The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: My Tarantella by Jennifer Martelli


This selection, chosen by Managing Editor Krista Cox, is from My Tarantella by Jennifer Martelli, released by Bordighera Press in 2018.

Artichoke Heart

And another of my mother’s lies was the prize
dug from the heart of the artichoke.

And the heart of the artichoke was a dilated cervix.
And the dilated cervix was a single choke-fringed eye.

The eye was the stigma
of the plant protected by thorny leaves and stamen.

I scraped the meaty pith
at the torn-off tips with my milk teeth.

She told me to dip the meat of the leaves in butter: warm, silken.
She said eat all the way to the inside: there was a prize.

But it was soft, the heart, and I imagined
a small plastic baby doll, tiny as my own girl thumb

lying unclothed
on the blue-green velvet.


Jennifer Martelli (she, her, hers) is the author of My Tarantella (Bordighera Press), awarded an Honorable Mention from the Italian-American Studies Association, selected as a 2019 “Must Read” by the Massachusetts Center for the Book, and named as a finalist for the Housatonic Book Award. She is also the author of After Bird, winner of the Grey Book Press open reading, 2016, In the Year of Ferraro (Nixes Mate Press, 2020) and The Queen of Queens, forthcoming in 2022 from Bordighera Press. Her work will appear or has appeared in The Tahoma Literary Review, Thrush, Cream City Review, Verse Daily, Iron Horse Review (winner, Photo Finish contest), and Poetry. Jennifer Martelli has twice received grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council for her poetry. She is co-poetry editor for Mom Egg Review.

Doubleback Review is Seeking Short-Form Previously Published Works

Doubleback Review is currently seeking submissions for issue 3:2! We are a part of Doubleback Press, a small press specializing in republishing creative works that were originally published by now-defunct journals and presses. Doubleback Review has also had a special edition for conscientiously withdrawn pieces—works that were withdrawn from journals because of harmful behavior from an editor. We are a home for your retired darlings, and we are also committed to uplifting the voices of marginalized creators.

We are open for submissions year-round and accept poetry, short stories, artwork, and more short-form work. Poets should send up to five poems and prose writers should send up to 4,000 words total—one story or essay, or up to three shorter flash pieces—in one document (Word preferred). Please begin each piece on a separate page. Include your name and email address at the top of each page. Below each piece, specify where it was previously published.

Artists may send one high-resolution image in .JPG, .JPEG, .PNG, or .PDF format, up to 25 MB in size. Please include an artist statement and specify where the piece was previously published in the cover letter field.

Our full submission guidelines can be found here.

Doubleback Books’ 2021 Open Reading Period for Previously Published Poetry and Prose Books

Doubleback Books, an imprint of Sundress Publications, is open for submissions for previously published poetry and prose books. All eligible previously published authors are welcome to submit their manuscripts during our reading period from July 1st-31st, 2021.

If you are the author of a book that has gone out of print since 2000, we want to read it. Authors of works that have gone out of print due to the closure of the original press may submit full-length or short books, including novels, novellas, chapbooks, short story collections, poetry collections, essay collections, and memoirs. Editors may also submit out of print manuscripts their presses published before closing.

Submit your manuscript(s) in a .PDF or .DOC format to doubleback@sundresspublications.com and include the name of the manuscript’s original publisher, the name and contact information of the publisher’s former editor-in-chief (if available), and a brief cover letter in the body of the email telling us about your work and yourself, noting the genre of the manuscript.

Accepted manuscripts will be turned into free downloadable e-books available. We do not republish translated work or previously self-published work. You can read our previously published titles here.

2021 Prose Open Reading Period Selections Announced

Sundress Publications is thrilled to announce the results of the 2021 prose open reading period. The winning selection is Margo Berdeshevsky’s Kneel Said the Night (a hybrid book in half notes).

Margo Berdeshevsky, born in New York City, often lives and writes in Paris. Her latest poetry collection, Before The Drought, is from Glass Lyre Press. A new poetry collection, It Is Still Beautiful To Hear The Heart Beat, is forthcoming from Salmon Poetry. Berdeshevsky is the author of Between Soul & Stone and But a Passage in Wilderness (Sheep Meadow Press). Her book of illustrated stories, Beautiful Soon Enough, received the first Ronald Sukenick Innovative Fiction Award for Fiction Collective Two. She received the Robert H. Winner Award from the Poetry Society of America. Her works appear in Poetry International, New Letters, Kenyon Review, and many others. Her “Letters from Paris” have appeared in Poetry International online. 

