Tag Archives: publications

Project Bookshelf: Emily Corwin

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My boyfriend, Joe and I just got this bookcase from a friend who is moving to Poland. We’ve been looking for an extra bookcase for months since we both have so many books (and, let’s face it, we’re going to keep buying them). For now, I’ve been putting favorite books and recently-read books on this shelf. My goal this summer is to read through all of the poetry collections I gathered during the school year. Some recent favorites on here:Blues Triumphant by Jonterri Gadson, Forest Primeval by Vievee Francis, Wolf Lake, White Gown Blown Open by Diane Seuss, Gilt by Raena Shirali, Careful Mountainby Sara June Woods, Take This Stallion by Anaïs Duplan, Meet Me Here At Dawn by Sophie Klahr, Wasp Queen by Claudia Cortese, Bestiary by Donika Kelly,Wunderkammer by Cynthia Cruz, Landscape with Headless Mama and Protection Spell by Jennifer Givhan, and Sugarblood by Liz Bowen.

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Emily Corwin is an MFA candidate in poetry at Indiana University-Bloomington and the former Poetry Editor for Indiana Review. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Gigantic Sequins, Day One, Hobart, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, THRUSH, and elsewhere. She has two chapbooks, My Tall Handsome (Brain Mill Press) and darkling (Platypus Press) which were published in 2016. Her first full-length collection, tenderling is forthcoming in 2018 from Stalking Horse Press. You can follow her online at @exitlessblue.

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Sundress Publications Seeks Outstanding Non-Featured 2018 AWP Panels

 

Sundress Publications is excited to continue the tradition of celebrating non-featured AWP panels on our blog in 2018. We know that there are dozens of worthy and important panel proposals that weren’t accepted for AWP in Florida next spring, so let us be your platform instead!

Do you have an excellent AWP panel that didn’t make the final cut for 2018? Please send your proposal to us for consideration at sundresspublications@gmail.com. Submissions will be accepted on a rolling basis. Multiple submissions and simultaneous submissions are acceptable. Please include the names of all of your contributors within your submission.

We want to host your panel as an online roundtable in order to present them to an expansive audience and create an archive for your necessary voices. We’re looking for topics that are driven by passion, inclusivity, forward-thinking, collaboration, and hybridity. (In fact, you tell us what we’re looking for; bring us something completely fresh and unexpected!) We look forward to hearing from you and your colleagues.

Feel free to check out our wonderful 2017 AWP roundtables here.

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An Interview with Sarah Marcus-Donnelly, Author of They Were Bears

Sarah Marcus-Donnelly is the author of Nothing Good Ever Happens After Midnight  (2016, GTK Press), the chapbooks BACKCOUNTRY (2013) and Every Bird, To You (2013), and the recently released full-length collection They Were Bears (2017, Sundress Publications). Of this collection, Rachel Eliza Griffith, author of Lighting the Shadow said, “They Were Bears gives us a world that is intimate, complicated, and lush in its raw, brutal meditation upon the complexities of Nature, both within and beyond our grasp as both human beings and animals. These poems by Sarah Marcus channel what the world demands of us, and our bodies as we are guided through a startling cartography of desire, trauma, and memory that is both refuge and wilderness.”

Marcus-Donnelly talked with Sundress editorial intern Cheyenne L. Black about this book, bears, the connections of wildness and women, the necessary work women still face in defying boundaries, the illusion of safety, and so much more.

Cheyenne L. Black: What led up to writing They Were Bears?

Sarah Marcus-Donnelly: Circumstances with family and lovers and growing up that often felt impossible. I think this book exists in a space somewhat suspended between feelings and facts. Before I could write these poems, I needed to process the pain of a difficult childhood and engender a spirit of forgiveness. Without perspective, I think writing can feel self-seeking instead of like an act of revelation and empowerment. When I write (and act for that matter) I always try to consider what I can give rather than what I can get. I am a work in progress, and I believe this book reflects that journey.

Cheyenne L. Black: There are definitely places where it seems as though you’re pushing against the boundaries of what so often feels safe in poetry. Can you talk about that a little? Were you trying to break down any walls or defy any boundaries in this work?

Sarah Marcus-Donnelly: This is an interesting question because in some ways it implies that certain topics (drugs, sexual abuse, & violence) are still taboo, which I think is, in general, an accurate assessment of our literary community. I’ve written a bit about the act of confession and how that label is often used pejoratively against women when it feels so vital to me. How else can we be truth tellers? How else can we explore the human condition or our shared experience? How do we start important conversations without danger?

