Sweet Connections: Devin Balwit

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: Devin Balwit
Title of Piece published in Sweetהוֹשִׁיעֵנִי אֱלֹהִים–    כִּי בָאוּ מַיִם עַד-נָפֶשׁ
Issue:  9.2

Devon on Haight 2018

Find her:

These days you can find Devin behind the wheel, teaching her son to drive.  Oh, we feel you on that one, Devin!  You can find out more about her and her publications on her website.

 

 

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

Check out my website for book reviews, books, and a selection of online poems published over the last year.

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

I’m in the middle of a Proust-inspired chapbook.

Who is your favorite author?

I love Guadalupe Nettel in Spanish. Joseph Mitchell’s essays are a kick. Wonderful recent fiction reads were “All the Light We Cannot See,” “Lincoln in the Bardo,” and “The English Passengers.”

What is your favorite poem/essay/book?

A recent favorite has been Frans Bengtsson’s  “The Long Ships,” the inspiration for the Hulu series “Vikings.”

What inspires you to write?

Everything from boxing to Scarlatti, paintings to politics. All of life is fair game.

What is your favorite sweet?

My favorite sweet is alcohol. In the summer, Vinho Verde because I can drink more of it without feeling guilty. (It’s only 9%!)

vinhoverde-600x450

Photo Credit: AneTours

Honestly, I had to look that one up and I’m happy to report you aren’t drinking green wine. Some of the best wine I have ever had was in Spain, so this one being from Portugual has me intrigued! 

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

Sweet Connections: Marin Sardy

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: Marin Sardy
Title of Piece published in SweetThere Is the Urge to Find Meaning
Issue:  8.3

Marin1graycropFind her:

Instagram
Twitter

Marin currently lives in Tucson, Arizona and occasionally can be found teaching for Pace University in Manhattan. You can find out more about Marin on her website www.marinsardy.com.

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

I wrote a book! The Edge of Every Day: Sketches of Schizophrenia is forthcoming in May 2019 from Pantheon Books.

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

My first book is a wide ranging, fragmentary memoir about my relationship to the mental illness that runs in my family (schizophrenia) and with my loved ones who have struggled with it. One of the chapters in the book, “There Is the Urge to Find Meaning,” was originally a short essay that was first published in Sweet.

 Who is your favorite author?

I find that to be sort of an impossible question. To identify one that I like “best”—honestly, I don’t think I’m capable of it. I don’t understand how one would go about doing so. I think it makes more sense to ask, Who are the authors who made me? Here are some contemporary writers who have inspired me in recent years: Maggie Nelson, Lidia Yuknavich, Nick Flynn.

 What is your favorite poem/essay/book?

Let me try another version of that question: What book gave me a vision of what kind of writer I wanted to become? Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior. But it feels weird even to highlight that one. I feel as if I’ve walked on a trail of books all my life, each like a stone in a creek, keeping me above the water. When you look at it that way, the idea of having one “favorite” seems meaningless. 

What inspires you to write?

I write into the gap between my experience and the stories I encounter as told by others. I write into the places where my reality is not reflected in culture. 

What is your favorite sweet?

Currently I am obsessed with Theo brand 70% dark chocolate bars with sea salt. Nectar of the gods.

Sardy Theo-Chocolate-Organic-70-Dark-Chocolate-Bar-Sea-Salt-874492003258

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

Sweet Connections: Dayna Patterson

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: Dayna Patterson
Title of Piece published in Sweetusque ad mala
Issue:  10.1

Patterson mountain streamFind her:
Facebook
Instagram
Twitter

I live just about as far north and west as you can get in the continental U.S. I can zip across the border to Vancouver’s top-notch Shakespeare festival, Bard on the Beach, or mosey down to Seattle’s Pacific Science Center to see an exhibit of the terracotta warriors. My city hugs a bay where the occasional whale is spotted, and to the west is a glacier-topped volcano that grows mouth-watering wild huckleberries and blueberries. It’s a sweet spot.

You can find out more about Dayna on her website www.daynapatterson.com.