Runners-Up

Christine Stewart-Nunez, Chrysopoeia: Essays of Language, Love, and Place
Xuan Nguyen, The Fairies Sing Each to Each: A Libretto

Finalists

Josh Denslow, Magic Can’t Save Us: 15 Tales Of Likely Failure
Andrew Gretes, Please Don’t Feed The Philosophers: Stories
Leslie Jenike, Hide Fox And All After: Essays
Frances Park, Ahn Love: A Novella
Juan Carlos Reyes, Three-Alarm Fire: Fictions
Darci Dawn Schummer, The Ballad Of Two Sisters

Semi-Finalists

Elizabeth Bruce, Universally Adored And Other One Dollar Stories
Holly Burdorff, Legal American Tender
Heidi Czerwiec, Scents & Sensibility
Michael Czyzniejewski, Having A Catch At The End Of The World: Dad Stories
Nathan Gehoski, Horsemen
Leah Griesmann, Stripped
Daniela Molnar, Chorus

Sundress Reads: Review of The Pelton Papers

In her 2020 novel The Pelton Papers (She Writes Press), Mari Coates portrays the life of 20th-century modernist artist Agnes Pelton in a multifaceted rainbow of color, reaching into the recesses of Pelton’s personality and career to portray a woman who rose above all odds to obtain a legacy that lasted beyond her 79 years. Told from the first-person point-of-view of the protagonist, Coates lingers in languish on the page as she painstakingly outlines the process by which some of Pelton’s most historic paintings came into being, etching each moment of discovery the artist experienced as it must have unfolded in Pelton’s real life.

The depth and span of the novel begins in 1888 and ends in 1961, positioning Pelton in the historical framework in which she lived and worked. While describing her early childhood, Pelton is first introduced to drawing as a way to cope with her father’s loss: “I must have been fourteen when I started telling everyone who would listen, I was going to be an artist. I spent every possible moment of the day drawing pictures, often furtively when I should have been doing my lessons.” This succinct statement encapsulates the artist’s career: surrounding herself often with nature, alone, yet always within comfortable reach of friends who shared similar passions and experiences. Coates does not shy away from expressing Pelton’s sexuality as an obstacle in the early 20th century (“Shocked, I realized that my friend had become my beloved. I would never tell her, but I would find a way to contain happiness, grief, exhaustion, and despair”), but ensures that a full portrait of her struggles and eventual happiness is shown. The artist’s life was a full and complete one, and Coates uses dialogue and setting to bring the novel to life in a way that allows Pelton to become a fully realized character on the page. Perhaps one of the most notable experiences in reading this book is learning, through Pelton’s narration, what it must have been like to attend a salon in the 20th century: “from what I could tell, [salons] were calculated gatherings of the most unlikely groups of people: newly arrived immigrants, Communists, socialists, artists, writers, and the leading likes of New York society, all packed into an elegant parlor…as evenings designed to provoke, inspire, and even outrage, the salons were unqualified successes.”

Throughout the book, Coates uses vivid language to describe Pelton’s art and influence in the art world, and the picture of this mysterious woman begins to gain clarity through the author’s account of her life. By the end, as she goes through her past, the reader gains the sense that Agnes Lawrence Pelton’s acclaim would far outlive the artist herself.

The Pelton Papers is available at She Writes Press


Nikki Lyssy (@blindnikkii) is an MFA candidate studying creative nonfiction at the University of South Florida. Her essays have appeared in Hobart, Sweet, and Essay Daily. When she is not working, she can be found in a coffee shop.

Interview with Sunni Brown Wilkinson, Author of The Ache and the Wing

For the release of award-winning poet Sunni Brown Wilkinson’s chapbook The Ache and the Wing, Editorial Intern Nikki Lyssy sat with Wilkinson to discuss the relationship between hope and loss, the many different selves we live, and honoring grief through remembrance.

Nikki Lyssy: What was your conception of the title for this collection?

Sunni Brown Wilkinson: As I gathered the poems together to see if there was any kind of coherence, I noticed how many poems were about loss and how many included birds. I was actually surprised by both and thought maybe they go together somehow. I do think all life grieves in some way and all life experiences joy, and the title grew from that. And I realized this collection not only showcases this phase of my life (mother, wife, middle-aged, grounded but still a little lost) but it also mirrors general life experiences: loss, letting go, reflections on the self, curiosity about the world, wonder.

