Pure Slush

I am thankful to Editor Matt Potter for including my poem, “Sunday, 10 Degrees Fahrenheit” in Pure Slush: Vol 19, Wrong Way, Go Back. Upon notice of this poem’s acceptance, I revisited my bookshelf to find I’ve actually published with this journal in a few issues. Pure Slush just recently celebrated its 10th birthday. Cheers to the next 10 years ahead!

Silkworm 13

Silkworm 13: Luck landed on my desk this fall. This journal is published by the Florence Poets Society out of Northampton, Massachusetts. This is the second opportunity I’ve had to publish work with Silkworm and in that is complete joy. It goes without saying that this is a fine publication filled with compelling readings. This collection begins with a quote by Emily Dickinson: “Luck is not chance — / It’s toil —”

But I also am drawn to this issue’s cover art, Coyote Song, by artist Lynn Sisler. Fantastic!

Much gratitude to the Florence Poets Society for offering “Surrender” a paper-paged home.

Coyote Song by Lynn Sisler

Feels Zine

Feels Zine is an independent publication printed by Vide Press in Toronto, Canada.

Gathered in Issue 10: Loss are writings surrounding just that. As outlined by its editorial staff, “Whether it is our choice or not, there is a void we feel deep in ourselves when something, or someone, we carved space for is gone. How do we begin to process the absence? What happens when time and space don’t line up with our hearts and minds? In Issue 10, we explore the grief, sadness, anger, calm, and love that comes with loss.”

I’m delighted by this journal for a number of reasons: interesting paper quality, size, monochromatic design, smaller pages embedded within the journal’s overall standard page size. But I’m especially thankful that its editors provided a home for my poem, “Grief.”

Curating the House of Nostalgia

I am overjoyed and humbled with the publication of Curating the House of Nostalgia (Sheila-Na-Gig Editions, 2020).  This is my second full-length collection of poetry and third book.

Published by Sheila-Na-Gig Editions, 2020

It has been a labor of love to walk this one into the world. There are poems gathered here that were composed years ago in sweeter times – and others written through days more heartbreaking and challenging.  Initially, I envisioned this collection to be one of grief and bereavement.  What else could it be after the sudden death of a husband?  In fact, when I first organized the manuscript under that tarp, it was titled Clutter & Scree – the things left behind, the rubble that proves difficult in which to establish firm footing.  The poems then were largely too fresh, too close, too raw, and at a time I simply needed the motion and process of writing as one might need a trekking pole on a hike.

The manuscript as such did not initially get picked up.  So, I pulled it apart, blue-taped the poems on the walls of an empty room at home, and spent a winter subtracting, adding, writing, revising, and organizing what would become Curating the House of Nostalgia.  I aimed for better balance between between the two titles.  The collection shifted from straight sorrow to envelop the beauty that ultimately embraces and occasionally overshadows heartache in one way or another, often in small ways.  With each day comes night.  What else could this manuscript be from a northern woman poet who refuses to claim the word widow?  This shift was especially important as my now 14-year-old daughter and I continue to move forward in ways that are hopefully both spirited and healthy.

From the Mary Jane cabin at Alderworks Writers and Artists Retreat in Dyea, Alaska to my home in Sitka, Alaska.

Like Cara Murray’s cover image (all heart by the way), What’s Left Behind, we were a family of three atop a mountain of blue stone memories and adventures that are irreplaceable. Perhaps those were our chairs. How does one sift through a bundle of poems to establish a path through both extreme joy and anguish?  The collection is organized in six parts:  Mountain, Clutter, Cataclysm, Astral, Juncture, and Epilogue.  Once established, the curation commenced.  Poetry, more or less, fell under a broader topic and the wayfinding became easier to muster.

What’s Left Behind, by Cara Murray

I am especially thankful to Sheila-Na-Gig editor Haley Mitchell Haugen for believing in what that initial manuscript could become.  Her support and reading eye have been instrumental in its progress.  It has been a writing goal of mine for years to publish with Sheila-Na-Gig, to be part of the Sheila-Na-Gig family.  A quick Google image search of this ancient Irish goddess might give you all the reason behind the why.  She’s fierce.

Formally, the Gratitude page reads as such, and if you have a notion that you’re somehow included in that closing paragraph, well, you are.

Thank you to the Dyea Bradys (Jeff, Dorothy, and Annie) for their sharing of the Mary Jane cabin and forested space during my summer 2018 writing residency with Alderworks Alaska Writers & Artists Retreat.  Thank you for offering me this place to put words in order and find a healing path.

I am further grateful to the Alaska Statewide Poetry Contest for placing “The Ungulate’s Jaw,” “Katie’s Cabin,” “Curios,” and “Curate.”  

Heartfelt gratitude to my fellow editors, volunteers, and Alaska women writers at Alaska Women Speak, as well as Blue Canoe writers, along with my peers and professors through the University of Alaska Low-Residency MFA program.  You have all been a source of inspiration, good ear, and offered sweet friendship throughout the years.  

Thank you to artist Cara Jane Murray for recreating What’s Left Behind for cover placement.  Special appreciation to poets Vivian Faith Prescott, Caroline Goodwin, and Carol Birrell for giving this collection a read and an endorsement, and to Sheila-Na-Gig editor, Hayley Mitchell Haugen, for moving this collection into the reading world.  

