Lyric Essentials: Roseanna Alice Boswell Reads Becca Klaver

Welcome back to Lyric Essentials! This week poet, student, and author Roseanna Alice Boswell has joined us to discuss the work of Becca Klaver, feeling understood and comforted during a lonely time, and being unafraid in writing. As always, we hope you enjoy as much as we did.


Ashley Hajimirsadeghi: When was the first time you read Klaver’s work? Why did it stand out to you then?

Roseanna Alice Boswell: I first experienced Becca Klaver’s work in 2017 when I heard her give a reading in Ohio. She was the visiting professor at my MFA at the time, and so I had sort of the unique opportunity of getting to know her as a teacher first, and then as a poet. As soon as I heard her poems, it was like something clicked in my brain. I was like oh my god, yes, this is the kind of poetry I want to write when I grow up!

AH: How has Klaver’s writing inspired your own? 

Roseanna Alice Broswell Reads “Uptalk” by Becca Klaver

RAB: I think what is so delicious to me about Becca’s work is that it is just unabashed all the time. In her collection Ready for the World, she writes about selfies, and dildos, and magic, and girl-ness in this way that intellectualizes without distancing, if that makes sense? Reading her poems always makes me want to grab a pink, sparkly pen and start writing, as both celebration and interrogation: what is girlhood? what can I make with it?

Roseanna Alice Broswell Reads “Reproductive Logic” by Becca Klaver

AH: Why did you choose these poems specifically? 

RAB: These poems are all from Ready for the World, which I read after the start of the pandemic and social distancing. It was such a comforting collection to read; it made me feel seen and understood during a time that felt incredibly lonely and isolating. And these three poems in particular have just stayed and stayed with me. I think great poems are kind of like music that way, they’ll just pop into your head from time to time and ride through your day with you. The poem “Reproductive Logic” is like that especially for me. “Last night, I pulled the death card for future and shuddered as I thought, It’s coming for us all; have your babies. I’ll raise this solitude like a foundling.” I mean, COME ON. How great is that? Maybe too because I’m approaching my thirties, and many of my friends and family are starting families, that one hits very close to home.

AH: What have you been up to lately (life, work, anything!)? Got any news to share?

RAB: School and work and writing take up pretty much all of my time, although not usually in equal shares (wouldn’t that be tidy and convenient?). I am working on a chapbook manuscript right now though that I am pretty excited about. And I think that while I was at work last week I thought of a good title for my next full length collection! We’ll see if I still like it in a year or so when I am trying to put it together, but it felt like a Big Moment at the time…

Read more from this interview at our Patreon.


Becca Klaver is a contemporary American poet. She is the author of the poetry collections LA Liminal (Kore Press, 2010), Empire Wasted (Bloof Books, 2016), and Ready for the World (Black Lawrence Press, 2020). Her poems and prose have appeared in Verse Daily, American Poetry Review, and Sink Review. She received her PhD from Rutgers University.

Find her website here.

Read her poem “Fall Parties” at Poets.org

Purchase her collection Ready for the World at Black Lawrence Press.

Roseanna Alice Boswell is a queer poet from Upstate New York. Her work has appeared in: RHINO, Whiskey Island, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, and elsewhere. A Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, Roseanna holds an MFA from Bowling Green State University and is a Ph.D. student in English – Creative Writing at Oklahoma State University. Her chapbook, Imitating Light, was chosen as the 2021 Iron Horse Literary Review Chapbook Competition winner. Roseanna’s first full-length collection, Hiding in a Thimble, was published with Haverthorn Press in 2021. She currently haunts the Midwest with her husband and cat.

Find her website here.

Follow Roseanna Alice on Twitter.

Purchase her collection Hiding in a Thimble here.

Ashley Hajimirsadeghi is an Iranian-American multimedia artist, writer, and journalist. Her writing has appeared in Moon City Review, Hobart, DIALOGIST, Rust + Moth, and The Shore, among others. She is the Co-Editor-in-Chief at both Mud Season Review and Juven Press, and a contributing writer at MovieWeb. Her work can be found at ashleyhajimirsadeghi.com

Lyric Essentials: Dayna Patterson Reads Pattiann Rogers

Welcome back to Lyric Essentials! Artist, writer, and avid fungi enthusiast Dayna Patterson has joined us to discuss the work of Pattiann Rogers, faith in writing, and being a poet mom. We hope you enjoyed as much as we did, and, as always, thank you for tuning in.


Ashley Hajimirsadeghi: When was the first time you read Roger’s work? Why did it stand out to you then? 

Dayna Patterson: About 13 years ago, when my girls were very little, just 1 and 2, I was taking a poetry workshop that met once or twice a week in the evening. The professor, Christine Butterworth-McDermott, introduced Rogers’s work, and I was immediately captivated by the blend of science and lyricism. I remember checking out a video of Rogers reading for the Lannan Foundation, and she mentioned that she really began writing poetry when her two boys were very small. She joked about dedicating her first book to Popeye because the only time she got any writing done was when her boys were plunked in front of the TV. From that moment, I felt less guilty about turning on Max & Ruby for my girls while I wrote. Rogers made the poet-mom life seem more possible. 

Dayna Patterson reads “Servant, Birthright” by Pattiann Rogers

AH: How has Rogers’s writing inspired your own? 

DP: My understanding is that Rogers minored in zoology, and I appreciate both the close observations and the zooming out to glimpse the big picture that she does in her poems. I’m enamored by her attention to detail in the natural world, which I find an endless source of wonder and amazement, both in my life and in my own work. But her poetic magic is more than just attention to detail. She seems to be really gifted with maneuvering the extended metaphor, linking together some wonderfully strange ideas and running with them.

Dayna Patterson reads “‘God is in the Details’ says the Mathematician Freeman J. Dyson” by Pattiann Rogers

AH: Why did you choose these poems specifically? 