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

Dove Song: Heavenly Mother in Mormon Poetry was released in April 2018. I’m a co-editor, along with Martin Pulido and Tyler Chadwick.

I’ve also had several poems come out in Hotel Amerika, Western Humanities ReviewZone 3, and more.

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

I have two poetry manuscripts in circulation: O Lady, Speak Again was a semifinalist for the Brittingham & Pollak Prizes in Poetry and contains poems that combine my Mormon upbringing with women from Shakespeare. If Mother Braids a Waterfall examines my spiritual and ancestral heritage through Ellen Bailey and her polygamist son, Charles Ramsden Bailey.

I’m currently working on a third manuscript about breath, air, Keats, flight, and atmospheric change.

Who is your favorite author?

Ah, the impossible question. I’ve been heavily influenced by Carole Maso, Annie Dillard, Lucie Brock-Broido, Sharon Olds, Emily Dickinson, John Keats, William Shakespeare, James Joyce, Seamus Heaney, Bruce Beasley, Brenda Miller, Suzanne Paola, May Swenson, Terry Tempest Williams, Susan Elizabeth Howe, and Carol Lynn Pearson, among many, many others. Each of them has a body of work that casts a particular glow by which I write.

 What is your favorite poem/essay/book?

Another impossible question. If stranded on an island, I would take my copy of the complete works of Shakespeare and consider myself a rich woman.

 What inspires you to write?

Anguish, mostly. When I feel a peculiar tension arising, a pang, an uncomfortable awkwardness, then I know I need to write about it. Right now I’m experiencing the parenting anguish of daughters slowly transforming into teenagers. I know people have been, are, or will be in my shoes, and writing through the discomfort is like extending a hand to those who have gone before, or who are going, or who will go through something similar. In Sean Thomas Dougherty’s tiny poem, “Why Bother?” he writes: “Because right now, there is someone / out there with / a wound in the exact shape / of your words.” I can’t think of a better reason to keep writing. (Props to Todd Kaneko for bringing this poem to my attention.)

 What is your favorite sweet?

Every late summer, we hike up our mountain with buckets in hand to collect the tiny wildberries. They taste like the rich soil and alpine air and mountain sunshine. Baked into a pie, there is no better dessert on earth.

Pattersonwildberry pie

That looks amazingly delicious!

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

Sweet Connections: Kathleen McGookey

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: Kathleen McGookey
Title of Piece published in SweetI’d Like to Think Someone is Listening
Issue:  7.3

Kathleen McGookeyFind her:

Now that my kids are back in school, you can find me in my office at home, looking out on a field where the long grass is slowly turning a silvery-tan color, finally writing a poem.

 

 

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

I’ve had two books of poems come out:  Stay (Press 53, 2015) and Heart in a Jar (White Pine Press, 2017).  Another book is forthcoming from Press 53 in 2019, though that book doesn’t have a title yet.

I’ve also had work selected for a couple great anthologies:  New Micro:  Exceptionally Short Fiction (Norton, 2018), Elemental:  A Collection of Michigan Creative Nonfiction (Wayne State, 2018), and Nothing to Declare:  A Guide to the Flash Sequence (White Pine Press, 2016).

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

I am excited to be sitting at my desk again, writing poems.

Who is your favorite author?

It’s terrible to have to pick just one.  So I’ll tell you about the books I’ve read lately.  I just read George Saunders’ book of essays The Braindead Megaphone and really loved it.  I also loved The Bright Hour by Nina Riggs.  I am looking forward to reading I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes with Death by Maggie O’Farrell, although I think that book is going to scare me.  But if you really want me to answer the question, some of my favorite contemporary prose poets are Nin Andrews and Gary Young.

What is your favorite poem/essay/book?

A poem I return to again and again is “Absence” by Susan Griffin.  Also, I loved the book The Museum of Happiness by Jesse Lee Kercheval, although I read it years ago.

What inspires you to write?

Reading poems.  After I read a poem, I sometimes want to continue the conversation.  So I write.

What is your favorite sweet?

Here is a link to my favorite chocolate cake recipe.  It’s a tiny bit different than how I make it, but it’s generally the same thing.  It is actually called Dr. Feelgood’s Chocolate Cake.

