Lyric Essentials: Nishat Ahmed Reads Ocean Vuong

Welcome back to Lyric Essentials! This week, Nishat Ahmed reads work from Ocean Vuong and discusses immigrant identity, the connection between songwriting and writing poetry, and how it feels to come of age as a poet as part of the mid 00’s Tumblr scene.


Erica Hoffmeister: Why did you choose Ocean Vuong’s work to read for Lyric Essentials?

Nishat Ahmed: I’ll be honest and say that my tango with poetry wasn’t very book-based until I got into grad school. In fact, I came up in the slam/spoken word scene so a lot of the poets and poetry I loved was consumed and heard in person or via videos. A good chunk of what really got me writing and thinking of poems was also the Tumblr poetry scene in the 2010’s. I’m sure a lot of folks cringe at that slightly but I’ve come to realize that posting all my unedited drafts into the void of Tumblr trained me quite well for the slog of workshop life. All this to say that Ocean Vuong’s Night Sky with Exit Wounds was the first full collection of poetry I ever read, and it struck me so greatly because I got to sit with a poet through a whole journey, not just a few snippets. I really think it’s one thing to sit with a poet for a few poems and another to sit with them through pages and pages of their work. I imagine it’s the difference between a ten minute chat with the person waiting behind you in line versus getting to know your seatmate on an ocean-crossing flight. Beyond Vuong’s work opening my eyes to the world of the page in a new way, I think it’s also safe to say no one comes back the same after reading this collection. Of course all poetry is daring, but there is a kind of edge the Vuong brings to the page that makes you lean in that extra little bit while you’re reading his work.

Nishat Ahmed reads “Someday I’ll Love Ocean Vuong” by Ocean Vuong

EH: Do you have any personal connection to the collection that you selected poems to read from, Night Sky with Exit Wounds?

NA: I think there are two real connections and the first is that despite some of the horrors and traumas occurring in Night Sky, these are poems about love—the absence of it, the glory of it, the pining for it, etc. etc.—and to me that’s the ultimate force in the universe. A lot of the work I write (and enjoy) is dark and hurting but at the core of it, it stems from a desire to explore and glorify devotion.

The second comes directly from his poem “Notebook Fragments” where he writes:

“An American soldier fucked a Vietnamese farmgirl. Thus my mother exists. Thus I exist. Thus no bombs = no family = no me.”

While the history of my lineage isn’t the exact same, my people are of Bangladesh and that country came into existence as a result of deep violences and horrors, but the country was born nonetheless. I think a lot about those lines and how we children of those countries and those people carry that memory of violence and pain in our language, our culture, and our bodies. Without doubt that’s a big part of what draws me to this book again and again, how it faces these truths and the complicated fallout. 

Nishat Ahmed reads “Devotion” by Ocean Vuong

EH: How does the relationship between your identity as a poet and your identity as a musician play into your creative work?

NA: I think they’re just about intertwined! (I do want to note that I only write lyrics and sing in my band, I don’t play any instruments so I wouldn’t call myself a musician, especially so as not to offend talented folks who can indeed play an instrument!)  If it weren’t for Fall Out Boy getting me into writing lyrics when I was younger (shoutout to the GOAT), I don’t think I’d be here today. I’m obsessed with sound, from the sounds of crickets and power lines  to more specifically the way how sound operates in language and in poems. When I’m not writing poems, I’m writing lyrics; sometimes, I double-dip. What’s cool about getting to write songs with my band is that I am always in the practice of learning how my words work with something backing them and without; furthermore, it’s an extra muscle I get to train in terms of rhyme schemes and meter. But at the end of it all, it comes back to how much I love getting to play with sound. Silence freaks me out; I’m not about it!

EH: Lastly, is there anything you are currently working on that you’d like to share with our readers?

NA: Oh gosh, you’re asking a Gemini to share what they’re working on? Don’t threaten me with the best a good time!

As aforementioned, I sing and write the words for indie-rock band, Ocean Glass. You can find us on Facebook at facebook.com/oceanglassband or spin our latest full-length on Spotify (we’re also on Apple Music if that’s your jam).

