Pre-Orders for Our 2023 Broadside Now Open

Sundress Publications is thrilled to announce that pre-orders for our 2023 broadside contest winner are now open. Kenzie Allen’s poem, “Love Song to the Man Announcing Pow Wows and Rodeos,” will be letterpress-printed at the Sundress Academy for the Arts as a limited edition 8.5” x 11” broadside.

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Kenzie Allen is a Haudenosaunee poet and multimodal artist; she is a descendant of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin. Kenzie is a recipient of a 92 NY Discovery Prize, the James Welch Prize for Indigenous Poets, the 49th Parallel Award for Poetry, and the Littoral Press Prize, as well as fellowships from Vermont Studio Center, Aspen Summer Words, and Indigenous Nations Poets (In-Na-Po). A finalist for the National Poetry Series, her work can be found in Poetry, Boston Review, Narrative,, The Paris Review’s The Daily, Poetry Northwest, Best New Poets, and other venues. Born in West Texas, she is currently an Assistant Professor in Indigenous Literatures and Creative Writing at York University in Toronto.

The broadside edition combines Kenzie Allen’s work with an original piece by artist Lori Tennant. The poem “Love Song to the Man Announcing Pow Wows and Rodeos” first appeared in Narrative.

Order your copy today for $5 off the retail price!

Sundress Publications Closes on 11/30 for Poetry Broadside Contest

Sundress Publications is pleased to announce that we are now open for submissions for our annual poetry broadside contest. The contest will be open for submission until November 30th, 2023.

The winner’s poem will be letterpress-printed as an 8.5” x 11” broadside complete with custom art and made available for sale on our online store. The winner will receive $200 and 20 copies of their broadside. 

To submit, send up to three poems, no longer than 28 lines each (line limit includes stanza breaks but not the title), in one Word or PDF document to by November 30, 2023. Be sure to include a copy of your payment receipt or purchase order number (see below for payment of fees). Please make sure that no identifying information is included in the submitted poems. You can submit poems online here.

The reading fee is $10 per batch of three poems, though the fee will be waived for entrants who purchase or pre-order any Sundress title. Entrants can place book orders or pay submission fees at our store. Once the purchase is made, the store will send a receipt with a purchase code. This code should be included in the submission, or you may forward the email receipt at the same time as you send the submission. This fee is waived for all writers of color.

Previously published material is welcome so long as you maintain the rights to the work. Let us know in your cover letter if any of your submitted poems have been previously published. 

Poems translated from another language will not be accepted. Simultaneous submissions are fine, but we ask that authors notify us immediately if their work has been accepted elsewhere; poems accepted for publication are still qualified provided the author retains the rights to the work at the time of printing.

Submit poems online here.

This contest’s judge is Darren C. Demaree. Darren C. Demaree grew up in Mount Vernon, Ohio. He is a graduate of the College of Wooster, Miami University, and Kent State University. He is the author of twenty poetry collections, most recently Tongues Out in the Garden of Spectacle (August 2023, Newcomer Press). He is the recipient of a Greater Columbus Arts Council Grant, an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award, the Louise Bogan Award from Trio House Press, and the Nancy Dew Taylor Award from Emrys Journal. He is the Editor-in-Chief of the Best of the Net Anthology and Managing Editor of Ovenbird Poetry. He is currently working in the Columbus Metropolitan Library system, and living in Columbus, Ohio with his wife and children. 

Sundress Reads: Review of Drive

Based on its title, I had assumed Elaine Sexton’s collection, Drive (Grid Books, 2022), would take me on a journey, but I hadn’t quite expected the way its individual poems would move me through time and space—tangible and intangible, emotional and physical landscapes. Take, for example, the opening poem, which appears with no title:

The most beautiful thing about my car is the 

beach, and the most beautiful thing about the 

beach is watercolor, and the most beautiful 

thing about water is the word, and the most 

beautiful thing about the word is pigment, 

and the most beautiful thing about pigment 

is the soil, and the most beautiful thing about 

soil is the earth, and the most beautiful thing 

about the earth is the sea, and the most beau-

tiful thing about the sea is the drive. (Sexton 11)

This poem starts with the car and the beach and ends with the sea and the drive. The cyclical movement calls to mind the feeling of going out for a trip, taking in the scenery before returning home to where you started. “A Thing or Two,” starts with a leaf and ends with the tree. “Predator / Bait,” starts with a splash and ends with a splash. These poems travel but don’t forget where they came from. The speaker travels as well, from Boston to Rome, from the sea to the sky, from the past to the future. 

Sexton’s poems feel like driving with the windows down on a spring day. The language, crisp and gentle, takes its time. Coupled with the poems’ short lines, some just a word or two, these poems slowed me down. They are not destination focused; they invited me to enjoy the ride. 

As a person who travels full time and spends many days behind the wheel, I felt a camaraderie with the speaker of these poems. Reading them felt like trading stories with a new friend at a rest stop. I too have traveled through the “dead zones / in America / where no one lives / and satellites turn a deaf ear … in one of those red states / shaped like a box” (Sexton 69). I know the ups and downs of a road trip, “the soaring, the breakdown, jumpstarts, the brand new, and old reliable” (Sexton 20). These images invite in all those who are drawn to the road, those who might be caught “Downshifting for the view” (Sexton 23), those who roll down their windows, as Sexton does, to let “The dead / ends of my hair / dragged through the air, / pull their roots / alive” (26). And when Sexton writes, “she is free not to be / where she’s expected to go” (17), my heart flips with recognition. 

