Sunday, December 27, 2009

Poetry Bingo

New Year's Eve here in the midwest usually ends up being an ice-bedecked beautiful wonder that is dangerous to travel through. So I spend it at home. If you are looking forward to some quiet hours during the year-change, here's a poetry game you can use to wind down the hours.

This spreadsheet is a good tool for cracking open a writer's block, or a new year, whichever comes first. It's virus-free, but if you share with anyone please rescan to make sure you haven't added a virus to it, and please leave the attribution information on it. This is modified, only slightly, from John Walkenbach's MeetingBingo, a spreadsheet to generate ideas for business meetings. I think poetry is a better use for it, but the original MeetingBingo spreadsheet gets credit for the idea, design and function.

Get your copy here:
The directions are on the 'Sheet1' tab, where you can change any and all of the words in the first column to create your own list of inspirations. My intent is that you use each row of the bingo card as 'word seeds' to create a stanza of a poem. You can do whatever you darn well please with it, though.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Countdown to . . . Ho Ho Ho!

I'm busy watching Santa's progress tonight courtesy of the NORAD system ( Your tax dollars at work, and for a good cause.

He's about an hour and a half away from Cherry Pie Press right now, and according to the videos and the Google Earth tracking efforts, he seems to be taking regular stops for . . . poetry readings?

Dream on, it's just cookies and milk as usual.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Pushcart Prize nomination!

Cherry Pie is honored and delighted to announce a nominee this year for the esteemed Pushcart Prize --“Women at Sunrise” by Mary Ruth Donnelly, from her chapbook collection Weaving the Light.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

We DID see you there!

The reading at Left Bank Books was a delight. Thanks to all the poetry fans who braved some nasty weather to listen to us and see all the chapbooks from Cherry Pie Press. gaye gambell-peterson read from her two recent chapbooks, and I read some of my own work and then selections from the 9 chapbooks from Cherry Pie Press.
The photo is courtesy of gaye's husband, Jerry Peterson. (I've oftened wondered how those two get along so well -- he with normal capital letters in his name, she insisting on lowercase throughout. I guess they thrive on that delightful dissonance.)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Joan Lipkin's DisAbility Project

Joan Lipkin, local grande dame of arts with a purpose, is heading into the 14th season of her original theater shows starring people with disabilities - the DisAbility Project. Joan brings into the light all that is best in art, and best in all of us.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Colleen McKee on qarrtsiluni

Colleen McKee has posted a poem on qarrtsiluni that is a MUST-read. It is strong stuff, and may replace your morning coffee, and keep you wide-eyed all day. There is a podcast attached of Colleen reading the poem -- lovely.

Colleen would appreciate the accidental irony of this poem getting published yesterday, Shabbat. . . .

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Poetry reading December 2

On the night of the next full moon, Wednesday, December 2, 2009, Rebecca Ellis and gaye gambell-peterson will read recent work, showcase chapbooks and art at 7 p.m. at LEFT BANK BOOKS, 399 N. Euclid, St. Louis. The reading is in celebration of women poets and women-run independent presses.

Rebecca Ellis will read her own work and selected poems from the nine chapbooks she has edited and published in the Midwest Women Poets Series from Cherry Pie Press.

gaye gambell-peterson will read from two recently published chapbooks, and provide a peek at original artwork used as illustrations. Her chapbooks are pale leaf floating, recently published by Cherry Pie Press, and a new release, MYnd mAp, from her own imprint, Agog Press.

Download the whole gosh-darn flyer for this event here.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

MYnd mAp, Gaye Gambell-Peterson

Gaye Gambell-Peterson's new self-published book, MYnd mAp, is described in an interview with Catherine Rankovic here: Gaye talks about the creative process of combining poetry and visual art, in her usual precise and cross-pollinating way.

