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

Jamie-8574

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!

Sweet Connections: Delia Rainey

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: Delia Rainey
Title of Piece published in Sweet: Bird of My Past, This is the Last Poem
Issue: 7.3

Delia Rainey photo

Find her:
Twitter
Instagram

Delia is cozy for Fall in Chicago, IL. She is a 1st year MFA candidate in nonfiction at Columbia College. You can find out more about her on social media.

 

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

This past year I had a poem published in DIAGRAM, I released an audio-poetry-ambient-music cassette called ‘The Blue and Red Gummy Worm,’ and Ghost City Press so graciously put out my mini chapbook ‘Private Again’ as part of their 2018 mini chap summer series.

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

I’m working on longer personal and lyrical essays right now. A mess and mesh including immediate diary writing, Midwest invisibility, and the mundane of the city as a form of escapism.

Who is your favorite author?

I only get to choose one? All summer long, I read Bhanu Kapil, Kate Zambreno, Claudia Rankine, Dodie Bellamy, and Eileen Myles.

What is your favorite poem/essay/book?

‘The Glass Essay’ by Anne Carson

What inspires you to write?

Disposable and fleeting memories, tiny moments. Also, my family.

What is your favorite sweet?

My favorite sweet is ice cream. Specifically the combination of green tea ice cream and mango ice cream. I used to work at this ice cream shop in Columbia, Missouri called Sparky’s. It’s a really special place, if you’re ever in the center of the country. Drink a Fresca on the side for good measure.

Sparkys

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

Sweet Connections: Amy Bilodeau

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: Amy Bilodeau
Title of Piece published in Sweet: Fruit Fish
Issue:  8.3

Amy Bilodeau.jpg
Find her:

Amy resides in Indianapolis, Indiana, but you can find some of her poems in DMQ Review, RHINO, and Two Hawks Quarterly. 

 

 

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

My full-length manuscript was a finalist for the Four Way Books Levis Prize in Poetry. My poem “betty” was a runner-up for the RHINO Editor’s Prize. My work has also been nominated for inclusion in Best Small Fictions.

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

I’m working on a new manuscript of poems that seem to be loosely connected by the color blue. Not an original theme, but it feels authentic for me at this moment. I’m excited to see where that goes.

Who is your favorite author?

Joyce, Beckett, Woolf, and Cisneros have all had a big impact on me. What I’m reading right now (and recommend!): Ana Bozicevic, Quenton Baker, and Franny Choi.

What is your favorite poem/essay/book?

Too difficult. My longest-loved poem is probably Poe’s “The Raven.” Still love that one.

What inspires you to write? 

Hmm. Music, humor/absurdity, and my own domestic landscapes and tensions all play a role. And solitude, a chance to process experience.

What is your favorite sweet? 

My daughter makes amazing chocolate truffles.

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

Sweet Connections: David Macey

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: David Macey
Title of Piece published in Sweet: Drinking the OED
Issue:  7.2

Macey - Sweet

Find him:
Twitter  

David resides in Chicago, which he highly recommends.  Our founding editor, Ira Sukrungruang would probably concur. We asked if he had a website, but he responded with, “No. The internet is a fad, I’m pretty sure.” Chicago seems to breed humor, too. We like it.

 

 

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

Well, I finished my PhD program by writing a dissertation on the history of fake news (and its thematic place in literature) in early modern England. [Dusts off hands in self-satisfied fashion.]   I also co-authored two children with my wife—that was good, too. In addition to poetry, essays, and the odd Latin translation, I’ve started to publish fiction. You can read one of my short shorts, “The Far-Off Thunderheads,” at AGNI Online here.

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

I’m working on a couple of weird short stories that I’m still jazzed about. I recently published some linked poems about my daughter’s ongoing struggle with learning to speak—you can read them in a lovely issue of Ecotone and also for free at Project MUSE. It’s a poetry sequence I’m starting to expand into a book-length work, or so I think, which is both exhilarating and scary.

Who is your favorite author? 

For the last few years I’ve been reading a lot of Steven Millhauser, so he’s certainly a favorite. I think Jorge Luis Borges is up there for me too. I read a lot of Shakespeare for my job, and you know what?—that guy’s got the goods.

What is your favorite poem/essay/book?

Favorites are for dullards and zealots (jk, jk), but I will say that Wallace Stevens’ poem “Of Mere Being” is a stunner. The short story I read most recently that walloped me was Andrea Lee’s “La Ragazza.”

What inspires you to write? 

Fame and fortune? And I guess less glibly: I enjoy the high of beginning something and I enjoy the satisfaction of something being completed. All that hard writing work in the middle is dreadful though.

What is your favorite sweet? 

