The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: out of emptied cups by Anne Casey

PLEASE DON’T FEED THE ANIMALS

a colleague of mine once observed i have a mind like a steel trap
—it may have been meant as a compliment but it didn’t
feel like that at the time

he was wrong of course it is much more like a labyrinth
expertly appointed to hold within safe confines a variety
of monsters of commonplace yet
inexplicable design spectres hermetically sealed in lightless
spaces where they pace unattended waiting
to be fed

which i do periodically subconsciously—ignoring the signs and
tripping that switch to wander into
familiar habitats here the electrifying jolt of nightclub lights
striking out of the demi-dark

there the fluorescent flicker of the too-bright doctors’ rooms or the overhead strip lights humming along with the rumble of subway tracks a twilit street or the sunny
play ground running-running from the old man coming

with his white-haired wreckage of sagging
flesh hanging from his open
fly and i am eight years old again
and i can think of
nothing else but running and in that room there
is only running an
d running and in each
other there are
the others—other things coming and then
there is the no-nono

No NO!! cell where the light is nothing but
subterranean murk the soundtrack
a thundering heartbeat above oblivion

each time determined i will try something
different but it always ends the same so i lock the do
or again praying one time the switch flicks
i will find the light
warmed to an early evening
glow where there is nothing hungry
waiting just a tattered mound of dusty rags & a scattering
of shattered twig-like things only slightly too
white—fragments crushed
between steel teeth


This selection comes from the book, out of emptied cups, available from Salmon Poetry.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Tierney Bailey.

Originally from the west of Ireland and living in Sydney, Australia, Anne Casey is author of two poetry collections— ‘out of emptied cups’ (Salmon Poetry 2019) and ‘where the lost things go’ (Salmon Poetry 2017). Her poetry is widely published internationally— The Irish Poetry Reading Archive (James Joyce Library, University College Dublin), The Irish Times, The Canberra Times, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Quiddity, Entropy, apt, The Murmur House, Barzakh (State University of New York), DASH (California State University), The Stony Thursday Book, FourXFour, Westerly Magazine, Cordite, Verity La and Plumwood Mountain Review among many others. A journalist, magazine editor, legal author and media communications director for 30 years, her work is widely published internationally, ranking in leading national daily newspaper, The Irish Times’ Most Read. Anne’s poetry has won/shortlisted for awards in Ireland, Northern Ireland, the USA, the UK, Canada, Hong Kong and Australia.

Tierney Bailey is a Libra, a lover of science fiction and poetry, and studies Korean in her spare time. Currently, Tierney is an associate poetry editor at Sundress Publications, a copyeditor at Strange Horizons, and a freelance graphic designer. Tierney earned a Masters Degree in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College. Tierney is most easily found screaming into the void on Twitter as @ergotierney. 
 

 

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Project Bookshelf with Social Media Intern Sydney Peay

Photo of a small black bookshelf filled with items and a large mirror on tops

Because I live in a small apartment in Fort Sanders, my bookshelves work to house more than just books. My favorite bookshelf in my apartment is the small black bookshelf that sits in my bedroom, which is approximately 25 percent books, 25 percent altar space, and 50 percent miscellaneous storage.

On the top of the shelf is my altar space. I practice witchcraft, so this space is dedicated to my practice. Most of the items on are symbols of Aphrodite, who I worshipped for the majority of the last year. My witchcraft practice has changed quite a bit with the major changes to my daily life over the past few months, so I plan on redesigning this space soon. My favorite pieces of my altar are this gorgeous mirror that I got for just 8 dollars on Facebook Marketplace, as well as the books I have placed on my altar: The Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler, Black Feminist Thought by Patricia Hill Collins, Emergent Strategy by adrienne maree brown, and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. Each of these books has been incredibly formative to my worldview, and I see these women as teachers in many ways, so I gave them a special place on my altar.

Photo of a single shelf of books

Beneath my altar space is the only actual shelf of books in my room. While most of my school books reside in my living room, these are (mostly) books that I was using for my former thesis project, which was interested in the intersection between science fiction depictions of fascism and fascism in American politics. There’s also a few witchy books, as well as my favorite young adult novel series, The Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness, which sits on my shelf in hopes of being reread one day soon.

These days, most of my reading is for class. As it turns out, when studying literature is your major, it makes it difficult to read for pleasure. When I do find time for pleasure reading, most of what I read is nonfiction. I started reading nonfiction because I could no longer see myself in the young adult novels that dominate my bookshelf at my parents’ house, but I still can’t quite see myself in fiction for “grown-ups” yet either. Now, I genuinely enjoy reading nonfiction, particularly about social topics such as race, class, and gender, and I hope to one day be able to write my own work of nonfiction if I ever get a handle on my writing style and research interests which are, currently, extremely scattered.

