Sunday, November 14, 2010


Obviously, the press is slowing down for now.  Day job demands my focus.  I'm grateful to the authors and readers who have made this an ongoing celebration, complete with balloons and zzzzzzzzzzzzph noisemakers.  I plan to start the press up again when the day job gets back to a normal level of intensity. Until then, keep reading and writing.  And thanks.

Monday, August 23, 2010

For your Kindle: Diet Coke With Lime, poems by Emily Lloyd

Is there poetry in the e-world?  Surprisingly, yes.

Exploring, where many authors go to self-publish to the e-world, I found Diet Coke With Lime by Emily Lloyd.  I had previously found a lot of very very bad self-published poems, and very badly formatted e-publications, out there in e-world, and am delighted to find here a successful poetry chapbook, highly recommended, well worth the read.   There are some minor formatting problems, but given the competition this is still a strong standout:   If you do not tread the Kindle road, you may download it as a pdf. 

Lloyd's title poem gives a feel for where her poems are going, with glances to playful language, literary inuendo, an understated point of view, a mix of cynicism and bright hope:

Diet Coke with Lime: "Guess What it Tastes Like"

I guess it tastes like the uncut hair of graves
I guess it tastes like getting your test back
and learning you don't have AIDS
I guess it tastes like the mome raths as they outgrabe

I guess it tastes like blackberry, blackberry, blackberry
I guess it tastes like riding back and forth
all night on the ferry
I guess it tastes like Diet Coke with Cherry

I guess it tastes like world enough and time

I love the opening line on this poem, the "uncut hair" opening up the notion of death into a tangible vibrant thing in so many ways, then the line rhyming with the ominous, humorous Jabberwocky language. Perfect.

The poems are tough, and reaching--

Lamb Curry

This is what I want from prayer: to be left
streaming spices

runneled with sweat, force
glittering in my bowels

the need to chew fennel
after, the need to drink water

as no one’s face appears
in the inscrutable nan

One of my favorites, the form and references glancing at a classical past and the content reversing it all, looking through the back side of the mirror:

Drag Wisdom

In time, everyone gets a teenth of of June,
to step out of that same old shaggy stress.
Let one who has never waxed cast the first moon.

Stay calm on top; when underneath, obsess.
Let one who has never tempted cast the first snake.
In time, all lines as well as points are moot.

Let one who is without layers cast the first cake.

Butte thrives, whether it's told it's "Butt" or "Beaut."
God's dead? There will be others. Mourn for Garbo.
Let one who has never made a scene cast the first play.

Stay calm; they might have just called you a hobo.
Let one who has never dragged on cast the first day.
Let one who has never faked it cast the first rhinestone.

The Emperor of Ice-Cream wears heels and cologne.

I've got a feeling Wallace Stevens would like that.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Literary St. Louis - ah, it's mostly fiction

The local Riverfront Times is headlining a feature on St. Louis literaries, triggered by Time magazine's current cover story on St. Louis author Jonathan Franzen.  The Riverfront Times article is well worth the read, presenting many nuggets that even the most savvy probably didn't know.  Dig around through the article and the accompanying literary maps to find where T.S. Eliot found the names for Prufrock, the first meetingplace of a poetry society that included Sara Teasdale, and the home and school of Ntozake Shange.  Much fiction, a few poets.

The article:
An accompanying feature, with four parts plus maps, including a brief article on poet Howard Nemerov:

If you want more, check out the Walk of Fame in the Delmar ("Loop") area, which includes local fameratti, many of them literary:  Hint, sort by "Achievement" to easily find the literary fameratti -- will appear, no surprise, at the very bottom of the page. Sigh.

(No, "fameratti" isn't a real word...yet. Just feels right.)

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Flood Stage: upcoming readings

Now that Flood Stage: An Anthology of St. Louis Poetry is out from Walrus Publishing (St. Louis, of course), you can hear poets from the anthology at many upcoming poetry readings around town.

I will be one of the readers at the September 4 reading at Hartford Coffee Company, along with Colleen McKee, one of the Cherry Pie Press alumni.

