The Blue Mountain Review Dec. 2022

Page 118

BLUE MOUNTAIN

REVIEW

Jay De “Mr.Classic” Robinson: Style, Intellect & Practice

Dorothy Rompalske talks the david Lynch MFA Program in Screenwriting

Jump, Little Children Says Farewell

Robert Pinsky opens up in his new memoir

Poetry, Fiction, Microfiction, & Essays

the SCE Returns to the Red Phone Booth

Ruth-Ann thorn speaks up for all indigenous people

Wang ping pays us a visit

Elisa gabbert talks normal distance

Sean singer finds the poem in his passengers

A JOURNAL OF CULTURE

Issue 27
THE
2022
ruth-ann thorn Robert Pinsky Jump Little Children

the typewriter

When I was in high school, my grandfather brought home an old typewriter from his office, which he gave to me so I could do homework on it. It was an IBM Selectric that probably weighed thirty pounds. It was encased in a tan, hard plastic shell and the keys clicked loudly when you pressed on them. I remember the way the metal platen turned inside and the smell of the oil and of the ink. There was something visceral and right about using it. Like I was a professional at something, like I had a real tool. I had a machine like other writers used to make their stories on.

I remember typing some stuff on it but in the end that old typewriter just proved too limiting. Not only was it hard to concentrate in the small room I shared with my brother, I learned that I really just preferred the portability of a notebook, where I could go outside in the woods and work with no distractions or noise.

And this proved to me that you don’t necessarily need any special tools to write, other than a pen and paper. And so to this day, I don’t have a writing room or a particular desk that I work on. I actually think those things can cause anxiety: it’s like you have to create something worthy of this special place or this expensive piece of furniture or journal that you bought. I prefer to keep things simple. A yellow legal pad and a pen, or at the most, an old office computer in my bedroom, which is what I’m using to write this.

That old IBM started collecting dust, but I remember filling a little single-subject notebook with a story I wrote, not long after reading my mother’s copy of The Catcher in the Rye one afternoon. I remember how after I finished reading that book I walked around in a trance, unable to imagine how someone could write something like that, a story that felt so real—like this kid was just talking to you and he was your best friend in the whole world.

How you really didn’t feel so weird or lonely just knowing that Holden Caulfield existed. And to me he did. I remember that my mother had written “good book” on the title page and that she had underlined those words twice, and I really believe that she had felt the same way I did—but thirty years earlier, when she first read it. It’s like a form of telepathy, what makes books so magical to me. It’s the reason we read and write them in the first place.

Anyway, the story I wrote was about these three boys walking down the road and all the thoughts that the narrator was having as they walked: how he imagined getting hit by a car and the people who would be at his funeral. I didn’t give any of the boys names and they never talked to each other. I wanted it to seem like maybe the narrator’s friends weren’t even real. It was a sort of stream-of-consciousness piece and it was the longest thing I had ever written up to that point.

I was fifteen and in the tenth grade.

I didn’t have a lot of friends but I remember being in Mrs. Jacobs’s English class one day and this girl in front of me—her name was Tiffany—turned around and asked me what I was writing.

“I don’t know,” I said.

“Is it like a book or something?”

“Yeah,” I said. “I guess.”

Tiffany wore cowboy boots to school and a large silver-plated belt buckle with turquoise and scrimshaw on its surface: men on horses roping bulls, that sort of thing. She had a thick country accent, which is something I never developed, even though I grew up in the same small town. Tiffany and I were in completely different circles. “Can I read it?” she said.

“Why?”

1 1

“I don’t know,” she said. “I just want to.”

“Yeah, I guess,” I said again. Then I passed the notebook across my desk and stared at the back of her head as she looked down at the pages. Every minute or so she’d flip over to the next one, which was filled from margin to margin with my tight, neat print (I never could write in cursive).

Mrs. Jacobs was talking about Romeo and Juliet at the front of the class but I remember Tiffany never looked up from that notebook for the rest of the period. Not one single time. I kept wondering what she was thinking as she read. I tried to remember certain parts I’d written so I could guess which one she’d be on. It was maddening but exhilarating at the same time. Like I’d invited her into my brain and she could share that private space with me for a while. It was nothing romantic or anything like that. But there was a certain intimacy to the experience. I’ll never forget it for as long as I live.

Just before the bell rang, she closed the notebook and turned around, looking at me in a way that made me feel strange.

“That was really good,” she said. “You wrote that whole thing?” “Yeah.”

She kept looking at me until I finally stared down at my desk, fumbled around with a pen or some paper that was stacked there.

Then the bell rang. I got up and went to my next class. So did Tiffany. I didn’t know how to feel. But I knew something important had just happened to me. Like the first time you find out something deep and profound about your life. And how after that you’re never the same again.

It was as if I had opened a door to a room so large you couldn’t see its walls, only the light coming in. I walked inside the room that afternoon and haven’t come out since.

Blue Mountain Review / December 2022 2
3 3 Special Features.....................................89 Dorothy Rompalske...................................................91 Red Phone Booth’s Michael Macias, Ryann McGee & Ramon Arocha................................95 Joe Gill, Zack & Emily of Bon Paul & Sharky’s Hostel.....................................101 Bonnie McGill..........................................................107 Gilberto Flores..........................................................111 Gina Kavali...............................................................113 Aaron & Dave of My Bad Poetry Podcast.........................................117 Shanna McNair & Scott Wolven..............................123 TV Review: 1883, Season One....................................................129 Book Review: The Evangelist: Poems.............................................133 Book Review: How to Survive the Apocalypse..............................137 Book Review: Cloud of Unknowing................................................141 Fashion ................................................. 143 Léonardo Cavé ......................................................145 Editorial: Who Wears the Pants Now.....................149 Introduction.............................................1 Literary Interviews.................................7 Robert Pinsky...............................................................9 Elisa Gabbert...............................................................11 Sean Singer..................................................................17 Ellen Bass...................................................................23 Ryler Dustin................................................................29 Wang Ping..................................................................35 Judy Juanita...............................................................39 Erica Mae...................................................................45 A.M. Juster.................................................................53 Visual Art Interviews.............................59 Ruth-Ann Thorn.........................................................61 Steff Rocknak.............................................................65 LX Blacksheep.............................................................71 Music Interviews....................................75 Jay Clifford................................................................77 David Huckfelt..........................................................81 Egor Antonenko.........................................................85 Ruth-Ann Thorn.........................................................61 TABLE
CONTENTS
OF

Poetry....................................................153

Lenny Bruce by Robert Pinsky.................................155

What the Wolf Fears by Cassandra Whitaker............................................159

October 2020, 2021, 2022 by Chen Chen............................................................161

School by David Armand..........................................165

There’s A Brightness Folded Into Every Bird by Melissa Studdard......................169

Freedom Sermon-- Alabama, USA by Ashley M. Jones....................................................173

Ada Limón and Jennifer L. Knox Argue Over Who Should Take the Last Bite by Jared Beloff..........................................177

Apiary Aches by Lynne Kemen................................179

Some Days Begin Like This by Tara Skurtu............................................................181

Fuck Around and Find Out by J.D. Isip...............................................................185

Relax by Ellen Bass..................................................189

The Man At the Hotel Bar by Kelly Canaday.......................................................191

Timeless by Robert Petrillo......................................193

Micro-Fiction.........................................197

Journey to the Top by Doug Jacquier.......................................................199

Stroke and Touch and Go by Doug Jacquier.......................................................201

Space by Doug Jacquier.............................................203

Some Awful Things by Mark Helm...........................................................207

A Study in Still Life by Mark Helm...........................................................209

Jack and Ginger by Mark Helm................................211

Fiction....................... ..............................213

Earth’s Sunny Solar System by Kathryn A. Kopple................................................215

Chrissy by Sue Brennan.............................................223

Essays......................................................231

Elegy in Water by B.J. Wilson..................................233

When Mom Got Her Driver’s License by Lois Perch Villemaire..............................239

4

Paradise Road

15 New Adult Non-Fiction

BEA FINALIST NIEA Non-Fiction—Troy King

Fractals

FINALIST

BEA Performing Arts (Film, Theatre, Dance, Music)

16th NIEA Education

Performing Arts

Spellbound Under the Spanish Moss

J.

A Season in Lights

GRAND PRIZE WINNER

2020 CISBA Contemporary and Literary Fiction

WINNER

16th NIEA Book Cover Design: Contemporary Fiction—Troy King BEA Performing Arts (Film,Theatre, Dance, Music)

J. Pearson

Money Plain & Simple

FINALIST

16th NIEA Contemporary Fiction

Knock!

Knock!: Lessons Learned and Stories Shared

FINALIST

BEA Business

5 5
WINNER
By Stephen
WINNER BEA Finances
Suspension
Up in the City of Angels
Falling
Qurbaan
of a Shadow
The Box Must be Empty
FORTHCOMING MARCH 2023
Fragrance
By Connor Judson Garrett and Kevin N.
FORTHCOMING FEBRUARY 2023
By Marilyn Kriete
WINNER
Fiction—John
Harry Potter in the hallways between classes. hope my grandchildren will be caught with Spellbound. —Peter Onorati, film and television “Connor and Kevin Garrett have spun an exceptional ‘Tale of Southern Magic’ in Spellbound The blackwater swamps of southern Georgia are the perfect setting for this mythological folktale of the story, whose landscape dotted with witches, shapeshifters, poisonous fruit, dreamcatchers, and flower that never dies.” — and editor of Southern Writers on Writing and The Pulpwood “Ingredients are what we all are searching for. The Garretts’ challenges underneath the skies of dusty Georgia. As Spellbound reveals more of its complicated world, relate more and more to my own.” —Speech of Arrested Development, 2-time Grammy award lucidhousepublishing.com FORTHCOMING
BEA - Book Excellence Awards • NIEA - National Indie Excellence Awards • CISBA - Chanticleer International Somerset Book Award
15th NIEA Book Cover Design: Fiction—John
Pearson FINALIST BEA Book Cover Design:
TITLES CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR AUTHORS
thefabulous.co

Literary Interviews

Literary Interviews

ROBERT PINSKY

WHAT POEM DID YOU WRITE, WHEN AND WHERE, THAT STRUCK YOU AS FIRE? THE MOMENT YOU KNEW POETRY WOULD BE UNAVOIDABLE?

In “Personism, A Manifesto” Frank O’Hara says that one day he was writing a poem for someone he was in love with and realized that if he wanted to, he could use the telephone instead— and that was the birth of Personism. His way, I think, of clearing away a lot of foofaraw about how poetry is different from other kinds of language. Instead, he thought about how poetry is a lot like other kinds of language, including a phone call to somebody you love.

Something like that happened to me when I was writing the long-ish title poem of Sadness And Happiness. I put aside a lot of things I’d been taught about metaphor and imagery and “the speaker” and going in fear of abstraction and— well, a lot of good things, really, that had formed a sort of clot or embolism in my mind. And instead I just began trying to speak as passionately as I could in a way that might interest a reader the way conversation can be interesting. I liked that feeling, and the writing seemed pretty good to me. So I was on a road that still seems to pull me ahead.

WHAT MAKES YOUR NEW BOOK DIFFERENT FROM THE PREVIOUS ONES?

If you mean the book of poems—just finished— I guess it is a little crazier in one way and in another, maybe opposite way, a little more straight-ahead “universalist” in a Jewish-secular tradition. It is openly an old guy’s book, involving, for example, Major Hoople, of the comic strip “Our Boarding House,” that flourished in the 20th century. As did I!

But if you mean Jersey Breaks, the new autobiography, I hope the prose is a little more informal, a little more candid and goofy, than in my previous books. And I tell personal stories of a kind, and in a way, that may be different from my earlier prose. I hope it takes up the ideas of Democracy, Culture and the Voice of Poetry, but in a personal way— stories about my home town, my mother’s clowning, my grandfather’s indictment, my wife’s memorable remark about my soul, etc. And the subtitle is Becoming an American Poet, which I take seriously.

HOW DO YOU CONTINUE TO GROW AS A HUMAN AND POET?

Getting closer to my death, feeling the limitations of time in a practical, personal way: that pressure could be anticipated, of course. It’s a sort of cliché. But to feel it is different than to think it. So, a challenge to do something new. And maybe one is more willing to take chances or to think out loud, here on the later laps around the track?

WHERE DOES MUSIC PLAY INTO YOUR POETRY?

Everywhere. It’s the one element of poetry I feel sure in and sure about. It is my guide and support, amid uncertain darks and glares.

9 9
INTERVIEW WITH

WHAT CREATIVE MOMENT RECENTLY GOT YOU JAZZED ABOUT NEW WRITING?

If you mean new writing by others, I have cheered and felt cheered by certain books: Everything by Andrea Cohen, The King’s Touch by Tom Sleigh. If you mean new writing by myself, my own creative moments . . . I’m grateful to get anything that sounds even possibly good— I’m too superstitious to hope for “jazzed.”

WHEN CAN WE CATCH YOU LIVE?

October 11, I was at the Harvard Book Store talking with Orlando Patterson about Jersey Rain. November 5, at Politics and Prose in D.C. November 10 at Monmouth U. in my home town of Long Branch, New Jersey. And I’ll be at the Miami Book Fair November 19-20.

WHAT IS YOUR PHILOSOPHY BEHIND EDITING POETRY?

Edit with your ears and your voice above all. But listen to your brain, too.

HOW DO WE KEEP UP WITH YOU ONLINE?

My this and that are available at robertpinskypoet. com, and I stand by the videos at https:// www.bu.edu/artofpoetry/. I’ve somehow never settled into Twitter or Instagram, though I’ve tried. Somehow feel more comfortable with the chattiness of Facebook. Oh, and there’s the YouTube stuff, like the unlikely performance with Bruce Springsteen, https://www.bu.edu/ artofpoetry/ . “Samurai Song” in an elevator in Rotterdam, etc.

10

ELISA GABBERT

WHAT DOES YOUR WRITING LIFE LOOK LIKE? DO YOU HAVE A PARTICULAR SCHEDULE, HABITS, OR PROCESS?

I have a pretty demanding full-time job, so I have to be fairly disciplined to maintain my writing life too. But that discipline doesn’t take the form of waking up at 5 a.m. every day to write for two hours before work or anything like that—partly because that would sap energy I need to do my job, and partly because it would be hard to stop writing. During the work week, I just try to use as much of my free time as possible for reading. And I try to always be working on something, an essay or some kind of project or book, and that open project subtly but meaningfully directs my reading over the course of a few weeks or a few months. When I write I tend to write in focused bursts. I’ll start in the morning on a weekend and write all day. This system works for me, but it means I have to be very protective of my time. (The older I get, the harder it is to do everything I want to do in my life!)

HOW DO POEMS COME TO YOU? DO YOU HAVE ANY SPECIFIC MUSES?

I think walking is the muse. Poems tend to start when I’m walking, alone. It starts very small—an idea, or an image, or a combination thereof, but it has to arrive in language, already in language, and that’s what clicks the mind over into a poetic kind of thinking, that movement in lines.

YOU EDIT THE ON POETRY COLUMN FOR THE NEWYORKTIMESBOOKREVIEW. TELL US MORE ABOUT THE WRITING YOU DO FOR THAT PUBLICATION.

It’s four regular columns a year, and I’m granted a lot of freedom around what I write about—which is wonderful, but I’m always cognizant of the limitations: Each column is just 1,200 words, so I want to make them count. I can only write about a small fraction of the books that are sent my way. I try to choose books that are doing something I find compelling, something worth exposing to a broad audience that might not be very familiar with poetry.

I’m looking for books that seem to reveal something about what poetry is for, what poetry is capable of. Sometimes I write about some small aspect of poetry I’m interested in, like punctuation, or randomness, and sometimes it’s more of a classic review, or an overview of a poet’s career. Then at the end of the year I get to do a bonus column on my favorite books of the year. It’s a joy to write, but I do want to stress, because people don’t always understand this—it’s not my full-time job. Alas, alack! I wish it was.

I ENJOYED YOUR RECENT ESSAY THAT EXAMINES THE DEFINITION OF POETRY. HAS YOUR DEFINITION CHANGED AT ALL SINCE YOU WROTE THAT PIECE?

That essay was sort of the culmination of all the thinking I’ve ever done about what poetry is, up to that point. It’s one of those life questions I’ll probably keep thinking about forever, like how Sarah Winchester kept adding more and more rooms to her house to appease her ghosts.

1111
INTERVIEW WITH

LET’S TALK ABOUT YOUR LATEST BOOK OF POEMS, NORMAL DISTANCE, WHICH IS SUCH A FUN, YET SERIOUS, READ. I HEARD SOMEWHERE THAT YOU CULLED YOUR TWITTER FEED FOR CONTENT WHEN WRITING IT. TELL US MORE.

Fun yet serious is exactly how I want it to feel! The first poems in this book started out as simple performance pieces. I would collage a bunch of related but discontinuous tweets into a kind of artful list. They were meant to be funny and off the cuff, but I liked how the repetitions would accrue into meaning that was both sonic and semantic. Then I realized I could edit them further into poems that work on the page, but that still have a kind of improvisational/ conversational feel. Eventually I stopped starting with my old tweets, and I was writing all the lines from scratch, but I kept the form of long prosey lines with gaps in between. I like the way the form seems to mimic the pace of thinking, maybe in slight slow motion, so I’m really leading the reader along with me as I make these associations or revolutions of an idea.

YOU HAVE A BOOK OF NONFICTION COMING OUT IN 2024. ANY PREVIEW YOU CAN GIVE US REGARDING THEMES OR SUBJECT MATTER?

I think it’s more similar in style to The Word Pretty than The Unreality of Memory—a mix of personal essay or memoir and literary criticism. I write

12

about some of my favorite authors (Rilke, Plath, Woolf, Sontag) as well as loneliness, diaries, architecture, luck, ambition … lots of things!

WHAT ARE YOU READING RIGHT NOW, AND WHAT POETS (LIVING OR DEAD) MOST INSPIRE YOU?

This morning I read the first half of a book-length essay by Mike Ingram called Notes from the Road, which I love, and I’ve been reading a cluster of novels by poets, with the intention of writing about the poet’s novel as a genre. As for poetry, lately I’ve really loved reading older and newer work by some of the poets I first encountered in my twenties: Jorie Graham, Louise Gluck, Alice Fulton, Michael Palmer. I like seeing how the work changes over the years.

WHAT DOES A PERFECT DAY LOOK AND FEEL LIKE TO YOU?

Coffee, going somewhere new, taking a walk, some sun on my skin, having some kind of encounter with art, poking around a used bookstore with my husband, a word game, dinner and drinks and laughter with friends, a fire.

HOW DO WE KEEP UP WITH YOU ONLINE?

Elisa Gabbert is the author of six collections of poetry, essays, and criticism, most recently Normal Distance (out now from Soft Skull) and The Unreality of Memory & Other Essays (FSG, 2020), a New York Times Editors’ Pick and finalist for the Colorado Book Award. She writes the On Poetry column for the New York Times, and her work has appeared recently in Harper’s, The Atlantic, The New York Review of Books, and The Believer.

1313

the redheaded stepchild a home for rejected poems

The Redheaded Stepchild only accepts poems that have been rejected by other magazines. We publish biannually, and we accept submissions in the months of August and February only. We do not accept previously published work. We are open to a wide variety of poetry and hold no allegiance to any particular style or school.

visit www.redheadedmag.com for more information & submissions

INTERVIEW WITH SEAN SINGER

BEFORE WE GET TO YOUR MOST RECENT POETRY COLLECTION, TODAY IN THE TAXI, I WANTED TO ASK YOU ABOUT THE SUBSTACK YOU STARTED LAST YEAR CALLED THE SHARPENER. IT IS A FANTASTIC RESOURCE FOR ANY WRITER, BUT IT SEEMS PARTICULARLY SUITED TO THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN WRITING FOR A WHILE, THOSE WHO MIGHT NEED, WELL, A LITTLE “SHARPENING.” WHAT WERE SOME OF YOUR GOALS IN CREATING THESHARPENER?

Thank you. I imagined a digital version of a third space, like a bookstore or a café, where people could discover poetry they didn’t know. I had been in the habit, for several years, of posting pictures of poems to Facebook every day. I wanted to continue offering poetry for free, but I wanted a way to not give Facebook free content during the Trump regime. Then, and now, this country is in a place of great crisis. Most people can’t wrap their heads around the climate emergency, the pandemic, and political violence. Poetry is the best way I know to organize this chaos. People need good tools. The Sharpener takes the tools of poetry—emotion, intellect—and sharpens them, so that the reader comes to know their experience through reading poems. I want to reclaim our relationship to poetry and to convene a community. This newsletter makes the kinds of conversations I’ve always wanted to have.

I collate the selections for The Sharpener a few months in advance. Sometimes I follow a loose theme—wolves, the seaside, the deaths of mothers. I share poems I’ve been thinking about. I prefer underrated or overlooked things. I look around my living room and I see this collection of a thousand books of poetry, but what I really see is my life. I reproduce a photo of each poem on the page, to make it seem as though the reader is with me, flipping through the books. The physicality of reading is restored: the texture of the page, the shape of the letters, the act of discovery more intimate than what an algorithm can serve.

SUBSCRIBERS CAN ALSO RECEIVE LETTERS (REALLY LESSONS) FROM YOU ABOUT CRAFT. YOUR POETRY HAS ALWAYS STOOD OUT TO ME AS BEING CONSCIOUS OF CRAFT YET UNPRETENTIOUS. YOU REALLY THREAD THAT NEEDLE BETWEEN LAYERED LITERATI AND ACCESSIBLE STREET POET, A PERFECT BALANCE. WHAT IS SOME OF THE BEST ADVICE YOU’VE RECEIVED FROM OTHERS ABOUT THE CRAFT?

Thank you. From Carl Phillips I learned to take syntax seriously. From W.S. Merwin I learned that poems begin with listening. From Carol Frost I learned to be ruthless with my own artistic choice-making. From Yusef Komunyakaa I learned that the ear is an editor and the body is an amplifier. The writing workshop was developed by the CIA as an element of the Cold War. The craft talk is just that: a tool intend to mechanize something that is ineffable. Or, it’s a ritual performance of the mastery of the writer against the ineffable, but meanwhile the writer continues to eff.

We think: perhaps the writer giving this particular craft talk knows a secret, but they don’t let on that they’re terrified they may never write again. Craft skills are a way to enable the rest of writerly existence feasible. Though craft skills are important for people to understand, the unteachable parts are harder to convey in any talk, seminar, or lesson: patience, devotion, and risk. Craft skills do not give someone the fire of the demon. They do not infuse the language with the poet’s energy.

1717

Craft is necessary, but it’s not a substitution for other skills one really needs in order to write well. Craft is important, but it’s not the key to everything. I know because I, too, am part of the Poetry Industrial Complex, even in the newsletter. What I want people to know is this: you need other ingredients to metabolize craft into your life. The main ingredients are: Patience, Devotion, and Risk.

YOUR POEM “B SHARP BLUES” GOT ME THINKING ABOUT HOW WE APPROACH OUR IDOLS, THE MUSICAL, THE LITERARY, ETC. I HAVE TO ASK YOU ABOUT MERWIN AND DICKINSON. MERWIN, OF COURSE, CHOSE YOUR FIRST BOOK, DISCOGRAPHY (2002) FOR THE YALE SERIES OF YOUNGER POETS. HOWEVER, BOTH POETS COME UP MANY TIMES IN YOUR WRITING AND IN THE SHARPENER, SO I WANTED TO GIVE YOU A CHANCE TO MAYBE SPEAK THEIR PRAISES OR TALK ABOUT WRITERS YOU LOOK UP TO MORE GENERALLY.

Merwin was one of the last links between our current poetry and Modernism. In 1946 when Merwin was 18, he sought out Ezra Pound who told him: “If you’re going to be a poet you have to work at it every day. You should write about 75 lines a day. But at your age you don’t have anything to write about. You may think you do, but you don’t. So get to work translating. The Provençal is the real source. The poets are closest to music. They hear it. They write to it. Try to learn the Provençal, at least some of it, if you can.”

By “poems begin with listening,” Merwin meant it literally: listen to the birds, the sound of the street, overheard conversation…everything. He taught that language is really the articulation of myth. Dickinson herself is a kind of myth created by Mabel Todd in the late 19th century. She was not the recluse people imagine. She was having a passionate affair with the love of her life, Susan Dickinson, her brother’s wife. She also had a massive Newfoundland, Carlo, whom she walked around the fields and woods of Amherst. She was so advanced in her poetic thinking that we still have not caught up to it.

Sean Singer is the author of Discography (Yale University Press, 2002), winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets Prize, selected by W.S. Merwin, and the Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America; Honey & Smoke (Eyewear Publishing, 2015); and Today in the Taxi (Tupelo Press, 2022). He runs a manuscript consultation service at www.seansingerpoetry. com

Blue Mountain Review / December 2022 18

SELECTIONS FROM TODAYIN THE TAXI

Burnt Plastic

Today in the taxi I picked up a Wall Street type on Park Avenue near 48th Street. He was going to Montclair, New Jersey. His house was on fire and he spent the trip on the phone barking orders at his wife, his roofer, his contractor, his insurance company, and at me.

He kept saying: “Go this way!” or “Which way are you going?” He said to someone that there are firearms and ammunition in the house. Periodically he held back tears. It was a long 25 miles for me, and, I suppose, longer for him.

We got there, and the house was burning. The Talmud says: Nature rules over all things except the terror it inspires.

Layers

Today in the taxi I picked up a millennial couple in Williamsburg. At some point the woman moved her legs so they stretched across the front passenger seat and rested them on the door handle.

I wanted her to keep her feet on the floor, and not just because I fear germs. I almost used the word “distracting.” I could see the whitecaps of her muscles and imagine the blood inside them. It was a warm day and the air was sticky.

I thought of the Lord having to clean-up a kitchen after a TV cooking competition. She uses sponges and cleansers to get it sparkling, almost like a reminder of Herself. She thinks desire means to have surfaces so clean you could lick them no cleaner.

1919
“ “

My process was first to figure out the right form. For me, finding the form is the most important part. In 1855, Charles Baudelaire dreamed of a form that could express the modern city. He wanted to be free of his subjectivity, to get clarity about his disgust and his melancholy. A prose poem is a deliberate choice to emphasize and enhance subject matter that purposefully deals with contradiction and tension. The prose poem deals with perception differently from verse in its deliberate lens on the ambivalent. It uses brevity and compression without line breaks, but maintains the passionate syntax, intensity, and compactness of lyric poems.

When I was seeking a form for my taxi adventures, I wanted to increase my knowledge of the poems’ content. The poems are about the city, its blocks, and turns, quick trembling and ecstatic voices. The little blocks are like the city’s blocks.

THERE IS A DRAMATIC QUALITY TO THIS COLLECTION. CHARACTERS ENTER AND EXIT, THE TAXI DRIVER COMMENTS ON THE ACTIONS, SOMETIMES GIVES A LINE OR TWO OF DIALOGUE, SOMETIMES SOLILOQUIES. IT MADE ME THINK OF OUR TOWN AND, OF COURSE, SPOON RIVER IN ITS EXPANSE AND COMPASSION. WHAT DO YOU HOPE READERS UNDERSTAND ABOUT BEING HUMAN OR BEING COMPASSIONATE OR EVEN BEING ALIVE FROM TODAY IN THE TAXI?

I hope the reader finds ways to connect their memories of New York City—its street grid, and strange inhabitants— with the trips in the taxi I describe. I hope the reader sees the drivers as complex people and not invisible parts of a machine to bring them to their destination.

I hope the reader feels a connection to the driver, the way he thinks and relates to the city moving all around him as his car moves through it; and feels compassion for the strangeness of people, their quirks and idiosyncrasies. I hope the reader understands there are metaphors and poems all around us, even in the most commonplace or mundane exchanges.

A WRITER AT ANY STAGE IN THEIR CAREER COULD CLEARLY LEARN A LOT FROM YOU. LUCKILY, YOU OFFER THAT HELP! PLEASE TELL OUR READERS HOW THEY CAN CONTACT YOU FOR EDITORIAL ASSISTANCE?

Information about my books, poems, events, editorial services, book groups, and The Sharpener can be found on my website: www.seansingerpoetry.com

Blue Mountain Review / December 2022 20
NOW, TODAY IN THE TAXI IS JUST A DELIGHT TO READ. THE POEMS ARE COMPACT YET DENSE. THE CONCEIT IS AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL, OF COURSE, BUT BRILLIANT, TOO. WHAT WAS YOUR PROCESS IN ASSEMBLING THIS COLLECTION?
2121 Click for Details Learn how to create a profitable online course and compete to win $100K. The Next Big Creator Competition https://teachable.sjv.io/c/3209676/1301476/12646
22 The BLUE MOUNTAIN call for SUBMISSIONS The Blue Mountain Review is accepting new submissions of Poetry, Prose, and Visual Art. The Blue is a Southern publication, but we draw no boundaries or borders on that interpretation. “Southern” is a soul more than a spot on a map, and everyone is south of somewhere. We seek pieces that boldly create something new from the ether of the timeless, works that go beyond sparking interest to ignite something that smolders. Works that matter today and will still matter tomorrow. Visit our submissions page at www.southerncollectiveexperience.com/the-blue-mountain-review Review

INTERVIEW WITH ELLEN BASS

THISINTERVIEWISTHESECONDINASERIESOFCONVERSATIONSWITHELLENBASS.INTHEFIRSTPIECE,WESPOKE ABOUTHERLIVINGROOMCRAFTSERIES5.THISTIME,WEDISCUSSEDHERPOEM“RELAX.” (FEATUREDONP.185)

YOU ASKED ME TO NAME A POEM OF YOURS TO DISCUSS, AND I LAUGHED BECAUSE I WAS STRUGGLING WITH “RELAX .”I HAD A PROMPT TO WRITE A SIMILAR POEM, BUT TO MAKE IT MINE. I THOUGHT IT WOULD BE EASY. UNFORTUNATELY, I DISCOVERED IT WAS NOT.

No poems are easy! Or not many. But what did you find that made it hard?

I HAD DIFFICULTY COMING UP WITH SOMETHING COMPARABLE TO THE TWISTS AND TURNS AND THE PART

WHERE YOU WENT INTO THE WOMAN ON THE CLIFF.

This gets us into a conversation about the structure and basic idea of a poem: DNA. It is very valuable to do an imitation or a version inspired by a poem that you admire to work your poetry muscles in a different way. It’s like trying out a new machine at the gym. Then you get that person’s moves, their syntax, their rhythms, as well as their sensibility, injected a little bit into your own bloodstream, and then it’s yours for future poems. Sometimes, doing an imitation makes a strong, independent poem, but even if it doesn’t, you learn a lot, both consciously and unconsciously.

Going back to ‘Relax”, the structure is very visible.

DO YOU MEAN YOUR LIST?

Yes, “Relax” starts with a list. Of course, the challenge is to make the list interesting and varied enough to have some surprises. I want to include both serious lines and funny ones. Some of my favorite poems push pain right up against the terrible humor of life. Then I bring in the Buddhist story of the woman chased by a tiger. I call that a window, when you open up someplace in the poem and let the wider world enter in some way–-maybe historically, geographically, conceptually. For a moment, you let something else blow in, beyond what the poem has established. You could call it a leap or a turn, and it’s both of those, but it does this shift and then returns. You can imagine it physically. If you drew a square around the Buddhist story, it would look like a window. And then you’re back in the story, the wall the window opens out of.

I wrote “Relax” because a friend kept getting upset about things I thought she’d blown out of proportion. But it became a way for me to talk to myself. It turned out that I was the one who needed the poem. When I think I’m talking to somebody else, I’m most essentially talking to myself. And so it became a teaching poem for me. I’m not a naturally relaxed person–-no one calls me “mellow”–-so this is a poem that is smarter than I am, less anxiety-driven than I am, that I can go to and see, “Well, there was a moment where you knew this. So listen up to what you said.”

2323

I LIKE THAT. I GUESS THAT’S WHAT WE’RE DOING ALL THE TIME, ISN’T IT? THINKING OUT LOUD.

Yes, we often talk to ourselves, even when we think we are talking to others.

LET’S GO THROUGH THE LIST IN THE POEM.

The list starts out with lightweight losses–-your tomatoes will grow a fungus, and your cat will get run over.

THAT’S PRETTY HEAVY.

Well, it’s not super lightweight. I love my cat dearly. But I’ve lived through the deaths of a number of cats (a couple of them by cars), and if that’s the worst loss someone ever has to suffer, I’d say they are living a charmed life.

And then the ice cream melting in the car and the cashmere sweater shrinking. We start with things that are minor or relatively minor. And then I move into more serious losses, such as being left by your husband or your wife. So I write, “your wife will remember she’s a lesbian and leave you for the woman next door,” hoping that the word remember will strike the reader as funny. Humor is how I, and many of us, manage pain. And often, even in the worst suffering, there are really funny moments. And so I do like to press them up against each other.

