Tag Archives: Sarah Ann Winn

Poets in Pajamas Presents Sarah Ann Winn!

Poets in Pajamas, a Live-Stream Reading Series by Sundress Publications
Presents Episode 42: Sarah Ann Winn

Enjoy live poetry? Ever wished you could attend a reading without leaving the house or changing out of your jammies? Bailed because had no one to go with? Wish there were one closer to you?

Well worry no more! Poets in Pajamas (PiP) is a live-feed online reading series presented by Sundress Publications. We bring live poetry, complete with Q&A and poet interaction, to you. We don’t ask you to dig out a scarf, no, we welcome you as you are and bring the poetry. Won’t you join us? We often draw a diverse audience from around the world and we’d love it if you, too, were there.

Our next episode will air on Sunday, November 11th, at 7pm EST, featuring Sarah Ann Winn. On behalf of Sundress Publications, Anna Black will host.

Sarah Ann Winn’s first book, Alma Almanac (Barrow Street, 2017), won the 2016 Barrow Street Book Prize, selected by Elaine Equi. She’s the author of five chapbooks. Her writing has appeared in Five Points, Kenyon Review Online, Massachusetts Review, Smartish Pace. She serves as Reviews Editor for Tinderbox Poetry Journal.

Sarah Ann Winn at Beltway Poetry
Sara Ann Winn’s Alma Almanac at Barrow Street
Sarah Ann Winn at The Boiler
Sarah Ann Winn at The Good Man Project


Anna Black received her MFA at Arizona State University. Black is a twice awarded Virginia G. Piper global teaching and research 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. In addition to hosting PiP, Black is the staff director at Sundress Publications.


The readings occur on PiPs Facebook page every other Sunday at 7PM EST/4PM PST. The selected poet will read for about 15 minutes, and will then open the floor for an additional 10-15 minutes to receive questions from the audience.

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National Poetry Month with Sarah Ann Winn and Gertrude Stein

sarahwinn-headshotTo celebrate National Poetry Month, our authors talk about the work that has influenced their writing, reading, and publishing goals and proclivities.

Sarah Ann Winn lives in Fairfax Virginia. Her poems have appeared or will appear in Bayou Magazine, [d]ecember, Massachusetts Review, Quarterly West, and RHINO among others. Her chapbook, Portage, is available from Sundress Publications. Her life as a poet-free-range-librarian-workshop-leader is a hybrid work in progress. Visit her at bluebirdwords.com or follow her @blueaisling on Twitter.


On Tender Buttons, by Gertrude Stein

I opened the book: its small size foolery, its tom-secrethood. It was one thing first and then another. One one one. Only one thing, crowded. It opened, then opened again inside. Fractal. It made perfect unsense. I was redheaded in my mind, I was stepchild stephooded, little red, little wolf, tamed. This wolf-worded woman who never knew me, who died long before I came around, she wrote around and around, sometimes en francais. She gulped me down and I bellyswam. I didn’t want to be cut free.

from Tender Buttons, “Objects,” (excerpted)


Nickel, what is nickel, it is originally rid of a cover.

The change in that is that red weakens an hour. The change has come. There is no search. But there is, there is that hope and that interpretation and sometime, surely any is unwelcome, sometime there is breath and there will be a sinecure and charming very charming is that clean and cleansing. Certainly glittering is handsome and convincing.

There is no gratitude in mercy and in medicine. There can be breakages in Japanese. That is no programme. That is no color chosen. It was chosen yesterday, that showed spitting and perhaps washing and polishing. It certainly showed no obligation and perhaps if borrowing is not natural there is some use in giving.

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Lyric Essentials: Sarah Ann Winn reads “A Display of Mackerel” by Mark Doty

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Chris: Welcome to Lyric Essentials, where writers and poets share with us a passage or poem which is “essential” to their bookshelf and who they are as a writer. Today Sarah Ann Winn reads “A Display of Mackerel” by Mark Doty.

Sarah, I’m having trouble saying this any other way so I’ll just say it plain: Mark Doty’s poetry is damn good. Do you remember your first Doty experience? What was it like for you to discover his work?

Sarah: My first Doty experience was during an Elizabeth Bishop class back in grad school. My mentor, Jennifer Atkinson, had mentioned that I “might like” him, and I sobbed my way through School of the Arts that night. It felt so close to the bone to me. I had recently lost my grandfather, who raised me, and who adopted me when I was 13, so those poems were painful to read at times, but they went bravely and eloquently down a road I knew I would be traveling. It was comforting in a time that I was feeling very alone to be reminded that grief can be expressed through beauty. I think that’s the job of poetry, and I was in the presence of a master.

