Sweet Connections: M.P. Stout

Each week we will be connecting with our contributors showing where they have been, where they are now, and what’s up for the future. 

Name: M.P. Stout
Title of Piece published in Sweet: At the Annual Christmas Party 
Issue:  8.1

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Find her:
Twitter

Meg resides in Southern Maine and juggles her time between working in marketing technology, writing, exploring the woods, and homesteading. She does not currently have a website.

 

What are some major accomplishments you have had since your Sweet publication? 

I’d say my biggest accomplishment was finally deciding to take the MFA leap—something I’ve been wanting to do for years. I’m currently pursuing an MFA in poetry at Warren Wilson College. It’s such a blessing to have this time to focus on improving my craft, reading constantly, and absorbing everything I can learn from my fellow writers.

Can you tell us about a current/ongoing project that you’re excited about? 

I love to forage for wild mushrooms, so unsurprisingly they have been popping up in my work a lot lately. I’m having fun experimenting with poems that confuse and scramble the inner and outer worlds. I’m interested in how emotion can suffuse the natural landscape, and I’m working on a number of poems that talk about and around grief.

Who is your favorite author? 

Most recently, I’ve fallen in love with work by Brigit Pegeen Kelly, Louise Gluck, Yusef Komunyakaa, Elizabeth Bishop, Ross Gay, and Mark Doty.

What is your favorite poem/essay/book? 

Impossible to narrow it down, but in my late teens I got my hands on a copy of Strike Sparks by Sharon Olds. Her work opened my mind to what poetry could do and be.

What inspires you to write? 

I spend a lot of time in the woods, which always feeds my creative mind. This year, I’ve written about bioluminescent mushrooms, invasive moths, snapping turtle sex… all sorts of oddities. Since moving to a rural home, climate change has been haunting my thoughts more than ever. I’m noticing it appearing everywhere in my work. The more I fall in love with the land, the more painful it becomes to observe what has happened—and what could happen—to the natural communities I’ve gotten to know.

What is your favorite sweet?

Vegan chocolate mousse is so easy and rich. Just chill a can of coconut cream, then blend with cocoa powder, honey, and a dash of salt.

Thank you, Meg, for taking the time to reconnect with us.  We look forward to seeing more of your work in the future!

Sweet Connections: Sarah Ann Winn

Each week we will be connecting with our contributors showing where they have been, where they are now, and what’s up for the future.

Name: Sarah Ann Winn
Title of Piece Published in Sweet: Funeral FAQs
Issue: 9.2

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Find her:

Twitter
Instagram

Sarah teaches online at the Loft Literary Center and does poetry readings and workshops across the country. You can find out more about her at http://www.bluebirdwords.com.

What are some major accomplishments you have had since your Sweet publication?

My first full-length collection, Alma Almanac, was selected by Elaine Equi as the winner of the Barrow Street Book Prize and was published in 2017! I also was on the Wigleaf Longlist in 2017, and won Press 53’s September Prime Number contest last year. 2017 was a big year for poet dreams! More recently, my fifth chapbook, Ever After the End Matter was released by Porkbelly Press this year.

alma almanac sarah ann winn cover

 

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Can you tell us about a current/ongoing project that you’re excited about?

I’m working on completing a full length book of persona poems imagining a crumbling marriage between the couple named after the online retailer Dot & Bo. Their frenetic redecorating emails still inspire me!

Who is your favorite author?

Terry Pratchett. I feel a little guilty loving him the way I do, considering there are a great
number of poets who I adore, but it’s Pratchett whose books I fall asleep to at night.

What is your favorite poem/essay/book?

That’s such a tough question, especially for a former librarian! I think right now it’s Madness, Rack, and Honey by Mary Ruefle because it’s the one I’m in the middle of rereading. If you’d ask me again in a day, it would probably be whatever book I was reading that moment. Lynda Barry’s What It Is is upside down on my desk with post-its sticking out of various pages, so maybe that would be tomorrow’s? Carol Ann Duffy’s The World’s Wife has been stuffed in my travel bag for the last couple of trips, and I’m luxuriating in it all over again. Who can pick just one??