And I continue in this vein of the more serious. “Your parents will die.” These are facts here in the world of mortality. Though we try to stave it off, “no matter how many vitamins you take, how much Pilates, you’ll lose your keys, hair, and memory.” And then I go onto the children. With the daughter, I tried to work with metaphor. “If your daughter doesn’t plug her heart into every live socket she passes...” And then this story about the son, which was told to me. Although I’m sure some people assume it’s about my son. But of course, everything we put in poems didn’t happen to us personally. We’re always looking for details to make the experience come alive, so the reader feels it. Because if I say to you, “I

24

know people whose children have serious drug problems,” you don’t really feel anything. But this image is so particular, I never forgot it. So that is at the bottom of the barrel of the opening list, and then it was time to shift, to make a leap.

READING A REALLY GOOD POEM CHANGES ME.-ESPECIALLY IF I READ IT ALOUD. AND IF I TRY TO IMITATE THAT WRITER IN MY OWN WORK, I FIND THAT IT CHANGES ME PHYSIOLOGICALLY. I SIT DIFFERENTLY AND BREATHE DIFFERENTLY.

That’s so true. I was talking about building muscle, and you’re talking about it changing you physiologically. It does change us in those very real and tangible ways. Everything we read, if we read it deeply enough, changes us. Certainly, if we try and imitate, it changes us. If we learn it by heart, it changes us. And any way we can get deeper into the poem, and one of the most intimate ways is to imitate or if we have the skill to translate it.

It does change us because that’s the whole point of poetry-to be changed. I mean, the whole deal is to be transformed. That’s why we do it. And that doesn’t always happen with a quick reading. Although sometimes it can. I mean, sometimes it’s like when you look at somebody and fall in love with them immediately, but you usually have to get to know them little bit better. The same with the poem, to really be changed. But yes, the strong poems change us, and sometimes it’s subtly, and we can’t really put our finger on how, and sometimes it’s obvious, and you could tell somebody just straight out, this is how it changed me. I was like this, and now I’m like this. Imitation is a beautiful avenue for that. Whether you love the poem you write or not, you’re still so intimately involved with it and what it has to teach you about the craft and perhaps about your life.

THAT’S HOW “RELAX” AFFECTED ME. I FELT LIKE I WAS HAVING A CONVERSATION WITH A CLOSE FRIEND.

THERE WAS SO MUCH INTIMACY AND UNDERSTANDING. THE LAST LINES ARE LIKE A BENEDICTION.

By the time I got to the end, I felt tenderness for all of us.

EXACTLY!

That’s where the big shift is; oh honey, all this is going to happen. You’ll be lonely, which is the most poignant thought and the one that applies to everyone. No matter how many loving people surround you, you’re always going to be, from time to time, terribly lonely. That’s our existential condition. You’ll be lonely. Benediction’s a beautiful word to talk about it. Oh, taste how sweet and tart the red juice is. And, of course, life is sweet and tart, as well, and then those little tiny seeds. Crunch.

2525

Kissing the WOUND

here’s the scoop

In J.D. Isip’s second full-length poetry collection, KissingtheWound, readers are asked to look at “this long life” through a multiversal lens, to consider how our lives and our loves, our traumas and our triumphs, fold in on one another, how we are all connected to and reflected by one another. Isip crosses genres and poetic styles, nods to X-Men and Star Wars as well as Shakespeare, Tolstoy, and the Bible; he shows readers what wonders we miss between breaths and days. “When you pay attention,” Isip seems to tell us, “You just might find the healing you were looking for.”

If our memory could shatter like glass and be reassembled with no regard given to time, it would look like these poems: a shimmering window of stained glass whose patterns and glow create unexpected resonances of the many lives one voice can be given. As identities—familial, sexual, spiritual, amicable—intersect and intertwine, time folds in on itself. Everything can and does happen at once. Kissing the Wound is expansive, enveloping. With cross-genre bravery and unfettered honesty, J. D. Isip’s collection examines, at its core, a question of love: for each other, and for ourselves.

There is a palpable struggle against powerlessness in J.D. Isip’s Kissing the Wound, and in its expertly crafted poems, the path to victory in that struggle always originates from within. Although its external expression varies from poem to poem (telekinesis, immense empathy, razor-sharp wings, conquering love), Isip shows us that the greatest power we have is our ability to remember, to render, and to navigate the “mess of lights and music” that is the human experience.

J.D. Isip is the author of Pocketing Feathers (Sadie Girl Press, 2015) and several other works of poetry, fiction, and theater. His second full-length poetry collection, Kissing the Wound will be out in January 2023 from Moon Tide Press. He is also a full-time professor in Plano, Texas, and a contributing editor to The Blue Mountain Review.

2727
new poetry release from J.d. ISIP & Moon Tide Press
receiving rave reviews Now available for Pre-Order Here https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=BL9WWTM76EBM4
Blue Mountain Review / December 2022 28

INTERVIEW WITH RYLER DUSTIN

I FOUND THAT YOUR CHAPBOOK, SOMETHING BRIGHT, BRINGS THE READER IN ON A COLLECTIVE MYTHOLOGY. YOU SEEM TO INVITE THE READER TO HEAR THE STORIES OF A GRANDMOTHER, OF A TOWN, OF WHALES, OF CREATION, AND TAKE UP THAT STORY AND CARRY IT WITH THEM. IN “SONG FOR VOYAGERS,” YOU SAY, “ONE PERSON WRITES A STORY, ANOTHER GIVES IT AWAY/ AND A BOY WHO FINDS IT IN THE BOTTOM OF A BOX/ READS IT ALOUD, WALKING HOME IN HIS CORDUROY COAT.” WHAT ARE YOU HOPING READERS GET FROM THESE POEMS?

I love your idea about a “collective mythology.” My hope is that this book—though grounded in details about my family, and a Pacific Northwest town with its own history and ecology—connects to deeper questions about being a human in a temporary, always-fragile world. The poem you quoted describes my boyhood wonder inspired not only by books, but by the Voyager spacecrafts, which are hurtling outward from our galaxy, each with a phonograph filled with sounds from earth.

These phonographs are time-capsules meant for distant beings. That’s part of what I hope this collection offers to a reader: some record of a distant, alien life, my life. But the other part is just as important, that—as you put it—the book “brings the reader in.” The phonograph on the Voyager spacecrafts is etched with instructions for how to make a record player, how to play a record. It’s a reaching out. I want this book to feel like a grasping hand that says, “Hey, these are things I’ve felt and thought about. Is your form of intelligence asking those same questions?”

IT ISN’T ALWAYS EASY TO WRITE POEMS ABOUT LOVE AND ROMANCE, YET WHEN IT IS DONE WELL – AS IT IS IN SOMETHING BRIGHT (ESPECIALLY IN “FIRST STAR” AND “THE MOVEMENT OF FIELDS”) – IT CAN MAKE THE INCREDIBLY INTIMATE SOMETHING SHARED. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS OR ADVICE ON WRITING ABOUT LOVE AND RELATIONSHIPS? DO YOU GIVE YOURSELF RULES OR PARAMETERS? ARE THERE OTHER POETS WHO INSPIRE THESE TYPES OF POEMS?

That’s a great question. For me, writing about romance is especially difficult when it comes to deeply impactful relationships that have ended; there’s so much to be conveyed, such a deeply interwoven language that has grown up within such a romance, that it can be difficult to step back and see the whole thing. For years, when I tried to write “First Star,” it was like turning on a fire hose. I would write about every small thing that had happened, abstractly describe every detail or contradiction I had loved. What ultimately worked was to spend years not writing about it, to have other loves and losses.

It also helped to tell myself, “I don’t have to write a poem that ‘captures’ this relationship. I’ll just start with one moment, one memory.” And the third thing that worked for me was to find a formal tool or device that could drive the poem forward—in the case of “First Star,” that was music, repeated/echoing sounds. There are optical illusions within which you can only see an object by not looking directly at it. For me, music was the way to have something else to look at—something to push me on from one sentence to the next—so that I wasn’t staring so hard at the thing I needed to see. “The Movement of Fields” was a series of fractures, failed attempts, and I think that a journal of failed attempts at capturing love can be a good way to piece together a truthful portrait, like tilework.

2929

THERE ARE PSALMS AND PRAYERS AND TELEVISION PASTORS IN THESE POEMS. THERE ARE ALSO LETTERS TO THE DEAD. WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO SAY ABOUT RELIGION OR BELIEF OR GOD OR THE AFTERLIFE?

I sometimes tell my writing students that one of the oldest metaphors for writing is from Genesis, when Jacob wrestles an angel and then receives a blessing. You have to wrestle something bigger than yourself, an angel, not your little sibling—to treat writing not as conveying something but as documenting your struggles on the page. For me, God and religion are profoundly alluring and frustrating. In Christianity, the faith I saw most often in my boyhood, God means love but is often used to absolve us of responsibility toward people who don’t seem like us. I frequently heard TV preachers speak about the end of the world, of nations annihilating each other and rendering the earth uninhabitable, as part of a plan.

But for me, when Christ says, “the Kingdom of heaven is in your midst,” that means it’s in our communities, our relationships with the world. It’s not an escape hatch you pull after you deplete or burn down the planet. For some billionaires, maybe outer space serves as that kind of escape hatch. But it’s a delusion to think we

Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, Ryler Dustin has represented Seattle on the final stage of the Individual World Poetry Slam. He has been awarded residencies from the Jack Kerouac Project of Orlando and the Margery Davis Boyden Wilderness Writing Residency, and his poems appear in outlets like American Life in Poetry, Verse Daily, Gulf Coast, and The Best of Iron Horse. A passionate educator, he led an award-winning after-school poetry program in Houston, visited classrooms through Writers in the Schools, and facilitated community writing in Nebraska and Washington State. He currently teaches at Albion College in Michigan.

Blue Mountain Review / December 2022 30

can escape ourselves, to use faith as a “get out of jail free card” so we don’t have to mend our relationships with our neighbors or our world. So I suppose that what I’m seeking in these poems is to reestablish a connection: the dead are our teachers, and the question about heaven is a question about what we create in our midst. That feels like a wrestling match I’ll be in again and again.

“LIGHT YEARS” IS A HEARTBREAKINGLY BEAUTIFUL PIECE. JUST THE LINE, “THE RAMPANT DAMAGES OF LOVE” – DAMN! IN YOUR ESTIMATION, WHAT IS IT A WRITER MUST DO WHEN THEY ARE WRITING ABOUT THEIR OWN LIFE AND FAMILY TO MOVE THAT STORY PAST AUTOBIOGRAPHY AND MEMOIR INTO SOMETHING THAT WILL LET THE READER CO-OWN THAT EXPERIENCE? WHAT WENT INTO WRITING “LIGHT YEARS”?

Like “First Star,” the relationships in this poem—these ones familial—are so deeply layered that I had no idea where to start. And like “First Star,” it was music that ended up providing a throughline, a thread I could follow through that tangled forest. In the case of “Light Years,” the music was unlocked by reading Richard Hugo’s “Letter to Kathy from Wisdom.” The music in that poem is so propulsive, so bodily.

Another thing that finally worked was beginning in the present moment. I think that I did that in “First Star,” too, in a less literal way, with those first three words, “It is here…” Somehow, when writing about the past, starting in the present seems to make me honest. It undercuts nostalgia. With “Light Years,” I heard the sounds of a neighbor’s piano coming through the wall, and started there, just telling my sister—who “Light Years” addresses—what I heard and saw. After that, I felt like she was present, waiting to hear what I had to say.

YOU’VE PRESERVED WHATCOM CREEK IN MANY OF THESE POEMS, AND ITS GRAFFITI HAS POPPED UP AGAIN AND AGAIN AS A SORT OF GREEK CHORUS. WHAT DO YOU WANT READERS TO GET OUT OF THEIR VISIT (THROUGH YOUR WORK) TO WHATCOM?

Whatcom Creek caught fire because of the explosion of a gas pipeline, but now it appears verdant and lush. The traces of that violence are hidden under foliage. The whole Pacific Northwest is layered with other disasters, some examples being the arrival of Europeans, the rise of the lumber industry, the closure of mills. Some of these disasters were relatively minor, others apocalyptic in scope.

So, I’m interested in conveying how we should care for this world, and how we are part of it—that we don’t just act on it, or respond to it. It makes us. I drank water from Whatcom Creek, and nearby Lake Whatcom, to form my cells. And one reason I survived the pipeline explosion was that two other boys were playing with matches and ignited

3131

the gasoline before it reached town. And I think that, in its wreckage, the world is trying to help us understand the future. The creek was on fire, like our planet is, and I want a reader to feel how precious and precarious we are.

PLEASE LET OUR READERS KNOW HOW THEY CAN GET THEIR HANDS ON SOMETHING BRIGHT. AND PLEASE LET THEM KNOW WHAT YOU ARE WORKING ON AND WHERE TO FOLLOW YOU ONLINE.

Readers can buy Something Bright from my website, rylerdustin.com, or from Green Linden Press (https://www. greenlindenpress.com/books/something-bright). Green Linden will be hosting an online reading/book launch on Saturday, December 10 (details on my website).

Currently, I’m working on a full-length collection that expands on the arc and many of the themes in Something Bright—a collection that will be announced within the next couple of months! I’m also writing a post-disaster novel about a veterinarian in a dust bowl-era American future. Interested readers can visit my website to send me a note or sign up for news. I’d love to hear from them.

IN A GRITTY WORLD OF CORRUGATED TIN, GRAFFITI, BROKEN GLASS, AND BROKEN PEOPLE, RYLER DUSTIN POINTS HERE AND THERE FOR US TO FIND SOMETHING

BRIGHT PAST THE SHADOWS. WITH RYLER

FIRST STAR

It is here, in the empty lot across from K-Mart, dusk falling on the cusp of summer, that you realize you love her. She has asked you to teach her to drive, you lied about having a license, and your mother’s Metro is not cut out for this, how she kills the clutch again and again as you brace your bodies against the dash, laughing. You are not cut out for it either—the way she jokes with the boys at your lunch table, grin flashing, hair black as volcanic glass. You cannot ease the ache her body makes in yours no matter what you do, even when you are making love behind her mother’s leaky apartment, or lying in the damp grass after, watching geese sign their mysterious arrow overhead. Soon her father will vanish again, her mother remarry and take her to Georgia. On the phone she’ll talk about pills she’s started and a man she met at church, her voice fading in the sound of traffic. But blink now and you are back in the empty lot—blink and you are in the brimming grass, wet, watching the geese neck ever on. Tell her again they have needles in their noses, like compasses, guiding them to where they must go. Say you can see Sirius, the first star, though you know she is already sleeping like something crash-landed, unfathomable, from an even deeper distance—her breasts below the coat you both share, her wrists so defenseless that the world, for the first time, frightens you—and you begin, in that light, to know what it is.

Blue Mountain Review / December 2022 32
“ “
“First Star” is from Something Bright by Ryler Dustin, © 2022. Reprinted by permission of Green Linden Press.

Clifford the poetry collections of Brooks

“Clifford Brooks has the rare gift of combining a lyric intensity and a grounded honesty in his poetry, one that reflects an amplified, passionate, and giving soul, but one that understands, very well, the suffering that sculpts a genuine heart...In these poems–whether narrative or lyric, minimal or dithyrambic, Brooks knows human passion, how it must suffuse any art worth making.”

“Clifford Brooks writes a passionate, eloquent poetry, as wide-ranging as the models he sometimes invokes, including the blues and the epics.”

There are storytellers, and there are stories. Occasionally, we find no distinction between them. This is the case with Clifford Brooks.

-Kelli Allen, author of Imagine Not Drowning (2017), How We Disappear (2016), Some Animals (2016), and Otherwise, Soft White Ash (2012)

Clifford Brooks’s Athena Departs is tornadic, both in its dizzying whirl of settings, images, and motifs and in its sheer elemental energy....There is nothing faked here, nothing pretended to. Athena Departs is poetry fully meant by its creator, delivered with the force of a whirlwind.

cliffordbrooks@southerncollectiveexperience.com and use “CCB3 Poetry Bundle” as the subject line.

cliffordbrooks@southerncollectiveexperience.com

Now for a limited time, the entire collection available, signed and personalized. To find out more reach out directly to the author at

INTERVIEW WITH WANG PING

WELCOME. I KNOW YOU AS A POET. WHEN I WAS PREPARING FOR THIS INTERVIEW, I WAS DELIGHTED TO LEARN THAT POETRY IS ONLY A PART OF WHAT YOU DO: WRITER, NOVELIST, TEACHER, DANCER, MULTIMEDIA ARTIST, AND CO-CREATOR OF THE KINSHIP OF RIVERS PROJECT. WHICH OF THE MANY ARTS THAT YOU PARTICIPATE IN CAME FIRST?

I walked into a wrong class at LIU Brooklyn in 1987, and it turned out to be a creative writing class taught by Lewis Warsh. I sat down and tried my first story, and Lewis wrote on it: You should start writing a novel about China. It opened a new world for me. I realized I had a story to tell. Then Lewis introduced me to Allen Ginsberg, who was seeking a translator for his America China Poetry Festival in 1988. I worked with Allen for half a year, and started writing poetry. So that one wrong class led me to the path of writing: poetry, story, novel, essays.

In St. Paul, I met a photographer who put a digital camera into my hands before my trip to China, and asked me to bring some photos for him. I took a few, and he picked out one photo, said this is good. He explained why it was a good image, and I got hooked.

In 2012, I started a kinship of rivers project, and started multi-medium work: writing, photography, film installation art.

YOUR LATEST BOOK CAME OUT IN 2020 (MYNAME IS IMMIGRANT). WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO WRITE THIS BOOK? CAN YOU TALK A LITTLE ABOUT THE CURRENT SITUATION FOR IMMIGRANTS?

Immigrants have it rough, not only in America, but all over the world, for many reasons: financial, mental, cultural and spiritual readjustment. They have to start from ground zero, unless they come with money and network, which often is not the case, especially for climate and political refugees, and with the climate change, it’ll get worse. With the anti-China sentiment stirred up by the politicians and media, Asians are facing serious violence. My book wants to tell the world: only the strongest, the bravest, the wisest and most resilient people are willing to uproot and build a new life in a new country. We work harder and smarter for our survival; we contribute our best to the new world; We give our new blood and flesh to make America more beautiful.

3535

WHAT CURRENT PROJECTS ARE YOU WORKING ON THAT YOU’D LIKE TO SHARE WITH OUR READERS?

I finished two poetry manuscripts: The River within Us, forthcoming from MadHat Press 2023, and I’ve Tried to Write a Paradise, forthcoming soon too. I’m completing a book of essays: Teaching Poetry Is a Dangerous Profession. Also completing a translation of Chinese Anthology along the Yangtze and Yellow River: The Hidden Dragons and Phoenix.

I’D LOVE TO HEAR MORE ABOUT YOUR MOTHER. WE ARE FRIENDS ON FB AND YOU POSTED: “GOOD MORNING FROM MY MOM, SHE’S GETTING READY FOR HER LIFETIME PROJECT: RECITING, SINGING, AND INTERPRETING LAO ZI’S. SHE IS BLIND, SO THE WHOLE BOOK LIVES IN HER HEART AND COMES OUT OF HER HEART. I’M SO PROUD TO BE HER DAUGHTER. I’LL TURN HER CHANTING AND INTERPRETATION….” IS THIS WHERE YOU DEVELOPED YOUR LOVE OF WORDS? ARE THERE OTHERS IN YOUR FAMILY WHO ARE ALSO CREATIVE?

My mother is a musician and singer, taught all her life, and now working on Tao De Jing in her blindness. She’s an inspiration. We didn’t get along in our earlier years, due to our outer environment and inner personality, but now we inspire and encourage each other from a distance, and it’s perfect. No one else in my family is interested in art. I’m the only one. I’m the maverick. They don’t understand why I’m not interested in making money, when everyone in China from my era was

36

getting rich. Haha.

YOUR ROWING SEEMS LIKE AN EXTENSION OF DANCE; HOW DOES RHYTHM FIGURE IN YOUR WRITING?

Water is my cadence, essence, power, life, muse. I get recharged in the Mississippi.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART ABOUT TEACHING? WHAT WAS THE BEST THING YOU LEARNED FROM A TEACHER?

That we know so little about this world, about ourselves. The more I teach, the more I’m humbled. Real learning starts from teaching.

HOW CAN WE FIND OUT MORE ABOUT YOUR KINSHIP OF RIVERS PROJECT?

Please refer to www.kinshipofrivers.org

WHERE CAN WE FIND YOU ON SOCIAL MEDIA?

Facebook: Wang Ping | Facebook

Instagram: Wang Ping (@wangping9)

Twitter: Wang Ping (@wangjingping) / Twitter www.wangping.com www.kinshipofrivers.org

3737
Blue Mountain Review / December 2022 38 Look no further... ONE MONTH FREE plus... 1 DAY FREE TRIAL! OfficeEvolution.com/locations/roswell • roswell.ga@OfficeEvolution.com PRIVATE OFFICES, COWORKING & MEETING ROOMS 470-514-1500 821 Atlanta Street, Roswell, GA 30075 *Inquire within for further details

INTERVIEW WITH JUDY JUANITA

WHEN DID YOU DECIDE THAT YOU WANTED TO WRITE A NOVEL ABOUT YOUR LIFE?

The use of language and ritual in the black church awed me in childhood where I loved communal gatherings, gospel fests, and religious celebrations. When I joined the civil rights movement through the black student movement and the Black Panther Party (BPP), I started editing the BPP newspaper. The BPP was appropriating the oppressor’s language and using it to shatter oppression. Off the pigs. Power to the people. All power to the people. Free Huey. That new language was as

of urban warfare—gunshots, sirens, ambulances. I was still the child of Oklahomans who’d migrated in the 1930s and 40s to escape segregation and fill wartime jobs. I’d come home to aging parents who, I realized, had fought the underbelly their whole time in Cali.

CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT A LITERARY MENTOR YOU HAVE AND WHAT SHE MEANS TO YOU?

Flannery O’Connor is under attack, rightfully so, for her privately held racism and bigotry. Yet I love her work which has mentored me. I can distance from an artist’s character flaws yet love their work. A passage from “A Good Man is Hard to Find” with the n-word led a black student to drop my lit class. O’Connor delves into the transgressive, something that I didn’t know I was doing until I wrote a controversial poem with the line “Woman, I just want your pussy.” It was a great hit on poetry circuits in NY/NJ where I lived in the 1970/80s. I liked the reaction but concentrated on more acceptable poetry, nevertheless trying to locate that elusive voice.

Oakland was a stone’s throw from the site of Felix Mitchell’s drug operation. There I sat, night after night, writing, listening to the soundtrack

In 2002 I wrote a play called Counter Terrorism with Ann, a homeless woman who speaks her truth whenever she opens her mouth. Ann is broke, ragged, on the streets, and thus estranged from working and middle-class blacks. We hear this estrangement as Ann satirizes her fellow blacks in their rush to adopt names from Anglo-Saxon forebears:

3939
Manhattan my ass, you’re in Oakland $9.95 Poetry/Feminism/Racism/Social Justice Judy Juanita’s poems are “set against the backdrop of rough-and-tumble Oakland....These subtle and not-sosubtle erotic performances juxtapose the viciously practical with the beautiful.... Modern and historical hallmarks of social justice are present throughout, from Donald Trump’s rise and Harvey Weinstein’s crimes to the acquittal of O.J. Simpson, Sarah Palin’s ‘babymommadrama,’ and the Gulf War....” Kirkus Reviews Juanita Photo by Kingmond
Young EquiDistance Press Oakland, CA Judy Juanita Manhattan my ass, you’re in Oakland • Judy Juanita EquiDistance Press

Max. That’s what I like about white people. They keep the same name over and over, generation after generation, it’s Max, Max, Max, Max, Max, Henry the first, Henry the second, Henry the eighth. They names is not confusing. They don’t care if the little baby look up at em all funny, Mabel? Why you giving me this tired name again? We do different. We go whichever way we get enslaved. Wha massa name? John? Das my name. We get with the French and we name ourselves Denise, Charmaine, Elouise. We get with the Irish and it’s Siobhan, Mickey. We went Swahili, evbody had Cumbuka, emboli-all them names sound like they got booger or booty up in em. Haki Madabootie. So now we got all these twenty somethings running around with Ay-rab names. Ahmed, Muhammad, Siddiqi. They just sounded different before Sept. 11: Khalid, Abdul, and Hasan. Now it sounds like your grandson is on the 22 Most Wanted List. And if you go to the Post Office and look at the faces, you don’t see Amad al-sheik Abdullah. You see Miz Jones’ nephew what been living with her since he got out of prison. Or Tommy Green who six feet eight and can’t play basketball. And white folks still naming babies Thomas and Jefferson and George. And here Ann test. Here my test. The Mexicans never enslaved us but show me a black baby name Jose.

This estrangement might be what O’Connor and artists use to keep themselves sane enough to explore the perplexities of life.

Blue Mountain Review / December 2022 40

HOW DOES TEACHING INFLUENCE YOUR CREATIVE LIFE, AND WHAT DO YOU WANT YOUR STUDENTS TO KNOW ABOUT WRITING?

I was only offered freshman composition courses for years, instead of creative writing courses which are so subjective. It freed my creative time. Students need to know that writing/reading is a big conversation that they can join.

HOW DO WE FIND YOU AND YOUR WORK ONLINE?

The High Price of Freeways and Manhattan my ass, you’re in Oakland are available at bookstores and online. These two, plus my other books, links to reviews, interviews, and my bio can be found at www.judyjuanita.com

Novelist, poet, playwright, and essayist Judy Juanita won the American Book Award in 2021 for her poetry collection Manhattan my ass, you’re in Oakland. In her semi-autobiographical novel Virgin Soul (Viking 2013), the protagonist joins the Black Panther Party in the sixties in the San Francisco Bay Area. Juanita’s collection of short stories, The High Price of Freeways, won the 2021 Tartt Fiction Award, her essay “The Gun as Performance Poem” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2014, and her poem “Bling” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2012. Her twenty plays have been produced in the Bay Area and New York City. She teaches writing at University of California, Berkeley.

4141
42

about the instructor

Clifford Brooks was born and raised in Athens, Georgia. His first poetry collection, The Draw of Broken Eyes & Whirling Metaphysics, was re-issued by the SCE Press in July 2020. His second fulllength poetry volume, Athena Departs: Gospel of a Man Apart, as well as a limited-edition poetry chapbook, Exiles of Eden, were published by the SCE Press, second editions, in August 2020.

Clifford is founder of The Southern Collective Experience, a cooperative of writers, musicians and visual artists, which publishes the journal of culture The Blue Mountain Review and hosts the NPR show Dante’s Old South. He is on the faculty of The Company of Writers, co-hosts This Business of Music & Poetry, and provides tutorials on poetry through the Noetic teaching application. In 2022, Clifford launched classes on teachable.com and hired to teach creative writing with the UCLA Extension program.

- Sharpen technical skill

- Increase appeal in the job market

- Learn creative ways to inspire

https://brooks-sessions.teachable.com/p/the-working-writer

44 click here to Learn More
Writer From Inspiration to Publication Join us for online courses Get Inspiration Professional edge Gain Confidence
The Working
https://teachable.sjv.io/c/3209676/1547114/12646

ERICA MAE

I AM A HUGE FAN OF ROM-COMS, PARTICULARLY THE HALLMARK CHRISTMAS TYPE, SO WHEN I SAW YOU WERE WRITING FALLING FOR LEMON SNOWBALLS I WAS ALREADY IN.

Thank you so much! I have always loved rom-coms, including Hallmark Christmas types. Since Falling for Lemon Snowballs is a romcom novella (2 to 3-hour short read at 100 pages), readers can experience all the cozy holiday romance from their e-device at one sitting and with no commercials.

WHAT IS IT ABOUT THIS GENRE THAT YOU THINK READERS FIND SO ATTRACTIVE? WHAT DO YOU THINK RETRACTORS TO THE GENRE GET WRONG?

With rom-coms, readers get to retreat into a world that makes them feel good. They laugh, they smile, and they hum with delight. And when readers read that last line, they walk away happy. Rom-coms inspire love. And that as an author is my goal—to bring more love into the world, one book at a time.

Many retractors are biased because they believe rom-coms only focus on romance and the happy ever after. But I disagree. Although rom-coms are centered around love and joy, rom-coms don’t limit the character’s (or characters’) journey; rom-coms weave realism with a little wonderous imagination…what we call book magic. Yes, there is love, but there is SO much more—connection, self-discovery, etc.—and even a humorous twist before the HEA. Characters are also human with their own flaws, and readers can relate to them and their journey. Rom-coms are like a wonderful bouquet—full of colors, depth, and vibrancy, and maybe a few thorns, but in the end, they make you feel good.

WHAT KINDS OF ROMANTIC STORIES SPEAK TO YOU? DO YOU HAVE SPECIFIC AUTHORS OR BOOKS THAT INSPIRE YOU?

I love romantic stories with strong heroines. I’ve recently found myself enjoying Mariah Stone’s Called by a Highlander series, but I also love Josie Silver, Meghan Quinn, Tessa Bailey, and of course, Nora Roberts.

WHO DOESN’T LOVE NORA ROBERTS?! HAHA. GO ON…

Lately however, I’ve also been reading quite a bit of sweet romances including stories by Remi Carrington and Wendy Stetson. As part of the author community on Twitter and Instagram, I’ve met so many wonderful Indie and traditionally published authors, and as such, have read a wide variety of romances I probably wouldn’t have found in bookstores, but have enjoyed tremendously.

IS THERE ANYTHING THAT SPECIFICALLY INSPIRED FALLING FOR LEMON SNOWBALLS?

This romcom was inspired by my grumpy, recluse father-in-law who lives across the street from me (literally 50 feet away, but we love him) and an incident while I was picking lemons from his tree in the front yard. I got stuck. Literally.

Picture this: determined me and my messy mom bun collecting lemons for a Lemon Meringue Pie. When I spotted the perfect lemon near the center of the tree, I squeezed between tiny, thorned branches and groupings of green leaves, while lemon verbena filled my senses, but as I encircled my hand around the bright fruit and lifted my head,

4545
INTERVIEW WITH

I felt a tug to my scalp. That’s right. My hair was tangled in the tiny branches, and I was pinned in the center of a forty-year-old lemon tree.

OMG. SORRY. GO ON…

I yelled for help. Dogs barked. The wind blew. And there I was—a lemon tree ornament. After I detangled myself with a little help from Pops, I thought how I could turn this funny, albeit painful incident into a meet-cute for a Romcom. From there, Falling for Lemon Snowballs was born!

FIND A PUBLISHER?

Thank you! We have known each other for a long time, and I’m blessed to have wonderful friends like you in my corner. The impetus for getting my work out into the world was honestly my kids. One evening while telling my son a story, he asked if he could hold my story. It was the sweetest moment. And that got me thinking…I realized I had left my first novel (written at 22) in my desk along with a dozen children’s stories for over ten years. I got married, had children, and life happened, but here I was working way too many hours at a corporate job to pay the bills, and I didn’t feel fulfilled. Sure, I kept jotting down ideas and writing, but I decided I needed to focus on my dream of becoming a career author again. I joined member associations,

Erica Mae is the author of romantic comedies, contemporary romance, and children’s books. Her goal as an author is to bring more love into the world, one book at a time. She brings readers the perfect combination of love, light, and laughter in every book. When she’s not writing, you can find her exploring with her family, on a yoga mat, or cooking up a new recipe.

46
WE’VE KNOWN ONE ANOTHER FOR A LONG TIME NOW, AND I AM SO HAPPY TO SEE YOU FINALLY GETTING YOUR WORK OUT THERE INTO THE WORLD. WHAT WAS THE IMPETUS TO JUST GO FOR IT AND NOT ONLY WRITE YOUR BOOK, BUT ALSO DO THE WORK TO

Twitter, writing communities, and connected with critique partners. My critique partner, Annie Cathryn (Author of The Friendship Breakup) who the main character of my book is named after, actually notified me of the call for Christmas Cookie stories from The Wild Rose Press.

At that time, I was querying agents with a few novels and getting disheartened in the query trenches. It’s a very long process—querying agents, waiting months for a response or no response, and I wanted a fun challenge. I’d also just recently gotten stuck in the lemon tree, so it seemed serendipitous!

Getting something published also would help me establish some author credit. So, I drafted the story, edited, and sent the final manuscript to my critique partners for constructive feedback, then queried The Wild Rose Press. The editor who responded loved my original story idea and the funny lemon tree incident, but asked that I expand a few chapters and add more showing details. Happily, I revised, added another twenty-five pages, and resubmitted. The book was accepted. I signed the contract and a year later, my book is ready for readers!