To friends and family who have had my back these last few staggering years ­­–– I dare not mention you by name, in case I inadvertently leave someone out.  You have gifted me peace of mind and reunion with wildness.  Thank you for blank books, caw-cawing at ravens, all-night dancing, gin & tonics, online Scrabbling, doorknob installing, garage emptying, tarot card reading, camping out, random texting, hitting the road, forget-me-not beading, Solstice celebrating, daughter cake baking, salmon-sharing, Bruce storytelling, shenanigans and crimes, Justin Trudeau hand-shaking, check-ins, last minute proofreading, and dearest greetings of well-being, hope, and resilience.  My gratitude does not cover all I owe you in return.

Finally, I hope you get a chance to read this collection, and if you do, send me a note. I love talking poetry and how writing can sustain us no matter the challenge.

Curating the House of Nostalgia is available for purchase through Sheila-Na-Gig and can be ordered through locally-owned independent bookstores.

Voices in the Coalshed

Such a question mark hangs over the title of a poem when it ventures out into the reading world for possible arrival and eventual appearance in a literary journal. I’m always curious to see where my work might land, and have yet to be disappointed in its placement. The same can certainly be said of Voices in the Coalshed.

Poet Dave Alton is the editor of Voices in the Coalshed. Some information about Dave from the website:

About Voices in the Coalshed

Dave Alton has been a poet and writer for near on 5 decades. Four of them associated with The Tyneside Poets then, latterly, Northern Voices. Since moving to Barnsley, while continuing the link with Northern Voices, he has been instrumental in establishing Voices in the Coalshed (previously known as the Coalshed Poets) at the National Coal Mining Museum.

Set up and run by volunteers, the aim of Voices in the Coalshed is to involve people in expressing themselves through writing, and contributing their individual insights on coal mining in particular and the wider community, for which mining has been a significant influence.

Voices Abroad 1

I was happy to learn that Dave had selected a handful of my spring/summer writings to include in the journal: “Alignment of the Chakras,” “Courier,” and “Bawdy Muse.” Thank you to Dave and Voices in the Coalshed for this.

Changing Tides / Regal House Publishing

My mailbox has certainly delivered some joy this week! Changing Tides has published. I am grateful to Editor Jaynie Royal for including a short stack of my writings in this collection: “So This Is Starrigavin,” “Up the Coast from the Astrolabe,” and “Ache.” They are in good company and I look forward to reading this in its entirety.

From the website:

The poems, essays, and personal reflections in Changing Tides detail moving accounts of the human impact on our ocean environment and demonstrate the heightened need for individual, community, and global action in addressing what has become a collective crisis for life on this blue planet.

All net revenues from the sale of this anthology are donated to the Coral Restoration Foundation™, a 501 3 (c) non-profit organization that was founded in 2007 in response to the widespread loss of the dominant coral species on the Florida Reef Tract. Coral Restoration Foundation™ (CRF) now manages the largest coral restoration program in the world. The Coral Restoration Foundation™ works to support the reefs’ natural recovery processes through the large-scale cultivation, outplanting, and monitoring of genetically diverse, reef-building corals. Their mission is to restore coral reefs, to educate others on the importance of our oceans, and to use science to further coral research and coral reef monitoring techniques.

To learn more, and to get involved in the mission to save and restore our planet’s coral reefs, visit www.coralrestoration.org

The contributors are Susan Bruce, Christina Stefan, J.B. Stone, Kersten Christianson, Anthony Panegyres, Sheree Winslow, Gerard Sarnat, Julie Wilson, Franciszka Voeltz, d’Ores & Deja, Olivia Kingery, Tonya Wiley, Lorraine Jeffery, Liberty Lawson, Jayne Marek, Emma Bush, and Mandy-Suzanne Wong. With thanks to Alice Grainger, Communications Director at CRF, for her eloquently penned foreword.

October Hill Magazine

A sweet turn this week, much like the break in rain. Thank you to October Hill Magazine out of NYC for publishing “Love Bigger Than Loss” in its newly-released Summer 2020 issue.

It felt surreal to post writing like this at this moment. My summers are normally reserved for poetry, but now I’m finding that a lot of my July writing time is being allocated to other writing endeavors – mostly response to school opening plans and to various entities: admin, union, board. The writing of poetry is much more engaging than prose. Maybe I’ll start writing my responses to school openings in limerick form. Wouldn’t that be something? 

At any rate, it was a gentle knock on the door, a reminder to return to the kind of writing I enjoy most.

Summer 2020

Brute, Emily Skaja

This book is fierce! It’s a reading that dwells on the living through endings and upon closer examination, some beginnings, as well. Skaja’s word choice is superb, fresh, wild. From “How to Mend a Faucet Dripping Thread”

Every morning, a spider webs over my door, but I don’t do omens.

I will not hang all the maids, for example; it’s antifeminist.

But I will lie here with my face annexing the floor. Penelope, neat.

Pouring out a little whiskey for the sirens & swine.

Did I mention my love for the hat tip to older, timeless stories?

Organized into four sections: My History As, Girl Saints, Circle, and Bright Landscape, Skaja has interspersed each with two elegies with titles such as, “Elegy without a Single Tree I Can Save,” “Elegy with Feathers,” and “Elegy with Rabbits.” She explores forms such as the aubade.

Skaja’s poetry is such that it begs to be read aloud and my now-worn copy is filled with dog-eared pages for future reunions.

(Graywolf Press, 2018)