Project Bookshelf: Annie Fay Meitchik

A photo of a book with an orange cover titled "I Will Judge You By Your Bookshelf" at Powell's Books in Portland.

In many ways, what I consider to be my bookshelf is amorphous, shared, and exists in numerous locations. The majority of books that have shaped me awaited my discovery during silent reading time in my elementary school classrooms or on library shelves. I love books for the way they teach empathy and make knowledge accessible. My passion for books is deeply connected to the sense of peace I find when entering libraries. These institutions represent to me equal access to information and serve as reminders that art and literature are so deeply valuable that we’ve collectively ensured that they are free and available to everyone.

My bedroom is decorated with books—piled neatly on the floor, stacked on shelves by color, and covering the top of my piano. A lot of the books in my home are relics from my childhood: dog-eared copies of The Babysitter’s Club, well-loved Little Critter books, The Mysterious Benedict Society, and my prized edition of Alice Through the Looking Glass.

As I read well over 100 books every year, I acquire the vast majority of them from public libraries, so, I do not own many of my favorites. However, I do keep an evolving list of my recommendations on the homepage of my portfolio website. I have a special gift for matching people with the right books and enjoy sharing my personal collection with friends and family—Poison for Breakfast by Lemony Snicket has traveled 3,000 miles from my shelf and back.

A photo of three books stacked on top of each other with black spines. The books (from top to bottom) are: "The Decameron Project" compiled by The New York Times Magazine, "The Fran Lebowitz Reader" by Fran Lebowitz, and "Just Kids" by Patti Smith.

What I find so wonderful about books is their ability to be shared and their lack of a need for ownership. While there are a handful of books I enjoy owning and rereading—The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster and Little Weirds by Jenny Slate—the majority of books I’ve loved float in and out of libraries, gaining something magical and intangible with each new reader. So much of what I enjoy about reading is the sense of belonging I feel sharing an experience, a narrative, with strangers who I may cross paths with someday to bond over a favorite author, quote, or story.

Eleven books on a library shelf.

A black and white photo of a woman, the author of this post.

Annie Fay Meitchik is a writer and visual artist with her BA in Creative Writing from The New School and a Certificate in Children’s Book Writing from UC San Diego. Through a career in publishing, Annie aims to amplify the voices of marginalized identities while advocating for equality and inclusivity in art/educational spaces. Her work has been published by Matter Press, 12th Street Literary Journal, and UNiDAYS. To learn more, please visit:

Interview with Sarah Renee Beach, Author of Impact

Front cover of "Impact" by Sarah Renee Beach—a photo of a shattered window.

On the release of her debut chapbook Impact, Sundress intern Annie Fay Meitchik and writer Sarah Renee Beach discuss themes such as forgiveness and grief. Here, Beach shares her insights about poetry as catharsis after tragedy.

Annie Fay Meitchik: Can you speak to the use of erasure throughout Impact?

Sarah Renee Beach: Excavating the past is tricky under any circumstances, but when you add traumatic memory to the mix, it’s an entirely different beast. It’s difficult to rely on your own account of what happened, so you go looking for corroboration where you can find it. I turned to documents to help ground myself—or to provide a fact from which to work—but the documents themselves present a challenge in that they can complicate, contradict, obscure, or compound what little memory you have. My hope is that the erasures throughout the collection mirror this process of excavation both its illuminations and its failures.

AFM: When dealing with traumatic content, were there instances of self-censorship beyond the stylistic use of erasure?

SRB: I’m not sure self-censorship is the term I would use. In any event, there’s a multitude of perspectives and experiences, which makes silences, retractions, and obfuscations necessary aspects of any writing and editing process. A complete and accurate account will always elude us. Poetry gives us the ability to point to these voids and to give them texture, rather than smoothing over them and delivering a polished point of view. I think it was important for me to incorporate that texture, because—while this was a collective experience that could have been told from many different angles—I have only my perspective to draw from. And even that is a flawed, warped, and biased thing.

AFM: What does an epistolary form allow you to achieve or explore that you wouldn’t have with a different form of writing?

SRB: I find that the epistolary form points to the relational aspect of writing and allows for a level of intimacy that can be harder to tap into when the intended audience is less specific. It highlights what knowledge is shared, what can be offered, and what one wishes to receive. In Impact, the epistolary form gives voice to a perpetually unmet desire to connect, to share knowledge, to give and receive, showing how traumatic events both create and sever connections between the survivors as well as the deceased. I’m sure there are other ways to communicate this, but I chose the form of letters and that seemed to fit.