Every Wednesday night at 7:30PM CST I host a live poetry reading on Instagram called “The Weekly B.O.P” (Bits of Poetry) where I share poems I’m feelin’ that week and I have some amazing guests on there! Caroline Earleywine was actually one of my guests earlier this month! You can follow that account on IG via @theweeklybop for GREAT poetic content and conversation!

If what I said earlier about sound intrigued you or maybe you’re interested in figuring out how to ask better questions in and of your poems, I’m teaching two online classes via The Muse Writers Center. The two classes I’m teaching are called “How to ask Questions in Poems” and “Unlocking Sounds in Poetics.” If you’d like to sign up, you can do so here!Okay last one, I promise! I recently had my debut chapbook, Field Guide for End Days come out and I’m really proud of this book. It’s a book all about the end of the world (how fitting now, right?) in some way, shape, or form and if you’d like to purchase it, I have copies for sale! Best way to reach me is by DMing on Twitter or IG — @thenishfish!


Ocean Vuong is a Vietnamese-American poet, editor, and novelist born in Saigon and raised in Hartford, Connecticut. He is best known for his debut book On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, which was named one of the top ten books of 2019, longlisted for the 2019 National Book Award for Fiction, a finalist for the 2020 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the Carnegie Medal in Fiction, the 2019 Aspen Words Literacy Prize, and won the 2019 New England Book Award for Fiction. Vuong’s debut poetry collection Night Sky With Exit Wounds (2014) won the 2017 T.S. Eliot Prize. Vuong has also been the recipient of the 2014 Ruth Lilly/Sargent Rosenberg fellowship from the Poetry Foundation and a 2016 Whiting Award. He currently lives in the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts and works on faculty in the MFA program at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Further reading:

Join Vuong for a free public lecture presented by the Visiting Arts Program of SAIC on October 5th.
Purchase Vuong’s best selling novel On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous from Penguin Random House.
Read this interview with Vuong in The Guardian.

Nishat Ahmed is a Bangladeshi-American residing in the Midwest. He’s an Illinois native with a deep love for Fall Out Boy, The Notebook and Chipotle. He received his MFA in poetry from Old Dominion University and currently is the Editor in Chief at UrbanMatter. His work has been published by SobotkaWords DanceThe Mochila ReviewInto the VoidThe Academy of American PoetsThe Tampa Review, Passages North and has been performed at TEDxUIUC and AWP. His first chapbook, “Field Guide for End Days” is available now from Finishing Line Press, and his second, “Brown Boy” is forthcoming in fall 2020 from Porkbelly Press.

Further reading:

Purchase Ahmed’s chapbook Field Guide for End Days from Finishing Line Press.
Check out Ahmed’s band Ocean Glass on Twitter.
Read Ahmed’s poem “Superposition” in Passages North.

Erica Hoffmeister is originally from Southern California and earned an MFA in Creative Writing and an MA in English from Chapman University. Currently in Denver, she teaches college writing and is an editor for the Denver-based literary journal South Broadway Ghost Society. She is the author of two poetry collections: Lived in Bars (Stubborn Mule Press, 2019), and the prize-winning chapbook, Roots Grew Wild (Kingdoms in the Wild Press, 2019). A cross-genre writer, she has several works of fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, articles and critical essays published in various outlets. Learn more about her at http://ericahoffmeister.com/

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Sons of Achilles by Nabila Lovelace


This selection comes from the book, Sons of Achilles, available from YesYes Books.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Krista Cox.

Nabila Lovelace is a born and raised Queens native, as well as a first generation American. Her parents hail from Trinidad and Tobago and Nigeria. She currently resides in Tuscaloosa, AL. Her first collection, Sons of Achilles, released from YesYes Books in 2018. Nabila is a 2016 Poetry Witch Magazine Summer Solstice Bop Contest finalist, a 2016 Vinyl 45 Chapbook Contest finalist, 2015 Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop fellow, finalist for the Emerge-Be-Surface fellowship 2014, and a winner of the 2013 Poets & Writers Amy Award. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Narrative Northeast, Washington Square Review, Day One, Winter Tangerine: Hands Up Don’t Shoot, ESPN, & Vinyl. She is co-founder of The Conversation Literary Festival. Her editorial work includes screening for Callaloo Journal, assistant poetry editor at Black Warrior Review, & co-poetry editor for The Offing. twitter handle: @nabilas_here