Chris: Bishop is one of my favorite poets. I’m not sure how she does it, but all of her work feels fortified. That might be a weird word for it, but I think it’s the right one. I can sense that in Doty’s poetry as well. What do you think he’s expressing in “A Display of Mackerel?”

Sarah: I think that “A Display of Mackerel” is almost the outcome of the School of the Arts philosophy—the entire book seems to be posing the question of “Considering how brief our time on this planet is, what were we put on this earth to do with all of our might?” Not just as poets, but as people. The conclusion here seems to be Notice and Participate. I think what “A Display of Mackerel” points towards is that our job is to be part of the world, reflecting it, and doing our best to shine as a participant. Enter into your community seems like a big message in this poem.

Chris: You mentioned it’s the beautiful expressions of grief in School of the Arts that make Doty a master of poetry. What are the moments in “A Display of Mackerel” that incite those same notions?

Sarah: It’s hard to read a Mark Doty poem and not encounter an idea of how fleeting life is. He transcends the immediate reality quickly, conflating the fish with a Tiffany window, to the art made by a jeweler, to ideas of what beauty is for, which then takes us to what WE are for as human beings. (Fish markets are not places where I’d expect to encounter a discussion of mortality and life’s purpose, but clearly, any outing with Mark Doty can turn metaphysical.) As with his poems about grief, the poem is a meaningful exploration of how to reframe the idea of the lonely and suffering artist into something productive and beautiful.

Chris: “A Display of Mackerel” covers an incredible amount of ground. How is it that this poem handles all this complexity—the metaphysical, the quick transcendence, commentary on community/human interaction—and doesn’t lose the reader?

Sarah: I think that one of Doty’s strengths is showing how everything is part of everything else. We move seamlessly between the ideas of our temporary passage through this world and that of the mackerels’. It’s a natural conclusion to arrive philosophically where he does if we align ourselves with the fish—who doesn’t want to be a “flashing participant?”

Chris: I am, unfortunately, not very well versed in Doty’s poetry. I think I’ve only read parts of Fire to Fire and some of his other writing here and there. Does all of Doty’s poetry wrangle with the metaphysical?

Sarah: I think his grappling with the metaphysical is what makes him a great poet. He may not do it in every poem, but there is always an underlying idea that our time on earth is brief. Not every poem arrives at the same conclusion, of course, but there’s a definite urgency to his poems, which might be part of his appeal to me.

Chris: I know you recently saw Mark Doty and Aimee Nezhukumatathil give a reading. Would you like to gush and make all our readers jealous?

Sarah: Gush is the right word! I live close enough to DC that I can take advantage of some of the wonderful opportunities the city offers. The event was at the Philips Gallery, and hosted by the Folger Shakespeare Theater.  They both read poems inspired by the gallery’s special exhibit, Seeing Nature: Landscape Masterworks. (Highlights of which included poems inspired by paintings by Klimt, Van Gogh, Magritte, etc.) I’m fascinated by ekphrastic writing, and love art, so this evening felt like all of my favorite things packed into a two-hour event.

Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s work is so funny and personal. It distills huge ideas in moments, which makes her an excellent counterpart to Mark Doty, since his poems of the night seemed to focus on smaller details and magnify them into a universal truth. I stood in line twice waiting for them sign my books, like the fan-girl that I am, and I was the next to last person in line in Mark Doty’s signing line, as the night drew to a close. He was as kind and patient with me as if I had been the first person in line, showing no signs of being eager to be done with the night. I’m so grateful, because (of course) I was as impatient as anyone else to tell him what his work meant to me (and share a dog story.) It was a really amazing night. How often do you get to meet your poet heroes?
Sarah Ann Winn’s poems, prose, and hybrid works have appeared or are upcoming in Five Points, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Massachusetts Review, Passages North, and Quarterly West, among others. Her chapbooks include Field Guide to Alma Avenue and Frew Drive (forthcoming Essay Press, 2016), Haunting the Last House on Holland Island (forthcoming Porkbelly Press, May 2016) and Portage (Sundress Publications, 2015). Visit her at http://bluebirdwords.com or follow her @blueaisling.

Christopher Petruccelli is an associate poetry editor at Stirring: A Literary Collection and has successfully survived his first winter in Fairbanks, Alaska. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Appalachian Heritage, Cider Press Review, Nashville Review, Still: The Journal, and elsewhere. His chapbook, Action at a Distance, is available from UIndy’s Etchings Press. In his free time, Chris enjoys smoking cigarettes and drinking whiskey with older women.

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An Interview: Sarah Ann Winn’s “Portage”


In her chapbook Portage, Winn captures the elusive balance of grounding a poem in the concrete world, and creating a lyrical universe for the reader, which is rare and beautiful. I had the opportunity to ask her a few questions about the collection and what inspired certain pieces.

Hailu: Why the recurring theme of apples? It reminded me first of the Adam and Eve reference, but as I kept reading I also connected to an “All American” reference. Was this done on purpose?

