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.
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.
Welcome to my 100th post! It has been a great two years in publishing for me and I do believe this is my last acceptance of the year 2021 (though I do have a few more things out). Thank you to Piker Press for taking a series of my poems and posting them through the fall and winter. It has been my pleasure. You can find my poem, Restless, and other fine works in their latest issue.
I would like to say that the pandemic, in all its extended glory, has thrown my life off kilter, but it really hasn’t. Maybe it is because I’m a nurse and it has been business as usual. Well, maybe more business than usual with a lot of extra PPE. In fact, work is the only thing that has consistently driven a thorn in my side. I have been a nurse for 17 years and these last two have been by far the hardest of them all. I would have thought nothing could top all the years I worked the night shift in the ER, but Covid has created a pressure cooker of unhappiness in the land of healthcare. Everyone is burnt out in every department. At least weekly, I consider finding a different career. But then while last minute Christmas shopping, a young man recognized my name and told me that I saved his life once. Me. Sometimes you need to know that your efforts are remembered beyond the point of the immediate action. He told me his parents never let him forget my name.
The front half of the year found my long distance relationship at its end. I learned a lot about relationships and myself and where I was in recovering from the traumas of my life. I’m in no way a victim type and have always been one to write it out as a poem and a story and move on, but what I discovered was that this is not really dealing with the problem. I’ve stated it, this much is true, but I never really inspected it and how it affects my daily life. I learned that I should have ended the relationship when I felt it was over and walked away, but I felt bad or like I was doing something wrong. Can you see what the years of manipulation had done? Made me feel bad for making the right choice for myself.
The ending of the relationship was a little painful as he lashed out verbally against my character and more importantly, my writing. I entrusted him with the first twenty chapters of my novel and he said to burn the first seven chapters. Ha. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but he did say that when my two main female characters’ friendship is broken, the reader has no reason to care. This was true. I had neglected to frame how much they meant to each other. This prompted me to realize that I needed to write the whole thing over switching from third person past to first person past. Always find the silver lining.
After this relationship, at 48 years old, I decided to call it quits. I had been along for long swathes of time before and I could do it again. Playing in the sandbox of love seemed too messy and even harder with the pandemic. And then, I met the man who would change me by letting me be myself. I felt connected to him from the first time I talked to him. Of course, I forbid myself from getting entangled in another long distance relationship, but the more we talked, the more my heart opened up. It is pretty magical to find a person that loves you exactly as you are, even the parts that aren’t so agreeable. It is magical when you can feel this way about someone else. I was listening to a Brene Brown podcast and there was a guest on that said the reason why relationships and marriages fail is often, one person or both tries to change the other into something they want, thus changing them from the person they fell in love with. This really hit me. I had been guilty of that. If I feel like I need to change someone, then they aren’t the person for me. I wish I would have learned that a long time ago.
But in this very free and open space that my boyfriend has given me, I am learning to trust. Not just another person, but my own instincts about my writing. He has been a muse of sorts and gave me the support I needed to get my first book in 10 years published. This started an avalanche of creativity for me and I am currently writing some of the best poems I have ever created in my life. This is a gift that has no price. Love is a powerful feeling. It is motivating. I had a poetry reading at our local bookstore, Card Carrying, and this was the first time I had done something like that in my own hometown. It really gave me that feeling of community connection.
This summer I found myself on the board of directors for Corning Public Theater. We put in some sweat equity on a building that had been empty for 20 years, a landmark in our community that we hope to make a gleaming jewel again. I can’t wait to see where this project takes me and all the lives we can make better through the arts.
This fall I had a series of events that led me to start creating Durable Goods again after a long hiatus. It is a micro-zine that used to feature poets in the small press, but in this incarnation it features abused children in a small Missouri town. I couldn’t feel any better about a project than I do this one. I love the idea of giving these kids a platform to share their work, to see that they matter in the world of writing even if they feel like they don’t matter at home. This is a limited print run series because it involves a lot of labor. If you are interested in one of the 75 spots available for next year’s Durable Goods: The Missouri Collective then you can email me at email@example.com. Barring any postage hikes, it is generally $6.50 for US and $13.00 for international. These prices are also dependent on the size of the class. It could be more or less. But, if you are interested in supporting these kids on their journey through writing you can contact me. Thank you Scot D. Young for jumpstarting this project with me.
This year I went on a three day, 22 mile hike in the Finger Lakes region and nearly died. It was great. This has been a year of breaking down conceptions of myself and seeing the truth. It was a lesson in pride and ego, a lesson of survival, a lesson of trust. Thank you Lisa for sharing that journey with me. It was life changing in so many ways. I can’t wait to do it again, but without the almost dying part.