Krista Cox’s an intersectional feminist and anti-racist activist, and acts as chair of the Leadership Council of the Feminist Humanist Alliance, a social justice adjunct organization of the American Humanist Association

Krista’s poetry appears in many fine journals, and she’s presently seeking a publisher for her chapbook How to Kiss a Monster. She’s the Managing Editor of Doubleback Review, a fledgling online journal that features work previously published at now-defunct journals, and an Associate Poetry Editor at Stirring: A Literary Collection, the longest continuously-publishing online journal on the web. In 2016, Krista founded Lit Literary Collective, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that hosts affordable, accessible writing retreats and otherwise serves her local writing community. Krista received an honors BA in English from Indiana University South Bend. Sometimes she draws fat unicorns and paints cute animals.

For the last 17 years, Krista has been a paralegal and legal assistant at a law firm specializing in environmental and insurance coverage law. She claims a 18 year-old bass player and 12 year-old anime cosplay aficionado as her kin and an [age redacted] Excel wizard as her partner. Their home is run by a mini schnauzer and three personality-diverse cats.sta-cox-86a11213’s profile on LinkedIn

 

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Sons of Achilles by Nabila Lovelace


This selection comes from the book, Sons of Achilles, available from YesYes Books.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Krista Cox.

Nabila Lovelace is a born and raised Queens native, as well as a first generation American. Her parents hail from Trinidad and Tobago and Nigeria. She currently resides in Tuscaloosa, AL. Her first collection, Sons of Achilles, released from YesYes Books in 2018. Nabila is a 2016 Poetry Witch Magazine Summer Solstice Bop Contest finalist, a 2016 Vinyl 45 Chapbook Contest finalist, 2015 Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop fellow, finalist for the Emerge-Be-Surface fellowship 2014, and a winner of the 2013 Poets & Writers Amy Award. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Narrative Northeast, Washington Square Review, Day One, Winter Tangerine: Hands Up Don’t Shoot, ESPN, & Vinyl. She is co-founder of The Conversation Literary Festival. Her editorial work includes screening for Callaloo Journal, assistant poetry editor at Black Warrior Review, & co-poetry editor for The Offing. twitter handle: @nabilas_here

Krista Cox’s an intersectional feminist and anti-racist activist, and acts as chair of the Leadership Council of the Feminist Humanist Alliance, a social justice adjunct organization of the American Humanist Association

Krista’s poetry appears in many fine journals, and she’s presently seeking a publisher for her chapbook How to Kiss a Monster. She’s the Managing Editor of Doubleback Review, a fledgling online journal that features work previously published at now-defunct journals, and an Associate Poetry Editor at Stirring: A Literary Collection, the longest continuously-publishing online journal on the web. In 2016, Krista founded Lit Literary Collective, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that hosts affordable, accessible writing retreats and otherwise serves her local writing community. Krista received an honors BA in English from Indiana University South Bend. Sometimes she draws fat unicorns and paints cute animals.

For the last 17 years, Krista has been a paralegal and legal assistant at a law firm specializing in environmental and insurance coverage law. She claims a 18 year-old bass player and 12 year-old anime cosplay aficionado as her kin and an [age redacted] Excel wizard as her partner. Their home is run by a mini schnauzer and three personality-diverse cats.sta-cox-86a11213’s profile on LinkedIn

 

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Sons of Achilles by Nabila Lovelace


This selection comes from the book, Sons of Achilles, available from YesYes Books.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Krista Cox.