YOU ALSO WRITE CHILDREN’S BOOKS. DO YOU HAVE A

ARE THERE OTHER GENRES YOU’D LIKE TO TRY?

I do! I’ve always loved children’s books and actually initially wanted to be a Kindergarten teacher when I first attended college. I volunteered at many schools and have always loved working with children. I also come from a very large family of storytellers, and storytelling is a big part of our family gatherings.

When writing children’s picture books and novels, the process starts out essentially the same—each book starts with an idea. Then, I grab a piece of paper and a pen, and expand on that down idea, then jot down characters, maybe a few sketches to inspire me, etc. Next, I plan a rough outline and begin. Still, these two genres are completely different and have their own rules and guidelines that need to be followed (e.g., character limitations of 500 words to 1K for children’s picture books).

Regarding any other genres I’d like to try, I actually have a YA speculative fiction series I wrote a few years back that I need to revisit and revise. I’m not sure if I’ll write more YA in the future, but I’ll never say never! I also love western romances…there’s something about cowboys…

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE WHO WANTS TO GET INTO WRITING IN A GENRE LIKE ROMANTIC COMEDY? OR ANY OTHER GENRE? WHAT WAS SOME OF THE BEST ADVICE YOU HAD FROM OTHERS ALONG THE WAY?

Start right now. Don’t wait. If you want to write, write. And don’t let anyone influence you. I learned that the hard way. I always grew up loving romances, particular rom-coms. My grandmother (YaYa) had an extensive collection of books in her office including romances and participated in book swaps. When I was a teenager, she started

4747
DIFFERENT PROCESS WHEN YOU ARE WRITING A CHILDREN’S BOOK COMPARED TO A ROMANTIC COMEDY?

sharing her books with me and told me to skip the “silly scenes.” I loved going into her library, selecting books, and sitting in her den reading beside her with the subtle notes of her floral perfume floating in the air.

Yet, when I started writing stories and decided I wanted to write romance, there were a lot of opinions from friends, family, and even strangers such as, “You’ll never get published,” or “that genre is flooded” or “your story has probably already been done before.”

IT’S FUNNY, YOU HEAR THOSE OPINIONS NO MATTER WHAT GENRE YOU’RE WRITING IN!

I admit, I was young and naïve, and didn’t know any authors/writers at that time, so I listened and changed my first book from romance to women’s fiction. And guess what? I had a handful of agents requests full manuscript requests, but all had the same feedback: the manuscript was well written, but they’d love the book to focus more on romance along with the heroine’s journey. This MS is on my to-do list to revise. The advice here is to be authentic. Be you. Write what you want to write. Because, there are millions of readers around the world and readers just for your wonderful book.

SUCH GOOD ADVICE. PREACH!

Another piece of advice a writer once told me is to keep writing. Writing, like any craft, takes practice and time. Write that first novel. Then, write another. This helps you hone your craft and give you more confidence. You’ll know you’re a writer.

Also, if you’re searching for that perfect agent to support you on your author journey like me (and I’m so close and currently in discussions), then you need to have a few publishable books ready to pitch that agent to show him/her what else you can and have written. Plus, the more books you write, the more books you can get into the hands of readers. If you want an author career, you need to keep writing.

So, if you want to get into writing, write. Be consistent, make author/writer friends, join the #writingcommunity, find critique partners to provide honest feedback, and go for it!

PLEASE LET OUR READERS KNOW HOW THEY CAN GET THEIR HANDS ON FALLING FOR LEMON SNOWBALLS. AND PLEASE LET THEM KNOW WHAT YOU ARE WORKING ON AND WHERE TO FOLLOW YOU ONLINE.

I would love to! Readers can pre-order Falling for Lemon Snowballs everywhere digitally right now including Amazon, Apple, and Barnes & Noble for just $2.99. The official release date is December 5th .

I’m currently working on the third book in my contemporary romance Scottish Stars series inspired by Outlander. It’s a swoony, adventurous series with strong female leads, handsome heartthrobs with sexy Scottish accents, and most of all heart.

You can follow me on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. I just had a Holiday Giveaway where I gave away a holiday, baking cheer box and will be having another on December 1st on my Instagram account @EricaMaeBooks. I’d love for your readers to join! To follow along on my author journey, I also have a monthly blog at www.ericamae.net/blog that readers can subscribe to as well.

Blue Mountain Review / December 2022 48

BLURB ABOUT FALLING FOR LEMON SNOWBALLS

WILL STEALING HER NEIGHBOR’S LEMONS PUT ANNIE INTO A STICKY SITUATION…OR A NEW ROMANCE?

Annie Baker sets her sights on winning the Old Towne Christmas Festival’s Cookie Contest. A blue ribbon could provide the clout to open her dream bakeshop. But there’s one problem: she needs lemons. Stealing lemons isn’t as easy as Annie believes when she ends up tangled in the tree, thanks to her neighbor’s big, slobbery dog. Standoffish and mysterious neighbor, Kade Black, rescues her, but his cool exterior crumbles when he becomes Annie’s baking assistant. Still, Annie senses Kade has secrets. When those secrets are finally revealed, not only is Annie’s heart affected, but her dream might crumble.

4949
“ “

Are you, or someone you know on the spectrum? Do you constantly feel out of place due to Autism? Did a late-in-life diagnosis give you some peace of mind, but leave many more unanswered questions?

Adulting with Autism

Lectures and Mentorship on How to Thrive on the Spectrum

https://teachable.sjv.io/c/3209676/1547114/12646

- About Your Instructor -

Clifford Brooks is founder of the Southern Collective Experience and Editor-in-Chief of The Blue Mountain Review. Aside from his business ventures he is also a poet. To date Clifford has two full-length collections of poetry, The Draw of Broken Eyes & Whirling Metaphysics and Athena Departs: Gospel of a Man Apart, Exiles of Eden is a limited edition chapbook available solely from its author. Over the last twenty years Clifford traversed the traditional route in publishing and learned how to create, sell, and market creative writing. Throughout his tenure as writer and educator, Clifford stands as an advocate for those on the autism spectrum. As board member of Autism Speaks, he is intimately aware of the need for greater community and understanding.

Here on Teachable, Clifford shares his wisdom on living the creative life and adulting with autism.

Blue Mountain Review / December 2022 52
Educated Compassionate Honest Learn coping Techniques Get Inspiration Gain Confidence Learn More & Enroll Here

INTERVIEW WITH A.M. JUSTER

NOT UNLIKE THE 20TH-CENTURY AMERICAN POET WALLACE STEVENS, YOU HAVE HAD A SUCCESSFUL CAREER AS A LAWYER AND A PUBLIC SERVANT IN WASHINGTON, D.C., WHILE ALSO PUBLISHING AS A HIGHLY ACCLAIMED, AWARD-WINNING POET AND TRANSLATOR. HOW HAVE YOU DONE IT? WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE WHO WANTS TO DO AS YOU HAVE?

God gives us limited time on Earth, and I don’t believe in wasting that time, so I try to focus on family, work, and poetry. I took early retirement from the federal government due to two autoimmune diseases and their collateral damage, but when I was commuting I often listened to language tapes or recordings of great poets. I also wrote poems in my head during flight delays, dog walks, and idiotic mandatory training sessions. I don’t have hobbies, collect anything other than poetry books, watch much television, or do much online except over-tweeting at @amjuster.

WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST CHALLENGING AND/OR THE MOST REWARDING WORK THAT YOU HAVE TRANSLATED THUS FAR, AND WHY, AND WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO ACCOMPLISH IN AND THROUGH YOUR TRANSLATIONS?

I recently completed my most challenging translation project, a complete translation of Petrarch’s Canzoniere that replicates its rhyme and meter. The Canzoniere is one of the most important texts in the history of literature—for starters it popularized the sonnet and created confessional poetry—but it is brutally hard to translate. The most obvious problem is the music of the language, which is extremely hard to imitate in English. A less obvious problem is its tone. Translators in the first half of the twentieth century latched onto the then-current scholarly misperception of the Canzoniere as a work of “courtly love,” sprinkled their translations with silly archaic language, and sidestepped Petrarch’s struggle to reconcile his carnal desires with his Christianity.

Recent translators often do not read Italian, and thus tend to stick closely to Robert Durling’s monumental “literal” translation, even when it is incorrect, and to echo Durling’s language even when it is awkward or bland. They also tend to dilute Petrarch’s religious imperatives. I tried to capture Petrarch’s passions, inconsistencies, and Augustinian inclinations as accurately as possible. Dana Gioia persuaded me to take on a complete translation of the Canzoniere in 1999, and I failed badly after working at it for eighteen months. For reasons that are not entirely clear to me, I went back to the project in December of 2019 and did very little else until I sent the manuscript in June of 2022 to my publisher, W.W. Norton.

WHAT DOES THE WRITING PROCESS LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?

I really don’t have a “writing process,” and just fit my writing into my schedule. In recent years my body wakes me up very early, which I am not happy about, and I am usually not feeling sharp enough to write until after I have had breakfast a few hours later. These days early morning is for email and Twitter. Some days I write very little, but when I am translating I will sometimes work twelve to fourteen hours if I am feeling well enough to do it. I usually write in my notebooks, but I often grab the closest scrap of paper if I have an idea I want to try out. I mostly use pencils and pens, but I have been slowly composing more on my computer despite my reservations about that approach. I like to have poets I respect look at my drafts. For a quarter century I benefited from the Powow River Poets workshop, but these days my feedback is more ad hoc.

5353

SO, WHAT UNUSUAL THINGS HAVE YOU DONE THAT WERE FUN?

A) When I was nine and ten I hung out at the old Boston Patriots’ training camp and would sometimes run routes after practice for Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Huarte; B) In high school I played the Wicked Witch of the West in a very loose French translation of The Wizard of Oz (classmates jokingly threatened to blackmail me with the pictures when I was going through Senate confirmation); C) I watched my mom flip out my senior year in college when I received an ornate Christmas card from the Director of the CIA and could not adequately explain to her “exactly what are you doing at school?”; D) I had two presidents, one cabinet secretary, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Tony Fauci among my clients when I was practicing law; E) I was part of a five-person team that won the finals of a thirty-four team charity shoot-out event on the legendary Boston Celtics parquet floor at halftime of a game with Cleveland Cavaliers; F) I was an extra in a truly dreadful movie with Sean Penn and Naomi Watts; G) I wrote humorous public service announcements for the great Patty Duke and we became good friends.

A. M. Juster is the author of ten books of poetry and translated poetry. His most recent book is Wonder and Wrath (Paul Dry Books 2020) and his translation of Petrarch’s Canzoniere is due from W.W. Norton in early 2024. His work has appeared in Poetry, The Paris Review, and The Hudson Review, and has won the Richard Wilbur Award, the Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award, and the Barnstone Translation Prize. In addition to teaching prosody at the University of Saint Thomas and serving as poetry editor for Plough, he is a former Commissioner of Social Security and a former biotechnology CEO.

Bio:

A. M. Juster is the author of ten books of poetry and translated poetry. His most recent book is Wonder and Wrath (Paul Dry Books 2020) and his translation of Petrarch’s Canzoniere is due from W.W. Norton in early 2024. His work has appeared in Poetry, The Paris Review, and The Hudson Review, and has won the Richard Wilbur Award, the How-

54

WHO ARE YOUR CONTEMPORARY INFLUENCES?

First and foremost is Dana Gioia. I stopped writing poetry for more than a decade after a devastating class with F.D. Reeve, then started up again after reading Dana’s review of Philip Larkin’s Collected Poems in the Washington Post; I later wrote him an embarrassing fan letter. As a result of that letter, he invited me to the first West Chester conference for formal poetry, where I met many of the poets important to my work: Catherine Tufariello, Alan Sullivan, Timothy Murphy, Aaron Poochigian, and Kate Light, just to name a few. Four years later Dana persuaded Catherine and me to mount our assault on Petrarch’s Canzoniere.

In 1995 I went to a reading in Newburyport, Massachusetts by a poet whose work I had admired in journals, Rhina Espaillat. Rhina took me under her wing and invited me to join her workshop, which included such extraordinarily talented poets as Alfred Nicol, Deborah Warren, Midge Goldberg, Robert Crawford, and Bill Coyle. Finally, the great Richard Wilbur encouraged me in my translation of Aldhelm’s riddles and the great X.J. Kennedy taught me what little I know about making people laugh with poetry.

5555
5757 Chestnut Review FOR STUBBORN ARTISTS CHESTNUTREVIEW.COM Accepting submissions 365 days a year
Blue Mountain Review / December 2022 58

visual Art Interviews

Interviews

visual

INTERVIEW WITH RUTH-ANN THORN

WHAT’S YOUR STORY, MORNING GLORY? WHAT’S THE SCOOP ON RUTH-ANN THORN?

I guess the scoop is that I am an art fanatic! I’ve been working with artists for over two decades to help them create art that will stand the test of time. Art defines our existence and I feel like I am the keeper/advocate for the artist.

WHAT KIND OF CHILD AND YOUNG ADULT WERE YOU? HOW DID THOSE YEARS CRAFT YOU INTO THE MAVEN OF FINE ART YOU ARE TODAY?

I’ve always pushed the envelope… Show me the line and I’m definitely stepping over it. I’ve always been that way which wasn’t always the easiest path. I like to see how far you can go with an idea. That’s why I like art! Learning what not to do is half of life. Artists are always experimenting and most of what they create they don’t like. I relate with the artist and have become an advocate for them.

WHAT IS YOUR PHILOSOPHY ON “GOOD ART?” WHAT MAKES SOME ART IMMORTAL?

Good art is subjective… Great art gets your attention. Great art will evoke emotions both good and bad but it refuses to be ignored. Art is visual storytelling. I think what makes some art Immortal or timeless is the story behind it.

WHAT KIND OF CREATIVE ARE YOU? ARE THERE ANY PAINTS OR POEMS YOU DABBLE IN?

My creative outlet has many different layers but currently it’s in filmmaking. It’s like putting a puzzle together. What you capture on film isn’t necessarily what you see in the edit room. It just goes to show that our perception of reality in a moment is always that true. I like to paint but I don’t do it very often because I am around such great talents it’s rather frustrating.

YOU HAVE A LONG AND WELL-RESPECTED HISTORY AS A GALLERY OWNER. PLEASE WALK US THROUGH YOUR YEARS IN THAT FINICKY BUSINESS.

Owning a gallery is definitely a profession that requires a lot of strength. physical strength to do the job of hanging art, packing, delivery and a whole bunch of other things. It also

6161

requires the ability to hold a collectors hand through the process of acquiring a piece of art that will bring them joy for their entire lifetimes.

It seems very strange to me that I had seven galleries in operation all together for approximately 15 years. There were 140+ employees and it was a huge enterprise. Although super successful financially it lacked intimacy. I’ve scaled back to one gallery and I feel like it’s more successful but not necessarily in a monetary way. Sometimes less is more because of the individual impact on people’s lives that can’t be created unless you’re actually there. When I had all those galleries I wasn’t intimate with the artists or the patrons. I was too busy looking at P&L’s. I’m much happier now.

WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY?

The success of seeing a vision come to fruition. It usually requires an entire team and a lot of focus. Most things I try are not successful. Well I take that back… Success can sometimes be defined as a huge lesson of what not to do. If I learn from a mistake and don’t repeat it again eventually I find success.

Blue Mountain Review / December 2022 62

WHAT ARTISTS DO YOU WISH WERE GETTING MORE ATTENTION THESE DAYS?

Women artists! There’s still a bias towards male artists in every gallery.

YOU HAVE A STELLAR PODCAST FOCUSED ON LOCAL ARTISTS. PLEASE FILL US IN ON THE DETAILS.

I am very excited about “this is Indian country,” a 12-episode series about creators who are Native American. It allows the viewer to see who we are today as resilient creative people. I’m hoping it removes the stereotypes that still exist.

HOW CAN OUR READERS KEEP UP WITH YOU ONLINE?

My Instagram and facebook. Search for “Art of the CityTV.” You can watch my show on FNX (first nations experience).

6363

With a Concentration in Humanities & Culture and a Creative Writing Certificate at Union Institute & University.

• A Doctoral Program with an Emphasis on Social Justice.

• Week-Long Residencies Only Twice per Year (July and JanuaryVirtual as Needed).

• Creative Dissertation Option.

• Finish in as Few as Three Years.

• Classes following residencies are 100% online.

• Enroll Part or Full-time.

• Transfer in up to 9 Credits of Graduate Coursework.

EARN YOUR PH.D. IN INTERDISCIPLINARY STUDIES
Apply for FREE – No Test Scores Required myunion.edu | 800.861.6400 AdmissionsRep@myunion.edu
OUR WRITING FACULTY INCLUDES:
Diane Allerdyce, Ph.D. Carol Barrett, Ph.D. Debby Flickinger, Ph.D. Anu Mitra, Ph.D. Linwood Rumney, Ph.D. Michael Simanga, Ph.D.

INTERVIEW WITH STEFF ROCKNAK

TELL ME ABOUT YOUR LIFE AS A SCULPTOR. WHEN DID YOU BEGIN? DID YOU HAVE ANYONE TO TEACH/ MENTOR YOU AT FIRST?

I have been making art ever since I can remember. Early on, I was mostly occupied with drawing and making paper and clay sculptures. I worked on a wood sculpture with my Dad when I was around 12; it was a soldier’s head in a helmet. The first sculpture that I made on my own was small and was carved from an old railroad tie.I was 17 or 18. When I was 21, after coming back from a semester in Rome, I loaded a giant oak tree trunk into the back of my ’72 Saab station wagon and carved “George.”

My dad was my earliest mentor—he is an artist (painter) and worked as a high school art teacher for a while. When we moved to Maine in ’72, my parents became friends with Ted Hanks, who was a well-known wood carver. Among other things, Ted carved the ducks in the trout pond at the LL. Bean mothership in Freeport, Maine. I was in awe of his work—it showed me what could be done with wood, especially in regard to detail.

CAN YOU DESCRIBE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE PROJECTS AND DISCUSS THE CONCEPTS BEHIND THOSE PIECES?

I did love making the statue of Edgar Alan Poe. The idea behind this piece was to create a sculpture that could only make sense in Boston—it couldn’t just be a statue of Poe on a plinth. So, I designed a piece that would capture Poe’s rather complicated relationship with Boston. On the one hand, he felt rejected by the city’s literary critics, a group he called the “frogpondians,” so named after the Frog Pond in the Boston Common. But on the other hand, he loved Boston because he was born there, and his mother met with some success there as an actress.

The King and The Queen, two life-size wood sculptures, were also favorite projects. They represent the complications of leadership, power, and sexism. The King is entirely self-involved, while The Queen is open, turning to look behind her in part to protect herself. Her crown, although aesthetically pleasing, is burdensome, heavy. Women in power still have a difficult time of it.

6565
GEORGE

IN ADDITION TO BEING A SUCCESSFUL SCULPTOR, YOU ARE ALSO A PROFESSOR AND CHAIR OF THE PHILOSOPHY DEPARTMENT AT HARTWICK COLLEGE. YOU RECENTLY PUBLISHED A BOOK ABOUT DAVID HUME AND HAVE STUDIED THE PHILOSOPHY OF ART. HOW DOES THAT ASPECT OF YOUR ACADEMIC LIFE INTERRELATE WITH YOUR WORK AS AN ARTIST? HOW DO YOU THINK ABOUT THESE TWO SEEMINGLY VERY DIFFERENT TALENTS?

The philosophy thing happened when I started to ask questions about art. Why make art? What is good art? But I don’t publish much on the philosophy of art—I’d rather not get all tangled up in talking about art; professional philosophers can really lose the point sometimes. I want to make art. So instead of writing about art, I’ve been mostly publishing on the philosopher David Hume.

My sculpture is not an explicit argument. It’s an emotional reaction to the world, similar to say, the horror we might feel when we see a car wreck. This is not something you can argue with, just as you generally don’t, or shouldn’t, argue with someone about her reaction to the car wreck, even if it’s wildly inappropriate. Similarly, the person who has the reaction does not, generally speaking, need to explain it—you either get it or you don’t. For the most part, this is why I don’t feel the need to write theoretical “artist statements” philosophical explanations of my work.

poetry. His most recent book is Wonder and Wrath (Paul Dry , and has won the

66
STEFF ROCKNAK WITH GUT CHECK
THE KING
THE QUEEN

My figures are my almost involuntary reaction to the “car wreck”—you either get them, or you don’t. Body language is, for the most part, universal, and so is good figurative art.

There are some similarities between studying another sculptor’s work, e.g. drawing a piece by Michelangelo and reading a philosophical text. Ideally, in both cases, we try to, respectively, observe and listen to the work at hand, What decisions did the artist/philosopher make and why? Of course, there is room for interpretation in both cases, but initially, if one’s real intention is to understand what is going on, it’s best to stick as close as possible to the object/text. So, taking the time to understand a certain sentence feels very similar to capturing a hand gesture in as much detail as possible. At the very least, in both cases, I feel like I have had an effective conversation with the artist/philosopher.

HOW DO WE REACH YOU ON SOCIAL MEDIA?

Facebook: steffrocknak

Instagram: @steffrocknak

Twitter: @steffrocknak

Tiktok: @steffrocknak

Youtube: steffrocknak

This site has everything compiled: https://bio.site/steffrocknak 24

6767
BOSTON
POE RETURNS TO
Blue Mountain Review / December 2022 68 A SUBLUNARY EDITIONS New & Forthcoming The Posthumous Works of Thomas Pilaster Éric Chevillard A Cage for Every Child S. D. Chrostowska Vagaries Malicieux Djuna Barnes Anecdotes Heinrich von Kleist Homecoming Magda Isanos The Last Days of Immanuel Kant Thomas De Quincey Morsel May Sleep Ellen Dillon Three Dreams Jean Paul & Laurence Sterne SUBLUNARYEDITIONS.COM “Poetry is always sublunary.” —Julio Cortázar
6969

INTERVIEW WITH LX BLACKSHEEP

TELL US ABOUT LX. HOW DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN THIS LIFE?

Greetings, I am Cheyenne River Sioux on my mother’s side and Diné/Navajo on my father’s side of the family. I was born in Rapid City, South Dakota. My first name is Alexander, but I like to use my artist name, LX, spelled differently, but it sounds like Alex. I sign my artwork with “L” & “X,” and the “X” I make into a teepee by drawing a small circle. I see myself as a person doing my best to be the voice for my people.

WHAT DRAWS YOU TO SCULPTING?

I started drawing as a young child and never stopped doing it. As an artist, I enjoy working on any art form. I started working in 3D because I was drawn to it by people who crossed my path in the art world. I enjoy working with Manzanita wood, not only for its elegant colors and exotic shapes but because it grows outside my home studio. I gather my material where I reside, just like my relatives did before me. When I attended more art shows, people began to notice my work. After I finished my first wood carving, I knew this art medium was for me. My carvings motivated me and boosted my art career as art lovers and collectors started showing interest in my work.

WHO ARE YOUR HEROES?

My heroes are people of the American Indian Movement (AIM). They fought for Native rights, pushing the doors open so others, such as myself, could stand up for what was right. I respect and honor my ancestors and cannot forget about the Lakota nation’s Chief Red Cloud, Sitting Bull, and Crazy Horse.

WHAT IS YOUR PHILOSOPHY OF A LIFE WELL-LIVED?

My role as a Cheyenne River Sioux Dine is to educate the public on Native American history and culture. I try to live by moving with the wind and understanding how natural Law works in my everyday life.

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR THOSE FOLLOWING IN YOUR FOOTSTEPS?

Suppose you want to get into art and are eager to learn. In that case, I encourage you to draw every day and spend time at local galleries, museums, and Social media art groups, where you’ll find someone to show you the ropes.

WHAT ORGANIZATIONS AND/OR CHARITIES DO YOU SUPPORT THAT OTHERS SHOULD SEEK OUT?

I’m working with a nonprofit museum in my area, Fresno flats museum, and park (https://fresnoflatsmuseum.org/). I’m in the process of carving a 9’ redwood into a California Indigenous woman from the surrounding local tribes. I am also working with another nonprofit called Many Lightings.

7171

Bio:

HOW DO WE KEEP UP WITH YOU ONLINE?

I have Facebook and a website where I share my artwork.

Facebook: The Wood Speaks & Artwork by LX Lewis | Santa Fe NM

Website: Native Scout StudioThe Artwork of Alex LX Lewis

72
7373

music Interviews

Interviews

music

INTERVIEW WITH JUMP, LITTLE CHILDREN'S JAY CLIFFORD

WHO IS JUMP, LITTLE CHILDREN?

Jump, Little Children is Jay Clifford, Ward Williams, Jonathan Gray, Matt Bivins and Evan Bivins. We started in 1991 as art school kids studying classical music, then traditional Irish music, then the art of songwriting. We were a grassroots band that toured non-stop for years, signed with Atlantic Records in 1997, went into a ten-year hiatus in 2005, then returned in 2015 to release two crowd-funded records— Sparrow in 2018 and now Foundering in 2022.

WHAT MAKES YOUR NEW ALBUM DIFFERENT FROM THE REST?

Foundering is the only Jump album without all five original members. We have a number of special guests including dear friends like Cary Ann Hearst from the heavy metal folk duo Shovels and Rope, Ruby Amanfu, Christina Cone from the indie-pop band Frances Cone and Travis McNabb from Sugarland and Better Than Ezra.

WHAT IS YOUR PHILOSOPHY TO A MUSIC CAREER LIVED WELL?

All careers in the arts are multi-faceted with a wide variety of demands to keep things moving forward. But at the heart of it has to be an undying love and commitment to the craft. If you’re writing about things that are important to you, the audience will sense that and allow it to become important to them.

WHY ARE YOU BREAKING OUR HEARTS (SNIFF-SNIFF) BY MAKING THIS UPCOMING TOUR YOUR FAREWELL PARTY?

Over the past few years, through Patreon, we’ve been releasing B-sides and rare tracks, episodes of a podcast called Cool Demo about the making of our last record Sparrow, live recordings, etc. But the primary goal was to write and record the next Jump album. We asked our community to come together and support this project, which they did in a big way. After I’d written the songs for the record and we were in the planning phase, choosing studios, producers, etc., Matt and Evan decided to bow out of this chapter. To me, Jump has always been the five of us. But Jonny, Ward and I agreed that we should honor the obligation to our fans and make the new record and do the tour, and at the same time honor Matt and Evan’s legacy by making it our last.

WHAT ARE YOU READING NOW?

Sapiens, by Yuval Noah Harari.

WHAT’S YOUR THEORY ON HOW POETRY AND SONGWRITING ARE SIMILAR/DIFFERENT?

The way I like to think about it is that poetry is like a flock of birds. Picture one of those huge clouds of starlings against a winter sky that moves reflexively, mysteriously together, changing shape dramatically. Every bird is intimately connected to the one they’re flying right next to, and yet the larger form of the flock is utterly transformable and elastic. The same is true for poems— the words are deeply interdependent and can lock together in a dramatic variety of forms. Lyrics are more like leaves on a tree. They bend and move in the wind but are fixed to the deeper structure of the branches, limbs and trunk of the tree. To me, that deeper structure of the songs that the lyrics are adhering to is a biological one. You see it in The Beatles’ songs, a nautilus’s shell, the structure of flowers, the Parthenon, the human body, and on and on.

7777

WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?

I have several projects that I’ll be working on starting in 2023 through Patreon. One is a retrospective album of Jump songs recorded with an orchestra. I’ve worked with a number of symphonies over the years arranging scores for bands and singer-songwriters like Gregory Alan Isakov, Amos Lee, Guster and many others and Jump has played with orchestras on a few occasions so it’s a natural progression. I’ll also be writing for the next record, putting demos out through Patreon and getting the patron’s feedback about what shape the next album is going to take— maybe a solo album or under a different band name or who knows what.

78

WHAT DOES MUSIC DO FOR YOUR SOUL?

The more deeply you think about our place in the universe the more mysterious it is. The most accurate reflection of this mystery, the best attempt to frame, not to explain but to contextualize the preposterous nature of the predicament we’re all in, is music. It’s a constellation shining through the forest that helps orient where I am, and where I’m going.

HOW DO YOU WANT THE BAND REMEMBERED?

That’s not for me to decide. But if the songs have, in some small way, made the world a more beautiful place, then that’s all I’ve ever cared about, and it’s why I’ll write my next record.

HOW DO WE KEEP UP WITH YOU ONLINE?

You can check in with us through the website - jumplittlechildren.com or follow us on facebook.com/jumplittlechildren or instagram.com/jumplittlechildren

7979

INTERVIEW WITH DAVID HUCKFELT

WHO IS DAVID HUCKFELT?

I’m a fortunately-failed theology student who’s written poetry since I was six and was lucky enough to run into American Indian Movement poet & activist John Trudell right around the time I got my first guitar. I dropped out of the University of Iowa Undergrad Writer’s Workshop to start fastening my poems to music in tiny little folk clubs, barns, general stores, nature centers, opera houses across the Midwest. I formed a band called The Pines for 12 years that still stands as my favorite band that didn’t survive the industry. If you see me and I’m happy, it’s likely because I’m riding hard with dear friends of mine in Indian Country, places like Madeline Island or Isle Royale in Lake Superior, or in my other home along the border down south of Tucson. Rancho de la Osa, Bisbee, the Chiricahuas, or in the “Big Empty” of eastern Wyoming, western Nebraska. But then you probably wouldn’t see me at all, because nobody really goes to these places.

I think America is a blood-stained, ghost-filled continent with sacred spaces and places every six steps; it’s our job to go back and pick up the jagged pieces, make something beautiful with them. My two year old son was born at the very beginning of pandemic, and to make sure he had a strong heart & spirit protection my Ojibwe friends did a naming ceremony for him over Zoom, and we drove him out to the Sandhills to baptize him in the Niobrara River. I’m the guy who will call you after having coffee to say thank you, recommend four books, ask you what you meant by “decolonize your mind”, and see if you’d like to drive to Utah in the morning.

WHY DO YOU MAKE MUSIC?

Best & briefest reason I can say is to heave a barbaric yawp right into the eye of a cruel, heartless world full of punishing blows. “I sing to prevent the fusing of bitterness to sorrow.” But not only… I know a couple thousand songs, folk songs, public domain, masterpieces from the hands of strange angels. I write new ones because we need new wineskins for the old ceremonies. It’s about the jubilation of here & now, right before all of our pulses go flatline. One mustn’t overthink these things; it’s none of your business what the results of your music are, nobody wants the chef following them home after dinner. Like Kierkegaard, I looked at the world and was very much less than impressed with all the designs of men, so I began to think about how I could go around throwing wrenches in everything. Music is the most damn fun wrench to throw of all time, and if you get good at the toss you can even bring a giant to its knees, change the name of the Washington football team, stop a pipeline, or play a wedding song that no one will ever forget. All this, and with two failed degrees in theology and creative writing, I’m woefully unqualified for anything else.

WHAT ARE YOU READING RIGHT NOW?

“After Ikkyu” by Jim Harrison, “The Gunfighters” by Paul Trachtman, “When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through” by Joy Harjo, “Spirit Matter” by Gordon Henry, “Faith, Hope and Carnage” by Nick Cave, “Thousand Cranes” by Yasunari Kawabata, “The Sentence” by Louise Erdrich, and “The Zen Teachings of Homeless Kodo” by Kōshō Uchiyama.

8181

WHAT MUSIC SHOULD MORE PEOPLE BE AWARE OF?

Native Americana… a genre coined by my dear friend/Anishinaabe songwriter Keith Secola to describe the musical equivalent of reservation border towns. The un-theoretical places where Indigenous and non-Indigenous people have had to co-exist for generations and an uncanny harmony & cross-over has developed, not least of all in the music. Artists like: Buddy Red Bow, Jackie Bird, Jay Begaye, Keith, Quiltman, Joy Harjo, Gary Farmer, and emerging artists like Joe Rainey Sr. and Tia Wood. Listen to ‘49 songs very, very loud alone on a long drive at night in New Mexico; I know you don’t know what they are, so look them up. Go to a pow-wow and stay all day, quietly at a distance.

82

HOW DO WE KEEP UP WITH YOU ONLINE?

• Web-site: https://www.davidhuckfelt.com/

• Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/david_ huckfelt/

• Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ davidhuckfeltmusic

• YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/ DavidHuckfeltMusic

• Bandcamp: https://davidhuckfelt.bandcamp.com/

• Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/ artist/3LT3ChbVJI2rE6jAFfkGWZ

• Apple Music: ‎David Huckfelt on Apple Music

8383
Blue Mountain Review / December 2022 84

INTERVIEW WITH EGOR ANTONENKO

TELL US ABOUT YOUR HISTORY, FAMILY, AND RICH HERITAGE IN MUSIC, TRAVEL, AND WORLD AFFAIRS.