Also, fuck safety. Safety is something I imagine straight, white, cis-gendered men must feel. Safety is not the experience that many of us have. It’s a narrative we’ve been fed. Something we are taught to desire. Something that always seems just out of reach. Even when we feel safe, is that real? Are we? If safety is the condition of being protected from or unlikely to cause danger, risk, or injury, who then is safe?

Cheyenne L. Black: Does this work make you feel exposed, and therefore less safe? Is there less safety in exposure/vulnerability than in restraint? What is your own sense of safety in all of this?

Sarah Marcus-Donnelly: My work makes me feel strong. I think the exposure reminds me of the value in striving to be a better listener and reader of other people’s work. I believe that if I am sincere and authentic, that I am safe and protected from other people’s thoughts and feelings. I would call that emotional safety. What my work seeks to reveal is the liminal space between emotional/spiritual safety and physical safety. I don’t think any of us are ever truly physically safe because humans are dangerous. More dangerous than the most ferocious bear.

There is certainly safety and comfort in restraint. There are times that I truly enjoy reading that kind of writing. You can’t have intensity at all times; that’s exhausting. But, I think the diversity of form and tone and topic is what keeps our landscape thriving. Without a variety of voices and experiences being published, we are doing the community a grave disservice. My own sense of safety is this: what other people do or say is not my business. If people support my work, that is wonderful. And, if they don’t; they don’t. My only business is to be the best version of myself and to write as clearly and effectively as I am able. This is freedom.

Cheyenne L. Black: So in many ways, what you’re pushing back against here isn’t so much the topics we consider taboo, but the idea that as women, we are told that we should be careful about how we share our experiences, that we should avoid confessional poetry or other stylistic choices which run contrary to the canon? 

Sarah Marcus-Donnelly: Yes. So often in our workshops and by editors and publishers, we are told (by men especially) that our stories of violence, abuse, motherhood, sisterhood, etc. aren’t relevant or interesting to the entire readership. Or that the confessional voice is assumed to be melodramatic. Or that “no one cares about an experience that they can’t personally relate to.” I think that’s absurd. Men’s stories have been the status quo. Non-male identifying people have been required to accept those stories as truth and cannon and shared experience, but why? They are not the experience of at least half of us! Was Lowell somehow less theatrical than Plath or Sexton? It seems there’s this reluctance in mainstream poetry to appear to want to evoke an emotional response from your reader, but isn’t that why we read poetry? To feel something? To gain some new insight or perspective?

Cheyenne L. Black: Do you feel that the act of confronting some of these notions about female obedience helps to dispel them? 

Sarah Marcus-Donnelly: At the very least, I hope the confrontation highlights our communal expectation of submissiveness. I seek to challenge our views of “good behavior” and where that gets us. If our narrators always did what was right or good or expected, would they not also experience this world’s devastation and heartache? No one gets to escape the pain of this life. It is a condition of living. So, what does conformity get us? I read something the other day that referred to discomfort as a form of currency. I believe it was something Lilly Singh wrote. She said that it was the price we pay to learn crucial things. As a greater literary community, we are driven by curiosity and a love of learning. If so, we should be making each other feel uncomfortable, often.

Cheyenne L. Black: The ecology in this book is detailed and rich. Appalachia, Alaska, the Alleghenies, and more—are the settings geographically specific in your mind or more generally based on places you’ve been? What is the connection to nature for the speaker?

Sarah Marcus-Donnelly: Some settings are specific (the road trips, especially) and some are general. They are all rooted in the same obsession to reclaim the wilderness or become wild once again. I think each place represents a departure and a meditation on indifference and our desire to create meaning or to believe in some natural orchestrated purpose. I like how these wild spaces mirror both the resilience and fragility of the narrator. How everything can change in a moment. The speaker feels closest to her truest self in the natural world and seems to be able to gain perspective there in a way that is less accessible to her in a city landscape. Everything is a bit clearer: her relationships and what it means to protect and to be protected.

Cheyenne L. Black: Tell me more about this speaker. She’s daring, bold, and maybe a little self-destructive? Where did she come from and how do you see her?

