The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Constellation of Freckles by Keri Withington


You Are My Calendar

The smell of Sundays when you shave
Bone-handled brush sweeping over cheekbones, chin
Face smooth under my lips, fingers
I could recognize you by your skin.


Days pass, and your stubble sands my face as we kiss
Accentuate your movements, explore me
Mark days by growth, delicious rough caress
Moving to Friday’s softness again.


By Saturday the scent of wood-shavings
and sweets is submerged in your skin
Surrounds me, stains the pillows and sheets.
I breathe you in.


I mark my days by you.

This selection comes from Constellation of Freckles, available from Dancing Girl Press. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Shannon Wolf.

Keri Withington is an Appalachian based poet and educator. Her work has previously appeared in numerous journals and anthologies.Her first chapbook is Constellation of Freckles from Dancing Girl Press. Her second chapbook, Beckoning From the Waves, is forthcoming from Plan B Press. As well as writing, Withington is an assistant professor of English at Pellissippi State Community College. Her writing explores themes of feminism, family, and nature.

Shannon Wolf is a British writer and teacher, living in Louisiana. She is currently a joint MA-MFA candidate in Poetry at McNeese State University. She is the Non-Fiction Editor of The McNeese Review, and Social Media Intern for Sundress Publications. She also holds an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University. Her poetry, short fiction, and non-fiction (which can also be found under the name Shannon Bushby) have appeared in The Forge and Great Weather for Media, among others. You can find her on social media @helloshanwolf.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Constellation of Freckles by Keri Withington


Secret City

House, kids, dogs: I’m settled now. Situated
though I’ve moved so many times I can’t remember addresses,
phone numbers, roommate names. Cosmic rays bathed my airplanes;
starlight saturated my dented water bottle.


My grandmother kept her house in Atlanta ‘til she was ninety.
She attributed her health to an apply a day, her fear of doctors,
the Diet Coke and frosting tub she kept in her walker’s basket. She stayed
active bird-watching, gossiping, eating Varsity hot dogs.


School district, fenced yard, hardwood floors: we bought
our house for the family friendly area, affordable price tag, the right
number of bedrooms. The radioactive materials in our town are among the
most concentrated in the world. The labs world-known.


We swim in our own radioactive waste.
The lakes have No Fishing signs; the fish have three eyes
or none at all. The algae spreads too quickly, chokes wildlife and boat
motors. Plants trap spilt mercury, grow toxic.


Swing-sets, greenways, imported sand: we take
Our kids to the lake, enjoy the city’s parks. My kitchen still
has a microwave, we still screw in fluorescent
light bulb. But we avoid GMOs, eat organic.


The same birds my grandmother fed every morning
migrate up the Appalachians, flock at the lakeshore, peck seeds
from my porch. My kids find their abandoned nests, unhatched eggs, collect
them with crystal shale, misshapen acorns.

This selection comes from Constellation of Freckles, available from Dancing Girl Press. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Shannon Wolf.

Keri Withington is an Appalachian based poet and educator. Her work has previously appeared in numerous journals and anthologies.Her first chapbook is Constellation of Freckles from Dancing Girl Press. Her second chapbook, Beckoning From the Waves, is forthcoming from Plan B Press. As well as writing, Withington is an assistant professor of English at Pellissippi State Community College. Her writing explores themes of feminism, family, and nature.

Shannon Wolf is a British writer and teacher, living in Louisiana. She is currently a joint MA-MFA candidate in Poetry at McNeese State University. She is the Non-Fiction Editor of The McNeese Review, and Social Media Intern for Sundress Publications. She also holds an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University. Her poetry, short fiction, and non-fiction (which can also be found under the name Shannon Bushby) have appeared in The Forge and Great Weather for Media, among others. You can find her on social media @helloshanwolf.

Sundress Reads: Review of when the signals come home

More eclectic mixtape than book, this richly imagined collection of poems is glittering and bold. when the signals come home (Switchback Books, 2021) by Jordan E. Franklin reverberates with the restless, dynamic energy of Brooklyn, a prismatic world through which love and identity are first realized. Franklin gives us a memorable soundtrack infused with complex songs of familial love, a transformation of Black girlhood into womanhood, the eroding effects of racism and gentrification, the pain of illness and grief, and the abundance of song. when the signals come home is a thundering debut that will make you feel painfully alive.