AFM: Can you share the intention behind writing “New Normal” in two columns?

SRB: I wrote this one many years ago, so it’s tough to remember exactly. I know I liked how the physicality of the two columns mirrored the kind of schism being discussed in the poem. It also creates a kind of hallway down the middle, your eyes darting side to side as you make your way down the poem. I think all of that was accidental, though. I believe I set out to write a contrapuntal and that’s how it eventually ended up.

AFM: In the poem, “Lucky,” there is the line: “Her name means God’s Princess,” which subtly recognizes yourself in the third person. Could you speak to what informed this choice and who the “I” is in the final line: “The heart quivered each time I escaped over the sill and under the pane”?

SRB: This poem speaks to dissociation, so the third person narration hopefully highlights that kind of unembodied experience of trying to escape yourself and your surroundings. Even in the throes of this kind of self-destructive propulsion, though, there are moments of return. The “I” in the last line is indicative of a return to the present and the body and making a conscious decision to keep fleeing rather than turning back.

AFM: Impact explores forgiveness and grief—do you see these things as being distinct from one another or overlapping?

SRB: For me, they were not only overlapping but intertwined. Sudden and tragic loss triggers very complicated emotional combinations, all of which are compounded when the experience is collective. The lack of discreteness and the way blame and anger get absorbed into the communal grieving process necessitates a movement towards forgiveness as well as acceptance—the fifth and final stage of grief. I don’t see Impact as making it to this destination so much as gesturing towards it on an individual level, grasping for a resolution perpetually out of reach.

AFM: With the incorporation of legal questioning, do you see your book contributing to a larger conversation about the way people are treated in the legal system?

SRB: Our legal apparatus, the way it operates out of sight and out of mind for so many people, is fascinating to me. None of us really knows how impersonal and indifferent it is to human complexity and emotion until we are embedded into it. Your story, your memory, your pain all become useful in this necessarily dispassionate way. With this book, I only hoped to shed some light on that experience. In the aftermath of a tragedy like the one my book explores, this is just one of the many processes set into motion, a kind of churning survivors are pulled into and spit out of. Not the whole story, but certainly part of it.

AFM: Can you speak to the recurring references to Frida Kahlo’s work? How do they relate to the goals of your collection?

SRB: I’d been looking for a touchstone, for an example of an artist making art from tragedy in a way that resonated with my experience of it. What struck me most about Frida Kahlo—and what has me turning to her art and writing again and again—is that she isn’t translating an experience or telling a story so that an outside observer can understand it. Her art, to me, shows the incorporation of a tragedy into a lived life, one that has not been overcome but endured. That felt revelatory to me as someone who for many years felt rushed through processing and pressured to package the event as something I’d learned and grown from, a story I could quickly and succinctly recite. Frida helped me to resist the pull towards narrative reduction and to honor the complexity. As Hayden Herrera noted in her biography of the artist in the quote that serves as Impact’s epigraph: …the accident was too ‘complicated’ and ‘important’ to reduce to a single comprehensible image. I couldn’t agree more.

AFM: Who do you hope your collection reaches?

SRB: If not ourselves, we all know someone who has experienced tragedy, or we’ve read about something tragic that happened to someone somewhere. I hope Impact speaks to what we like to call “unimaginable.” Because, really, what’s more conceivable than human and mechanical error, violence, a fatal crash? It’s living in the aftermath that we fail to imagine and, thus, reimagine. In that way, I hope it reaches anyone who might otherwise struggle to behold another’s pain, to resist the urge to transform it into something beautiful or useful or meaningful.

Impact is available to download for free on the Sundress website.

A photo of the author of "Impact," Sarah Renee Beach, standing in front of some greenery.

Originally from Southeast Texas, Sarah Renee Beach completed her MFA at The New School. Her poetry can be found in White Wall ReviewRust + Moth, and anthologized in Host Publications’ I Scream Social Anthology Vol. 2. She currently lives in Austin, TX. More information about her work may be found at

A black and white photo of Sundress Intern, Annie Fay Meitchik.

Annie Fay Meitchik is a writer and visual artist with her BA in Creative Writing from The New School and a Certificate in Children’s Book Writing from UC San Diego. Through a career in publishing, Annie aims to amplify the voices of marginalized identities while advocating for equality and inclusivity in art/educational spaces. Her work has been published by Matter Press, 12th Street Literary Journal, and UNiDAYS. To learn more, please visit:

Sundress Reads: Review of Little Hour

Cover of the book "Little Hour" by Rae Gouirand. The background is a gray color and looks like cement, a stick arches across the center of the image, and a lamp appears in the bottom left hand corner. The title is in white and the authors name is in black.