Sarah Marcus-Donnelly: Yes, like many addicts she can seem to fracture her perception that what is beautiful is also devastating. They must exist together for her; they cannot be bifurcated. I see her as the best and worst parts of myself and of every woman I know. I love her unapologetic, raw, unsettling bluntness and I felt swept away by her longing and almost constant aching. I see her as resilience and perseverance. What I appreciate about having been able to write this book is that a character that is so flawed and yet so admirable in her struggle to claw her way out is, to me, a heroine we can believe in.

Cheyenne L. Black: Earlier you used the phrase, “obsession to reclaim the wilderness” and this bears a certain intensity. Can you go a little deeper here? Do you experience this obsession? 

Sarah Marcus-Donnelly: Definitely. On a literal and physical level, it’s no secret that our wild spaces are disappearing at an alarming and irreversible rate. This causes me and many others great anxiety. What will it mean when there is nowhere left to explore and be free? On a spiritual level, it comes back to the idea of submission, what is expected, what we are supposed to do and the damage that type constraint has on us. I think wildness and wilderness are true beauty. It’s the conscious decision to keep chasing those ethereal moments.

Cheyenne L. Black: There are some incredible books on this topic. Susan Griffin’s Women and Nature comes to mind. Do you read in this vein, and if so, can you recommend some titles to our readers who may be interested?

Sarah Marcus-Donnelly: There are so many! To begin with, I recommend Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Anne LaBastille’s Woodswoman, Doug and Andrea Peacock’s In the Presence of Grizzlies, and Charlie Russel and Maureen Enns’s Grizzly Heart. Also, who didn’t fall in love with Cheryl Strayed’s Wild?

Cheyenne L. Black: Let’s talk about the role of the bears. They’re covered as physical beings, figurative beings, historic manifestations, metaphoric vehicles, and even verbs. What is your connection to the bears? What brought them to your writing? And what are you hoping they convey here?

Sarah Marcus-Donnelly: This is something that I am always trying to better explain and yet feels more and more inexplicable as the years go on. I started writing about them out of a deep fascination and respect. I read and watched and listened to everything I possibly could. I try to have (safe and respectful) wild encounters with them as well. Whatever draws me to them is instinctual and intrinsic. They play an integral role in both of my chapbooks and full-lengths. I think bears, like women, are misunderstood. They are judged and labeled as too wild and too aggressive. They possess, like women, an incredible strength. They are the ultimate predator, but men fear them and their magic. And, because of this fear, they are so vulnerable and fragile. Like women, we are killing them because we don’t understand, or worse… we believe that they exist for us. They epitomize a lack of safety. Yet, my narrators always seem to be moving towards them, even trying to become them sometimes. Bears operate on instinct and need. They don’t judge someone’s character before they decide to attack in order to protect their young, they just do what they must to survive. They represent raw power.

Cheyenne L. Black: There’s that word again: Safety. It feels like you’re taking my hand and running me off into the wilds screaming, “Forget safety!” Is there a thrill for you in taking readers out into a sense of the unsafe? In proving to them they were never safe?

Sarah Marcus-Donnelly: I love this! I think that unsettling moment when you realize the danger is when true growth and transformation happen. Maybe the question that many of us are trying to answer is, “What’s the point?” To answer this, I must understand what’s at stake. When we live in an illusion of safety, this heightened sense of awareness is impossible. I was always taught that gratitude is an action, but how do you conjure a true sense of appreciation without exposure to calamity and peril?

Cheyenne L. Black: Speaking of calamity and peril, family plays a challenging role. Especially the female relationships of mother/daughter and sisters. Can you talk about the impact that writing this section had on you as a writer? Was that hard to write?

Sarah Marcus-Donnelly: It is always difficult to write about family. It’s complicated and controversial. It’s upsetting to many people. Anne Lamott gives the best advice, I think: “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” This is, of course, an even stranger endeavor when dealing with poetry, which is never strictly biographical. I think the harms created and perpetuated– handed down through generations, even–are opportunities for growth and revival. How can we break these patterns if we can’t even name them? I’m so sick of silence and being silenced. I’m grown now. I love my family, and I also stand by what I have so painstakingly recorded.

Cheyenne L. Black: Your writing in this book certainly holds nothing back. Is that your usual style? Would you say its in your nature to write in this straightforward way which comes at the subject head-on? Or is this a new style for you?

Sarah Marcus-Donnelly: It is absolutely my nature. Fortunately or unfortunately (depending on who you ask), it is really the only way I know how to communicate. This bothers some people. Others find it refreshing. I think we have such limited, precious time and energy on this earth that it seems silly to waste it on being anything less than direct. One time, a prestigious journal sent me a rejection letter that simply stated: “These poems are not subtle.” Touché, journal. I also consider a poem’s accessibility. I often think about who we are writing for and in service of what message.