What inspires you to write?

Reading, prompts, being out in the world. I’m a daily writer, so anything I’ve seen or heard the day before is fodder for the next day’s writing.

What is your favorite sweet?

I love my grandma’s apple dumplings. This recipe is pretty close, although she doesn’t use brown sugar. Don’t handle the crust too much. She also sometimes uses red-
hot candies to make the sauce pink/more cinnamon-y. YUM!
https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/apple-dumplings-with-sauce/

Thank you, Sarah, for taking the time to reconnect with us.We look forward to seeing more of your work in the future!

Sweet Connections: Lisa Lopez Smith

Each week we will be connecting with our contributors showing where they have been, where they are now, and what’s up for the future.

Name: Lisa Lopez Smith
Title of Piece Published in Sweet: film reel 
Issue:  10.1

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Find her:
Twitter 

Lisa resides at her home in Mexico after visiting her hometown in Canada. She hopes to eventually have a website.

 


What are some major accomplishments you have had since your Sweet publication? 

I published an article in Lacuna Magazine about walking across the Sonoran Desert from Mexico to the States to remember those who have died making the journey, and a poem in CuiZine: Journal of Canadian Food Culture about the time we slaughtered one of our sheep here at home.

Can you tell us about a current/ongoing project that you’re excited about? 

I am working on a poetry chapbook and revising my YA novel.

Who is your favorite author?

I recently finished Luis Alberto Urrea’s The Hummingbird’s Daughter, and fell in love with his prose that often reads like poetry, and how he breathed life into images of Mexico during the revolution.

What is your favorite poem/essay/book? 

Jean Vanier’s Becoming Human has a permanent spot on my bedside table so that when I finish it, I can just start reading it again.

What inspires you to write? 

Writing is how I make sense of the world. Even on a bad day writing still has some satisfaction in it, that at least I showed up doing what I’m here to do.

What is your favorite sweet? 

The raw vegan Black Forest Cake from Alissa Cohen’s raw/vegan recipe book: cherries, nuts, carob, avocado magic!

Thank you, Lisa, for taking the time to reconnect with us.  We look forward to seeing more of your work in the future!

Sweet Connections: Karin Killian

Each week we will be connecting with our contributors showing where they have been, where they are now, and what’s up for the future.

Name: Karin Killian
Title of Piece published in Sweet: Once, A Moon
Issue: 9.1

KillianFind her:
Twitter
Instagram
Originally from Northern Minnesota, Karin currently lives in Traverse City, Michigan, and loves to read on the beach during the summer. She does not currently have a website.

What are some major accomplishments you have had since your Sweet publication?

My Sweet publication was my first CNF publication. Last year I had another piece appear in the Spring 2018 issue Creative Nonfiction Magazine. That piece was an experimental project about a very personal topic. I was extremely honored and grateful that it found such a wonderful home. Also, I recently decided to return to school to study writing. (My undergraduate degree is in International Studies.) I recently completed my first semester in the Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. I am honored to get to study in this incredible program.

Can you tell us about a current/ongoing project that you’re excited about?

I am currently working on a long essay about an experience I had right out of college, working as a volunteer with the UNHCR Public Information Office, which sent me to live in a refugee camp in Southern Mexico. Part of the essay is, naturally, about my experience in the camps. I was 22, and still rather naïve. My body was not accustomed to living in such harsh conditions. I got dengue fever. And of course, being young and inexperienced I was not able to do much work of any true benefit while I was there. But even more, I am trying to confront the history of the camps where I worked, how they relate to the current refugee crisis on our border and how my experience at 22 serves as a metaphor for me of naiveté and helplessness of most North Americans regarding the realities of these refugee populations.