Rae Gouirand’s chapbook, Little Hour (Swan Scythe Press, 2022), uses poetry as a medium to explore themes of place, space, duality of self, as well as the relationship between nature versus human influence and design.

The collection of 20 poems opens with “Some Place” which encapsulates the speaker’s desire to understand their purpose and place in the universe as illustrated in the lines:

“I was born on a planet
flung off to

yield itself— fingerprints rest

& I hover looking for some place.

I is always the hardest

among the signs that are not

just rock, straw, dark, dust,

shell, spark, wick— everything but I

has use…” (Gouirand 9).

This poem illustrates how the speaker feels like being born on Earth means coming to terms with one’s use or purpose. Gouirand highlights how in nature these purposes are clear for things like rocks or shells—but for the sentient “I,” the ego, the human being, determining purpose and finding the place where that purpose can be of use is challenging. “Some Place” introduces the collection as a whole, with each subsequent poem acting as a further investigation being made by the same speaker, rather than an assortment of different perspectives.

Gouirand expands into an exploration of the relationship between nature and human forms in the second poem, “An Autobiography.” The juxtaposition between word pairings like weather and mouth, snow and hand, and day and eyes makes the reader reflect on their own presence within the larger environment, and conversely, the environment’s impact on them. A similar series of juxtapositions between nature and inorganic or human forms appears in many of the poems including “Early Neighborhoods” and “Canoe and Cicadas.” “An Autobiography,” however, stands apart from the rest of the collection for its unusual structural form. While the majority of poems in the collection are written in first person couplets, “An Autobiography” uses a different approach. Visually, every other line is indented to the center of the page creating a vertical horizon. This stylistic choice may invite the reader to engage with the poem both line by line and by reading the right and left columns separately. With lines like “two voices at once I try,” the latter of these options leads to a more conversational tone and feels connected to the core of this piece which focuses on the duality of self (Gouirand 10).

In the seventh poem, “With Horse,” Gouirand writes:

“The muscle, the teeth, the breath rushing

out of burned throat and through
those teeth into air, where it became

indistinguishable,” (Gouirand 16).

These lines showcase the symbiosis between breathing (a human act) and the air of the natural world. As the concepts of breath and air converge, the reader may consider what is one of these things if not the other? What are these things without the other? Fascinatingly, this piece references racing and running; with these active words the poem accelerates, only slowing in the third to last couplet with the word rest.

In the ninth poem, “Extinction,” the theme of place is transformed into a tangible shape. From this point in the collection forward, Gouirand writes with more specificity and compartmentalization with the repeated use of words including box and bowl—as also seen in “Simply,” “Our Tongue,” and “Far Blue.” Boxes and bowls are both containers in their own ways, and with a touch of mindfulness, these objects symbolize the importance of emptiness. In the same way only an empty box may be filled with belongings, it is only with emptiness that there is space for something to fill it. In these poems, the speaker’s search for a way to define the containment of self seems significant to the thesis of the collection as a whole. These poems present an idea that a home is a container for the self and words like box, bowl, place, land, mine, room, hold, space, outside, and inward solidify this messaging.

Little Hour invites readers to be meditative—slowing down to notice the precarious balance between art, nature, and humans by striving to “know every moment of sunlight, every moment of moonlight…” (Gouirand 20).

Little Hour is available from Swan Scythe Press.

A black and white photo of a woman, the author of this post.

Annie Fay Meitchik is a writer and visual artist with her BA in Creative Writing from The New School and a Certificate in Children’s Book Writing from UC San Diego. Through a career in publishing, Annie aims to amplify the voices of marginalized identities while advocating for equality and inclusivity in art/educational spaces. Her work has been published by Matter Press, 12th Street Literary Journal, and UNiDAYS. To learn more, please visit:

Sundress Reads: Review of Low Budget Movie

An image of the “Low Budget Movie” book cover. The cover features a photograph of a messy bathroom countertop from above with an open drawer full of miscellaneous toiletries. On the counter there are items like an electric toothbrush, a hair straightener, makeup, and an open stick of deodorant. The title of the book and the author’s names (Kendra DeColo and Tyler Mills) are in bright yellow letters.