For the last several month I’ve lived in Atlanta, GA and it fully has my heart. However, it was a long path getting here. I come from a small Russian region by the Baltic Sea called Kaliningrad (former Königsberg), a place once with rich German and Prussian history, much of which unfortunately didn’t survive through the centuries. I come from a family of non-musicians, but people who have loved music all their lives. I of course can’t know for a fact, but perhaps I pursued a life of music because of all of the classic music concerts my parents went to during the nine months before I was born.

I went into music early in life; mostly that was my parents decision. Later on I’ve realized that, well…90’s in Russia wasn’t the most beautiful and bright time. My dad really wanted me to enrich my life with something out-of-thisworld beautiful and meaningful. I’ll forever be grateful to my family for giving me the life opportunity to be an artist, to travel to over 50 countries to share what I do, and to change people’s lives through the power of music.

WHAT ARE YOU READING?

One of the most interesting reads I’ve had in the last little while was “Homo Deus, a brief history of tomorrow” by Yuval Noah Harari. I can confidently say that it was a mind opening experience of trying to discuss and understand more about humankind and what it might become of the century to come.

WHAT PAINTING SEIZES YOUR IMAGINATION?

It’s hard to pick one, just as I probably couldn’t tell you one favorite composer or one favorite piece of music to play. To me it’s an ongoing process, and depending on the day, mood, weather, time of the year…anything that’s a source of inspiration is constantly changing. Something that perhaps I never appreciated before becomes my one and only source of inspiration for a while. I do think that I’d choose nature over any paintings that seizes my imagination. I’ve been lucky to travel a lot, and I’ll never stop being amazed how diverse the world is: United States for example, with mountains, the colors in the south during the fall and the desert. Or Scandinavia and its minimalism and cold weather. Or something as a part of me as the broadness of Russia nature. If you listen to Rachmaninoff’s music, you’ll hear this expansiveness: to me, that is perhaps the best representation of love to not necessarily someone, but something way larger and immense.

8585

WHY DO YOU ADORE THE INSTRUMENT YOU PLAY?

I can’t think of any other instrument I wished I played. I love the cello: sound, the timbre, the repertoire I get to play, what it represents in music both as a solo instrument and as a voice in small or large ensembles. I guess there are pros and cons to it.. it’s big, heavy, expensive and always requires an additional seat on the plane. But all of that is to say, nothing can compare to the dream of one day getting a chance to play on a beautiful Italian instrument. I guess it’s somewhat similar to the common dream of driving an Italian sports car!

86 Bio:

WHY WORK WITH EDGEWOOD?

One of the things I look forward to the most about working with the Edgewood String Quartet is the ensemble’s constant exploration of new genres and art forms. They aim to provide the most complete and fulfilling music experience there is by breaking the boundaries of standard classic music concerts and connecting with audiences of all ages, backgrounds and ethnicities. As an example, my first experience of seeing ESQ in action was at an event called “Tasting Notes”, a collaboration between the quartet and Pullman Yards on creating an experience: a 4-course meal combined with a musical program inspired by the food.

DO YOU COMPOSE MUSIC?

I don’t particularly compose, but I believe being a performer makes me re-creator of some of the most beautiful pieces of music ever written. I also very much enjoy writing my own cadenzas, which isn’t necessarily composing at full meaning of that term, but rather a virtuosic Improvisation on an existing theme. I’m lucky to have met and worked with several living composers.

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT BEETHOVEN?

It’s hard in short to address feelings towards Beethoven. His music is simultaneously simple and complex at its finest. Revolutionary, almost “superhuman” ideas by a man who went through enormous struggles.

HOW CAN WE KEEP UP WITH YOU?

YouTube: https://youtube.com/@AntonenkoEgoremail

Email: antonenkoegor@gmail.comand

Instagram for Edgewood string quartet: http://www.instagram.com/edgewoodstringquartet

8787

Feature Special

Feature Special

INTERVIEW WITH DOROTHY ROMPALSKE

DIRECTOR AND CHAIR OF THE DAVID LYNCH GRADUATE SCHOOL OF CINEMATIC ARTS, MFA IN SCREENWRITING, MAHARISHI INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY

HOW HAS LIFE BROUGHT YOU TO THE POSITION YOU HOLD TODAY?

I think you could say that it’s been a winding path. I was interested in writing, so I decided to study journalism as an undergraduate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – I guess that’s our southern connection, Clifford! While I was still at UNC, I started writing film reviews for some local newspapers and thought I’d be a better critic if I understood how movies were made, so I took a film production course and realized how much more I liked making movies rather than writing about them. That led me back to my hometown, New York City, and NYU’s Tish School of the Arts, where I earned an MFA in film production.

I was working on a number of my own projects, and teaching writing and directing in New York, when I was asked to teach a screenwriting course at Maharishi International University in Fairfield, Iowa. I was invited to MIU because I practice Transcendental Meditation, and everyone at this university meditates. There’s a belief here that it isn’t just what a student learns that’s important, but also how they learn, and in a lot of ways, meditation aids in learning and is deeply connected to the creative process. I wasn’t at the university for long when they asked me if I was interested in starting an MFA program in screenwriting as part of the David Lynch Graduate School of Cinematic Arts. It was a great opportunity because the university allowed me a lot of leeway in creating this program.

WHAT’S DIFFERENT ABOUT THIS PROGRAM THAT YOU CREATED? IS IT THE DAVID LYNCH CONNECTION?

There are a number of differences, but the main one is the addition of TM as part of the creative process. David Lynch, as fans of his work likely know, is dedicated to his meditation practice. He credits it for much of his success, something he writes about in his book “Catching the Big Fish”. Transcending through this type of meditation takes you to a place of quiet stillness inside where you have access to your authentic self and, some believe, connect to a universal field of ideas. So, meditation helps our students find their unique voices as storytellers, something we see as key to their growth as writers. That’s why David is such an inspiration, and why his school is located here in Iowa at MIU, and not in New York or Los Angeles.

ARE THERE OTHER DIFFERENCES?

This is a low residency program, which means that students come to campus at the beginning of the year for a writing retreat. They learn TM at their first residency, get to know each other, and attend workshops with special guests and industry experts. Then they return home and meet in small classes and writing workshops online, plus

9191

have a private advisement each week with their mentor. I think that the considerable amount of personal attention our students get is another thing that sets us apart.

We’re also less interested in writing for the industry than some other MFA programs, because our goal is to produce authentic storytellers who see their screenplays as expressions of themselves, meaningful stories they feel compelled to write. Our mentors guide students to create stories that will draw viewers in because they are original, relatable, and universal, regardless of their genre or style. So, while the curriculum at this school covers the way the industry works, we don’t focus on developing ideas to feed the demands of the popular marketplace. Of course, this means we might not be the right fit for everyone. It depends on the personal goals of the student.

WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON RIGHT NOW?

I’m in the middle of a couple of projects, but the one that I’m focused on at the moment is related to what we’ve been talking about. I’m working on a book that explores the connection between meditation and the creative process. In my job as Program Director, I saw such a difference in many students’ writing once they started to meditate regularly, that I began to wonder what scientific research says about the changes that occur in the brain when we meditate and how that relates to the way our brain handles creative tasks.

WHAT WERE THE DIFFERENCES YOU NOTICED?

After starting to meditate regularly, the majority of our students reported that creative ideas flowed more easily. Many of those who came to

Blue Mountain Review / December 2022 92
Program Director Dorothy Rompalske, third from left, next to David Lynch, is joined by students and staff on a visit to the director’s sound studio in Los Angeles.

us with writer’s block, reported that their blocks were gone. For some, the psychological and emotional issues that had prevented them from delving into difficult personal material were mitigated, if not entirely erased. Others reported a greater capacity to generate ideas from within – a characteristic known as field independence – as well as having more energy, focus, and self-awareness when exploring even the most difficult subject matter.

While I was seeing all those changes occur with TM, I wondered if other forms of meditation, like Zen or maybe Mindfulness, which you know is very popular, might produce the same impact on the creative process. Or if not the same, how might the effects on creative thinking be different with each type of practice.

AND DO THEY DIFFER?

Yes, they do. People today embrace hundreds of different kinds of meditation practices, though they all fall into three main categories determined by the type of brain activity the meditation generates. Without getting into too much of the science here, it’s enough to say that because different parts of the brain are active during the various stages of the creative process, it’s possible to determine which kinds of meditation support each stage, and which ones might even be detrimental. It’s important to understand where you face challenges with your own creative practice, then find a meditation that strengthens that kind of thinking.

For more information, visit https://www.miu.edu/mfa-inscreenwriting

9393
During their fall residency in Fairfield, Iowa, students take a field trip to nearby American Gothic House in Eldon, site of the iconic Grant Wood painting. Oscar-winning writer/director Peter Farrelly discusses his film “Green Book” with DLMFA students. Students practice TM in a meditation dome on the campus of Maharishi International University. Students, faculty, staff, and friends celebrate their time together in Fairfield.
Explore Indulge Unwind in the High Country 711 Ma in Street, Blowing Rock, NC | meado wbrook-inn.com | 828.295.4300

THE RED PHONE BOOTH’S

INTERVIEW WITH MICHAEL MACIAS RYANN MCGEE & RAMON AROCHA

MICHAEL:

WHO ARE YOU?

My name is Michael Macias (bartender, manager, tobacconist).

WHAT DREW YOU TO THE VOCATION OF MIXOLOGIST?

Coincidentally enough, the reason I bartend is because of the original concept of Red Phone Booth that was located in East Andrews Entertainment District, formerly known as Prohibition. I met Bob Ruede after going there, post-military ball, when I was still an Army Officer (2010). After my first time meeting Bob, I was curious to know how to replicate some of the cocktails for home. I went back time after time with more questions, until I was asked if I’d like a job at one of their newer concepts called “Stillhouse” which was a moonshine cocktail bar.

WHAT PASSIONS DO YOU HAVE OUTSIDE OF WORK?

Outside of work, I’m typically beating the bricks inside and outside of the bar community, playing guitar, and I have found a new skill in cooking.

9595

WHAT DO YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT THE RED PHONE BOOTH?

Red Phone Booth is an experience. It’s one of the last vestiges in this city for cigars and cocktails, while delivering a unique and historic representation of the modern craft cocktail environment. Everyone that walks in is ready for an experience, and I’d like to give everyone the same experience I had, when I first used that rotary phone, in that tight little call box.

RYANN: HOW DO YOU STAY SANE IN THE WORLD?

I got outside and ground myself with nature. It’s therapeutic for me

WHAT ARE YOU READING NOW?

“Woman Evolve” by Sarah Jakes-Roberts

WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO THE RED PHONE BOOTH?

I was attracted most by my visit as a customer. The teamwork amongst the staff was very impressive and the food was amazing!

WHAT KEEPS YOU THERE?

The management team is not like anything I’ve experienced in this industry. Not only do you feel valued, but they assist when it’s needed.

WHAT IS YOUR SECRET TO EXCELLENT CUSTOMER SERVICE?

Just being myself. Loving people the way I want to be loved and treating everyone the way my mama would, as family.

Blue Mountain Review / December 2022 96

RAMON: TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF.

I am from Margarita Island Venezuela, I have worked in the restaurant hospitality business for 28 years and I love it. I like being able to meet and deal with different kinds of people.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT THE RED PHONE BOOTH?

I like that we are the speakeasy of the people. We like to exceed each guest expectation by providing a great service and an all around experience. We do this for all kinds of people - it does not matter where you are from or your social status.

HOW DO YOU KNOW SO MUCH ABOUT CIGARS?

I learned about cigars from Chai our cigar program coordinator, the internet, and from interacting everyday with different cigar aficionado members.

WHAT GIVES YOU PEACE?

I am happy to do what I love and still be able to have a wonderful family at home.

9797
Atlanta & Nashville CREATIVE CRAFT COCKTAILS & CIGARS PROGRAM IN A 1920’S SPEAKEASY ATMOSPHERE www.redphonebooth.com
click here to purchase

Ready to Make Your Brand a Best-Seller?

Whether you’re starting something new or considering refreshing an existing brand, we’ll help your message stand out from the rest.

Our award-winning team builds brands from scratch, and we make existing brands better with smart design, compelling copy, and innovative strategy.

Services:

Business & Brand Coaching

Branding Strategy

Rebranding & Brand Refresh

Packaging

Copywriting

Blogging

Content Creation

Naming

Graphic Design

Website Development

Digital Marketing

Book Cover & Layout Design

team@lookandfeelbranding.com www.lookandfeelbranding.com

100
Contact our brand experts at team@lookandfeelbranding.com. Mention Blue Mountain Review for a free mini brand evaluation.

INTERVIEW WITH JOE GILL, ZACK & EMILY AT BON PAUL

JOE:

GIVE US THE SKINNY ON YOUR HOSTEL (YES, INCLUDING THE HIGHLIGHTS YOU’RE SICK OF EXPLAINING) AND WHAT MAKES IT STAND OUT.

Bon Paul & Sharky’s was named for my two pet goldfish. They’re dead now. I buried them by the river. I opened the hostel having been a backpacker and traveling throughout the US and world. I wanted to create a safe, affordable place for backpackers and travelers. What I love about hostels and hope that we have here, is a place where you can meet people from all over. We have a great front porch, large back deck, fire pit, and we host potluck dinners to foster a social environment and some “hostel magic.”

WHAT SACRIFICES DID YOU MAKE TO SEE THIS DREAM HAPPEN?

The funny thing about opening a hostel because you love to travel, is that when you open a business, it can make it a lot harder to travel. For years I lived vicariously through other people, hearing their stories of adventure. Eventually, once the business became a little more established and could stand on its own, I was able to venture out again.

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR ENTREPRENEURS THAT GETS LARGELY FORGOTTEN BY THE MAINSTREAM?

When you have a good idea, don’t let your friends and family squash it. Innately, they will want to protect you when you share this idea. However, in doing so they will probably tell you all the reasons your idea will fail. Be brave. When I opened the hostel my family told me I was crazy. I remember telling my father, “I’m poor and unhappy. At least if I own my own business, I can be poor and happy.”

101101

Once you open a business, everyone is going to try to tell you how to run it and what you should be doing. Your friends, family, and customers will all want to give you advice. At some point you will need to just politely thank them, and stop listening or you’ll end up with countless designers and cooks in the kitchen. This is your dream, you’ve been dreaming it, you are the boss now.

Also, if you read enough of these entrepreneur stories or listen to the podcasts, the familiar theme I’ve found is that almost everyone comes close to failing at some point. Even now, the big companies when they were first getting started. At some point “shit happens” and you have to figure out how to overcome it. Rule number 1 is “don’t panic.”

HOW DO YOU KEEP A QUIET MIND?

I don’t. My mind is always going from the moment I wake up to the moment I pass out. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. However, I have found things that allow me to focus my thoughts that seem to be all over the place. Running is one thing I do. Driving with the stereo off is another. And sitting on the porch at night. Those are my quiet times to think. Figuring out when you have your best ideas will allow you to give yourself time to let your mind wander. This is very important in coming up with ideas, then hashing them out. Be sure to write these thoughts down. I’ve laid awake many nights and solved all the world’s problems, only to have forgotten the solutions in the morning.

102

YOUR DAY JOB IS FASCINATING. TELL US ABOUT IT.

I originally went to school for art. I’d like to say that was a bad idea or a waste of money, but I won’t. It is hard to make money on art, and four years of art school is kinda a scam. However, it taught me a lot of things about life and how to hustle. It also made me much of who I am, and in turn it made much of the hostel the “18 year installation piece” that it has become.

Eventually, I went back for grad school so I could have a 401k and health care. Somehow those things seemed important to me. I am passionate about the environment and want to play a part in saving the world. I’m also a businessman. So, how do I do that? I studied sustainable business, renewable energy, and building science. I got a MBA and a MS. I now work in energy efficiency and finance to help customers upgrade factories and warehouses, reducing their energy use, saving money, and saving the environment.

HOW DO WE FIND THE HOSTEL ONLINE?

www.bpshostel.com

https://www.instagram.com/ bpshostels/

ZACK: WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO BON PAUL AND SHARKY’S? WHAT KEEPS YOU CLOSE?

Some people have the local bar where they feel part of the crew, others have sports, or music...I never really felt like I belonged to a place - where my kind of people were. The hostel attracts my type. It’s hard to quantify what that is since the people who show up are so varied, but I believe a common theme is a bit of a wandering, adventurous nature, mixed with the courage to explore life ( and ourselves) a little bit differently. I’ve always felt a little bit different, but when I’m at the hostel, I feel understood. That is such a precious thing and has been very hard for me to recreate in other realms. That is what keeps me close. We’re a family - guests, workers, and all. And we’re always welcomeit’s a place to always come home too, no matter how far or how long you wander.

YOU’RE DEVOTED TO HELPING OTHERS FIND A BALANCE WITH LIFE AND MENTAL HEALTH. WHAT’S THAT ABOUT AND WHY IS HELPING OTHERS SO IMPORTANT?

Fundamentally I’m a pretty sensitive person. I have a tendency to not express how much something affects me, but I feel it. And I think that has something to do with why I like helping others. I know what it feels like to carry the intensity of feeling anxious, scared, embarrassed, encouraged, hopeful, curious...for good or for bad, I know how it either builds me up or brings me down. And I was very fortunate to have a number of family growing up who nur-

103103

tured and supported me as I grew up experiencing all of these emotions and more.

I see how fundamentally helpful it was to be modeled true kindness and love and I want to share that. I believe we will unfold our truest selves not when we’re told what to be but when we are given an opportunity to feel safe and explore who and what we are. That is love to me - to give someone the support and space to explore themselves. I have experienced this and I want others to too. It’s peaceful and deeply meaningful. That is how I approach therapy too. I am not looking to build people up nor am I looking to break them down. I want to help them relax their minds, unfog the glass, and adventure forward as they fall into their best selves with their best lives.

WHAT DO YOU DO TO KEEP THE HOSTEL BETWEEN THE DITCHES?

Joe is really good at this and I have learned from him over the years. He is constantly painting something a new color, or adding a new “thing” to the hostel that keeps it alive. A visit to the hostel this year will likely feel familiar but different the next year you visit. It’s kind of like a child, always growing, fundamentally the same, but with new interests and ways of expression. The guests help do this naturally as well. Half of the magic of the hostel is simply the people who make up the house on any given day.

There is always basic maintenance to attend to as well which I like doing. I see them as puzzles and projects and it’s a great way to engage the other side of my creative personality. Each staff member at the hostel also plays a big part in this. Everyone brings so many unique personal traits and interests with them. Our guests have varied interests too and it makes for a great homogeny that seems to always work out. So much culture, healing, and knowledge is shared here.

WHAT MUSIC ARE YOU INTO THAT OTHERS SHOULD KNOW ABOUT?

Charley Crockett and Phum Viphurit are two of my favorite artists right now. Always and forever, Brandi Carlile.

HOW CAN PEOPLE FIND YOU ONLINE?

Professionally - Robinhoodtherapy. com

Creatively - Instagram @interviewcanoe

EMILY:

WHY ARE YOU AT HOME AT BON PAUL & SHARKY’S?

Bon Paul & Sharky’s is a home to many travelers and backpackers all over the world. It harvests an environment that is special and cannot be reinvented. You can always find someone jamming out with their guitar on the front porch, someone cooking delicious food in the kitchen to share, or you can just listen in to one of the intimate conversations travelers share from the couches in the front lobby. I immediately felt at home here as soon as I moved in. I am able to meet people from around the globe just steps outside of my room. It’s a special place and attracts special energy and I am lucky to call this place home.

Blue Mountain Review / December 2022 104

YOU’VE TRAVELED EXTENSIVELY, ESPECIALLY IN SOUTH AMERICA. WERE YOU THERE WITH AN ORGANIZATION?

HOW DO YOU SHARE JOY?

I was in Central America!

I first went to Guatemala as a volunteer in the Peace Corps and worked as a Healthy School Coordinator in Peace Corps Guatemala, where I coordinated with different members of the Ministry of Education to implement projects that established preventative health practice. When COVID forced Peace Corps operations to end temporarily, I knew I needed to stay in Guatemala, even if I was doing something different. I ended up working a couple different jobs from hotel management to helping someone start up a non-profit. I even worked on a spirulina farm for a short time for fun.

It was in Guatemala I realized the true meaning of life is human connection and connection with our environment. I also learned to have a greater sense of community as well as knowing how to enjoy a simpler life. I share joy through being inclusive, listening to others, and radiating positivity with everyone I meet.

YOU’RE NOW STUDYING MASSAGE THERAPY IN ASHEVILLE. WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN 5 YEARS?

As a former employee of the behavioral health field, my goals with massage therapy have been to gain technical skills to help people work through anxiety and depression! I eventually want to be working with trauma survivors by reintroducing safe touch.

105105

INTERVIEW WITH BONNIE MCGILL

PLEASE TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF BOILED DOWN TO THE PUREST GOLD.

I am a mother of three beautiful children and a Montessori primary guide. I have a background in architectural design and research of user perceptions and spatial planning. In my free time I love to be in nature, whether I am hiking, biking, kayaking or gardening. I enjoy cooking and sharing food with my loved ones. I am a hobbyist oil painter and lover of the arts.

HOW DID YOU FIND THE MONTESSORI PROGRAM?

My passion for Montessori education began when I was an architecture student. My class was tasked with designing an addition for a Montessori school. I had the honor of observing multiple classrooms before starting my design and was blown away by the independence of the children and their eagerness to explore and learn. I observed 18 month-old children serving themselves snack and pouring water into real glass cups. They carefully carried their snack and water on trays to little tables that were just their size. I watched the huge concentration it took the small child to complete this task without spilling and the intrinsic pride that ensued. I observed 6th graders taking soil samples from a local lake shore, then testing the soil for contaminants and writing up a report to share with their local government. I also saw parent volunteers sharing their expert knowledge with the children and how the school thrived as a community.

My first born child was blessed to attend that very school. As I volunteered in my child’s primary class I became more intrigued with the method and how each child progressed at their own pace and how freedom of exploration was encouraged. After a move to another state I searched for a Montessori school for my then two children to attend. While touring a school the director asked me if I would be interested in assisting the lead guide in the Primary environment. I gladly accepted and spent a lovely year working with and observing how the prepared environment and the trained adult aided the child’s development.

I went on to start my own architectural design/build company, which I ran for 7 years, until another move out of state and the early arrival of my third child brought me back to Montessori. When my third child started Montessori I once again volunteered in the classroom and was asked to be a substitute guide. The following summer I was asked to be the lead guide for the class. I thought about it for one weekend and knew it was my calling. I accepted the position on a Tuesday, applied to the Houston Montessori Institute on Wednesday, was accepted into the program on Friday, jumped into my car on Saturday and started the program on Sunday. It was the beginning of an amazing three years of growth and learning.

YOU WENT THROUGH RIGID TRAINING. FILL US IN ON WHAT IT TAKES TO GET CERTIFIED.

AMI (Association Montessori International) is the official training course that Maria Montessori set up. The headquarters are based in Amsterdam. AMI primary training, for ages 3-6, is a 3 year program with three summer intensives lasting 5-7 weeks plus fall and spring week intensives. Eighty hours of observation of AMI classrooms

107107

and 120 hrs of student teaching supervised by a certified AMI guide is required. You write five albums during the course based on lectures, readings and demonstrations which includes: Theory, Practical Life, Sensorial, Language and Mathematics. You make materials for your future classroom in each of the areas as well. You finish the course by preparing for your final exams with weeks of practicing in the prepared environment with your classmates. In the final written exam you have 6 hours to answer eight questions on Montessori theory from memory. The oral exam is presenting and answering questions on any material, randomly drawn, to international judges. The oral exam lasts 2 hours. Upon passing the final exam you are certified to teach anywhere in the world with your AMI certification. I highly recommend the experience. The presentations were fascinating and the discussions with my trainers were inspiring. You also gain a bonus lifelong Montessori family.

WHAT ARE YOU READING NOW?

I am currently reading The Presence Process - A Journey Into Present Moment Awareness by Michael Brown. The gift we give ourselves and others by being present in each moment and realizing that we are responsible for the quality of our experience.

WHAT DO PEOPLE NEED TO UNDERSTAND ABOVE ALL ELSE ON HOW THE MONTESSORI PROGRAM IS ABLE TO HELP SO MANY?

You need a book to fully answer this question. I think the amazing part of Montessori education is that it is the only pedagogy based on scientific observation. Dr. Maria Montessori was a medical doctor, psychologist, anthropologist, and educator that created the materials and methods to meet the developmental needs of the child at each stage. She observed the human tendencies and found that children preferred purposeful work, with real materials, through their hands rather than toys. She encouraged freedom of choice and exploration of the materials while emphasizing care for their environment.

In a Montessori environment each child develops at their own rate and is not compared to their peers. There is no fear of failure, but only encouraged exploration. Through that exploration comes self perfecting and through perfecting an intrinsic self worth is established. The trained guide does not say, “good job” when a child completes a work, but “what did you enjoy?” or “how do you feel?” or they may ask a specific question about the work to engage the child. As the trained guide observes the child they present new materials that aides the child’s growth. It is a beautiful method to witness and I am so blessed to be a guide and grow alongside my students everyday. I believe the Montessori method gives the child the gift of becoming a curious life long learners, and what a fun life that is.

108

INTERVIEW WITH GILBERTO FLORES IN

THE UCLA EXTENSION WRITERS PROGRAM

TELL US YOUR STORY, GILBERTO FLORES?

I’m a proud Angelino! I grew up in South Los Angeles and went to college in Santa Barbara, where I studied Film, Media Studies, and Writing. Since graduating college, I’ve been working at UCLA Extension, in both the Entertainment Studies and Writers’ Programs. I currently work as a Program Representative in the Writers’ Program. Basically, I help our instructors deliver the amazing classes you know and love. I mainly work with our instructors in editing and publishing, creative nonfiction writing, written communication, and a few other areas. I love comedy, writing, TV, film, music, podcasts, anything culture. In many ways, my story is still unfolding, so we shall see what the next chapters hold!

HOW DO YOU BALANCE YOUR PROFESSIONAL AND CREATIVE WORK?

Working in the Arts Department at UCLA Extension, I’m surrounded by creative people. We keep the administrative trains running, yes, but many of us are also writers, actors, directors, musicians, poets, and so much more. I’m amazed by those who find the time to put some serious hours into their creative projects. Personally, when the work day is over I use my remaining energy for eating and sitting, sometimes at the same time, often while watching TV. Every now and then, I’ll spend a Saturday or Sunday working on my writing. I have found that the best way to keep myself on top of my creative work is by taking a class that involves workshopping or some form of collaboration where I’m able to receive feedback.

WHAT ABOUT THE UCLA EXTENSION WRITERS PROGRAM DREW YOU INTO THEIR FOLD?

I’ve taken classes in the Writers’ Program and have enjoyed learning from our brilliant instructors. When I was offered a promotion to work on this team, the decision to join the Writers’ Program was a no-brainer! Taking a class in the Writers’ Program is a great way to meet people from all walks of life, everyone united in their desire to learn and develop as writers. It’s a very special community and it’s been a privilege and a gift working on this fantastic team.

WHAT’S YOUR GENRE OF CHOICE AND WHAT PROJECTS ARE YOU WORKING ON?

Comedy is my main genre of choice. We all need to laugh. I’ve studied improv and sketch writing and am constantly consuming anything and everything comedy – from stand up, to sketches, to podcasts. I’ve been working on polishing some sketches I wrote as part of a sketch writing class. I’m also looking into opportunities to get back into live performing.

111111

HOW DOES YOUR DAY JOB FEED YOUR CREATIVE MIND?

While my job keeps me very busy, I have been able to take writing classes through UCLA Extension. Extension employees are allowed to take one free class per quarter. I recently took a sketch writing class led by comedy writer Jeffrey Kahn. This was an amazing experience and left me inspired to continue working on my sketches beyond the class. I am lucky that I get to work in a supportive environment that encourages employees to pursue their creative aspirations outside of the workplace.

112

INTERVIEW WITH GINA KAVALI

WHAT MAKES GINA KAVALI STAND OUT IN THIS MAD WORLD?

Born with a mic in my hand ready to entertain people, I have been behind the mic on the radio for close to 30 years, not just in Atlanta but I have a syndicated show that runs across the country.

WHAT GIVES YOU JOY?

My family, my work, and helping people love where they live!

HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED AS AN ADVOCATE FOR THOSE ON THE SPECTRUM?

My son, Lyric, is my inspiration for everything! Diagnosed at four years old with ASD, I have sat in on every therapy, every meeting, every appointment you can think of. This inspired me to develop a show where people can learn and grab information about all things ASD, when they need it.

GIVE US THE SKINNY ON YOUR PODCAST.

My show on YouTube, “Life With The Spectrum,” allows people to plug into everything from cutting edge therapies to different schools and organizations that may be of value to them in the moment. There seems to be an episode for everyone. I also have a daily entertainment podcast on all the major players called “Three Things You Need To Know”.

HOW CAN WE KEEP UP WITH YOU ONLINE?

Find me on all socials by looking for Gina Kavali, on twitter I am @Ginamariefm, and my website is Gkasts.com. Email me at Gina@Gkasts.com Both “Life With The Spectrum” and “Three Things You Need To Know” have FB pages as well.

113113

LINKS:

www.Gkasts.com

On YouTube and socials look for “Life With The Spectrum”

On socials and major podcast players like Spotify look for “Three Things You Need To Know” Or you google “Gina Kavali” and everything comes up

Blue Mountain Review / December 2022 116

INTERVIEW WITH AARON & DAVE MY BAD POETRY PODCAST’S

WHO ARE YOU?

“I’m Aaron” and “I’m Dave” and we are the co-hosts of My Bad Poetry.

AARON: Dave and I met back in seminary when we were both studying to be pastors. While Dave likes to comically forget where I grew up, I was born and raised in Ohio and moved to Minnesota after high school. Since finishing school, I got married, got a call at a congregation, got a dog, and am also an extremely proud father of an awesome three-year-old.

DAVE: I have also gotten married, got a call to a congregation, got a dog, and I am also an extremely proud father of an awesome three-year-old plus a phenomenal six-month-old.

AARON: Dave is leaving out his skill in woodworking because he is too modest for his own good.

WHY THE PODCAST?

AARON: Honestly, as we entered a second summer of Pandemic life, I found myself drifting far away from friendships and people I really cared about. After finding my old high school “Wolf journal” at my parents’ house I concocted a plan to review the old poems for a show that would explore the art of writing, mental health, toxic masculinity, and why a teenage boy would write these truly awful poems. I knew Dave would be the perfect co-host considering we lived together for a year and have always had great banter. With the addition of our guests—people who know a thing or two about poetry—we really enjoy learning about the art and what inspires others to write.

DAVE: Our friendship started with us playing video games and talking about the inanest things, so when Aaron told me about his idea, I rolled my eyes and bought a microphone. Through this we get to goof around, make each other laugh, and explore how culture shaped us (including how

117117

we need to be reshaped out of many cultural norms).

HOW HAS GOD SURPRISED YOU RECENTLY?

DAVE: I have always looked for God in the face of other people. At a very low moment during the pandemic, Aaron reached out with this silly idea and gave some much needed joy. God showed up in a zoom call from a friend and has turned our “let’s work to keep our friendship alive” project into a flourishing hope for me, and possibly at least a couple of our listeners.

AARON: In all honesty it is also through the podcast. As we have explored poetry, both good and bad, both together and with our AMAZING guests, I am continually fascinated by the universality of emotions and experiences felt and expressed in poetic verse. Even from very personal unique experiences, we have found commonality among complete strangers in these recordings. That for me is a God-given vision of communion and something that fills me with incredible hope and joy for humanity even in otherwise depressing times.

GENUINELY, WHY DO YOU WRITE AND HOW DO YOU EDIT?

Aaron: My primary writing is for sermons. I am a manuscript preacher and I try to write for the ear. I always love poetry that begs to be read aloud and I hope some of the phrases I use on any given Sunday can carry the Gospel in a way that sticks with people. It is like a puzzle, moving words around until they click and create an image for people to experience. What’s amazing/intimidating is there are an infinite amount of ways words can be structured. I normally edit entirely for the spoken word, which means my manuscripts are typically fraught with grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors.

118

DAVE: Unlike Aaron, I preach without notes and without writing a manuscript. I prefer to talk through ideas and have a more conversational style. My editing process is stopping in the middle of a sentence while alone in my office, saying, “That’s a dumb thought Dave…” Writing for me centers on exploring all those dumb thoughts and finding what needs to be spoken to ourselves and to others.

FAVORITE BOOK OF THE BIBLE AND WHY?

DAVE: The Gospel of Luke has always been my favorite. In Luke, the message is clear; serve God by serving people. Other books have beautiful poetry to express the same idea, but I love the directness of feeding people, clothing people, bringing healing to relationships, bringing hope to all of creation. It is not about standing on a street corner yelling at people, it is about providing for their basic human needs as a sign of compassion.