Despite the romantic descriptions of a good drive, Drive is not all light and breezy. Early on, Sexton introduces the prominent theme of death. The second poem, “This,” ends with: “Everything is about / gravity, the grave / pulling / for us. Each day / it starts with a bark / calling our name” (Sexton 15). While awareness of a looming mortality lingers throughout the early section, I explicitly felt the impact of an early loss in the poem “Ignition.” Sexton writes, 

I remember my hand

on the car’s smooth blue

lining, the Rambler’s

door as it opened

to the damp grass

of the lawn

to the new house.

I was three

close to four

years old, my father,

newly dead

and my mother

just learning

to drive.” ( 27) 

Here, driving is not about freedom or escape. Driving is about survival. Similarly, the poem, “Drive” explains, “We are old, / old enough, / to equate mobility / with independence” (Sexton 19). I began to understand more intimately the deeper role driving has played in the speaker’s life.

Just as a car eventually begins to break down with use, so do our human bodies. In “Self-Portrait: Between the Car and the Sea,” Sexton writes, “the engine strains in first gear the way on foot my body climbing the last few steps does … How long will these parts last?” (23). The speaker grapples with her own mortality, her own body slowing down with age. This grappling, though, is not morose or despondent. The speaker matter-of-factly tracks these changes. In the poem, “Run,” the speaker begins to pick up the pace on a walk “until a clicking / reminds me that fuel / which is matter / which is mind / which is idea / is not endless / and only as fertile / as the working / brain / allows— / the brain we take / for granted / which could fail / at any time” (21). Though many of these poems address mortality, they seem to argue for presence and appreciation for what is. There is a sense that we are meant to grasp the moment we are in, rather than worry about the future.

I mention above that these poems feel like a spring day, and they do in that they are refreshing in their honesty. They gave me room to breathe. They are not, however, necessarily all happy or full of new hope. One of my favorite poems in the collection, “Self as Hypotaxis,” points to this nuance: “I am happier than I was / when spring equaled death, / so many wakes, so many silences, / equal and un-equal. Spring / sometimes operates / in opposition / to her contract with the earth, and / is not always the birth / of something good” (Sexton 80). These poems are full of life, but they are also full of death. They do not shy away from the truth of our human experience.

Drive is available from Grid Books

Jen Gayda Gupta is a poet, educator, and wanderer. She earned her BA in English at the University of Connecticut and her MA in Teaching English from New York University. Jen lives, writes, and travels across the U.S. in a tiny camper with her husband and their dog. Her work has been published in Up the Staircase, Rattle, Jellyfish Review, Sky Island Journal, The Shore, and others. You can find her @jengaydagupta and

Lyric Essentials: Subhaga Crystal Bacon Reads Ely Shipley

Welcome back to Lyric Essentials, where we invite authors to share the work of their favorite poets. This month, Subhaga Crystal Bacon joins us to discuss the work of Ely Shipley, blending lyric with narrative, and the political power of poetry. As always, we hope you enjoy as much as we did.

Ryleigh Wann: Why did you choose to read these poems specifically?

Subhaga Crystal Bacon: “Boy with Flowers” is such a poignant story of early recognition of one’s gendered self apart or aside from one’s birth sex and family expectations around that. It felt very—literally—familiar to me. The same is true of his poem “Six, which illustrates the way external forces—teachers, “the recess lady,” suppress what in us must find release. “Night around Me” leaps forward into young adulthood, navigating the secret pleasures of the queer night. It’s about queer desire, and it’s so deeply felt. 

RW: How has Ely Shipley’s writing inspired your own?

SCB: Writing my new collection, Transitory, I was delving into the life stories of trans people murdered in 2020, and it touched on my own experiences with homophobia, threats of violence, and the ways our families and society shape how we experience ourselves. Eli’s work spoke to the wounded parts of me that are finding voice and healing through writing from my own gender queerness.

Subhaga Crystal Bacon reads “Boy with Flowers” by Ely Shipley

RW: When was the first time you read Shipley’s work? Why did it stand out to you then?

SCB: I first read Shipley’s work in the wonderful and essential anthology, Troubling the Line. There are so many beautiful and important voices in that collection, torrin a. greathouse, Eileen Myles, CA Conrad. Eli’s work stood out to me because of its lyricism, his way of telling a story through image and metaphor. It’s to me a perfect blending of lyric and narrative.

Subhaga Crystal Bacon reads “Night Around Me” by Ely Shipley

RW: Who else have you been reading lately and who has been inspiring you in your craft? 

SCB: I read a LOT. Diane Seuss, Maggie Smith, Paisley Rekdal, Jennifer Martelli, Eduardo C. Corral, K Iver, Paul Tran, Eugenia Leigh. I return again and again to Plath, Hopkins, Stafford. I find reading to be very generative. I think most poets would say the same thing. If you’re having a block, just read. Seuss’s frank: sonnets has really shaped me. When I draft a poem, it’s often a ramble to try to get down the sound and the feeling. I often try to shape it into the American Sonnett—seventeen syllables per line. Seuss says in frank “the sonnet, like poverty, teaches you what you can do/without.” Hitting those syllabics requires rethinking wording and phrasing, and then sometimes after I get it into the form, I undo it and see if a different form will suit. It’s a process of shaping, though I do recently have a lot of new sonnets! Doing the Sealey Challenge every August is a great way for me to expose myself to poets whose work is new to me, and I often find myself turning back to the blank page to digest what I’ve read and see what it resonates with inside me that wants to come out. Poetry inspires poetry.