DP: Rogers has a lot to say about god, doesn’t she? Coming back to her work after more than a decade, after a huge fluctuation in my own faith, I’ve been particularly piqued by how she talks about god and how god changes over time. In her earlier work, she seems to affirm the existence of god and the soul, and then later there’s much more room for doubt. I read “Servant, Birthright” a few months ago for the first time, and I can’t stop thinking about it. I’m haunted by the idea of god as a cow, the speaker’s relationship to the cow, how it morphs over time. I wonder how closely the speaker of the poem reflects Rogers’s own ideas about her relationship to god. I wonder what metaphor I could write into to transcribe my own shifting relationship to divinity. 

I chose “God is in the Details” because I’m more drawn, these days, to the Feminine Divine. I was raised Mormon, and Mormon theology has a godhead made up of God the Father (male), God the Son (aka Jesus, also male), and God the Holy Ghost (you guessed it–male). There’s a God the Mother, but she’s considered by many to be too sacred to speak of, and Mormons are forbidden to pray to Her. After leaving Mormonism, I’m still curious about the idea of a Feminine Divine figure. I also began dabbling in embroidery and textile arts a couple of years ago, so this poem, with its down-to-earth grandma-god stitching the fine details of the world? Well, I wish I’d written it. 

AH: What have you been up to lately (life, work, anything!)? Got any news to share? 

DP: My first full-length collection, If Mother Braids a WaterfalI, just turned two! My next poetry book, O Lady, Speak Again, a collection of Post-Mormon feminist poems that riff on Shakespeare, is forthcoming from Signature Books. In my spare time, I curate Poetry + Fungus, a pairing of poetry books with species from the fungal world. 


Pattiann Rogers is an American poet from the Midwest. She has received two NEA grants, four Pushcart Prizes, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Lannan Poetry Fellowship over the course of her prolific career. Her poetry collections include Quickening Fields (Penguin, 2017), Wayfare (Penguin, 2008), and Firekeeper: New and Selected Poems (Milkweed Editions, 1994).

Find a collection of her work at Poetry.

Purchase a copy of Firekeeper at Milkweed.

Read more about Rogers here.

Dayna Patterson is a Thea-curious recovering Mormon, fungophile, macrophotography enthusiast, and textile artist. She’s the author of Titania in Yellow (Porkbelly Press, 2019) and If Mother Braids a Waterfall (Signature Books, 2020). Honors include the Association for Mormon Letters Poetry Award and the 2019 #DignityNotDetention Poetry Prize judged by Ilya Kaminsky. Her creative work has appeared recently in EcoTheo, Kenyon Review, and Whale Road Review. She’s the founding editor (now emerita) of Psaltery & Lyre and a co-editor of Dove Song: Heavenly Mother in Mormon Poetry. In her spare time, she curates Poetry + Fungus, a pairing of poetry books and species from the fungal world.

Find Dayna online at daynapatterson.com

Purchase If a Mother Braids a Waterfall here.

Read Dayna’s poem “Our Lady of Thread” at The Kenyon Review.

Ashley Hajimirsadeghi is an Iranian-American multimedia artist, writer, and journalist. Her writing has appeared in Barren Magazine, Hobart, DIALOGIST, Rust + Moth, and The Shore, among others. She is the Co-Editor in Chief at both Mud Season Review and Juven Press. More of her work can be found at ashleyhajimirsadeghi.com

Sundress Announces the Release of Jason B. Crawford’s Year of the Unicorn Kidz

Sundress Publications is pleased to announce the release of Jason B. Crawford’s Year of the Unicorn Kidz. Crawford’s poetry delicately details the thrills and dangers of self-discovery on the margins of reality.

Jason B. Crawford’s Year of the Unicorn Kidz beautifully explores existence on the intersections of gender, race, and sexuality. Their profound navigation of identity, violence, and desire transcends boundaries and binaries. Vulnerability takes the centre stage as the speaker of these descriptive and passionate poems unburies old relationships and haunting memories. Year of the Unicorn Kidz reads like a coming-of-age story for marginalized youth in America, sketching the body in terms of disconnection, loss, and the explosive nature of desire. From burning rage to healing friendships to the thrill of forbidden encounters and the regrets that follow them, Crawford revisits the reckless elements of youth that capture the inner and outer conflicts of self-discovery. They bring incredible depth to their poetry with urgent and vivid storytelling that delicately reveals the complexity of reality, while also leaving room for readers to reflect on their own.

torrin a. greathouse, author of Wound from the Mouth of a Wound, and boy/girl/ghost says, “In Year of the Unicorn Kidz, ode and elegy coexist by necessity. Crawford crafts for us a poetic landscape sat at the intersection of violence and desire, drenched in neon and horror movie fog. Even in this book’s happiest poems, risk is always in the periphery, whether they are writing about beloved friends, cruising, or childhood memories. Undergirding the entire collection is Crawford’s particular talent for writing through violence with stunning tenderness, rendering knives and teeth blunt even as they speak them sharp into a poem.”

Pre-order your copy of Year of the Unicorn Kidz on the Sundress website: https://sundress-publications.square.site/

Jason B. Crawford (they/them) is a Black, nonbinary, queer writer. Crawford is the author of three chapbooks: Summertime Fine (Variant Literaure, 2021), Twerkable Moments (Paper Nautilus, 2021), and Good Boi (Neon Hemlock, 2021). Crawford is a current poetry MFA candidate at The New School in New York, NY.

Lyric Essentials: Kristin LaFollette Reads Steve Henn

Welcome back to Lyric Essentials. Poet, educator, and editor Kristin LaFollette has joined us this week to discuss mentorship, inspirations, and recent reads. As always, thank you for tuning in!


Ashley Hajimirsadeghi: Why did you choose Steve Henn for this feature? What was your first experience with his work?