AARON: Hands down Isaiah. Which might be a cheat because the book is really three separate scrolls in one collection. Not only is Isaiah read often in Advent, my favorite season of the church year, but it also holds within its verses my favorite passage of Scripture, which is 40:28-31. Even since the podcast, I have grown to appreciate this work of poetry that carries both a prophetic voice for justice and a powerful reminder of God’s promises.

HOW DO WE KEEP UP WITH YOU ONLINE?

If you want to keep up with us, you can subscribe and listen to the show dropping weekly on Mondays, follow us @ MyBadPoetryThe1 on Twitter, or check out the sometimes-updated website: My Bad Poetry.

119119
Blue Mountain Review / December 2022 120

INTERVIEW WITH SHANNA MCNAIR & SCOTT WOLVEN THE WRITER’S HOTEL’S

WHAT DIVINE, BLUE FLAME SPARKED THE BRILLIANCE OF THE WRITER’S HOTEL?

SHANNA MCNAIR: Scott and I were staying in a hotel together and we were both working on our separate manuscripts at the time, and talking with editors and agents. I said to Scott, what writer wouldn’t want to stay in a hotel and work on their manuscript? We landed on “The Writer’s Hotel” and overnight, I drafted plans for a conference to take place in NYC, that would be a kind of rollicking but serious immersion program, centering on literary community. The Writer’s Hotel “Mini MFA” was born. This was 2014. I’d founded our contest-centered literary review, The New Guard, back in 2009, and TWH became our editorial and teaching arm.

We felt that academic models were limited and way too expensive. One of the major differences we wanted to see in our program was the pre-conference reading of a full manuscript (up to 100K words of prose or 70 pages or poetry). We do not prescribe solutions; we give writers new tools so that their voice is stronger. We point writers toward their own vision. And we also wanted to give writers the tools to navigate the publishing aspect of their writing career—so we loop in agent pitching sessions and publishing talks and query letter sessions so that writers get a comprehensive view of what a writing career looks like.

WHO CREATED THIS GORGEOUS MACHINE AND WHO KEEPS IT IN FINE ORDER TODAY?

SHANNA MCNAIR: Scott and I created TWH, and we work together to keep the gorgeous machine well-oiled. Scott came up with much of the academic rigor of the program. He is truly like no other instructor or coach on planet Earth. I’m biased, sure. He’s my fiancé and we’ve been together almost twelve years. I’m TWH Director, so I’m steering the ship, ultimately. Good thing we enjoy working with one another! What a blessed life. Such luck.

TWH started out as a Midtown Manhattan pop-up conference. We’ve had our workshops take place at The Algonquin, Bryant Park Hotel, Library Hotel, Roger Smith, the Casablanca; attendees and faculty read at the (now closed) Cornelia Street Café and Half King; KGB Bar Lit, Bowery Poetry Club, Ear Inn, Kinokuniya USA and Book Culture. Creating TWH pop-up conferences for more than eighty attendees took some moxie—there are a lot of moving parts! Beyond all the workshops, lectures, craft labs, readings and agent pitching sessions and TWH swag, we arranged

123123

for literary walking tours and tours of New York Public Library; and we even played games of “Wink, Murder” in the Round Room of The Algonquin, and NY Distilling donated bottles of Dorothy Parker Gin. Such joy.

Then the pandemic hit. We “pivoted” and had to go virtual the last two years. The pandemic was not kind to conferences. It’s been heartbreaking to have to pull back and not see our writers in person. But we learned some things, and of course we were glad to know all of our precious writers were safe. One thing we learned is that we have a very loyal following, from our instructors to our attendees. Most TWH attendees return! For more TWH! Wow. This truly has kept us going. TWH is a team, I think, and our team’s faith in TWH means the world to us.

Another thing we learned that one of our components, our agent pitching sessions—is actually better on Zoom. (Participating agencies have included Curtis Brown, Ltd., Folio Literary Management, Dunham Literary, Inc., ICM Partners, Trident Media Group, United Talent Agency, William Morris Endeavor, Writers House and more.) If I had to pin it down, I’d have to say that Scott and I share a yen to support our fellow writers and be good literary citizens; and our beautiful TWH team shines that same light back to us.

SCOTT WOLVEN:

Shanna provides a tsunami of the creative energy–both instructional and administrative–to make sure everything runs smoothly. Writer Jeff Hill helps with

124

social media and poet Adeeba Afshan Rana and poet and writer Erica Vega have always provided overall faculty program assistance.

WHAT PROGRAMS DO YOU OFFER? WHAT CAN WE EXPECT IN THE FUTURE?

SHANNA MCNAIR: We don’t anticipate that we’ll be able to return to NYC for the next few years. So we are relocating to Maine for our “Mini MFA” flagship program in 2023! We’ll be at Spruce Point Inn on Boothbay Harbor. so excited. This program is limited to 84 attendees; we already have around 1/3 of those spots taken—and announced the program a few weeks ago. It’s our heart’s desire to return to the in-person model. If readers Mountain Review are interested in TWH, we highly recommend they get their applications in STAT.

Other programs/offerings! We work with writers one-on-one via a program we call “TWH Workroom.” We also on book doctoring, book-to-film projects and ghostwriting. Other offerings have been virtual, such as our Poetry Fiction and Nonfiction Weekends and our Pitching and Marketing Weekends.

WHAT’S YOUR PHILOSOPHY BEHIND WELL-WRITTEN WORKS AND TEACHERS BEHIND THEM?

SHANNA MCNAIR: We hire writers as our instructors who help to amplify a writer’s aims. We’ve been very fortunate to have an absolutely stellar line-up of instructors over the years at TWH! Here’s a shout-out to some of the brilliant minds I ever got to work with. Fiction and nonfiction legends include Rick Moody, Lidia Yuknavich, Gaitskill, Meghan Daum, Chris Abani, Nami Mun, Sapphire, Jeffrey Ford, James Patrick Kelly, Francine Prose, East, Elizabeth Hand, Donald Antrim and Pam Houston. Poetry all-stars include Ada Limón (just named Laureate); MacArthur Fellows Heather McHugh and Terrance Hayes; Jorie Graham, Richard Blanco, Jenny Camille T. Dungy, Ellen Bass, Mark Doty, Alexandra Oliver; Former US Poets Laureate Joy Harjo and Juan Herrera; state poets include Marie Howe, Tim Siebles, Patricia Smith and my dad, Wesley McNair.

HOW CAN WE FIND YOU?

The Writer’s Hotel can be found at this website (The Writer’s Hotel) on Facebook (The Writer’s Hotel - Home | Facebook)!

The New Guard literary review is the publishing arm of The Writers Hotel conferences and can be found at www.newguardreview.com. Shanna McNair can be found at www.shannamcnair.com.

125125

COME FOR THE STORIES, STAY FOR THE CONVERSATIONS...

Launched in 2000, Carve is an international quarterly and home of the renowned Raymond Carver Short Story Contest. Each print and digital issue features our signature HONEST FICTION − stories that use ordinary language to convey “immense, even startling power” − plus poetry, nonfiction, illustrations, interviews, and more that aim to demystify the writer’s journey and inspire literary conversations. Whether a reader, writer, or both, we invite you to subscribe and discover all that we talk about when we talk about great literature.

Subscribe at carvezine.com

Use code BLUEMOUNTAIN to save 10%.

"Carefully treads the water between being a magazine for people who want to read great literature and for writers—and elegantly swims in the middle as one for both."
-NEWPAGES REVIEW, SUMMER 2016

Sunset Calling Over Seven Thousand Miles

Virago– dominate the expanse, reaching, wrenching the horizon loose.

Torn from its moorings, cascading (she) tap dancing, toned, emboldened except what she carves out for others.

Gnarled through fisted hands thepast,thefirstdays, forcing elasticity into time.

Concrete shoes: C’mongirl,theshoesdon’tfit. Lakes, the deepest hands go into earth, to water, to be seen, noticed, lightened, untethered from any harmful star.

Threehoursistoolong. Distancedoesn’tgrant apassoncloseness.

from The Book of Old Gods

TV REVIEW

1883

SEASON ONE

As the age of television has progressed, networks are increasingly interested in established intellectual property, but these days there is more needed to develop a successful drama with a modest plot. In this era of Netflix and other streaming services, franchises have become abundant, and even the revered “Law & Order ‘’ has come back into its own after years of austerity. As soon as Paramount Network’s Yellowstone became a sensation, Manifest Destiny was inevitable. With gunfights and frontier justice, Taylor Sheridan’s prequel shifts from neo-western to proto-western. Cowboys in Yellowstone are depicted as the last generation of ranchers fighting to maintain their way of life.

In contrast, 1883 represents nearly two decades after the civil war, when the wild west was crumbling and pioneers were establishing their own territory. Western history has long been romanticized, with frontier tales focusing on heroic, stoic heroes who are just rough around the edges. The bleak, brutal, and riveting depiction of westward travel in 1883 strips away the glossy veneer of this optimistic view. Sheridan reportedly developed “1883” after being urged to do so by studio executives, so it is to his credit that it never feels contrived. The Oscar-nominated writer of “Hell or High Water,” has a methodology that does not seem to change too much in his productions. A major concern of his is the relationship humans have with the land, and how they are shaped by their environment (particularly the unforgiving, harsh landscape of the midwest, along with the steely, hardhearted people it has produced over the years). During a time before progress, technology, and modern culture changed everything, Sheridan romanticizes the West, where people lived off the land and were self-sufficient.

It is easy to recognize the familiarity of his interpersonal dramas in these settings-the emotional complexities, the bonds, and loyalty of family, the outsiders, the power jockeying, and stubborn men - but they never seem formulaic. No matter what region he explores, from the Old West to the Midwest to the Wild West, he seems to understand it innately. An American west story as gripping, melodramatic, and tender as it is somber, this is an insight into a bygone era.

This story is set in the late 19th century, when the great plains promised great freedom and promise, but also carried a substantial risk of mortality. As the story unfolds, various characters are stricken with smallpox, suicidal thoughts, snake bites, wild animals, hangings, gunfights, and wagon wheels that prevent them from reaching their destiny. It is possible to become sick from drinking water without boiling it. “There’s not a chance in hell that half of these folk are going to make it,” says one of the guides hired to lead the wagon train from Texas to Oregon. His prophecy comes true within days of his words. In addition to great character development, shootouts, and old-West

129129

chaos, the pacing throughout the episodes is a well-crafted ride, with a great mix of hills, dips, and turns.

The story of the ancestors of John Dutton (Kevin Costner), the cattle rancher central to Yellowstone’s history, is told in 1883. Tim McGraw and Sam Elliott co-star, with McGraw playing James Dutton, the trunk of the Dutton family tree, and Elliott as tough as nails wagon master Shea Brennan. To get from Fort Worth to Oregon, they form a tenuous partnership while leading a wagon train and a herd of cattle.

A subsequent season will likely explain how the Duttons have ended up in Montana instead. Faith Hill portrays Margaret, James’ wife, who is primarily concerned about the two children, the mophead John Sr. (Audie Rick) and the fierce older sister Elsa (Isabel May). While McGraw has been onscreen for years thanks to his work on “Friday Night Lights,” “The Blind Side” and “Country Strong,” Hill has a much smaller list of acting credits, but she gives a powerful performance as a passionately protective mother and loving wife - as well as a woman who can handle horses just as well. In reference to the expansive main lodge that now houses the Dutton family, James winks at Margaret, saying, “I am going to build you a house so huge you will get lost in it.”

Elliott lends the role a sense of authenticity and gravitas through his weathered trademark mustache and marble-mouthed delivery. LaMonica Garrett is excellent as Shea’s close ally, Thomas, and McGraw holds up well against Elliott. Elliott’s Shea is overwhelmed with despair after the loss of his wife and daughter to smallpox when we first encounter him on the porch of his house. While he couldn’t save them, maybe one of them could make a difference in this awful world if he could get these travelers to Oregon safely.

A voiceover by Elsa (Isabel May) emphasizes that death is inevitable on the prairie. When light shines through this series’ no-holds-barred landscape, it is incredibly beautiful. The main protagonist, Elsa Dutton, illuminates the storylines of 1883, which are full of death and danger, but also adventure and wonder. Due to their lack of experience, naivety, and preparedness, Dutch and German immigrants, under Josef’s leadership ( Marc Rissmann ), face a rough and dangerous journey. Every turn in this caravan is inadvertently shadowed by death. Longhorn cattle are also brought with the immigrants and chaperones, complicating matters further. The setting and characters in 1883 are unflinchingly honest, with depth and tenderness. Despite the series’ depictions of humanity’s worst side, there is a glimmer of hope throughout. 1883 achieves the prestige western fans have been seeking through perseverance and optimism.

The show never loses sight of the reason for the journey: the West, which Paramount’s $10 million-an-episode budget captures magnificently and gloriously. Few dramas compare to this. Whether it’s the elaborate townscape built for scenes shot in Texas or the sweeping shots of the land that will follow, the series spares no expense in creating this world. For a moment, I felt the power of the unknown with our travelers. Brian Tyler’s sweepingly epic score captures every emotion and heartache of the pioneers with sweeping strings and bombast. It is a kind of beauty long lost in our industrialized world. We’ve never seen or

130

heard the west looking or sounding better. There are rumblings on the internet about how “good” the characters look given the times…but alas that’s TV folks.

Despite its accolades, 1883 has not been without controversy. The American West underwent widespread changes from 1840 onwards (following the Mexican War, the California gold rush, and the abolition of slavery) to 1900. Most parts of the region were inhabited by Native Americans whose cultures had already been around for thousands of years at the beginning of that period. During the era, the West had been populated by immigrants of all sorts, an expansion that profoundly affected the indigenous population. The tribes often fought the U.S. military in wars, which they usually lost, as western lands were controlled by white people. Does Sheridan have a responsibility to tell indigenous stories? Certainly not, but given the imbalances in power and control within American media, such as determining who decides what stories are told, being aware of one’s privilege could serve as an initial step toward developing an understanding of the situation.

A good story needs a clear narrative voice, compelling characters, insightful themes, a conflict that stems from different viewpoints, and, most importantly, empathy, regardless of one’s socio political allegiances. Curiosity fuels understanding and enable us to observe the world in more nuanced ways. The historical accuracy of 1883, which takes place in Montana during the late 19th century and within the lands of the Louisiana Purchase, is without question one of its greatest strengths. American pioneers faced harsh material and socio-political conditions in 1883, which is a fairly realistic portrayal of the situation. Furthermore, it provides valuable insight into the history of not only ranching but also the deep racial divides between whites and Native Americans as well. Some criticism of 1883’s historical accuracy issues may indeed be justified, however, it remains an extremely compelling and fresh interpretation of the traditional surviving in the Wild West trope.

Overall, 1883 is an extremely welcome and refreshing take on the wild west story. Through engaging performances, a sprawling score, and breathtaking cinematic vistas we are transported on a treacherous and hopeful journey of hope and discovery. The human condition is on full display here, with Taylor Sheridan’s capable pen leading the way. In addition to the breathtaking landscape, we are blown away by a detailed look at an era in history we cannot recall: the sickness, the black cowboy, and the land battles. Sheridan tells it straight, no matter what. And we appreciate that.

131131
**9/10 STARS**

When scoliosis pushed her to retire from her career as a massage therapist, Angela Dribben still wanted to be of service, so she began doing legacy work through her local hospice. She felt she needed to gather skills if she was going to honor others, and she started an MFA program at Randolph College. From there her work made its way into journals such as Crab Creek Review, Cider Press Review, San Pedro River Review, Blue Mountain Review, and Crack the Spine. Her first mixed media piece is coming out in Patchwork. Her first collection, Everygirl is now out in advanced sales with Main Street Rag

angela Dribben

“Angela Dribben’s poetry does not look away, even from difficult truths. She brings to the page a gift for sound and image, but it’s her compassionate wisdom that makes Everygirl a book like no other, embracing both indictment and forgiveness, suffering and gratitude, its music that of the phoenix the moment the flames in her throat become song. Bring your broken pieces, your trouble with the world. Everygirl is the best friend to whom you may tell everything, in the dark beneath a fistful of stars, and come away more loving, more loved.”

“How can I believe Adam/ came first when the flower precedes the fruit?” Angela Dribben writes in Everygirl. Coming of age in a Virginia of hunting dogs, pick-ups, and hog farms, these poems, evocative in their details of men “smelling like labor,” food, such as gelatinous ham, military school life for young women, menstruation, rape, and including occasional photographs, bluntly acknowledge the destructive impact of male prerogative when social class and rural life leave few ways out.”

“Wordsworth wrote that any great writer must create the new taste by which they’ll be enjoyed. In Everygirl, Angela Dribben doesn’t just offer a new taste, she’s created an entire menu. From tragically vivid poems about surviving military school, to surreal poems exploring belonging, Dribben had me eating out of the palm of her hand. Dribben writes “To love and to see are not the same,” and I agree. But I do both love and see this book.”

to learn more & purchase visit: https://mainstreetragbookstore.com/product/everygirl-angela-dribben/

Blue Mountain Review / December 2022 132
the debut
collection from
-Susana H. Case, author of Dead Shark on the N Train and Drugstore Blue -Paige Lewis, Spacestruck -Rhett Iseman Trull, author of The Real Warnings, editor of Cave Wall

BOOK REVIEW

THE EVANGELIST: POEMS

David Armand weaves New Orleans into your bones. Not the onus of his work, but the music (silence between words, between thoughts) dances you beyond the bright lights to the South at home. THE EVANGELIST doesn’t preach. The title is a suit the poet wears, collar in place, while his sermons focus on family, identity, age, and place. He warns of nostalgia while in a love/hate relationship with memory. Photographs of his father bring the reader to consider mending more than fences. Often stanzas, as his history, dance to keep you tipsy, off balance.

“The King on Beale Street” says The Mississippi curving brown and slow in the distance,/ a soft alluvium spreading out beneath all that concrete/ like a bowl of hot grits they sell at The Arcade. Then there’s “The Pink Pony Cafe” where you meet A young girl. Framed inside of a wooden doorway./But there’s no door. And nothing but darkness behind her. The slow distance of darkness beyond a doorway - it’s not the destination, but a moment before dawn breaks.

Please drop in here to buy the book and support small publishers: https://www. mupress.org/The-Evangelist-Poems-P1197. aspx

133133

AN INTERVIEW WITH DAVID ARMAND

TELL US ABOUT THE TITLE OF YOUR NEW COLLECTION.

I’ve always liked the notion of a person spreading good news, especially when things can seem so dark sometimes. But when we think of an evangelist, we often just associate it with religion. I wanted to think of other means of evangelism: like music, art, and poetry.

WHAT POEMS STICK OUT AS FAVORITES FOR YOU? WHICH ONES DO YOUR READERS GRAVITATE TOWARD?

Most of my poems are very personal in nature: poems about my family and my childhood. I think readers tend to appreciate my candidness when writing about those things, like an old, trusted friend is telling them a story. So they tend to gravitate toward those deeply personal reflections more than anything else, it seems like. I have to say that of those, my favorites would be “Photograph of My Father” and “Mischief.”

HOW WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH MERCER UNIVERSITY PRESS?

So far, they have been wonderful to work with. They were very open to my ideas about the cover design, and tremendous in terms of helping to get the word out about the book. They’ve all been very kind and professional and supportive.

TELL US THE STORY BEHIND “THE KING ON BEALE STREET?”

That was actually a “commissioned” piece, oddly enough, but it turned out to be the centering poem of the whole collection. I remember Philip Kolin was guest editing an issue of Arkansas Review a couple years ago and asked me for some “Delta” poems to go in it. I sent him a few ekphrastic pieces, which he liked, but then he asked if I could do an Elvis poem. I’m not an Elvis fanatic by any means--not like Nicolas Cage or Uncle Jesse in Full House--but when I started reading about his early life so that I could make the poem, I got interested in this notion of fate and faith--how some people (like Elvis) can sense that their lives are destined for something different, something special even, and how those around them can pick up on that, too. I don’t know what that’s about (I don’t think anyone does, or is even supposed to), but I like how despite “knowing” this about himself, Elvis stayed humble and honest and sweet. I think that’s what so many other people like about him too. That vulnerability and kindness and sincerity.

HOW IS THIS BOOK DIFFERENT FROM YOUR OTHERS?

I’ve written mostly novels up to this point. I have a memoir and two little chapbooks, too, but I never really thought I’d publish a full length collection like this. It all just sort of came together at the right time, and Marc Jolley was kind enough to publish it. In a sense, it’s like my other books, though, in that it’s all very personal to me, a lot of storytelling--the only distinction maybe being that it’s told in verse instead of in prose.

HOW CAN WE FIND YOU AND YOUR BOOK ONLINE?

I have a website: www.davidarmandauthor.com where you can find my books, along with publisher and ordering info.

Blue Mountain Review / December 2022 134

SCE

Marco Rafalà

“How Fires End is a raised fist of a novel, one filled with men’s brutal tenderness and tender brutality. It is both a subtle and powerful indictment of the silences between generations and a poignant testament to the bond between sons and fathers of all kinds. A blazing debut by an important new Italian-American voice.

“ Beautiful, mesmerizing, consoling, and under immaculate control, Marco Rafalà's How Fires End is a powerful novel about the religion we create for ourselves as we face that which perhaps even God has not imagined for humanity.

—Alexander Chee, author of Edinburgh, The Queen of the Night, and How to Write an Autobiographical Novel

“Marco Rafalà’s debut novel, How Fires End, avoids Mafia tropes for a moving depiction of multi-generational loss and love, grief and gratitude, heartbreak and hope.

-Kirkus Reviews

Blue Mountain Review / December 2022 136
introducing
BookClubPick First
purchase your copy here purchase your copy on Amazon

HOW TO SURVIVE THE APOCALYPSE

Jacqueline Allen Trimble writes in her preface: “Truth is, the world is always ending in one way or the other… And yet, nothing is ever lost in the universe; it is merely transformed into something else like spirituals, sorrow, songs, the blues or poetry.”

How to Survive the Apocalypse is filled with strength and resilience. In the first poem, “Plague,” there is a practical voice leading us through to survival. There is also humor and fierceness. “What if the Supreme Court Were Really the Supremes?”. Trimble also blends history and current events with her work, such as “Oh, Say Can You See?” with Francis Scott Key’s song bumping against lines that remind us of innocent young black men murdered in recent years.

The final line in the eponymous poem is so strong: “Survive the lynchings. Like your ancestors. Live/ by rage and joy and turpentine”.

This is a beautifully produced, thoughtful book that is a pleasure to read.

Jacqueline Allen Trimble is professor of English and chairs the Department of Languages and Literatures at Alabama State University. An interview with the author appeared in the previous issue of The Blue Mountain Review.

137137
BOOK REVIEW
NEW SOUTH BOOKS MONTGOMERY, AL WWW.NEWSOUTHBOOKS.COM 78 PAGES $21.95 ISBN: 978-1-58838-466-9
Roasted to Order From our farms to your cup, we guarantee you'll love this coffee! myalmacoffee.com @myalmacoffee ORDER TODAY

CLOUD OF UNKNOWING

The Cloud of Unknowing is as relevant in our world of social media, quantum computing, and nuclear fusion as it was when first written 600 years ago. English mysticism’s masterpiece, this anonymous spiritual classic is one of the most practical guides on prayer ever written. Carmen Acevedo Butcher’s new, award-winning translation is the first to bring the text into a modern English idiom while remaining faithful to the meaning of the original Middle English. A series of engaging letters by a monk to his twenty-four-yearold student, the Cloud teaches the way of contemplative prayer, and its powerful immediacy is popular with spiritual seekers of all backgrounds. As easy to understand as it is practical, its theology emphasizes real experience with Divinity over intellectuality. Its 75 brief chapters offer down-to-earth advice on prayer that is helpful to anyone wanting encouragement to pray the way we can, not the way we can’t. Previous translations of the Cloud tended to veil its intimate, even friendly tone under medieval-sounding language. Carmen Acevedo Butcher has boldly brought the text into appealing language that engages us with its fresh and useful wisdom.

WHY IS THIS BOOK RELEVANT TODAY?

The Cloud is an antidote to our days of explosive technology and unprecedented levels of collective anxiety. Everywhere we look, there’s stress. Distractions dog us. Our phones ping us 24/7, we’re posting on social media night and day, we’re living with Covid variants, many suffer with long Covid, cracks appear in democracies globally, while alienation, division, and loneliness have become the dominant trinity of the third millennium, to name just a few. Meanwhile, most people crave connection, belonging, meaning, purpose, and peace. Even healing. That’s what The Cloud of Unknowing brings us. It helps us feel more at home in our own skin, more connected to others, plus more at home in contributing to the Common Good. That’s why I dedicated the Cloud to everyone.

In August, I dedicated my translation of Brother Lawrence’s Practice of the Presence to the Women’s Prison Association, and years ago I dedicated a book to my mother. But I dedicated The Cloud of Unknowing to: “Whoever you are, / looking for peace, / this book is for you.” Because at some point, most of us, feeling desperate, have looked around and gone, “Help” to God, Love, Divinity, Something More, Ultimate Reality, or however a person defines

141141
BOOK REVIEW

(or chooses not to define or name) the Mystery. This masterwork on prayer helps us realize our already-and-always existing union with Love, which is what develops our self-compassion, our compassion for others, wisdom, and healing. Anonymous and his Cloud have been improving people’s lives for centuries, through words like these: “It is not who you are or what you’ve been that God sees with his merciful eyes, but what you want to be.” Who doesn’t want to be reminded of that?

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO TRANSLATE IT?

I really think the Cloud chose me. I first met it in graduate school at UGA. It was assigned reading, just excerpts in an anthology. I read these and went on. Battling insomnia then, trying to make my way through an MA, afterwards I was invited by professors to stay for a PhD. Yet I often slept very few hours, and getting out of bed was excruciating since I felt a weight on me, which later I learned was depression. It was also hard to focus in school because of lifelong undiagnosed dyslexia which made reading extremely difficult. I was beginning to glimpse the edges of my unprocessed childhood trauma and how my high-functioning coping behaviors were exhausting. For years those anthology snippets would resurface periodically in my imagination. Later through the hard work of therapy, I’d experience healing, given time and other aids like massage. When I started publishing in spirituality, an editor asked at one point: “What next?” The Cloud had kept coming back into my soul, tugging, like it wouldn’t let me forget it, as if it had things to tell me, but when I suggested it to my editor, she said, “We did that recently.”

So I contacted Shambhala, who was—if you can believe this, I hardly could—looking to publish a new translation of The Cloud of Unknowing. So that’s how that happened. Reading the Cloud in Middle English—you know, also the language of Chaucer and Julian of Norwich—we’re invited into contemplation even as we read. Since the act of reading it in the original is meditative, I tried to mimic that in my own translation into modern English. As I translated the Cloud, it translated me, helping me with deep healing.

WHAT HAS THE RECEPTION BEEN FOR YOUR TRANSLATION OF THE CLOUD OF UNKNOWING? AND CAN YOU TELL US WHERE WE CAN FIND IT ONLINE?

The reception has been wonderful. Truly full of wonder That’s exactly how I felt while translating it, too. It’s not surprising, since its main message is: “Lift up your heart to God with a gentle stirring of love.” Anonymous says that as long as we’re being humble, we can experience “the profound simplicity of [contemplative prayer],” promising, “it’s an easy sort of work.” Richard Rohr’s endorsement said my translation “preserved a valuable treasure for our time.” Cynthia Bourgeault called it “brilliant, bold, and breathtaking,” “passionate and readable,” and “a high level of accuracy.” Then it won the 46th Georgia Author of the Year Award in nonfiction-spirituality. This positive reception changed my life. I gained new friends. Became more grateful. Still am. The Cloud comes in an easy-to-carry pocket version, hand-sized, and the larger first edition includes my translations of both Cloud and The Book of Privy Counsel. You can listen to it on Audible, too, read by the talented James Patrick Cronin. Where to find it? On Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Bookshop, IndieBound, and many others. You can also purchase it by visiting my website: https://www.carmenbutcher.com/books.html

Acevedo

is the translator of The Cloud of Unknowing, winner of a Georgia Author of the Year Award, and the translator of Practice of the Presence by Brother Lawrence, among others. Her dynamic work in spirituality and the power of language has garnered interest from various media, including the BBC and NPR’s Morning Edition. A Fulbright scholar at University of London and a Fulbright Senior Lecturer at Sogang University, Carmen currently teaches in the College Writing Programs at UC Berkeley. Online at www. carmenbutcher.com and https://linktr.ee/ carmenacevedobutcher

Blue Mountain Review / December 2022 142
Carmen Butcher

fashion

fashion

INTERVIEW WITH LÉONARDO CAVÉ

How important is dressing for the you to come, rather than the you from years past, or even the you right now? I am going to be sitting down with Vice President Léonardo Cavé Executive MBA of BlackRock Financial Services, to see if I can get a deeper understanding on how much dressing the part truly matter in the business world today.

LÉO, IT’S A GREAT HONOR AND PRIVILEGE TO BE SITTING DOWN WITH YOU, DISCUSSING A TOPIC THAT IS QUITE MEANINGFUL TO YOU AND I BOTH. SO I WANT TO START BY ASKING, TELL ME A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF?

I’m currently in the finance industry, with a background in relationship management, product strategy, and project management. Outside of work, I’m a pretty simple guy who enjoys stunning scenic views, great reads, sports, and either a nice glass of wine OR a stellar americano with a cigar! Pretty simple and fairly classic.

HAVE YOU ALWAYS BEEN CONSCIOUS ABOUT YOUR APPEARANCE WHEN IT CAME TO YOUR BUSINESS?

I did in the past when I was learning about suiting, brands, and my interested business industry. Most industries have a preferred OR common expectation of apparel. But in business and finance, I made it a conscious effort to match my appearance to the industry I was passionate about. I followed the mantra, “Dress how you want to be addressed!” As a result, it’ s served me well overtime unconsciously!

I LOVE THAT, “DRESS HOW YOU WANT TO BE ADDRESSED.” I WILL DEFINITELY BE BORROWING THAT ONE FROM YOU. SO I KNOW MOST PEOPLE HAVE THAT ONE ENCOUNTER IN LIFE THAT KINDA SET THEM STRAIGHT. I CAN REMEMBER FOR MYSELF I WAS AROUND 14 YEARS OF AGE WHEN I WAS SET STRAIGHT BY THIS GIRL IN MY CLASS IN REGARDS TO MY STYLE OF DRESSING. SHE APPROACHED ME IN THE SCHOOL CAFETERIA IN FRONT OF ALL OF MY FRIENDS AND SAID, “I LIKE YOU BETTER IN YOUR DRESS SHIRTS AND NICE PANTS. YOU DO NOT NEED TO DRESS LIKE ALL THESE OTHER GUYS IN THEIR BAGGY CLOTHES.” AFTER THAT, I CHANGED IT ALL UP. WHEN WOULD YOU SAY THE LIGHT BULB TURNED ON FOR YOU AS FAR AS SAYING “I NEED TO SWITCH UP MY IMAGE” OR LIKE ME, DID IT TAKE SOMEONE TO TURN THE LIGHT ON FOR YOU?

145145

It didn’t take anyone famous for the “light bulb” to turn on. More so, it was established with my parents. I was very blessed to have both parents in my life. Both were immigrants from Haiti, but they made it a point to ensure that I understood that representation and performance are two important values for both the marketplace and at any place!”

THAT’S GREAT THAT YOU WERE ABLE TO LOOK RIGHT IN YOUR OWN HOME TO FIND THAT INSPIRATION AND GUIDANCE IF YOU WILL. I TOO, BEING FROM JAMAICA, WAS TAUGHT THE IMPORTANCE OF APPEARANCE. WHY DO YOU THINK IT IS, IF YOU DO, THAT AN INDIVIDUAL’S APPEARANCE IS SO IMPORTANT AND PLAYS SUCH A BIG ROLE WHEN IT COME TO ADVANCING OR SCALING THE LADDER OF SUCCESS IN BUSINESS?

As mentioned before, your representation and performance are two important values for the marketplace and any place! Someone shared with me that you have to dress and perform for the position you aspire and desire to be. And I believe that with many current trends and exposure of certain industries, an individual’s appearance has been relegated to “the trunk” (not backseat) but “the trunk” of importance. Hopefully, this begins to change.

IF YOU WERE TO LOOK TO HOW MEN DRESSED  FROM BACK IN THE DAY, WOULD YOU SAY WE ARE STILL HOLDING TRUE TO

Blue Mountain Review / December 2022 146

THAT LEVEL OF CLASS OR HAVE FALLEN SHORT?

It’s easy to say no and that men have fallen short based on how men dressed in the past, BUT I believe the opportunity to regain an appreciation of class again can be the spark needed.