Who is your favorite author?

Oh my—it is not possible to pick just one! I read widely and constantly, and I cherish the work of hundreds of different writers. But lately I have been reading a lot of Rachel Cusk and Abigail Thomas. I also was enormously impressed by Valeria Luiselli’s new novel Lost Children Archive.  In different ways the work of these writers have provided me with inspiration and instruction of immeasurable value.

What is your favorite poem/essay/book?

I just finished Heavy by Kiese Laymon.  The power of this book cannot be understated.

What inspires you to write?

I am most inspired by the secrets we keep.

What is your favorite sweet?

Last summer I got to travel to Paris with my daughters, who are ages 8 and 12. Before we went, we were trying to learn all we could about Paris, and we discovered this sweet little show on Amazon Prime called Alice in Paris.
https://www.tastemade.com/shows/alice-in-paris

In the show Alice visits all sorts of secret sweet shops in Paris. In one episode she goes to Le BonBon au Palais, and after seeing the episode we had to see it too!   http://www.bonbonsaupalais.fr/

It has to be one of the best candy stores in the world. The owner, Georges, is the most passionate business owner I have met. He has collected artisanal sweets made by traditional candy makers from every region in France. I was most impressed by the crystallized flowers. But every single thing we tasted was spectacular!   http://www.bonbonsaupalais.fr/les-fleurs-cristallisees/219-violettes-cristallisees.html

Thank you, Karin, for taking the time to reconnect with us. We look forward to seeing more of your work in the future!

Sweet Connections: Vanya Erickson

Each week we will be connecting with our contributors showing where they have been, where they are now, and what’s up for the future.

Name: Vanya Erickson
Title of Piece published in Sweet: Remembering
Issue: 9.1

Vanya Erickson
Find her:
Instagram
Facebook

Vanya is the award-winning author of Boot Language. She’s spent decades teaching writing as well as mentoring educators in the oldest, continuously used schoolhouse in California. Her essays have appeared in a dozen literary journals and anthologies. Find out more about Vanya at www.vanyaerickson.com.

2019 WINNER Indie Book Award (Overcoming Adversity/Tragedy)                                        2019 SILVER MEDAL Benjamin Franklin Award (for best new voice)                                        2019 FINALIST Indie Excellence Award (Memoir as well as Regional Nonfiction: The West)
2019 FINALIST International Book Awards (Narrative Nonfiction)

What are some major accomplishments you have had since your Sweet publication?

I launched my memoir, Boot Language and am thrilled it was so well accepted!

Cool stuff on my website
Click here for the Boot Language book trailer.
Sign up for the latest updates and receive a gift.

I also love to speak on my favorite topic: “Writing the Hard Stuff” and had the please of doing so at The Bay Area Book Festival this year!

Can you tell us about a current/ongoing project that you’re excited about?

I’m currently researching and writing a historical novel based on my grandmother’s life as a suffragette who drove an ambulance during WWI. It’s a story about the struggle for meaning and the longing to do something important.

Who is your favorite author?

Madeline L’Engle is who comes to mind. She has a magical ability to captivate readers. It has to do with her magical ability to contrast good and evil.

What is your favorite poem/essay/book?                                                                                      Poem: Anything by Mary Oliver, but “Mindful” is a standout.
Essay: The latest from comedian Hannah Gadsby.
Book: Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time

What inspires you to write?

Whatever is burning in my head: Contrasts, Injustice, beauty, passion, resilience; how humbling it is to be human.

What is your favorite sweet?

The killer brownies at Companion Bakeshop in Santa Cruz, CA!
https://companionbakers.wordpress.com/menu-ordering/

Thank you, Vanya, for taking the time to reconnect with us. We look forward to seeing more of your work in the future!

Sweet Connections: Jamie Cattanach

Each week we will be connecting with our contributors showing where they have been, where they are now, and what’s up for the future. 

