and they lived in an ashram for some time. In the present day, the mother is showing signs of dementia and the daughter feels obligated to care for her. Their relationship, through their whole lives, had not been close or comforting. The daughter often left to the periphery of everything. It is a story about family dynamics, breaks from culture, and personal identity.

This is another book that I listened to and it was read by the author. I had no idea what this book was about before I chose it, but did so because I currently have an obsession with birds. It is non-fiction and discusses the life of the author as a naturalist and her memories of birds and green spaces in the UK as she was growing up. It chronicles some wonderfully personal accounts of her adventures in nature while also providing information on several species of birds and their migrations, and what this means for the lands we live in. It also looks at how urban sprawl has changed or destroyed nesting areas for birds and what this means for the species.

Come on, who doesn’t love Samantha Irby? I listened to this as an audio book because Irby reads it herself and the way she describes her own life is both hysterical and bold. This was a great book to listen to in February because I need as much laughter as I can get stuck in the gray days of Upstate New York. Her honesty about how she lives her life in such an unapologetic way is refreshing. It made me take notice of my own habits and procrastination and investigate their origin. And sometimes, I just looked in the other direction. A delightful book.

I found this book at last year’s fall library book sale. I often try to scoop up as much poetry as I can possibly find, especially by author’s I’ve never heard of before. I find that it helps me to look at my own words in different ways. This entire book of poetry is the imagining of Barbie in different life settings, with careers, with comical thoughts about articulated limbs. It made me nostalgic in a way. I had Barbies and yes, they did make me feel like I didn’t fit in the class of a pretty girl, but they were also my therapy. I could dress them how I wanted, they were stand ins for people I couldn’t really express myself to. Sometimes, when playing Barbie with other girls, we explored cultural, sexual, and relationship ideas that our mothers were not willing to speak about. They were an education on what we thought being older might be like. There are some great poems in this book.

This is a smaller book of poetry from long time small press writer Michele McDannold. The poems in here feel like that space in life where you disconnect for a minute to wonder why people do the things they do. Or why you do the things you do? It is a book of quiet interactions and self assessments. Definitely worth the read.

I picked up this book from the local library for two reasons. #1 My boyfriend loves Lorca. I thought I should read some of his work because this in turn tells me something about my boyfriend. I had heard of Lorca as a writer, but honestly, I had never taken the time to read his work. #2 “Little Ashes” was an amazing film about the connection of Lorca and Dali. It moved me and made me cry so again, I thought I should dip into the work. There is merit to his language and in some poems I felt connected, but like all poetry from a time when I haven’t lived, it is harder to find a passion in the stanzas because I didn’t experience the hardships and cultural restraints of the time. It was still worth it for reason #1.

I just finished listening to this book before opening my computer to write this blog. Listening to this book made me realize just how little they teach us in school about black history. I vaguely remember hearing about the great migration, but not really understanding how long it was. It ended only 3 years before I was born. How could it be so absent from our education?

This is a non-fiction book that chronicles the journey Morgan Jerkins took when trying to find more information about her family history. So much of the facts of family history come from oral tradition and this makes it harder to trace if your family isn’t willing to talk or the elders pass away without ever having been asked what they know. This book is about the great migration but it was also a history on blended cultures with Native Americans of the southern regions and the persistent racism present in this country. It was interesting to follow the journey as she gathered more snippets of family story or a random name of a distant possible relative. Definitely an eye opening historical story.

Collaboration: Poetry/Music: Drehmer/brotherwell

Photo by Aleathia Drehmer

When I write a new poem I always share it with my boyfriend first. Then I send it around on messenger to a few souls who are online. It’s random. I like random sampling for feedback. These poems only ever have a quick once over for glaring spelling errors and to maybe adjust a line break and then I let them fly before tucking them in a folder to marinate awhile.

“The Moment Before the World Wakes Up” was one of these poems. I sent it to Chris Bodor from AC Poets. Often, I don’t get any responses from people. I might get an acknowledgement they saw it or a few kind words, but this time Chris thought my poem would be great for a project he knew of elsewhere. It was unexpected, but I love the idea of new directions though I struggle with the transitional area of change. He added me to a group and shared my poem with a musical group called brotherwell.

The project itself is called re:covery. He takes our poems about recovery and makes music behind them, with them, all around them. He adds his own lyrics and together, we have written a song that I feel is full of truth and vulnerability. brotherwell really captured the feeling beneath my words and I was certainly touched by his lyrics and the thoughtful way he created music to merge them both. At some point in time, the collection of all of these collaborations will be available to buy or stream with the proceeds going to a recovery charity. Stay tuned for that information down the road. But for now, you can enjoy my collaboration with brotherwell: The Moment Before the World Wakes Up.

Read. Write. Be kind to each other. Support the small press and its writers.

Aleathia

Zine: Durable Goods-The Missouri Collective Subscription Drive

Durable Goods: The Missouri Collective is a micro-zine that fits in the palm of your hand. Once upon a time it was filled with writers from the small press and traveled all over the world, was archived in libraries, and touched every continent. It was a zine about connection and tangibility. It was something to look forward to. It still is, only in a different way.