Kristin LaFollette: I started reading Henn’s work when his book Indiana Noble Sad Man of the Year (Wolfson Press, 2017) was released. Henn was actually my AP English teacher during my senior year of high school, and his teaching and mentorship over the years has impacted my writing in so many ways. I first started writing poetry in a creative writing class during my freshman year of high school, but I became more interested in poetry in Henn’s class a few years later. He attended Indiana University South Bend (IUSB) and talked so highly of his experience there that I ended up going there for my BA and MA in English and creative writing. 

Henn, LaFollette, and Kaveh Akbar

Henn’s name might sound familiar if you’ve heard or read any interviews with the poet Kaveh Akbar (here’s one example). Akbar and I were in that same AP English class together with Henn, and as Akbar has indicated in many interviews, Henn had a great impact on his writing life, as well. Even after I graduated, I would see Henn at literary events at IUSB and he would remember things I wrote and talk to me about them. When my first chapbook came out, he drove from Indiana to Ohio to do a reading with me at Bowling Green State University. He just wrote a blurb for my recently-released poetry collection, Hematology

I chose him for this feature because he is so invested in his students and other writers and is a voracious reader. Since he’s so often promoting the work of others, I’m hoping this interview can give his work some of the attention it deserves. 

Just for fun: Also, Henn and Akbar did a reading together at IUSB back in 2017 and I drove from Ohio to see them read (see the attached image). It was a fun reunion, and listening to both of them read reminded me that brilliant writers can come from anywhere, even Warsaw, IN. 

Kristin LaFollette reads “World’s #1 Dad” by Steve Henn

AH: What draws you to Henn’s work specifically? Have you been inspired by it? 

KL: There’s so much to appreciate about Henn’s poetry, but one thing that stands out is how skillfully and surprisingly he intersects humor with heavy subject matter; many of his poems are both funny and poignant at the same time. Steve also isn’t afraid to tackle difficult social and/or political issues in his work, but he often does so in a lighthearted way that encourages readers to think about or consider issues in new and different ways. 

I am inspired by Henn’s work because it conveys that a skilled poet can write about any subject effectively and that inspiration can come from anywhere. Further, his poems are good reminders not to take life too seriously and that bringing humor into poetry can be helpful in articulating and processing complex feelings and experiences.

AH: For those who are interested in reading more work like Henn’s, do you have any recommendations? What other writers have you been adoring lately?

KL: One poet who comes to mind is Darren C. Demaree. His poetry reminds me of Henn’s in so many ways, but probably because of his sometimes-humorous approaches to heavy topics. He also writes about fatherhood and important social issues, so those are additional common threads. I just finished reading a child walks in the dark (Harbor Editions, 2021), Demaree’s recent book release, and I highly recommend it to fans of Henn’s poetry. 

Other poetry collections I’ve read recently and loved: Pilgrim Bell by Kaveh Akbar, Wobble by Rae Armantrout, Advice from the Lights by Stephanie Burt, and Pine by Julia Koets. 

Kristin LaFollette reads “The Mother of My Children” by Steve Henn

AH: What have you been up to lately? Any news to share? 

KL: This has been a busy season for me! My first full-length collection of poetry, Hematology, won the 2021 Harbor Editions Laureate Prize and was released in December. I’ve done several readings to promote that, including a book launch hosted by my university on February 17th. Also, a review of Hematology was just published in Gasher!

I recently served on the judging team for the Perugia Press Prize, and I’m on the editorial board at Mud Season Review as the Art Editor (we just released #60 – check it out here!). In the past couple months, I’ve had poetry featured in The Maynard, Harpy Hybrid Review, and Poetry is Currency. My writing and research are often focused on the body and medicine, and I had a series of seven poems featured in February 2022 at The Blood Project (TBP), an educational platform that works toward building bridges between the humanities, science, and patient care.

You can read more content from this interview at the Sundress Patreon.


Steve Henn is a writer and high school English teacher. His poems have appeared in New York Quarterly, Into the Void, and Rattle, among others. He is the author of multiple poetry collections, including American Male (Main Street Rag, 2022) and Guilty Prayer (Main Street Rag, 2021).

Find Steve at his website.

Read his poem “I Remember” at Twyckenham Notes.

Purchase his newest chapbook here.

 Kristin LaFollette is a writer, artist, and photographer and serves as the Art Editor at Mud Season Review. She is the author of Hematology (winner of the 2021 Harbor Editions Laureate Prize) and Body Parts (winner of the 2017 GFT Press Chapbook Contest). She received her Ph.D. from Bowling Green State University and is a professor at the University of Southern Indiana. 

Find Kristin’s website here: https://www.kristinlafollette.com

Purchase Kristin’s collection Hematology here.

Follow Kristin on Twitter.

Ashley Hajimirsadeghi is an Iranian-American multimedia artist, writer, and journalist. Her writing has appeared in Barren Magazine, Hobart, DIALOGIST, Rust + Moth, and The Shore, among others. She is the Co-Editor in Chief at both Mud Season Review and Juven Press. More of her work can be found at ashleyhajimirsadeghi.com

Lyric Essentials: Allison Blevins Reads Kerri French

Welcome back to Lyric Essentials! This week we are joined with poet and educator Allison Blevins, who has read the work of Kerri French. Join us in a discussion about when we first discover our favorite poets, literary inspirations, and what’s next. As always, thank you for tuning in!


Ashley Hajimirsadeghi: When was the first time you read French’s work? Why did it stand out to you then? 

Black & White

Allison Belvins: I first read her book Every Room in the Body in 2018.  I had just given birth to our youngest child.  I was experiencing postpartum depression and something about French’s struggle with pregnancy resonated with where I was.  Ultimately, this book is about the body.  At the time, mine was betraying me.  I was supposed to be joyful.  The book made me feel a little less lonely.

Allison Blevins Reads “In Which I Play the Part of Myself” by Kerri French

AH: How has French’s writing inspired your own? 