Gaye previously published pale leaf floating with Cherry Pie Press, and has created the cover artwork for some of the earlier Cherry Pie chapbooks (Breathing Out, The Permeability of Memory, Rotogravure). She has also provided support of the unmeasurable kind to Cherry Pie: humor, clarity of purpose, and indestructible nerve when I needed it most. Her poetry embodies those three qualities. Highly recommended.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

More on lunch pail poetry

Tess Gallagher, in a speech to the graduates of the 2009 Whidbey Writers Workshop, reminds us that "as a writer, one may not hold oneself above or apart from one’s hoped for readership. . . . We won’t be able to imagine in a clear-hearted way those whom we seek to reach or even that part of ourselves we court in the writing."

She also comments on the practicalities of the writing life, and the need to fit writing in -- "learning to work anywhere and under adverse conditions is a boon to staying a writer."

Read the entire commencement address here:

Lunch pail poetry

RATTLE has just released its RATTLE e.7 supplement to the summer print issue, and you can download it here in pdf format:

The highlight is an interview with Bruce Cohen on his new book from Dream Horse Press, Disloyal Yo-Yo. I was impressed with Cohen's take on the place of writing in his life, and he touched on a theme close to my heart: how to balance work, life, poetry. For some, poetry as a career works just fine, and for others (me!) it does not. Cohen says, "I intuitively suspected that if my career were dependent upon poetry, my poetry might get stale and suffer." From someone who now has two books out after long years of work, and lots of balancing, that's encouraging stuff. He talks about his "anti-poetic career" in academic support programs for athletes, and how he was grounded in the knowledge that poetry was its own center: "I knew I would compose poems for my entire life; it would be a constant in my world. That knowledge calmed me, left me less anxious."

He talks about balancing his career, his wife's career, different work schedules, raising two boys and all the Boy Scouts and other activities that adds to the mix, and still finding room for poetry.

Here's Cohen on what it takes to be a writer: "But my approach to writing is not lazy; it’s blue collar, working man. I write something every day whether I feel like it or not and put my time in. I go to work sick. I’m rarely inspired and I have no patience for waiting for some sort of Muse. In fact, I don’t think I have a Muse, I just try to talk to people in my poems who I know and want to talk to. My father got up at five every morning, went to work and never complained. I try to do that—especially with my poetry. Lunch pail stuff."

Monday, October 05, 2009

gaye gambell-peterson at The Big Read

This just received:

Ta da! gaye gambell-peterson announces that her next chapbook of poetry + art is out into the world!! The newest is MYnd mAp (Agog Press), resplendent with 14 FULL-COLOR illustrations, joining pale leaf floating (Cherry Pie Press), also with illustrations.

Your first opportunity to get MYnd mAp ($15) is this coming Saturday,
October 10th, at The Big Read in Clayton.

At The Big Read Festival on Saturday, October 10, 2009, from 3:00 - 3:30pm, gaye gambell-peterson will sign copies of both her books at the St. Louis Writers Guild booth.

The festival runs from 9:00am-4:00pm at Clayton High School, Mark Twain Circle & Topton Way, Clayton, MO.

The Big Read is free and open to the public. The festival features publishers, book-sellers, national authors, readings, book signings, panel discussions, workshops, demonstrations and an interactive children’s area. The St. Louis Writers Guild will be represented at two booths--one for SLWG info-sharing, one for book sales and book signings. A schedule for workshops and lectures by "bigger names" is available on

See for more details and other chapbook events.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Poets House - new digs!

Poets House, where some of the Cherry Pie chaps happily reside, has new digs.
It sounds like a magical place.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Resources for Poets

A blizzard of manuscripts have come to Cherry Pie Press in the last few months, a result (I think?) of the increasing readership for the nine chapbooks now in print, and of the unexpected and welcome publicity from a review in Prairie Schooner of Nan Sweet's chapbook Rotogravure, and finally the attentions of Poets & Writers in highlighting Cherry Pie in their recent articles on chapbook publishers.

Welcome, poets! I'm a little slow at responding to manuscripts because of the welcome flood (and also because of the demands of the non-poetry office job, taking up much of my mental powers and many of my weekends now as we wind through yet another corporate merger -- but hey I LOVE THAT JOB just in case my boss is reading). The range and quality of the poetry is wonderful to see. My process, as always, includes reading through a manuscript at least three times. If it retains spark and complexity after three readings, it's a serious candidate or, at minimum, receives a serious and detailed response, and whatever encouragement is possible through the venue of an email.