Name: Jamie Cattanach
Title of Piece published in Sweet: Penelope 
Issue:  8.2

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Find her:
Twitter 
Instagram 
Facebook 

Jamie resides among the wonderful landscape of Santa Fe, New Mexico. You can find out more about her at www.jamiecattanach.com.

What are some major accomplishments you have had since your Sweet publication?

Hmmm. I’ve published creative work at Nashville Review, DMQ Review, and Hinchas de Poesia; I became a full-time freelance writer and have been featured in popular outlets like SELF, The Establishment, HuffPost, Fodor’s, Yahoo, and others. I picked up and moved across the country to a city where I knew no one and have carved out a real home here. I have continued, though slowly and without much rigor or consistency, to write poetry, which is always a triumph.

Can you tell us about a current/ongoing project that you’re excited about?

The start of 2018 marks the end of my second full year of supporting myself on freelance writing income alone. I’m excited to continue to find ways to grow my business and use my craft to bring valuable information and stories to readers!

Who is your favorite author? 

This question is SO HARD and my answer changes all the time. Can I talk about some of the best books I read in 2018 instead? Faves included:
The Recovering by Leslie Jamison
Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins
Jenny George’s gorgeous poetry debut, The Dream of Reason
Florida by Lauren Groff
My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent

What is your favorite poem/essay/book? 

Please see above. Though, I will admit that my go-to feel-good read is the novella-length piece on the dubiously enjoyable experience of cruise ships, by David Foster Wallace.

What inspires you to write? 

Being in the world. How small and insignificant our lives are, and yet –how entirely they do matter, how they’re all we have. The honest-to-goodness magic of taking what’s in my brain and putting it into another’s, and vice versa. Bodies. Outer space. Intense physical pleasure.

What is your favorite sweet? 

I actually don’t eat refined sugar as a rule! But I adore Lindt’s 90% dark chocolate bar, even better when topped with a little bit of natural almond butter and sea salt.

Thank you, Jamie, for taking the time to reconnect with us.  We look forward to seeing more of your work in the future!

Sweet Connections: Courtney Kersten

Each week we will be connecting with our contributors showing where they have been, where they are now, and what’s up for the future.

Name: Courtney Kersten
Title of Piece published in Sweet: 3 Short-Shorts
Issue: 7.1

Courtney Kersten

 

Find her:

Courtney resides in Santa Cruz, California, where she is going toward a PhD in Literature at the University of California. You can find out more about her at www.courtneykersten.com.

 

 

 

What are some major accomplishments you have had since your Sweet publication?

I’ve finally read all the books on my shelf that I haven’t gotten a chance to read (though this accomplishment is slowly slipping away as I keep visiting used-book stores and accumulating more to-be-read books). Though I am a native Wisconsinite, I finally went snowshoeing this past winter which felt monumental to me (and so fun!). I’ve also started volunteering with an animal shelter and a native animal rescue center in California, and am taking self-defense classes. I’ve also had the chance to read so many amazing authors, sometimes get published alongside them, and deepen in my practice (and patience) as a writer. In other news, I completed my MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Idaho, started my PhD in Literature at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and then published my memoir, Daughter in Retrograde (University of Wisconsin Press 2018).

Can you tell us about a current/ongoing project that you’re excited about?

These days my writing hours are full of thinking about spirituality, narratives we tell about women and madness, grief, mothers and daughters, and the superstar astrologer of the 1960s & 70s Linda Goodman. All this is to say that my current writing project is a hybrid biography of Goodman combined with critical musings about women, mother/daughter relationships, and grief, among other topics, and my personal journey to find more about Goodman. She is a fascinating and complex figure: simultaneously a best-selling author and a grief-stricken mother who searched for her daughter for years. I’m planning on traveling to Cripple Creek, Colorado, and the Hollywood Cross this summer to conduct site visits and, hopefully, find out more about the her fascinating life.

Who is your favorite author?