Saturday September 4, 2010, 7:00 p.m.
Hartford Coffee Company
3974 Hartford (on the South Side of town)
St. Louis, MO  63116

Readers include:
· Michael Castro
· Colleen McKee
· Amanda Wells
· Lisa Ebert
· Dwight Bitikofer
· Becky Ellis
· K. Leighton Brown
· Brett Underwood
· Julia Bramer

And, as always, you can pick up your own copy at Left Bank Books,

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I write like Chuck Palahniuk?

I found a website that purports to analyze your writing and identify which famous author your style is closest to.  I thought, heck why not?  I submitted a few poems and got matches to James Joyce, Vladimir Nabokov, J. R. R. Tolkien.  Not bad -- no women authors in the database, I guess.  I tried a few more writing samples. 

After while I seemed to hit a consistent pattern.  Much of my prose, and many of my poems that I feel closest too -- well, let's just say they point to a match that surprised me. 

I write like
Chuck Palahniuk
I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Fiddler Crab Review

Fiddler Crab Review has been writing chapbook reviews for over a year.  They've reviewed a few of the Cherry Pie chapbooks. 

Their reviews cover a vast range of small presses, and the reviewers are varied in background.  It makes for an exciting mix.  The reviews have gotten better over the last year, so that often now I find the review is at least as interesting as the poems. 

Laurie Rosenblatt's recent review of Edge by Edge from Toadlily Press is exactly that kind of review -- interesting, fair, with a good sense of what the poems are about, and (this is the good part) giving specific examples of what works and what does not, and why.  I found myself stepping back every few paragraphs, remembering one of my own poems where I'd done exactly what she was faulting in the poem she was reviewing.  Hmmm. . .  Her examples, and her insights on what works and why, and where the poems fall short, are all spot-on.  For the price of a review (free, in this case!), you also get a mini-writing lesson, and a very good one.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Writer's Block Cure #2

What, still can't write?  No inspiration? You poor thing.

Try thinking like a horse. Clear your mind, just focus on the art...

Monday, July 12, 2010

Writer's Block Cure #1

Having a bad day? No confidence? Can't get any writing started?  Sigh.

Cure:  Just start.  Surprise everyone.  Pooey to doubters.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Inside Poet's House with Bill Murray

Here's a great article about Poet's House, which counts the Cherry Pie chapbooks among its treasures. 

Poet's House now has over 50,000 works of poetry.

On the Poet's House website, you can find treasures such as links to a video of Bill Murray reading poems of Lorine Niedecker and Emily Dickinson to constructions workers taking a break.  Priceless, the rapt look on the workers' faces during the Dickinson reading  Equally priceless, Murray's ability to see the audience is as important as the poems (watch the video all the way to the end.).

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Fourth of July, The Great Reunion of 1913

I ran across this, my favorite 4th of July story ever, about veterans of Gettysburg who gathered 50 years after the battle to reminisce and to celebrate the unified nation that had resulted.  Veterans of both sides attended the event. Here is an excert from the story (by Stefany Anne Golberg) of the reunion:
The Great Reunion of 1913 was an amazing historical event, the largest gathering ever of Civil War veterans, who came together for a week of solidarity and celebration. On July 4, President Woodrow Wilson arrived and made a speech. But it was July 3 that people remember most. As part of the week’s festivities, thousands of old veterans — most in their 70s, the oldest 112 — took their respective places on the former battlefield and commenced with a tottering reenactment of Pickett’s Charge. At 3 p.m., the surviving Confederate soldiers of General Pickett’s division stormed Cemetery Ridge, a clattering assortment of long beards and crutches and canes. Slowly approaching the stone fence at Bloody Angle, some of the codgers croaked out the rebel yell when they were “surprised” by a group of men from the former Union Philadelphia Brigade. But instead of shooting each other, they all shook hands across the stone wall and exchanged ceremonial flags. Some fell into each other’s arms, weeping. Other just sat down in silence and looked sadly across the field.
The full story includes pictures of the reunion from The Library of Congress.

What does this have to do with poetry?  Maybe not much. It's such a good story I couldn't help but pass it on.  Yet it does say a lot about memory, which is one of the more powerful antennae of poetry.  And it says something about unpredictability (read the story!), which also reminds us of the world of poetry, where words unexpectedly collide to form new things and unearth things unknown.  Although the Great Reunion was in many ways a healing and celebratory event, a look back is always fraught with more dimensions than you might have planned.  Golfarb writes, "But the reunion was not all flowers, candy, and homogeneity. Time may heal all wounds but memory rips them right back open."  Yes, just like a good poem. 