HOW DO YOU THINK MEN FROM BACK THEN WOULD VIEW MEN FROM TODAY IN REGARDS TO OUR WARDROBE AS IT RELATES TO BUSINESS?

I believe they would have a lot of questions! Hahaha

I HAVE RECENTLY HEARD A COMMENT FROM A GENTLEMAN SAYING THAT INDIVIDUALS SUCH AS BILL GATES, ELON MUSK AND WARREN BUFFETT, DO NOT NEED TO WORRY ABOUT THEIR APPEARANCE BECAUSE THEY HAVE ALREADY REACHED THE PINNACLE OF THEIR SUCCESS SO THERE IS NO ONE LEFT TO IMPRESS OR QUOTE UNQUOTE INTERVIEW FOR. LOOKING FORWARD, AS YOUR BUSINESS GROWS AND YOU BEGIN TO REACH NEWER HEIGHTS DO YOU SEE THAT EVENTUALLY HAPPENING FOR YOURSELF?

BECOMING LESS CONCERNED WITH YOUR APPEARANCE?

Aspiring to newer and greater heights should be everyone’s life purpose. In doing so, I’m collecting the essentials. Having the essential suits, shirts, shoes, ties, etc., for all key occasions, helps lessen the concerns of my appearance over time.

GOOD ANSWER! SO I WILL CHALK THAT UP

147

TO BE A STRONG NO, THAT WILL NOT BE YOU LATER ON IN LIFE. HAHAHA! FINAL QUESTION, AT THIS PRESENT MOMENT, MR CAVÉ, WOULD YOU SAY YOU ARE DRESSING FOR THE YOU NOW OR THE YOU LATER TO COME?

I would say, I pursue to be the best version of myself daily. So the me now is always fine-tuning to be the greatness of later me to come. “Dress how you want to be addressed!”

LÉO, I GREATLY APPRECIATE YOUR TIME AND OVERALL INSIGHT ON THIS TOPIC. I DO LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING WHAT AMAZING THINGS ARE IN STORE FOR YOU, BUSINESS AND STYLE WISE.

So my dear readers, as we have just heard from Mr. Cavé the importance of not only dressing for the you now but the you to come, I urge you to think on this for yourself. Ultimately, would the past you look at the present you, thinking about the future you, and be proud? Or be shaking his head in utter disappointment?

Now of course each field of business does require a different form of attire. I’m not saying you have to be in a three piece suit everyday, but take pride in what you do and allow people to see it. You never know, the right person might be watching and provide an opportunity worth your while. When that comes, you want to make sure you look the part.

Thinking of the man you aspire to be in life will help shape the man you are today. Of course there will come a day when dressing the part won’t matter and frankly I do see that day hastily approaching, but I do hope that there will still be the few of us that will put on that tie and shine those shoes and think the words of Jidenna, “I don’t want my best dressed day in a casket.”

Blue Mountain Review / December 2022 148
“ “
“A MAN’S APPEARANCE IS NOT AS IMPORTANT AS WHAT HE HAS TO SAY, BUT IT SURE GIVES PEOPLE SOMETHING GOOD TO LOOK AT WHILE HE’S SAYING IT.”
-MR. CLASSIC

WHO WEARS THE PANTS NOW CHANGING THE STEREOTYPES OF WESTERNIZED DRESSING

We can all agree that wearing certain types of clothing causes people to view you in a different way. An individual in shorts and t-shirts will get a different reaction than someone in a traditional Indian garment. We even had outfits primarily for different genders. Remember when men wore pants and women wore dresses? Well, unless you were Scottish. Men of the Scottish cloth wore skirts we formally know to be called kilts. Through many different eastern parts of the world there were also more cultured wear that required longer shirt like tops for men, which ended off at the knee and took the shape of a dress.There are even some tribes where men wore full skirt wraps. But the point is this, wearing certain types of clothing defined people, cultures, official ranking and so on. On the western side of the world we have something similar. They were called “pants.” They told the difference between business and casual, based on the type of pants an individual wore. More importantly they told the difference between men and women. Well outside of the obvious differentiators of course, but non the less, the pant helped to keep it simple. Now however, not so much. We see more and more individuals switching up the typical approach for more, free flowing, one would choose to say.

We see it as trendy, risky, bold or even eclectic; the current skirt and dress styles of today worn by men. I believe we can also all agree that it is a bit agenda driven, and does cause for questioning. Has the pant lost its role as a sign of business, respect and order? Also, if we’re all wearing skirts, who’s wearing the pants?

We can find traces of cross dressing on the big screen from as far back as Mary Pickford as Cedric Errol in a lobby card for the 1921 film Little Lord Fauntleroy. To “The Amazons,” a play by Arthur Wing Pinero, in which all the parts were played by women, April 1910. We have even seen this in Japanese stage plays where male actors would play both female and male roles. So why so much controversy when dresses are worn by the likes of Harry Styles of Pop band One Direction or Rapper Kid Cudi. Could it possibly be the miss representation of the male and female persona off the stage? Are we able to accept it as being a role player or as Kid Cudi expresses, “ a tribute to the late great Cobain” but not so easily accepted as one’s actual life expression.

“Taking the characters off stage.”

Gender equality has always been the cry of the people and using fashion to promote it, is not a new trick. Since as far back as the early 1850’s, individuals like women’s rights activist, Amelia Bloomer were causing commotion with their wardrobe choices. Introducing the bloomers under her skirts was not a fashion risk so warmly welcomed by the masses. This very bold statement, which ultimately led into the 1920s, where women were able to join the workforce during World War I. Now of course during that time, men were the ones who wore the pants and worked outside the home. Women now picking up some of the workload, one could expect the feeling of “equal workload, equals to, I too get to wear the pants as well”.

149149

Growing up with a traditional mother and a father household structure, you are used to seeing your father wearing the pants and assuming the male dominance role. Your mother wearing the dress and holding more of the caring, nurturing characteristics. It gave everyone a definitive understanding of who was who in the house. We do have to agree though if you think about it, the clothing within itself does bring about a certain type of dominant role when worn by either side. If you see a woman in a well tailored pinstripe suit, you ultimately begin to place her as a shark in the work field and the “boss” at home. Even the phrase “the one who wears the pants” does suggest pants to have a more masculine/dominant meaning.

So welcome to the era of skirts and dresses for all. Where one can choose to not be defined by their wardrobe as to how masculine or feminine they might be but rather how they choose to express themselves. We’ve always known women to be the ones venturing out when it comes to the fashion world, as mentioned from bloomers all the way to full 3 piece suits. Now it seems only fair that men have a crack at it. From stars such as Brad Pitt, musicians like Diddyand even some of our athletes the likes of Russell Westbrook, all have taken the fashion risk of pulling off the skirt.

So it does seem that pants assuming the role of dominance and being the sign of masculinity has faded. Unless you want to be the one to tell Vin Diesel that skirts are only for girls, be my guest. As the question remains: if everyone is wearing dresses, who’s wearing the pants? I guess everyone. If we can no longer define someone by their wardrobe, shall it be left up to personality, work ethic and characteristic traits?

As said by one of New York Times greatest photographers Bill Cunningham, “Fashion is the armor to survive everyday life.” What will you choose to be your armor today? Might you need to be in a suit or a skirt, allow your outward man to be a reflection of who you are inside?

Expressing yourself through “dress,” all pun intended, has become more and more acceptable. You might not go as far as wearing a full out dress but maybe being a little more daring with your pattern or color choices would be a great start. Every situation does not require a drill Sergeant; sometimes a softer approach is necessary.

Blue Mountain Review / December 2022 150
poetry

poetry

LENNY BRUCE

I saw him in San Francisco at the Purple Onion When I was still at Stanford, a Teaching Assistant Getting the “Ode to a Nightingale” by heart.

He was out of prison on bail. Soon he would die. One of the charges against him was saying “shmuck.” He reminded me of my teacher Irving Howe:

The impatience of an improvising spirit Hurtling beyond a footnote or a punch line, Like a light-wingëd dryad in the trees.

The comic with months to live was only 40. I thought he talked too much about his trials— Forgive me please, I was barely 24.

Being a lizard I’m not sure what to say. “Is money all you people think about?” The cover charge, on my tiny fellowship,

A tender gesture menaced by hornets and grackles. John Keats in a letter says that now he’s ready “To cheat as well as any literary Jew”—

One more example, ho hum, how could it matter To me as a secret reptile from outer space Charmed by your human poetry and music?

Howe happened to be at Stanford that one year. My poetry teacher Yvor Winters deplored The “awful mess” of Keats’s mind. But once

I got him to concede the “Ode” was beautiful. He seemed surprised and happy when I told him Howe had assigned his essay on Henry James.

“Alright, it’s true! We killed him, what a bad scene, It was us, my family did it, we found a note I Killed Jesus, in the basement, signed Cousin Morty.”

I’m grateful to Lenny Bruce for saying that, As I pardon Keats for being a shmuck— the word A homey metaphor meaning a bangle, a gem,

The diminutive for a child is schmeckel, the word A murmurous ornament weighed and appreciated In the jazzy sacred scales of appropriation.

155155

Robert Pinsky is a well-established poet, critic, editor, and writer. He earned a BA from Rutgers University and his PhD from Stanford University. He has published several collections of poetry, one of which earned him the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize in 1997. Pinsky has also been awarded the American Academy of Arts and Letters award, the Shelley Memorial Prize from the Poetry Society of America, and the PEN/ Voelcker Award for poetry.

E x p e r i e n c e R o s w e l l , G A

t h r o u g h i t s p u b l i c a n d

p e r f o r m a n c e a r t

o p p o r t u n i t i e s !

A r t A r o u n d S c u l p t u r e s

B i k e R a c k P r o j e c t

R o s w e l l i n P r i n t

P o p U p P e r f o r m a n c e s

P o p I n S e r i e s

L o c a l A r t i s t s M a r k e t p l a c e

M u c h m u c h m o r e !

R o s w e l l A r t s F u n d . o r g

Roswell Arts Fund, an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is the designated arts agency for the City of Roswell, GA.

Roswell Arts Fund is funded in part by the City of Roswell, the Fulton County Board of Commissioners, the Imlay Foundation and the Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta.

157157

WHAT THE WOLF FEARS

the spirit stirring inside, tossing their hair back for the first time; wolfing in the mirror, as satin slips over the knees, the wolf discovering the body wears the spirit, the spirit wears the body draped in silk danger, silk nothings, a man’s idea of a woman, lace trim, a choker, garters and their hitch. The sway of satin cupping and rubbing the wolf’s ends, the way satin glistens, slick with desire’s desire to embody a body of happy, to understand a body as it becomes the body the spirit wishes to wear, a gift the wolf gives to the wolf, mirror returning softness to the interior, the mirror, not a mirror but a door, the other side bright with laughter, a chorus humming, here, here, find us here. A body, a door.

159159

Cassandra Whitaker (they/them) is a trans writer from Virginia. Their work has been published in or is forthcoming in Barrelhouse, Hobart, The Little Patuxent Review, Foglifter, Evergreen Review, The Comstock Review, Whale Road Review and other places. They are a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

OCTOBER 2020, 2021, 2022

October 2020, 2021, 2022, …there was a beehive here inside my heart And the golden bees were making white combs And sweet honey from all my failures

—Antonio Machado, tr. Mary Ruefle

Yes, I have been walking all around my bedroom, but at what cost?

Is my unreadable handwriting getting more unreadable or is it me?

What animal is capable of turning my failures into honey?

No bee could manage it, no beekeeper engineer it.

Perhaps it would take an ancient creature, very wise, very mythical. Or a stingray

who’s also a private detective, so private he has no Instagram account, he doesn’t even text, yet somehow manages to make a decent living.

161161

Chen Chen is the author of Your Emergency Contact Has Experienced an Emergency (BOA Editions, 2022) and the forthcoming book of essays, In Cahoots with the Rabbit God (Noemi Press, 2024). His debut book of poems, When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities (BOA Editions, 2017), was longlisted for the National Book Award and won the Thom Gunn Award, among other honors. He teaches for the low-residency MFA programs at New England College and Stonecoast.

PHONE REPAIRS•TABLET REPAIRS •LAPTOPS REPAIRS •TECH SUPPORT •COLLECTIBLES •ACCESSORIES • PHONE PAIRS•TABLET REPAIRS •LAPTOPS REPAIRS •TECH SUPPORT •COLLECTIBLES •ACCESSORIES • PHONE REPAIRS•TABLET REPAIRS •LAPTOPS REPAIRS •TECH SUPPORT •COLLECTIBLES •ACCESSORIES • PHONE REPAIRS•TABLET REPAIRS

REPAIRS •TECH SUPPORT •COLLECTIBLES •ACCESSORIES • PHONE REPAIRS•TABLET REPAIRS •LAPTOPS REPAIRS

SUPPORT •COLLECTIBLES •ACCESSORIES • PHONE REPAIRS•TABLET REPAIRS •LAPTOPS REPAIRS •TECH SUPPORT

LECTIBLES •ACCESSORIES • PHONE REPAIRS•TABLET REPAIRS •LAPTOPS REPAIRS •TECH SUPPORT •COLLECTIBLES

SORIES • PHONE REPAIRS•TABLET REPAIRS •LAPTOPS REPAIRS •TECH SUPPORT •COLLECTIBLES •ACCESSORIES

REPAIRS•TABLET REPAIRS •LAPTOPS REPAIRS •TECH SUPPORT •COLLECTIBLES •ACCESSORIES • PHONE REPAIRS•TABLET REPAIRS •LAPTOPS REPAIRS •TECH SUPPORT •COLLECTIBLES •ACCESSORIES • PHONE REPAIRS•TABLET REPAIRS

REPAIRS •TECH SUPPORT •COLLECTIBLES •ACCESSORIES • PHONE REPAIRS•TABLET REPAIRS •LAPTOPS REPAIRS

SUPPORT •COLLECTIBLES •ACCESSORIES • PHONE REPAIRS•TABLET REPAIRS •LAPTOPS REPAIRS •TECH SUPPORT

LECTIBLES •ACCESSORIES • PHONE REPAIRS•TABLET REPAIRS •LAPTOPS REPAIRS •TECH SUPPORT •COLLECTIBLES

SORIES • PHONE REPAIRS•TABLET REPAIRS •LAPTOPS REPAIRS •TECH SUPPORT •COLLECTIBLES •ACCESSORIES

REPAIRS•TABLET REPAIRS •LAPTOPS REPAIRS •TECH SUPPORT •COLLECTIBLES •ACCESSORIES • PHONE REPAIRS•TABLET REPAIRS •LAPTOPS REPAIRS •TECH SUPPORT •COLLECTIBLES •ACCESSORIES • PHONE REPAIRS•TABLET REPAIRS

REPAIRS •TECH SUPPORT •COLLECTIBLES •ACCESSORIES • PHONE REPAIRS•TABLET REPAIRS •LAPTOPS REPAIRS SUPPORT •COLLECTIBLES •ACCESSORIES • PHONE REPAIRS•TABLET REPAIRS •LAPTOPS REPAIRS •TECH SUPPORT LECTIBLES •ACCESSORIES • PHONE REPAIRS•TABLET REPAIRS •LAPTOPS REPAIRS •TECH SUPPORT •COLLECTIBLES

SORIES • PHONE REPAIRS•TABLET REPAIRS •LAPTOPS REPAIRS •TECH SUPPORT •COLLECTIBLES •ACCESSORIES

REPAIRS•TABLET REPAIRS •LAPTOPS REPAIRS •TECH SUPPORT •COLLECTIBLES •ACCESSORIES • PHONE REPAIRS•TABLET REPAIRS •LAPTOPS REPAIRS •TECH SUPPORT •COLLECTIBLES •ACCESSORIES • PHONE REPAIRS•TABLET REPAIRS REPAIRS •TECH SUPPORT •COLLECTIBLES •ACCESSORIES • PHONE REPAIRS•TABLET REPAIRS •LAPTOPS REPAIRS SUPPORT •COLLECTIBLES •ACCESSORIES • PHONE REPAIRS•TABLET REPAIRS •LAPTOPS REPAIRS •TECH SUPPORT LECTIBLES •ACCESSORIES • PHONE REPAIRS•TABLET REPAIRS •LAPTOPS REPAIRS •TECH SUPPORT •COLLECTIBLES

SORIES • PHONE REPAIRS•TABLET REPAIRS •LAPTOPS REPAIRS •TECH SUPPORT •COLLECTIBLES •ACCESSORIES REPAIRS•TABLET REPAIRS •LAPTOPS REPAIRS •TECH SUPPORT •COLLECTIBLES •ACCESSORIES • PHONE REPAIRS•TABLET REPAIRS •LAPTOPS REPAIRS •TECH SUPPORT •COLLECTIBLES •ACCESSORIES • PHONE REPAIRS•TABLET REPAIRS REPAIRS •TECH SUPPORT •COLLECTIBLES •ACCESSORIES • PHONE REPAIRS•TABLET REPAIRS •LAPTOPS REPAIRS SUPPORT •COLLECTIBLES •ACCESSORIES • PHONE REPAIRS•TABLET REPAIRS •LAPTOPS REPAIRS •TECH SUPPORT LECTIBLES •ACCESSORIES • PHONE REPAIRS•TABLET REPAIRS •LAPTOPS REPAIRS •TECH SUPPORT •COLLECTIBLES

SORIES • PHONE REPAIRS•TABLET REPAIRS •LAPTOPS REPAIRS •TECH SUPPORT •COLLECTIBLES •ACCESSORIES

REPAIRS•TABLET REPAIRS •LAPTOPS REPAIRS •TECH SUPPORT •COLLECTIBLES •ACCESSORIES • PHONE REPAIRS•TABLET REPAIRS •LAPTOPS REPAIRS •TECH SUPPORT •COLLECTIBLES •ACCESSORIES • PHONE REPAIRS•TABLET REPAIRS REPAIRS •TECH SUPPORT •COLLECTIBLES •ACCESSORIES • PHONE REPAIRS•TABLET REPAIRS •LAPTOPS REPAIRS SUPPORT •COLLECTIBLES •ACCESSORIES • PHONE REPAIRS•TABLET REPAIRS •LAPTOPS REPAIRS •TECH SUPPORT LECTIBLES •ACCESSORIES • PHONE REPAIRS•TABLET REPAIRS •LAPTOPS REPAIRS •TECH SUPPORT •COLLECTIBLES SORIES • PHONE REPAIRS•TABLET REPAIRS •LAPTOPS REPAIRS •TECH SUPPORT •COLLECTIBLES •ACCESSORIES REPAIRS•TABLET REPAIRS •LAPTOPS REPAIRS •TECH SUPPORT •COLLECTIBLES

•ACCESSORIES • PHONE REPAIRS•TABLET REPAIRS •LAPTOPS REPAIRS •TECH SUPPORT •COLLECTIBLES •ACCESSORIES • PHONE REPAIRS•TABLET REPAIRS REPAIRS •TECH SUPPORT •COLLECTIBLES •ACCESSORIES • PHONE REPAIRS•TABLET REPAIRS •LAPTOPS REPAIRS SUPPORT •COLLECTIBLES •ACCESSORIES • PHONE REPAIRS•TABLET REPAIRS •LAPTOPS REPAIRS •TECH SUPPORT I can fix that! 47 M O U N TA I N S I D E V I L L AG E P K W Y #103, J A S P E R , G A 30143 I N T H E R O CCO ’S PA R K I N G LOT O F F H W Y 515 (770) 894-3496 COME FOR THE REPAIRS, STAY TO CHECK OUT THE COLLECTIBLES. OVER 1000 OF DRAGONBALL Z & MARVEL ITEMS FOR YOU TO TOTALLY NERD OUT WHILE YOU WAIT. V I S I T E D R J A S P E R . CO M TO L E A R N M O R E F FA M I LY O W N E D & O P E R AT E D • B E S T P R I C E S I N TO W N

FORTHCOMING MEMOIRS AND SUSPENSE THRILLERS

ANNIE'S SONG

Dandelions, Dreams and Dogs

Annie McDonnell Memoir/Creative Fiction

Known to the literary world as one of its best book reviewers, Annie reveals her gift for storytelling in this soaring blend of essays and poems that traces tragedies and joys that mark her life and her determination to find that joy despite great suffering and innumerable losses.

THE BOX MUST BE EMPTY

A Memoir of Complicated Grief, Spiritual De spair, and Ultimate Healing

Marilyn Kriete

Memoir/Women's Biography

RELEASE DATE MARCH 14,2023

"Annie McDonell has a true, honest, powerful voice, and she puts it to beautiful use in Annie's Song. And she's right: The prose sings." -Darin Strauss, author ofThe Queen of Tuesday

AS THE SYCAMORE GROWS

Jennie Miller Helderman

Memoir/Suspense

RELEASE DATE APRIL 4,2023

The author’s journey through intense delayed grief is compounded by heartbreaking losses as she moves far too often in a worldwide church possible cult that demands far more than she can give. When grief catches up, she faces a spiritual reckoning that challenges her to the core. “An intensely personal story of recovery, its lessons apply to any soul with unhealed wounds.”—Daryl Potter, author of Even the Monsters and Bitter for Sweet

THE WOLF AND THE CROW

A Sus pense Thriller

RELEASE DATE MAV2,2023

A cabin behind a padlocked gate, no power, no phone, only Revelation and a .38-a true story of abuse, loss, redemption and hope which winds from south Texas to a sycamore tree in Tennessee. Winner of six national awards, this revised edition of the harrowing narrative by journalistJennie Miller Helderman has been updated with an epilogue and resources for those with violent partners.

RELEASE DATE OCTOBER 2023

Joseph M. Marshall Ill

Suspense Thriller

Set in the Smokey River Lakota reservation and the wilds of Argentina and Patagonia, this is a story of two 62-year-old men, one Lakota and one white, who must work together to rescue their granddaughter after she is kidnapped. But they mu s t confront and overcome considerable obstacles, including their lifelong hatred and suspicion of one another.

JENNIE MILLER HELDERMAN
lucidhousepublishing.com

SCHOOL

It was Friday night, the possibilities of the weekend spooling out before us with that sense of excitement you can only have at seventeen. We had each taken two hits of acid, little white squares of paper placed on our tongues like communion wafers, and were waiting for the effects to kick in. We listened to music we thought might spur it on quicker: Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, The Doors, but it came on slow, sap-like, and easing up our spinal cords until we erupted first into laughter and then into introspection, considering the flakes of tobacco in our cigarettes as they cracked and popped and hissed under our lighters’ wavering flames.

It didn’t take long before we were bored with the music and the lava lamp and the black light posters of Bob Marley and The Grateful Dead. So we decided to take a walk.

Through the woods, where the ground appeared to be covered with a large net made of black strings, creeping up the sides of trees and into the branches overhead, where they draped down like cobwebs and brushed at our arms and necks.

The leaves seemed to thrum with energy: you could hear it. Almost see it vibrating in a slow steady pulse—a string pulled taut then plucked, leaving an image of itself as it came back to its rightful place. The ends of our cigarettes seemed to light the way forward, until we were standing in a sloping field of tall wet grass just behind the football stadium where we went to school. It was dark, the game from earlier that night having already ended hours ago, and so we walked out past the bleachers and onto the grass, where we lay down and felt its smooth itch on our sweat-dampened skin.

Things devolved from there: I remember a golf cart, pushing one another in it since we couldn’t get it to start. A freezer full of bags of ice like they have at convenience stores, and one of us climbing inside of it to cool off. Then the cop car, pointing its spotlight at us as we ran back into the woods, not knowing if we had really seen it there or not.

Later, when that same cop car picked us up on side of the road, its blue lights flashing across our faces as we tried to talk our way out of trouble, we knew it had been real. All of it. But it would be many nights later when we would finally realize how stupid we had always been, and how lucky we are now.

165165

David Armand was born and raised in Louisiana. From 2017-2019, he served as writerin-residence at Southeastern Louisiana University, where he is currently assistant professor of creative writing. An awardwinning author, Armand has published four novels, three collections of poetry, and a memoir. A collection of essays, Mirrors, is forthcoming from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press.

Full-Page Ads: Single Ad, per issue.......................................................$400 4 Ads paid in advance, per issue...................................$375 will
nonprofits
donations
advertise. Half-Page Ads: Single Ad, per issue.......................................................$200 4 Ads paid in advance, per issue...................................$185 Quarter-Page Ads: Single Ad, per issue.......................................................$125 4 Ads paid in advance, per issue...................................$115
work with
for
to

THERE’S A BRIGHTNESS FOLDED INTO EVERY BIRD

but the bird doesn’t know it. The bird is thirty birds who soared out of dreaming to invent sky, thirty birds flying in the formation

of a bird. God tells them, Open, O moon-beak O silver-black O sliver of luck, and the bird says, Break me until I’m whole. God says, Empty, and the bird spills a splendor of jewels from their thirty beaks into the valley. Don’t think I’m a diamond, God says, Find me, and hands

the bird a map back to the inside of its own bone, then disappears. But the bird doesn’t understand the quest(ion). Thirty birds split into a thousand that search under everything—stone, fabric, sun-face, gold—until they find no god. Now the beak yells, Take

me; I have no reason, and an arch of wing lifts sun-up towards light, and a thump under the chest answers, Yes and yes and yes and yes.

From the chapbook Like a Bird With a Thousand Wings

169169

Melissa Studdard is the author of the poetry collections, Dear Selection Committee and I Ate the Cosmos for Breakfast, as well as the chapbook Like a Bird with a Thousand Wings. Her work has been featured by PBS, NPR, The New York Times, The Guardian, and the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day series, and has appeared in periodicals such as POETRY, Kenyon Review, and New England Review. Her Awards include the Lucille Medwick Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America, The Penn Review Poetry Prize, the Tom Howard Prize from Winning Writers, the REELpoetry International Film Festival Audience Choice Award, and more.

171171
V I S U A L P O E T R Y | V I S U A L A R T T o b r o w s e a v a i l a b l e w o r k , v i s i t : h t t p s : / / w w w . o c t a v i o q u i n t a n i l l a . c o m / C o n n e c t : I n s t a g r a m : @ w r i t e r o c t a v i o q u i n t a n i l l a T w i t t e r : @ O c t Q u i n t a n i l l a click here to purchase
FRONTEXTOS

FREEDOM SERMON-ALABAMA, USA

“Why do we want to kill all the broken people? What is wrong with us, that we think a thing like that can be right?”

-Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy

“You are a light. You are the light.”

-John Lewis, Across That Bridge: A Vision for Change and the Future of America

The chickens knew. Their blood in the soil knew when it spilled, when it curdled in the pan that there was a movement brewing in you, John, they heard you speak God’s word—the right man for the job, by far. The chickens knew, yes, but so did the Bull, the hose, sweet Dixie and the US President, too. Oh, Bless. Blessèd freedom fighters who unfix the chains and prison bars—stripes rough and unjust on a flag sewn with blood. Bryan, when did you learn that dollars grease the system’s rust and fill the cells to bursting? God forbid the least of us unite. Now, we must fight— the thing you cannot bury is the light.

first commissioned by the Alabama Humanities Alliance

173173

Ashley M. Jones is Poet Laureate of Alabama (20222026). Her work has been featured by The New York Times, Good Morning America, the BBC, and other outlets. Her most recent collection, REPARATIONS NOW!, was longlisted for the PEN/Voelker Award. She teaches at the Alabama School of Fine Arts and Converse University.

T H E E D W A R D S S T U D I O S

Sleek Modern Creative

See Your Next Session Here...

Located in the heart of Historic Roswell and a short 30-minute commute from Atlanta, GA; The Edwards Studios is the home for creators to create lifestyle content for their clients. Services the studios provides are Podcast Recording on professional gear, Interchangeable living room sets, backdrops for your creative use, and an office setting for the working professional.

Capture Behind The Scenes of the working professional in the Office Center, Showcase casual work from home lifestyle, record your message in our podcast station, set your camera to capture mode The space is available for rent! Head over to our contact page on our website Our host is beyond excited to greet you!

How to rent for your creative needs?

theedwardsstudios.com/bookthestudio

renedwards.com/edwards-studios

Blue Mountain Review / December 2022 176
Y o u r B r a n d ' s H o m e S t u d i o - R o s w e l l , G A
Opening Special $40/hour Contact Us for More information!
cristhaedwardsconsulting.com/the-edwards-studios Studio

ADA LIMÓN AND JENNIFER L. KNOX ARGUE OVER WHO SHOULD TAKE THE LAST BITE

The donuts reminded them of fairy rings. They stared wondering what was lost, how a decayed absence of something “There’s a hole after all,” could lead to the appearance of perfect circles resting in rows.

One by one they ate them straight from the box, laughing at chocolate streaked teeth, a glazed flake in a mouth’s corner, until there was only one left like a fledgling, they thought, like a life preserver, to ask, which of you needs saving?

“You take it, I couldn’t.”

“No, no, that one is yours.”

A stand off like a kiss or a sacrifice. Fear shivers up underneath, raises to their lips’ rim as if to take from what was once beautiful, to give even after there is nothing left.

177177

Jared Beloff is a teacher and poet who lives in Queens, NY with his wife and two daughters. His debut poetry collection, Who Will Cradle Your Head, is forthcoming with ELJ Editions in February 2023. He is the editor of the Marvel inspired poetry anthology, Marvelous Verses (Daily Drunk, 2021) and is a peer-reviewer for Whale Road Review. You can find his work in Contrary Magazine, Barren Magazine, Bending Genres, The Shore and elsewhere. He is online at www.jaredbeloff.com

APIARY ACHES

Bees love catnip; they go crazy for it; afterward, we drowsed, full of honeyed sweetness like the bees that browse the catnip, it could be like catnip to us, and I remember the first time my Siamese kitten had catnip, how she crawled into the bathtub and yowled in such a way that we were never sure if she liked it or not, but later she tried it again and was blissfully sprawled on her back, belly exposed - it can be like that sometimes, you’re never sure if the first time is godawful or good as Motown, all that nasty, dirty shit, but they say it with panache, so we buzz along, undisturbed.

Coldness produces boldness as we pause, immobile, frozen by frost, beating our wings harder to motion back dead/undead but never resurrected warmth returned and wing torn struggling so hard. I wonder if bees sting each other the way we did if it hurts so much for them as it does for us. Do bees part, pollen left behind, join another swarm, not so humble, fuzzy heads turned away, as we do when we do come to the same flower, or to the same flower bender.

179179

Lynne Kemen lives in Upstate New York. Her chapbook, More Than a Handful was published in 2020. Her work is anthologized in Seeing Things (2020) and several others. She is published in Silver Birch Press, The Ravens Perch, Fresh Words Magazine, Spillwords, Topical Poetry, Lothlorien Poetry Journal, and Blue Mountain Review. Lynne stands on the Board of Bright Hill Press. She is an Editor for the Blue Mountain Review and a lifetime member of The Southern Collective Experience. Her book of poetry will be published in 2023 by SCE.

SOME DAYS BEGIN LIKE THIS

The fear of forgetting I am well crawls into my mouth like a word that regrets being spoken; it presses sour phrases against my teeth, tongue, and gums. I want to tell it stop, that I am well, that my blood is my blood. But as I’m ready to swallow, it wedges another phrase onto the back of my tongue— something about the flawlessness of the antibody’s memory, how it never forgets the image of the mother that abandoned it here.

181181
-The Amoeba Game

Tara Skurtu is the author of The Amoeba Game and the upcoming poetry collection Faith Farm. A two-time U.S. Fulbright grantee and recipient of a Robert Pinsky Global Fellowship, a Marcia Keach Poetry Prize, and two Academy of American Poets prizes, Tara is the founder of International Poetry Circle and a national steering committee member of Writers for Democratic Action.

January 19 April 13 May 4 May 18 June 15 11:11 Press Visit us at 1111press.com

FUCK AROUND AND FIND OUT

for Mark

Do not cite the deep magic to me, Witch! I was there when it was written. Aslan from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

The capital T truth starts with someone who says I’m a Christian is immediately sus, no, you don’t actually believe the prosperity gospel, or you try your best not to, and you don’t pray God please fix this or that thing like a car or a marriage, God’s no damn genie in a bottle, and you definitely don’t ever (ever) pray Lord, teach me to be humble

If you do, you did that shit to yourself.

Pastor Pete’s sermon is on Daniel, a true believer if ever there was, Daniel probably prayed his people wouldn’t become slaves. But they did. Daniel probably prayed he wouldn’t go to Babylon. But he did. Daniel probably prayed he wouldn’t be fed to lions. But he was. And my atheist friends like to say how I believe in magic Jesus, I can just pray for anything, but magic always comes with a price.

God helps those who help themselves is not in the Bible, that was Ben Franklin, and a more melodic way to say late-stage capitalism which is itself a sort of belief. God never gives you more than you can handle is more bullshit you’ve misremembered because, c’mon, Moses in the bulrushes, Noah, Joseph, Esther, Job, Christ on the cross, this long life, the Garden is only a memory of a memory.