Most of the other items on this shelf are simply things I couldn’t find a better space for on my dedicated storage shelf. However, if the goal of this post is to get to know me, I think it is important to share the massive stack of sketchbooks that resides on the bottom shelf. Back at my parents’ house, I have a box with about eight times more sketchbooks ranging back to my first real sketchbook that I must have gotten around age eight or nine. Art has always been an important part of my life, especially in dark times as it became a meditative practice to illustrate my emotions and cope with stress. I’ve been having trouble finding the motivation to draw since the pandemic started.

The rest of my books reside in my living room, split between a few different shelves and interspersed with my girlfriend’s books. These are mostly school books, but there are a few that I bought for myself back when I could still go to McKay’s every other weekend. They aren’t organized any particular way, which is probably why I can never find my books when I’m looking for them.

I worry that my bookshelves highlight more about the kinds of classes I take than the kind of person I am, but I hope that by sharing the multipurpose space that is my bookshelf, you are able to better understand who I am as a person.


Photo of Sydney Peay

Sydney Peay is a senior studying sociology and English literature at the University of Tennessee. In addition to interning at Sundress Publications, they serve as the social media coordinator for the Voices Out Loud Project, an LGBTQ+ archive of East Tennessee. They are also a student library assistant at Hodges Library, and they hope to pursue a masters of library sciences after they graduate.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Them Gone by Akua Lezli Hope

The Wall Beyond Rage

that certitude is a death
does not dissuade the frantic search of many
does not deter donning its blind veil, gagging shroud or
cofn-armor before promise is recognized or decoded

that certitude is the real opiate
routine is syringe and anarchy is not antidote
only a holding pattern against a landing submission
then surges rage as dim-eyed, hungered and weary
we clutch the fragile myths to fragment.
the litter cannot bear the restless
agony of labor swelling – dancing, pumping, knifng, rising
kicking screaming cursing shouting
shouting to the wall.

the cunning intellectuals congratulate arrival
carve a doctrine of dogma: the tenets of arrival
that arrival is a death
does not defuse its fervent celebration
does not disrobe its priests, unravel mystique
or alarm spent anger to awaken

the terrain beyond each temporal truth we crave, beckons
yet craven, we fashion walls against the perilous country
only one moment beyond this, we live. cessation is
surrender. the only prize the journey


This selection comes from the book, Them Gone, available from THE WORD WORKS.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Tierney Bailey.