Your assignment:  Read the story, and then go write a poem looking back at something (any real event) that happened 50 years ago, as if you were there to celebrate the anniversary.  (If you're over 50, up that to 100 years ago, to equalize the challenge.)  You may see an event much differently than you anticipated, and it might turn out to be a good poem.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Flood Stage: An Anthology of Saint Louis Poets

Fresh out from Walrus Publishing, a new poetry anthology -- Flood Stage: An Anthology of Saint Louis Poets.  Poems were selected and compiled by St. Louis's own Matthew Freeman.  This is an exciting, eclectic collection.  The book launch and reading would be greatly enhanced by your presence!  Details --

WHO:       St. Louis Poets (many and various)
WHAT:     Flood Stage: An Anthology of Saint Louis Poets - a reading, book signing and reception
WHERE:    Left Bank Books Downtown, 321 N. 10th Street, 314-436-3049
WHEN:     Friday, July 16, 2010, 7 p.m.
ADMISSION: Free  (of course!)

St. Louis Poetry Center,
Walrus Publishing
Left Bank Books,

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Amy King on the state of poetry, the place of small presses

In a recent Huffington Post interview, Amy King pointed out the value of small presses in allowing authors to focus more on their own integrity than on what might sell well:  "If you have the freedom to publish online or through a small press and reach a good number of people, you will likely feel more comfortable writing exactly what you want. If a small press accepts even the outré or controversial work you do, you'll feel less pressured to conform to what a big publisher might deign to shill in the local B&N. In short, alternative means of publication=creative freedom, the mother's milk of experimental and progressive writing."

Read the full interview here:

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Alice Azure, with an introduction by Robert Hall

Alice Azure has another new poetry collection forthcoming, and she is kind enough to allow me to post the introduction to it before the book appears.  The introduction is by Robert Hall, author of An Archaeology of the Soul, and is a good frame for Alice's work, which focuses on her connections to and experience of the Cahokia Mounds area, only a few miles from Cherry Pie Press.

Explaining his interest in Alice Azure's work, Hall connects poetry to prose to song:  "I am not interested in poetry so much by itself as in how knowing something about the rhetoric of poetry can help me write better prose and understand traditional American Indian songs, as in Chapter 12 of Archaeology of the Soul."

Thanks to both Alice Azure and Robert Hall for permission to print this Introduction. 


There are places that exist in myth that have left no ruins to direct a pilgrim’s feet. There are places that exist as ruins that have left no myths to tell their story. Cahokia is one of these — ancient Cahokia, prehistoric Cahokia on the Illinois bottomlands of the Mississippi River — a planned community of urban proportions. Over a hundred earthen mounds dot Cahokia’s landscape, most of them marking where a temple or elite residence once stood.

Considering its size and onetime importance, it defies belief that Cahokia has left no memory of itself among native peoples of the Midwest, yet, that is the case. Most of what is known of Cahokia comes from what archaeologists can find with shovels and trowels. Stains in the earth trace the paths of massive palisade walls that once enclosed the Grand Plaza fronting on the Great Cahokia Mound and the mound itself, Monks Mound so called from an incident in its later history. Other stains trace the outlines of dwellings and temples reduced by time to mere discolorations in the soil. Some stains define monumental post circles that were material expressions of a cosmology that we can only guess at. These things are visible to the archaeologist, but there is more visible only to the poet’s eye.

Alice Azure lives behind the bluff line that defines Cahokia’s eastern horizon. Seven, eight, nine hundred years ago, a thousand years ago, Cahokia priests surely greeted the sun as it rose above that horizon. In Quotidian Dimensions the poet Alice backs away from priestly exultations in favor of the canine choruses that just as surely began Cahokia’s days. “Was this how old Cahokia awakened?” she asks, then describes the everyday life that must have filled those days.

In Cahokia at Dusk the poet Alice reverses the Cahokian view, looking west from the bluff toward the sun’s setting. As daylight fades, dancers appear that only she can see. Drummers time beats that only she can hear. The Grand Plaza comes alive and Alice shares with us her vision of that scene.