Nabila Lovelace is a born and raised Queens native, as well as a first generation American. Her parents hail from Trinidad and Tobago and Nigeria. She currently resides in Tuscaloosa, AL. Her first collection, Sons of Achilles, released from YesYes Books in 2018. Nabila is a 2016 Poetry Witch Magazine Summer Solstice Bop Contest finalist, a 2016 Vinyl 45 Chapbook Contest finalist, 2015 Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop fellow, finalist for the Emerge-Be-Surface fellowship 2014, and a winner of the 2013 Poets & Writers Amy Award. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Narrative Northeast, Washington Square Review, Day One, Winter Tangerine: Hands Up Don’t Shoot, ESPN, & Vinyl. She is co-founder of The Conversation Literary Festival. Her editorial work includes screening for Callaloo Journal, assistant poetry editor at Black Warrior Review, & co-poetry editor for The Offing. twitter handle: @nabilas_here

Krista Cox’s an intersectional feminist and anti-racist activist, and acts as chair of the Leadership Council of the Feminist Humanist Alliance, a social justice adjunct organization of the American Humanist Association

Krista’s poetry appears in many fine journals, and she’s presently seeking a publisher for her chapbook How to Kiss a Monster. She’s the Managing Editor of Doubleback Review, a fledgling online journal that features work previously published at now-defunct journals, and an Associate Poetry Editor at Stirring: A Literary Collection, the longest continuously-publishing online journal on the web. In 2016, Krista founded Lit Literary Collective, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that hosts affordable, accessible writing retreats and otherwise serves her local writing community. Krista received an honors BA in English from Indiana University South Bend. Sometimes she draws fat unicorns and paints cute animals.

For the last 17 years, Krista has been a paralegal and legal assistant at a law firm specializing in environmental and insurance coverage law. She claims a 18 year-old bass player and 12 year-old anime cosplay aficionado as her kin and an [age redacted] Excel wizard as her partner. Their home is run by a mini schnauzer and three personality-diverse cats.sta-cox-86a11213’s profile on LinkedIn

 

 

Sundress Reads: A Review of Hello. This is Jane.

In the remarkable collection of short stories, Hello. This is Jane., Judith Arcana paints the struggle for reproductive justice for women from long before the historic Roe v. Wade ruling that protected a woman’s liberty to choose to have an abortion. These stories are simultaneously memory and hope, and bring together experience and fiction to, in Leni Zumas’s words, “spark action in our terrifying present.”

Judith Arcana has been writing about reproductive justice and motherhood quite fiercely since the late 1990s, and has been a popular figure in this space for decades–both as a Jane in the pre-Roe v. Wade time, and also as a writer and a longtime teacher of literature, writing and women’s studies.

Judith’s poems, stories, and essays have been published widely on paper and online in literary journals; political, cultural, and medical magazines; newspapers; academic journals; anthologies; and textbooks.  She’s also a skilled performer/presenter who has worked with audiences in the US, Britain, and Canada, often visiting campus and community groups to talk about reproductive justice and perform her powerful writing. She is in some documentary films, including the 1995 Jane: An Abortion Service (dir. Kate Kirtz/Nell Lundy), 2014’s She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry (dir. Mary Dore), and 2019’s OUR BODIES OUR DOCTORS (dir. Jan Haaken).

This book oscillates between the past and the present almost alternatively through each of the stories. They are directly informed by Judith Arcana’s experience as a Jane in the ‘70s. The Janes were a group of people running an underground abortion service in Chicago before the procedure was legalised in 1973. However, these stories are more than just a lesson in history–the fiction dives deep into the atmosphere of dialogues on reproductive justice over the years from when it was denied to the present when it is still looked down upon.

It carefully explores not just the Janes’ lives, but also peeks into the lives of women who wanted/underwent abortions. In thorough detail, it articulates the emotions and dilemmas of women as they fought to gain the right to their bodies and the decision of becoming mothers, which was then legally denied to them. It also steps into the future, and looks back at the memory, and tries to understand what has changed. 

The form of these stories are interesting: “Men of God in the 21st Century,” “Denah & the Strawberry, Talking”, “Soon To Be A Major Motion Picture” and “Keesha and Joanie and JANE”  are written in the form of dialogue; “Betsy Is Interviewed for Tattoo Queen’s Website Biography Series” is in the first person; and “Answering the Question,” “Hello. This Is Jane.,” “Knocking” and “Monumental” follow a close third-person narrator with hints of dialogue in between.