NL: How does the speaker conceive of the relationship between birds and body in the opening and closing poems?

SBW: In the opening poem (“Rodeo”), something in the speaker is broken. I don’t say what outright, but it becomes apparent in the poems directly following: we had just lost our youngest son. I did feel like my body was literally broken. I was recovering from my fourth C-section, I was 40, and the baby we had anxiously been awaiting was stillborn. I’d never known how physically crippling grief could be, and I barely had the strength to get through each day. And in that opening poem, there actually aren’t any birds, just a hummingbird hawk moth, which looks like the tiniest bird but is in fact an insect. So in that first poem, I would say there’s just heaviness and struggle, no wingspan, very little to lift the body toward lightness.

By the end of the book, in the final poem (“After Ravel’s Daphnis and Chloe…”), there’s a clear admission that our bodies will continue to be broken in this life, but there’s also a reaching toward joy and, more specifically, immortality and a place of wholeness. The birds in that poem could represent that lightness and joy of the body, but the final image suggests that maybe the birds are also whatever breaks us down in this life, whatever tears through us to get to that inner being. Like the seed glimmering at the end of the poem, we are simplified and small. Our bodies are weak and “wingless,” but something in us is still bright and full of expectation. I guess this is also a full admission that I do believe in a life after this one. My first collection also leans heavily on that belief.

NL: How do the themes of the collection speak to each other in each poem?

SBW: I’m still teasing this out, and I’m still seeing the poems in different ways with each reading, but my hope is that each poem strikes a slightly different chord about loss and hope, the body, and even what it means to be a man or a woman in this world. Two poems in this collection are specifically about the experience of living in a man’s body. “The Difficult, Liquid Art” and “In the Voice of My Husband’s Grandfather” both celebrate the struggles of being a man, maybe even suggest the weight of patriarchy, the vulnerability and exquisite beauty of men. Even “Don’t Feed the Coyotes” includes a man on a Harley Davidson (the ultimate symbol of machismo, right?) who patently ignores the signs to not feed the coyotes and instead mercifully throws them raw hot dogs. Having grown up with three brothers (no sisters) and now having three sons (no daughters), I feel like I’ve observed men for a good part of my life, and I find them fascinating. The men I know and love are the most surprising, tender, generous people. And that’s just one thread in this collection. My hope is that, in each poem, the reader feels a deepened appreciation for both the struggles and joys of living. These poems were sheer catharsis for me. They propelled me back into a love of being alive.

NL: There are poems that read like mirror images: the structure of “Ghost” and “They Call it Weeping”, or “Rodeo” and “The Woman who Became a House.” In what ways are the structures in each poem in conversation with the themes you are presenting on the page?

SBW: “Ghost” surprised me because I don’t typically write prose poems, or, at least, poems that appear more like prose, but as I was writing it, I knew it had to be compact and read more like vignettes that are slowly braided together, as if someone were telling you a few bits of story and then by the end of the conversation you realize all of the pieces create one larger story. I love braided essays, and I try to do something similar in my poems. And in “They Call it Weeping,” I realized that there were several images that reflected weeping that, when brought together, also created a larger story about how the body processes and moves forward from grief. I’d never considered how, even if a woman loses her baby, her body still produces milk. Or just how much water is in a newborn’s body. It occurred to me that our bodies weep in ways we cannot control, and that weeping allows the body to let go. And the sections in those poems allow the reader (and the speaker) to slow down and inhabit each moment, maybe even to honor it, before moving on. That’s also what grief is, an honoring.

NL: In “The Woman Who Became a House”, the metaphor lingers below the surface in a very different way than in any other poem in the collection. How did this metaphor of grief and pain find its form for this book?

SBW: I was thinking one day of just how vast each of us are, all of the rooms we’ve lived in in our selves, the different people we’ve been in our lifetimes, and it occurred to me that it was as if we are each a great house and all of the rooms hold something different, with a different purpose. I also once described the feeling of my grief as “brick-heavy,” as if my whole body was made of bricks. The two kind of merged and I wrote this poem to describe what it felt like at that point in my life. And on top of all of that, I remembered a story my mother once told me of my grandmother hiding sometimes in the boiler room and crying because she was so overwhelmed with life. And I was thinking too of the way women are often seen as something to inhabit or own, certainly in ways men are not. All of those came together to meditate on how women are like these houses that are filled with fascinating things and are complex and crumbling and haunted with weeping and singing.