Cheyenne L. Black: When you say that you think about a poem’s accessibility, what do you mean exactly? Do you write toward accessibility? Or maybe I should ask, do you edit toward accessibility?

Sarah Marcus-Donnelly: I edit toward accessibility. I think about how much work a reader will have to do to be able to follow a poem. I think about the clarity of my images. Can the imagery stand on its own? Can the dialogue? Will my reader be able to feel something even if they aren’t able to follow the narrative exactly? Does the imagery and sound and narrative have a similar impact or evoke a similar feeling?

I also think that there is a type of poem, a more complicated, denser poem, that the Academy tends to favor and teach to. There is value in this writing and in this exercise, but at this point in my life, I am more interested in clearly and effectively communicating a message.

Cheyenne L. Black: What do you hope sticks with your reader after they’ve finished They Were Bears?

Sarah Marcus-Donnelly: I don’t pretend to have happy endings and believe deeply in the value of allowing people to feel and process discomfort. I don’t think closure should provide relief or escape. I think closure should do the job of reinforcement. I hope readers feel a sense of connection. There’s nothing better than reading a poem while underlining furiously and whispering, “Yesss.” I love those moments, and I wish them for everyone.

Cheyenne L. Black: You talked earlier about your speaker emerging from her own strife into … into what exactly? Yet you also said you aren’t comfortable with happy endings. What about this speaker? Will she be okay? Does she stand a chance? 

Sarah Marcus-Donnelly: I think she emerges into a clarity and knowledge that are often a stepping stone to action. Maybe she runs away to the backcountry never to be seen again. Maybe she becomes a bear and leaves it all behind. More likely, however, I think her natural trajectory (the book does end on “Revival, Revival”) would be to use her memory and experience and knowledge to finally be a bit more gentle with herself and others.

I’m not comfortable with happy endings because they always feel so contrived to me. To me, happiness is a choice, it’s an attitude. In my experience, happiness (to be maintained long-term) must be coupled with discipline, routine, and hard work. Understandably, most people are simply unwilling to commit themselves to this. This is not to say that we don’t experience periods of joy, but that to sustain contentment, one must take constant, constructive actions.

My speaker has all the tools she needs to make the best choices for her. Isn’t that all any of us really have?

 

They Were Bears is available for sale at:
 https://squareup.com/store/sundress-publications/item/they-were-bears-by-sarah-marcus-pre-order?t=modal-twn

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Sarah Marcus-Donnelly is the author of They Were Bears (2017, Sundress Publications), Nothing Good Ever Happens After Midnight  (2016, GTK Press), and the chapbooks  BACKCOUNTRY (2013) and Every Bird, To You (2013). Her other work can be found at NPR’s Prosody, The Huffington Post, McSweeney’s, Cimarron Review, Spork, The Establishment, Cosmopolitan.com, and Marie Claire.com SA, among others. She is an editor at Gazing Grain Press and the Series Editor for As It Ought To Be’s High School Poetry Series: Gender, Identity, & Race. She holds an MFA in poetry from George Mason University and currently teaches and writes in Cleveland, OH. Read more about Marcus-Donnelly at https://sarahannmarcus.com

Cheyenne L. Black is an editorial intern for Sundress Publications, the editor-in-chief for Hayden’s Ferry Review at Arizona State University where she is an MFA candidate and Virginia G. Piper global fellow. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in the anthologies We Will be Shelter and In Sight: An Ekphrastic Collaboration, as well as the journals 45th Parallel, Bacopa Review, Wordgathering, the American Journal of Poetry, and New Mobility among others. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and children.

 

 

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Project Bookshelf: Danielle Alexander

 

The shelf came from my mother. It’s a heavy, sturdy piece, pulled from a dumpster in her retirement community. There are rings on all the shelves from the many glasses of Coke she set on it when she owned it.

The top shelf is home to vintage, hardcover books, as well as anything I’ve recently purchased and haven’t read yet. Half this shelf holds copies of Edna St. Vincent Millay’s poetry. Since high school, Edna is the writer I always look for first in a used bookstore.