AB: In 2019, I was slowly paralyzed from the waist down.  I learned to walk again and was eventually diagnosed with MS.  Not only did I have to learn how to be chronically ill and disabled, I had to learn how to write my new body.  My research and reading became only books on disability, pain, and illness.  Every Room in the Body was a book I came back to.  How do you write the truth in a way that able bodied folks will want to hear it?  French’s book is able to haunt but without overcoming the reader.  This was incredibly inspiring to my own work.

Allison Blevins Reads “32 Weeks” by Kerri French

AH: Why did you choose these poems specifically? 

AB: I picked these three poems because they were the ones with creased pages.  I’d marked them.  I knew I’d come back to them, and I was right.  

AH: What have you been up to lately (life, work, anything!)? Got any news to share? 

AB: I have a collaborative chapbook from Seven Kitchens Press publishing in March with the poet Josh Davis. I have a lyric memoir publishing in April from BlazeVox, and I have a collection publishing in September with YesYes Books.  I’m also currently working on an anthology of work by queer disabled folks with an unbelievably awesome team of editors!

You can read more from this interview at our Patreon.


Kerri French is a poet and author based outside of Nashville, Tennessee. She is the author of Every Room in the Body (Moon City Press, 2017) and received degrees from UNC Chapel Hill, UNC Greensboro, and Boston University. Her poems have appeared in The Nashville Review, Washington Square Review, and Copper Nickel, among many others.

Find her website here.

Purchase her collection Every Room in the Body here.

Read her poem “Like a Prayer” at Barrelhouse.

Allison Blevins is the author of four chapbooks and the collection Slowly/Suddenly (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press, 2021). Her books Handbook for the Newly Disabled (BlazeVox, 2022) and Cataloging Pain (YesYes Books, 2022) are forthcoming.  Her work has appeared in such journals as Mid-American Reviewthe minnesota review, and Raleigh Review.  She is the Director of Small Harbor Publishing and the Executive Editor at the museum of americana.  She lives in Missouri with her partner and three children. 

 Find her online at http://www.allisonblevins.com.

Discover her chapbooks here.

Read her poem “Who’s Afraid of Silence” here.

Ashley Hajimirsadeghi is a multimedia artist, writer, and journalist. Her writing has appeared in Barren Magazine, Hobart, DIALOGIST, Rust + Moth, and The Shore, among others. She is the Co-Editor in Chief at both Mud Season Review and Juven Press. More of her work can be found at ashleyhajimirsadeghi.com

Meet Our New Intern: Finnegan Angelos

A young white mustached-man looks into the sun with yellow eyeshadow and a white, red, and blue striped T-shirt. He stands in front of green forestry.

I’m trying to stop hating winter, honest. Though it’s one of those ebb and flow type things, three steps forward two steps back. I’ve hated winter all my life, mostly due to loving summer so much, where I’ve quite happily read and swam and even cultivated something somewhere close to inner peace, never fully there but close enough. I’m an accidental binary-enthusiast, polarized in loving things, a Gemini, all in or all out. But to my credit, there is nothing I love more than being surprised, ever-willing to be proven wrong.

I grew up memorizing poetry, a habit that grew out of a desire to please my father. He was a rigid and technical man, with a soft spot for William Blake. See? Surprise! To this day “The Tyger,” “Oh Captain! My Captain!,” and “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” repeat around my head, line by line, during any number of monotonous and thoughtless tasks. I’ve been trying this past year to encourage stillness inside of myself, but I can’t yet argue the worth of an eloquent sentence in its wake. 

The poets my father read were always fixated around nature. I couldn’t discern if that was due to his love of it or my own, but found it ever intriguing that they somehow appealed to us both. We seemed to love nature so differently—I seemed to love it so much more. Perhaps at ten years old, love is just immovably, incomparably in plain sight. Looking back, I wish he had read me more female poets—any queer poets—but a part of me was glad to find both on my own. Poetry was a seed planted in me by my father, but I tilled the land till it grew. Due to our combined efforts, everything flourished. At thirteen, I was already engulfed by philosophy—transcendentalism became religion and art in one broad sweep. My first copy of Leaves of Grass is illegible, its margins a battlefield of graphite and ink.

I think Mary Oliver puts it best (as always) when she writes, “Pay Attention. / Be astonished. / Tell about it.” That’s my motto, as well as everything else she has ever penned. (I even have her quote, “walk slowly, bow often” tattooed on my chest). With all of this culture of praise, of silent and precious and unfaltering awe—I still haven’t been able to bring myself to love winter, the very chill of it feeling like a natural antonym of said qualities. But in the good, true, fair practice of Mary and Walt, I’ve been trying to wrestle my way into compassion. 

Today, I picked up my dearest friend from his home, holding nothing but a great wooden toboggan, the kind I haven’t seen outside of Charlie Brown cartoons. We, well past childhood and even teenagehood somehow, spent close to three hours running up and sledding down a very steep hill. I can pinpoint the moment, right after we pushed the comical thing in the general direction of down, that I felt so in tune with everything, so divinely connected with the ground, my companion, and yes, even the toboggan, that at once loving something as fleetingly beautiful as winter didn’t seem a hard task at all. 

Reading work from Sundress Publications has always left me in a similar position. Feeling connection, newness, awe all over. It’s this, and so much else, that leaves me in almost-wordless gratitude that I am able to contribute to a space that continually pushes for creative and accessible writing. And it is in the spirit of my great transcendentalist lineage that I offer to it nothing but open-mindedness, open-heartedness, and sacred appreciation. 


Finnegan Angelos is a self-proclaimed east-coast-love-struck-queer-awakening poet and essayist originally from northern Baltimore County, Maryland. His work has been published in the Beyond Queer Words Anthology, Thistle Magazine, and FRANCES, and has work forthcoming in EPOCH. He loves his dog, hibiscus tea, and the banjo.