The “album” is divided into four sections, each featuring its very own soundtrack. With songs by Prince, David Bowie, Stevie Wonder, and Fleetwood Mac, Franklin’s taste in music is as brilliant as her poetry. Her language is piercing and full of strong, bombastic beats that pull you in and won’t let go. The first poem, “Inheritance,” opens with lines so steady and rhythmic they become lyrical: “To raconteur tongue, / solar flare temper, / Mom’s cheekbones, / Pop’s weak eyes, / to knuckle-busted hands, / arachnid fingers, / Bible names, / terracotta curves, / to plantations taken, / vows broken, / a potential future.” One of the many triumphs of this collection is Franklin’s capacity to evoke fierce emotion from her precise, rhapsodic verse.

These poems stretch across time and space, from the speaker’s childhood in Brooklyn spent in the botanical gardens and their brownstone full of family recipes and good music, to getting her MFA in Southampton, to sterile hospital rooms and nursing homes. Franklin charts these movements with music, as particular songs become entwined with certain geographies and memories. Here, hands, spines, and mouths are entangled into an intimate awareness of the body—bodies that are gentle and cruel, strong and withering, dancing and singing. Music constructs the very sinews of this phenomenal collection, holding all of its fluid elements together.

A long family history is unearthed within these poems, as passed down stories are told from a multitude of voices. The polyvocal verse contained here rumbles with the dissonant notes of violence, despair, and love. The stories that Franklin tells are thorny, cacophonous things, but they are always compelling, always necessary: “I promised to stop / telling these tales / but they gather like thorns / in my throat. When my mouth opens, they cut its roof / as I sing.” In this collection, music and stories are the speaker’s inheritance. “Maybe I’m just like my Father,” croons Prince in the background of these poems, and at the heart of when the signals come home is the speaker’s complicated relationship with her sick father. She inhabits the difficult role of her father’s caregiver, which is undercut by their strained dynamic. They need each other in ways that are elusive, resemble each other in ways that are painful, and communicate in ways that resemble a wail. Together, “they harmonize a heavy fatigue.”

Franklin channels Emily Dickinson in her poem, “When I Wake up to More Grief”: “Hope is the thing with feathers that I clip / and leave in a jar— / I don’t bother to kill it— / I want it nowhere near me—.” Like Dickinson, Franklin’s poetry is suffused with the spectral presences of death, grief, and hope. In a poem titled “how to read my poems/,” the speaker tells us: “don’t say spider/ / say someone sews / in the trees…instead of grief/ / say someone rebuilt / your heart wrong.” These poems traverse a fragmented emotional landscape, unravelling into a new language to express ourselves with.

when the signals come home feels like a love letter to Brooklyn, even as it decries the encroaching forces of gentrification. Franklin gives her dynamic city a voice, a song, capturing its grandiosity and fierce character: “The bridge, green-lit / and dressed to the nines / in stars, straddles / the horizon.” Like a Bowie song, these poems are teeming with vibrant, starlit worlds. There is a tenuous balance within these poems between absence and presence. For example, the speaker tells her experiences of the stultifying, alienating effects of racism in white spaces: “A bar in Southampton / I didn’t question how / the only Black things / for miles were me, / the sky and the patches / on the dartboard.”                                                                

This weighty collection is not without its notes of sweet clarity. In “The Nikola Tesla of Compulsion,” Franklin weaves a repeating refrain about raspberries, reminding us of Prince’s raspberry beret and honeyed things on our tongue. She hides her own painful feelings behind the fruit’s delicate sweetness: “Some days, you eat raspberries to keep the / taste of these words off your tongue.” In this collection, Franklin’s mellifluous and mournful poetics is an exceptional feat.

when the signals come home plays with form and the white space of the page, most notably in the striking poem, “Black Girl’s Rondo.” Franklin echoes earlier lines, repeats themes, and bridges images like a song that won’t quite leave your mind. This collection crescendos into something so beautiful and moving that it can only be captured in the evocative language of music. In a bittersweet ending, the speaker finds a way to reach acceptance, though it is conditional and incomplete: “You are not the one / to let him go.” With a musician’s ear and a poet’s voice, Franklin has created a collection of poems you will want to sing aloud.

when the signals come home is available at Switchback Books


Abigail Renner is a junior at George Washington University studying English and American Studies. She is currently a writing consultant in her university writing center, where she loves unearthing writers’ voices and reading across a myriad of genres. She dreams of living on a farm, filling her shelves with romance novels, and laughing with friends over cups of peppermint tea.