NL: Is there a dichotomy between the ache section and the wing section of the collection as a whole?

SBW: I think so. When I was originally organizing the book, I had the poem “When It Comes” as the final poem, as a kind of “what to do when the hard stuff comes” wrap-up to the book. But my very wise friend Natalie Taylor suggested I put that poem at the end of the poems directly related to grief and then allow all of the bird poems to kind of sing at the end of the book. She thought that would help the reader “journey” through grief and into hope more clearly. It felt right. And I remembered something Ada Limon said when she visited our university a few years ago. She said that when she read a poetry manuscript, she looked for a narrative arc. I’m still teasing out what that means exactly, but I think that it suggests some nod to the age-old, even biblical, story of a fall and redemption. The ache section dissects grief and the complexities of loss while the wing section moves toward a deeper reverence for life and a belief in its ultimate timelessness.

NL: How is the speaker at the beginning of the collection in conversation with the speaker at the end of the collection?

SBW: That’s a terrific question! The speaker in the opening poem is working towards saying that hard, awful truth: “Sometimes you hold your own hand./ That’s all there is to take.” That poem isn’t all sad—some of it is funny, I hope—but it admits right away that life is hard and that some days it feels like there isn’t much to cling to. By the end of the book, however, the speaker isn’t holding her own hand anymore. She’s holding what feels like a kind of wisdom, an acceptance of what is difficult but also family, memories, wonders in the natural world, and an appreciation for simply being alive. The final image of that last poem is of the speaker being a seed the birds of the morning have uncovered. It’s exposing and kind of scary, but it’s a hope for a deeper existence where even loss is transformed into joy.

Download your copy of The Ache and the Wing for free here!


Sunni Brown Wilkinson‘s poetry can be found in Western Humanities ReviewSugar House ReviewHayden’s Ferry ReviewSWWIMCrab Orchard Review and other journals and anthologies. She is the author of The Marriage of the Moon and the Field (Black Lawrence Press 2019, finalist for the Hudson Prize) and The Ache and the Wing (winner of Sundress’s 2020 Chapbook Prize). She also won New Ohio Review’s NORward Poetry Prize and the 2020 Joy Harjo Prize from Cutthroat: A Journal of the Arts. She teaches at Weber State University and lives in northern Utah with her husband and three sons.

Nikki Lyssy (@blindnikkii) is an MFA candidate studying creative nonfiction at the University of South Florida. Her essays have appeared in Hobart, Sweet, and Essay Daily. When she is not working, she can be found in a coffee shop.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: My Tarantella by Jennifer Martelli


This selection, chosen by Managing Editor Krista Cox, is from My Tarantella by Jennifer Martelli, released by Bordighera Press in 2018.

In the North End

Boston loomed, lit: a wasp’s nest ignited and inhaled. My friend’s
lungs stopped for five sweet panic-seconds. Two millennia ago,
Sappho said in some future time someone will think of you. I said count.
In nineteen-nineteen, the brick streets in the North End flooded
with a million gallons of thick blackstrap molasses. My friend’s big
red heart beat: four valves vibrating, a mandolin tremolo. Count. The
asters. The Pleiades.


Jennifer Martelli (she, her, hers) is the author of My Tarantella (Bordighera Press), awarded an Honorable Mention from the Italian-American Studies Association, selected as a 2019 “Must Read” by the Massachusetts Center for the Book, and named as a finalist for the Housatonic Book Award. She is also the author of After Bird, winner of the Grey Book Press open reading, 2016, In the Year of Ferraro (Nixes Mate Press, 2020) and The Queen of Queens, forthcoming in 2022 from Bordighera Press. Her work will appear or has appeared in The Tahoma Literary Review, Thrush, Cream City Review, Verse Daily, Iron Horse Review (winner, Photo Finish contest), and Poetry. Jennifer Martelli has twice received grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council for her poetry. She is co-poetry editor for Mom Egg Review.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: My Tarantella by Jennifer Martelli


This selection, chosen by Managing Editor Krista Cox, is from My Tarantella by Jennifer Martelli, released by Bordighera Press in 2018.

A God Lives in the Amygdala

I heard Amy Winehouse today, jacked up fast & techno, for my heart.
The leaves fell the way Rilke saw them fall: all motioning no, no, no.

