Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Marjorie Hudson's "Searching for Virginia Dare" (new edition)

Searching for Virginia Dare
ISBN: 978-1-935708-87-2
PRICE: $17.95
PUB DATE: JUNE 30, 2013
“An intertwined tale of obsession, loss, and hope—in part truth, myth, and fiction. Hudson proves that a very talented writer can pull off a multi-genre story.” — Clyde Edgerton, author of Walking Across Egypt
Marjorie Hudson’s book Searching for Virginia Dare gained critical acclaim from novelists, reviewers, and historians alike when it first came out in 2002. Part detective story, part road trip, part memoir, it explored the mysterious disappearance of Virginia Dare and the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island. Hudson’s lyrical language and self-revelation brought a fresh flavor to the centuries-old tale of the first English child in America.
This latest edition, Searching for Virginia Dare: On the Trail of the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island, from Press 53, features 33 pages of fresh writing detailing Hudson’s continued fascination with the subject.
In an essay entitled “The Search Continues: New Journeys, New Explorations,” Hudson revisits Roanoke Island on Virginia Dare’s 425th birthday, August 18, 2012. As she travels, she spins tales of her ongoing obsession with the White Doe legend, the kudzu-wrapped landscape of Eastern Carolina, the fascinating hidden world of the Lumbee Indians,  the relationship between an intrepid American woman sculptor in 1850s Rome–creator of the Virginia Dare Venus–and expat writer Nathaniel Hawthorne, as well as discounted theories about what became of the colony that are now finding traction with historians.
Praise for Searching for Virginia Dare:
“As fascinating as a detective story. . . . An absorbing, intelligent consideration of national and personal identity, beautifully written.”
Lee Smith, author of The Last Girls

Marjorie Hudson
Released June 30, 2013: New Edition of Searching for Virginia Dare – includes new journeys to Rome, London, and the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
Our State Magazine interview: Southern Newcomer
Winter/Spring Events and Workshops

Saturday, Nov. 30, Buy Local at McIntyre’s Day. Local author Hudson recommends books to store visitors. Fearrington Village 919-542-3030. My recommendations for new fiction for your Christmas list: Andre Dubus/Dirty Love; Elaine Orr: A Different Sun; Nancy Peacock: Life and Times of Persommon Wilson; Dale Neal/Half-Life of Home; Walter Bennett: Leaving Tuscaloosa.
Saturday, January 18, Writing from the Heart Chakra: Raleigh Review Writing and Yoga Workshop with Michele Berger. Details  to come.
January 19 – 25: Writing Retreat at Weymouth, Southern Pines, NC.
Feb. 4, 7 pm. Readings on Roslyn featured speaker: Accidental Birds of the Carolinas. Winston-Salem, NC. By Invitation.
Feb. 20, 12 noon lunch talk: Searching for Virginia Dare. Colonial Dames of Chapel Hill, NC. By Invitation.
Feb. 22, 12 noon lunch talk and panel: Falling in Love with the South, and Accidental Birds of the Carolinas. Southern Writers Symposium, Methodist University, Fayetteville, NC.
Feb. 28, 7-9 pm. CCCC Open Mike, location TBA.
March 11-13, Johnston County Community College Visiting Writer.
Saturday,, April 5, 10 – 4 pm, Memoir Workshop, CCCC, Pittsboro Campus. Call 919-545-8044 to register.
Sunday, April 6, Featured Speaker, NC Literary Festival, NCCU Campus, Raleigh, NC. Time and location TBA.
Kitchen Table Writers are publishing!
  • Penny Cockrell, Michele Berger, Jane Andrews, Todd Henderson, Carol Phillips, and Mary Meinelt will be in the upcoming issue of the Red Clay Review.
  • Jane Andrews has new publications in Currents and Kindred. 
  • Mary Meinelt’s short essay “In the Dark” was a Readers Write column in The Sun.
  • Al Capehart, AKA Santa AL, has published his memoir “Behind Santa’s Smile.” 