Read more from this interview at our Patreon

Ely Shipley is the author of Some Animal (Nightboat Books), winner of the Publishing Triangle’s Trans and Gender Variant Literature Award and finalist for a Lambda Literary Award; Boy with Flowers, winner of the Barrow Street Press book prize judged by Carl Phillips, the Thom Gunn Award, and finalist for a Lambda Literary Award; and On Beards: A Memoir of Passing, a letterpress chapbook from speCt! Books. His poems and cross-genre work also appear in the Western Humanities Review, Prairie Schooner, Crazyhorse, Interim, Greensboro Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Witness, Diagram, Gulf Coast, Fugue, Third Coast, and elsewhere.

Puchase Some Animal.

Subhaga Crystal Bacon (she/they) is a Queer poet living in rural northcentral Washington on unceded Methow land. She is the author of four collections of poetry. Her latest book, Transitory is the recipient of the Isabella Gardner Award for Poetry, from BOA Editions, and was listed in the Library Journal’s list of Books to Read in 2023. She’s the author of Surrender of Water in Hidden Places, 2023, winner of the Red Flag Poetry Chapbook Prize, Blue Hunger, Methow Press, 2020, and Elegy with a Glass of Whiskey, winner of the A. Poulin New Poetry America Prize, BOA Editions, 2004.  A Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee, she’s a teaching artist working in schools and libraries with youth and adults, as well as private students. Her work appears in a variety of print and online journals including the Bellevue Literary ReviewDiode Poetry Journal, Indianapolis ReviewRise Up ReviewGhost City Review, and others. 

Pre-order Transitory.

Ryleigh Wann (she/her) hails from Michigan and currently lives in Brooklyn, NY. She earned an MFA from UNC Wilmington where she taught poetry and served as the comics editor for Ecotone. Her writing can be found in The McNeese ReviewLongleaf ReviewThe Shore, and elsewhere. You can visit her website at

Sundress Reads: Review of The Bisexual Lighting Makes Everyone Beautiful and A Playdough Symposium

Former Sundress Editorial Interns Jillian A. Fantin and Max Stone were messaging on Instagram and realized they both have micro-chapbooks being released by Ghost City Press in their 2023 Summer Series. They decided it would be fun to review each other’s micro-chapbooks. Though seemingly dissonant in content and form, Stone and Fantin’s micro-chapbooks support each other with their complementary takes on queerness.

Max Stone’s The Bisexual Lighting Makes Everyone Beautiful

‘Oh my God, look.’ … [He] show[ed] them something in his hands…a handful of dust. ‘There’s glitter in it!’ he said. A man Fiona didn’t know peered over Yale’s shoulder. ‘That’s not glitter. Where?’ It just looked like dust.” —Rebecca Makkai, The Great Believers

In The Bisexual Lighting Makes Everyone Beautiful, Max Stone worldbuilds their queer experience through the words of a speaker sculpting their human and planetary body. Through personal, intimate experiences with moment(s) of anti-queer political and social violence, Stone’s speaker fleshes themselves into a queer corpus containing the delicate anxiety and the search for kinship that is the human experience. As the collection continues, so does the speaker’s development into an active, wise, and nearly eternal observer of the beings and bodies within their orbit, akin to the experience of a planet’s moon.

Max Stone opens his chapbook concretely by establishing the speaker’s queer identity and physical presence(s) within their world. In “Coming Out Ad Infinitum,” the speaker’s words in the coming out cycle disrupt their oral communication before forming their body: “Throat all choked up, / too much bread, something” becomes “Tight corset chest. Heartbeat extra violent” (Stone 3). Stone’s recalling tense, painful moments is especially masterful because of the way the “you” directly speaks to the “I” of their same body. Coming out is repetition in a world where you “can’t be open… / Not yet” (Stone 3). Meeting “a new person” or “a new doctor” implies the queer speaker’s ceaseless sculpting of their physical body (Stone 3). The intensity of this repetition is driven home with a final disruption of any created rhythm: “Again and again and again… / You’ll come out and come out / And come out and—” (Stone 4). Stone continues building solid ground with an explication of a public tragedy in “Waking up to News of a Mass Shooting at Club Q on Trans Day of Remembrance” and “Beaux,” which features a figure both grounded in human reality and elevated to nearly-unattainable ideal of transmasculinity. In just three poems, Stone establishes a distinct speaker while also leaving room for further self-transformation.

By the time we reach the micro-chapbook’s end, the speaker completes their aforementioned transfiguration to a body that is both fully man and fully moon. Like our moon, the speaker remains bound to the tides of a planetary body’s unique orbit and thus may only observe, act, and experience within those orbital boundaries. To be a moon is to contain billions of years, to be cratered with time and knowledge.