Of special note, poetry of extremely high quality has come in from exactly the type of poets Cherry Pie was meant for -- women in the midwest (or, stretching it a little, the west) who are excellent writers, with fresh viewpoints and use of language, active in their local poetry communities and in many cases giving back significantly to that community with their time and talents, and a little separated from the mainstream well-funded well-supported larger world of poetry in the city or poetry in the academy. I am encouraged, and not surprised at all, to note that some of the finest poetry I've seen in the recent flood comes from places like a feedstore owner in Nebraska, or a mother home-schooling her children when she's not out working the ranch. (Ladies, you know who you are -- please keep writing!) Poetry is essential, but there's a real life there too in the balance. Children or an office job or some other kind of ballast is frequently a very good thing.

Submissions have also come in from Chicago, Michigan, Missouri -- many of them compelling, surprising in the best way. Thank you all!

With only one or two chapbooks a year, I send out more rejections than acceptances, and wanted to highlight some resources for poets looking for encouragement and a way to keep up their daily obligations but still get some wider connection to poetry. One well-categorized and very useful resource is, from Bernadette Geyer. It's a series of how-to guides and articles and recordings of readings that is easy to dip into or to take a long nosedive into, as time allows.

One more slot filled in the tool-belt, girls!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I guess she didn't like the plot much...

A postcard just in from one of our favorite pugs, Squirt. Her mother reports: "I guess she didn't like the plot much."

(Disclaimer: Squirt was raised here in Cherry Pie land and frequently heard poetry being read as a pup. Obviously some of that literary influence proved lasting. The power of poetry...)

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Why a small press?

Why am I doing this? The opposing twin of this question is, Why are you sending your work to Cherry Pie for possible publication, instead of to someplace else?

It's never simple. Kate Gale, co-founder of Red Hen Press in Los Angeles, does a good job of explaining what a small press is -- the 'why' of it.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Does poetry really matter etc?

Will the little poem I'm working on today really matter to anyone?

Go look and listen here, and be awed:

Now go back to your desk and finish that little poem. Every speck matters.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Stirrup Pants gets more press

Stirrup Pants, the new chapbook store on Cherokee Street, gets a look from the St. Louis Magazine's arts blog, Look/Listen. Check it out, for pictures of the store and information about Maggie Ginestra, the owner --

Knit One, Poem Two

In Britain, they knit their poems: Giant Knitted Poem Takes Shape.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Read a Poem, Save the World

Words on Purpose is sponsoring another of its wonderful poetry events, this one to benefit Veterans for Peace, an educational and humanitarian organization dedicated to the abolishment of war. Veterans for Peace is a national organization, and headquartered in St. Louis.

Who's reading: James McGarrah, a Vietnam veteran and author of the war memoir A Temporary Sort of Peace, and Woody Powell, co-author of Two Walk the Golden Road chronicling the lives of two Korean War vets, one Chinese, one American.

When: Saturday August 29, at 4 p.m.

Where: Black Bear Bakery, 2639 Cherokee, St. Louis

Recommended donation, $5. All proceeds go to Veterans for Peace.

Words on Purpose is a committee of socially concerned writers who produce literary readings to support community-based efforts that improve quality of life and promote equality of opportunity. They are wonderful folks, and we love 'em.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Poetry at the Point Tuesday, August 25

gaye gambell-peterson will read from, and sign, her new chapbook of poetry+art, pale leaf floating, on Tuesday, August 25 at 7:30 p.m. for the Poetry @ the Point reading series sponsored by the St. Louis Poetry Center. The reading will be at The Focal Point, 2720 Sutton, Maplewood, MO 63143. This event is free and open to the public.
If you don't yet have in hand your own copy of gaye's gorgeous chapbook, you can view the cover and a sample poem here.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Stirrup Pants, where you can buy chapbooks

There's a new store in town, with two highly improbable characteristics -- its name is Stirrup Pants, and its sole reason for being is to display and sell poetry chapbooks. (Thanks to local poet Jennifer Tappenden for seeing this notice in a neighborhood newspaper!)