Sundress Academy for the Arts Presents “The Confluence of Rhythms Begins: Mapping the Sounds of Your Poems”: A Writers Workshop

The Sundress Academy for the Arts is excited to present “The Confluence of Rhythms Begins: Mapping the Sounds of Your Poems,” a workshop led by Sandra Marchetti on February 9, 2022, from 6-7:30 PM. This event will be held over Zoom. Participants can access the event at tiny.utk.edu/sundress (password: safta).

“Soon, soon the flesh / The grave cave ate will be / At home on me.” Sylvia Plath’s images in “Lady Lazarus” are haunting, but they are propelled into nightmare through her expert sense of sound and rhythm. If you are wondering how to develop the natural tempos and patterns in your poems to enhance your images and narrative, this innovative music-poetics workshop is for you.

To combat the old struggles of writing and counting metrical lines, you will learn fresh methods like sound mapping, beat-tuning, and creating nonce forms to follow the sounds of your poems to their crescendos. Bring a couple of drafts-in-progress (at any stage) to revise. We will also write at least one new sound-driven piece in workshop. In addition to personalized feedback from the instructor and a helpful list of further readings, we will discuss where and how to place sensual, sound-driven poetry for publication.

While there is no fee for this workshop, those who are able and appreciative can make direct donations via PayPal using the email address sandrapoetry@gmail.com.

Sandra Marchetti is the author of Confluence, a full-length collection of poetry from Sundress Publications (2015). She is also the author of four chapbooks of poetry and lyric essays. Her poetry appears widely in Poet Lore, Blackbird, Ecotone, Southwest Review, Subtropics, and elsewhere. Sandy’s essays can be found at The Rumpus, Fansided, Mid-American Review, Barrelhouse, Pleiades, and other venues. Sandy earned an MFA in Creative Writing—Poetry from George Mason University and now serves as the Coordinator of Tutoring Services at the College of DuPage in the Chicagoland area. She currently serves as the Poetry Editor at River Styx Magazine.

Lyric Essentials: Odessa Charon Reads Brian Doyle

Welcome back to Lyric Essentials! This week writer and teacher Odessa Charon has joined us to discuss the work of Brian Doyle, fateful encounters, and the divinity that surrounds us in our everyday lives. Thank you for reading and, as always, we hope you enjoy this conversation as much as we did!


Ashley Hajimirsadeghi: What was your first experience with Doyle’s work?

Image of Doyle was taken by Odessa when they met.

Odessa Charon: There was a Literature professor I had, when I went to college in the eerie lowland expanse of Ohio. This professor was a mentor and confidant. At the time, I was struggling with my mental health, oscillating between severe depressive and manic episodes. I had begun processing a CPTSD diagnosis, while still living in a dorm room where I experienced a deep trauma. I felt Godly entities had deserted me. My brain was a consistent threat to my existence. Art and spirituality no longer fed me. Life did not inspire.

One afternoon, forbidden spliff already between my lips as we wrapped up a class session, this professor-guide called me into her office before I could rush out the door to get stoned. Without words, this professor pushed a photocopy of Brian Doyle’s prose poem, “A Sin” across her cherrywood desk. Intuitively, she knew it was exactly what I needed, in the midst of tumult. 

Never before had I read a piece which so defiantly shirked conventions of formatting. “A Sin” echoed my own writing style and mental health at the time; swirling, hypomanic thought processes, free of punctuation unless absolutely necessary. Yet Doyle grounded his works in what is true and unchanging. While brain chemistries and emotions are fleeting, Brian Doyle wrote words rooted in the grace(ful/less-ness) experience of humanness. In both his writing style and the Divine love, hope, anger, and confusion he spoke to, I felt held and inspired.

Odessa Charon reads “A Song of Believing” by Brian Doyle

Read the poem here.

AH: In our correspondence, you mentioned a life changing experience with Doyle. How has he inspired your work?

OC: Around the time of being gifted “A Sin,” I was introduced to Martin Heidegger’s theory of thrownness; the feeling of having-been-thrown into the world. After a particularly transformative psychedelic experience, I became acutely aware of my own place on this Earth. Shattering like tectonic plates, a stagnant piece of me shifted. Meditations within this dark night of the soul forced the realization that I was living in a pattern of dissociation. While my internal world was going through a death-life cycle, I understood I would never reach the “life” stage, unless I left Ohio. Portland, Oregon intuitively called to me. I knew no one there, and had never visited. 

If you have ever spent an extended period of time in Portland, you may have noticed the extreme “portal” that that place is. Living in that part of the Pacific Northwest grants access to elements of spiritual awakening which are incredibly specific to the land there. Everyone, and I do mean that, I came across while living there was on some kind of pilgrimage towards something larger. Portland breathes in those who are ready for that journey. For me, it was exactly where I needed to be. Coincidentally, Brian Doyle also lived and taught there.

Before I decided to leave my college in Ohio, I decided to tour Portland, just to be sure I wanted to move there. Spiritual knowingness is one thing, but logistics are a whole other. On a whim, sitting in my campus dining hall, I emailed Doyle at his University of Portland address. I asked if we could meet, just to chat about his work. I explained that I was not a reporter, or any kind of professional in the literary word—just a nineteen year old fan, processing a phenomenological awakening. We could get lunch, or coffee. He responded, “I don’t have meetings over food, but you’re welcome to come to my office.” 

We sat in his university office for an hour. We reflected together on how a Midwest landscape of seeming nothingness can inform an ecstatic experience (he related it to Jesus in the desert). I processed moving away from my Jewish religious background (“when you’re nineteen, it’s important to discover what you actually believe in”). Between students dropping off essays, Brian Doyle and I processed religion vs. spirituality vs. the mystical (in his words, most organized religions are “smoke and mirrors and performance”). We spoke of how to write, and why (“because you need to”). We laughed, too. Brian Doyle was an insightful, perceptive man, profoundly connected to the Great Unknown, as much as he was a humorist. If it doesn’t bring you joy, he said in some other words, don’t do it.