Cahokia Mound 72 deftly weaves together scenes of the human sacrifices whose bones fill that mound with scenes of the senseless slaughters that provide today’s headlines. Like Cahokia Mound 72, Horseradish Blues makes a comparison that spans a millennium. It contrasts ancient Cahokia as the City of the Sun with the latter-day importance of the area for cultivating horseradish, a comparison of the sacred with the profane symbolizing the descent of Cahokia from its prehistoric grandeur. Cahokia’s crop was corn, sacred to Cahokians as it still is for so many native Americans. Horseradish is a condiment that bites the tongue but cannot stir the soul.

Helping to shape Alice Azure’s image of Cahokia was a muse, if that be the right word, in the form of a spirit being she calls Red Cedar. The centuries shrink as Red Cedar speaks. Less ethereal in influencing Azure’s interest in Cahokia has been her own training in urban and regional planning. Happy the coincidence that a Native American poet with such experience should find herself living within the bounds of the greater Cahokia community. Even so, in this collection of poems Cahokia is but one of many stages on which characters from Azure’s background make a curtain call — a Maine vegetable garden, a Meskwakie powwow, church schools, a football field, more. Most of her poems are very personal, and this infusion of the personal binds the collection into a whole.

Libertyville, Illinois

Friday, June 04, 2010

Monday, May 24, 2010

Afghan Women's Writing Project

Next time you think you have writer's block, go browse The Afghan Women's Writing Project,  Then sit down and be glad for the luxury of being able to write, and ... just do it.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Lehman Brothers - poetry even in the dark corners...

Musing over the recent financial meltdown and its trail of soggy breadcrumbs, I found an article in the NY Times about Lehman Brothers, and was struck by the odd intimacy of coffee spills and smears on the 'found' memo in question.  Could there be art in even this unlikely (unsavory) spot?  Here are some of the marks and blobs, fashioned into a verse of sorts...

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Loosely Identified reads at Duff's again! May 17

Don't forget to come hear us!  Monday night.... Readers will include Helen Eisen, Rebecca Ellis, Martha Ficklen, Gaye Gambell-Peterson, Mary Ann deGrandpre Kelly, Colleen McKee, Karen Smead Mondale, Niki Nymark, Marilyn Probe, Catherine Rankovic, Myra South, Jennifer Tappenden, and LaVelle Wilkins-Chinn. The mistress of ceremonies will be Mary Ruth Donnelly.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Mothers Day: Mothers in hard places - Patty Prewitt

News in from a local poet who sends information about "a prisoner (get ready - there's a lot of alliteration here), named Patty Prewitt. Who is a poet. She's around 55 or 60 year old woman who's been in prison 20 years for the murder of her husband. She's maintained that she's innocent and seems to have had an unfair trial process. Her poems are interesting and paint a vivid picture of the person she is and her experience in prison. I wonder what you think of them and if you have recommendations on how they might reach a wider audience. They are not necessarily technically polished, but her gut instincts are good and she's also clearly read a lot of poetry too."

And Patty Prewitt's poems are worth a read, here on Mother's Day.  You can hear her reading two of them on this web site -- go to section 3B for a video/audio.  (Turn your volume way up; the audio is very soft.)

Sunday, May 02, 2010

92nd Street Y

As the New York 92nd Street Y has just announced, "In a renewed effort to share with a wider contemporary audience some of the great literary moments which the Poetry Center has presented across the decades, this page (to be regularly updated) features archival recordings by some of the best writers of our time." 

If you can tear yourself away from the lovely spring weather, their website is a nice place to bowse for wonderful poetry, and much more.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Amy King does "the count"

There are, of course, many ways other than male/female that recognized authorship can be tallied. Still, fodder for spring meditation....
5/8/2010 - Apologies, but it looks like this web site is down - temporarily I hope.  I'll keep an eye out and re-post when it's available again.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Fresh, for Spring -- Marie Ponsot

The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer recently featured Marie Ponsot.  She says 70 is good, but 80 is better--for a dose of good spring energy and some samples of her tight, bright poems, go here:

This sample was distributed by Knopf as part of their Poetry Month 'Poem-A-Day' emails. Delightful. To sign up for that, go here:

Monday, March 29, 2010


Ai Ogawa, a poet who understood power and pain more than most, has died.  See the NY Times obituary, which includes some poems, here.  There is also a tribute by one of her students, Jerry Williams, here, with a growing list of comments and appreciations.  And a page from Oklahoma State University, with another of her wonderful poems.