Winn: I’m from Ohio, and apples seemed almost a member of my family. There were two apple trees at the house where I grew up, which was a portion of the land where my grandma grew up: a Baldwin apple tree, and a Red Delicious, both left over from the days when a portion of the land was a fruit orchard. Grandma likes to bake, so if I had to name the one flavor of my childhood, it’d be apples, followed closely by home grown tomatoes. We had apple sauce, or apple pie, or apple dumplings or apple cake with many, many meals. When the canned jars of apple butter and apple sauce weren’t present, grandma would buy apples, and we’d snack on apples filled with peanut butter. It was the living embodiment of the apple a day adage.

Hailu: “Earthenware” is one of my favorites, and I can’t stop thinking about it. One line that keeps replaying in my mind is “the button that escapes to the vent.” For me, that was the line that pulled all of the emotions happening in the poem together. What made you use that specific image?

Winn: So many of the lines you ask about are very specific and concrete things which relate to my childhood – the button in my mind is from my grandmother’s button box. One of my favorite activities as a little girl was playing with my grandma’s button box, which she’d collected through her life. When anyone’d lose a button, she would be able to find a match in that box. The button in the poem relates to the things which are lost and never recovered, but which can be replaced. I wanted it to be a hopeful image, because that poem has so much to do with repair, and restoration.

portageHailu: In your piece “Nocturne” there was a phrase that stuck out to me. There is all this loving, bonding imagery, then the speaker says “She calls me mother,” and that threw me off. There is a level of detachment there that makes the piece intriguing–why did you choose that wording?

Winn: When I wrote “Nocturne,” I was specifically thinking about the people who mother us, who are not our mothers. Who could mother the moon? In this poem, I try, with limited success.

Hailu: One of the aspects of your writing that haunts me is that I cannot tell when the speaker is in reality, and when the speaker is in their imagination. I think the best example of this is in your piece “Conventry.” I could spend hours reading this and trying to understand it. What was the first thought that blossomed this piece? Was this written over a long period of time, and is it a “jigsaw” in itself?

Winn: Coventry is the name of the town where I grew up, a community surrounding the Portage lakes. Many of the things which happened in this poem are taken directly from actual images in my childhood. The owls, for instance, were placed in the upper window of a former hotel. The number would change from week to week (one, three, two, none, two facing away, one facing in, one out, and so on) and I always wondered why, until there was an article in the local paper about a drug bust there, and the owls vanished. The only things which aren’t literal in this poem are the horse’s eyes, which were, in reality, pine board knots at eye level in my bedroom. For me, those ephemeral images, right on the edge of imagination, rooted in reality, were important landmarks in my childhood.

You can read Portage for free here!

Sarah Ann Winn lives in Fairfax Virginia. Her poems have appeared or will appear in Bayou Magazine, [d]ecember, Massachusetts Review, Quarterly West, and RHINO among others. Her chapbook, Portage, is available from Sundress Publications. Her life as a poet-free-range-librarian-workshop-leader is a hybrid work in progress. Visit her at bluebirdwords.com or follow her @blueaisling on Twitter.

Mari Hailu is a recent graduate of Southern Methodist University where she received her Bachelor of Arts degrees in Music and Creative Writing. She enjoys writing of all kinds, but poetry is her true love. She lives and works in Dallas, and plans to pursue her MFA in poetry in the near future. Her hobbies include running, and playing upright bass with various groups of musicians in the Dallas area.

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Project Bookshelf: Sarah Ann Winn

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Best to Last

This is always my least favorite part of packing. I leave my desk and its bookshelf of my essential books til near the end. As a former librarian, every shelf I own shows a stunning lack of apparent order, but each has an internal logic. There are the shelves of books I probably never will reread, but can’t bear to purge, the books I might need someday for teaching, the poetry bookshelf, the children’s bookshelf, and then the desk bookshelf. The one by my desk reveals the contents of my messy mind, the books I want to use in my writing somehow, or need for quick reference. Some bolster me when I need a prompt or a stiff upper lip, some inspire me with their innovation. They sit at my right hand, my favorites, my personal heaven. What if this is the box that goes missing in the move? How will I replace the book of fairy tales I first read as a child, which still has my peanut butter fingerprints, my pressed feathers and leaves? How will I write the poems which have not yet emerged from this beautiful jumble?


Sarah Ann Winn lives in Fairfax Virginia. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Apeiron Review, [d]ecember, Lunch Ticket, Massachusetts Review, Rappahannock Review, and Stirring, among others. Her chapbook Portage is now available for free download from Sundress Publications. Visit her at bluebirdwords.com or follow her @blueaisling on Twitter.