That meeting inspired me to embrace mystery. My creative work is a chimera and oftentimes, a shapeshifter. If I were to force it into one genre, or one format, I would lose my magic and passion. In a way, he gave me a sort of permission, for sacred embodiment. Before I left Brian Doyle’s office, he gave me one of his own copies of Grace Notes. On the title page, he inscribed in his winding handwriting, 

“To my friend Odessa—

With laughter and prayers and my regards on your work—

best wishes for light and for fun in it—

Brian Doyle.”

Something to note is that Brian Doyle passed away from a brain tumor, about seven months after we met. I am forever in gratitude for his lessons, his impact, and his presence.

Odessa Charon reads “if we got to be what we so want to be” by Brian Doyle  

Read the poem here.

AH: Why did you choose these poems specifically?

OC: I chose the poems/proem, “The best poem ever” (available on the Sundress Patreon); “A song of believing”; and “If we ever got to be what we so want to be” because they represent the mission of Brian Doyle’s work, as well as my own philosophy of living. All three speak to noticing the Divine in everything, everywhere. Life, as crushing as it can be, is also devastatingly beautiful if you open your eyes to it. In “a song of believing”, Doyle writes, 

Look, I know all too well that the story of the world is entropy, things fly apart, we sicken, we fail, we grow weary, we divorce, we are hammered and hounded by loss and accidents and tragedies, we slide away into the dark oceans behind the stars.

But I also know that we are carved of immense confusing holiness; that the whole point for us is grace under duress; and that you either take a flying leap at nonsensical illogical unreasonable ideas like marriage and marathons and democracy and divinity, or you huddle behind the brooding wall.

Brian Doyle did not pretend that the inherent transcendency of life was all rainbows and ascension. He did not invalidate that this world is rife with heartbreak, and valid terror. The point is, you feel the fear, and do it anyway. Both hope and loss can be held at the same time. One may be more prevalent than the other at times, but it does not mean the light goes away. Personally, mindful awareness of duality is a lifeboat; it saved me, and continues to do so.

Both “The best poem ever” and “If we ever got to be what we so want to be” are also testaments to that idea. I have spent the last five years as an early childhood educator. This was not a line of work which I ever saw myself entering, but it has been a healing balm for my inner child. Working with children has further enlightened me to the idea that there is magic and mystery all around us, at all times. In “the best poem over,” Doyle and his child consider, 

Maybe there are a lot of poems that you can’t write

Down. Couldn’t that be? But they’re still there even

If no one can write them down, right? Poems in

Books are only a little bit of all the poems there are.

Those are only the poems someone found words for.

Poetry, like Divine inspiration, like grace, are always accessible to those who can bring themselves to notice it. A core part of childhood, ideally, is the ability to play. Playing, to me, is a form of connecting with something much more intuitive and special, than the adult world gives credit to. As adults, play is a form of inner child healing. Play can also include writing. If we as grown-ups can embrace a childlike sense of wonder—if we could grasp the fluidity of art, emotion, and Godliness (whatever that means to you)—I believe we would all be much better off.

AH: What have you been up to lately (life, writing, anything)? 

OC: Currently, I feel myself arising from a contractive state. I view life as a series of “contractions” and “expansions.” Contraction, like the physical pains of labor; expansion, as in the literal life that comes as a result. I moved to Portland, Maine (I must love port cities) in the autumn, and am still finding my footing here. I have a couple of friends, but no writing community thus far. It is cold as hell and being a teacher in a pandemic is… Yeah.

I love Maine and am grateful to be here. Physically and psycho-spiritually, I am exactly where I need to be. Is it comfortable? God, no. Is it aligned and worth it? Unequivocally, yes.

Soon, I am navigating a total career switch to the publishing industry. It is scary, to do a thing for the very first time. But that fear is so juicy, in a way. It is such a potent time for growth. Creatively, I am in a fallow period of working on my book, Nostos. I write trauma narratives, which tend to spill onto the page when they are good and ready. I trust myself and the process. Fallow periods are preparation. Divine timing never fails.


Brian Doyle was an American writer and educator. Doyle was the editor of Portland Magazine, taught at the University of Oregon, and was the author of several novels, poetry collections, and essays collections. He was the recipient of multiple Pushcart Prizes and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature.

Read some of his work at Orion.

Read about him at LitHub.

Learn more about his books here.

Odessa Charon (they/them) is a writer, teacher, and spiritual intuitive. Primarily through symbology related to Greek myth, they write from their own experiences of recovery from childhood abuse and sexual trauma. In support of them writing their first creative nonfiction book, Nostos, Odessa is a grateful recipient of a Regional Arts and Culture Council grant. Through writing and intuitive work, Odessa is a healing guide for brave souls, journeying to their own underworlds. Odessa Charon resides in Portland, Maine. They live with two witchy cats and the friendly spirits in their apartment. You can follow them on Instagram for thoughts on mental health and spirituality, at @odessaiswriting.

Ashley Hajimirsadeghi is a multimedia artist, writer, and journalist. Her writing has appeared in Barren Magazine, Hobart, DIALOGIST, Rust + Moth, and The Shore, among others. She is the Co-Editor in Chief at both Mud Season Review and Juven Press. More of her work can be found at ashleyhajimirsadeghi.com

Lyric Essentials: Rogan Kelly Reads Rowan Ricardo Phillips

Welcome back to Lyric Essentials! This week poet and educator Rogan Kelly has joined us to discuss the work of Rowan Ricardo Phillips and great poetry. Thank you, as always, for tuning in!


Ashley Hajimirsadeghi: What was your first experience with Phillips’ work?

Rogan Kelly: I think the first poem of his that I read was “Golden.” I was living and working in DC then and not reading or writing much poetry. It was in The New Yorker. I would always search out the poetry first, look for the break from standard paragraphs on the page. It’s one of those poems where he’s talking to the beloved, retelling an experience, a place, a feeling. The reader is made implicit; luckless clover, a bee entered me. The poem stayed with me, though I don’t think I could articulate then what the poem was doing or its affect. It was years later that I put the poet to the poem in a more meaningful way.