On opening day, I visited to take a look. The store is located in the St. Louis Cherokee Street arts / shopping area, in a quiet unassuming building that's easy to overlook. A tiny sign hangs on the door, and a blue and white tennis shoe hangs over the address numbers. (A bird nest in there? I wondered.) Inside, Maggie, the proprietor, was delightful, and explained she is mostly in theater but loves poetry, thinks the chapbook market is seriously underserved, and so she wanted to use this storefront to correct the situation.

Chapbooks were on display in small quantities but huge variety - Tinfish, Ugly Duckling Presse, Sarabande, Invisible Ear, Glitter Pony, and others. I bought five and felt rich and well fed. I left copies of the Cherry Pie chaps with Maggie for perusal and review.

Stirrup Pants is located at 2122 Cherokee Street, and is open Saturdays only, from 10 am - 3 pm. You can also reach Stirrup Pants at stirruppantschapbooks at gmail dot com.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Cranky Yellow hosts a poetry party

Cranky Yellow, a new arts-music-literature hub in the Cherokee Street district of St. Louis, is hosting a poetry and pleasure party with burlesque ladies! The ladies include the ever-surprising and wonderful Colleen McKee, author of My Hot Little Tomato from Cherry Pie Press.

When? Sunday, July 19th
6-8pm: Erotic poetry by Colleen McKee and others, and various additional sinful attractions
8-whenever: Turn the Other Cheek Burlesque

Where? Cranky Yellow, 2847 Cherokee, 63118

How much? Poetry is free; $5 for burlesque. Of course, there are many attractive goodies for sale at Cranky Yellow. Cash only!

For more info? 314.773.4499 or

Friday, July 03, 2009

Review: Fear, by Pamela Garvey

A review I wrote of Pamela Garvey's chapbook Fear, out from Finishing Line Press, is posted at RATTLE. Read the review here.
Fear was a finalist for the New Women's Voices Competition, and is available at Left Bank Books in St. Louis, and also at Amazon. Garvey lives in St. Louis, where she has long been appreciated for co-founding Words on Purpose, a group of socially concerned writers who organize benefit readings.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

St. Louis photos - would this work for poetry?

Here is an interesting photo project that I think would work equally well for poetry -- anyone want to try it?

A hundred local photographers threw darts at a St. Louis city map. Each person had to follow his or her dart (to whatever city block it had landed on) within the next month and come back with photographs. This web site shows the amazing results.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Cherry Pie chapbooks on Fiddler Crab Review

Two of the Cherry Pie chapbooks have been reviews on Fiddler Crab Review's website. Niki Nymark's A Stranger Here Myself, and Donna Biffar's Kiss Me Cold, were reviewed by Mary Ellen Geer, who has been an editor at Harvard University Press and has published a poetry chapbook through Finishing Line Press.

The Fiddler Crab website / blog is a great resource for seeing the range of what's available in poetry chapbooks. It's a new venture, and full of energy -- see it here:

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Cherry Pie on Poets and Writers

Cherry Pie, logo and all, is on the front page of the latest Poets & Writers email announcement! Clicking on the cherry pie logo will take you to the Small Presses database which P&W hosts -- here also is a link to that database, where you may look up Cherry Pie, or browse at will for other small presses --*

Monday, May 25, 2009

New and wonderful lit mag locator

Newly tops on my list of luscious and utterly useful websites for writers --! Go explore, and do check out the search, advanced search, and especially the "list all mags" section, where you can easily identify a publication based on color-coded criteria. This is ideal for someone searching for print-only, for experimental interests or more traditional. It's the only place I've seen where you can quickly find publications that print poetry only. For prose writers, some of the search capabilities are even more refined (e.g. word limit).

Most of the entries indicate whether they have been submitted by someone on the staff of the literary publication, to help you gauge the accuracy of the information. You can also submit comments about the publications.

The well organized and visual nature of the website make it a pleasure to use.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

New chapbook! pale leaf floating by gaye gambell-peterson

Cherry Pie is delighted to announce a new chapbook -- pale leaf floating, by gaye gambell-peterson. This one is lovely to look at, and a muscular pleasure to read.