Project Bookshelf: Hannah Soyer

Three books standing upright: The Wee Free Men, A Hat Full of Sky, and Wintersmith, all by Terry Pratchett.

The books that live on my bookshelf are somewhat transitory––I only keep a select few, often lending out or giving away titles that I want others to read. However, Terry Pratchett’s The Wee Free Men series has remained in my childhood bedroom since I was first introduced to them as a preteen. These three books––The Wee Free Men, A Hat Full of Sky, and Wintersmith (the series is actually longer than this, but these are the ones I own)––have never failed to help me through especially difficult patches of mental health issues. Part-comedy, part-fantasy, and surprisingly feminist, these tales of a young woman growing into witchcraft (which, she learns, is really just about helping others) have always been stories I could turn to that I knew would serve as a light to lead me through the foggy, dark bog that depression can turn into. 

But these are the books that stay. I figured for my portion of Project Bookshelf, I would highlight some of the most recent books I read, which currently have a home on my bookshelf, but may not for long. Public libraries are such incredible things, aren’t they? 

A handful of recent books on my bookshelf:

The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race by Jesmyn Ward

Written as a response to James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, this book is a collection of essays and poems written by various Black writers in response to the overt and systemic racism pulsing through our country. I’m currently halfway through this book and struck by the timeliness of this, as such voices will always be timely. 

You Exist Too Much by Zaina Arafat

Zaina Arafat was my first writing professor during my undergrad at the University of Iowa, and so it was an incredible treat to be able to read her first novel, published by Catapult in 2020. What’s so compelling about this inherently queer story is that it refuses to be about just one thing––You Exist Too Much grapples with racism, homophobia, love, addiction, and, as the title suggests, taking up space. 

On Immunity: An Inoculation by Eula Biss

A stack of books on a shelf.

Published in 2014, this nonfiction book explores the history and science of vaccinations, set against the H1N1 pandemic in 2009, and the birth of Eula Biss’s son. Reading her lyrically written treatise on the protection of others during the tenth month of the COVID-19 pandemic was eerie. Although I found this book compelling and beautifully woven, I was disappointed that disability was not discussed more throughout, as this perspective goes hand in hand with Biss’s discussions of interdependence, illness, and the body as metaphor. 

Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter

Circuses and the carnivalesque enchant me, perhaps in part because of disability’s tenuous relationship with them, and the history surrounding “freaks” and freak shows. While there are many lovely circus-centric novels out there, none (that I have read, anyway) capture the magical paradoxes of the carnivalesque like this one. Like every Angela Carter story, Nights at the Circus hovers between the grotesque and marvelous at all times. 

Next on my list: Untamed by Glennon Doyle, The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk, and Brief Encounters by Dinah Lenney and Judith Kitchen. 


A white woman in a motorized wheelchair in the middle of an empty street. She has bright pink hair and is wearing a grey shirt with the words "This Body is Worthy" written across the front.

Hannah Soyer is a queer disabled writer born and living in the Midwest. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in CosmopolitanAbout Place JournalEvocations ReviewThe Rumpus, Entropy, Mikrokosmos Journal, Brain Mill Press, Disability Visibility ProjectRooted in Rights, Sinister Wisdom, and Peach Mag. She is the founder of This Body is Worthy, a project aimed at celebrating bodies outside of mainstream societal ideals, and Words of Reclamation, a space for disabled writers.

Poets in Pajamas Presents our May 2021 Readers

Sundress Publications is pleased to present Poets in Pajamas (PiP), a free, bi-monthly reading series run through Facebook Live that encourages worldwide literary connection by attending a virtual reading from the comfort of your pajamas. Poets read from their work for around fifteen minutes and welcome questions from the audience after the reading.

Our episodes for May will feature Jasmine An (May 16th) and Shannon Pulusan (May 30th) and will air on Facebook Live at 7:00 PM ET.

Jasmine An comes from the Midwest. Her writing can be found in Black Warrior Review’s Boyfriend Village, Michigan Quarterly ReviewNat. BrutWaxwing, and Best New Poets 2020. She is author of two chapbooks of poetry: Naming the No-Name Woman (Two Sylvias Press, 2016) and Monkey Was Here (Porkbelly Press, 2020) and Poetry Editor at Agape Editions. Currently, she is pursuing a PhD in English and Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Michigan.

RSVP to PiP 112: Jasmine An here!