I heard the brown bats that roost under the bridge over the lead mills.
And the cats crying in heat with the warn & want of a baby.

I live in a jewel-toned neighborhood. One day, as I strolled past the
                quietest house,
a small forest of Queen of Night tulips
blossomed into a whole night sky.

Next day, each Queen’s stamen weakened, let loose & wept.

Do you know that nothing outside of our mouths will save us?
A god lives in the amygdala, but he is weak, too, asleep under the new
                moon.
Did you see an angel’s viscera across the sky?

Back when I was young and always broken hearted, I, too, fell into a
                fever and drank
vodka chilled next to fat halved lemons in the bowl.


Jennifer Martelli (she, her, hers) is the author of My Tarantella (Bordighera Press), awarded an Honorable Mention from the Italian-American Studies Association, selected as a 2019 “Must Read” by the Massachusetts Center for the Book, and named as a finalist for the Housatonic Book Award. She is also the author of After Bird, winner of the Grey Book Press open reading, 2016, In the Year of Ferraro (Nixes Mate Press, 2020) and The Queen of Queens, forthcoming in 2022 from Bordighera Press. Her work will appear or has appeared in The Tahoma Literary Review, Thrush, Cream City Review, Verse Daily, Iron Horse Review (winner, Photo Finish contest), and Poetry. Jennifer Martelli has twice received grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council for her poetry. She is co-poetry editor for Mom Egg Review.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Drowning in the Floating World by Meg Eden


This selection, chosen by Guest Curator Erika Eckart, is from Drowning in the Floating World by Meg Eden, released by Press 53 in 2020.

Animal Man

for Naoto Matsumura

I know what it feels like to be Adam:
to be the only man in a town
of animals, left to name them:

Miracle the Dog, Boss the Ostrich—
If the animals could name me,
what would I be called?

God said to Adam that man
is not meant to be alone,
but I find fellowship from the dogs

and pigs I free onto the streets.
They go in and out of houses,
wearing whatever falls on them.

Some days, they come out in old noren
partitions, suit jackets, schoolgirl dresses.
From a distance, I mistake them

for my missing neighbors:
Mr. Takei the burial man,
Mrs. Yamada at the onsen.

Only once they roll around in a muddy field
do my neighbors disappear,
replaced by animals.


Meg Eden is a 2020 Pitch Wars mentee, and winner of the 2021 Towson Prize for Literature. Her work is published or forthcoming in magazines including Prairie Schooner, Poetry Northwest, Crab Orchard Review, RHINO and CV2. She teaches creative writing at Anne Arundel Community College. She is the author of five poetry chapbooks, the novel Post-High School Reality Quest (2017), and the poetry collection Drowning in the Floating World (2020)

Erika Eckart is the author of the tyranny of heirlooms, a chapbook of interconnected prose poems (Sundress Publications, 2018). Her writing has appeared in Double Room, Agni, Quarter After Eight, Quick Fiction, Nano Fiction, Quiditty, and elsewhere. She is a High School English Teacher in Oak Park, IL where she lives with her husband and two children.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Drowning in the Floating World by Meg Eden


This selection, chosen by Guest Curator Erika Eckart, is from Drowning in the Floating World by Meg Eden, released by Press 53 in 2020.

Looking at an Abandoned Russian Theme Park in Niigata, Japan

oh God of open windows,
God of new ruins,
God of all things green,
God of nine-year-old
festering dog food.
God of Russian peasant
dancer women, God of many
phones, God of outdated
computers, God of molded
woolly mammoth models,
God of broken matryoshka dolls,
who even feeds the sparrow.


Meg Eden is a 2020 Pitch Wars mentee, and winner of the 2021 Towson Prize for Literature. Her work is published or forthcoming in magazines including Prairie Schooner, Poetry Northwest, Crab Orchard Review, RHINO and CV2. She teaches creative writing at Anne Arundel Community College. She is the author of five poetry chapbooks, the novel Post-High School Reality Quest (2017), and the poetry collection Drowning in the Floating World (2020)

Erika Eckart is the author of the tyranny of heirlooms, a chapbook of interconnected prose poems (Sundress Publications, 2018). Her writing has appeared in Double Room, Agni, Quarter After Eight, Quick Fiction, Nano Fiction, Quiditty, and elsewhere. She is a High School English Teacher in Oak Park, IL where she lives with her husband and two children.