At the moment, I’d like a slice of tres leches cake—a dessert which, fortunately for my figure, I have no idea how to make myself. (I do a pretty mean key lime pie, however.)

tresleches2

(credit: Ben Fink/Getty Images)

There are no doubt a lot of panaderias slinging tres leches in Chicago, but my favorite thus far is the housemade tres leches at an Andersonville taco joint called Diamante Azul. Half the time they’re out of that cake, which makes it all the sweeter.

Diamante Azul

While it didn’t make the top list from CBS Chicago, we can believe it’s pretty good.

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

Sweet Connections: Sean Ironman

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: Sean Ironman
Title of Piece published in Sweet: One-Way Ticket to The Promised Land 
Issue:  10.3

Sean Ironman

Find him:
Twitter 
Instagram

Sean is working toward a PhD in Creative Nonfiction at the University of Missouri-Columbia, and teaches creative writing and composition. He currently does not have a website, but plans to.

 

 

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

I’ve been studying for my exams and revising my first book, so no major professional accomplishments. But I lost twenty-five pounds, so there’s that.

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

I’m revising my first book, a memoir told in essays titled And I Will Give You As Many Roast Bones As You Need. The title comes from Kipling’s short story, “The Cat That Walked By Himself,” which is about the domestication of animals. One of the through lines of the book is my efforts to save my boxer, Hankelford, who at two years old was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The book places those events beside two others from that same year: my parents’ divorce and my relationship with my pregnant girlfriend at the time who has an abortion. I’m excited about it because it’s fascinating to see how events and relationships connect and inform each other.

Who is your favorite author? 

Just one? George Orwell and James Baldwin are the greatest essayists.

What is your favorite poem/essay/book? 

I’ll try to stick to one for this, but if you ask me next week it may be different. Jack London’s White Fang is the only book I finished and then immediately started reading from the first page again. I paused about ten seconds before diving back in. I was a kid at the time, but that still means something, I think.

What inspires you to write? 

There are two sides to this:
1) Reading or watching things I don’t like or that I find frustrating. From when I was eighteen and first started writing creatively, I said, “Why do writers always have to do it this way? Why don’t they ever do it this other way?” So I said, well, I guess I have to do it.

2) I also think of my parents, who seem to have spent their adult lives working jobs they hate. I don’t want to do that. So I sit down and I write. That’s the only way to be a writer.

What is your favorite sweet? 

My favorite sweet is a Black & White Cookie. I have a story:
When I was twenty-one, I was in a bad car accident. I lost control of my pickup truck in the rain early one morning. It tipped onto the driver’s side and my left arm was dragged along the road for about fifty or sixty yards. The flesh off my forearm was stripped to the bone. An ambulance brought me to the hospital, and I was cleaned up and given Oxy for the pain and then sent on my way. A couple hours later, I walked to a coffee shop for breakfast. I was starving. I looked at the bakery case and wanted to order a Cheese Danish and a Black & White cookie. But, I imagined my friend telling me that I was a fatty, so I chose only the Danish. Later that morning, I passed out at a Walgreens waiting for a prescription and was taken to another hospital. It turns out my blood sugar dropped so low due to not eating much, the loss of blood, and the Oxy. I told the doctor about passing on the Black & White cookie, and he said if I had eaten one it would have saved me a visit to the hospital. So now I have a life rule: Always eat a Black & White cookie if offered.

Sounds like a great story, and very true! 

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

Sweet Connections: Mariela Lemus

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: Mariela Lemus
Title of Piece published in Sweet: Mundane Scar
Issue: 8.3

Mariela Lemus.jpeg
Find her:
Instagram

Mariela is an MFA student at University of Minnesota where she studies poetry, and is gaining knowledge of educating people in the writing process.

 

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

I received my BFA in creative writing and got accepted to grad school to continue my writing studies. I’ve had poems published in Barzakh, Flypaper Magazine, and Third Point Press, among others. I also now serve as an assistant poetry editor at Midway Journal and as a managing editor at Great River Review.

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

I’m currently writing towards my MFA thesis, a poetry manuscript which examines performances of fatherhood cross-generationally in a multi-cultural (and, as a direct result, often bisected) family.

Who is your favorite author?

Most recently, I’ve been obsessed with Ada Limón’s work, especially her new collection The Carrying.

What is your favorite poem/essay/book?

Hard to choose, but right now it’s probably Caitlin Scarano’s poetry collection Do Not Bring Him Water.

Ah!  Another Sweet Contributor!

What inspires you to write?

I feel caught between my two identities: Latinx and White. I know I’m not alone in feeling like I don’t belong in either category, in the feeling of being halved and where the edges of the two parts don’t quite align. My writing often explores that space.

What is your favorite sweet?

Brownies, for sure. I like to make them with coconut oil and extra chocolate chips so that they’re dense, chewy, and even sweeter!

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