A third generation New Yorker, firstborn, Akua Lezli Hope has won two Artists Fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, a Ragdale U.S.-Africa Fellowship, and a Creative Writing Fellowship from The National Endowment for The Arts. She’s won scholarships for the Hurston Wright writers’ program and the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. She is a Cave Canem fellow. She received an Artists Crossroads Grant from The Arts of the Southern Finger Lakes for her project “Words in Motion,” which placed poetry on the buses of New York’s Chemung and Steuben counties. She was the guest poet at the Steele Memorial Library’s 2003 Festival. UNPACKING, her collaboration with dancer choreographer, Lois Welk, was presented in 2003 at 171 Cedar Arts Center. She was a poet-in-residence at the Chautauqua Institute where she read her poetry, lectured on jazz poetry, and conducted a workshop entitled “Writing Poetry as Mythmaking.”
Her poem “Metis Emits” won the Science Fiction Poetry Association’s short poem award for 2015. Her first collection, EMBOUCHURE, Poems on Jazz and Other Musics, won the Writer’s Digest book award for poetry. Her poems, Montserrat and AwaIting Your Return (for Jamal Kashoggi) were nominated for a 2019 Pushcart Prize. Her manuscript, Them Gone, a finalist in the 2015 Word Works Washington Prize competition, was selected for Red Paint Hill Publishing’s Bryant Lysembee Editor’s Prize and published in December, 2018 by The Word Works.
She is published in numerous literary magazines and national anthologies including: 50 over 50, Minerva Rising, Strange Horizons, Eye to the Telescope, Breath and Shadow, The Crafty Poet II, The Cossack Review, Silver Blade, Tiny Text, The 100 Best African American Poems (2010); Killens Review, Breath and Shadow, Stone Canoe, Three Coyotes, The Year’s Best Writing, Writer’s Digest Guides, 2003; DARK MATTER, (the first!) anthology of African American Science Fiction, Time Warner Books, 2000; THE BLUELIGHT CORNER, black women writing on passion, sex, and romantic love, Three Rivers Press, 1999; Will Work For Peace: New Political Poems, 1999; MASKS, Earth’s Daughters 52, 1998; CHAIN, 1995; SISTERFIRE, an anthology of Black Womanist Fiction and Poetry, ed. by Charlotte Watson-Sherman, HarperPerennial, 1994; WHAT IS FOUND THERE, NOTEBOOKS ON POETRY AND POLITICS by Adrienne Rich, W.W. Norton, 1993; WRITING FROM THE NEW COAST: TECHNIQUE, Buffalo University, 1993; EROTIQUE NOIRE, (the first!) AN ANTHOLOGY OF BLACK EROTICA, Doubleday/Anchor, 1992; POETS MARKET, 1992, ed. by Judson Jerome, Writers Digest Books; CONFIRMATION, an anthology of Afrikan American Women Writers, 1983; EXTENDED OUTLOOKS, the Iowa Review Collection of Contemporary Women Writers, 1983; and Eyeball, 1995; Obsidian II, 1996, 1994, 1992, 1991; Blue Cage, 1993 (England); Hambone, 1992; African American Review, 1992; Catalyst 1992; and Contact II, 1989; among many others.
She holds a B.A. in psychology from Williams College, a M.B.A. in marketing from Columbia University Graduate School of Business, and a M.S.J. in broadcast journalism from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She is a founding section leader in the Poetry Forum on Compuserve. She served as a founding section leader of African American Resource Forum and in the Books and Writers section of the African American Culture Forum (American Visions) on Compuserve. She also served as a trainer, area coordinator, and group founder and leader for Amnesty International, U.S.A., in the southern tier of New York. She co-authored a biweekly column on social, political, and cultural issues for the Star Gazette in 1995.
She was a finalist in the 1991 Open Voice competition, in the 1990 Barnard New Women Poets Series with her manuscript Fuel for Beginners, and in the MacDonald’s Black literary competition for 1989. Her manuscript, The Prize is the Journey, was a finalist in the 1983 Walt Whitman contest. She is a founding member of the Black Writers Union and the New Renaissance Writers Guild whose alumni include Arthur Flowers, Walter Dean Myers and Terri McMillan.
She led the Voices of Fire Reading Choir from 1987 to 1999, performing her work and that of other African American poets. Akua has given hundreds of readings to audiences in colleges, prisons, parks, museums, libraries and bars. Akua bears an exile’s desire for work close to home, and a writer’s yearning for a galvanizing mythos.
She also creates sculpture, objects, and jewelry in glass, metal and handmade paper; designs crochet patterns, plays with her cat and the soprano saxophone, sings, and makes good manifest.

Tierney Bailey is a Libra, a lover of science fiction and poetry, and studies Korean in her spare time. Currently, Tierney is an associate poetry editor at Sundress Publications, a copyeditor at Strange Horizons, and a freelance graphic designer. Tierney earned a Masters Degree in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College. Tierney is most easily found screaming into the void on Twitter as @ergotierney. 
 

 

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Sundress Reads: Magnolia Canopy Otherworld

Erin Carlyle’s debut book of poetry, Magnolia Canopy Otherworld, compels readers to ask themselves where the line between animalistic and humanistic lies. This book shows the blurred lines between human and inhuman, especially in relation to young girls and the objectification of their bodies. 

Carlyle’s poetry beautifully presents growing up as a young girl in the impoverished South during the opioid crisis. These poems, shown through an animalistic and naturalistic lense, seamlessly presents themes of death, womanhood, motherhood, sexuality, and nature. 

The book opens with the quote “Family is family, but even love can’t keep people from eating eachother” by Dorothy Allison. It perfectly sets the tone of the book and constantly floats in the back of the reader’s mind. There are multiple poems within the book about watching parents struggle with  alcohol and opioid addiction as well as connecting with their children. 

The collection consists of three parts, the first one showing the overall themes that will be present in the parts that follow. The majority of them are about the problems women face for simply being women. Carlyle writes “you are on a bed/ he made of other women’s bodies. He tells you not/ to look, but you can’t/ shut your eyes” in her poem titled “Tales.” 

The second part opens with the poem “On the Horizon of Recollection” and shows the reader a soothing image of women in white skirts raising you up from the water, almost like a baptism, but it’s not. “This is not a baptism,/ but a call back to your life after you crawled out of the cave of your mother,/ that old danger.” This is also where the reader’s are introduced to “The Animal” which is a representation of the narrator herself, however the pronouns for The Animal is it/its. The Animal is trying to navigate life and dealing with things such as first blood, sexual awakening, and family trauma.