Ai was undiluted.  Strong stuff at a time it was not common to be so. I was fortunate enough to end my stay at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MFA program with a poetry workshop she taught as a visiting professor. At that time she used 'Ai' as her publishing name and had transformed (it was all about transformation, for her) her given name, Florence, to one that she pronounced the same but that grew out of a unique and tortured phonetic construction of her own -- Pelorhanke, or something close to that.  She wasn't one to accept any of her history, or any piece of the world at all, without tearing it apart and reconstructing it. Her poetry and the workshop freed me for the first time to write in the voice of some one utterly unlike myself.  The first real poem, in one sense.

She was full of contradictions.  She wrote about salted open wounds and overt brutality; married at the time of those workshops, she frequently spent the hours passively leaning on her husband's arm, complaining of a headache while he taught the workshop.  She collected old purses.  I have some evening bags from my grandmother -- one of them a hand-size purse of delicately knitted cord, strung all over with jet-black bugle beads.  I think of Ai every time I pull it out of the box to look at it again. I can't imagine my grandmother carrying it, but I can imagine Ai finding it in an antique store and just having to have it.  She spoke about her heritage - Choctaw, Irish, Japanese, and so on - but refused to categorize herself as any of these.  They were part of her, but not categories, and not defining.  As she did with everything else, she disassembled her past and built it up again.  A thing of her own making.

If you aren't familiar with her poetry, search the Internet and find it now.  Some of the poems are almost too brutal (for me) to read.  They always have a direct voice -- usually a monologue from a tangible (but not her own) personality that is compelling, and violent, and wholly imagined into reality. Her poems come with a guaranteed chill, right up the back of your neck.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Mary Ruth Donnelly to read in Observables Reading Series

Mary Ruth Donnelly, author of Weaving the Light, will read poems on April 8 with Seido Ray Ronci and James Arthur as part of the Observables Readings, sponsored by St. Louis Poetry Center.  Details here.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Another appearance by the unstoppable gaye gambell-peterson, this one on Janet Riehl's richly textured website  Riehl's site is a wonderful place to browse.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

On hold...

Regretfully, I'm putting Cherry Pie "on hold" for a few months while I put together a more useful website.  I will not be accepting submissions for review until that's complete.  Please watch for progress...

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Antiques and Jewels: A Winning Poem!

Here is a jewel of a poem submitted for the 'Antiques and Jewels' writing challenge on January 9. Congratulations gaye gambell-peterson! She comments, with her submission, "Who knew this photo would inspire a love song, ... this tiny wedge of a poem?" Indeed.

We approach our wedding anniversary
a matched pair
replendent and oh-so golden. We
are reflective, proud and tall. We
dare expose our incandescence
to scrutiny's glare, our dazzle
undimmed even as
our glaze crackles, peels.
We're trying to cope
by envisioning smooth,
by ignoring
any unpluggedness.
So, side by side, we
are sitting pretty,
as always-
here together.
And there,
waiting :
a door,


by gaye gambell-peterson

Thanks again to AAA Antiques (Peoria, Ill.) for the great photos.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Antiques and jewels for your writing pleasure

Looking for a writing prompt? Here is a treasure chest of objects and jewels. Pick a photo at random and suddenly you are in a room of fascinating nouns.

Take a trip to AAA Antiques and open a room. Send me your poem (email address here) by the end of January and I will blog-publish two or three of the most irresistable ones.

No Free Lunch

Free Lunch is no more. Ron Offen's unique and noteworthy poetry journal quietly retired with the Fall issue (#42), due to the editor's health issues. Free Lunch was one of the small bright stars here in the midwest sky, and I was lucky enough to get a sampling of Ron Offen's very detailed feeback on some of my (rejected!) submissions over the last few issues. His comments were fair, detailed, and insightful, and it is a rare and encouraging thing to find an editor who has the time and grace to commit to such feedback. Best wishes to Ron Offen for better health, and thanks for his many gifts to writers.

Read more here:
and here:

Friday, January 01, 2010

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