 Marjorie Hudson is author of Accidental Birds of the Carolinas,an Honorable Mention for the PEN/Hemingway Award for Distinguished First Fiction, and Searching for Virginia Dare, a North Carolina Arts Council Notable Book, now in a new edition with 33 pages of new research and travels.  Her writing has been published widely in literary journals and has won many honors, including a 2012 NC Arts Council Fellowship. She has been editing and coaching writers for 30 years, and now leads writing classes at colleges, conferences, festivals, cafes, and her own Kitchen Table Workshops. See her blog:www.kitchentablewriters.wordpress.org

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Maryann Corbett, "Breath Control"

Maryann Corbett’s first collection is about control: both metrical control and measure and the near-silence of emotional control required of men and women at midlife, between the departures of children from home and of aging parents from the world. The poems in this book make use of craft and containment to tackle fears, confront memories, and celebrate beauty and affection.

“Although every section touches me and keeps calling me back, I think the last two in the book--where the tone darkens and the reach widens--contain the poems I already treasure as if I had known them for years.”--Rhina Espaillat

“Corbett is not just playing with words (not that there's anything wrong with that, as Seinfeld said) but thinking and asking questions about things like class, ethnicity (as the daughter of Italian immigrants), the expanding universe, terrorism, Christianity... and while she's a middle-class suburbanite (as am I), she always comes at things with a broad perspective, entirely free of that kind of breezy complacency you often see in middle-class poets who are always writing about their vacations in Venice and whatnot. So when she writes about paying for her daughter's college tuition, it's with gratitude and an acute awareness of her parents' and grandparents' struggle to break into the middle class so as to make this moment possible, and of others' continuing struggles. And when she writes about the bland garden statue of St. Francis it's with an awareness that the real saint was a subversive who ministered to outsiders. I could go on and on, and I haven't even talked about technique. She's formally dextrous and all that, but what I like most is her poetry's thoughtfulness and humanity.”--Rose Kelleher, 2008 winner of the Anthony Hecht Prize.

“I've been following Maryann Corbett's writing for years now -- in numerous journals as well as in online poetry workshops—and I'm delighted to see this collection at last. Corbett is a master of form. And by that I mean not merely able to write a sonnet or a pantoum, not merely able to turn out sapphic stanzas or Anglo-Saxon verse forms — but to turn received forms to her own purposes, intelligently and artfully. She makes these forms her own and uses them to elevate, to lend dignity and grace to her subject matter...”--Antonia Clark

“Throughout, one feels in close proximity to both the narrator (who in turn, more often than not, seems close to being the poet herself) as well as the other characters who inhabit her poems; close enough, indeed, to hear them breathe. They are real people, often in quiet situations, engaged with the minutiæ of daily life which are elevated in significance by Corbett’s transparent narration. This is the poetry of life as lived and reflected upon, rather than as detachedly observed and mythologised, and the language is that of a poet who is apparently holding a greater force in check.”--Philip Quinlan

“It's said that the finest books of poetry should never be read in one sitting, but savored for weeks, a poem at a time--an idea that had always sounded sensible to me until the night I first opened Maryann Corbett's stunning new collection, Breath Control. The concluding lines of virtually every one of these poignant, perceptive, exquisitely formed poems catapulted me to the next, and I didn't quit reading until four in the morning.
Now that I've finished the book--still amazed at the poet's skill--I'll be starting over, in order to savor again, among others, the likes of 'Transaction' (never has a bill for college tuition reverberated like this), 'The Birds of Ancient Battlefields Visit the Suburbs', exquisitely rendered in Old English accentual meter, "Collision Course", a many-layered poem about a relationship, told so honestly and directly that it makes composing in strict sapphic stanzas look easy. Here, without question, is a book-- and a poet--to be genuinely grateful for.”-- Marilyn L. Taylor, Wisconsin Poet Laureate, 2009-2010

“Many of the poems are autobiographical but never so much about the poet as about the lessons and fears which we all may encounter during our own lives. Her deceptively gentle voice leads the reader through complex terrors and anxieties. She frequently uses antique meters to emphasise or satirise the timelessness of human behaviour.”--Janet Kenny

"Breath Control has wit without meanness, warmth without sentimentality, and craft without pretension. Maryann Corbett's poems are subtle joys."--A. M. Juster