Nevertheless, the titular poem, “The Bisexual Lighting Makes Everyone Beautiful,” is the true moment of corporeal and cosmic transformation. In a final scene, the speaker and their queer friends move from the domestic party sphere into the memory of a woody naturescape:           

Everyone else was in the river,

I was on the bank, watching

the moon reflecting on the water,

watching their limbs stir

up the light. (Stone 10)  

The speaker leaves us to consider their queer duality and the implications of that existence. Stone’s speaker seems to reside on the fringes of their community, a lonely existence of distance and observation. Still, The Bisexual Lighting Makes Everyone Beautiful is nuanced in a final depiction of its speaker who refuses to stay in shadows. “Watching” becomes an act of love, like the dependable orbit of “the moon reflecting on the water” (Stone 16). Further, Stone’s speaker isin the water within everyone else. Their human body may be on the bank, but their planetary body is clearly reflected in the water and, thus, illuminated by the same titular beautifying light. And unlike “everyone else,” Stone’s speaker can see the light that reveals everyone’s beauty! Ultimately, Max Stone’s The Bisexual Lighting Makes Everyone Beautiful ends with a speaker’s self-made dual existence as fully human and fully moon, allowing them to balance experiences of queer oppression and systemic bigotry while still knowing and hoping for the beauty inherent within the true queer experience.

At the start of this review, I quoted a scene from The Great Believers, wherein a woman watches a video featuring Yale Tishman, a gay man who died decades earlier from AIDS-related complications, eagerly showing the camera and his onlookers the glitter in the dust. Max Stone sees the glitter in the dust. He knows beauty because he is beautiful. He sees beauty because everything this bisexual lighting touches is beautiful. And he writes the beauty of the queer experience while still delving into public and personal pain and oppression because he knows the true queer experience is inherently, definitionally, and fundamentally beautiful. Stone and his micro-chapbook do not ignore the existence of the dust. By identifying the dustier aspects of his worlds and treating his work with formal and thematic care, Stone makes the glitter that is queer beauty and queer experience sparkle even more.

I remain shocked at how consistently buoyed I felt upon starting and finishing The Bisexual Lighting Makes Everyone Beautiful. Very rarely does feeling “beautiful” elicit positivity given imposed cisheteronormative connotations of appearance and identity. Stone, though, makes me and my poetry feel beautiful—that is, “masculine but in the peacock way” (8)—and I truly believe that every queer reader will shine a little brighter after basking in the light of Max Stone’s queer poetics.

The Bisexual Lighting Makes Everyone Beautiful is available from Ghost City Press

Jillian A. Fantin (they/them) is a poet with roots in the American South and north central England. They are a 2021 Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing Poet Fellow, a 2020 Jefferson County Memorial Project Research Fellow, and the co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of RENESME LITERARY. Jillian received an MFA in Poetry with a minor in Gender Studies from the University of Notre Dame. Their writing appears in American Journal of Poetry, Spectra Poets, Barrelhouse, and

Jillian A. Fantin’s A Playdough Symposium

Jillian A. Fantin’s micro-chapbook Playdough Symposium (Ghost City Press, 2023) is a queer, contemporary re-imagining of Plato’s dialogues through a series of prose poems. The collection features two main characters that appear in each poem and engage in conversation, sissyfist (a play on words of Sisyphus) and two-piece suitor, who are based on Socrates and Phaedrus from Plato’s dialogues combined with Johnny Knoxville and Steve-O of the Jackass franchise. Sounds weird, right? Well, it is weird—in the best way. With two epigraphs, Fantin sets up a dichotomy between Ancient Greek philosophy and modern pop culture, the first being a quote from Plato’s dialogues and the second from Steve-O. The epigraphs set the stage and tone for the symposium, which is a delightful intermingling of so-called high and low culture as complicated philosophical concepts are superimposed on contemporary culture.

Each poem’s title is a concept from Greek philosophy, such as “Xenia,” the Ancient Greek concept of hospitality; “Eudaimonia,” the condition of human flourishing; and “Kleos,” which means eternal glory. Beneath the framework of these ancient philosophical concepts, sissyfist and two-piece suitor engage in strange, stimulating, and often crass dialogues.

Playdough Symposium is an apt title, as the world and characters are highly malleable and mercurial—nothing is stable. The reality of a liminal world both timeless and of the present day is constantly created, shaped, and re-shaped through the dialogue between two-piece suitor and sissyfist. For example, in this world, “AD means After Diane that is After Diane Keaton’s Bowler Hat,” (Fantin 5) which weirdly makes sense. Fantin’s work is deeply intelligent and sharply funny, packed with clever turns of phrase such as “so Medusa just made men rock hard?”, “hydraplaning,” and “Ice capades” (9). Nouns are used as verbs like “embryoing;” familiar phrases and cultural markers like brands are turned on their head, including when “sissyfist sucks two-piece suitor’s tootsies like he rolls his pop,” (Fantin 7). So much is packed into this short collection: misheard David Bowie lyrics, Jessica Rabbit, Zeus eating pita chips, and Buffalo Bill protesting no shirt no shoes no service.

sissyfist and two-piece suitor are hilarious and crude and their personalities leap of the page. A distinct undercurrent of sexual tension and homoeroticism courses through the poems: “a long soft kiss in the business district, two-piece suitor profiteroles back down the curve of sissyfist’s spine oh scoliosis groans two-piece suitor make me in your image” (Fantin 11). It’s unclear what sissyfist and two-piece suitor’s relationship is exactly, but it’s definitely queer-coded. sissyfist and two-piece suitor both use he/him pronouns yet neither seems to fit distinctly in the male category, which is exemplified when “two-piece suitor strokes the cervix in the hole in his thigh postpartum depression sissyfist nestles within that musculature,” (Fantin 8). That slightly unsettling image presents two-piece suitor as being both male and female or neither. sissyfist’s name alone is very queer, and his actions match as he “hissyfits” and “sissyshrieks.” Playdough Symposium also troubles and blurs the lines of gender. Above all, this work is deeply original. I can confidently say I have never read anything like it. Playdough Symposium is a delicacy of language, pop culture, philosophy, queerness, and mythology.  Each poem is layered with jewels of sound, word play, and genius turns of phrase. Each sentence is surprising—you’ll never guess one that begins with “ostrich egged,” will lead to two-piece suitor plaiting “pinkies into radishes,” (9). This collection may be playful, sexy, and funny, but there is also a poignant emotional depth. Fantin proves that Jackass can be philosophical and that the Ancient Greeks have a certain jackass-ness beneath the historical veneer of intelligence and sophistication. This is the micro-chapbook you never knew you wanted but definitely need to read. Right now!