The poems gather up the objects of everyday life -- stones, a leaf, a bird, pennies, an egg -- and convert them to a wise philosophy of endurance as the poet navigates her way through illness, losses, the pleasures of grandchildren, the determination to enjoy each day and let every cup overflow.

Here's a poem:


There flew the gladdening red bird,
again, again, across my path.

There smiled the pale sliver of moon,
with a bright star at her side.

There bobbed upon flooded river, a bit
of trash that stayed afloat while I watched.

Here bloomed, after two years of making
only leaves, the purple ruffled iris.

There upon my cottonwood sat the
mourning dove – but his back was to me.
I am protected from grief.

I collected these omens so they’d tell me
the truth the way I wanted it to be.

Here on my stoop is one of my kept stones –
flecked gray, rounded, a solidity that reassures.
I turn its damaged side to a corner.

And another one, with an equal amount of grit and good cheer in balance:


“Common: loss of balance; puffy face; chronic trouble sleeping.
Rare: a sense of well-being.”
- from a list of side effects

I am at my open door, breathing,
as another day lowers.

Magenta stripe flashes a cloud belly
and Venus elevates,

hangs near my moon.
I let my attitude rise to her,

my lifted face newly full.
Some sort of conjunction, this new

aspect – between exaggerated
euphoria and dire possibility.

I’m awake on the high road,
tilting the light fantastic,

exalting for the stiff-jointed
marionette having left the building.

I am condensed to a quiddity,
leaning against my edges.

She moves away.
Comes back. Gleaming.

You might recognize gaye gambell-peterson as the artist of some previous Cherry Pie chapbook covers (Rotogravure, The Permeability of Memory, and the anthology Breathing Out). Here, she has again created the cover artwork, and also included half a dozen collages inside the book to illustrate her own poems.

pale leaf floating (ISBN 978-0-9748468-9-7) is $10, and available at Left Bank Books, 399 N. Euclid, St. Louis, MO 63108 (ph 314.367.6731). You may also order from Cherry Pie Press -- email for information, or download the order form from this blog site.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Weaving the Light: review and launch

Mary Ruth Donnelly's Weaving the Light has drawn the attention of Midwest Book Review, which notes it is "a strong pick for those looking for women's poetry with a Midwestern flavor" and that its appearance is yet one more entry "into the fine Midwest Women Poets series."

Read the review here:

This seems a good occasion for a look back at the book launch event held in early March for Weaving the Light. Rick Spencer provided an introduction to the full house at the event. Rick, formerly part of the notable (and, regrettably, no longer published) Delmar Magazine, now teaches philosophy at Southwestern Illinois College. He's given permission to republish here his remarks introducing Mary Ruth Donnelly’s readings from Weaving the Light:

I don’t know why Mary Ruth has such a love for landscape: why she is drawn to riverbanks and plains, the cup-like hollow of a garden, the shape of a road in the hills. But she is. Perhaps it was her upbringing in Kansas City—another river city—a city near the Great Plains? Maybe it is some spatial gene she inherited from ancestors whose lives were all too influenced by the horizon? Nevertheless, it is a theme in her writing: both her prose and her poetry. Her sensitivity to the land lets her see patterns of landscape in film and literature. In poetry, it pushes the levee into the title and the mountain into the metaphor.

I do know why she writes of painful things, of loss, of tears. Poetry is one of the natural habitats for tragedy. In its environment, lamentation is never likely to become an endangered species. But, for an eye sensitive to landscape, poetry becomes more than a place to enshrine that bitter moment we can’t forget. It becomes the place to show us the truth of our losses: the fragility of this life, the vulnerability of us all, the mystery of fate, and the miracle of our carrying on.

While there are many other themes in her book, these two, landscape and loss, standout. Sure, there are trees and women, museums and mammals, art and architecture. However, I am captivated by the beauty of these two.

Then again, I, too, am entranced by the mountains, and made humble by the sky over the plains. I, too, attend to the lessons of my loss, the sacred truths inside of sadness.

It is a wonderful book. Some of the poems I witnessed as the driver, or navigator, of a car in a storm. Other poems are from places I don’t know. Still, they are as familiar as my own home, with its porch light and peeling paint—a welcome banner to me alone. This is to say these poems speak to me. I think they will speak to you as well.