The majority of part three is about the search of a girl who the narrator had a connection with. This part is the most haunting; the feeling of hopelessness and helplessness reaches out from the page. The book ends with the narrator standing among the dead in the poem “The Afterlife of Women” and they can “smell the oldest/ danger in the air– magnolia on the wind” but their mother calls them home. This theme of motherhood opens the book and closes it. The circularity of motherhood is embraced in this book as well as the hardships and comforts that comes with it. 

These poems are based on the stories of Carlyle, the stories of women Carlyle has known in her life, and the stories of women Carlyle has seen on the news. Carlyle’s poetry of these women, including herself, are raw, uncensored, and unapologetic. It’s real, they’re real, and they need to be heard. They need to be felt. 

Magnolia Canopy Otherworld magnificently shows the importance of place. The poetry is sharp in the right places, always ready to strike and expose the gory interior when necessary. The collection is a delightful and impactful read, the beauty of the poems perfectly juxtaposes with the darkness of the content. I highly recommend this book, especially to those who understand the animalistic tendencies of men. 

Magnolia Canopy Otherworld is available at Driftwood Press


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.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Them Gone by Akua Lezli Hope

Kwansaba

for Jayne Cortez

Acid tongue, lash putrid meme from thought
Atomic coppice, bloom laser snakes, whip frenzy
Writhe Hendrick’s helix licks, soar Bessie’s dare
Outplay sound crushers, arrest water thieves, redeem
betrayed futures from oil-slicked bloody seas
Seize us epileptic seer, cleanse crusted eyes
with magma milk. Dilate portals. Make hear

Jayne Cortez (1934 – 2012), poet, activist, and publisher, was a
seminal surrealist innovator whose poetry and jazz recordings were pathbreaking
.


This selection comes from the book, Them Gone, available from THE WORD WORKS.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Tierney Bailey.

A third generation New Yorker, firstborn, Akua Lezli Hope has won two Artists Fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, a Ragdale U.S.-Africa Fellowship, and a Creative Writing Fellowship from The National Endowment for The Arts. She’s won scholarships for the Hurston Wright writers’ program and the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. She is a Cave Canem fellow. She received an Artists Crossroads Grant from The Arts of the Southern Finger Lakes for her project “Words in Motion,” which placed poetry on the buses of New York’s Chemung and Steuben counties. She was the guest poet at the Steele Memorial Library’s 2003 Festival. UNPACKING, her collaboration with dancer choreographer, Lois Welk, was presented in 2003 at 171 Cedar Arts Center. She was a poet-in-residence at the Chautauqua Institute where she read her poetry, lectured on jazz poetry, and conducted a workshop entitled “Writing Poetry as Mythmaking.”
Her poem “Metis Emits” won the Science Fiction Poetry Association’s short poem award for 2015. Her first collection, EMBOUCHURE, Poems on Jazz and Other Musics, won the Writer’s Digest book award for poetry. Her poems, Montserrat and AwaIting Your Return (for Jamal Kashoggi) were nominated for a 2019 Pushcart Prize. Her manuscript, Them Gone, a finalist in the 2015 Word Works Washington Prize competition, was selected for Red Paint Hill Publishing’s Bryant Lysembee Editor’s Prize and published in December, 2018 by The Word Works.
She is published in numerous literary magazines and national anthologies including: 50 over 50, Minerva Rising, Strange Horizons, Eye to the Telescope, Breath and Shadow, The Crafty Poet II, The Cossack Review, Silver Blade, Tiny Text, The 100 Best African American Poems (2010); Killens Review, Breath and Shadow, Stone Canoe, Three Coyotes, The Year’s Best Writing, Writer’s Digest Guides, 2003; DARK MATTER, (the first!) anthology of African American Science Fiction, Time Warner Books, 2000; THE BLUELIGHT CORNER, black women writing on passion, sex, and romantic love, Three Rivers Press, 1999; Will Work For Peace: New Political Poems, 1999; MASKS, Earth’s Daughters 52, 1998; CHAIN, 1995; SISTERFIRE, an anthology of Black Womanist Fiction and Poetry, ed. by Charlotte Watson-Sherman, HarperPerennial, 1994; WHAT IS FOUND THERE, NOTEBOOKS ON POETRY AND POLITICS by Adrienne Rich, W.W. Norton, 1993; WRITING FROM THE NEW COAST: TECHNIQUE, Buffalo University, 1993; EROTIQUE NOIRE, (the first!) AN ANTHOLOGY OF BLACK EROTICA, Doubleday/Anchor, 1992; POETS MARKET, 1992, ed. by Judson Jerome, Writers Digest Books; CONFIRMATION, an anthology of Afrikan American Women Writers, 1983; EXTENDED OUTLOOKS, the Iowa Review Collection of Contemporary Women Writers, 1983; and Eyeball, 1995; Obsidian II, 1996, 1994, 1992, 1991; Blue Cage, 1993 (England); Hambone, 1992; African American Review, 1992; Catalyst 1992; and Contact II, 1989; among many others.
She holds a B.A. in psychology from Williams College, a M.B.A. in marketing from Columbia University Graduate School of Business, and a M.S.J. in broadcast journalism from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She is a founding section leader in the Poetry Forum on Compuserve. She served as a founding section leader of African American Resource Forum and in the Books and Writers section of the African American Culture Forum (American Visions) on Compuserve. She also served as a trainer, area coordinator, and group founder and leader for Amnesty International, U.S.A., in the southern tier of New York. She co-authored a biweekly column on social, political, and cultural issues for the Star Gazette in 1995.
She was a finalist in the 1991 Open Voice competition, in the 1990 Barnard New Women Poets Series with her manuscript Fuel for Beginners, and in the MacDonald’s Black literary competition for 1989. Her manuscript, The Prize is the Journey, was a finalist in the 1983 Walt Whitman contest. She is a founding member of the Black Writers Union and the New Renaissance Writers Guild whose alumni include Arthur Flowers, Walter Dean Myers and Terri McMillan.
She led the Voices of Fire Reading Choir from 1987 to 1999, performing her work and that of other African American poets. Akua has given hundreds of readings to audiences in colleges, prisons, parks, museums, libraries and bars. Akua bears an exile’s desire for work close to home, and a writer’s yearning for a galvanizing mythos.
She also creates sculpture, objects, and jewelry in glass, metal and handmade paper; designs crochet patterns, plays with her cat and the soprano saxophone, sings, and makes good manifest.