These varied forms come together to narrate a story of struggle, which is what makes this political. What Arcana does, through Hello. This is Jane., is that she takes the liberty to narrate stories of her own body, a liberty that was denied to her in the 70’s. Using a form that follows the various women in her stories closely and allows the reader to interact with them and understand them, is doing exactly the opposite of what the Janes were doing running secret abortion clinics. Through this, she is making the story of a revolution-—one that many, even today, disapprove of—accessible to those who silently struggle. Her text, therefore, becomes a voice not just to the history of a landmark movement, but also to those who still don’t have a voice and are denied reproductive justice. 

Hello. This is Jane., however, does more than just the formulaic feminist text. It serves a dual purpose: one, it is a reminder and (to use a millennial term) a throwback to ideas of feminism when women’s rights were largely still restrictive; two, it also offers a lesson to the feminism of today that is increasingly becoming exclusionary and elitist. Arcana’s anthology is a stunning overview into the work done by the Janes made sure how reproductive rights were available to those who couldn’t afford it, irrespective of class and sexuality. The text shows how some of the Janes themselves were from the middle class, which helped them create an inclusive space for women from all spaces. This becomes a major learning for ‘feminists’ who are selective about their ideas of equality and definitions of what constitutes a woman, and for instance, conveniently exclude trans-women from their spaces. 

This text is also an inspiration for those who feel restricted by the advent of the pandemic. Like I pointed out before, there is immense detail in some of the stories. This is particularly true of the title story “Hello. This is Jane.” that takes us through the day of a Jane’s life, and “Soon To Be A Major Motion Picture,” narrated by Denah, that describe the events that happened after the Janes were arrested on multiple felony charges. These stories display the sheer determination that the women had to run something for years until they were arrested, and stayed strong even after the arrest. For those feeling restricted by the pandemic, this book could perhaps be the motivation to do something despite the shackles on their feet. It could also perhaps be an escape into a world that one can access only through such archives. Hello. This is Jane. is, therefore, a must-read, especially those who are looking for stories that both teach and inspire.


Gokul Prabhu is a graduate of Ashoka University, India, with a Postgraduate Diploma in English and creative writing. He works as an administrator and teaching assistant for the Writing and Communication facility at 9dot9 Education, and assists in academic planning for communication, writing and critical thinking courses across several higher-ed institutes in India. Prabhu’s creative and academic work fluctuates between themes of sexuality and silence, and he hopes to be a healthy mix of writer, educator and journalist in the future. He occasionally scribbles book reviews and interviews authors for Scroll.in, an award-winning Indian digital news publication.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: FROM THE LAKE HOUSE: A Mother’s Odyssey of Loss and Love by Kristen Rademacher


This selection comes from the book, FROM THE LAKE HOUSE: A Mother’s Odyssey of Loss and Love, available from She Writes Press.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Nilsa Ada Rivera.

Kristen Rademacher has lived in Chapel Hill, North Carolina since 2002, which is when she began writing. FROM THE LAKE HOUSE is her first memoir. With a Master’s Degree in Education and a Professional Coaching Certification, Kristen is an Academic Coach and ADHD Specialist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She also leads trainings and presentations at national conferences on the topic of academic coaching. Find her online at kristenrademacher.com

 

Meet Our New Editorial Board Member: Sherrel McLafferty

This week we are welcoming one of our newest additions to Sundress Publication’s editorial board– Sherrel McLafferty! We reached out to Sherrel to learn more about her interests, experiences, and what she is looking forward to here at Sundress.


Mary Sims: What attracted you to Sundress Publications?

Sherrel McLafferty: Well, Sundress has always been the cool kid on the block. I’ve excitedly watched Best of the Net noms roll in every year, and who wouldn’t want to be a part of that? When I saw the call to join the editorial board, of course I did some more research. When looking through past publications, I saw collections like Lessons in Breathing Underwater, and I was sold.

MS: What are some things you hope to gain from your new role with us?