In this world, Jesus said, you will have trouble, and I’ve seen my sister’s cancer, my brother’s doubts, my own fears, Mark says to pray for him, you couldn’t meet a kinder guy, and every day there’s some fresh hell at his door, a true believer like him knows the real stories, apostles on pikes, prophets and preachers who never knew a minute of human joy, just faith (if you dare), but no one ever reads the fine print.

185185

J.D. Isip is the author of Pocketing Feathers (Sadie Girl Press, 2015) and several other works of poetry, fiction, and theater. His second full-length poetry collection, Kissing the Wound will be out in January 2023 from Moon Tide Press. He is also a full-time professor in Plano, Texas, and a contributing editor to The Blue Mountain Review.

187187 MFA IN CREATIVE WRITING • POETRY • FICTION • NONFICTION • NEW MEDIA • PLAYWRITING • SCREENWRITING GENRES : JANUARY 15, 2023 APPLICATION DEADLINE: WWW.LSU.EDU/HSS/ENGLISH/CREATIVE_WRITING/ ABOUT THE PROGRAM THREE-YEAR PROGRAM TEACHING ASSISTANTSHIPS $17,850 LOW TEACHING LOAD GENRE FLEXIBLE • JASON BUCH • JENNIFER S. DAVIS • FEMI EUBA • LARA GLENUM • ZACK GODSHALL • ARIEL FRANSICO HENRIQUEZ • MARI KORNHAUSER • MAURICE CARLOS RUFFIN • JOSHUA WHEELER FACULTY

RELAX

Bad things are going to happen. Your tomatoes will grow a fungus and your cat will get run over. Someone will leave the bag with the ice cream melting in the car and throw your blue cashmere sweater in the dryer. Your husband will sleep with a girl your daughter’s age, her breasts spilling out of her blouse. Or your wife will remember she’s a lesbian and leave you for the woman next door. The other cat— the one you never really liked—will contract a disease that requires you to pry open its feverish mouth every four hours. Your parents will die. No matter how many vitamins you take, how much Pilates, you’ll lose your keys, your hair, and your memory. If your daughter doesn’t plug her heart into every live socket she passes, you’ll come home to find your son has emptied the refrigerator, dragged it to the curb, and called the used-appliance store for a pickup—drug money. The Buddha tells a story of a woman chased by a tiger. When she comes to a cliff, she sees a sturdy vine and climbs halfway down. But there’s also a tiger below. And two mice—one white, one black—scurry out and begin to gnaw at the vine. At this point she notices a wild strawberry growing from a crevice. She looks up, down, at the mice. Then she eats the strawberry. So here’s the view, the breeze, the pulse in your throat. Your wallet will be stolen, you’ll get fat, slip on the bathroom tiles in a foreign hotel and crack your hip. You’ll be lonely. Oh, taste how sweet and tart the red juice is, how the tiny seeds crunch between your teeth.

189189

A Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, Ellen Bass’s most recent book is Indigo (Copper Canyon Press, 2020). Among her awards are a Guggenheim Fellowship, NEA Fellowship, four Pushcart Prizes, and The Lambda Literary Award. She coedited the first major anthology of women’s poetry, No More Masks! (Doubleday, 1973) and coauthored The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse (HarperCollins, 1988). Bass founded workshops at Salinas Valley State Prison and teaches in at Pacific University’s MFA program.

Credit: Ellen Bass, “Relax” from Like a Beggar. Copyright © 2014 by Ellen Bass. Reprinted with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Copper Canyon Press, coppercanyonpress.org.

THE MAN AT THE HOTEL BAR

Tells me about the ending of his false life. He’s a believer of gardens and suffering, of nuns circled in white robes. Psych ward God and Jesus in the hotel lobby. He sips on his IPA and tells me to read John Chapter 4 about the woman in the well.

The formal diagnosis was that I’m in my own personal hell. He says, Let me tell you about the death of the old me. Marriages, divorces, taxes, your money. Vertical and horizontal expansion. I’m told there are people who keep score and people who move on.

The movie on the airplane says, it’s not about finding justice, it’s about finding peace. That night, I realize my parents are among the dead. They were dead on the day they took wine out on the kayak.

The last day, light fell at the lake with the weight of my father’s father’s secrets. I’m ashamed to remember that when he came home I was surprised by the compassion in his voice, like snow. I fear the landscape still exists, the cold syrup and the requests for silence, and I fear they are talking about me together, their eyes lions. And I fear what I, myself, am acting out.

191191

Kelly Canaday is a poet who recently received an MFA at Columbia University. Her inspiration ranges from people-watching in Florida to quantum mechanics, and her work appears in NPR, Into the Void, Saw Palm, and The American Journal of Poetry, among others.

TIMELESS

everywhere around us snow is falling in a lazy dream

a watery Christmas globe with no place to go & time enough for just being here

we laugh in colors bright waves emanate heat like exposed limbs in arctic cold

as if God had told a very funny joke and the universe collapses hysterically

when I say I love you I mean this moment will not pass away

will always stay fresh as mountain lakes sleeping on beds of Paleolithic bones

193193

Rob is a former high school English teacher who currently leads a poetry workshop at The University of Southern Maine/OLLI and edits the OLLI Art and Literature Journal. His poems and essays have been published in several literary magazines and newspapers over the years, and in the anthology A Dangerous New World: Maine Voices on the Climate Crisis. He lives in the present in Westbrook, Maine, with his partner and their cat.

AUTISM SPEAKS

Autism Speaks is dedicated to promoting solutions, across the spectrum and throughout the life span, for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. We do this through advocacy and support; increasing understanding and acceptance of people with autism; and advancing research into causes and better interventions for autism spectrum disorder and related conditions.

Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. According to the Centers for Disease Control, autism affects an estimated 1 in 54 children in the United States today.

Learn more about Autism Speaks or how you can get involved at www.autismspeaks.org/get-involved

G E T I N V O L V E D W I T H

the skin o dreams:

new and collected poems 1995-2018

Quraysh Ali Lansana

“Quraysh Ali Lansana has woven a roadmap of poems and prophecy from Tulsa to Chicago, slowly breaking open the voices of history with each step. Follow the path on these pages to enter your own skin ” Tyehimba Jess, Pulitzer Prize winner, Olio

the skin of dreams is a remembering, an offering and a gathering of geographies Traversing twenty-three years of earth and breath, Quraysh Ali Lansana’s first new and collected works roadmaps small town Oklahoma to southside Chicago in compelling poems that question, surprise and dare As a direct descendent of the Black Arts Movement and last student of Miss Gwendolyn Brooks, Lansana explores the complicated internal and external terrain of Blackness and history from a post-King, post-Kennedy childhood through the election of the first non-White president while grappling with the definition of home These are poems that cry, sing, scream and see

Available now at thecalliopegroup.com

American Neolithic

Terence Hawkins

“This is a one-of-a-kind novel Terry Hawkins is a bold and fearless writer ” Tom Perrotta, author of The Leftovers and Mrs Fletcher

It’s the day after tomorrow

America is Police State Lite The Bill of Rights has been swallowed by the Patriot Amendments Science bends the knee to state-sponsored Creationism The Supreme Court is powerless before the Patriot Tribunal and the Homeland Police upholding their motto, “Always Watching.”

Enter Blingbling Foreign-looking, undocumented, and apparently homeless, he’s implicated in a hip-hop murder His lawyer, the hard-boiled Raleigh, keeps him from Homeland’s clutches until a routine DNA test exposes a secret that threatens to destroy his client, his career, and much more.

Release Date: November 4 Pre-order at thecalliopegroup com

fiction micro-

fiction micro-

JOURNEY TO THE TOP

In memory of the original lead singer of AC/DC, Ronald ‘Bon’ Scott, who some people believe faked his death and disappeared, because he didn’t like the view from the top.

The young man, burdened by a large backpack with the neck of a guitar sticking out, staggered into the clearing that had become Ronald’s home, preceded by Angus, Ronald’s black and white Scottish collie, her red tongue lolling from her permanent grin.

Angus went to Ronald for a pat, had a drink, and sat at Ronald’s feet, panting gently, and watched as Ronald placed the blackened billy can on the campfire.

The young man, looking totally lost, eased the backpack off his shoulders and sat on a tree stump, catching his breath.

As Ronald wiped out a couple of enamel mugs with the tail end of a beard that stretched beyond his waist, the young man said ‘You must think I’m crazy but I want to really make it playing music and a guy I met in the valley said there’s a kind of guru up here that has the secret.’

Ronald and Angus smiled and Ronald said ‘Yeah, he’s at the top of the mountain behind me … but I have to warn ya, it’s a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll.’

Tea drunk, the young man shouldered his pack and continued his journey. Ronald fetched his bagpipes and played him on his way, with Angus howling along in unison.

199199

STROKE AND TOUCH AND GO

Ever since Bruce had his stroke, he doesn’t do much more than sit on his front veranda and, with his good hand, knuckle the head of his arthritic companion, a German Shepherd called Arfer, although these days the best that Bruce can manage is Ar’er but Arfer knows what he means.

Bruce can still shuffle-walk and dress and he prides himself on cleanly, if awkwardly, shaving each day with his safety razor, taking care to leave the electric one his daughter gave him on display in his bathroom, and being especially careful of nicks on the days she visits.

He looks at his now dead but once prized front lawn (groomed obsessively with his old Victa mower that he never saw any need to replace), where the children would play under the sprinkler in the summertime and where his son was once convinced he’d stood on a bee, creating drama until ice-cream was produced for distraction and the bindii prickle removed.

Every day his seemingly semi-comatose fat teenage grandson (named Jaxxon by his pea-brained parents,) the one with the tattoos and the safety pin through his eyebrow, arrives en route to the shops, never once lifting his eyes from his screen, even as he mumbles ‘Sup, Gramps’. He takes Arfer as his token protection, because his bark is still enough to scare away God-botherers and dodgy roof repair salesmen from Bruce and neighbourhood bullies from the boy.

The one thing Bruce looks forward to is the days that the aged care agency send their revolving door of shower people, not because he ever feels particularly unclean (he is obsessive with his wiping, if nothing else) but because it’s the only time anyone gently touches his skin since his wife went to Heaven without him.

201201

SPACE

Bert and Gladys were folding up the tent on their camper trailer when Bert said “Gladys, you know how we were sleeping in the space inside the tent last night?”

Gladys said ruefully “Well, you were doing most of the sleeping while I lay there listening to your snoring but, yes, I do recall we were in bed in the tent last night.”

Bert mused “So when we folded up the tent just now, where did the space go that was inside the tent?”

Gladys gave him one of those ‘is this one of the early warning gaga signs?’ looks and said “Bert, it didn’t go anywhere; it’s still there but now it’s not an enclosed space, it is now free space, unencumbered by tent-ness.”

“But how do you know we didn’t just fold up our space when we folded the tent and it will be released again when we unfold it next time?” questioned Bert.

“Bert”, said Gladys, ”I think we should just head home and from now on you can sleep in the garage, in the space in the tent, so you can be sure it doesn’t disappear, and I’ll be able to get lost in the infinite space of sleep.”

203203

Doug Jacquier has lived in many places across Australia, including regional and remote communities, and has traveled extensively overseas. His poems and stories have been published in Australia, the US, the UK, Canada, New Zealand and India. He blogs at Six Crooked Highways (wordpress.com)

NEW FROM BESTSELLING HISTORIAN H.W. BRANDS

The epic struggle over slavery, told through the lives of John Brown and Abraham Lincoln.

The New York Times Book Review

The Wall Street Journal

“A gripping account of the politics that led to Southern secession, war and the abolition of slavery.”
“Mr. Brands…offers a lesson that has never been timelier.”
“A book that deserves to become foundational reading for America’s new reckoning with slavery, race, and racism.”
Doubleday Available wherever books are sold www.doubleday.com
Harold Holzer, author of The Presidents vs. the Press and winner of the Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize

The Ghost Gospels

the ghost gospels

Holding the reader a willing captive in the liminal spaces between life and death, survival and surrender, recovery and decline, Laura Ingram dazzles the heart and mind with the tenderly-wrought insights of a young woman coming to terms with the aftermath of her eating disorder. As the narrator trains her own thoughts away from hunger, the reader is fed hearts from jars, blackberry brambles, and boxes hidden under beds, hearts that have been pickled and skipped like stones across the tops of creeks, hearts grass stained and wobbling and scrubbed pink in the kitchen sink. And bones—bones blooming and curved like question marks, bones kissed and buried and “scrawled against [the] skin like a pharmacist’s signature.” Yet, even as the imagery blooms and fills and increases, becoming ever more tangible, the narrator fears she will dissipate into something no longer substantial, and “you will remember she is only ulna and aspartame and leave her in search of something more solid.”

This is a collection that will break your heart and hand it back to you illuminated between the cracks, for like Kintsugi, the Japanese art of using gold to highlight the cracks in repaired pottery, Ingram’s poems embrace wounds and imperfections rather than glossing over them, modelling that through careful attention and reflection, the selves we can create after we have been broken can be stronger and more beautiful than before.

To puchase your copy or contact the poet: subatomicteenager@gmail.com

Each copy $10

introducing Laura Ingram the latest work from

SOME AWFUL THINGS

If only I could stick a pin in it. If only I could lick it clean, the past might lift its foot up off my chest and let me breathe. You see, I’ve done some awful things: pulled the wings off flies, sang seaweed green as maidenhair, hid vile secrets in my purse, put a dark gray hearse in gear and drove it off a cliff. And as I drifted down some soundless dreamlike shaft of buoyancy, I heard a girl call out my name and was dragged straight down beneath the sea.

207207

A STUDY IN STILL LIFE

I trust the broom of straw and wood to sweep away the autumn leaves and love the sound the bristles make on brick and worn concrete. I trust the loom that knit my bones and gramophones to play old records late, and I trust men with names like Jelly Roll, Washboard Sam, and Bo. Big Bill Broonzy’s sittin’ on an old stump singing Babe, I got a worried mind. And buddy--so do I. Got boxes of old valentines, bottles ancient, medicines: ipecac and Betadine. I wear a paregoric hat, a study in still life. I am not what I am. And baby, I ain’t lyin’.

209209

JACK AND GINGER

Outside, the moon looms fiery orange behind some pines. Soon, there will be stars, the smell of something burning, frost. I turn the porchlight on and crack a window, let a little cool air in. Jack and ginger: Let’s Get Lost. Jack and Ginger, song and sin. They say they’ll let you choose the urn they’ll use to stash your ashes in. I get up and make a drink. I wear a cockamamie grin. Pull on a purple paisley blouse. I wink and doff my cowboy hat. I’m burning down the house.

211211

Mark Helm is a poet and songwriter who teaches English and creative writing at Nashville State Community College. Their poems have appeared in Passengers Journal and Quarterly West and their translations of the late Israeli poet Moshe Dor are included in his selected poems in English, Crossing the River. Mark received an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the American University and an M.A. in English from Drew University. Listen to their album, everything’s ok on Apple Music and Spotify.

Fiction

Fiction

EARTH'S SUNNY SOLAR SYSTEM

Small hands gripped the corners. It was a girl in a baseball cap and loose-fitting shorts with a puzzle in her hands. Her head was down as she studied the puzzle art on the box. Planets flung out across space with earth surrounded by a thick, blue halo off to the left. It was the most difficult puzzle in the store. All puzzles pose specific challenges but what counts is the number of pieces; this solar extravaganza boasted a thousand of them.

I coughed to let the girl know she wasn’t alone in the aisle. She glanced in my direction, her round face half hidden under the baseball cap, fingers still gripping the puzzle box like talons. Kids grip only the things they want. Their little fingers are endowed with strength beyond their height, weight, stamina. They are also precocious, going after games and puzzles that their parents don’t understand or like—and most of all fear will wind up in a mess on the living room floor. I’ve witnessed the tug-of-wars between adults and children, and the adults generally win, but not before something ends up on the floor. The Earth’s Sunny Solar System was dropped a lot. “Now look what you did!” “You made me!” “Don’t talk back to your mother!” “But you promised!” “You don’t even like puzzles!” The quarrels nasty and dry-eyed repeating like an unhappy song chorus—and the Earth’s Sunny Solar System, caught in the middle, going nowhere but back on the shelf. And yet, despite past disappointments, I held out hope that this would be the day I’d finally sell Earth’s Sunny Solar System.

“Nice puzzle,” I said.

“Dope,” she replied.

I suggested we look inside and put out my hands.

She wouldn’t let go of the box. “The earth only looks blue from space.”

“Makes you realize how much they paid attention to the details when they made this puzzle.”

“It’s mostly blue. If it were all blue, the whole planet would be covered in water.”

“Excellent point.” I didn’t care if the earth were flamingo pink because all I wanted was to move that puzzle off the shelf.

“It’s going to happen. I read about the ground disappearing.”

“That would be wild. I guess anything could happen.”

“Anything does,” she said.

I decided to redirect the conversation. “If that puzzle doesn’t interest you, I could show you something else. We have lots of games. Do you like Parcheesi?”

“I’m good,” she said.

“Yeah, that puzzle you’re holding is the best. Should we ring it up?”

“Maybe later.” The girl put the puzzle on the shelf and walked out the store.

Puzzles have a shelf life. After a year on the shelf, the boxes take on a ravaged appearance. Earth’s Sunny Solar System was going on three years. I peeked inside to discover a spider that turned out to be a hermit crab.

215215

Alone and unshelled, the pitiful thing scrambled over the jumbled cosmos.

I wondered how many hermits escaped their crab-it-tats—if they were hiding (and dying) all over the store. I hurried to check and found the lot of them in distress, climbing the silicon walls desperate to get out. The mice didn’t look particularly happy either. They were thin and mangy, and no one wanted them. A garter snake hissed as I walked by. A menagerie of hostility caused by shortages in the supply chain. The chain, I imagined, wound the globe east and west, north and south; it held the world together. Now, that chain was coming apart link by link. We’d soon have to start feeding the mice to the snakes—and where that would leave the hermits I had no idea.

When I mentioned my concerns to the manager, he took a hit off his vape. “What do you expect me to do about it?” Then, back turned to me, he lapsed into reverie. Unlike the hermits, he appeared pleasantly lost.

“Uh, maybe I could have a hit?”

“You’re too young to vape.”

“I’m eighteen.”

“In answer to your question, no. And get back to work.”

“But the hermits…”

“Fuck if I know,” he said.

“That’s all you got for me?”

“Pretty much.”

Days later, the hermits and crab-it-tats vanished altogether. I gave the manager a look. “Was there a seagull attack?”

“What are you talking about?”

“The crab-it-tats are gone.”

“Yeah, the crabs. Why are you bothering me about gulls?”

“Gulls eat hermits in the wild.”

He hit his vape. “You got some weird obsessions, that’s for sure.”

“Because I care about the hermits?”

“For starters.” Lemon haze poured out his nostrils. “It’s for the best.” I nodded, not because I agreed. I just knew—and that certainty gutted me. “Did you have to?” I got a rag and started dusting. People wandered the store lost in aisles of emptiness. Sometimes, they bumped into one another, saying “Excuse me” in zombified voices. No one shouted. No fights broke out. The sluggishness and monotony made me wish someone would start something. Time went faster when the kids and adults got into it. Or, when someone got caught shoplifting. It was store policy to take the offender straight to security. Her name was Lal. She was tough, like she’d been born to put people in a line up. She paced the catwalk (her name for the long plank held high in the air by two ladders) and, if she saw anyone sneaking around, she’d blast the suspect with her bullhorn. “You! In the Run-DMC t-shirt and cut-offs. Front of the store!” Typically, people would run, a stupid thing to do but people weren’t smart when stealing—always thinking no one was watching when no one escaped Lal. Maybe that was the real crime. Thinking they could get away with it. Not under Lal’s watch. She was a one-woman panopticon.

“Hey!”

“What!”

“How about you come up?”

I hesitated. It never occurred to me what life up there was like—that I, a mere salesclerk, would receive an invitation from Lal on the catwalk. Things like that just didn’t happen. The catwalk

Blue Mountain Review / December 2022 216

was where Lal worked and the rest of us underlings kept to the aisles, cash registers, and restrooms. Everyone and everything in its place. My place was below while Lal worked from on high.

“Come on up.”

“Okay.” I stuffed the cleaning rag in my back pocket. The ladder shuddered. I looked up at Lal. In what universe was this a good idea? I made a few calculations. Lal weighed approximately 150 lbs. I weighed in at 140 lbs. Our combined weight might push the scaffold’s weight-bearing capacities too far. A net was called for, at the very least a bunch of boxes—anything to break the fall.

“What’s the matter? Afraid of heights?”

“Nope.”

“Then get your ass up here.”

I girded myself for the climb. It was a lot farther to the top than it looked. When I managed to pull myself onto the plank, I was panting hard. Sweat stung my eyes.

“Cat got your tongue.” Lal gave me a freaky smile. She reached out her hand. “Stand.”

“Up?”

“You can’t appreciate the entire effect sitting. You have to stand. It gives you added height.”

“I figured.” Closing my eyes (which really was the stupidest thing to do while suspended midair), I managed to get my feet up under me and stood. “The view! It’s wild.”

“You can see all.”

“I never knew.”

“You think I work this job for the lousy minimum wage! No, sir. It’s the rush that gets me out of my warm bed in the morning. Up here, I feel alive, free. It’s the best.”

I glanced floorward. The linoleum looked hard, cold and cruel. There was always the chance I might survive a fall but, unlike Lal, I didn’t receive employee benefits. If I cracked my skull open, no HMO was going to cover surgery. I decided to sit.

Lal remained on her feet. “I could weep to see the store. It’s so beautiful when filled with people. I see their happiness, like this one time a guy comes in. He’s very rich looking. Nice clothes. He has a woman with him. She’s also very rich looking. They have a child with blonde hair. A perfect angel. They buy bags of toys. The child gets a bunny. They don’t even try to steal anything.”

“That is amazing.”

Lal grew solemn. “I never had kids.”

“Me neither.”

“Don’t be a smart ass.”

“I wasn’t,” I said. “It’s just that we don’t get a lot of families these days. There was a little girl, though.”

“The one in the baseball cap.”

“I thought for sure she would buy that puzzle.”

“The one with the crazy cover and a thousand pieces.”

“It’s called Earth’s Sunny Solar System.”

“Whatever. She didn’t bite.”

“No, she didn’t.”

Lal rested her hand on my shoulder. “If things keep up like this…” She paused, the logical conclusion to her thought difficult to articulate. Where would she go? Or me for that matter?

“It’s going to be okay,” I said. “They’ll get the supply chain up and running. When they do, this place will be stocked to bursting, and you will be back in business catching the bad guys.”

“If only.”

217217

I let her have a moment. The scene below was dreary. Shell-shocked customers going round in circles. Cashiers slumped over the registers. The manager walking the floor vaping. “I’m going down.”

“Stay a bit longer.”

“No, really, I’m on the clock. I should get down.”

“Your choice.”

Easy for her to say. She loved it up there. She felt alive, free. I felt like I wanted to throw up. There’s no easy way off a plank. I had to roll over on my belly, kick out my foot till I found the ladder, then slide down until I could use my hands to hold on while I descended the rungs. I could feel Lal pacing above me. I closed my eyes and kept going. Above me, Lal cackled in amusement. I stepped away from the ladder. She waved down at me. I walked briskly to the bathroom, splashed my face with cold water, used the urinal, washed my hands, splashed my face, and used the urinal again.

The following night, I stayed late. After the crab-it-tat fiasco, I wanted to make sure the animals lived through the night. I also figured that they had to notice what was happening, that they too felt the scarcity as keenly as the rest of us. My presence might offer some comfort.

The door rang. I must have forgotten to lock up. “We’re closed!” At the end of Aisle C, near the front of the store, there was the girl in the baseball cap. “Oh, it’s you.”

“I want to do it.”

“Excuse me?”

“The puzzle. I want to do it.”

“And if I let you, will you buy it?”

“I don’t have money.”

“I can’t let you have the puzzle. I can let you look at the bunnies. But just for a minute. Then, you have to go. No one is supposed to be here after hours.”

“No one is here anyways.”

“Even more reason for you to go home.”

She shrugged. Home didn’t seem to do much for her. I began to suspect there was more going on, like she was in foster care or homeless or… both. On the other hand, she looked fine. No visible signs of stress.

“I’m sorry. I can’t.”

“It’s about to rain.”

I went to check. I pushed against the door only to feel it push back hard.

“That’s the rain,” she said. “It’s coming.”

“It’s just the usual deluge for this time of year.”

She started down the aisle. “We should do the puzzle.”

The rain started in, harder and faster; water rushed under the door, around it, over it. I grabbed the girl’s hand. “Up the scaffold.” She didn’t ask questions. She began climbing. I stayed below and spotted her. After she reached safety, I followed. The ladder rungs were slimy and slippery. The lights flickered. I kept climbing until I was able to ease myself onto the plank. “It’s here,” she said.

I stared through my knees. The watery umbra sloshed up one wall and down another, sweeping along plushies, rubber balls, gift bags, costumes, deluxe Legos, light sabers—and dozens of other gizmos ripped from their packaging and bumping around in the shadows.

“It seems to have stopped,” I said with forced optimism.

“There’s more coming.”

“How can you be sure?”

“I saw it from my house.”

Blue Mountain Review / December 2022 218

“Where’s your house?”

“It’s not there anymore,” she said. “It was washed away with the others.”

“That’s terrible.” I didn’t know what else to say, so I asked her name.

“The name I use?”

“Uh, okay.”

“Yessel.”

“That’s your username?”

“One of them,” she said.

In an otherwise functioning world, I’d try to get more information from her—like, place of origin, age, and address. Right now, our address was the mess down below and our precarious refuge above. I felt cold, queasy. Yessel put her arms around me. We sat without speaking. Beneath us, the water lapped hypnotically as the store grew darker until only the red neon of the exit signs were visible—and soon they started going dark. “Are you okay?” I asked to remind myself I was alive and okay.

“It’s still coming in.”

“It’s stopped.”

“It’s coming closer.”

I pulled her arms tighter around my waist. “Yessel, it’s going to be okay. I promise.”

“We’re stuck.”

“Only till help comes.”

“We don’t have that long,” she said. I suddenly felt the water around my ankles, then my knees. I braced myself. There really was only one way out. We’d have to swim.

“What is it about that puzzle?” I asked her. I lowered myself slowly into the water.

“It’s how I always imagined it.”

“The solar system?” I treaded vigorously. The water was freezing.

“Except the solar system is a lot bigger than a thousand pieces.” She reached over to test the water. “It’s like ice.”

“Don’t think about it.”

She slipped down off the scaffold. I grabbed her under the shoulders. “Put your arms around my neck and don’t let go.” I held her fast in the whipping current. The building groaned. The water shoved us up against the large windows. Above the sky had disappeared behind thick, greenish clouds. Yessel was still hanging on. I kicked out a foot and the store entrance collapsed. The water swept us out across the parking lot, down block after block, before we were spit onto a mound of land. We believed the worst of it was over, though the ground was a sponge and every step sucked us further into the ooze. Somewhere, a shuttle rocketed through space. Earth’s Sunny Solar System. Yessel and I struggled on, walking and sinking—and consoling ourselves with the idea that, if we could survive here, we could survive anywhere.

219219

Kathryn A. Kopple works in English and Spanish. Her writing has been published in numerous magazines, including the Bellevue Literary Review, The Threepenny Review, and Easy Street Magazine. ‘Rubik’s Cube, Six Twisted Paragraphs’ appears in the anthology The Shell Game: Writers Play with Borrowed Forms (University of Nebraska Press). She is the author of two novels and hosts The Leaving Years literary blog, which publishes original poetry, prose, marginalia and reprints.

221221 The BLUE MOUNTAIN call for SUBMISSIONS The Blue Mountain Review is accepting new submissions of Poetry, Prose, and Visual Art. The Blue is a Southern publication, but we draw no boundaries or borders on that interpretation. “Southern” is a soul more than a spot on a map, and everyone is south of somewhere. We seek pieces that boldly create something new from the ether of the timeless, works that go beyond sparking interest to ignite something that smolders. Works that matter today and will still matter tomorrow. Visit our submissions page at www.southerncollectiveexperience.com/the-blue-mountain-review Review

The Hudson Review

Rates

Inside Cover

Full Page

Half Page

Quarter Page

Discounts and Terms

Contract rate (as quoted above): 15% discount on four consecutive issues.All advertisements subject to approval of editors. Space cannot be canceled after copy deadline. Payment due 30 days from date of invoice.

Deadlines

Spring:March 15

Summer:June 15

Autumn:September 15

Winter:November 15

To reserve space,please contact:

Eileen Talone

etalone @hudsonreview.com

The Hudson Review

33 West 67th Street New York,NY 10023

212.650.0020 tel www.hudsonreview.com

The Hudson Review appears quarterly,in January,April,July,and October.We publish poetry,fiction,translations,essays,literary criticism,book reviews,letters from abroad, and chronicles of art,music,dance,theatre, and film.

ADVERTISING INFORMATION

Sizes and Settings

Full Page and Cover 4.5'' x 7.5''

Half Page

Horizontal4.5'' x 3.625'' Vertical 2.125'' x 7.5''

Quarter Page 2.125'' x 3.625''

Format:PDF

Halftones:133 Screen

Acrobat Distiller Settings:

General: Optimize PDF • Resolution:2400 dpi • Binding:Left

Compression: Uncheck all three Bicubic Downsampling (Resampling) boxes (Color,Grayscale,and Monochrome Bitmap Images) • Check Compression for Color and Grayscale Bitmap Images and set to Automatic,Quality:Maximum.Compression for Monochrome Bitmap Images is CCITT Group 4 • Compress Text and Line Art box should be checked

Fonts: Check the Embed All Fonts box • When Embedding Fails,specify Cancel Job • For Embedding specify Base 14 Fonts • Always and Never Embed should remain empty

Advanced: For Options,select all except Use Prologue • For Document Structuring Conventions (DSC) specify Process DSC Comments,Preserve EPS Information from DSC,and Preserve Document information from DSC

All items not mentioned should be turned off,set to default or to none.Use the Distiller PostScript Printer Description (PPD).

Ads are printed in black and white.

Blue Mountain Review / December 2022 222
1x 4x
600510 500425 400340 200170

CHRISSY

Chris—or Chrissy as his parents still called him—searched the menu eagerly. He wanted a scone with raspberry jam and cream, and an iced chocolate, particularly the iced chocolate. Not all the places had them. He didn’t want lemonade or orange juice. He wanted an iced chocolate.

“Need help?” his mum asked, glancing up from her menu.

“Nup,” he said.

He’d found it. Relieved, he closed the menu and looked around the cafe. It was half empty. On the tables where no-one sat were the remains they’d left: half a hamburger with the beetroot removed, bleeding into some chips; a coffee cup with a crimson crescent imprinted on the rim (he could imagine what she looked like); the thin crusts of some sandwiches. A little girl had probably demanded they be removed, had a tantrum when they weren’t, then finally settled down and sulkily nibbled the bread to very edge. They almost always encountered kids chucking fits on their outings. Barely a cafe or any of the scenic spots they visited was without some three-year old screaming blue murder. Chris had no idea what screaming blue murder meant, but he liked the sound of it. He wondered if there were murders of other colours. Red murder? Purple? Yellow?

“Ready, love?”

The waitress suddenly appeared at the table.

“A scone with raspberry jam and an iced-chocolate, please.”

She nodded and scribbled on her little notepad with a pencil barely five centimetres long and looked back and forth at his parents.

“Think I’ll just have an Anzac biscuit and a flat white,” his dad finally said.

“No Devonshire tea today?” his mum asked.

“Not after that big lunch you cooked.”

“Same as every other Sunday,” she said, looking up at the waitress and rolling her eyes.

Every Sunday she cooked a roast dinner, even though now, more often than not, it was just the three of them. Katie, in Year 12, often worked at McDonald’s on the weekends for the higher penalty rates. Andy, in his second year of uni and technically living at home, mostly stayed at his girlfriend’s. David had joined the army and they hardly saw him anymore.

“So what’re you having?” the waitress asked.

“Well, I’d like the Devonshire tea …”

“Go ahead,” his dad urged.

Chris wondered why she was so reluctant. They went out on these Sunday drives to look at something—a scenic view of the city, a flower-show, an historic house, or just the countryside from the windows of the car—with the sole purpose of having scones, or in a pinch, cake.

“One Devonshire tea, thank you,” his mum said primly.

The waitress spoke quickly as she scribbled. “That’s one flat white, one Anzac, one D.T, one scone with raspberry jam, one iced chocolate.”

223223

“No cream?” his mum asked Chris as the waitress turned away.

“Oh, yeah,” he said. He’d forgotten.

“There’s cream with the Devonshire tea,” the waitress told them. As if they didn’t know.

“Yes, but I think he’d like some of his own,” his mum told her.