Now it is time for a little roll call. I want to thank all of the presses and magazines (online and print) who took a chance on my work this year:
South Shore Review, Ambrosial Literary Garland, Red Penguin Collective, Heroin Love Songs, Anti-Heroin Chic, Impspired Magazine, Open Skies Quarterly, M 58 Poetry, Piker Press, Spillwords, Cajun Mutt Press, Pub Poetry, Fixator Press, Rusty Truck, Rasputin, Roadside Raven Review, Mollyhouse, and Red Fez.
I still have a few outstanding submissions I am waiting to hear from but this is the main group.
This year I read 34 books. I didn’t quite make the 50 I was hoping for but over the last five years reading long works has been harder for me. I do believe I have developed a little adult onset ADD. So I will take the 34 books because it was more than last year and the year before. I won’t list all of them, but here are a few of the ones that still roam around in my head from time to time:
The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam The Beekeeper of Aleepo by Christy Lefteri The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk, MD Educated by Tara Westover
I read a lot of poetry this year and the two stand out collections that made me cry and feel angry and think so much I had to put the books down were:
Lord of Butterflies by Andrea Gibson Bone Moon Palace by Paul Corman-Roberts
This is long so I will wrap it up. It has been a year of contemplation, self-discovery, and trust. It has been a year of friendship building…I love you Mattea, Lisa, and Stephanie. These are the most powerful women I know, each in their own way, and they lay the foundation for me to become a better person. It has been a year of preparing to let go, to at some point in the next year, be an empty nest. Sending your baby out into the world is the hardest thing a mother can do, but it is also the best thing. I wish you all happy holidays and a bounty of success in the next year.
you took a trip in your mind, broke free from all the chains that bound you for a lifetime, but somewhere in the middle the reality of chaos took you by surprise. everything and nothing was real. life became something you grasped as if it was ending. When you finally called me, i was the last to know. i was here with yarn and hook, cats piled on my legs like liquid warmth. part of me felt a little broken, my own reality coming to whisper in my ear. for over an hour, you spoke of patterns and vessels made for the universe, how we are projections of the cosmos living out some edict we don’t understand and maybe never will. i let my mind drift into this longer world, let my own fear and inhibitions sink into the couch. i had been building an atlas of the universe we shared without giving you a chance to lay down the asphalt of new byways, without thinking you’d want to forge new trails with me. the weight of it pinned me to the earth and we said good night. i thought of all my own broken maps, this invisible world painted across my living room, and wondered where our roads would finally bring us together.
I’m thrilled to announce that my poem “Silent Movies” can be viewed at Piker Press. Be sure to stop by and read all the great things they have up this week.
My new full length collection of poetry, “Looking for Wild Things” came out this month on Impspired and my local bookstore, Card Carrying, invited me to read some poems and do a book signing event. This is a first for me and I couldn’t be happier about supporting local business and independent book stores. If you are local to the Corning, NY area, please stop by. I will be reading at 5 pm and 5:45 pm. Come enjoy the holiday spirit of Market Street. I’d love to see you there.
Thank you for supporting small press writers and presses. Read. Write. Be Kind to Each Other.
I am delighted to announce that my poem “Richard Parkes Bonington-The Undercliff, 1828” was the feature poem for 11/25/21 at Spillwords. I especially love when my ekphrastic poetry gets published because it serves to show my love for both art and writing. I try to imagine myself being in these paintings or being the painter or being the subject of the painting. It helps to expand the mind.
Thank you for taking the time to stop by and read my work. Enjoy some wonderful poetry they have amassed. There is something for everyone.
It is my distinct honor to announce that my full length poetry collection Looking for Wild Things has been released on the world. I would like to thank my amazing publisher, Steve Cawte, for all his hard work and for taking a chance on my poetry. It has been ten years since I’ve had any collected work published in print. I couldn’t think of a better place than Impspired for this rebirth into the small press poetry scene.
Follow the Impspired link to read the back jacket blurbs and for ordering information and links. Looking for Wild Things is available in the United States, the UK, Canada, the EU, Australia, and Japan. Thank you for supporting my work but also supporting small press publishers and writers.
Be kind. Write. Support small press and small press writers.
My poems “Argentina,” “The Skylight,” and “PTSD” appear in the print zine Roadside Raven Review 8. You can contact Tom Blessing, editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org for details on how to obtain a copy or to even submit your own work!
My poem “My Left Sock” appears in the November 2021 line up of features for Cajun Mutt Press. There are lots of great poems there and books for sale. Stop by and have a look. Thanks James.