SM: Experience. Experience. Experience. I’ve learned from past first reading and editor positions, that every press, journal, and magazine have a slightly different organization behind the scenes. I’ve never worked on full manuscripts, so I’m very curious to learn how we guide writers through their doc/pdf into a published and bound thing in the world. The lit world, especially poetry, is growing and shifting, I want to be a part of whose voices are invited and celebrated.

MS: Your accomplishments in both academia and the literary community are very impressive. How do you intend to incorporate some of these prior experiences in your time at Sundress?

SM: Truly, I have a sick work ethic. I’m like Leslie Knope with less attention to aesthetics of my organizational tools. I use google docs, I use Outlook calendar, (I learned about something called Toggl that might enter the mix) and plan out my work in intervals. This attention to how I spend my time keeps me from getting overwhelmed by tasks. I’m then able to volunteer when needed. I love being the dependable person. If my work with other journals is any indication of the greater community, no one thing is done by one person. I love the feeling of togetherness that goes along with it.

MS: I see that you have many notable publications! Would you mind sharing some thoughts on your favorite pieces?

SM: I’ll share about two. In the latest issue of Notre Dame Review, you will find a very personal poem called “My Mulatto Complex” which is a poem about identity and love. The white space of the poem is extreme, and it can be experienced in more than one direction which was a feat in the revision process. That’s one I’m super proud of. The second I’ll speak about is a recent acceptance in Juked, so I’m unsure when it will drop called “Telemachus.” The poem is a longing about the son of Odysseus. I love writing this poem because I got to embody one of my favorite things to witness: tender masculinity. I love knowing, or creating, men who are fierce but have a softness underneath, and I think that is captured in this poem. Gosh, is it weird to write for yourself?

MS: There is always more depth below the surface, so how would you best describe yourself to the readers of Sundress?

SM: I’m a self-dubbed culture vulture. I read everything, listen to everything, and watch everything. If you ever want to connect with me and have long, drawn-out discussions, jump into my DMs and tell me what you are watching/reading/listening or ask for recommendations.

MS: I see that you are a poetry reader for multiple journals! Could you share with us some of your favorite experiences within the literary community that have led you to where you are now?

SM: As I’ve said in a different question, I love how united every journal/magazine/press feels. I’ve learned so much about working as a team and being open to trying new things. I also love how giving every managing editor has been. If I ever wanted to copyedit, or read for a contest, all I’ve ever had to do is ask. It makes me ask myself, what can I offer to others? All-in-all my experiences from the punk rock FLAPPERHOUSE to the more traditional Mid-American Review, have really made me aware of how symbiotic the community is. We have a small world, y’all. I literally attended a workshop hosted by Barrelhouse and excitedly heard Tyrese Coleman read from her amazing “How to Sit.” Fast-forward a year or two and I am reading for Split Lip Magazine alongside her (though different genres). Anyway, this aside was just to say that there is room for everyone, and everyone can make room.

MS: One of our series “Sundress Reads” focuses on sharing some of our favorite books and collections. Can you share a few of your favorite books with us?

SM: I used to think my favorite collection is whatever I am currently reading– which right now I am still thumbing my way through Pet Sounds by Stephanie Young, would recommend, so good—but, I have changed my mind and am now considering the books I shove down people’s throats. The first book: Tiana Clark’s I Can’t Talk About the Trees Without the Blood, which explores identity, trauma, the south, and long talks with the great Nina Simone. Every poem is a gun. It’s great. The complete opposite in tone: Xi Xi’s not written words. Xi is a Hong Kong poet who just gets joy. She captures the rhythm of childhood songs, the fun of tongue twisters, and so much more. It is so rare for me to smile when reading, and this book gave me toothful.

MS: Which experiences have you had that make you feel prepared and excited for your new role at Sundress?

SM: I have a long history with working with lit mags that makes me feel eager and prepared to jump into the larger world of fellowships, manuscripts, and more with Sundress. Not to be the MFA person, but getting my Masters, going to more conferences, especially AWP, pushes me to want to continuously live in the writing world. I love reading work and discussing work; there is nothing that makes me happier.