So tough to choose! So, I’ll tell you a few. Right now, I’m on a bell hooks kick and have been returning to a few of my favorites about pedagogy (Teaching to Transgress, Teaching Community, among others) and exploring her work about love and women (All About Love, Communion: The Search for Female Love). She’s brilliant. I walk away from each chapter shaken, inspired, and yearning to learn more. She also got her doctorate at UC-Santa Cruz, so I especially feel connected to her work in this way. I’ve also love Jo Ann Beard’s work. She, too, is from the Midwest and I resonate with her work in this way—her descriptions of the land and people are spot-on. Not only do I love her work with scene and place, but her subtle humor and gritty descriptions of love and loss echo my own experiences. Reading her is like talking to an old friend.

What is your favorite poem/essay/book?

It’s always changing. Right now, I am thinking a lot about Margaret Atwood’s poem “The Animals Reject their Names and Return to Their Origins” which challenges our understanding of naming, language, and taxonomy. I am fascinated by animals and am so grateful to be witness to their complex lives and languages. This poem asks us to consider how language itself can be a form of oppression. It encourages me to embrace mystery not only in looking at animals but in life as a whole.

What inspires you to write?

Silence. Long bus rides. Deadlines. Old clips from The Midnight Special. Seeing crows bathe in the rain. Watching the sea lions in the wharf. Hearing stories from strangers. Stories from my friends. Stories from my dad. Filing divorce papers. Heartache. Patience. Rifling through wedding dresses at Goodwill. Finding forgotten grocery store lists on the sidewalk. Looking through the listings for “Haunted Dolls” on Ebay. Reading the “Missed Connections” section on Craigslist. Examining microfilm. Looking inside bathroom cabinets at other people’s dinner parties. Questions. Anger. Mystery. Hope.

What is your favorite sweet?

One of my favorite sweets is made and sold by a lovely place in Menominee, Wisconsin called the Raw Deal. It’s called the “Choco Nilla” raw pie. If you ever find yourself there, this or another one of their fabulous desserts and a cup of coffee—it’s one of my favorite things. Another sweet I love is, I believe, a Scandinavian desert that my grandmother and aunt used to make: a cranberry muffin with butter sauce. It might sound a little strange, but it’s wonderful. You’ll dream about it.

kersten pie

We see that you couldn’t wait, so it must be delicious!!

Thank you, Courtney, for taking the time to reconnect with us. We look forward to seeing more of your work in the future!

 

Sweet Connections: Cathy Barber

Each week we will be connecting with our contributors showing where they have been, where they are now, and what’s up for the future.

Name: Cathy Barber
Title of Piece published in Sweet: The Subject
Issue: 8.2

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Find her:
Facebook

Cathy has returned to Ohio after spending twenty years in California. She serves on the board of Literary Cleveland and keeps both local and long-distance poetry critique groups. She does not currently have a website.

 

 

What are some major accomplishments you have had since your Sweet publication?

I have a chapbook of tiny Abecedarian poems, twenty-six words, in alphabetical order available from Dancing Girl Press in Chicago. It’s titled Aardvarks, Bloodhounds, Catfish, Dingoes. It’s a lovely little book, designed by DGP editor Kristy Bowen. Be aware, though, that hers is a one-woman operation and books can take a long time to arrive, so be patient.

Barber Aardvarks

I’ve also had poems published in many journals, including Kestrel, Slant, the Hawaii Review, the Origami Poem Project, and Poetic License’s anthology In Plein Air, poems written at least partially outdoors. My “Three Short Love Poems” was nominated for a Best of the Net award by Atlas and Alice.

Can you tell us about a current/ongoing project that you’re excited about?

I do love form and I have moved on from Abecedarian poems to Golden Shovel poems. This form was invented by Terrance Hayes and there is now an anthology of Golden Shovels based on the poems of Gwendolyn Brooks. I hope to assemble a chapbook of Golden Shovel poems in the first half of the year.