At the end of 2021, I revived this zine which had been out of print since 2013 or so to begin a collaboration with the editor of Rusty Truck, Scot D. Young. He is also an educator. He is a man who cares about children. He’s a man who loves poetry. In rural Missouri, he teaches a class of poetry to children who are stuck in a trauma loop. These kids are abused in ways we never want to imagine and what he has given them is a way to vent these atrocities and to make some sense of the good parts of their identity.

Scot had the students and I had a zine. We formulated something on the fly and got the kids to work. We reached out on Facebook to see if any folks were interested in receiving this work and we had 70 folks subscribe. DG has never been about making money and always about connection. The cost of a subscription covers the cost of basic materials and all the extras that come in the mail are my own donation. Keeping the zine inexpensive has meant accessibility to everyone. This first year we have had several benefactors who donated books for the kids, their time to educate them, funds to purchase new poetry to expand their horizons, and even money to buy food because these kids often don’t eat. Scot and I are forever grateful to these people who have opened their hearts.

Durable Goods #4 featuring Angel Hill went out earlier this month. This leaves 4 more issues for the year. The purpose of this post is to start generating interest for the 2022-2023 series of Durable Goods: The Missouri Collective. Subscription prices are based on the number of issues, which is based on the number of students in the class. I do send internationally, but this cost is a bit more. This year there were 8 students so the cost was $6.50 domestic, $13.00 international. I imagine the class size will be similar each year, but you never know how popular Scot will get.

There will only be 75 available subscriptions each year because I am a working woman with other creative projects and active endeavors. Currently, 25 of the 75 spots are already either verbally reserved or paid for. If you are interested in taking a chance on poetry from these teenagers and would like to be a part of the Durable Goods experience, you can send me an email about your interest. Please place “Durable Goods” in the subject line so I can properly file the email. You wouldn’t have to pay until the new cycle is about to begin. This is just a place holder. You can email me at aleathiadrehmer@gmail.com

Read. Write. Be Kind to Each Other. Support Small Press.

Aleathia

Poetry Reading: Ancient City Poets

I have had the opportunity to work with Chris Bodor in the past on various publications and anthologies that were produced through Poet Plant Press. Chris is now running a monthly group in St. Augustine, FL called the Ancient City Poets which would meet in person monthly to share poetry pre-pandemic. In the last few years, they still meet but on Zoom which is then aired as a Facebook Live. Once in awhile, I am lucky enough to have that day off in the month and can attend.

January 2022 was such a month and you can hear me read a poem along with a bunch of other great writers who attended, as well as Poet Laureate of Lucus County, OH, Jonie McIntire. Here is the recording of Ancient City Poets for January 2022 . The wonderful thing about Zoom and the internet in general, is that you can still attend readings when you live far away. This is an inclusive group. You attend once and you become an AC Poet. It’s a nice feeling.

This year they will be having a fun filled weekend full of poetry and music in St. Augustine hosted at Flagler College for April Poetry Month. This is the copy from Chris’ website:

ST. AUGUSTINE POETFEST 2022
Ancient City Poets have partnered with the English Department of Flagler College and the St. Johns Cultural Council to present a day-long celebration of creative writing and reciting on Saturday April 9th, the day after the Henry Rollins spoken word show at the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall.  The day of events, the haiku contest, and the last Sunday of the month open mic reading will be St. Johns County’s local recognition of National Poetry Month (April) .

Michael Rothenberg, founder of 100 Thousand Poets for Change, is going to travel from Tallahassee to the campus of Flagler College to be our keynote and perform with his avant-garde jazz group: the EcoSound Ensemble.”

Check his page often for updates on specific details for both the poetry festival and join all the great writers on AC Poets once a month. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon.

Read. Write. Be Kind to Each Other. Support Small Press.

Aleathia

Book Reviews: January 2022

I wouldn’t go so far as to say these are deep dive book reviews. I have never been a fan of those because they ultimately tell me too much and then I feel like I don’t need to read the book. I like the adventure of figuring it out myself, but on the other hand, it is hard to branch out and find new authors and types of things to read if you don’t know just a smidge. And before anyone gets super excited and thinks I’m a freakishly fast reader, some of this months books were started last month and some are audiobooks. Enjoy my 2 cents.

All Around Cowboy by Scot D. Young (Spartan Press, 2021) is a collection of poems that spans this man’s life living in the heart of Missouri. Scot has a way of showing us hard topics with a soft hand. He is a storyteller. The way the book unfolds allows for traveling from a time long forgotten to the present. It’s like riding a train where one only catches some things in sharp focus, just enough to let the mind wander in that space and find a connection, on some level, to our own lives.

Memorial by Bryan Washington (Riverhead Books, 2020) is about the struggles in love of two homosexual men from widely different cultural backgrounds living in Texas. But, it’s more than that. It’s a book about family, about choices, about doing the right thing, about finding your way in the world. I listened to the audiobook which features Bryan Washington reading one of the parts himself. It had a different sort of life listening to the book instead of reading it as it is split into sections based on the perspective of each lover. I started out reading it and then switched to listening to it.