A Playdough Symposium is available from Ghost City Press

Max Stone is a queer poet from Reno, Nevada. He holds an MFA in poetry and a BA in English
with a minor in Book Arts and Publication from the University of Nevada, Reno. He played
soccer at Queens College. Max is the author of two chapbooks: The Bisexual Lighting Makes
Everyone Beautiful
 (Ghost City Press) and Temporary Preparations (Bottlecap Press).

Sundress Reads: Review of The Bisexual Lighting Makes Everyone Beautiful and A Playdough Symposium

Lyric Essentials: Matthew Johnson Reads E. Ethelbert Miller

Welcome back to Lyric Essentials, where we invite authors to share the work of their favorite poets. This month, Matthew Johnson joins us to discuss the work of E Ethelbert Miller, place-based writing, and baseball in poetry and how surprising topics and discuss much broader themes. As always, we hope you enjoy as much as we did.

Ryleigh Wann: When was the first time you read E. Ethelbert Miller’s work? Why did it stand out to you then?

 Matthew Johnson: I first came across E. Ethelbert Miller’s work while I was a graduate student at UNC-Greensboro, so around 2018-2019. I don’t remember how exactly I first saw his name, but I was immediately drawn to his poetry collection by the title itself, If God Invented Baseball; I found it to be creative, as well as his choice for a cover photo, which featured a picture of the legendary Negro League pitcher, Satchel Paige, who is one of my favorite all-time athletes and individuals to have studied and read about. Years later I bought the book, but I initially read it through an inter-library loan; I remember the librarian kinda having this puzzled look when I told them the title of the book, as well as the title of the movie I was checking out at the same time, The Last Black Man in San Francisco. I was really struck by the fact that here was a poet using the sport of baseball to talk about childhood, home, race, politics, and place. Since the ancient Olympics, sports have not just been purely about sports, and at the time, I had seen and read countless articles, documentaries, and non-fiction books about sports mixing with other topics, but not in a poetry book, so to go this collection for the first time was a vastly different experience from the literature I was reading and studying at the time.

RW: How has his writing inspired your own? 

MJ: I was fairly new to the publishing world when I came across Miller’s work. Prior to reading If God Invented Baseball, while I had written poems with a focus on different topics around sports, I had yet to come across an author who dedicated a whole collection of poems based on these similar topics. After reading Miller’s work, it instilled in me a spirit that, ‘yeah, people would be interested in reading about these types of topics if you write about it.’ But, while he talks about these athletes who a lot of people know about, Miller personalizes it to his upbringing and background, which I think is important and allows a writer’s voice to come out. I don’t think it can just be about the athlete or sport; the writer needs to be in there somehow, and Miller does a great job at that. It also stirred in me to go out and research and find like-minded readers and writers. There are a bunch of great magazines out there where athletics and literature blend together (e.g, The Sport Literate, The Under Review, Clinch, The Twin Bill, Words & Sports Quarterly, Aethlon).

RW: Where would you recommend new readers of E. Ethelbert Miller’s work start out? What other similar poets do you recommend? 

MJ: Several poems by E. Ethelbert Miller can be found on Poetry Foundation and, so I think that would be a good place for readers to get started with his work and style. I greatly enjoyed, If God Invented Baseball, and even if you’re not a baseball fan, readers could still take pleasure within it. Two poetry collections I read within the past several years that are a little similar would be, Joe DiMaggio Moves Like Liquid Lightning by Loren Broaddus and Aisle 228 by Sandra Marchetti. These poetry collections, like the work of Miller, use baseball to discuss broader themes that don’t just pertain to sports. I especially enjoyed the aspect of place in their works as they are both writers from the Midwest. I thought each presents that part of the country in an intriguing light to someone who is very unfamiliar with it, as I have only lived on the East Coast.

Matthew Johnson reads “Before Ball Four” by E. Ethelbert Miller

RW: You’re the author of the recent publication, Far From New York State (New York Quarterly Press, 2023). What was the process of creating this collection like? How did you reflect on place, history, and your own experience while writing these poems?

MJ: Having moved around a bit, I have always been fascinated by the idea of regionalism. In the final semester of my graduate career, I was in an early American Literature class and for the final presentation, my topic focused on the works of Washington Irving. I had heard of his famed characters, Rip Van Winkle, Ichabod Crane, and the Headless Horseman, but I never really read his work until then, and I greatly enjoyed reading his Sketch Book. And it was through research, I kinda went down a wormhole and was inspired by artists and writers of New York, and not from the city, but from the rest of the state. Even though New York City is wonderful, there’s a whole bunch of state and experience and beauty north of it, including the parts where I am originally from (New Rochelle in Westchester County). I wanted to write about these experiences, and I looked inward as well as outward, specifically to my parents, who spent the majority of their lives in Westchester County (New Rochelle and Mount Vernon) and have told me countless stories of their childhood and early adulthood. And though my experience wasn’t as vast as theirs, I did have some, including when I returned to New York in adulthood to work in journalism in Oneonta (between Albany and Binghamton). So I wanted to talk about these histories, as well as the histories of the people who inspired me, including in the form of literature, music, and sports.

