Hello! It is my grand pleasure to let you know that my latest book of poetry is available on Amazon. It is a collection that looks at the grief of having a poor connection with parents when they are alive and the grief of their passing. It is a bit of a sad collection, but deals with themes we all struggle with. I want to thank the lovely and amazing James D. Casey IV from Cajun Mutt Press for taking on this collection.
Here are a few reviews from some kind folks:
Layers of Half-Sung Hymns is about heartache, trauma, and one woman’s struggle to become whole again. Touching on the topics of family, addiction, and loss.
“Aleathia’s father named her “truth”, and indeed this is a volume of truth-telling. A professional healer, she fearlessly speaks truth to her family karma and through the love, the beauty, and the pain takes us along on her path to wholeness.” —Gary Maxwell, Blue Sushi
“Aleathia Drehmer’s work has always touched a part of me that few others have access to and this is no exception. I take a deep breath in with the first poem… this will be introspective; this will be a journey; this will be healing. Where else do you get more than that, than from our beginnings and that which we came? Shit, the beginnings we declare for ourselves, maybe. Aleathia’s journey through her relationship with her mother…and father, her childhood, is somehow both startling while being served with the gentlest of hands. Smart, insightful. The kind of book you want to share with your bestie. Here, read this! Top-notch, highly recommended.” —Michele McDannold, Space Time Continuum for Dummies (Gutter Snob Press)
“We wear these garments, dwell in these temples briefly. We are short lived, sun worshipers, pale pink blossoms on a Eustacia Vye English rose. Our fine attire covering bones, dancing bones, the bones of life, loving bones. Such are the brutally honest, terribly painful, vulnerable, heart wrenching, masterfully delicately tearfully rendered poems in LAYERS of HALF-SUNG HYMNS by Aleathia Drehmer. I can’t recommend it highly enough.” —Ron Whitehead, U.S. National Beat Poet Laureate
We sit on the front porch of your three-story apartment building, the wooden planks unkempt with edges splintering and nails driven up through rotted holes leaving empty spaces.
You smoke your non-filtered cigarette, though not the same brand I remember from childhood, as they smell less aromatic. It is somehow stale and crumbling like the moments passing slowly between our shoulders.
Both of us watch my child, with her sun lightened, blonde streaks curling around her face. She’s cherubic and fresh sitting in the grass digging for treasure in the dark earth with an old stick, looking up at us with untamed innocence.
I think about all the things I want to say that I won’t ever have the courage to, or be able to find words good enough to bear the weight of their meanings. So, we talk about poems and seasonable weather
and lean only close enough to hear each other. You turn your head to tell me something important and I am lost in the sunset reflected off your glasses, heart beating faster than it should, unsure of where we go from here.
I have been living in the moment more than anything these last few month which often doesn’t find me sitting in front of the computer, but I have read and listened to some really great books. As usual these are less of a review and more how the books made me feel or influenced my thoughts. You can read any old book blurb for the plot, I suppose. Here are the books that graced my eyeballs in April and May.
A Children’s Bible by Lydia Millet
I was leery about picking up this book based on the title as I felt it might have too many religious overtones for me and I wasn’t in the mood. But this came highly recommended at my local book store and they don’t tend to steer people wrong. This book was a beautiful rendering of the dichotomy of the teenage mind that is half filled with apathy and the other half curiosity. Though not isolated from the modern world, this book gave me the deep feels for a re-imagining of Golding’s “Lord of the Flies” which was a book I loved as a young person. It was a super fast read because the writing was very good and the subject interesting.
The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan
In my Seattle days, I took some botany classes so any book that sheds a cultural light on the subject is very interesting to me. I have been a lover of botany for a long time and always interested in how plants influence our lives medicinally as well as emotionally. This book takes a deep dive on four different plants: apples, potatoes, tulips, and marijuana. The author is able to link the desirability of these plants to history and how these plants changed the way we do things. Non fiction in general takes me longer to read and absorb due to facts that I’d like to remember, but this was quite an interesting book.