Shannon Pulusan is currently a poetry candidate at Rutgers Newark’s MFA program. She reviews poetry as an editorial assistant for Flock, teaches poetry for NJPAC’s City Verses, and draws round-faced characters with triangle noses and pepperoni cheeks under the name moonmemo. Her work has been featured in Bridge Eight, Entropy, Talon Review, and more.

RSVP to PiP 113: Shannon Pulusan here!

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Constellation of Freckles by Keri Withington


Grace

Pull up a pew. If a pew won’t
do, if the back cramps, pull
up anything.


Leave Calvin out of it.


Or don’t. We wander, finger
Dogwood buds, petals pink
or white, curled tight as
fists.


I count by twos
blades of grass between
bare toes,
acorns.


You count crosses in tree
bark, portraits in
cumulus,
signs.


Plasma burns either way.
27 million degrees over every
church door, pagoda, temple.


Star
-light travels just as far
to monophyletic Redwoods,
cyanobacteria blooms,
synchronized fireflies.


I gather constellations of
freckles, swallow songs,
alpine strawberries.


We are alive here.

This selection comes from Constellation of Freckles, available from Dancing Girl Press. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Shannon Wolf.

Keri Withington is an Appalachian based poet and educator. Her work has previously appeared in numerous journals and anthologies.Her first chapbook is Constellation of Freckles from Dancing Girl Press. Her second chapbook, Beckoning From the Waves, is forthcoming from Plan B Press. As well as writing, Withington is an assistant professor of English at Pellissippi State Community College. Her writing explores themes of feminism, family, and nature.

Shannon Wolf is a British writer and teacher, living in Louisiana. She is currently a joint MA-MFA candidate in Poetry at McNeese State University. She is the Non-Fiction Editor of The McNeese Review, and Social Media Intern for Sundress Publications. She also holds an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University. Her poetry, short fiction, and non-fiction (which can also be found under the name Shannon Bushby) have appeared in The Forge and Great Weather for Media, among others. You can find her on social media @helloshanwolf.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Nightsink, Faucet Me a Lullaby by Alexa Doran


Nightsink, Faucet Me a Lullaby

On the nights when my body loves itself
enough to let it sleep


I lower myself into myself and pick a fight
with your memory,


never mind that you’re asleep right next to me,
your curls a comet of sparks spread


soft on the sheets, I’m just that gaga greedy –
but as I click back


through my mind trying to find
the nectarine cast of your throat


mid-laugh as I chase you
past the lace of shacks and moat


or to the cherry chaw of the morning I met you
your body a comma behind the Carolina dew,


my mind dives instead to 3:35 on the canopy road
driving because I need to cry


without facing you, or to the garage where I smoke
out the voice of the nursery school


saying you don’t fit in with the group.
Eventually I realize


I can’t let anything go
not even the bluegold beetles I keep seeing


on the side of the road. I don’t know

if they’re dead or the just the shed sac

of a body now afloat. It’s all volcano,
liquid shriek all around me, and I know

if I could just soak in the lavender spurt
of the laundry, or lose myself in the apple dream

of the grocery, I could stave off the lava,
keep alive the illusion of in utero. Instead I lie

a liquid berm burning beside your shadow.


This selection comes from Nightsink, Faucet Me a Lullaby, available from Bottlecap Press. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Kimberly Ann Priest.

Alexa Doran is the author of the chapbook Nightsink, Faucet Me a Lullaby (Bottlecap Press 2019), and is currently a PhD candidate at Florida State University. Her series of poems about the women of Dada, “The Octopus Breath on Her Neck,” was recently released as part of Oxidant/Engine’s BoxSet Series Vol 2. You can also look for work from Doran in recent or upcoming issues of Glass, Mud Season Review, Conduit, and Permafrost, among others. For a full list of her publications, awards, and interviews please visit her website at https://aed16e.wixsite.com/alexadoranpoet.

Kimberly Ann Priest is the author of Slaughter the One Bird (Sundress 2021), Parrot Flower (Glass 2021), Still Life (PANK 2020), and White Goat Black Sheep (Finishing Line Press 2018). Winner of the New American Press 2019 Heartland Poetry Prize, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in journals such as North Dakota Quarterly, Salamander, Slipstream, The Berkeley Poetry Review, Borderland and many others. She is an associate poetry editor for the Nimrod International Journal of Prose and Poetry and Embody reader for The Maine Review. Find her work at kimberlyannpriest.com.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Nightsink, Faucet Me a Lullaby by Alexa Doran


Motherhood (Exhibit A)

God gave me my anger as a gift and now
I only want the pity of a martini.