The waitress raised her eyebrows, nodded and left.

For the next few minutes the three of them sat silently looking around the cafe at the pictures on the wall, the other customers, the condiments in the centre of the table. There were furtive glances at each other. His dad took off his thick gold-rimmed glasses, breathed on them, pulled a handkerchief from his trouser pocket and rubbed them. Chris was glad he didn’t have to wear glasses. Yet. All the teachers wore them and nearly everyone’s parents did too. Danny, a kid in his class, got them last year and everyone immediately started calling him four-eyes.

“The choir sounded good this morning,” his mum said to his dad.

“Not bad, I guess. Grant O’Donnell stole the show as usual—tried to anyway—during the processional hymn.”

“Now, now,” she said, daintily flicking some crumbs from the table.

“If he could actually sing I wouldn’t mind.”

“No,” his mum agreed. “It’s not a trained voice, is it?”

“I wish they’d screen members,” he said, shaking his head. “But it seems any Joe Bloggs can join.”

Chris, listening to this familiar post-mortem of Sunday Mass, wondered if there really was a person called Joe Bloggs.

Mister Bloggs, to you, sir! he thought. Mister Bill Bloggs. Bob Bloggs. Bishop Bloggs. Booby Bloggs.

“It’s a church choir, dear,” his mum said.

“I know,” he said and sighed. “Not like when we were younger.”

“We all knew how to read music for a start,” his mum said.

Chris looked out the window at the dreary winter’s day. Very few people were out and about, and those that were walked grimly past, bundled up in coats and scarves. At least it wasn’t raining. He thought about the coming week at school—if this weather continued they’d all be trapped inside eating lunch at their desks. He’d prop a book up in front of him, or would draw robots in the back of an exercise book. He’d stare straight ahead and wish he could play with Pete, trapped in the class next to him. Behind him, the girls would sit together giggling and occasionally shrieking. The boys would throw rolled up bits of paper at each other, or play flick-footie across the desks.

“Father Kennedy gave a good sermon today,” his dad said. “Tends to ramble, but today was shorter. More to the point.”

“Might’ve had something he had to do after Mass. We got the abridged version.”

Father Kennedy. He was alright. Two months ago, having forgotten the key for his bicycle lock, Chris had walked back into the sacristy and found Father Vella holding the chalice to his lips, bleary eyed and smiling wonkily.

“Um…Father…?”

“Ah, Christopher. Yes.”

“When are you next on, Chrissy?” his mum asked.

His altar boy schedule was taped to the back of his bedroom door. He looked at it with a knot

Blue Mountain Review / December 2022 224

of anxiety in his chest every morning.

“Two weeks,” he replied.

His parents nodded, pleased.

The waitress brought their food over, placing it in front of them quickly and noisily. No wonder half the crockery was chipped. Chris watched as she cleared the empty tables, stacking the plates, cups and glasses onto her tray and wiping the table with a cloth that she had tucked into the waistband of her apron.

“Looks like she’s running the show,” his dad, also watching, commented.

“Wouldn’t hurt to be a little more friendly,” his mum said as she split open a golden-topped scone.

Chris pulled his iced chocolate towards him. Whoever had made it—the waitress or someone else—had scrimped on the chocolate powder. There was hardly any on the whipped cream. He plunged the long spoon into the glass, gave it a little stir and was happy to see a big lump of ice-cream rise up through the brown milk. He scooped some of the canned cream into his mouth and closed his eyes with pleasure. He was lost to whatever his parents were talking about. He loaded his scone with jam and cream, took a bite, and felt himself dissolve into sugary bliss.

“You want one, don’t you?” his mum said.

“Just a half would be lovely,” his dad admitted.

“I knew it,” she said, passing exactly one half over to him.

An elderly couple stood shakily, announcing their impending departure by scraping their chairs on the linoleum. They called out to the waitress who came bustling out and rubbed the man affectionately on the arm.

“Drive carefully, Fred,” she said.

The woman walked towards Chris, beaming.

“Look at you,” she exclaimed. “Aren’t you a healthy one?”

Chris smiled and nodded.

“How old are you, son?” she asked.

“Ten.”

“And you like scones, do you?”

He smiled and nodded. He was familiar with this tone and line of questioning. He didn’t even flinch when she reached out a gnarled hand and stroked his hair.

“Is he a good boy?” she asked his parents.

“Oh, yes,” they said.

“Aren’t you lucky to have him near you,” the old lady said. “My grandchildren all live in Perth.”

“He’s not…” his mum started, flustered. Chris watched her face turn red. It rose up from under her blouse.

The old man came up behind his wife, gave them a friendly smile and moved her gently along, oblivious to the awkwardness left in their wake.

His mum asked quietly, “We don’t look that old, do we?”

His dad tried to console her.

Chris felt, not for the first time, ashamed of them.

Last year at the parent-teacher meeting, Marco Bertonelli—his own mother turning up in a

225225

sexy leopard-print top and leather skirt—had smirked at Chris and asked, that your granny? A few weeks ago, Katie’d brought her boyfriend home for the first time. Chris had overheard them whispering in the hallway.

“Whose kid is that in the lounge room?”

The scones were finished and his mum held her cup of tea between her hands and looked into it. His dad whistled and seemed interested in something behind Chris. Chris licked the straw, making sure there was not a bit of cream or ice-cream left in the glass.

His dad settled the bill, his mum went to the bathroom, and Chris stood out on the narrow pavement waiting. A young couple approached pushing a screaming, thrashing toddler in a pram. Further behind them, a pack of boys, maybe a little older than him, were attempting to go up a ramp constructed of a car tyre and some plywood on their skateboards. They whooped, their young voices breaking, each time one of them landed it or ended up on their arse. Didn’t matter which, the reaction was the same.

His dad opened the door for his mum just as Chris stood aside to let the couple pass.

“Want to walk! Want to walk!” the child was yelling between deep, wet sobs. His mum looked aghast after them and stepped cautiously out of the cafe.

“What in the blazes is going on?” his dad said as he stood in the doorway looking up and down the street.

The cacophony of the bawling kid receded, but the skateboarders excitement peaked. One of them staggered upon landing and fell against a car parked nearby. The side-mirror was taken clean off and the car alarm had been activated. The offender rubbed his arm and gawped at his friends who were beside themselves laughing.

“Bloody hooligans,” his dad said crossly.

Chris felt a little thrill—bloody this or bloody that was as far as bad language went in their household, and Chris himself had not yet said it out loud. He still remembered when Katie had complained once that one of her teachers, a nun, was a bloody bitch. Mum had hit the roof.

The boys collectively realised that they’d better get away from the car, picked up their boards and scattered. One threw his board to the ground and headed towards them. With his parents on the footpath and flattened against the wall of the cafe, Chris instinctively took a step towards them and then, unsure, backwards.

“Watch it, fatso,” the skater yelled and thundered down the street.

“The little…”

His mum was furious.

Chris fell back heavily onto the road and looked around and up, dazed. A plane—he wondered if it was a Concord—soared overhead, splitting the grey sky in two. He scrambled to his feet before his dad even closed his mouth, on the verge of calling out who-knows-what at the kid.

“Chrissy,” his mum said, trying to pull him close.

“It’s alright,” he repeated, though his tailbone really hurt.

She fussed over him until he snapped, “I’m okay, Mum.”

“Don’t speak to your mother like that,” his dad said.

He apologised immediately.

His dad put an arm across his mum’s shoulders and guided her along the street towards their car. Chris followed, looking beyond them at the skater who stopped, flipped his board up with a mere

227227

tap of the foot, and jogged away holding it under his arm.

It was almost over—just forty minutes or so in the car back home. Sunday night was toasted sandwiches in front of the TV. He hoped that there was a movie on that they liked because if they liked it they let him stay up to the end—almost 10:30 pm—and if they didn’t it could be time for bed as early as 9 pm. His mum slowed down to look in the window of a shop called Village Fare.

“So clever,” she said.

Chris had no idea what she was referring to: the handmade-looking aprons, the clocks covered in wrapping paper and shiny with some kind of lacquer, or the ceramic dogs. It all looked like junk. His vision made involuntary adjustments, back and forth, and he saw the three of them reflected, silhouetted, in the window—three lumpish shapes casting shadows on the crap in the window.

“Do we have time?” his mum asked going in.

The shop was cluttered with stuff. Chris stood in the doorway watching his dad follow his mum from commemorative spoons, to jokey postcards, to handmade soap. The shopkeeper—a middle aged woman with hair so completely black she looked like one of his Lego men—circled them like a bird of prey he’d learned about in science class.

“That’s got real lavender in it,” she said, as his mum sniffed a bar of soap.

His parents wandered through a doorway that looked as though it were off limits. He heard the shopkeeper tell them that she had some delicious strawberry wine made by a local, Mr. Aurand—“French, I believe”—if they’d care to try.

Chris walked through the shop trying not to knock anything over. The room behind the counter was even more cluttered, if that were possible—cheeses, jars of jam with cloth-covered lids, little plastic bags of fudge with handwritten labels, bottles and bottles of wine. The shopkeeper handed his parents a small paper cup each and they held it reverently in both hands while she poured. Chris saw the wine was not strawberry pink as he expected. It was more like blood. Like communion wine.

“Have some, Christopher,” Father Vella had said The shopkeeper asked his parents if he was allowed to try a little.

“Just this once,” his dad said.

Chris felt his stomach churning. He held the cup to his lips and dipped his tongue in it, like a kitten at its first bowl of milk. He pictured the skater crashing onto the ramp and, for a brilliant moment, airborne and wild. If only he were that boy.

“How charming,” the shopkeeper said.

“Such a good boy,” his mum said. He drank.

Blue Mountain Review / December 2022 228
Sue Brennan an Australian writer with stories published in Australia in ACE - Contemporary Stories by Emerging Writers, Meniscus, Meanjin, and in the USA in The Peauxdunque Review, Big City Lit and New Feathers Anthology. She can be found at www.suebrennan.net
230 Writing a Book? 470-239-8547 | www.BookLogix.com BookLogix will edit, design, publish print, market, and sell your book.

essays

essays

ELEGY IN WATER

I see the boys of summer in their ruin. —Dylan Thomas

Home for Scott’s funeral, my memories of him rattle loose, like these strip mall gutters overwhelmed with rain.

I’m drawn back under the pharmacy’s awning.

Now that I’m home, I drive the route Scott walked at night, when he’d leave my parents’ house for the one he moved into during high school. I keep missing the turn. All the blocks seem the same in the dark.

Now that I’m home, I keep driving past his old house, same basketball goal still lowered with its bent rim from our dunking, backboard black from the asphalt. Our dust.

We rewound so much VHS. Played in arcades.

Slid through a traffic light on a case of beer, left my mom’s car sideways in a ditch. Scott climbed out the passenger side then bolted into the dark. I lied and blathered to my parents that Scott had wrecked the Mazda, then I passed out at their feet.

I was busting tallboys against my girlfriend’s windshield before she could even park. A whirl of brown skin and eyes as she rushed me; I elbowed her onto the blacktop. Scott guided me away, looking in: “Dude, do you know what you just did?”

I see you boys of summer in your ruin

233233
1.

Once, when we were kids, we found my mom with her garden hose drowning what she took for mice burrowed in our front lawn. Scott cupped them with the hands of a boy still in grade school.

“These are rabbits, Mrs. Wilson. ”

The crows Scott fed followed him. Ducks he’d raise and release. Rabbits out back in their pens.

From his bedroom in his parents’ basement, where he kept newts in an aquarium with pots of water under a black light, Scott nursed a frog I’d shot at the creek in our subdivision.

He was an EMT. Until he punched one.

Have you seen these boys of summer in their ruin?

The obit says he is survived by his dog, which feels like some cosmic flaw, Bear so old and still alive.

In lieu of flowers, you can send donations to My Dog Eats First, a nonprofit supporting the pets of the homeless.

When Scott moved in, he slept in my parents’ basement with cave crickets the size of house mice. Watered the lawn in a grim reaper gown he found washing his clothes in the laundry room.

“What was up with that costume?” I asked my brother after Scott’s service got cancelled because of Covid.

“That’s the type of shit he would do,” he laughed. We had both been crying.

When we’d punch him on the couch for snoring, he’d laugh with his whole huge frame as he awoke, time golden in the heydays of his eyes.

3.

This is the rain reprised in the film.

Blue Mountain Review / December 2022 234 2.
__________

“I’m not pressing charges,” my father said in court, “but I don’t ever want Scott Foley on my property again.”

After Scott died, I told Dad that he intended to return his tags. “His plates had expired, so he took your tags to drive cross town for some weed, but he couldn’t come back cause he got locked up. Someone talked him into it.”

Have you seen these boys of summer in their ruin / Lay the gold tithings barren?

The last time I saw Scott he was overweight in a yellow safety vest for work as a street sweeper. The man alongside him tatted up the neck, stubbled, red-eyed. He pulled on a Black & Mild.

“So, this is your friend the teacher,” he said. It did not take long for him to place me.

After I quit drinking, Scott would still slip shitty whiskey into my sodas—I want back my last beers with him, that April, and my first ones too, on his grandpa’s houseboat in the eighth grade.

I see you boys of summer in your ruin. / Man in his maggot’s barren.

Scott would always reset game consoles once he knew he’d lose.

That bear of a chuckle that made it worse made him who he was. And here I am, still, outside a pharmacy with pills for a disorder rather than a thirst, running into the rain, worried about getting wet.

B.J. Wilson is the author of two poetry collections, Naming the Trees (The Main Street Rag, 2021) and Tuckasee (Finishing Line Press, 2020). His work has appeared in Atlanta Review, Burningword Literary Journal, The Louisville Review, New Madrid, Tar River Poetry, and elsewhere. He holds an MFA from the Bluegrass Writers Studio at Eastern Kentucky University, a writing fellowship from The Hambidge Center for Creative Arts and Sciences, and a Pushcart Prize Nomination for his poetry. B.J. teaches high school English in Henderson, Kentucky.

Blue Mountain Review / December 2022 236

Our Course Creator Checklist

More than 100,000 members have already turned their know-how inot a proftiable business, and you can

Click Here to Get Started

237237

SAVE 25% ON SUBSCRIPTIONS WITH THE PROMO CODE GR25

ART BY DHRUVI ACHARYA
THEGEORGIAREVIEW.COM

WHEN MOM GOT HER DRIVER'S LICENSE

Waving goodbye as he backed down the driveway, Dad left for work steering his light green 1955 Olds sedan towards the city. He always wore a white shirt and a tie. Mom stayed home, seeing three of us off to school at the front door in her quilted pink bathrobe, checking school bags, handing out lunches while holding the baby over her shoulder.

The bus stop was directly across the street, just steps from our door. Mom had our favorite chocolate chip cookies waiting when we hopped off the bus, aromas of dinner coming from the kitchen. Since she didn’t drive, grocery shopping was scheduled with Dad on Saturdays.

I remember watching Mom get into a car with a strange man a couple of times. I had a knot in my throat wondering what was going on. Who was he? Where were they going? When we asked Dad, he didn’t seem concerned but avoided giving an answer.

Surprise! We soon discovered he was a driving school instructor. Mom grinned, holding up her new driver’s license and waving it like a flag. The second surprise was parked in front of our house, a blue and white 1959 Chevy Kingswood station wagon, a second car perfectly sized for our family. We piled in claiming our territory noticing that new car smell.

Summertimes Mom was behind the wheel wearing big sunglasses as we proceeded to the swimming club, the ribboncutting of the Cheltenham Shopping Center, and a family favorite, the Elkins Park Library. She was the mother of two young teens, a preteen and two toddlers. With her license and a car, Mom was liberated. She attended meetings of the PTA and League of Women Voters, as well as shuttling us to art and piano lessons, baseball practice, friends’ houses, pediatrician and dental appointments. She even found time to be a Girl Scout leader and a den mother.

In ten years times changed. Dad transitioned to a new working arrangement. Mom got a job as a social worker. At first she drove the station wagon to work. Later she parked it at the local train station, a more convenient mode of transportation when her office was relocated to downtown Philadelphia. We all helped with dinner preparations by way of telephoned-in directions from Mom.

Years disappeared. When Mom retired after 20 years with the Department of Social Services, she wasted no time lining up volunteer opportunities. One position was at Chestnut Hill Hospital working in the ER. She kept families informed of the condition and treatment of loved ones. The other was as a docent at a downtown Jewish museum. She loved the excitement of center city.

When Mom and Dad moved to a smaller place with no stairs we helped them pack up and unpack. Their most cherished possessions, like the ornate music box, glass covered bookcases, and antique china cabinets filled with collectibles fit cozily into the new apartment. Familiar artwork covered the walls.

Gradually Mom developed glaucoma and macular degeneration. She had to give up driving and relied on Dad to take her where she wanted or needed to go. That wasn’t her style and the transition didn’t come easily. For awhile, a “companion” was hired to take Mom shopping and out to lunch, but that ended when it was discovered the companion

239239

was shopping with Mom’s credit card.

She was not a complainer but we noticed her voice became flat and there was a new edge to her personality. Looking back now I see more clearly the changes and disappointments she must have been going through. Her independence gone. Her adventurous spirit and activities restricted. Perhaps she was depressed about growing older.

Mom resided in a nursing home in her later years. She was in a wheelchair by then with low vision. At times in frustration she would pepper the staff with caustic remarks. We would cringe when those exchanges happened during our visits.

“What is your education? Where did you go to school?” She made fun of their accents.

“Don’t you know how to pronounce my name? It’s not Shoily, it’s Shirley. Say it! Say it!”

Dad was located in the same continuing care complex in the assisted living section. When we visited we got them together. Two people who had been married for 65 years were now separated by elevators, winding hallways, and an enclosed breezeway. Dad preferred we bring Mom to his room. That way, they were surrounded by their precious possessions.

In the company of her family her outlook mellowed and she sometimes allowed us to push her along but Mom always knew exactly where she wanted to go.

Lois Perch Villemaire resides in Annapolis, MD where she is inspired by the charm of a colonial town and the glorious Chesapeake Bay. After retirement from a career in local government, she concentrated on her love of writing. Dabbling in family research led to memoir and creative nonfiction. Her prose and poetry have appeared in a number of journals and anthologies such as Ekphrastic Review, Flora Fiction, and One Art: A Journal of Poetry. Lois was a finalist in the 2021 Prime Number Magazine Award for Poetry. She enjoys yoga practice, amateur photography, and raising African violets.

241241

PAT METHENY ROAD TO THE SUN

ALBUM OUT NOW : CD / VINYL / DIGITAL

Road to the Sun showcases Metheny’s developed musical hallmarks in compelling new and bravely wrought compositions, expertly performed by kindred spirits and modern masters.

All Music

Harmonically adventurous...beautifully nuanced... toys interestingly with a musical language shared by Debussy and Django Reinhardt....it presents significant additions to the solo, ensemble and transcription repertory from an unexpected quarter.

Wall Street Journal

CONTRIBUTING EDITORS

Shannon Perri

Contributing editor

Shannon Perri holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Texas State University and a master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Texas. Her writing has appeared in various newspapers and literary magazines, such as Houston Chronicle, Austin-American Statesman, Joyland Magazine, and fields magazine. Her short story, “Liquid Gold,” was a finalist for the 2019 Texas Observer Short Fiction contest; her story, “The Resurrection Act,” was awarded a 2016 Joyland Magazine Publisher’s Pick; and her story, “Orientation,” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She lives in South Austin with her husband, son, and menagerie of pets.

J.D. Isip

Contributing editor

J.D. Isip is a full-time professor at Collin College and a writer. His poems, plays, fiction, and essays have appeared in a variety of national magazines and journals. His first collection of poems, Pocketing Feathers (2015), was released by Sadie Girl Press, and his second collection,Number Our Days, will be released by Moon Tide Press in 2023. He grew up in Long Beach, California, served in the U.S. Air Force, and worked for Disney before he started teaching.

Photography credits

Alec Douglas

Anthony Tran

Arash Payam

Ben White

Craig Whitehead

Frankie Cordoba

Guilherme Caetano

Harsh Palkar

Hisu Lee

Jakob Owens

Angela dribbens

Contributing editor

Angela Gregory-Dribben lives with her two favorite redheads down in a bottom in Southside Virginia where they are hard at work growing the fattest sandwich tomato in the Piedmont’s trademark red clay. Her poetry and essays can be found or are forthcoming in Main Street Rag, Deep South, Blue Mountain Review, San Pedro River Review, Motherscope, Crab Creek Review, Crack the Spine, Cirque, decomp, New Southern Fugitive, and others. A Bread Loaf alum, she is currently a student in Randolph College’s MFA.

Dusty huggings

Music editor

Dusty Huggins is a family man, musician, writer, and lover of literature. His interest in writing surfaced during his freshman year at Young Harris College due to an English professor nurturing his interest, stimulating passion, and building the confidence required to find his way as a writer. Dusty is the founder of the Atlanta blues-based, Southern rock band The Ides of June, and also performs as both the lead vocalist and bassist. He is a member of The Southern Collective Experience acting as the music editor for its journal of culture The Blue Mountain Review. In his spare time Dusty enjoys touring with The Ides of June throughout the southeast.

Jessica Felicio

Jillbert Ebrahimi

Joe Dudeck

Jordane Mathieu

JP Valery

Matias North

Matthew Jungling

Alexander Paramonov

Andrea Piacquadio

Cottonbro

Diana Smykova

Eiks Cistovs

Josh Hild

Kaique Rocha

Koolshooters

Pavel Danilyuk

Ruslan Alekso

Sulman Sallehi

Vicent Ma Janssen

Philipp Pilz

Priscilla Du Preez

Simon Berger

Sudhith Xavier

Tim Doerfler

Todd Kent

Wolfgang Hasselman

243243

clifford brooks editor-in-chief

Clifford Brooks is the CEO of the Southern Collective Experience and Editor-in-Chief of the Blue Mountain Review. He is also the journal’s content editor. Aside from these duties, Clifford is the author of The Draw of Broken Eyes & Whirling Metaphysics, Athena Departs, and Exiles of Eden. These collections of poetry can easily be found online.

andy whitehorne contributing editor

Andy Whitehorne is a writer and live music fanatic residing in Atlanta, Georgia. He spent two-and-a half-decades regularly attending live concerts and working in the hospitality industry. He holds a BFA in theatre, currently works in customer success, and is the Music editor of the Blue Mountain Review.

casanova green

Contributing editor

Casanova Green is a writer, singer/ songwriter, educator, and pastor. He is a 2010 graduate of Ohio Northern University where he earned a BA in Language Arts Education, with a minor in voice. In 2018 he earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Reinhardt University located in Georgia’s Etowah Valley. Casanova is a member of the Southern Collective Experience, often serving as a contributing editor. He has been published in several publications including The Blue Mountain Review, Raw Art Review, and Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review. In 2019, Casanova published a mini-chapbook of poetry entitled Whispers & Echoes, and his first book of poetry Things I Wish I Could Tell You is scheduled to be published in 2020.

Casanova has done extensive ministry work since the age of nine, and has served as both a worship leader and choir director for over twenty years. He released his first album A Worshiper Mentality in January 2016, and his second album Songs from the Journey: Part 1, in August 2019. He is currently working on his third album Songs from the Journey: Part II, which will be released in 2020. Currently, he is the Owner of CGCreate LLC and serves as the lead pastor of True Vision Christian Community in Lancaster, OH, where he and his family reside.

Kerlin contributing editor

Emily Kerlin has published poems in Intima: A Journal of Narrative Medicine, Bridge, Cider Press Review, Storm Cellar, The Pittsburg Poetry Journal and Blue Mountain Review. Her chapbook, Eighteen Farewells, won second place in the 2020 Women of Resilience Chapbook Contest. She attended Antioch College and holds a Master’s degree from the University of Illinois in Bilingual Education. Her current home is in Urbana, Illinois where she works with international students and families. You can find her at emilykerlin.com

johnson contributing editor

Tom Johnson was born in Roswell, Ga. He went to college focused on a career in Information Technology but to make ends meet, he worked in a few demanding sales jobs that taught him the ins and outs of marketing. He had always loved writing and he found that marketing gave him an outlet as well as a way to pay the bills. He enjoyed those aspects of his work so much that, after college, he decided on a career in sales instead of going straight into IT. Within a few months, he studied for and passed the Georgia Real Estate Exam. For the next four years he worked for Remax and later Lindsey and Pauly as a seller’s agent. After that, he became the Director of Marketing and Residential Support for a computer company. There he helped them to increase their visibility, develop new leads and on occasion, write content for client’s websites. In late 2009, he decided to go solo as a freelance copywriter for a wide array of clients. In recent years, he has been branching out into fiction and entertainment writing. His first book is slated to be published in 2020.

Blue Mountain Review / December 2022 244
tom Emily

Megan baxter contributing editor

Megan’s first book ‘The Coolest Monsters, A Collection of Essays’ was published in 2018 by Texas Review Press. Her debut novel ‘Farm Girl’ is forthcoming. Megan has won numerous national awards including a Pushcart Prize. Her work has been listed in The Best American Essays of 2019. Recent publications included pieces in The Threepenny Review, Hotel Amerika, The Florida Review, and Creative Nonfiction Magazine. Megan serves as a mentor to young writers and loves developing cross-genre and innovative creative writing pedagogy for her workshops and classes. She is currently conducting research for an environmentally themed novel as well as writing personal essays and poems. Megan lives in New Hampshire where she loves walking her dogs, running, and cooking with local foods.

rebecca Evans Contributing editor

Rebecca Evans earned an MFA in Creative Nonfiction at Sierra Nevada University. She’s hosted and co-produced Our Voice and Idaho Living television shows, advocating personal stories, and now mentors teens in the juvenile system. She’s the co-host of Writer to Writer podcast on Radio Boise. Her poems and essays have appeared in The Rumpus, Entropy Literary Magazine, War, Literature & the Arts, 34th Parallel, and Collateral Journal, among others. She lives in Idaho with her three sons.

Chris terry contributing editor

Chris Terry draws from his fanatic love of films & music when crafting his reviews. After receiving his Master›s in Fine Arts from the Savannah College of Art and Design, he’s gone on to work on numerous independent and major films along with producing film scores and music for a wide variety of genres. Chris is currently working with the film production company Fifteen Studios on upcoming projects.

Mildred K. Barya

Mildred Kiconco Barya

contributing editor

Mildred Kiconco Barya is a writer from Uganda and Assistant professor at UNC-Asheville where she teaches creative writing and world literature. Her publications include three poetry books as well as prose, poems or hybrids in Tin House, poets.org, Poetry Quarterly, Asymptote Journal, Matters of Feminist Practice Anthology, Prairie Schooner, New Daughters of Africa International Anthology, Per Contra, and Northeast Review. Her nonfiction essay, Being Here in My Body won the 2020 Linda Flowers Literary Award and is forthcoming in the North Carolina Literary Review. She received a Ph.D. in English from the University of Denver, MFA in creative writing from Syracuse University, and B.A. in Literature, Makerere University. Visit her blog: http://mildredbarya.com/

contributing editor drew robertston

Drew Robertson is studying journalism and creative writing at Mercer University. When she’s not doing schoolwork, she can be found giving tours of campus, having a movie night with friends, or curled up reading a book. Her own fiction writing is interested in exploring small stories about real people, snapshots into the lives of women grieving, creating themselves, and reckoning with the force of commitment in modern female lives. She has been published in Discovering Bulloch, Prometheus Dreaming, and The Dulcimer. Upon graduation, she hopes to attend an MFA program in creative writing and pursue a career in academia or publishing.

jennifer avery

Contributing editor

Jennifer Avery is an editor and writer from the foothills of Northwest Georgia.  Her poetry has been published in the Blue Mountain Review and featured on Dante’s Old South. She spends much of her time attempting experiments in skincare and wordcraft. She is currently working on her novel, Ezra in Every Dimension.

245245

asha gowan contributing editor

Asha Gowan, poetry editor, hails from Chapel Hill, NC. She writes poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. Her subject matter usually revolves around matters of the heart, but natural world and its imagery also figure prominently in her work. She has publications in The Coraddi, Blue Mountain Review, The Gathering of Poets, and other magazines and journals.

nicole tallman

contributing editor

Nicole Tallman serves as Poetry and Interviews Editor for The Blue Mountain Review. She is the author of Something Kindred (The Southern Collective Experience Press) and Poetry Ambassador for Miami-Dade County. Find her on Twitter and Instagram @natallman and nicoletallman.com.

lynne kemen contributing editor

Lynne Kemen lives in Upstate New York. Her chapbook, More Than A Handful (Woodland Arts Editions, was published In 2020. Five of her poems appeared in Seeing Things Anthology, Edited by Robert Bensen. Her poems are in La Presa, Silver Birch Press, The Ravens Perch, Blue Mountain Review, Fresh Words Magazine. She was Runner Up for The Ekphrastic Journal’s competition of Women Artists. She is on the Board of Bright Hill Press in Treadwell, NY.

Heather Harris contributing editor

Heather M. Harris is an emerging writer of memoir, poetry, short-stories, children’s books, and an illustrator who lives and writes in the New Orleans area. Heather holds a Master’s of Arts and Teaching and a Bachelor’s of Arts and Sciences in Psychology both from Southeastern Louisiana University. Heather is a contributor for The Blue Mountain Review, and a member of The Southern Collective Experience.

Debbie Hennessey was named AC40 Female Artist of the Year by New Music Weekly and scored a Top 20 Hit on their AC40 Charts. A song she co-wrote recently hit the Top 5 on Roots Music Report’s Americana Country chart. Her songs have been honored by Great American Song Contest, International Songwriting Competition, Billboard World Song Contest, and others. Her music and videos have aired on USA/UHD Networks, NBC, GAC, Extra, and The Next GAC Star. She has over a dozen releases on her label Rustic Heart Records and is a voting GRAMMY member. In addition, Debbie was the managing editor of LA411 & NY411 for Variety and has created several magazines and directories for various industries over the years. Through her company Entertainment Editorial, she works with a diverse range of clients to meet their editorial needs. She also writes for Dante’s Old South Radio Show blog and the Blue Mountain Review.

You can find Debbie at www.entertainmenteditorial.com and www.debbiehennessey.com.

Laura Ingram contributing editor

Laura Ingram is poetry editor and social media manager for the Southern Collective Experience. She has had work published in one hundred journals and magazines, among them Gravel and Juked. She is the author of four poetry collections: Junior Citizen’s Discount, Mirabilis, The Ghost Gospels, and Animal Sentinel.

Blue Mountain Review / December 2022 246
Debbie harris contributing editor

slade gottlieb contributing editor

Slade Gottlieb is a fiction writer born in Atlanta and raised in Milton, Georgia. He received his BA in creative writing from Oberlin College and his MFA from California College of the Arts. He’s published short fiction in print editions of the Plum Creek Review and Wilder Voice. Slade currently resides in Oakland, California, where he is at work on his debut novel. He currently co-edits fiction and poetry for The Blue Mountain Review.

edward austin hall contributing editor

Edward Austin Hall lives in Atlanta, where he writes whatever he can get away with.

contributing editor

Mr. Classic is the CEO and designer of Mr. Classic’s Haberdashery at Thee Manor in Atlanta, Georgia. A one-stop shop for all things in custom made and classic menswear. From hats all the way down to shoes. His focus mainly being to help individuals develop their personal style. Through the education of fashion and in custom garment designs, he has become the go-to designer for the elegant and high class.

Hester L. Furey

contributing editor

Georgia-native, Kaitlyn Young is a freelance graphic designer, specializing in both print and digital creative collateral.

contributing editor

Jess Costello is a fiction editor, writer, counseling student, and indie music nerd based in Massachusetts. In addition to The Blue Mountain Review, her work has appeared in Boston Accent and iO Literary, and she covers local art for Boston Hassle. She is at work on a novel.

contributing editor

Carmen Acevedo Butcher is the translator of The Cloud of Unknowing, a Georgia Author of the Year Awardee, and Practice of the Presence by Brother Lawrence, among others. Her dynamic work in spirituality and the power of language has garnered interest from various media, including the BBC and NPR’s Morning Edition. A Fulbright scholar at University of London and Fulbright Senior Lecturer at Sogang University, Carmen currently teaches in the College Writing Programs at UC Berkeley. Online at www.carmenbutcher.com and https:// linktr.ee/carmenacevedobutcher

contributing editor

Logan Merrill: Born and raised in a small town, I’ve made my way through trade. From drywall to drumset to bartending, I fell in love with the power of experiences; the dormant potential of every moment. We’re all humans, being the best we know how to and I believe life is meant to be enjoyed.

247247
Hester L. Furey is a poet and literary historian who lives in Atlanta. Jay-de-robinson Jess Costello Carmen Acevedo Butcher Logan merill kaitlyn young design & layouts
Blue Mountain Review / December 2022 248

Turn static files into dynamic content formats.

Create a flipbook
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.