The second shelf has writing books on the left side of the basket. As you can see, I have a thing for spies and espionage. To the right of the basket are poetry books, plus a signed first edition of Bonnie Jo Campbell’s Once Upon a River, which is the book I always tell people is my favorite when they ask. (When you have a used bookstore/online book business, people ask you this question a lot, and it’s a tricky one to answer.) Next to Bonnie Jo is a copy of Amy Hempel’s short stories. I always keep these two books together. I remember reading them the first time and thinking “Oh! I can write about my life! My redneck, northern Michigan, backwoods upbringing can be written about in a universal, literary way!” Whenever I’m stuck in my writing, I turn to these two books for inspiration.  

In the basket are all the zines, artists’ books, and chapbooks I’ve purchased over the last few years. I have so many favorites. Whenever people come over to my house, I pull the basket out to show them.

The third shelf from the top holds my Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings books, as well as a few nonfiction books I’m fond of. There is a Harry Potter snow globe I got when I was eleven, featuring Harry catching the golden snitch. The shelf below is a mix of contemporary fiction and nonfiction, as well as all my Jane Austen books. You could say I have a thing for Jane – my cats are named Jane and Austen.

The shelf second from the bottom holds the heavy art books and more vintage hardcovers. The bottom shelf is a mess of kid’s books, both vintage and contemporary, for when my friend’s kids come over.

My mother passed the shelf on to me when I opened a used bookstore a few years ago. In the bookstore, the shelf held all the poetry books. It sat by the front window and had a gorgeous philodendron on top; easily my favorite shelf in the shop. Now, it sits next to my favorite window in my house, and holds the books I love the most.

There is something magical about keeping all your favorite books together, a little out of order, placing them by how they feel, how they connect to the books next to them.

How do you shelf your books? Tell me in the comments below!

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Danielle Alexander is a writer and the owner of Grey Grey Books, an online and pop-up shop that sells used books, zines, and handmade journals in Michigan. Her writing has appeared in The Bandit Zine’s Love & Heartbreak Issue and The Aquinas College Sampler, where her poem “Mother” received an American Academy of Poet’s Honorable Mention. She has self-published two poetry chapbooks—Sunlight Gets Through (2016) and Chasing Rabbits (2016); two collaborative artist’s books, We Sit Together, At the Table (2015) and White Walls: Entelechia (2015); and recently self-published Ten Lists: A Workbook for Anxiety (2017). Danielle holds a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in English and Creative Writing from Aquinas College and will be pursuing an MFA in Nonfiction or Poetry in 2018. Her work can be found at reygreybooks.com.

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Meet Our New Social Media Intern, Tierney Bailey

The Myers-Briggs test tells me I am an ENFJ, like Abraham Lincoln (mostly interesting because I am distantly related to Mary Todd Lincoln) and Peyton Manning (mostly interesting because I was born and raised in Indianapolis—though I only have any fealty to the Pacers because I loved Reggie Miller’s big ears a kid). ENFJs like to put things into external contexts, according to all the profiles I’ve ever read. That might be true, since I was born October 2, 1993, but I like to contextualize it with “I share a birthday with King Richard III, Sting, and Ghandi.” I, however, am mostly convinced that this is just because I wholly embody the phrase my mother uses most often about me: “They can hear you a county over, Tierney.” As a toddler, I constantly received invitations to birthday parties for little, old ladies I had conversations with inside grocery stores and book stores. I remain unconvinced about by the NFJ bits, but “extravert” fits.

Sundress is not my first dealing in publishing. (Here’s to hoping it won’t be my last!) When I first entered college, I enrolled as an English/education major. Luckily, while I loved my students, I found my way into the publishing program early on. I spent my remaining three years as a professional writing major with terrific professors at the University of Indianapolis honing my skills to various degrees—writing, editing, designing, Tweeting, any gerund I could possibly fit into my schedule would eventually be done. Now, I am enrolled at Emerson College as a Writing, Literature, and Publishing graduate student with more amazing people. Most of the time, I use communication to put my world in order because I see interaction as a piece of the greater conversation.

Maybe this is why I’ve ended up as Sundress’s new intern for social media.

I guess the basic profile of myself is this: my name is Tierney Bailey. I like to talk and listen and learn. I mostly just try my best.

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Tierney Bailey is a Libra, a lover of science fiction and poetry, and studies Korean in her spare time. She currently copyedits for Strange Horizons. Tierney is also a Writing, Literature, and Publishing graduate student at Emerson College. As an East Coast transplant from Indianapolis, Tierney still smiles upon the slightest bit of eye contact. If you can’t find her on a train between Providence and Boston, she can easily be found on Twitter as @ergotierney.