Thank you Rick. Well said.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Memory and war

Helen Eisen's chapbook, The Permeability of Memory, has been mentioned in the blog Writing the Holocaust. John Guzlowski interviews Eisen about the experience of childhood in the deportation camps, and the experience of absorbing memories of the war from her parents and from other adult survivors. Eisen's descriptions of how she sees memory working, how it moves through time and distance and the body, and how it is shared and transmitted, is fascinating -- layered and nuanced the same way her poems are.

Read the interview here:

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Secure? Keep your poems safe: part 3

April 1 is approaching, with its usual threats of internet bots and viruses -- this year some particularly grim ones. Please take a moment to make sure your computer is secure.

The three best computer moves I've ever made (and 2 of them are free):
1) Secunia vulnerability scanning. It's free, and it scans all the programs on my computer to make sure they're up to date and not leaving any barn doors open due to known security vulnerabilities. Adobe, Flash, Quicktime and such programs are real hotpoints for that sort of thing, and Secunia will catch them all, monitor as they get updated, tell you where to get the updates, and tell you why each vulnerability is a risk. If you don't already have Secunia, go here now and download it:

2) AVG Anti-Virus free. I walked away from the annual fees and the system-hogging of commercial virus scanners and started using AVG free. It is quick, effective, and has kept me safe. If you aren't convinced a free anti-virus program can be as good as -- even better than -- one of the paid-for heavy hitters, read this article:

3) And, finally, Mozy for computer backups. I started with the free version, and was so impressed I now use the paid version, which allows me to back up bigger stuff -- all of it! I back up photos and my music library now, not just document files. I pay a small annual fee and I control when the backups occur. I can restore a single file or a folder or everything with about 2 clicks. For a fleeting moment I considered a separate hard-drive backup instead, but all hardware fails, eventually, and I wanted something off-site, so if a tree falls on the computer and the backup hardware I can still get to the files and keep working. (Don't laugh about the tree -- the Cherry Pie Press computer has narrowly escaped two very large tree disasters over the last few years, one of elm and one of oak.) MozyHome Remote Backup,

Saturday, March 28, 2009

NEA study on Women Artists, 1990 to 2005

This NEA study follows employment trends of U.S. women who work full-time as artists. There are some surprises -- for instance, the pay gap between men and women artists increases with age. Maybe that's a good sign -- are younger women on more equal footing with male peers in the art world now?

Another surprise: women artists are as likely as other women professionals to be married, but less likely to have children.

There's much in this 17-page study to think about....

Artists in a year of recession

The National Endowment for the Arts has published a study about the effect of current economic conditions on artists. While the general percentage of unemployed writers and other artists is fairly similar to the over all trend, the study notes that historically artist employment lags other professions in recovering from economic downturns.

In the last quarter of 2008, artist unemployment hit a rate of 6.0%. That doesn't sound so bad, but it was an increase of 63% from one year earlier.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Blog link: Poet with a day job

I'm adding a new blog to the links here: Poet With a Day Job. This is Melissa Fondakowski’s blog, and it's the nicely organized and updated lists of poetry contests and residencies that makes the site a stand-out. Also do check the "Published Work Awards" -- if you have published a book or chapbook, and there is an award you might qualify for (especially one worth $$$), do let your publisher know. We don't always think of such things, and appreciate the information.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Blog Tours explained

A recent discussion on the WOM-PO listserv centered on 'blog tours'-- what they are, how they work, and who does them. Blog tours seem like the ultimate win-win proposition -- a chance for an author to promote her work, a chance for the readers to get a sense of the author and her approach to poetry, and an opportunity to link together the blogger and the interviewee in a thoughtful conversation.

Especially for small press publishers and for authors trying to promote their own work, this provides a very sensible approach.