"...There is a centeredness and a serenity in her work that is unsurpassed by any living writer of my acquaintance."--Timothy Murphy

“This is a remarkable and beautiful collection, both these attributes rooted in its underlying honesty. A wry and generous vision informs the poems, which are rooted in the real world and soundly crafted out of real language, grammatical and accessible, with bright scholarship and unselfconscious skill....This book will prove a lasting gift to the world, though I feel obliged to ensure that it carries a clear warning. The contents may affect the heart in ways that could prove permanent."--Ann Drysdale

“Corbett shows her technical mastery again and again in this collection. She pulls off a ghazal, blank verse, a sonnet, accentual Anglo-Saxon meters, tricky ballads, and rhyme forms I do not know if she learned or created, including a double abcedarian. She is by turns lofty, goofy, sardonic, mild, idyllic, and keen.”--Judy Swann

“...a stunner. The range of subjects, styles, and forms is astonishing, including some classical and Anglo-Saxon forms one rarely encounters in contemporary poetry, but with no whiff of the antiquarian about them. Whatever one may think of the forms, which are expertly handled, the content is firmly anchored in daily experience, filtered through a mind that is both feeling the emotions of personal involvement and connecting them to art, literature, music, astronomy, history, and everything else.”

Maryann Corbett grew up in McLean, Virginia. She holds a doctorate in English from the University of Minnesota and is the author of Breath Control (David Robert Books, 2012), Credo for the Checkout Line in Winter (Able Muse Press, just out) and the chapbooks Gardening in a Time of War (Pudding House) and Dissonance (Scienter Press). Her writing has appeared in River Styx, Atlanta Review, Rattle e-issues, The Evansville Review, Measure, Literary Imagination, The Dark Horse, Mezzo Cammin, Linebreak, Subtropics, and many other journals in print and online. Her poems have have won the Lyric Memorial Award and the Willis Barnstone Translation Prize. She lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and works for the Minnesota Legislature. She is married to John Corbett, a teacher of statistics and mathematics, and they have two grown children.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Claudia Serea, Angels and Beasts

ANGELS & BEASTS by Claudia Serea
102 pages; $13.95. September 2012. Paper.

In this largely autobiographical collection of 74 short prose poems, the poet presents her life in three sections. “Angels & Beasts” recalls her early years under the regime of Nicolae Ceasescu, a world of secret terror in which the child interweaves reality and malevolent creatures from Romanian folklore. “The Little Book of Answers” covers the years between the Romanian Revolution (1989) and Serea’s emigration to America in 1995. Finally, “The Bank Teller’s Name is Jesus” involves the immigrant’s impressions of her new home, always colored by the past she carries with her. Serea’s masterful use of brevity, surrealism, irony, and black humor allow her to express — and the reader to
confront — unspeakable horrors. She is a survivor, but a survivor with wide-open
eyes, determined to move forward holding the darkness and light together.


Serea’s Angels & Beasts manages to perfectly blend quirky surrealism with expert minimalist craft: her sentences are woven with a stunning attention to detail, seemingly stitched with the same blood, fruit and tears that she writes about. When she writes, “The pears were small red tears we weren’t allowed to eat,” the reader cannot help but to feel as if she devoured something forbidden. The body is on high when reading Serea.
—Lisa Marie Basile, MFA, author of Andalucia and A Decent Voodoo, and editor of Patasola Press, The Poetry Society of New York

These prose poems are as sharp as the shrapnel from a nail bomb. They leave you shaken and bloodied and awed that anything so small can be so powerful.
—Howie Good, Ph.D., professor of journalism at SUNY New Paltz, author of Dreaming in Red (Right Hand Pointing, 2012)

There is so much to admire in these firecrackers from Claudia Serea: the simple elegance of her language, the deep mythos of her vision, the sheer architecture of each narrative, and—most dear to this reader—the startling brilliance of her endings, which teach us to leap from the ruts of our own expectations and see our world anew.
—Jeff McMahon, editor of Contrary Magazine, Lecturer, Master of Arts Program in the Humanities, Committee on Creative Writing, The University of Chicago