Who is your favorite author?

Oh, that’s impossible! I do love the poetry of the Davids, though; Kirby, Lehman and Trinidad.

What is your favorite poem/essay/book?

It’s hard to beat “Those Winter Sundays” by Robert Hayden.

What inspires you to write?

I love the intersection of memory/imagination/form, that push back in each direction that forces you to create something new.

What is your favorite sweet?

It’s a tie–bread pudding and tiramisu.

Lovely! You don’t often see bread pudding these days. This one looks amazing.

Thank you, Cathy, for taking the time to reconnect with us. We look forward to seeing more of your work in the future!

Sweet Connections: Wendy Rawlings

Each week we will be connecting with our contributors showing where they have been, where they are now, and what’s up for the future.

Name: Wendy Rawlings
Title of Piece published in Sweet: 36A
Issue: 6.1

Wendy Rawlings

Find her:
Twitter
Facebook

Wendy teaches in the English Department at the University of Alabama. You can find out more about her at the University of Alabama, and wendymairawlings.com.

 

What are some major accomplishments you have had since your Sweet publication?

I won a Pushcart Prize in 2016 for a piece that originally appeared in Creative Nonfiction. My collection of bonkers adult bedtime stories, Time for Bed, will be published by Louisiana State University Press next year.

Can you tell us about a current/ongoing project that you’re excited about?

I’m working on a collection of essays (of which “36A” is a part) called What Goes Wrong. The essays are often tragic-comic and focus on difficult public events that affected me as a private citizen, like 9/11 and Princess Diana’s death.

Who is your favorite author?

I love many writers: Alice Munro, Lorrie Moore, George Saunders. But a favorite of mine is the late James Salter, and especially his novel Light Years.

What is your favorite poem/essay/book?

Auden’s “Musee de Beaux Arts” and Dickinson’s “I Taste a Liquor Never Brewed”
My favorite novel is also Madame Bovary.

What inspires you to write?

The terrible, unimaginable, miraculous things that happen in the world every day and keep happening.

What is your favorite sweet?

I do not generally like sweets at all, but I have a soft spot for licorice and pumpkin pie. Plus, also the large cherry Blow Pops.

Thank you, Wendy, for taking the time to reconnect with us. We look forward to seeing more of your work in the future!

Sweet Connections: Cassandra de Alba

Each week we will be connecting with our contributors showing where they have been, where they are now, and what’s up for the future.

Name: Cassandra de Alba
Title of Piece published in Sweet: End Times Fatigue
Issue: 8.1

blood cemetery
Find her:
Twitter
Instagram

Cassandra is a poet who resides in Massachusetts. You can find out more about her at www.cassandradealba.com.

 

What are some major accomplishments you have had since your Sweet publication?

I’ve had two chapbooks come out! A book of poems about deer from Horse Less Press and a story about the moon on Reality Hands.

Can you tell us about a current/ongoing project that you’re excited about?

Aly Pierce and I have been working on a joint chapbook in which all her poems are about sea monsters and all mine are about ghosts. Her work is amazing and I can’t wait for people to read it.

Who is your favorite author?

Woooahh, that’s a big one. Since for me it’s officially Halloween season as I’m writing this, I’m going to say Shirley Jackson.

What is your favorite poem/essay/book?

My favorite Shirley Jackson book is We Have Always Lived In The Castle.

What inspires you to write?

Reading. Looking at art. Looking at the sky. Knowing I need a new poem for the open mic next week. Whenever I see one of those wavy arms inflatables in an unusual place.

What is your favorite sweet?

My favorite sweet is actually pretty tart –apple pie with granny smiths (4 cups) & cranberries (2 cups) & 2/3 cup of sugar & a little cornstarch mixed into 1/4 cup water.

Thank you, Cassandra, for taking the time to reconnect with us. We look forward to seeing more of your work in the future!