Diane Lockward, who is currently participating in a tour (as the interviewer) via her blog, Blogalicious, provides a good explanation of how blog tours work, along with some real-life lessons on the finer points:

"The poet with a new book invites a handful of bloggers whose blogs she knows to participate in an ongoing series of interviews. Her publisher posts the links to and dates of each interview. The publisher also sends a complimentary review copy to each participant. Each participant is asked to compose 3-4 questions and send them to the poet prior to the date of her scheduled posting. Right now I'm reading the book and forming some possible questions. My date is April 8. On that date I will post the questions and the poet's responses on my blog. I'm about in the middle of the tour.

One problem that I'll mention so that others might figure out a way to work around it: A few of the bloggers become over-zealous and ask more than the 3-4 questions. Yesterday's blogger had seven questions, each with multiple parts. Another blogger scheduled to go after me has already called dibs on a particular poem and form. That was on my list of possible questions and now must be eliminated. So if I were running one of these I would ask the participants not to exceed the requested number of questions and would stipulate that calling dibs is not allowed.

I see this as a very viable way of promoting a book, one which might be combined with audios and videos. This seems a sensible way of reaching a wider readership and most likely readers you might not encounter elsewhere."

Heart's Migration by Linda Rodriguez

Linda Rodriguez of Kansas City has a new poetry book out -- Heart's Migration, from Tia Chucha Press. Advance praise on the poems comes from Virgil Suarez and Diane Glancy:

Heart's Migration by Linda Rodriguez is a generous, gorgeous book of
poetry. It's the kind of beautiful book that comes along every once in a
while, to keep the reader the company. It's courageous, unflinching in its
voice and tradition. . . . This is a gifted, capable poet who takes pride in
making a lasting human connection. I praise her voice and her
passion! - Virgil Suarez

These poems are indeed a migration through the interior of the
human heart. . .Heart's Migration is a reading that is worth the
journey. - Diane Glancy

The book launch is Friday, May 29 at The Writers Place, 3607 Pennsylvania in Kansas City. For more information contact the author through her blog at

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Nan Sweet featured in Walter Bargen's column

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch featured Nan Sweet in a recent column by Missouri poet laureate Walter Bargen. He picked Pipeliners' Picnic, one of her poems from her Cherry Pie Press chapbook, Rotogravure, to discuss in his regular column on Missouri poets.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Women Poets Mentoring Each Other

Here's essential reading, with a growing list of thought-provoking comments -- Annie Finch's piece on Women Poets & Mentorship in Poetry Foundation's Harriet blog.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Arts in Transit 2009 awards

The St. Louis Arts in Transit contest results are in -- this year's winners include Niki Nymark, Catherine Rankovic, and Mary Ruth Donnelly. Their poems will be paraded around town on buses for a year, giving poetry to one of the broadest audiences St. Louis has to offer. Congratulations!
Read the poems here:

A review in RATTLE

Niki Nymark's chapbook, A Stranger Here Myself, has been reviewed at RATTLE. Read it here:

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Chapbooks going to Poets House Showcase

The 2008 chapbooks from Cherry Pie Press are making their way to the annual Poets House Showcase. Work by Mary Ruth Donnelly, Niki Nymark, and Erin M. Bertram will be exhibited in the Showcase and then become part of the permanent collection.

Read more about Poets House and the Showcase exhibit here:

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Erin M. Bertram, runner-up in another chapbook contest

Erin M. Bertram, author of The Urge To Believe Is Stronger Than Belief Itself, is runner-up in Green Tower Press's chapbook contest this year. Read about the contest, Green Tower Press, and the chapbook series here:

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Chapbook launch March 3 - Weaving the Light

Please join us for readings by Mary Ruth Donnelly from her new and exquisitely lovely chapbook, Weaving the Light, just out from Cherry Pie Press.

When: Tuesday, March 3, 6:30pm – 8pm
Where: Soulard Coffee Garden, 910 Geyer Ave., St. Louis, MO 63104
Note, the reading is in the upstairs room, which involves a flight of stairs
What Else? There will be some light refreshments, and the company of good people.
Here is the full announcement about the chapbook, with sample poems:

Monday, February 16, 2009

Hamamelis, a.k.a. Witch-hazel

February, land of dreary gray and also of opening-up things. The landscape here at Cherry Pie is the wheat-blonde of winter, that bland hay-colored absence of color that the living world takes on while it's not actively living. Everything else is gray and brown -- until this week.