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Project Bookshelf: Cheyenne L. Black

If I’m trying to look cool I’ll say this is my bookshelf:

And it’s true. When I bought the house in 2010, one of the first things we did was install these shelves. Note how I can never change the size of my television. Which is probably okay since we never turn it on. It’ll last forever I think. Note too that these are in perfect order, there is a fiction section, a poetry section, and a reference section. Most of these books haven’t been touched in at least six years—since I started school. Most of these books don’t even belong to me. They were inherited from my mother or belong to my now-adult-once-teen daughters.

But if I’m being honest about the current state of MY books I’ll show you these instead: 

And I’ll add that there are at least twenty more stacks of books that look exactly like this, on my desk, on my nightstand, on the floor near both of these, and anywhere I regularly try to stake out space in a house full of people. Because right now I’m always bouncing back and forth between home and school, my actual books, the ones I use, read, reference, and sleep with, aren’t on that wall at all. (See also: lesesucht.)

I’m currently in a constant state of flux between Washington state and Arizona, so I’m always carrying whole boxes of books back and forth. I carry more books back and forth than I do items of clothing. And because I’m only in each place for a few months at a time before I have to return to the other, I don’t really bother to unpack them exactly. I more distribute, stack, and scatter strategically. Moreover, when I’m in one place I will inevitably, never mind how many books I brought, need one that is in the other location and will pay shipping to have one of my kids send me the book or will buy another copy. Thus I now have two copies of many books, too, but I can never remember in which state. . . So the truth of my bookshelf presently is that it’s more box than shelf, more floorstack than display, more misplaced panic—than leisure. But I’ll probably pretend I have no idea what you’re talking about if you mention this to me in public.

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Cheyenne L. Black serves as the editor-in-chief for Hayden’s Ferry Review at Arizona State University where she is a third-year MFA candidate and Virginia G. Piper global fellow. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in the anthologies We Will be Shelter and In Sight: An Ekphrastic Collaboration, as well as the journals 45th Parallel, American Journal of Poetry, and New Mobility among others. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and children where she brutally and with much zeal strikes the ‘s’ from directionals like toward, afterward, and backward.

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Meet Our New Editorial Intern, Emily Corwin

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Hello! My name is Emily Corwin and here are some things to know about me!

  1. I love lists. Also bread, coffee, dresses, and lipstick.
  2. I live in Bloomington, Indiana with my partner, Joe and my cat, Soup.
  3. I am currently completing an MFA in poetry at IU Bloomington!
  4. As someone with chronic conditions (hip impingement, anxiety disorder, various joint issues), I write a lot about physical and psychic pain, and about fairy tales, the girly and the grotesque, longing, and magic.
  5. Next spring, my first full-length collection, tenderling is forthcoming from Stalking Horse Press. I have two chapbooks, darkling (Platypus Press) and My Tall Handsome (Brain Mill Press) which came out in 2016.
  6. I am a Midwestern girl through and through—I grew up in Michigan, went to school in Ohio, and now, I am in Indiana!
  7. My favorite color is pink, my favorite musician is Grouper, and my favorite flowers are dahlias.
  8. My current poetry inspirations: Diane Seuss, Liz Bowen, Laura Theobald, Jennifer Givhan, Vievee Francis, Kiki Petrosino, and Stacy Gnall.
  9. My ancestor, Jonathan Corwin, was a judge in the Salem Witch Trials.
  10. I just finished my year as Poetry Editor of Indiana Review, and I am looking forward to continuing my editorial work at Sundress!

Emily Corwin is an MFA candidate in poetry at Indiana University-Bloomington and the former Poetry Editor for Indiana Review. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Gigantic Sequins, Day One, Hobart, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, THRUSH, and elsewhere. She has two chapbooks, My Tall Handsome (Brain Mill Press) and darkling (Platypus Press) which were published in 2016. Her first full-length collection, tenderling is forthcoming in 2018 from Stalking Horse Press. You can follow her online at @exitlessblue.

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Poets in Pajamas with Karen Craigo

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Announcing the Newest Episode of Poets in Pajamas,
An Online Reading Series from Sundress Publications

Sundress Publications is pleased to announce the next episode of our online reading series, Poets in Pajamas. Poets in Pajamas is a free online reading series that connects readers and writers around the world. Utilizing Facebook Live allows for people to participate in a bi-monthly reading series regardless of location through the internet. Author Sam Slaughter will host. This coming episode, airing on Sunday, June 18th, 2017 at 7 PM ET, will feature poet Karen Craigo.