Kendra DeColo’s and Tyler Mills’ collaborative poetry collection, Low Budget Movie (Diode Editions, 2021), uses subversive language and sexual innuendos to explore and deplore imitation, misogyny, and consumerism through a highly Americanized-lens filtered by pop culture, heteronormativity, and capitalist ideals. As the title suggests, the collection has a cohesive movie motif. This motif is so prevalent that structurally the collection of ten poems is divided into two acts: “Prop Mistress” and “Misogyny ABC’s.” 

The opening poem, “Love Poem with Whip-Its and HGTV” introduces readers to the blunt tone and feminist-leaning of the collection. In this poem, and in many others, words take on dual meanings—straightforward and sexual. For instance, in the lines “spit, swallow you in my open concept/living room. Yes, I’m a sucker for HGTV,” the noun sucker refers to both oral sex and being especially fond of a television channel (DeColo, Mills 11).  Similarly, in the line, “but I’ll slip two fingers into your bad caulk work,” the use of homophone creates a sexual innuendo (DeColo, Mills 11). The conscious choice to use language that evokes double meanings feels paralleled with the double standards the collection investigates. 

While language that evokes double meanings begins on page one, by the fourth poem in the collection, “Challenge in TV Yellow,” the theme of imitation helps to explain how these linguistic choices impact the speakers. The poem personifies an imitation 1954 Gibson guitar which guides the reader to consider how women are objectified: “…Your imitation is rubbed down/to wood where the body of it swells/because of the forearms that sweat there, owning/and trading it in…” (DeColo, Mills 15). The idea that the body of the guitar has been owned, traded, and held by multiple people seems to affect its value and serves as a metaphor for sexual shaming. This is solidified in the line, “Give me paint, give me a neck that hands haven’t touched,” in which the speaker would prefer something pure, untouched, rather than a used guitar (DeColo, Mills 16). Other thoughts on imitation are expressed in the poems “Watching Magic Mike with John Waters at the Provincetown Movie House,” “Prop Mistress,” “Poem with a Million-Dollar Budget,” “Misogyny ABC’s,” and “What to Wear to Report Your Stalker to HR.”

In the second half of the collection, “Women in Line,” explores heteronormativity, objectification, and consumerism. The consistent use of hypersexual language may feel like an example of reclaiming speech to some readers—two female authors using the same vulgar language that plays a role in perpetuating systemic sexism may serve as a protest against discrimination. This begins to be articulated in the line, “But women in line don’t speak. We look away,” (DeColo, Mills 27). While readers can pause here to reflect on the times they stayed silent in the face of innappropriate or unwanted comments, the speakers go on to combat the passivity of not speaking and looking away by writing things like,

“before coddling their cocks in the lodges of their baggy jeans and sneering, Our heaven

is Hellenic as rape. I had pitied them because even now the heteronormative

dictatorship that lingers in my cochlea like ear buds pushed in too far with bad music

whispers: No girlfriends, lonely men,” (DeColo, Mills 27).

In combination, these lines capture and unleash feelings of rage and pity while acknowledging that the sentiments are often hard, or unsafe to express. This idea is further developed in the following poem, “Misogyny ABC’s,” in the lines, “Must. not. make. eye. contact. with./the. mail. man. lest. he. think./I. am. dying. for. a. fuck” (DeColo, Mills 31). All of the poems in the collection, but particularly “Women in Line” respond to the heteronormative dictatorship that enrages the speakers. Even in subtle phrases like “the desire to have a woman,” the ideas of ownership, objectification, instant gratification, and consumerism are clear while the poem’s setting of Dunkin’ Donuts serves as a synecdoche for American capitalism (DeColo, Mills 28). In the same way people can have fast food, there’s an underlying message about being entitled to have a woman just as easily as a donut. 

Low Budget Movie invites readers to be daring, engaged, and more aware of the pervasive sexism in American society through a film motif, showing readers how many characters women need to be able to play to be likable, desirable, and oftentimes, safe. DeColo and Mills intentionally blur authorial voice, so any use of the first person may also feel collective. So, when they invite readers to “Ask me how many women I’ve been,” perhaps the true invitation is to ask oneself (DeColo, Mills 29).

Low Budget Movie is available from Diode Editions.

A black and white photo of a woman, the author of this post.

Annie Fay Meitchik is a writer and visual artist with her BA in Creative Writing from The New School and a Certificate in Children’s Book Writing from UC San Diego. Through a career in publishing, Annie aims to amplify the voices of marginalized identities while advocating for equality and inclusivity in art/educational spaces. Her work has been published by Matter Press, 12th Street Literary Journal, and UNiDAYS. To learn more, please visit: