Vintage Sundress with Daniel Crocker

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The Vintage Sundress Series offers us an opportunity to catch up with writers who published with us in the past. In 2011, Daniel Crocker published Like a Fish with Sundress, followed by The One Where I Ruin Your Childhood in 2015. He took a moment to speak with our Editorial Intern, Annie McIntosh, about how mental illness affects his writing and the future of poetry.

Annie McIntosh:  I’ve often found phrases from pop culture or literature that just echo on a loop for me, sometimes for years—and you’ve talked about this before as well. Are there any poems that you’ve written, or maybe haven’t written yet, that have the same effect for you? What poems or lines still haunt you? 

like a fishDaniel Crocker: Most of my OCD manifests itself through intrusive thoughts, so I understand where you’re coming from! Mostly they are dark thoughts about self-harm, how stupid I am, that one time 20 years ago I said something embarrassing, etc. There was one piece of pop culture that often repeats nonstop in one of these episodes. It’s from The Royal Tenenbaums. It’s when Richie looks into the mirror and says, “I’m going to kill myself tomorrow.”  That’s a usual for me. Luckily, on the medication I’m on now I don’t have a lot of intrusive thoughts—usually only when I’m having high anxiety. Anyway, I did write a poem about a line getting stuck in your head from OCD. It’s “Jazz” from Shit House Rat.

AM: How has using black humor in your poetry and fiction informed your creative process, particularly when you’re drawing from deep places of childhood trauma? 

DC: I just always used humor to cope, and often that humor is dark. Also, people like funny poems. It makes them happy, even if the underlying theme is depressing. I love reading them at poetry readings. Nothing makes me feel happier than when the audience laughs when I want them to laugh. Then, I bring the hammer down on them.

AM: What was it about Sesame Street characters that inspired you to have this dialogue about mental illness in your poetry? 

DC: I thought many of them just lent themselves to bipolar symptoms. Snuffy is depression. Big Bird is mania. Cookie Monster is addiction. It just seemed like a natural connection for me. I think the first one I wrote was about Oscar the Grouch—that one is in Like a Fish. When I was working on Shit House Rat, I think I wrote the Snuffy poem first and after that everything else just fell into place.

AM: In your essay “Mania Makes Me A Better Poet,” you discuss the balancing act of mania/medication affecting your creativity as a poet. Do you have any advice for others in finding that balance? Does poetry ever trump being healthy? 

theonewhereDC: Sometimes poetry trumps being happy. Not as often as it used to, but sometimes. For the most part, however, I try to stay stable. I mean I have a family and a job. It’s good to stay as sane as possible. Though, I do want to clarify only a mildish mania (hypomania) is fun and creative. Full-blown mania is scary as hell.

AM: Where do you see poetry moving forward? Are there any poets we should really be paying attention to right now?   

DC: I think it’s already moved forward just in my lifetime. I started in the ’90s small press poetry boom. The old cut and paste magazines. They were great. That was our time, though. Now, it’s time for new poets. I mean, I could have never imagined when I was 20 that there would be Instagram poets, YouTube poets, etc. I think it’s great. It is bringing a lot of attention to poetry in general. I also like that poetry is much more inclusive than it used to be—though it still has a way to go. When I was starting out, I was one of the few non-straight (I’m bi) poets I knew of.

Poets I love: John Dorsey, Rebecca Schumejda, Laura Kasishke, Erin Elizabeth Smith, David Taylor, Mike James, Tim Siebles, Nate Graziano, Chase Dimock, my wife Margaret, and there’s so many that I just can’t name them all.

AM: What are some future projects you’re working on right now?

DC: I have a new book coming out called Sick. It’s a split book with me and John Dorsey. I should have my first fiction collection in many years coming soon. Probably my last fiction collection too. After that, I might work on a memoir. I don’t know. I might just be done.

13254447_1581128562184653_8497943936354604041_nDaniel Crocker’s work has appeared in The Los Angeles Review, Hobart, Big Muddy, New World Writing, Stirring, Juked, The Chiron Review, The Mas Tequila Review and over 100 others. His books include Like a Fish (full length) and The One Where I Ruin Your Childhood (e-chap with thousands of downloads) both from Sundress Publications. Green Bean Press published several of his books in the ’90s and early 2000s. These include People Everyday and Other Poems, Long Live the 2 of Spades, the novel The Cornstalk Man, and the short story collection Do Not Look Directly Into Me. He has also published several chapbooks through various presses. His newest full length collection of poetry, Shit House Rat, was published by Spartan Press in September of 2017. Stubborn Mule Press published Leadwood: New and Selected Poems—1998-2018 in October 2018. He was the first winner of the Gerald Locklin Prize in poetry. He is the editor of The Cape Rock (Southeast Missouri State University) and the co-editor of Trailer Park Quarterly. He’s also the host of the podcast, Sanesplaining, about poetry, mental illness, and nerd stuff.

Annie McIntosh is an English major at Franklin College, where she writes about gender-queer studies in science fiction. She is the Lead Poetry Editor of Brave Voices Magazine and a Fiction Editorial Intern for Juxtaprose Magazine. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming from Okay Donkey, Theta Wave, Digital Americana Magazine, carte blanche, and others. She recently received her first Pushcart Prize nomination and was named one of Indiana’s Best Emerging Poets for 2018. Currently searching for a publication home for her first chapbook, she lives in Indianapolis with her partner and their dog, Jackson.


Vintage Sundress with Jessica Rae Bergamino

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Sundress’ Vintage Sundress Series offers us an opportunity to catch up with the writers who have published with us in the past. Three years ago, Jessica Rae Bergamino published The Desiring Object or Voyager Two Explains to the Gathering of Stars How She Came to Glow Among Them , a beautiful chapbook that explores questions of selfhood, mythology, and queer femininity in an intergalactic landscape.  In this installment of the series, Sundress intern Athena Lathos interviews Bergamino about the evolution of her creative relationship with space, as well as the pieces of writing and art that have preoccupied her since.

Lathos: You published The Desiring Object with Sundress in 2016, and UNMANNED (with Noemi Press) in 2018. Can you tell us a bit your about the project(s) you are currently working on?

Bergamino: The project I’m currently working on is a hybrid exploration of intergenerational family trauma and violence, though I’ve also been thinking a lot about an interview recently with Brenda Shaughnessy where she talked about the generative capacities and possibilities that come with learning something new and the freedoms of not only being a beginner but being bad at something. So, right now, I’m approaching things that I’ve storied myself as being “bad” at, like gardening and playing music, and looking to see what I can learn in that practice.

Lathos: I enjoyed reading this interview that Adam J. Gellings conducted with you in August of 2016, particularly because it offered insight into your use of compelling and unusual primary sources for The Desiring Object (namely, “recordings of the congressional hearings on the Voyager project, [and] maps of moons made from the Voyager observations”). Can you talk about some primary sources in the media, popular culture, politics, or art that have informed your work lately? desiringobject

Bergamino: I actually spent a huge amount of time working with the Voyager material; along with The Desiring Object, UNMANNED is a collection written through the personae of both Voyager space probes. That book project allowed me to take a deep dive into Cold War era popular culture and politics, science fiction, and Carl Sagan’s critical and creative writing. I knew that I wanted any pop-culture, scientific, or historical references in the book to be relevant for the Voyagers’ launch in 1977.  Since I was born in the 80’s I couldn’t access my own cultural memory of the time period, so I became increasingly interested in the way that some popular culture morphs into a popular mythology and, in turn, how popular mythology might interact with the so-called classical mythologies written into the stars in the names of planets, moons, and satellites.

Lately, I’ve been interested in exploring what might constitute intergenerational popular mythology of girlhood, especially as it is related to queer youth. George from Nancy Drew, Kristy from The Babysitters Club, Anne Shirley, Harriet the Spy, the list goes on… I’m not interested in what subtext may or may not be present in the books or source text, but, rather the way that a shared queer imagination has sprung up around these characters.  Inevitably when I talk about this, a straight person feels the need to tell me that my queer kin are wrong — homophobia makes people so boring!

Lathos: The praise for UNMANNED applauds your capacity to “queer our space canon” (Julia Bloch) and envision “science goddesses through whose aspects [you] explore both the human and stellar condition” (Kazim Ali). What was it like for you to explore gender and sexuality in a galactic landscape, especially through technologies (like the Voyager probes) which might be considered cybernetic, posthuman, or even genderless?

Bergamino: One of the many threads I ended up following in UNMANNED was depictions of space-age femininity that come to us through science-fiction. UNMANNED contains many of what I call “nested persona poems,” where the persona of Voyager Two “tries on” the personae of Princess Leia, Barbarella, and Miss Piggy, to name a few. These nested persona poems provided me space to think through and about some of the possibilities of femininity and feminized bodies that have already been imagined in outer space and then expand upon, re-imagine, and re-vision these performances of gender.  

Each Voyager probe carries a golden record which includes an audio-visual story of life on Earth, and ends with an EKG recording of Ann Druyan — the creative director of the record  — meditating on, among other things, falling in love with Carl Sagan. She’s talked about this in a number of different settings, though I came to the story while listening to an episode of Radiolab. As the project developed, the EKG became one of the least compelling things about the Voyager mission, but it also meant that I never thought of the probes being gender-less; if anything, they are, in my mind, saturated with gender.  I wanted to explore that saturation and use it as an opportunity to pivot into more and more queer visions of femininity. In the queer femme community, we celebrate and talk a lot about femme identity and resilience without orienting femme in relationship to butch or masculine-of-center bodies; by writing both Voyager probes as femme, I hoped to enact some of that celebration.

Lathos: Though two different projects, UNMANNED and The Desiring Object share a common subject. How are the two related, and what was navigating that relationship like from the perspective of craft?

Bergamino: I appreciate the pun there in navigating because so much of The Desiring Object is asking what it means for Voyager Two to navigate the interstellar mission while also learning to navigate her own relationship to identity and desire.  I like to think of The Desiring Object as the poem where Voyager Two learns her own capacity for individualization; in UNMANNED, a sequence titled “Excerpts from Voyager One’s Private Correspondence with Carl Sagan,” explores similar questions through the consciousness of Voyager One.  

While The Desiring Object expands and contracts across the page  as Voyager Two struggles through her relationship to both the mission and herself,  using the scientific tools and experiments that make up the Voyagers bodies as the organizing principle — I like to think of it like the body scan relaxation technique, where a person relaxes by focusing intently on one body part, and then another, and then another.

“Excerpts…” is a series of linked prose poems which follow a linear arc informed by the western zodiac.  Because each Voyager probe is unable to communicate with the other, I wanted to put two very different forms of poem in motion in order to place pressure on the fact that while they were identical in many ways, their social-political-emotional concerns are very different within the books.

Lathos: Given that you have written both a chapbook and a full-length book about space and the Voyager probes, I couldn’t help but ask you about the recent death of the Mars Rover, and the way in which the internet responded with an unexpected magnitude of grief. What do you think it is about space, as well as our attempts to explore it, that we find so compelling?

Bergamino: I’ve been sitting with this question for weeks now, trying to find new ways to put the nature of awe into words and making Star Trek jokes like “damnit Jim, I’m a poet, not a philosopher.” But, most simply, I think the idea that we’re alone in the universe is terrifying for all sorts of reasons —  including the possibility that there is nothing out there, god or alien, to save us from ourselves — and that the stories we can tell about outer space are one way of staving off that terror. Also, in modernity, capitalism loves a “clean slate,” and we haven’t enacted the irreparable harm that we’ve done to this planet on other planets (yet).

Lathos: A classic question, but one for which I always love reading the answer: What have you read lately that has inspired you, impressed you, or moved you to think about something in a different way?

Bergamino: I’ve been reading and learning so much from adrienne maree brown, both in her written work and podcast, How to Survive the End of The World, which she’s created with her sister, Autumn Brown. brown’s concept, in particular, of “moving at the speed of trust” from her book Emergent Strategy has deeply informed my evolving sense of poetics and understanding of the possibilities of poetry moving in the world. Also, I was lucky to be in New York while the Hilma af Klint exhibit was on display at the Guggenheim; her paintings exploded for me in a way that I haven’t experienced in a long time. I want to follow af Klint’s threads of tender wildness and see where it takes me.



Jessica Rae Bergamino is the author of UNMANNED, winner of Noemi Press’ 2017 Poetry Prize, as well the chapbooks The Desiring Object or Voyager Two Explains to the Gathering of Stars How She Came to Glow Among Them (Sundress Publications, 2016), The Mermaid, Singing (dancing girl press, 2015), and Blue in All Things: a Ghost Story (dancing girl press, 2015). Individual poems have recently appeared in Third Coast and Black Warrior Review. She is currently a doctoral candidate in Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Utah, where she is the Senior Book Reviews Editor for Quarterly West. Find her online at


Athena Lathos is a poet and nonfiction writer from Santa Maria, California currently living in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Her work can be found in Enizagam and Verseweavers, as well as on her blog, Bertha Mason’s Attic. Her recent essay about the job market, “I Applied to 200 Jobs and All I Got was this Moderate-Severe Depression,” was featured as an Editor’s Pick on Longreads. Lathos completed her MA thesis, “A Sea of Grief is Not a Proscenium: Claudia Rankine’s Citizen and the Spectacle of Racist Violence in Cyberculture,” at Oregon State University’s School of Writing, Literature, and Film in May of 2017. Lathos was a finalist for the 2016 Princemere Poetry Prize and a runner-up for the 2018 Princemere Poetry Prize.

Vintage Sundress with Danny M. Hoey, Jr.

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Vintage Sundress is back with another installment, this time featuring Sundress author Danny M. Hoey, Jr.

Danny wrote his debut novel, The Butterfly Lady, in 2013, and he took some time to speak with intern Lauren Sutherland to touch base on life since his first publication and take an honest look at the struggles of publishing and the literary community.butterfly lady

Sutherland: What has changed for you since The Butterfly Lady was published?

Hoey: Since The Butterfly Lady was published, honestly, I have become a little more anxious. Not because I can’t write or produce, but because I am afraid that what I write next won’t be good enough. I have been invited to a lot of readings/panels; people have taught my book, and I have gotten great feedback about the work. And, every time, the question comes up, “When is the next book?” So, that makes me anxious and nervous and fearful that I can’t write a good enough book again.

Sutherland: Has the publishing of The Butterfly Lady altered your perspective on the literary community?

Hoey: Honestly, I thought more folks in the literary community would be more supportive. I support other artists by reading their books and telling folks publicly that I read their books. I have folks who read my book and tell me in private that they loved it but never say it publicly. That bothers me, and I hate that I feel bad about that.

Sutherland:  Was your rise to publication smooth or a struggle? What obstacles did you face?

Hoey: It was rough—I got a lot of rejections that were “positive” with remarks like, “I like the book, but it’s not for us.”  Also, because of the subject matter, I was fearful of folks not accepting the work. But once it was accepted, things moved smoothly, and the book was received very well. And, I am thankful for that.

Sutherland: What is something worth noting about being published that you would want unpublished writers to know?

Hoey: You must keep going—keep producing, writing, creating—even when the book is out. Because the work must continue.

Sutherland: Have you published other full-length works or chapbooks since being published at Sundress?

Hoey: I have not.  I have had some stories published as well as some academic articles. Also, my book was a feature at a Writing Festival at Broward College in South Florida—all students in the ENC 1101 courses read my book and did various projects/research/responses over the work.

Sutherland: What are you working on now?

Hoey: I have a complete draft of my second novel, and I am in the process of polishing it. I am kind of superstitious, so I don’t want to divulge too much information, but it is about a soul singer and race riots.


Dr. Danny M. Hoey, Jr., an Associate Professor of English, joined Indian River State College in 2011 as an Assistant Professor of English. He most recently served as the Administrative Director of Minority Affairs and English Department Chair in addition to his professorship. He holds a Doctor of Philosophy degree and a Master of Arts degree in English and Creative Writing, along with a Master of Arts degree in Africana Studies and a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. He actively participates in the Association of Writers & Writing Programs, the Modern Language Association, and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. His stories have appeared in WarpLand, Women in REDzine, Mandala Journal, Connotation Press, African Voices Magazine, SnReview, The Writer’s Bloc, and The Hampton University First-Year Writing Textbook. His pedagogical essay, “Dutchman, The Black body, and The Law,” is forthcoming from the Modern Language Association’s Series Approaches to Teaching Amiri Baraka’s Dutchman. The Butterfly Lady, his first novel, won the ForeWord Firsts’ Winter 2013 debut fiction award and the Bronze Award in the IndiFab Book of the Year Award. He is currently at work on his second novel.

Some of Hoey’s work:

“The Watermelon Eating Contest” on Mandala Journal‘s website

“What Do We Do?” on SnReview‘s website

The Butterfly Lady from the Sundress store online



Lauren Sutherland is a recent graduate of Lee University in Cleveland, TN and proudly has a Bachelor’s degree in English with a writing emphasis and a Deaf Studies minor. Lauren enjoys reading and writing poetry, but her ultimate passion is for editing. She has been interning with Sundress since July and loves getting the opportunity to have a hand in the literary community.

Vintage Sundress with Kristin LaTour

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Up next in our blast from the past is an author who has fought her hardest not to stay in the past. Kristin LaTour, author of poetry collection What Will Keep Us Alive, is no stranger to the world of publishing. As the author of four other chapbooks, one being an e-chap published in December of 2018, LaTour has certainly had her highs and lows in the past few years, and she graciously spoke with intern Lauren Sutherland about what she has learned and how she has kept moving forward.

Sutherland: What has changed for you since What Will Keep Us Alive was published?

LaTour: Looking back over the three years since What Will Keep Us Alive was published, some things have changed, and others haven’t. I still write free verse poems which tend to focus on word choice around sound and that have themes around marginalized people or current events. I’ve been trying more experimental forms like erasures and footnotes to real texts. I think my reading has become wider, even though I still read mostly female poets. Since I’ve stopped having the time or energy to go to readings around my area, I find that instead of hearing the same voices at readings every month, I’m forced to read, and that gives me more options in whom I choose to read or hear. Sadly, I am submitting fewer poems to journals, but maybe I’ll make that a goal in the coming year—to send more work out.

Sutherland: Has the publishing of What Will Keep Us Alive altered your perspective on the literary community?

LaTour: Overall, people were very supportive of What Will Keep Us Alive when it came out. I had a big release party and some smaller readings around my area. I was also having health issues that made promoting it difficult. I think the glow was off about six months after it was published like it was time to move on to the next thing.

Sutherland: Was your rise to publication smooth or a struggle? What obstacles did you face?

LaTour: Publishing was, and is, hard. I graduated from my MFA program in 2007 thinking my thesis was a fully-formed manuscript. It took a couple of years of it being rejected for me to realize it was not. I kept writing, revising, sending out individual poems. I published a couple chapbooks. I lost time teaching at a community college and being braindead from grading papers so I couldn’t write much most of the year.

I stopped sending out a manuscript for a couple of years. At AWP in 2014, Kristy Bowen, who published my third chapbook, Agoraphobia, asked me to read at a joint event with Sundress Publications and Hyacinth Girl Press. Erin Smith approached me after the reading and asked me to send her a manuscript. I was elated but also cautious, knowing her request didn’t guarantee publication. I went home, worked on the neglected manuscript, and put together my best effort. It was accepted later in 2014 and then published in 2015. Altogether that’s ten years if you count the time in my program writing toward my thesis. I think if Erin hadn’t asked for my manuscript, I would have kept writing, publishing, and getting rejected, but her request was a huge boost to the dismay of being rejected for seven years.

Sutherland: What is something worth noting about being published that you would want unpublished writers to know?

LaTour: Not much changes after getting a full-length book published. You have to start from zero again: writing new poems and getting them published, which also means getting rejected. There is some consolation in knowing that I did it once so I can do it again, but the work is still there.

I would say my advice to unpublished writers is to not take for granted that because your manuscript is published, your job is done. I worked with Erin for months in 2015 leading up to the book coming out. We reordered poems, argued about section headings, figured out where the “holes” were in the book. That meant I had to write more poems.

Writers should be very nice to their editors who are working for little to nothing to make the best book they can. However, writers should also stand firm for what they believe in their work. They need to be ready to compromise and cooperate.

Sutherland: Have you published other full-length works or chapbooks since being published at Sundress?

LaTour: I have published a very short chapbook with Sundress as an e-book with drawings from a friend. I wrote the poems in 2014, and Angel Perez did the artwork in the same year. Since it was artwork and poetry together, I looked for publishers who worked with that kind of collaboration, and the chapbook was rejected by about 5 of them. I let the file sit on my computer a while, and then I realized Sundress might be a good fit for them. Sometimes it’s right under my nose. Again, I didn’t expect Sundress to automatically accept the work, but I was so happy when I got a positive response. The book came out in December of 2018 and is called Mend.

Sutherland: What are you working on now?

LaTour: I have a lot I’m working on. I’m sending out a second full-length manuscript, The Whaler’s Wife. It’s been rejected several times too. Every time, I tweak things, making it better. It’s a series of narrative poems that tell the story of a New England couple who meet as kids, fall in love, and struggle to be together and build a family.

I’m working on a non-fiction book for lay people on how to appreciate poetry.

Teaching at a community college, I meet a lot of reluctant learners. I think there needs to be a book for people whose friends drag them to a poetry reading so they can enjoy what they hear and maybe be encouraged to read some on their own. Most “how to read a poem” books are very academic, long, and not exciting. I’m trying to write a short, fun book.

Not to ignore my poetry, I’m working on a third manuscript inspired by sideshow performers from the early-mid 20th century, when the traveling carnival was starting to fade, and people weren’t as comfortable paying to see “freaks.”

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Kristin LaTour’s most recent collection, Mend, illustrated by Angel Perez, is available as an e-chap at Sundress Publications. Her full-length, What Will Keep Us Alive, was published in 2015 with Sundress. Her work has been included in anthologies, three chapbooks, and many online and print journals. She teaches comp and literature classes at Joliet Jr. College and has a loving home full of pets, a husband, and books in Aurora, IL.

Follow these links to find more of Kristin’s recent work on the web:

“October 15, 1834” on Tinderbox Poetry Journal‘s website

“Writer’s Block,” a craft essay, on the Sundress blog

IMG_9471Lauren Sutherland is a recent graduate of Lee University in Cleveland, TN and proudly has a Bachelor’s degree in English with a writing emphasis and a deaf studies minor. Lauren enjoys reading and writing poetry, but her ultimate passion is for editing. She has been an intern with Sundress since July and loves getting the opportunity to have a hand in the literary community.


Vintage Sundress with Donna Vorreyer

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Our Vintage Sundress series features authors who have published with Sundress in the past and takes a look at what they’ve been up to since their work was released. In 2013, Donna Vorreyer published her first poetry collection, A House of Many Windows, with Sundress, followed by Every Love Story is an Apocalypse Story in 2016. For our latest installment, editorial intern Riley Steiner spoke with Vorreyer about her experience with the publication process, her sources of inspiration, and more.

Riley Steiner: What has changed for you since Every Love Story was published?


Donna Vorreyer: As a writer, honestly, not much. Of course, it’s a delight and a privilege to have books in the world when so many wonderful poets I know still have not had this happen for them. Publication means someone else thought my work worth sharing, which lends some credence to my label as poet.

Calling myself a poet is always difficult for me as I have an enormous case of impostor syndrome. I often think, “Is my voice necessary in the literary landscape?” and the answer that mostly comes to mind is no. Having poets I admire so greatly write blurbs for the book was a humbling and heart-warming experience, but hearing from readers of all ages about how they connect with the work has been the best part of having that book in the world. Everyone can relate to love and loss, whether it’s in an intimate relationship or some other area of life.

As a person, a lot has changed for me. This past year has been especially difficult, losing both parents within a five-month span among other things. It has me thinking a lot about mortality, about how I am choosing to spend my time. Starting to write through those losses has helped with the healing process, but sometimes it also reopens the wounds. It’s a delicate balance, and it has impacted how much I have written and put into the world in the last eighteen months, how much I am willing to give over the time I have to writing.

RS: Your first book, A House of Many Windows, was published with Sundress in 2013. Did your experience with the publishing process differ between your first and second books? If so, how?

41qjcMu+FXL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_DV: Yes! Mostly because I had gone the traditional route of sending the first manuscript out to multiple publishers and contests. I didn’t really have any knowledge about the publishing of poems or a book except researching on the internet and trying to find books by those presses at the library.

After many rejections, I took a manuscript workshop with Daniel Khalastchi that helped me to solidify the poem order. He also convinced me that the book was worth publishing when I was ready to quit.

Luckily, the connection with Sundress happened organically. I had stopped by their table at AWP Chicago to thank Erin for publishing one of my poems in Stirring, and our conversation led to Sundress reading and accepting that first manuscript. (Authors—THANK YOUR JOURNAL EDITORS! You never know … ) For the second one, Sundress asked for a first look and liked the manuscript enough to publish it, so the anguish of the contest/reading period submission was eliminated.

Once the manuscripts were accepted, I was very lucky to have Erin Elizabeth Smith edit the first manuscript and Sara Henning edit the second. Both of them were thoughtful editors, not just accepting the manuscripts “as-is,” but working with me to hone them. Suggesting line edits, changes in order, haggling over section titles—these are all things I appreciated immensely and would expect from any editor who truly cares about the work they are publishing. The second book even had a completely different title before the editing process, and I’m so glad it changed! 

RS: Has the publication of A House of Many Windows, and then Every Love Story, altered your perspective on the literary community?

DV: Certainly, having a book in the world makes one more keenly aware of all the different aspects of the literary community, both in person and online. As I work full-time outside of academia and do not have an MFA, my lit community has been built person by person, through workshops, appearances in journals and in online groups. (I wasn’t on Twitter when the first book came out and had just started using it when the second one did, and the way things spread on Poetry Twitter is a wonder to behold.) I got more readings and attention for the second book as my community had grown, especially online. This helped me to expand my reach for readings and promotion beyond the Chicago area where I live, and that was very exciting.

As a result of not getting much publicity after the first initial push and swirl of AWP for each book, I realized how important it is for books to remain in the public eye, at least in the literary public eye. As a result, I began to write reviews of poetry books, and I have been steadily publishing reviews since the release of Every Love Story. For me, it is an avenue of literary citizenship that enriches me as a reader and a writer as I learn much from the deep reading that a review requires. Although the literary community CAN be a divisive place, full of contention and one-upmanship, I prefer to settle into it as a middle-aged cheerleader, reviewing and promoting the work of others in a gentle and positive way and hoping that the golden rule comes into play when my own work enters the world.

RS: One of the things that struck me the most while reading the poems in Every Love Story was the vivid natural imagery. Do you often find yourself drawing upon the natural world while you write? What are some other sources of inspiration for you?

DV: The second manuscript actually began as a response to my reading of the journals of Lewis and Clark. Their deep scrutiny of a new wild married with my own affinity for the natural world in many of these poems.

Once the manuscript started to be shaped into its narrative cycle, the natural world became an easy canvas of images with which to paint love, loss, descent into despair, and hope, cycling as the seasons cycle. I return to the natural world often as it is the first and perfect mirror for all human experience and a type of imagery with which all readers can connect. I am also often inspired by sounds, and the sonics of a poem are important to me, so much so that often the topical direction of a poem sometimes changes based on the way I want the language to sound. It’s my job as a poet to notice, to observe, so inspiration is easy to find. It’s finding something to say using that inspiration, something unique, that is the difficult part.

RS: What is something worth noting about being published that you would want unpublished writers to know?

DV: Holding your book in your hand for the first time is an irreplaceable feeling, a feeling that never goes away. It may open doors to new people and new experiences. It may bring you a sense of personal achievement or (if you’re lucky) some level of financial success.

But it is not a magic wand. You will not suddenly be in demand to speak around the country or win big monetary awards or get offers to write in a Tuscan villa for a month.  You could, but it’s not likely. You should be pleased that your hard work has put your words in front of readers, made a connection with someone beyond yourself. Which is the point, right? 

RS: What else have you been up to since Every Love Story?

DV: I am always writing new work, sometimes at a snail’s pace, but always writing. I have been writing a lot of reviews, as I said earlier, but have also been publishing poems. A chapbook of prose poems, The Girl, was published in 2018 by the wonderful Porkbelly Press. 

RS: What are you working on now?

DV: I currently have a third manuscript out in the world, and I have been writing a lot about aging, loss, and about, despite how awful the world can be, how lucky and blessed we are to know love. It seems that these two forces balance one another, and the way they interact is of interest to me.

RS: Looking back from where you are today, is there anything you’d tell your younger self before A House of Many Windows, and then Every Love Story, was published?

DV: Well, since I was 51 when House was published, I was long past my younger self already!  I didn’t return to writing poetry with any sort of serious effort until I was in my early 30s, so I never had any expectations that I would have any sort of “success.” If someone told me I would work at it for twenty years, learning as much as I could through reading and taking workshops before I would do any sort of regular publishing, I probably wouldn’t have believed that I would have had the stamina.

I would tell myself then to remember what one of my mentors, Diana Goetsch, told me early on—to write with fire and complete belief in your work, and then send it into the world with absolutely no expectations. This way, you will always be proud of what you’ve accomplished whether the “poetry world” validates you or not. This is always a struggle—to not equate the value of one’s work with the fickle tastes of the publishing world. I would remind myself why I started writing in the first place—because it helps me to both celebrate and figure out the world.

00100sportrait_00100_burst20190104131835673_cover-01-1.jpegDonna Vorreyer is the author of Every Love Story is an Apocalypse Story (Sundress Publications, 2016) and A House of Many Windows (Sundress, 2013) as well as eight chapbooks, most recently The Girl (Porkbelly Press).  Her poems and reviews have appeared in numerous journals including Waxwing, Rhino, Quarterly West, Poet Lore, Diode and Sugar House Review.


rileysteinerRiley Steiner is a senior at Miami University, where she studies Creative Writing and Media & Culture. Originally from Columbus, Ohio, she enjoys baking, cheering for the Green Bay Packers, and spending way too much money at Half Price Books. Her creative work is forthcoming in the Oakland Arts Review.



Vintage Sundress with Sandra Marchetti

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Head Shot 1In our first installment of Vintage Sundress, a series which will check in with our authors in a “where are they now” style, intern Lauren Sutherland interviews Sandra Marchetti, author of Confluence, a book of poems published in December 2014. Sandra’s lighthearted dialogue is refreshing to take in, and her joy in sharing her story as an encouragement to others is such a sweet read. We hope you enjoy!

Lauren Sutherland: What has changed for you since Confluence was published?
Sandra Marchetti: Confluence succeeded beyond my wildest dreams, and I am so grateful to the literary community for embracing the book the way they did. This is due in no small part to the commitment of Sundress—saving the day and publishing the book after my first publisher temporarily shuttered—and a lot of hustle and the goodwill of others. The book was reviewed in some of my dream destinations: The Rumpus, Rain Taxi, andThe Kansas City Star to name a few. The book sold almost 500 copies (I believe). I didn’t think that was possible for a poetry book from a small press. I took my book cross country (the South and the Midwest, really) on a reading tour that lasted a whole summer. Confluence was a dream-maker.
Sutherland: Has the publishing of Confluence altered your perspective on the literary community?
Marchetti: One thing I learned was that the literary community is willing to embrace you when you have something new to offer. It’s harder when your latest book-length work is a few years old (for better or worse). That’s natural. It’s the way consumerism works. On the positive side, it taught me that if you’re willing to hustle, assemble a good team behind you, build some connections, folks are willing to give you a chance and invite you into their digital and physical spaces. 
Sutherland: Was your rise to publication smooth or a struggle? What obstacles did you face?
Marchetti: It was a struggle, but maybe it needed to be. Many first books are. The book was my MFA thesis, so I began work on it nearly 8 years before it was published. The book went through many iterations. I sent it to nearly 200 open reading periods/contests before it was accepted anywhere. I had very few encouraging notes from publishers, and the farthest I made it in a contest was as a “quarterfinalist” once.

The privilege I had was some money behind me to keep sending and to go on residencies. Without that, I might have been out of the game. Once the book was accepted, the press stalled, then shuttered (see above) and the book was homeless again. Erin Elizabeth Smith asked to see the manuscript and she took care of the rest, shepherding it into the world. I couldn’t have asked for a better ending to the story.

Sutherland: What is something worth noting about being published that you would want unpublished writers to know?
Marchetti: It’s cyclical. I’m in a down period right now—not publishing as much as in the years immediately before, during, and after Confluence came out. I’m still learning that that’s okay. The biggest thing is to gain trust in yourself. It was a long time before I stopped thinking during a dry spell, “I’ll never get published again,” or “I’ll never write again.” I always do. It takes time to learn that, and publishing does help to boost confidence, for better or worse. My first chapbook publication, The Canopy, in 2012, pushed me to finish Confluence. 
Sutherland: Have you published other full-length works or chapbooks since being published at Sundress?
Marchetti: I have published two chapbooks since Confluence. Heart Radicals, a collaborative chapbook of love poems,and Sight Lines, an e-chap that’s part lyric essay and part poetry. Before Confluence, I probably wouldn’t have pursued either of these projects. Publishing Confluence really opened me up to other kinds of books—collaborations, cross-genre work, publishing a book entirely online—none of these things were projects I saw myself participating in previously. Once I got my “dream” publication, I decided it was time to “play.” 
Sutherland: What are you working on now?
Marchetti: I’ve been drafting two full-length manuscripts since the week after Confluence was first picked up, and they are finally gaining some maturity as projects. Aisle 228 is a book of baseball poems about the Chicago Cubs, going to ballgames with my dad, and listening to baseball on the radio. I’m also working on a book of poems about influence—poetic and environmental—that’s sort of akin to Confluence. The second work is on the back burner right now as I’m starting to send out Aisle 228 to publishers. It’s an exciting time. 
Sandra Marchetti is the author of Confluence, a full-length collection of poetry from SundressPublications (2015). She is also the author of four chapbooks of poetry and lyric essays, including Heart Radicals (About Editions, 2018), Sight Lines (Speaking of Marvels Press, 2016), A Detail in the Landscape (Eating Dog Press, 2014), and The Canopy (MWC Press, 2012). Sandra’s poetry appears widely in Poet Lore, Blackbird, Ecotone, Southwest Review, River Styx, and elsewhere. Her essays can be found at The Rumpus, Whiskey Island, 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.
Lauren Sutherland is a recent graduate of Lee University in Cleveland, TN and proudly has a Bachelor’s degree in English with a writing emphasis and a Deaf Studies minor. Lauren enjoys reading and writing poetry, but her ultimate passion is for editing. She has been interning with Sundress since July and loves getting the opportunity to have a hand in the literary community.