Actress by Anne Enright
This book was on a list of 2020 books that were a must read. I know, it’s 2022, but I had printed a list in early 2021 to help me branch out and read authors that I’ve never heard of before. This can be daunting without some sort of guide and generally expensive, especially if you don’t like the book. I listened to this as a free checkout from the library and I was not disappointed. It chronicles the life of a daughter of an actress. I liked the perspective of a more real look at a person stuck in the limelight for work and then later for ego. The book also looks at the struggle women in the spotlight have to go through to continue to be accepted by men and the masses. It looks at the toll this takes on someone’s mental health.
Dark Roads by Chevy Stevens
I chose this book based on the title and an intriguing cover. I am a little bit over the color blocking/splotching/tell-me-nothing-about-the-books sort of covers that have been going on for the last few years. I haven’t read a single one of those books. I love an inventive cover or one that intrigues. I am a very visual reader in the sense that I create my own movies while reading and it starts with a good cover. I digress. Dark Roads is a thriller/murder mystery set in Canada along a road that has been infamous for having young women go missing, especially indigenous women. The author wanted to bring light to this problem, to make it more known as people like to forget tragedy when it doesn’t pertain to them. It has strong female characters and a super good plot twist. I was totally surprised at the end.
Music is History by Questlove
I went on an audiobook tear in these months and this was a fun book to listen to as it was read by Questlove. The book takes a look at the interconnected nature of music and cultural/social history while also weaving in how the music personally affected the author. There were cool facts I had never heard before while tripping down memory lane. Music marks time in our lives and has a unique ability to bring us back to a long forgotten time as if we never left. I’m currently binging Stranger Things with my boyfriend and the soundtrack to each episode really grounds me into the time along with the amazing costuming. If the soundtrack didn’t exist, I think it would have detracted from this deep connection I have with my era of time being displayed. Fun book. I would listen to it rather than read it.
When We Cease to Understand the World by Benjamin Labatut
There is a portion of my brain that is hyper intrigued with science, especially physics. I have never studied the subject but I am drawn to this science in books, documentaries, and even sports. This book takes a look at the persistence that is needed to solve what we feel are unanswerable questions about he universe, but it is also about the mental toll it takes on these genius minds. It distorts reality over time because they become so singularly focused on finding the answer to their questions. The book dove into some famous scientists lives and looked at their unraveling.
Thanks for reading. I hope you check some of these titles out. I wasn’t disappointed with any of them.
It’s summer in New York and this is the time of year that I tend to be more active and less inclined to be in front of the computer. I also tend to submit less work as I gather the sun’s light for the long, gray winters. I was lucky enough to be included in some fine journals, both online and in print.
I have three poems featured on Rusty Truck (Liminial Definition of Love, Stone Fences, and Hurricanes of Snow) which appear in my upcoming chapbook, Layers of Half-Sung Hymns on Cajun Mutt Press. Thank you Scot Young for taking these poems.
Scot Young also took a few poems over to the old Deuce Coupe that are shorter and maybe a little bit sad. You can read my poems Our House, Sunrise, and Filthy there.
Lastly, but not least, Robert Hansen at Poems for All has decided to revive my poem Trace, which he published a long time ago and give it a new cover. He also took a new poem, Quiet Underpinnings, which comes from a collection of poetry I am currently writing. Robert is a wonderful designer and scatters our poems around the world. I have always been a big fan of micro poetry print projects as they amaze me what large ideas can be fit in small places.
Please check these fine publishers out and wander around and read some other stuff too.
Read. Write. Be kind to each other. Support the small press.
Life has been pretty busy and I’m not complaining. I moved my boyfriend in the house and my child moved out into their first independent venture. Add work at the hospital and fixing up the house and it created a recipe for falling behind on blogs. I have good intentions of keeping up, but living in the present sometimes gets the best of me. Over the next few weeks, I will be catching up on the adventures in writing, reading, and hiking. Stay tuned for lots of great news and fun.