Tierney Bailey is a Libra, a lover of science fiction and poetry, and studies Korean in her spare time. Currently, Tierney is an associate poetry editor at Sundress Publications, a copyeditor at Strange Horizons, and a freelance graphic designer. Tierney earned a Masters Degree in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College. Tierney is most easily found screaming into the void on Twitter as @ergotierney. 
 

 

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The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Them Gone by Akua Lezli Hope

Afro Funk

Some say it’s the corolla of Afro
on velvet canvas goddesses
implacable on village sidewalks
near Bboys from Corona
watching pickup ball near the maw of subway

Others say nah, it’s inefable, like
the young brothers’ lean in they walk
sisters’ swish in they leather wrapped
booties the rootie tootie of swayback
the bend of fantasy at bowlegs
where muscle rounds the curve.
who frst wore layers
staccato art-furrowed heads
whose kente woven scarf
meets momma’s best made

When every sunday dinner is a feast
or summer barbeque in backyard queens
means miles of pungent fesh
grilled in ritual ofering, smokes.
and the combat of rival stereos
foats through the haze…
as the thump and blaze of need-to-bes
rise from half-fnished basements
is that it?


This selection comes from the book, Them Gone, available from THE WORD WORKS.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Tierney Bailey.

A third generation New Yorker, firstborn, Akua Lezli Hope has won two Artists Fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, a Ragdale U.S.-Africa Fellowship, and a Creative Writing Fellowship from The National Endowment for The Arts. She’s won scholarships for the Hurston Wright writers’ program and the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. She is a Cave Canem fellow. She received an Artists Crossroads Grant from The Arts of the Southern Finger Lakes for her project “Words in Motion,” which placed poetry on the buses of New York’s Chemung and Steuben counties. She was the guest poet at the Steele Memorial Library’s 2003 Festival. UNPACKING, her collaboration with dancer choreographer, Lois Welk, was presented in 2003 at 171 Cedar Arts Center. She was a poet-in-residence at the Chautauqua Institute where she read her poetry, lectured on jazz poetry, and conducted a workshop entitled “Writing Poetry as Mythmaking.”
Her poem “Metis Emits” won the Science Fiction Poetry Association’s short poem award for 2015. Her first collection, EMBOUCHURE, Poems on Jazz and Other Musics, won the Writer’s Digest book award for poetry. Her poems, Montserrat and AwaIting Your Return (for Jamal Kashoggi) were nominated for a 2019 Pushcart Prize. Her manuscript, Them Gone, a finalist in the 2015 Word Works Washington Prize competition, was selected for Red Paint Hill Publishing’s Bryant Lysembee Editor’s Prize and published in December, 2018 by The Word Works.
She is published in numerous literary magazines and national anthologies including: 50 over 50, Minerva Rising, Strange Horizons, Eye to the Telescope, Breath and Shadow, The Crafty Poet II, The Cossack Review, Silver Blade, Tiny Text, The 100 Best African American Poems (2010); Killens Review, Breath and Shadow, Stone Canoe, Three Coyotes, The Year’s Best Writing, Writer’s Digest Guides, 2003; DARK MATTER, (the first!) anthology of African American Science Fiction, Time Warner Books, 2000; THE BLUELIGHT CORNER, black women writing on passion, sex, and romantic love, Three Rivers Press, 1999; Will Work For Peace: New Political Poems, 1999; MASKS, Earth’s Daughters 52, 1998; CHAIN, 1995; SISTERFIRE, an anthology of Black Womanist Fiction and Poetry, ed. by Charlotte Watson-Sherman, HarperPerennial, 1994; WHAT IS FOUND THERE, NOTEBOOKS ON POETRY AND POLITICS by Adrienne Rich, W.W. Norton, 1993; WRITING FROM THE NEW COAST: TECHNIQUE, Buffalo University, 1993; EROTIQUE NOIRE, (the first!) AN ANTHOLOGY OF BLACK EROTICA, Doubleday/Anchor, 1992; POETS MARKET, 1992, ed. by Judson Jerome, Writers Digest Books; CONFIRMATION, an anthology of Afrikan American Women Writers, 1983; EXTENDED OUTLOOKS, the Iowa Review Collection of Contemporary Women Writers, 1983; and Eyeball, 1995; Obsidian II, 1996, 1994, 1992, 1991; Blue Cage, 1993 (England); Hambone, 1992; African American Review, 1992; Catalyst 1992; and Contact II, 1989; among many others.