Rogan Kelly Reads “A Tale of Two Cities” by Rowan Ricardo Phillips

AH: Is there a particular reason you chose these poems?

RK: I just think they’re wonderful examples of Philips’ gifts as a poet, what lies beneath or above the din, as Mary Ruefle might say. He has a way of making you feel like he’s letting you in on something, whispers before he growls or exalts. Surprising and seductive in the telling.

AH: How has interacting with and enjoying Phillips’ poetry inspired you as a writer?

RK:There’s an authenticity; he finds ways in to poems that never feel heavy-handed. He’ll use high art or make a pop culture reference, sometimes in the same poem, but it never feels contrived. He’s a reminder to be true. Reading great writing makes us up our level. It’s the same in tennis. As if there’s an invisible volley happening between poets.

Rogan Kelly Reads “Love Song” by Rowan Ricardo Phillips

AH: What have you been up to lately? Got any news you’d like to share (life updates,
writing, anything!)?

RK: I have a hybrid piece in Pidgeonholes coming out; a literary deceit to illustrate the living kind. Recent poems with Plume and The Rupture, and I’m working on a review of Cynthia Dewy Oka’s Fire Is Not a Country.


Rowan Ricardo Phillips is a poet, educator, and journalist, and academic. He is the author of the poetry collections Heaven (2015) and The Ground (2012), and the recipient of awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, Whiting Writers’ Award, and the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award. His work has appeared in The New York Times and The New Yorker.

Find his website here.

Find his books here.

Read Phillips’ poem “Little Song” at Poetry.

Rogan Kelly is the author of Demolition in the Tropics (Seven Kitchens Press, 2019). His work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in New Orleans ReviewThe Penn ReviewPidgeonholesPlumeRHINO, and elsewhere. He is the editor of The Night Heron Barks and Ran Off With the Star Bassoon, and does web design and build for RUBY literary magazine and press.

Find him online here.

Find his chapbook, Demolition of Tropics, at Seven Kitchens Press.

Read his poem “Temporary Sound” in The Rupture.

Ashley Hajimirsadeghi is a multimedia artist, writer, and journalist. Her writing has appeared in Barren Magazine, Hobart, DIALOGIST, Rust + Moth, and The Shore, among others. She is the Co-Editor in Chief at both Mud Season Review and Juven Press. More of her work can be found at ashleyhajimirsadeghi.com

Lyric Essentials: Shannon Hearn Reads Carrie Lorig

Welcome back to Lyric Essentials! This week poet Shannon Hearn has joined us to discuss the work of Carrie Lorig, hybrid poetry, and taking inspiration from other creatives. As always, thank you for tuning in!


Ashley Hajimirsadeghi: What was your first experience with Carrie Lorig’s work?

Shannon Hearn: I’m so glad you asked this question. I was first introduced to Lorig’s work the last year of my undergraduate studies by the author Darcie Dennigan (to whom I owe so much, and who pointed my toes towards many of the writing loves in my life). I was working on an extended prose poem in a workshop with Dennigan, which ended up turning into a much lengthier piece titled Tracing Circles in Dirt; I had just read a few writers like Alice Notley and Renee Gladman for the first time and found myself very intrigued in the ways poets do / might take up space on the page.

During this time, I was working hard with my therapist and energy healer on communication related anxiety and finding my voice (not just my poetic voice! that too ((always)), but more so intentionally looking at the ways I was finding myself unable to participate in the world because my anxiety was so paralyzing. I frequently was incapable of speaking at all) and Tracing Circles in Dirt became a very crucial space where I allowed myself / to wrestle with the disorder happening. I started interrogating the line and phrases within each line. And, perhaps in a gesture towards the ways Notley uses “” in Descent of Alette, I started breaking up my prose with slashes “/” and cultivating a cadence on the page that narrowed in on what happens when we isolate words and phrases by cutting them open and asking them to stand / alone.

Basically, I was fascinated by the myriad of ways where so much goes unsaid or unnoticed in sentences on the page and I was very compelled to place weight / on those moments (my partner is a therapist and finds all of this to be utterly masochistic…. Can’t speak? Nice! Let’s put more compression on the words we use to construct our sentences and see how and what they do under pressure!). Enter Carrie Lorig’s The Book of Repulsive Women, which Dennigan sent along to me. Turns out, the slash “/” is Lorig’s signature move. I consumed The Book of Repulsive Women in a day and feverishly moved onto their chapbook Nods from Magic Helicopter Press and then later the same year The Pulp Vs The Throne from Artifice. When I think about my experience with Lorig’s writing, the time I spend with her work really stands as a plot of land where I feel noisily and sympathetically seen by another author in an obsession with language / an obsession which gestures intimately toward ones I wrestle with on the page and in my own body.

Their work really stoked the fire in me for experimentation. Lorig’s poetry was a moment where I read them and thought, oh, this is so weird and challenges so much about what so many of us have been taught about language / the constructs – this is exactly what i am trying and want to be doing. Reading her writing gave me a permission to continue laboring with my words in the frustrated dance / I was locked in / and, if I’m being honest, which I always am trying to be, gave me viscous and tender validation for the power of experimentation.

Shannon Hearn reads an excerpt from Carrie Lorig’s “dreadful contact”

Read “dreaful contact” online here.

AH: You’ve selected poems from a writer who’s done a lot of hybrid writing. How have you been
inspired to innovate in your own work?

SH: Lorig’s writing was absolutely a teacher / to the hybridity that I explore in my own writing and the ways I move / within experimentation. Particularly for people who have been raised within submissive roles in society and from socialization focused on their service to a dominate group, I think it is an ongoing process discovering the ways we can and should take up space – internally and externally.