Claudia is heir to horrors, and she whispers her inheritance to children, who run delighted through sunlit fields. Read her poems and become those children.
—Don Zirilli, editor of Now Culture

Claudia Serea is a Romanian-born poet who immigrated to the U.S. in 1995. She is the author of two other full-length poetry collections, To Part Is to Die a Little, Cervená Barva Press, and A Dirt Road Hangs from the Sky, 8th House Publishing, Canada, and
two chapbooks, and her poems and translations have appeared in many journals. Together with Paul Doru Mugur and Adam J. Sorkin, she co-edited and co-translated The Vanishing Point That Whistles, an Anthology of Contemporary Romanian Poetry (Talisman Publishing, 2011). Ms. Serea lives in New Jersey and works in New York for a major publishing company. A rising star in the world of contemporary surrealist poetry,
she received two Pushcart nominations in 2011.


Some angels walk among us looking just like regular people. Sometimes they even play football, like this guy with a sweaty t-shirt. He takes a long drink of water and looks at me knowingly. When he pulls his shirt overhead, I can see the scars where the wings fasten. I bet he has them neatly folded in the duffle bag he carries after the game.

The chicken bones

Some people could roll over three times and turn into dogs. There were a lot of stray dogs around. They traveled in packs, following us on the sides of the road. Mother always threw them some chicken bones, which bought us just enough time to escape.
There was no escape. Soon, we were the chicken bones that another family on our street threw at the dogs. They, too, were trying to buy time to escape but stumbled, fell, and accidentally rolled over three times, turning into chicken bones that someone else threw at the dogs. That went on for a while, and is still going on today.

Her back is turned. The head kerchief covers her hair as if she should be ashamed she has any. She keeps stirring the pot  on the stove, but I know only chicken feet float in that soup.  The dust in the room is a thousand years old and keeps rising to her ankles, to her knees.

White as milk, the stag carries the souls of dead children. He drinks the tears from their mothers’ eyes and grazes on thin memory grasses. He stops at the abandoned house to rummage through the rubble, looking for small clothes. The children’s souls are nestled in silk swings hooked on the stag’s antlers. He carries them gently over treetops and roofs, and into the moon.


Gaia’s wings could turn the day into night. Circling the sky, it followed Grandma everywhere as angels follow people. When time came, Grandma saw Gaia waiting outside the window. She tried to warn me, but her voice was garbled. In an instant,
Gaia was inside the room. It swooped down, grabbed Grandma’s breath and flew off, leaving behind a whirlpool of red petals.

I send you transparent love letters that barn swallows sow in the sky  when I miss you.
The swallows are great mail carriers: they fly fast and low, preserving the letters’ sentiments. Sometimes their job makes them late for school, and they get punished: they have to sit
for hours on a wire and sing in unison.

Dearest little one,

a hummingflower flies from bird to bird,
sipping sweet songs from their throats.

Taste me later rather than sooner, sings the bone in the stew.
Suck my marrow for a taste of spring grass. By tomorrow, I’ll hum,
and fire will bring out the choir.
Dip a wooden spoon inside me, answers the stew.
I have the fragrance of roots and of the life of the lamb. Lift me to your lips,
and take it all in.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Dick Jones, a poem from "Ancient Lights"

There is a fine intelligence at play here: the imagery is star-bright and startling in its originality.
Many poets, sadly, go unread, ignored even, but in Dick Jones’ case the exception should be 
the rule:  his writing is essential reading. Miss it not.    -Wes Magee

All Phoenicia Publishing books are on sale
for national poetry month. See the small,
select catalogue here, with links to book pages.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Scott G. F. Bailey's "The Astrologer"

Moses Lake, Washington: Rhemalda Publishing, 2013
Where to buy your very own copy...


Denmark in 1601 braces itself for a hard winter. King Christian IV has moved the royal court from Copenhagen to the remote castle Kronberg, from where he will launch a military campaign to purge Denmark of rebellious factions. What the king doesn’t know is that he’s brought his bitterest enemy with him to Kronberg. Soren Andersmann, the Danish royal astrologer, has smuggled a trunk full of poisons, daggers, and a venomous snake into the castle. Though Soren knows nothing of the assassin's trade, he has sworn to be the instrument of justice. The king has murdered Soren's mentor and spiritual father, Tycho Brahe, the most famous astronomer the world has seen. Soren will have his revenge.