She holds a B.A. in psychology from Williams College, a M.B.A. in marketing from Columbia University Graduate School of Business, and a M.S.J. in broadcast journalism from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She is a founding section leader in the Poetry Forum on Compuserve. She served as a founding section leader of African American Resource Forum and in the Books and Writers section of the African American Culture Forum (American Visions) on Compuserve. She also served as a trainer, area coordinator, and group founder and leader for Amnesty International, U.S.A., in the southern tier of New York. She co-authored a biweekly column on social, political, and cultural issues for the Star Gazette in 1995.
She was a finalist in the 1991 Open Voice competition, in the 1990 Barnard New Women Poets Series with her manuscript Fuel for Beginners, and in the MacDonald’s Black literary competition for 1989. Her manuscript, The Prize is the Journey, was a finalist in the 1983 Walt Whitman contest. She is a founding member of the Black Writers Union and the New Renaissance Writers Guild whose alumni include Arthur Flowers, Walter Dean Myers and Terri McMillan.
She led the Voices of Fire Reading Choir from 1987 to 1999, performing her work and that of other African American poets. Akua has given hundreds of readings to audiences in colleges, prisons, parks, museums, libraries and bars. Akua bears an exile’s desire for work close to home, and a writer’s yearning for a galvanizing mythos.
She also creates sculpture, objects, and jewelry in glass, metal and handmade paper; designs crochet patterns, plays with her cat and the soprano saxophone, sings, and makes good manifest.

Tierney Bailey is a Libra, a lover of science fiction and poetry, and studies Korean in her spare time. Currently, Tierney is an associate poetry editor at Sundress Publications, a copyeditor at Strange Horizons, and a freelance graphic designer. Tierney earned a Masters Degree in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College. Tierney is most easily found screaming into the void on Twitter as @ergotierney. 
 

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Meet Our New Intern: Mary Sims

There’s something to be said for the lasting impact of childhood fascination. When I was fifteen, my fascination led me to the purchase of my first poetry collection.

Kay Ryan’s The Best of It sat on my lap in my local Barnes & Nobel, cracked open as I scanned through the pages. I still don’t remember exactly what I was looking for when I picked up her collection. I think I had wanted something new—some revolutionary concept I had not found in the marketable fiction I was the target of. I wanted something different yet familiar; I wanted something I didn’t know how to want. And in traveling down that pathway, Ryan’s collection was just the beginning. 

Before this, I hadn’t invested much of my own time into poetry. Instead, I associated the genre with the fond memories I had with my grandmother when she would read Emily Dickinson to me. But even then, I didn’t enjoy Dickinson for her poems so much as the time I could spend together with my grandmother, lying in her bedroom and listening to her read in the Tennessee heat. I was too intimidated by the line breaks and condensed language to read poetry on my own, even if I found it striking. I would sit, soaking up the sun and watching shadows of trees on the walls, and think, what makes poetry so different? I couldn’t put my intrigue into words. 