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Karen Craigo is the author of the poetry collections No More Milk (Sundress, 2016) and Passing Through Humansville (forthcoming, Sundress, 2018). She also has a new chapbook, Escaped Housewife Tries Hard to Blend In (Hermeneutic Chaos, 2016). She maintains “Better View of the Moon” a daily blog on writing, editing, and creativity, and she teaches writing in Springfield, Missouri. She is the nonfiction editor and former editor-in-chief of Mid-American Review, as well as the interviews editor of SmokeLong Quarterly.

Sam Slaughter is a spirits writer for The Manual living in the New York City area. His work has or will appear in Bloomberg, InsideHook, Thirsty, and Tales of the Cocktail. He is also the author of the chapbook When You Cross That Line and the story collection God in Neon. He can be found online @slaughterwrites and www.samslaughterthewriter.com.

Our featured poets will read for 15 minutes, with an addition 10-15 minutes of audience questions. The readings will take place on Sundays at 7PM ET, twice per month. Visit our website for information about upcoming readings.

 

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An Interview with Sundress Author, Colleen Abel

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As a poet, Colleen Abel is a shape-shifter. In her chapbook, Deviants, you’ll find couplets, flash CNF, lists, lyric essays, sectioned verse, and poems that morph across the page. What takes this formal variability to another level is that Colleen’s work is also about form—about the human body, about boundaries and celestial bodies and the Venus of Willendorf. These thirty pages are about a lot. We talked with Abel about Deviants, the way these forms find themselves, and how she found her way to poetry.

Colleen Abel’s Deviants won the 2016 Sundress Publications 5th Annual Chapbook Contest. Her first full-length collection, Remake, won Unicorn Press’ 2015 Editors Prize and is forthcoming in fall 2016. She is also the author of Housewifery, a chapbook (dancing girl press, 2013). A former Diane Middlebrook Poetry Fellow at UW-Madison, Abel has published work in Pleiades, Colorado Review, The Collagist, Southern Review, West Branch, and elsewhere. She lives in Wisconsin with her student loans.

Sundress: What did you want to be when you were a kid?

Colleen Abel: I have always wanted to be a writer, from the time I was four. I wrote my first short story around that time, about a vampire and his wife. (I illustrated, as well, but happily I abandoned notions that I was a competent illustrator pretty much immediately.) But even though I always wrote poetry, when I was a kid, I saw myself becoming a novelist. It wasn’t until college when I was encouraged to do an MFA in poetry that I thought, hmm, maybe this is going to be my path. Not that you have to pick a genre and stick with it! The older I get, the less interested I am in staying within genre boundaries.

Sundress: How do your pieces find their form? Do you draft in the form a piece eventually takes, or do you think about form later?

Colleen Abel: I almost always draft a piece in the form it ends up with—the form dictates the intellectual and sonic moves the poem makes, usually, so I like to find the form first. It’s sort of like picking a vessel to hold the thought. But sometimes in revision, I do figure out that the vessel is wrong! “The Photographer’s Model” is an example of a poem that was restless in the original form I had chosen for it.

deviants

Sundress:Formally, Deviants is a very eclectic bunch of poems, but the book’s foundation seems to be the 18-page piece titled “Fat Studies.” Speaking of genre, how do you classify “Fat Studies”?

Colleen Abel: I would say “Fat Studies” is a lyric essay. I have been trying to write about obesity for over a decade in my poetry and it never worked–not once. I couldn’t really figure out why. It wasn’t until I shifted my thinking about form that I was able to write about obesity in a way that I was happy with–and “Fat Studies” was the result.

Sundress: In “Fat Studies,” the speaker’s body is described as “deviant.” The piece goes on to investigate the speaker’s life and mind within this “deviant” body. How did this piece come about? Is this stigmatized subject you’ve dealt with before, or is it something that required the building of experience and courage to write about so directly, frankly, and beautifully?

Colleen Abel: As I mentioned, I’ve been wanting to write about obesity for a long time, but could never make headway. A couple of things happened right around the same time that broke open the essay for me. I was sitting in on a fiction class at the school where I was teaching at the time, in 2014. So I was thinking a lot about prose. Then I stumbled across the theories of stigmatized identities by the sociologist Erving Goffman. He had this list of ways that people could respond to having a stigmatized identity, and I immediately thought: that list would make a great backbone for an essay. The third thing was that I had read an essay about physical fitness by John F. Kennedy and was trying to write a poem about it (and failing; see above.) Somehow those three factors collided and “Fat Studies” was born.