In May, I was invited to be a feature reader at the Gmeiner Art and Cultural Center in Wellsboro, PA. I had never been to this town and drove the 45 minutes to get there to be wowed by the beauty and charm of this small town. It is home to the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon and a community that enjoys the arts. The Gmeiner is a small building with nearly every wall surface filled with local art. When I went there, they had two retrospectives of women who had been painting for decades in various styles and mediums. Carrie Heath, the director, was kind enough to show me around and tell me the stories about the women who did the paintings. There was also a scratch art collection on display that was so incredible you would have thought they were photographs. Many of these women featured were self-taught artists which gives me hope for myself.
This feature was an hour long and beforehand I struggled to know how I was going to fill all of that time, but Carrie was such a great host that it lent itself to telling stories about writing and poetry as well as reading poems. The attendance was intimate, but it felt really good to be reading in public again. There were a few familiar places and people asked very deep and earnest questions about my writing. Some of the poems were a bit heavy and tears were shed, even by me. I suppose I am just not ready to read poems about my dad yet. I keep trying, but I don’t always make it through them. I sold five books and this felt like a win to me. During the reading, I had shared a few ekphrastic poems. I have been writing them for years for my own enjoyment and this landed me another project next year in which I will be collaborating with an artist.
If you are in Wellsboro, you should definitely stop down to the Gmeiner and see Carrie. She is doing great things by giving local artists a space to show their hard work, but to also be seen. This is important for everyone, but especially those of us in rural areas who might not have the type of access an artist would in a city. Support your local museums, buy art, share your thoughts and keep inspiring people to create. Gmeiner Art and Cultural Center, 134 Main St., Wellsboro, PA.
May was an exciting month. Earlier in the year I was asked to collaborate on a spoken word project spearheaded by brotherwell and front man Ryan Bozeman. Thirteen poets recorded their work and sent these to Bozeman who created wonderfully layered musical numbers while also adding his own lyrics to the song. Each of the poems was about recovering in some way–from injustice, heartbreak, substances, trauma etc. It is an album that sheds light on the daily struggles we all have in life and how being there for each other can really make the difference. This album is available for download on a series of platforms (iTunes, Bandcamp, Amazon Music, Spotify) and all proceeds are going to Tiny Changes which is a charity that works with troubled young minds to help and to heal. It was created after the death of a man’s brother. This album is an expression of heart and mind. It is an adventure of collaboration and insight. Please consider purchasing it and donating to Tiny Changes. My poem/song “The Moment Before the World Wakes Up” is featured in the collection. Thanks for supporting artists and writers and keeping folks afloat. We live in some pretty tough times and we have to make reaching out for help part of normal daily life rather than an exception.
If you are in crisis, reach out the the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255
Once upon a time it was hard to scrape together enough things to blog about and I would grab at any small idea, but these days I’m so busy it is hard to keep up. In no way am I complaining! Since I was asked to write a series of articles about poetry and do the open mic at Card Carrying, my life has been a whirlwind of behind the scenes creativity. I haven’t been submitting much work because I have been actively designing book covers, editing manuscripts, writing reviews, and writing a new manuscript. All of this has been wedged in with regular daily life as a nurse, mother, and partner.
Over the last month, I had the distinct pleasure of doing a feature reading online for Uncloistered Poetry in Toledo. If I would’ve had the time, I could have done it live in person, but my work schedule did not permit the travel at that time. April 10th I was able to do a feature reading with Rick Christiansen and Christopher Citro. Uncloistered Poetry was established in 2016 by Jonie McIntire who is currently the poet laureate of Toledo. She is doing wonderful things with the poetry community there and spreading the love of the poem far and wide. I was honored to be a part of this reading.
I was also invited to be interviewed by the lovely Dan Denton of The Blue Collar Gospel Hour which features working artists. Most of us making our way in the art/music/writing world have to have a day job and Dan does a wonderful job shedding some light on these folks. I have done interviews in the past, most of which were via email or mail, but never anything in person. I was a bit nervous as this was an hour long interview and I wasn’t sure if I would have enough to talk about. As it turns out, Dan is a great host and the conversation was lively. I left the interview feeling really good about what was going on in my life. He has a year’s worth of interviews on his site and you should dive into the backlog and have a listen. You can hear my interview here.
Read. Write. Support the small press. Be kind to each other.