At fifteen, I still didn’t have the answer. I don’t remember if I was even conscious of that same question when I picked up Ryan’s collection. I was simply struck by the want of something new, the denied childhood closure of understanding that I still hadn’t found. I spent a week reading through her collection before something clicked and my spiral into poetry began.

Ryan led into Mary Oliver who led into Jamaica Kincaid, leading then into other contemporary poets like Franny Choi and Kaveh Akbar. I spent the rest of high school consuming any collections I could get my hands on; I thrived off of local second-hand bookshops and their mixed collections of renown and local poets. I read so much I felt I had to start writing just to have a place to put it all down. 

At eighteen, I entered college and became involved in my local literary community. I joined literary clubs and attended public readings. I got involved with book festivals to promote others as well as present my own work; I took a poetry workshop class that changed my life for the better.

I started submitting to journals and applying to open editor positions for magazines. Currently, I co-run a poetry club and work as a poetry editor for Waymark Literary Magazine, a magazine I joined with my friends. My fascination with poetry as a child, the intimidation I felt from the genre, manifested into one of my favorite things. The opportunities and the friends I have gained from my impulsive decision to pick up Kay Ryan’s book is rooted in my unanswered childhood fascination. 

At the very beginning of 2020—years after I had picked up my copy of The Best of It—I would get the privilege of attending one of Kaveh Akbar’s lectures, during which my childhood question would once again come up: What makes poetry so different? I would realize, through the opportunities and events that had led me here, that there is no single, solid answer. That the “difference” I had always associated with the genre was just another way of alienating an art form that seeks to understand as well as communicate.

Poetry is not something that begs a consistent understanding of itself but rather a genre that thrives off its ability to empathize and to feel, a form that is remarkable because it surpasses the barriers of language instead of adhering to them. I would listen, learn, and speak with the poets around me, and I would find that poetry is not a method of intimidation but a gift of communication attempting to bridge the ever-present gap between each of us.

This gift has led me down many wonderful pathways, but I am especially thankful to have been directed to this one: where I am more than happy to work for Sundress Publications and to contribute back to the community that has kindly given so much to me.


Mary Sims is an undergraduate writer working toward her BA in English at Kennesaw State University. She is currently a poetry editor for Waymark Literary Magazine and a former student editor for the Atlanta based magazine Muse/A. Her work has appeared in Glass: A Journal of Poetry, The Poetry Annals, Peach Mag, and more. She can often be found filling her shelves with poetry collections, roaming antique stores, or laughing over raspberry cappuccinos with friends.

Sundress Publications Staff to Present at The Plot Summit: Escape the Plot Forest

Sundress Publications’ own Megan Cass, Samantha Edmonds, and Saba Syed Razvi will present Surprise, Strangeness, and Story on October 24, 2020 at 3:30 pm EST during The Plot Summit: Escape the Plot Forrest, a virtual fiction writing conference. 

Meagan Cass is Assistant Editor at Sundress Publications and Associate Professor of English at the University of Illinois, Springfield. She won the Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Short Fiction for her story, “AcitvAmerica.” Some of her other stories were published in Joyland, DIAGRAM, andMississippi Review, among others. Cass holds an MFA in Fiction from Sarah Lawrence College.

Samantha Edmonds, a PhD student in creative writing at the University of Missouri, is Assistant Editor at Sundress Publications. She is the author of the chapbooks Pretty to Think Soand The Space Poet. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in The New York TimesGay MagazineNinth LetterMichigan Quarterly Review, and The Rumpus.

Saba Syed Razvi is Associate Fiction Editor at Sundress Publications and Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Houston. She holds aPhD in Literature & Creative Writing from the University of Southern California. Razvi is the author of In the Crocodile Gardens and heliophobia and several chapbooks, including Limerence & Lux, and Beyond the Harem’s Veil

The Plot Summit is centered around staying confident while writing your first draft, building mystery, developing characters, structuring your tale around revelations, and earning your ending. The final day will include sessions on how to build your audience and market your book. 

Register by Wednesday for a chance to win a FREE all-access pass!

Free registration includes full workshop attendance and replay access for 24 hours. Registrants can purchase a Plot Pass for unlimited replay access. 

Sundress Publications Editorial Internship Open Call

Sundress Publications is an entirely volunteer-run 501(c)(3) nonprofit publishing collective founded in 2000 that hosts a variety of online journals and publishes chapbooks, full-length collections, and literary anthologies in both print and digital formats. Sundress also publishes the annual Best of the Net Anthology, celebrating the best work published online, runs Poets in Pajamas, an online reading series, and the Gone Dark Archives, preserving online journals that have reached the end of their run.