Inhabited by the spirit of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” while set in historical Europe at the threshold of the Renaissance, The Astrologer is at once a tale of vengeance and an exploration of the unfinished battle between deeply-held tradition and newfound ideas of progress. The man of science and philosophy must choose between conflicting loyalties to science, to family, to God, and to Denmark.
Visit Scott's web page for the book here.

Praise for a debut

The Astrologer is a marvelous story of fierce revenge and murder as staggering as the constellations above. I simply couldn't look away. A vivid debut!
--Michelle Davidson Argyle, author of The Breakaway and Monarch

It's elegant, it's sly, it's funny as all hell, and the unreliable narrator is both heroic and heartbreaking; a poignant embodiment of the Enlightenment fairytales our society likes to tell itself.
--Tara Maya, author of The Unfinished Song and Conmergence

A philosophic stunner that evokes the wintry islands of Beowulf and the castles of Hamlet. Set in the predawn of the Enlightenment, Bailey's stargazing protagonist struggles against the dark forces that forever keep us ignorant. Haunting, expansive, poetic, and it has sword fights.
--Layne Maheu, author of Song of the Crow

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Melanie McCabe, History of the Body

WordTech Communications, 2012

In her stunning first book History of the Body, Melanie McCabe explores the shared, often uneasy narratives of house and body. Brilliant admixtures of imaginative wildness and lyric control, her poems seem an inevitable part of the “industry of the heart and lungs”—and the collection as a whole, beautifully sequenced...”
--Claudia Emerson, author of Late Wife and Secure the Shadow

Melanie McCabe
Formally exquisite, the lucid poems in Melanie McCabe’s History of the Body remind us that everything we know is embodied—language, memory, pleasure, loss. This debut will delight the reader with the poise of its intellect and the supple playfulness of its imagination.—Eric Pankey, author of The Pear As One Example and Cenotaph

The poems are dazzling and they are shadowed with grief.  They are achingly human and, at moments, witty…Sensuous, sensual, and reflective, this book (a poetic page-turner!) tells the living history of a body—a female body—inhabited by a fierce, fiery mind. --Jennifer Atkinson, author of Drift Ice and The Drowned City

McCabe conjures the lush world of suburban adolescence, and leads us, with her unflinching eye, through the bloom and ache of desire, and the inevitable loss that shadows any kind of want. These astonishing poems smolder, glitter, then blaze. --Erika Meitner, author of Ideal Cities and Makeshift Instructions for Vigilant Girls

 * * *

The poems in this debut volume are focused in some way on the idea of the body—as it is inhabited in childhood, in adolescence, and into middle age-- and as the means through which we experience desire, love, children of our own, and growing older.

In the book’s title poem, that relationship of one’s self to the body it inhabits is explored as it changes over the course of a lifetime.  In childhood,

            “...there was no body separate
            from the self.  It was simply the border, the quick sketch,
            the outline that made us visible.” 

In adolescence and adulthood, however, that lack of self-consciousness is lost, and the body becomes “an accessory.  And later still,/ a blemish to conceal.”

Another poem, “Paperboy,” describes an adolescent girl’s first experience of her body as she moves beyond childhood:

            “…I dawdled along the yard’s perimeter, knowing longing
            without knowing what I longed for.  The voice

            that rose in him was bass – my own voice,
            vibrato.  I was reedy – a flute.  A straw.  Desire

            outstripped my body…”

Although not purely autobiographical, many of the poems in the book deal with powerful and life-altering events: the loss of love; a mother’s relationship with her daughters; a struggle with illness; the impending death of a loved one.

In “Invention,” the speaker struggles with the difficulty of disengaging from a relationship, of learning how to begin to see the lover, not as the fantasy she created for herself, but in a more realistic way:

            “It is so much harder to disassemble you.