On April 28th, just before the end of National Poetry Month, Card Carrying Books held its first ever poetry open mic. None of us were sure how the turn out would be, or if there would be anyone other than a handful of us to sign up to read. We were thrilled when we had about 25 in attendance and 10 people reading.
This was my first time ever being an MC for a poetry event and I was a little nervous, but the bookstore is such a safe and welcoming space that I found myself feeling very at home there. I have done quite a few readings in my lifetime in front of crowds of strangers and friends too, but it is something different to read for your community. There is the distinct possibility that you will run in to them again and maybe even strike up a conversation. This is how communities get connected.
The age of range of readers went from 9 years-old up to around 70 years-old. There were poems about love and emotions, about the death of a family pet and the death of a friend, a magical story about a cat, and poems about speaking your voice. I personally was very excited at the amount of youth that showed up to read. There were at least four poets who had never read their work in front of people and I loved being a part of the beginning of a journey. It’s exciting to see the work transform from paper to voice and what this can do for each person. It is a unique feeling to each writer, but I always look at it as courage and hope.
After the event, I spoke with the owners of the store and they were also pretty excited about the turn out and what it means for the community. We are currently in talks about having a quarterly poetry event and hope that more people will come and share their work. Stay for books. Stay for conversation. Stay for the belonging. Stay tuned for more information.
Read. Write. Support the small press and independent bookstores. Be kind to each other. Stand up for people.
I am a day late in posting the link for my final article on poetry for National Poetry Month for Southern Tier Life Magazine as I was out getting some fresh air and sunshine. It has been a pleasure to write these articles about poetry which has been the one true creative mode of my lifetime. It has helped me in so many ways and constantly allows me to discover things about the world and the people in it. More importantly, it helps me to see myself.
This final article is about inspiring youth through poetry and my most recent journey with my zine Durable Goods, which I resurrected from retirement for a group of kids in Missouri plagued with a life of trauma. Please enjoy the hope and inspiration growing in today’s poetry community. You can all make a difference, even in a small way, that may turn into something life changing. Don’t give up on that idea.
Read. Write. Support the small press. Be kind to each other.
My fourth article in this series on poetry features the greatness of Independent Bookstores, especially our very own Card Carrying Books and Gifts in Corning, NY. This article talks about building connections in the community and how the store’s willingness to feature local writers is helping to influence change and create awareness of poetry in our town. You can read the article at Southern Tier Life Magazine.
Please stop by the store from noon to 6 pm, meet Page the kitty and let Bethany wow you with some great book selections.
Thanks for reading. Read. Write. Be kind to each other.
I know I’m a little late getting these out as we are nearing the end of April, but work and writing articles has taken up a fair bit of my time as well as preparing for my boyfriend to move in and my adult child to move out into their first apartment. It’s been a whirlwind of activity, but in all of this I was able to complete nine books! Here are some thoughts about each that don’t give away the books.
I picked this book up on a trip to Arizona just before the pandemic really reared its ugly head. I went to the famous Antigone Books and this cover jumped out at me. I’d never heard of the author before and didn’t bother to read what the book was about because I was captivated by the cover. When I first started to read it, I had to put it down for several reasons. There were no dialogue tags…at all. At the time, I was writing my first novel and this sort of shift from normal wasn’t something my mind could tolerate. Secondly, it is a book about a virus taking over the world. It felt a little to right now for me, almost like reading about a trauma just before it happened. Forward to a place where the pandemic is just everyday business and I was able to get through the lack of dialogue tags and traditional indentations for paragraphs and muscled my way through. It is a translated book and this sometimes makes the transition to English a little choppy. It was an okay read, but I can’t say that I’d want to pawn it off on just anyone.
For some reason I have had a love/hate relationship with Sylvia Plath for most of my adult life. I have always found her poetry hit or miss and maybe all the stories of her personal life pushed me further away from her work. I tend to shy away from those authors that other people demand I read. It’s childish, but I like my authors genuinely found. I want to stumble upon them of my own volition. But here this book sat on my shelf, staring at me. I decided to read it just to remove it. Actually, I listened to this one while cleaning the house. It was apropos in some ways. I enjoyed the book immensely and probably much more than if I would have read it when it was suggested. I could look back on having had these types of feelings as a young woman and identify with what it meant in my own generation. Definitely a surprise enjoyed read for me.