Read more from this interview at our Patreon

E. Ethelbert Miller was born in the Bronx, New York. A self-described “literary activist,” Miller is on the board of the Institute for Policy Studies, a progressive multi-issue think tank, and has served as director of the African American Studies Resource Center at Howard University since 1974. His collections of poetry include Andromeda (1974) and How We Sleep on the Nights We Don’t Make Love (2004), among others. The mayor of Baltimore made Miller an honorary citizen of the city in 1994. He received a Columbia Merit Award in 1993 and was honored by First Lady Laura Bush at the White House in 2003. Miller has held positions as scholar-in-residence at George Mason University and as the Jessie Ball DuPont Scholar at Emory & Henry College. He has conducted writing workshops for soldiers and the families of soldiers through Operation Homecoming and is the founder and director of the Ascension Poetry Reading Series, one of the oldest literary series in the Washington area.

Purchase If God Invented Baseball here.

Matthew Johnson is the author of Shadow Folks and Soul Songs (Kelsay Books) and Far from New York State (New York Quarterly Press). His forthcoming chapbook, Too Short to Box with God, is scheduled for a November 2024 release through Finishing Line Press. His work has appeared in Front Porch Review, Roanoke Review, Northern New England Review, South Florida Poetry Journal Up the Staircase Quarterly, and elsewhere. A former sports journalist and editor (The USA Today College, The Daily Star in Oneonta, NY), he has also been a Sundress Publications Residency recipient and a multi-time Best of the Net nominee. An M.A. graduate of UNC-Greensboro, Matthew is currently the managing editor of The Portrait of New England and the poetry editor of The Twin Bill. You can view more of his work and his social media platforms at his website:

Purchase Far from New York State here.

Ryleigh Wann (she/her) hails from Michigan and currently lives in Brooklyn, NY. She earned an MFA from UNC Wilmington where she taught poetry and served as the comics editor for Ecotone. Her writing can be found in The McNeese ReviewLongleaf ReviewThe Shore, and elsewhere. You can visit her website at

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:

We Call Upon The Author To Explain—Katherine Gaffney

I’ve heard writers say that readers will follow a good narrator anywhere. Here, readers are deftly led into Katherine Gaffney’s blue house. The events that unfold in the blue house are not new: love wanes and flares for a moment through the delights of the mundane, animals imbue meaning, innocence dies. Yet, the reader finds wonder in this blue house that is not unlike their own. For every lover, love feels like invention. Fool in a Blue House showcases true invention, worth turning every page. 

In this interview, Katherine Gaffney’s answers pull readers further in, showing them not furniture or ornamentation, but foundation and inspiration—the magic that created the blue. All writers have something to learn from Gaffney’s words. 

Marah Hoffman: The first poem animates a carousel horse, and afterward horses continue coloring the collection. In your words, what roles do horses play in the book? 

Katherine Gaffney: The role of horses in both this collection and in my life—somewhat inextricable in certain ways—has become so tangled in the last year. But I’ll start at the beginning, which is to say that horses and riding have been central to my life since I was quite young. 

Horses, like many of the animals in the collection, have always been a source of learning for me—particularly in the case of horses, a source of learning about the body, about strength, about fragility, about communication, about relationships, and the list could continue for quite a while I suppose. 

The entanglement mentioned earlier comes in the fact that my horse has since passed away–about six months before learning that University of Tampa Press would be publishing the book. So, these poems that once solely embodied a source of gaining and shaping of personal strength for me now also embody a certain sense of grief, which perhaps always rested there in the sense of fragility that these muscular, massive creatures humans have ridden for centuries also harbor.

But let’s circle back to the role horses play in the book. In writing these poems, horses organically gave me another body and entity with which I was fairly intimately learnéd in to explore the collection’s emotional truths (what those are, I’ll leave the reader to discover). Horses serve as another form or definition of home, and I think they also serve as a kind of alter (or even altar to play with the language here)—an alter to the poetic self threading its way through the book and an altar to the power and fragility horses paradoxically embody.

MH: The sections’ vivid epigraphs always ignited curiosity for the poems that would follow. How did you decide on these epigraphs and the collection’s organization into sections? 

KG: Finding epigraphs began with writers whose work I admire—so the central voices that give life to the lines in the epigraphs are Adrienne Rich, Sappho, Mina Loy, Mary Szybist, and Hélène Cixous. By no means are these epigraphs representative of the full scope of poets and writers I admire, but that was a starting point for finding epigraphs. I saw the epigraphs as creating a sort of chorus for the book. Not that I see poems as purely solos. My sense of being a writer holds a choral quality. On the whole, I wanted to increase the book’s choral quality. 

Some of the lines I collected over years of reading–little nuggets I wanted to keep for yet unidentified purposes. Some I had to seek out expressly as I reorganized the poems in the collection.

Then, my hope (and there I almost typed home which seems a lovely near accident given the book’s focus) as I settled upon the epigraphs is that they frame the poems, begin to weave a connective fiber through the poems even if that fiber is a bit frayed—a bit of decay is welcome amongst these poems. 