            A fool, I tinkered and nailed without
            instruction or blueprint, let construction
            happen in this one small space, and now
            there is no window or door to shove you
            through.  You and I within this place
            take up more room than the air…”

The poem “Exile” offers a poignant look at the body and mind of the speaker’s mother as it begins to fail her near the end of her life:

            “Her bones still hold her and so she lives in them, but my mother
            misses the old world, meridian, noon’s hot rum to loosen her limbs,
            her tongue.  She cannot carry the sharp sounds of this place

            in her head long enough to say them.  One day does not tether
            to another, and stories gallop off without their bridles.  The ground
            is dangerous with fruit and so she gives up walking…”

Though the subject matter here is often loss, even heartbreak, the poems at times have an element of humor to them and are balanced by a kind of wry observation of the world. There are references to all kinds of popular culture from the ‘60s and ‘70s.  In “These Songs,” the reader encounters Gladys Knight & the Pips, the Supremes, and Martha and the Vandellas; in “Beneath the Code,” Gilligan’s Island, Rob and Laura Petrie, and I Dream of Jeannie all make an appearance.

To read some of the poems in their entirety, please click below:
To purchase the book on Amazon, please click here.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Lady Word of Mouth in retreat

Lady Word of Mouth is taking a break for Good Friday and Easter, so she leaves you with a poem appropriate to the season by a friend with a new book--more about that one later. She will be back next week with more new books. Here's "Stained Glass" by Dick Jones, already shared on facebook and twitter, but no doubt new to some:

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Tiffany Trent, The Unnaturalists


"Fast-paced, heart-wrenching, magical and fascinating." (Tamora Pierce, author of The Song of the Lioness quartet )

"Utterly ingenious! Tiffany Trent has more fine invention at her fingertips than a roomful of magical Leonardos!" (Ellen Kushner, World Fantasy Award-winning author )

“By St. Darwin and his Great Apes, The Unnaturalists is unnaturally good! Few authors can mix science and fantasy the way Tiffany can; her science-worshiping New London is perfectly original and perfectly realized, and Vespa Nyx is a heroine to cheer for. So much steampunk is just more of the same; The Unnaturalists is captivatingly different.” (Ysabeau Wilce, Andre Norton Award-winning author of Flora’s Dare)

"Thrilling, intricate and magical, The Unnaturalists is a formidable entry into the steampunk genre. Vespa Nyx is a spunky heroine we can all root for, and Tiffany Trent's worldbuilding skills are unmatched. This book will delight anyone who loves magic, gadgets and brilliantly drawn settings. I highly recommend it." (Caitlin Kittredge, author of The Iron Thorn )

"Thoroughly magical...leaves readers wanting more." (Kirkus Reviews)

"Science, magic, myth, and alternate history all work together to create an intriguing alternate world with more depth than many books in the genre. This is a world worth visiting." (Publishers Weekly

"An entertaining mix of steampunk and fantasy." (School Library Journal)

Book description: 

In an alternate London where magical creatures are preserved in a museum, two teens find themselves caught in a web of intrigue, deception, and danger.

Vespa Nyx wants nothing more than to spend the rest of her life cataloging Unnatural creatures in her father’s museum, but as she gets older, the requirement to become a lady and find a husband is looming large. Syrus Reed’s Tinker family has always served and revered the Unnaturals from afar, but when his family is captured to be refinery slaves, he finds that his fate may be bound up with Vespa’s—and with the Unnaturals.

As the danger grows, Vespa and Syrus find themselves in a tightening web of deception and intrigue. At stake may be the fate of New London—and the world.

Tiffany Trent Bio:

Tiffany Trent is the author of The Unnaturalists, a young adult steampunk fantasy which won the 2012 Green Earth Book Award Honor. She is also the author of the Hallowmere series and the recipient of a Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators Work-in-Progress Grant. Her short stories have appeared in Magic in the Mirrorstone, Corsets and Clockwork, Willful Impropriety and Subterranean magazine. She is the co-editor of Breaking Waves: A Charity Anthology for Gulf Coast Oil Spill Relief. When not writing or editing, she’s either contemplating pie, out playing with bees, or wrestling with the jungle of her garden. She lives and writes in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia with her husband and a passel of critters. Visit her at tiffanytrent.com.