The editorial internship position will run from January 1 to July 1, 2021. The editorial intern’s responsibilities can include writing press releases, composing blog posts and promotional emails, proofreading manuscripts, assembling press kits, collating editorial data, research, managing spreadsheets, and more. The intern may also be responsible for writing copy, conducting interviews with Sundress authors, reviewing newly released books, and promoting our catalog of titles.

Preferred qualifications include:

· A keen eye for proofreading
· Strong written communication skills
· Familiarity with WordPress, Microsoft Word, and Google Suite
· Ability to work under a deadline and multitask
· Knowledge of and interest in contemporary literature a plus

This is a REMOTE internship with the team communicating primarily via email and text messages and is therefore not restricted to applicants living in any particular geographic area. Interns are asked to devote 10 hours per week to their assignments.

While this is an unpaid internship, all interns will gain real-world experience of the ins and outs of independent publishing with a nationally recognized press while creating a portfolio of work for future employment opportunities. Interns will also be able to attend all workshops at the Sundress Academy for the Arts at cost.

We welcome, encourage, and are enthusiastic to see a diverse array of applicants in all areas, including race, ethnicity, disability, gender, class, religion, education, immigration status, and more.

To apply, please send a resume and a brief cover letter detailing your interest in the position to incoming Staff Director Kanika Lawton at sundressstaffdirector@gmail.com by November 20, 2020.

A detailed application and interview guide can be found here.

SAFTA Announces Winners of Spring Residency Scholarships

The Sundress Academy for the Arts (SAFTA) is pleased to announce Michael Chang, Ashley Taylor, Kelly McQuain, Kyle Dillon Hertz, and Gauri Awasthi as winners of the Spring residency scholarships. These residencies are designed to give artists time and space to complete their creative projects in a quiet and productive environment. 

The two winners of the Lambda Literary Fellowship are Michael Chang and Ashley Taylor

A Lambda Literary fellow, Michael Chang (they/them) was awarded the Kundiman Scholarship at the Miami Writers Institute. A finalist in contests at the Iowa Review, BOMB, NightBlock, & many others, their poems have been nominated for Best of the Net. Their manuscript, <big shot manifesto>, was selected by Rae Armantrout as a finalist for the Fonograf Editions Open Genre Book Prize.

Ashley Taylor [she/they] is a poet performer and an MFA candidate at Spalding University’s School of Professional and Creative Writing. They develop programming that amplifies emerging marginalized voices, focuses on themes of resistance and joy, and engages with texts that address themes of identity, conformity, and the body politic. Ashley is the co-creator and designer for Lipstick University, an online writing program for spoken word poets, as part of an artist collective with Rheonna Nicole (Lipstick Wars Poetry Slam) and Louisville Literary Arts. She is the founder of the reading series River City Revue and collaborative writing workshops Keep Poetry WEird, the author of The Metamorphosis of Narcissus (Damaged Goods Press, 2019) and a teacher at the Jewish Community Center in Louisville, Kentucky. You can find out more @ www.ashleytaylorpoet.com

The winner of the Dr. Kristi Larkin Havens Memorial Fellowship is Kelly McQuain

Kelly McQuain is the author of Velvet Rodeo, which won the Bloom chapbook poetry prize. His prose, poetry and illustrations have appeared in The Pinch, Painted Bride Quarterly, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Rogue Agent, Spunk, Assaracus and Cleaver, as well as such anthologiesasThe Queer South, Drawn to Marvel, LGBTQ Fiction and Poetry from Appalachia, Eyes Glowing at the Edge of the Woods: Fiction and Poetry from West Virginia, andRabbit Ears: TV Poems. As a visual artist, McQuain has won prizes from the Barnes Foundation and the William Way LGBTQ Center, and his series of writer portraits appear as cover illustrations at Fjords Review. He has been a Sewanee Tennessee Williams Scholar and a Lambda Literary Fellow, and he has received two fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. www.KellyMcQuain.wordpress.com

The winners of the Fellowship for Marginalized Writers are Kyle Dillon Hertz and Gauri Awasthi.

Kyle Dillon Hertz received his MFA in fiction from NYU, where he received the Writer in the Public Schools Fellowship. He is at work on The Lookback Window, a novel. He can be found on instagram @kyledillonhertz or at www.kyledillonhertz.com.

Gauri Awasthi is an Indian poet and sustainability activist. She is currently an MFA candidate at McNeese State University in Louisiana, where she has been awarded the John Wood Poetry Prize. When not writing, she runs The Vegan Wardrobe (@theveganwardrobe) to raise awareness about cruelty-free fashion. Her writing has been previously published in The Wire, in two anthologies by Penguin (India), Buzzfeed, and others.

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