MH: In “A Conversation in Home Depot’s Kitchen Department with a Line From Mrs. Dalloway,” a birth control packet is compared to both a talisman and a box of Mike and Ikes. Often while reading, I found myself considering the term “magical realism” as a descriptor for your style. Do you feel any kinship with that genre? If not, do you care to describe your style, its evolution, its texture? 

KG: While I am certainly honored to be put in conversation with the tradition of magical realism, I wouldn’t want to claim a history and tradition that is so connected to particular places and cultures I am not directly connected to. That being said, writers like Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Isabel Allende, along with authors that have perhaps been described within that framework outside the Latin American tradition like Toni Morrison, Franz Kafka, and Milan Kundera have certainly been part of my literary upbringing. So, perhaps kinship would be a perfect term to describe my relationship with the tradition of Magical Realism.

Describing one’s own style might be one of the toughest questions to field and evolution is still a process ongoing and so perhaps is one best answered when I have passed on (though I doubt that I may be considered a poet whose evolution will be deemed worth investigating after I have left this world), but in that list I perhaps gravitate most toward texture. I am deeply invested in texture when I craft poems. As I write, I try to craft a room for my reader, adorn that room with furniture and fixtures with which the reader can interact. This impulse has come to feel more and more entwined with the history of poetry after I realized/learned that the Italianate origin of stanza means “room.”

MH: Besides relationships and moments, things discussed are a 1938 hope chest advertisement, the symbolic interpretation of horses across history, and Marie Antoinette’s fate. How do you find the inspiration for your poems? Are you a journaler, a stop-in-the-middle-of-an-errand writer, a researcher, all of the above?

KG: I have always wanted to be a journaler as I find it to be so beautiful and romantic and I have poet friends who keep such beautifully multimedia journals that they turn to for inspiration, but I suppose I would say I am somewhere between “stop-in-the-middle-of-an-errand writer” and “a researcher.” I’ll jot down snatches of language or images I excavate in day-to-day happenings that I hope might birth a poem in my phone’s note app (so not aesthetic or romantic) but I also do love to dive into deep rabbit holes of research.

Perhaps returning to the term magical realism I find such magic in the real, in fact, there are so many poems to mold, shape, uncover from raw research. But that research doesn’t have to always mean Wikipedia dumps or library trips (whether digital or physical), but can even be found in the imaginings from a hope chest in my own home. So, I suppose I want to keep the definition or identity of the researcher poet as fairly expansive.

MH: I adore your last lines. They transform both poem and perspective. How can you tell when to end a piece? 

KG: What an incredibly high compliment! Perhaps to begin to answer this question I’ll turn to witnessing another poet answering this question.

In spring 2023, I was in the audience at a Richie Hofmann reading and someone in the audience asked him this exact question, and, if my memory serves me well, he struggled as well with this question. I can’t recall his exact answer, but it helped me feel like we don’t have to always be able to articulate the method to our craft or even have a consistent answer, but I’ll attempt a little something.

For me, for some poems, the ending feels so clear, like when you’ve incidentally perfectly seasoned a sauce, but for some it takes leaving them in a drawer for a while, coming back to it, realizing you’ve overwritten the poem, past its final exhale. But perhaps my decision process for an ending has a couple of different forms. At times I want there to be a final or fading closure of movement. At others I want to leave an opening akin to the crack of light that peers through a slightly open door—the light I see as perhaps a little more space for the reader. And occasionally I allow a really musical line to end a poem to create perhaps a kind of reverberation in the reader’s ear. So, I suppose different poems call or beckon for different endings.

MH: What is your revision process like? 

KG: Revision process truly depends on the poem. Some poems require more drafts than others. But whenever I start a new poem, I tend to tinker as I compose. I find the poem’s shape as I compose, read aloud as I write—in this last regard, I need to feel the language corporeally to decide if it’s right. But a lot of the revision process for me is overwriting and trimming back as if chipping away at marble.

Poems that are more emotionally raw, resting deeper in me, require more time for me to untangle and re-tangle them into something one might call a poem. Distance I suppose is part of the revision process for me. It’s perhaps an old adage, but I often think of my mentor’s advice to not be afraid of putting a poem in a “drawer” for a while and returning to it with fresh eyes. It’s amazing how even in returning to some of the poems in Fool in a Blue House I find changes I might make. 

So, perhaps two central ingredients to my revision process are time and sound.

Fool in a Blue House is available at University of Tampa Press

Katherine Gaffney completed her MFA at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is currently working on her PhD at the University of Southern Mississippi. Her work has previously appeared in jubilatHarpur PalateMississippi ReviewMeridian, and elsewhere. She has attended the Tin House Summer Writing Workshop, the SAFTA residency, and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference as a scholar. Her first chapbook, Once Read as Ruin, was published by Finishing Line Press. Her first full-length collection, Fool in a Blue House, won the 2022 Tampa Review Prize for Poetry. Gaffney lives and teaches in Champaign, Illinois.

Marah Hoffman grew up in Reading, Pennsylvania. Since graduating with her bachelors in English and creative writing in 2022, she has lived in Tennessee, Michigan, and now North Carolina. She is an MFA candidate in creative nonfiction at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington and the Creative Director of Sundress Academy for the Arts. She enjoys genre fluidity, whimsicality, cats, lattes, distance running, travel, and adding to her personal lexicon. Her list of favorite words grows every week.

Interview with Heather Bartlett, Author of Another Word for Hunger

The cover of a book, showing a white background with a feminine silhouette in black. On top of the silhouette are bold words in orange, "Another Word for Hunger." The word "poems" appears below the title, and Heather Bartlett's name is printed at the bottom right.