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones (Simon and Schuster, 2020) is noted as a horror book which I didn’t find exactly scary. I used to read horror as a teenager and young adult, and I don’t think this book fits in that category. This book takes place on and off the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana and is loosely about four Native American friends who go against tribal law and hunt on grounds they are not allowed to. To avoid prosecution, they have to waste all the elk they have killed and are banned from hunting on the rez. But one of the elk was special, one was pregnant. This book dives into dark fantasy and allegory. It didn’t scare me, but it definitely had me on edge. This was a book that I knew nothing of the author or the story before hand but loved the cover. It did not disappoint.

Untamed by Glennon Doyle (Random House, 2020). I had this book on my list from the previous year and my kid had given it to me for Christmas. I finally worked my way through the book stack to get to it. This book is full of snapshots of Doyle’s transition out of heterosexual married life where she was miserable into a same sex marriage that changed her life. It is a collection of stories about self integrity, about knowing who you are and going forward with that, and about the joy and the struggles of having a non-traditional family. This book really spoke to me about breaking down the barriers of tradition from times that are no longer relevant. How many times to I approach a situation with my mother’s or my grandmother’s voice in my head instead of my own? It is a book about letting your wild come to the surface.

The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine N. Aron (Broadway Books, 1997). Every now and then I like to throw a non-fiction book in the mix to spice up my life…yes, that was comedy. I feel like non-fiction uses a different side of my brain than fiction or poetry and I like to active all the parts. My mother used to make fun of me and say I was “so sensitive” and it turns out that she wasn’t wrong. Some of the tenants of this book are a bit outdated for 1997 and not all together politically correct, but it did help me to understand some parts of my personality and how to help them heal from things I’ve experienced in my life.

Topics of Conversation by Miranda Popkey (Knopf, 2020). This was another book plucked from a list of books to read from 2020. I have been taking great effort to read authors I don’t know and genres that aren’t in my wheelhouse. Basically, I’m swimming outside my comfort zone. I listened to this one on audiobook because my library had it available and I wasn’t disappointed. The book follows a woman through her young adult life to almost middle age in vignettes of conversations she has with other women. There is a rawness to her perspective of herself, of other women, and of the environments she’s in. It is a book full of unapologetic inside talk that women have but don’t like to admit they have. There is a lot of alcohol featured in this book so if you are triggered by that or into sober living, it might raise some hackles, but I think it was true to the reality of life today.

Published: Mollyhouse & Paper and Ink Zine

“Gathering Ghosts” Original Painting by Aleathia Drehmer

My poem “To Cinders and Ash” has found a home in the upcoming Issue 4 of Mollyhouse. This publication primarily focuses on the LGBTQ community and those with disabilities, but have been kind enough to include me as a parent of a child in the LGBTQ community. This is a print issue so check back at the website regularly for their new work.

My poem “The Cold War” will appear in Paper and Ink #17 which is the survival issue. This is a great lo-fi DIY punk rock zine out of the UK. Stop by their website and check out their merch and previously published anthologies and chapbooks.

Coming Soon: Running Red Lights, Gutter Snob Books

At the end of 2020, Gutter Snob Books had a call for manuscripts. I wasn’t going to answer this call because I just had a beautiful book published in November, but I had also told myself that when opportunities come knocking I was going to answer the damn door.

Earlier in the year I had been playing around with this collection of poems. It started out as a smaller collection and then morphed into a large collection that I ran through my writer’s group. But when editor Michele McDannold said that collection needed to be “concise,” I went back and looked at it again. What I pulled out was most likely the original 30 poems I had wanted together from the beginning.

I cleaned up the poems and sent them out as a chance and was notified on Christmas morning, while I was at work, that the collection had been accepted. I have worked with Michele McDannold before back in 2006 when she ran Rural Messengers Press. She was the first editor to put out a collection of my work. Her approach was creative putting poems on posters, into folded matchbooks, and into layered mini books. It was hand made and warmed my pea picking heart to be honest because it was thoughtful and took a lot of time.

Michele gave me the courage to keep putting work out there and it was enlightening to see a strong female presence in the small press at that time which was male dominated. It was in a time where women had to write from the darker layer of themselves, the sexual layer, the drunk layer in order to get work published. But that collection was about growing up in Arizona, about family hardship, about being the child of alcoholics. This was significant to me and though I still did put on all those layers afterward, she has found me full circle with no layers at all, just me.

Running Red Lights is a collection about watching people, not just in real time, but those people tucked in back of the paper news articles–the ones that don’t make the headlines. It’s a collection about the things we miss when we are racing from place to place, when we run red lights to get there. It should be out around April 2022. Gutter Snob Books is also offering a book a month club for $13 a month, so go check the above link for details on that.

Read. Write. Support Small Press. Be Kind.

Aleathia