Mothers we cannot expect to maintain
our melt. I preach release but my dad used


to fold foil into wands so I could


fairy and I still only believe, but
could never be, magic. I know how

to hold my hit in while my son searches
the groove in my breast, burned by a pot

seed when I was 16, for the just sprigged
parts of me, for the blossoms to bunch

to his teeth. The chapped daisies of my hands
sap his dream. I say This is how you sleep

I say dissolve your brain from your body
I say you may not recognize mommy

on the other side of reality.
And this is where he giggles says it’s easy

as if nothing is inevitable

as his cheek giving the moon a surface to be.


This selection comes from Nightsink, Faucet Me a Lullaby, available from Bottlecap Press. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Kimberly Ann Priest.

Alexa Doran is the author of the chapbook Nightsink, Faucet Me a Lullaby (Bottlecap Press 2019), and is currently a PhD candidate at Florida State University. Her series of poems about the women of Dada, “The Octopus Breath on Her Neck,” was recently released as part of Oxidant/Engine’s BoxSet Series Vol 2. You can also look for work from Doran in recent or upcoming issues of Glass, Mud Season Review, Conduit, and Permafrost, among others. For a full list of her publications, awards, and interviews please visit her website at https://aed16e.wixsite.com/alexadoranpoet.

Kimberly Ann Priest is the author of Slaughter the One Bird (Sundress 2021), Parrot Flower (Glass 2021), Still Life (PANK 2020), and White Goat Black Sheep (Finishing Line Press 2018). Winner of the New American Press 2019 Heartland Poetry Prize, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in journals such as North Dakota Quarterly, Salamander, Slipstream, The Berkeley Poetry Review, Borderland and many others. She is an associate poetry editor for the Nimrod International Journal of Prose and Poetry and Embody reader for The Maine Review. Find her work at kimberlyannpriest.com.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Nightsink, Faucet Me a Lullaby by Alexa Doran


To My Son, Who Just Heard Me Scream Fuck

and turned to me for a hug, I’m sorry I keep confusing
me for the goddess of electricity. Imagine your mama


in charge of the parse of light and dark, lightning bolts
shivering down both arms whenever I want the night


to sputter or the sky to rip apart. To unleash
myself in a vector of heat – Son I am angry


that I am not the sun that reaches your cheeks.
I am f-star furious that I can’t blend those binaries,


And yes this is about more than astronomy (although
you have to agree that as a star I would hang


but perfectly) This is about America’s hard-on
for atrocity, and your mama’s sugar/fire/need


to plug those geysers of white male greed. It’s true.
I infringe. I jostle. I say irrevocable things.


All to cage you in. You see I think I can make you
forget I don’t fibrillate the wind. Son, the way


condensation clasps the glass is how I will rise
inevitably to the surface of your life –


not as some womb of weather, snow cocked
like a weapon, but silent as the brine that coats


your tendons, as the grope of muscle to skin.


This selection comes from Nightsink, Faucet Me a Lullaby, available from Bottlecap Press. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Kimberly Ann Priest.

Alexa Doran is the author of the chapbook Nightsink, Faucet Me a Lullaby (Bottlecap Press 2019), and is currently a PhD candidate at Florida State University. Her series of poems about the women of Dada, “The Octopus Breath on Her Neck,” was recently released as part of Oxidant/Engine’s BoxSet Series Vol 2. You can also look for work from Doran in recent or upcoming issues of Glass, Mud Season Review, Conduit, and Permafrost, among others. For a full list of her publications, awards, and interviews please visit her website at https://aed16e.wixsite.com/alexadoranpoet.

Kimberly Ann Priest is the author of Slaughter the One Bird (Sundress 2021), Parrot Flower (Glass 2021), Still Life (PANK 2020), and White Goat Black Sheep (Finishing Line Press 2018). Winner of the New American Press 2019 Heartland Poetry Prize, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in journals such as North Dakota Quarterly, Salamander, Slipstream, The Berkeley Poetry Review, Borderland and many others. She is an associate poetry editor for the Nimrod International Journal of Prose and Poetry and Embody reader for The Maine Review. Find her work at kimberlyannpriest.com.

Poetry is Good Company: A Conversation with Wendy Carlisle on Her Second Poetry Collection Discount Fireworks

Doubleback Review Social Media Intern, Bethany Milholland, asked Wendy Carlisle to participate in an interview about her poetry collection Discount Fireworks. A hymn to the landscape of Carlisle’s native Arkansas, the subjects of these poems range from Greek myths to motherhood to a high school shooting. Timeless yet personal, Discount Fireworks is an ode to self-discovery and the beauty of finding one’s home.