Sherrel McLafferty is a first-year doctoral student with Rhetoric and Writing Studies at Bowling Green State University, where she also received her BFA and MFA in Poetry. Her poems have been, or will be, featured in Requited Journal, Merrimack Review, ArLiJo, Notre Dame Review, and Juked. She is currently a poetry editor for Pidgeonholes, Linden Avenue Literary Journal, and Split Lip Magazine.


Mary Sims is an undergraduate senior working towards her BA in English. She is an editor at Waymark Literary Magazine and has been published in Glass: A Journal of Poetry, The Poetry Annals, Peach Mag, Kingdoms of the Wild, and more. Currently, she splits her time between working as a student editor and laughing over raspberry cappuccinos with friends.

Sundress Reading Series Seeks Readers for Spring 2021

From January to May, 2021, the Sundress Reading Series will continue online via Zoom. Applications to participate as a reader are open and the deadline to apply is October 25th.

The Sundress Reading Series is an award-winning literary reading series usually hosted on-ground in Knoxville, TN, just miles from the Great Smoky Mountains. An extension of Sundress Publications and the Sundress Academy for the Arts, the Sundress Reading Series features nationally-recognized writers in all genres from around the US while also supporting local and regional nonprofits.

Our readings take place the last Wednesday of every month from 7-8PM EST. The spring series will be streamed on January 27th, February 24th, March 31st, April 28th, and May 26th.

We are currently seeking readers with books recently released—or to be released in 2021—with an emphasis on marginalized voices especially BIPOC writers, trans and nonbinary writers, and writers with disabilities. To apply to read for the spring, send 6-8 pages of poetry or 8-15 pages of prose, a 100-word bio, CV (optional), and a ranking of reading dates to sundresspublications@gmail.com. Please make sure the subject line reads “Reading Series Application.”

Those selected will be notified by December 1, 2020. Readers will receive publicity across Sundress Publications’ social media channels in the lead up to their event, and, thanks to a grant from the Tennessee Arts Commission, Sundress is now able to compensate readers $50 for their services.

Find our more or to view some of our past readers and schedules, visit us at:
www.sundressacademyforthearts.com.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: FROM THE LAKE HOUSE: A Mother’s Odyssey of Loss and Love by Kristen Rademacher


This selection comes from the book, FROM THE LAKE HOUSE: A Mother’s Odyssey of Loss and Love, available from She Writes Press.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Nilsa Ada Rivera.

Kristen Rademacher has lived in Chapel Hill, North Carolina since 2002, which is when she began writing. FROM THE LAKE HOUSE is her first memoir. With a Master’s Degree in Education and a Professional Coaching Certification, Kristen is an Academic Coach and ADHD Specialist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She also leads trainings and presentations at national conferences on the topic of academic coaching. Find her online at kristenrademacher.com

 

Meet the Intern: Bayleigh Kasper

I remember when a friend of a friend asked me if I was embarrassed because I wanted to go into the arts rather than study something “practical.” I looked down at the shirt I was wearing—which said, “I’m silently correcting your grammar”—and the pendant around my neck—which said, “The book was better.” While that moment says nothing for my fashion choices that day, it does capture my unapologetic fever for reading and writing. To me, passion is more important than practicality. 

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been gobbling up books and scribbling down stories. My mom likes to say that I practically knew how to read before she even taught me, like my heart was just waiting for someone to give me the letters to unlock the words and stories I had longed for before I even knew. I was the kid in elementary school English class who had to have the full-size pages rather than half pages they offered for the stories we would write for the end of the year—the ones with thick cardstock covers and fruit scented marker pictures on the opposite pages from the writing. I was the one who got scolded for staying up late reading or getting new ideas down and walking slowly behind everyone because I couldn’t lift my head from my book. I remember many late-night car rides, reading books one line at a time as we passed under streetlights. Some of my senior pictures were taken with towers of my books surrounding me. Most of my life has been feeding and being fed on stories. Being part of Sundress—something that feels like a big story buffet for everyone—is an absolutely magical experience to me.


Bayleigh Kasper is a senior creative writing major at the University of Evansville. She dreams of owning a tiny home in Colorado where she can adopt cats, make music, write, and eat very judge-worth amounts of chocolate without actually being judged.

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