Witness the arrival of Hamamelis, the first fireworks to emerge from winter -- witch-hazel. Her name is from Middle English roots of "Witch" or wiche, and that from the Old English wice, pliable or bendable. She is a wild-haired lady.

Here she is, marching around Cherry Pie land. Her accompaniment is a small and optimistic crowd of daffodil shoots.

Send me a poem about witches or witch-hazel. I'll post the most interesting ones.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Tips on blogging and pleasure

Sometimes I scout other blogs to pick up ideas and tips. Penelope Trunk is one of the best, and her nominally business-related posts relate to life in general as much as they do to business. In one of her blog's "how to blog" entries -- see entry #9 on her list, The Poetic Link -- she includes a link that, via the idea of "pleasure," sends you on a circuitous and wonderful journey to Roland Barthes and his ideas on "readerly" versus "writerly" texts. Squeezed to a too-brief essence here, the Wikipedia article cited by Trunk describes "readerly text, which does not challenge the reader's position as a subject. The writerly text provides bliss, which explodes literary codes and allows the reader to break out of his or her subject position."

Translated to poetry, what would that be? Any suggestions for a readerly poem, or a writerly poem? What it does to the reader...

777 chapbooks!

Tallying up the sales and distribution numbers for Cherry Pie, I calculate that 777 copies of the first eight chapbooks are now in readers' hands.

Each chapbook has between 25 and 50 copies distributed free -- to potential reviewers, to the author, to previous Cherry Pie authors, and to a core set of "friends" of the press who in some unforgettable way encouraged the start of all this. The rest of the 777 figure is due to sales, or a small portion of that due to store inventory (3-5 copies of each book) sitting at Left Bank Books, local independent bookstore and haven for the writer.

By whatever means these books arrived in your hands, Dear Reader, enjoy, and read, and may one book lead to another. Thank you.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

From the editor

A little news from the editorial seat...

I have a review published in RATTLE --

And a poem in a new online publication, Sweet, that has a very attractive website and a sweet tooth to boot. Check it out at, or to see my poem go directly here:

Poetry at your feet

Here in the new-fallen snow on the blacktop driveway, a bird has swooped down and left the first poem of the day. The wing as scribe...

Sunday, January 18, 2009

No Dodge

Even poetry can succumb to economics. The venerable Dodge Poetry festival will take a pass this year due to the same financial stresses other foundations are experiencing. Universities, arts foundations, and your 401k all depend on interest earned and stocks invested. Few have escaped the financial sector's latest troubles.

If you have a favorite arts organization, check your wallet and see if you have any extra to share. This would be a good time to do it . . . they all need your help.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Bringing Poetry to the Community

Interviewed on KDHX's Literature for the Halibut, Julia Gordon-Bramer talks about her work as director of the Writers Voice literary center, bringing poets and other writers into St. Louis. Arranging the 'tours,' she sees a different side of well-knowns such as Allen Ginsberg, Ken Kesey and Gloria Steinem. Julie Gordon-Bramer is articulate, frank, interesting, and brings a new perspective to the idea of doing what you love.

Listen to the podcast here (select the podcast for January 1).

KDHX only posts podcasts for about a month. This one first broadcast on January 1, so get it while you can.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Add to your reading list: The Heart's Traffic

Ching-In Chen's new book, The Heart's Traffic -- described as a novel written in poetry -- is out (or soon to be out) from Arktoi, an imprint of Red Hen Press. I have it on order from our local independent bookstore, Left Bank Books.

I was lucky enough to be in an online writing workshop with Ching-In and on the strength of what I saw there, I'm going to stand in line to get my copy hot off the press. She's an exciting writer, innovative and brave, with a gorgeously rich sense of language, and in her writing and life she weaves together many different identities and worlds. The Arktoi website has a bio of Ching-In Chen, and links to an interview and to her project Mangoes With Chili, which is an annual 'floating cabaret' of poetry performances by queer and transgender people of color.

Left Bank Books 314.367.6731 (yes, they will order any book, unlike the big chains, and they will mail it to you if you're not local!)