Bethany Milholland: What does the poetry collection Discount Fireworks mean to you? 

Wendy Carlisle: This collection was my second, completed five years after I had finished my MFA in Vermont, and after a fruitful residency on the West Bank of New Orleans. My wonderful publisher Jacaranda Press folded immediately after it was published, alas. I love this book because it was a watershed for me. It marked, I think, my passage into poetry-for-sure.

BM: How long did it take to write and what was the process like?

WC: These poems were collected over almost 8 years. I found poems that I believed spoke to one another, and added to the sum of the book, then sent them to my editor. She weighed in, and we began again. This process took about 6 months. The final book opens with thinning glaciers and closes with Hurricane Katrina but in-between, it contains everything from vampires to Bible stories. I am surprised now by how many forms are here, from faux sonnets (the precursors of my Ozark Sonnets) to syllabics. The thing that clinched the collection for me was that the individual poems said something I wanted to hear.

BM: Who or what do you find inspiration from? 

WC: I am inspired by other Arkansas poets, Jo McDougall, Arkansas’s poet laureate, my first teacher Miller Williams, and that giant of Arkansas letters, C.D. Wright. I just discovered Laura Kasischke, that was like finding gold. Kim Addonizio continues to be an inspiration and my poetic practice has been built on the foundation of my friendship with the late Phillip Dacey,who continually reminded me about the bone work of poetry, showing up.

BM: Can you tell me about the front cover? 

WC: The cover is Discount Fireworks, a 1985 painting by a first-rate Arkansas artist, Robert McGehee, from Paris, Arkansas. I lived with the painting for over a decade when it occurred to me it would make a great cover for my book-in-progress. After that standing at the kitchen counter, I wrote the first draft of the poem “Discount Fireworks” in a flash.

BM: What is poetry to you?

WC: Poetry is good company. Poetry is hard work. Poetry is laughter. Poetry is a soul stretcher, a teacher of compassion. It animates wit. I seek poetry out, and we have a cup of coffee. We walk in the woods and look for morels. Outside of my family, poetry is the great love of my life.

BM: Do you consider yourself a regionalist author? Why? 

WC: In Discount Fireworks, the subjects of the poems range from Greek myths to motherhood to a high school shooting, but I’ve lived in Arkansas for 45 years and everything I write is touched by its wind and water, its patois and the rocky Ozark soil. Its people speak through me. I can’t say if I’m a regionalist, but I expect so.

BM: Do you have any advice for beginning poets?

WC: Don’t come to poetry expecting to be noticed. Come expecting to work hard for no money and meagre rewards. Come because you cannot help yourself. Come for the sheer joy of making something that didn’t exist before. Read and read and read poetry. Don’t worry about being influenced by other poets. If you can write like Emily Dickinson, do that. And don’t be above the scut work of poetry—the mishigas of submission and rejection. In the end, expect to give everything you have to poetry, but don’t expect poetry to give you back anything but jubilation.

BM: What was the most meaningful poem to you in the collection and why?

WC: That question reminds me of, “who is your favorite child.” But, if I have to say, the book contains one of my first love poems to my husband, “La Bamba Dance Club.” It was a nice surprise to write that.


Bethany Milholland is a senior at The University of Evansville majoring in Creative Writing. She is the former Co-Editor-in-Chief of The Evansville Review. She is also a former intern for her university’s magazine The Crescent. In her spare time, she enjoys earning a cat’s love and shopping at every thrift store within a thirty-mile radius.

Wendy Taylor Carlisle was born in Manhattan, raised in Bermuda, Connecticut and Ft Lauderdale, Florida and now lives in the Arkansas Ozarks in a house she built in 1980. She has an MA from the University of Arkansas and an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is the author of The Mercy of Traffic (Unlikely Books, 2019), Discount Fireworks (Jacaranda Press, 2008) and Reading Berryman to the Dog (Jacaranda Press, 2000.) Chapbooks include They Went to the Beach to Play (Locofo Chaps, 2016), Chap Book (Platypus Press, 2016), Persephone on the Metro (MadHat press, 2014), The Storage of Angels (Slow Water Press, 2008), and After Happily Ever After (Two River Chapbooks, 2003.) Her work appears in multiple anthologies.