For me, hybridity has always been a part / of that conversation. All poetry is layered, but when you lift the concept of this form being X and that form being Y, the pressures shift / the choreography becomes an animal / all of its own. You begin moving in a more full-body of language and energy within the work. Hybridity is all about expanding one’s field of vision and if we’re able to lift up off of this form or that genre, there is opportunity for the motions to become all the more sweeping. In a sense, we are giving ourselves permission to demonstrate the ways we’re able to twist and contort and shout and fuck and make a racket on the page in a whole new dimension.

When I look at hybridity / in my own writing, I find myself circling around the same ideas over and around in similar fashions but different fonts. In my MFA I worked with the writer Nicole Cooley and she would say as poets we are constantly gesturing towards the same themes in our work, we just approach those themes from different angles as we move along. For me, this is speaking and not speaking; this is the physical mouth and access to the internal through different, physical parts of the body; this is bridled femininity in its many, various forms. The slash “/” is something I think I will continue / exploring my whole life, but I’ve found my writing continues to look for new ways to interrogate / the unsaid, and also the “why” within what is / unsaid. What are the implications when we cannot speak? What are the implications when we can speak, but choose not to? What are the power dynamics of silence and how does this surface / simmer on the page?

Shannon Hearn reads an excerpt of Carrie Lorig’s “the silent bone”

AH: Lorig has done a lot of poems interrogating form as function. Personally, I’ve always seen hybrid work as a true reflection of the mind—we think in images, words, a cacophony of many different things. How have you approached and viewed hybridity?

SH: I have always been taken with writers who push / for innovation on the page in their work. I think a lot of this started with my own incapacity to speak (and i truly do mean speaking both internally and externally…. to others, but also to the self; i’m always trying to find new ways into my own mind, new thought patterns and circuitous cycles of thought to break open and shake my finger at and kiss) and finding ways to articulate through that state of being. I did a deep dive into Emily Dickinson’s poetry through an independent study in my last year as an undergraduate under the guidance of the poet Penelope Pelizzon where I read all of Dickinson’s poems in order of when they were written, alongside an exploration of her letters and other poets who write in conversation with her (Susan Howe, Lucie Brock-Broido).

There is a slight, strong hand of silence inside of these poets and their work. Maybe silence isn’t right or a specific enough word, maybe more the weight of what is / goes unsaid. Gertrude Stein is another writer who I feel does this ruthlessly. I am always falling in love with poets who have such a hand on the craft of withholding / when they are able to release a line that says one thing (maybe even a nonsensical thing through the tradition of the English language) but means so much more when you are able to dig into what isn’t explicitly being given to you as a reader. So, there’s that side to the coin.

There’s also the other side where I am absolutely floored by writers who manage to do the opposite: to put so much of their thought process onto the page you can’t help but feel a little shaken and seen by it all. Bernadette Mayer, Magdalena Zurawski. I still haven’t recovered from The Bruise and I’m not sure I ever want to convalesce. I know I’m speaking less towards hybridity here than this question prompted, but I think some of the most profound moments of hybridity come when an individual feels so caught between two sources / modalities / colors they have to find a way to communicate by channeling both and I think Carrie Lorig is someone who has mastered this in the field of poetics. In an interview with Heavy Feather Review around the time The Pulp came out Lorig said, “I really don’t think we, as individual people, actually try to describe what it feels like for us TO THINK. I also don’t think we often recognize how difficult it can be to imagine / engage with the different ways those around us think / experience thinking. I mean isn’t this one of the important things reading tries to get closer to?”

I think about this (quite literally) all the time, but particularly when I’m writing. Like, isn’t that one of the most crucial elements to why we read and why we write??? And yet, so frequently, it’s hardly a part of the conversation at all. The way you describe hybridity is so beautiful, as “a true reflection of the mind,” and I absolutely agree. To embody hybridity, to me, is to sit in humanity – to find / field the tension in otherwise ordinary words and phrases, build further into that, and allow space for duality there.

AH:What have you been up to lately? Got any news you’d like to share (life updates, writing, anything!)?

SH: This is such a thoughtful question – thank you for asking. This past fall I started as a PhD candidate in poetry at SUNY Binghamton. Contending with imposter syndrome one, sweet day at a time. I have two chapbooks I’m currently working on who I’m vaguely convinced are about to get married and become a full-length piece – they just don’t know this yet. I go through peaks and valleys of writing and editing with my own work and I’m currently producing lots so I’m trying to be patient with myself and happily procrastinate the throes of editing, which will soon consume my life. I’m trying to be way more intentional about building out a safe writing community and surrounding myself with writers who really see my work and my voice and push me towards myself. I do have a few pieces in the wings of publication, which always feels nervous and embarrassing and thrilling and terrifying. My most recent publication came out right before I got married last fall [:’)] and can be read /listened to at Voicemail Poems.


Carrie Lorig is the author of the chapbooks The Blood Barn, The Repulsive Woman, and NODS. Her full-length collection of poems and essays The Pulp vs. The Throne was released with Artifice Books. She is currently a PhD student in School Psychology.

Find Lorig on Twitter here.

Discover Lorig’s chapbook, The Blood Barn, here and The Pulp vs. The Throne here.

Read an interview with Lorig at Entropy.

Shannon Hearn is currently a PhD candidate in poetry at Binghamton University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming with 3:AM Magazine, Big Lucks, cream city review, Juked, Fugue, Heavy Feather Review, Voicemail Poems, DIALOGIST, and others. She received her MFA in poetry from Queens College, and lives in Brooklyn.

Follow Shannon on Twitter and Instagram.

Read her poem “What Marriage Is / Tender Care” at Voicemail Poems.

Read her poem “You Are/No Longer” at Heavy Feather Review.

Ashley Hajimirsadeghi is a multimedia artist, writer, and journalist. She has had work appear in Barren Magazine, Hobart, DIALOGIST, Rust + Moth, and The Shore, among others. She is the Co-Editor in Chief at both Mud Season Review and Juven Press. More of her work can be found at ashleyhajimirsadeghi.com