Sundress: In “Poem Beginning With A Zen Proverb,” (which, is such a great title), you create a list poem of places to “hide your body.” What are other list poems you have loved or that have influenced you?

Colleen Abel: Great question. The list poem that I think I go back to the most is Kenneth Koch’s “One Train May Hide Another.” I’m fascinated by how list poems make their way toward endings. They are so hard to write!

Sundress: What’s something you used to believe about writing that you no longer think is true?

Colleen Abel: Wow. I can think of probably a hundred things, from small to hugely philosophical. I was very young when I went into my MFA program and for a while I think I absorbed a lot of the aesthetic preferences of my teachers and saw those as rules of a sort. Eventually, I shook those off–as writers need to do with their mentors, often. I had a teacher who thought poems shouldn’t have questions in them, for example, and for a long time I was scared to ask questions in poems. That’s a small example, but I think the more I read and write and live in the world, the more expansive my idea of poetry becomes.

Sundress: What are three things that every poem needs?

Colleen Abel: 1. Attention to language 2. Attention to arrangement 3. A desire to communicate something to an audience.

Sundress: Can you tell me a little about writing community? Where is yours? What is it like? What were the best writing communities you’ve ever encountered, and why?

Colleen Abel: I am about a month into a two-year writing fellowship. There are about a dozen of us who comprise the inaugural class of Tulsa Artist Fellows, so I am excited to see this fledgling community grow and evolve, especially since it’s multi-genre. I was very, very lucky to be a part of a small group that met frequently for several years in Chicago. I probably won’t ever find anything quite like that again, but I still carry their generosity with me even a decade later.

Sundress: What projects are in the works for you now?

Colleen Abel: [My full-length collection] Remake is coming out this spring! I’m super excited. I have a full-length collection called Caryatid that’s seeking a home, and right now I am just trying to generate work without thinking too much about how it will shape into a book. Wish me luck!

Colleen Abel is the winner of Unicorn Press’ 2015 Editors Prize for her collection Remake, which is forthcoming in fall 2016. She is also the author of a chapbook, Housewifery (dancing girl press, 2013) and a former fellow at University of Wisconsin’s Institute for Creative Writing. Her work has appeared in Colorado Review, Pleiades, The Southern Review, Phoebe, West Branch, and many other outlets. She was recently named a 2017-2018 Tulsa Artist Fellow.

Tyler Barton is one half of FEAR NO LIT, a literary organization focused on community-building, surprise, and discomfort. An MFA candidate at Minnesota State University, he edits fiction for the Blue Earth Review, co-hosts the radio show Weekly Reader, and leads writing workshops for senior citizens. He’s currently creating a flash-fiction podcast called SHOW YR WORK that will be available online this summer. This winter, you can find his short stories in Midwestern Gothic, Little Fiction, matchbook, NANO Fiction, and No Tokens (and you can always find his jokes at @goftyler). Tyler is originally from York County, Pennsylvania, where, once, as a teenager, he saw a sweatshirt that read “York’s Not Boring…You Are,” and his life changed.

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Project Bookshelf: Lauren Perlaki

Last month, I moved to a new place. It was much to my surprise (and delight) to discover that one of my bedroom walls came adorned with a set of built-in shelves. What a perk. What I failed to realize was that because these shelves were without sides, I would need bookends to keep my things propped and in place. Alas, I did not have bookends to spare, so I made do (as you can see) with books for bookends – my “book-bookends.” While they aren’t the prettiest set of shelves, they do the job. From stacks of old journals to beloved books, these shelves house all that I currently have space to hold dear. They also function as a place for my Post-it® sticky notes, mason jar of writing utensils, and trusty alarm clock to call their own. Hands down, the bookshelf wall is the coolest wall my bedroom has to offer.

bookshelf

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Lauren Perlaki is a senior at Kalamazoo College double majoring in Art History and English with an emphasis in Creative Writing. She is also pursuing a concentration in Media Studies. When she isn’t furiously working to meet a deadline, or cramming 500+ years worth of art into her noggin, she can be found singing with her a cappella group, searching for a decent cup of coffee, or going on about how great the music scene is in Kalamazoo. She is a co-editor-in-chief of Kalamazoo College’s annually published literary and visual arts magazine, The Cauldron, and a lover of modernist literature.

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