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SAFTA Presents.. Monsterworks: A Writing Workshop on Revision


Sundress Academy for the Arts is holding a new writing workshop in February for both beginning and advanced writers. Hosted by Sundress Publications authors Sarah Ann Winn and M. Mack, “Monsterworks: Hybrid Genres and Revision” focuses on creatively revising unfinished work and promises to send participants home with more than a few Franken-pieces to be proud of.

The success of this workshop depends on how much “body” you bring to work with and how creative you are with slicing up your work and reinventing it! Besides bringing some writing in need of revision and re-imagining, the only requirements for this workshop is that participants bring a journal, pen, scissors, glue/tape. Creativity is also a plus, but if you lack that or lack pages of your own writing to work with, there will be plenty of spare parts to go around.

Sarah Ann Winn lives in Fairfax Virginia. Her poems have appeared or will appear in Bayou Magazine, [d]ecember, Massachusetts Review, Quarterly West, and RHINO among others. Her chapbook, Portage, is forthcoming from Sundress Publications this winter. Her life as a poet-free-range-librarian-workshop-leader is a hybrid work in progress.

M. Mack is a genderqueer poet, editor, and fiber artist in Virginia. Mack is the author of the chapbooks Traveling (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2015) and Imaginary Kansas (dancing girl press, 2015). Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Fence, Gargoyle, Menacing Hedge, Finery, The Queer South (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2014), and elsewhere. Mack holds an MFA from George Mason University and is a founding co-editor of Gazing Grain Press, an explicitly inclusive feminist chapbook press. Theater of Parts is hir debut collection and will be released in 2016 from Sundress Publications.

This workshop is for writers of any genre or experience level who want to have fun with words and see their writing in a new light. Monsterworks will cost $25 to attend. Paying early is always recommended to reserve a spot, as they will start to fill up the closer it gets to the event. It will The workshop will be on Saturday, February 7, from 1PM – 4PM at Firefly Farms located at 195 Tobby Hollow Lane, Knoxville TN 37931.

Sign up at the SAFTA website or our online store!

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Fox Frazier-Foley’s Exodus in X Minor Named Winner of 2014 Sundress Publications Chapbook Competition


Knoxville, TN–Sundress Publications is pleased to announce that Fox Frazier-Foley is the winner of our third chapbook competition. Among a record number of strong and engaging manuscripts, Frazier-Foley’s collection, Exodus in X Minor, stood out. Judge Beth Couture had this to say about the chapbook:

“I’ve read Fox Frazier-Foley’s Exodus in X Minor about ten times now, more, and I still don’t quite know what to do with it. I go back to it, read bits and pieces and whole poems, roll images and phrases around like blood red berries in my mouth, and every time I think I have a handle on it, I realize I just can’t grasp it. I mean, I understand the poems. They make sense to me. I could, I think, teach them if I had to. But I don’t get them. This is a good thing. This is a very good thing. This isn’t a book you ‘get.’ It’s a book that gets you. It grabs you on the first reading and doesn’t let you go. It haunts you. You dream about it and wake up sweating, shaking, like you’ve been chased all night by a strange animal, one you can’t quite identify. You catch glimpses of it, and it’s beautiful, but you never see it completely clearly. You’re desperate for it to reveal itself, and a little terrified. It has teeth, and a huge brain. Exodus in X Minor–this sharp, elusive book–is smarter than I am, and it scares me in the best way possible. These poems unmoor me, and I’m so, so grateful for the challenge, for the lack of comfort they provide.”

Fox Frazier-Foley is a Los Angeles-based poet who hails from upstate New York and northern Virginia. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in such journals as Paterson Literary Review, Western Humanities Review, Jerry, Denver Quarterly, THEThe Poetry Blog, Luna Luna, and Spillway, among others. She is a creator and Managing Editor of the small press Ricochet Editions and has served as Poetry Editor of Gold Line Press. She was graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Binghamton University, received her MFA from Columbia University, and is currently a Provost’s Fellow and PhD candidate in the Literature and Creative Writing Department at University of Southern California. She is an initiate of Haitian Vodou.

We are excited to announce that Sarah Ann Winn’s Portage was also selected for publication – both collections will be available later this year on the Sundress website at http://www.sundresspublications.com.

Other Submitted Chapbooks of Note

Sarah Ann Winn – Portage
Deborah DeNicola – Presence
Rachel Bennett – Mural Quadrant
Lois Harrod – Large Reclining Nude
Lauren Gorden – Breadcrumb Trails

M. Mack – Traveling
Rosemary Bensko – Sex Makes Us Something Else Entirely
Carly Jo Miller – Apostle Songs
Alice Ladrick – Autobitchography
Maggie Rosen – Carolina Theatre
Joseph Eggleston – Prophets’ Murmur
Bianca Diaz – The Underwater Hotel


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