Ahead of the release of her new book of poetry Another Word for Hunger, Sundress intern Mack Ibrahim and writer Heather Bartlett discussed themes such as desire and human connection. Here, Bartlett lays it all out on the table in a raw, honest, and insightful way.

Mack Ibrahim: Is there a connection between your collection’s title Another Word for Hunger and your poem’s title “That Kind of Hunger”?

Heather Bartlett: If I were to make a list of synonyms for hunger, it would start with desire. “That Kind of Hunger” is a poem about exploring desire in its simplest form. The speaker in that poem is still young enough that she isn’t constrained by gender norms or societal expectations, even if the reader is keenly aware that these forces exist within the poem. So, the speaker plays the role of the prince when she plays fairytale. She climbs the tree and admires the princess. She doesn’t yet know what is going to change, what is going to be lost, and what the consequences of certain kinds of desire will be as she outgrows this moment.

MI: What is the significance of saying “my lover,” such as in “Tonight I Am,” versus “my love,” such as in “I Spy”?

HB: Distance. Tense. A lover is in a present-tense physical relationship. In “Tonight I Am,” the speaker is so close to her lover that she begins to imagine them as one. But a love, well a love can be anyone, past, present, or future. In “I Spy,” the speaker is so far removed from all these loves that she is watching/missing/admiring them all from a computer screen.

MI: In terms of structure, why is “red | wolf” not included in the three sections of this collection?

HB: The book’s epigraph, “There are things lovely and dangerous still,” comes from a poem by June Jordan. I view “red | wolf,” in many ways, as speaking to that line and its resonance in the collection. The poem draws on the familiar—Red Riding Hood and the Wolf—to begin to explore the roots and meanings of hunger. I let this poem stand on its own because it serves as a prelude. This poem opens the door to the collection.

MI: Can you speak more about your use of parentheses in “red | wolf” and “Mockingbird”?

HB: Sometimes there are two voices speaking at once in a poem. They speak to each other. They speak over each other. They interrupt each other. They give meaning to each other. I’m using parentheses to make space for these voices.

MI: You write powerfully about a few key experiences with your mother. How would you say your relationship with her has influenced your writing?

HB: There are instances in the collection in which the mother figure is based on my relationship with my own mother, yes. She did teach me how to spot the constellations. She did brush the knots out of my wet hair every morning (Hi, Mom). But the mother in these poems is really an amalgamation of influential voices and forces, not just mothers, or parents, or even people in just my life. The mother in these poems represents a larger voice and force. The relationship I explore between mother and daughter in these poems is speaking to a much larger form of hunger—the need to be loved and accepted and valued in the world. So many in the LGBTQ+ community have people in our lives who struggle to accept or understand us when we come out. So many of us live in places where our lives are being devalued. The mother and daughter in these poems are trying to find their way toward something better.

MI: How do the different kinds of love—your feelings for your mother and for your partners in Another Word for Hunger influence each other?

HB: Love is a kind of hunger, isn’t it? It takes on many forms, but it’s always rooted in the desire to be Seen and Recognized. I think I’m seeking a form of that in every relationship, in every poem. It’s miraculous when we find it. And it’s devastating when we don’t.

MI: How would you describe the intersection of spirituality and queerness within your poetry?

HB: I think there is something quite spiritual about the process of coming out. In order to get there, we need to come to know ourselves so fully, so clearly. That process of self-reflecting, self-recognizing, and self-accepting is one of discovery. In the collection, I explore this in a few ways. One of the biggest is through the series of “Eve” poems. Much like the mother figure in the collection, Eve is not simply one figure. She isn’t just Eve who bites the apple; she is many things at once—a symbol of spirituality, of femininity, of “otherness.” She is an idea, a feeling, a version of the self. Throughout the collection, Eve morphs from an external figure into a vital part of the speaker’s own self which she comes to recognize and nurture.

MI: You describe the body and physical touch as signs of intimacy and love. What would you say about the moments where intimacy and love don’t intersect?

HB: Intimacy is a form of longing and of searching. Sometimes it comes out of love and connection. Sometimes it comes out of loneliness and grief. To me, these are equally strong forces.

MI: What do you believe this collection says about loneliness and the desire for acceptance?

HB: Loneliness and desire are not mutually exclusive. They’re parts of one another. They’re born out of the same hunger. We can feel everything all at once and still keep looking for more.

Order your copy of Another Word for Hunger today!

Heather Bartlett, a white woman in a black blouse, peers into the camera with a soft smile.

Heather Bartlett is a poet, writer, and professor. Her poetry and prose can be found in print and online in journals such as the Los Angeles Review, Ninth Letter, RHINO Poetry, and others. She holds an MFA in poetry from Hunter College and is a professor of English and Creative Writing at the State University of New York College at Cortland, where she teaches in the Professional Writing Program and directs Cortland’s visiting writers series, Distinguished Voices in Literature. She is the founding editor of the online literary magazine Hoxie Gorge Review.

Mack Ibrahim, a non-binary person with glasses and short hair, grins. They wear a floral black and red top with black jeans and sit with their arm propped on their knee.

Mack Ibrahim is a second-year at Wheaton College in Illinois. They are majoring in English with a Writing concentration and minoring in American Ethnic Studies. Their hobbies include obsessively reading the webnovel Omniscient Reader’s Viewpoint, going to concerts, and making memes for their D&D group.