This book was an early morning need-a-book-to-listen-to-on-the-way-to-work selection. Again, I didn’t know anything about the author or what the book was about. Often I try to expand the genres and authors I read/listen to in order to keep myself moving forward. This was a touching book about a girl growing up in Germany and that time just as the war was brewing and things started to not be safe for Jews in that country. It is a book that is multi-generational of the women in this family, how the daughter married and emigrated to America. The idea being that at some point she would have enough money to send for her parents and the heartbreak of their separation in uncertain times. A tear jerker for sure.
I often like to take my non-fiction books as audio-books as they lend to being able to do other things alongside listening. Facts are easier to collate this way for me. I have had an obsession with birds this year and this did not disappoint. This book is a great recounting of a young man’s journey to Russia to find these near mythical Fish Owls that some have seen but haven’t really been able to study. He suffers harsh Russian winters to complete his PhD thesis on the habitat and hunting/mating habits of these birds. It was exciting to discover and learn with him about these owls I never knew existed.
This book of poetry from Kerry Trautman was utterly delightful, but also inquisitive. She bought this portrait of a woman she didn’t know at an auction and as she looked at it each day, she began to develop conversations with her. The book is filled with musings of what Trautman imagines Marilyn would say to her or how she might judge her everyday life. The concept worked very well for me and it lends the writer and the reader an opportunity to create an imaginary life together. I highly recommend this collection.
I first heard of Sarah Kay through her TED talk and was instantly amazed at the amount of lines she could remember. I have a difficult time reading from memory and people who can manage this when it isn’t put to music, impress me. She also has a delightful storytelling manner. Having only heard her read once, I was able to instill her voice and cadence into the lines of this book filled with memories and love and heartbreak. The book left me with so many lines to think about in the context of my own life. When my friend was recovering from surgery, I gave it to her to read because even in the dark moments of this book, there is a quality of uplifting that can’t be denied.
I found this book at a library book sale. It is an utter stroke of kismet to find Jack Gilbert anywhere. Many years ago I read his collection “Refusing Heaven” and fell into this sort of melancholy love with his words. He is both sharp and tender in the way he spills the lines onto the page and since that time, I have looked for his books wherever I travel and never seem to find any. This tells me that he is the sort of writer that once he is in your collection and on the shelf, he doesn’t leave. We could all wish to have that enduring quality. I read this book while wandering around by the river and getting muddy. Best consumed outside.
I have been acquainted with Schumejda for many years now and even had the grace given to me to read with her several times. She is well educated but down to earth. She often writes about the everyday man/woman, about those feelings we are all too afraid to write about. I expected this when I got this book, but what took me by surprise was that this entire book is one poem that works out her feelings of disbelief, anger, sadness, grief, and forgiveness for something terrible her brother has done. It was a journey through all the emotions at the same time. The writing experimental in form and context but very cohesive and strong. It lent itself to the complexity of emotions trapped in the front and back cover. The art of Hosho McCreesh is spliced in between the long poem giving you a moment to catch your breath.
This was another library book sale find. The cover made me smile, so I thought I would give it a chance. I had never heard of Morgan Parker and I am always trying to expand my knowledge of poets in the world. This is a collection that does have some poems about Beyonce, but more over it is a book about how a contemporary African-American woman navigates today’s society. It was an interesting book for me, because though we are both women navigating the same world, it isn’t the same. I have privileges that she might not and these are not brought to light for me in a meaningful way most of the time as I shuffle around in my rural river town. I enjoyed the perspective, but also was made to feel like I needed to pay closer attention the way society treats African-American women.
Thanks for reading and I hope you find a few of these books interesting enough to give them a chance. Keep reading and writing. Be kind to each other. Buy Books!!!
My third article for National Poetry Month is available to read at Southern Tier Life Magazine. This article is about the poetry that changed my life and my way of thinking from childhood until the present. I hope it starts you thinking about the authors that influenced your work or whose words changed the direction of how you thought about a certain idea. You can find the article here.
Read. Write. Support the small press. Be kind to each other.