BM_Cake

Photo Credit: Lara Fitzgerald http://www.larasfavoritethings.com

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

2nd Annual Flash Non Fiction Winner announced

From over 220 ah-mazing entries, a winner has been selected for Sweet’s 2nd Annual Flash Non Fiction Essay contest. Kristine Jepsen will receive $500 and 20 chapbooks for her essay, “Jaw Wiring: What You Need to Know “. Congratulations!

The runners-up were:

“The In-Between Girl” by Vadana Khanna
“Stiched” by Birana Loveall
“Mosaic” by Jeff Newberry

All of these essays will be published in the May issue of Sweet. Many thanks to all who entered their fine work. Be on the lookout for the new chapbook coming soon!

Sweet Connections: Matthew Murrey

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: Matthew Murrey
Title of Piece published in SweetSmoke
Issue:  9.3

Matthew MurreyFind him:

Twitter

Matthew is the librarian at Urban High School in Urbana, Illinois.  We can’t imagine a more perfect day than being surrounded by books.  You can find out more about him on his website https://www.matthewmurrey.net/.

 

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

My biggest – which I’m still in disbelief over – is that Bulletproof, my first-book manuscript, was chosen this spring by Marilyn Nelson as the winner of Jacar Press’ full-length poetry manuscript competition.  It should be published by early 2019.  I had been trying to get a first-book published for over twenty years!

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

I spent the summer working on a second book manuscript, and I’ve started sending it out.  I’m expecting it to get accepted by 2038!

Who is your favorite author?

Right now,  Ada Limón.  I just read her latest, The Carrying.  Ask me next month and I’m sure it will be someone else.

What is your favorite poem/essay/book?

The best book I’ve read in the last 3 years was The Half Has Never Been Told by Edward E. Baptist. Cotton, slavery, capitalism, cruelty and greed – blew me away.

What inspires you to write?

The pleasure of finishing a poem where it feels like I somehow got it right and the happiness that comes when someone else enjoys it too.

What is your favorite sweet?

I’m still into my weekend waffles made at home and eaten with butter and honey.

Murrey ready to eat2

Thank you, Matthew, for taking the time to reconnect with us.  We look forward to seeing more of your work in the future! Hopefully before 2038!

Sweet Connections: Stephanie Anderson

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: Stephanie Anderson
Title of Piece published in SweetFlight Animals
Issue:  9.1

Stephanie Anderson_3Find her:
Facebook
Instagram

Stephanie teaches creative and expository writing and literature interpretation at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida.

“I have the privilege of working with one of the most diverse student bodies in the country and serving alongside many excellent writers and scholars. Teaching is incredibly rewarding not only because of these students and colleagues, but also because the job allows me to help young people recognize and harness the power of writing – an act that empowers them in creative, social, emotional, and political terms.”

You can find out more about Stephanie and learn of upcoming events and appearances on her website.

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

I am thrilled to share that my debut nonfiction book, One Size Fits None: A Farm Girl’s Search for the Promise of Regenerative Agriculture, will appear in January 2019 with University of Nebraska Press. Sweet readers might know from my essay “Flight Animals” that I grew up on a cattle ranch in South Dakota. After college, I worked as a farm journalist, and this book arose from my dismay over the disastrous effects of industrial agriculture. In One Size Fits None, I tell the stories of exceptional farmers from four states who practice various forms of regenerative agriculture, which means agriculture tailored to local environments that renews, rather than depletes or simply sustains, our nation’s degraded land. Regenerative agriculture also fights climate change and results in nutritious, ethically produced food for consumers. The book also traces a bit of my family’s history. You can read a synopsis and, if you feel so moved, order a copy here.

One Size Fits None by Stephanie Anderson

Since publishing in Sweet in 2016, I contributed to the essay collection Permanent Vacation: Eighteen Writers on Work and Life in Our National Parks, Vol. 2 from Bona Fide Books and placed work in Kudzu House Quarterly, Midwestern Gothic, saltfront, and Foliate Oak. I also have pieces forthcoming this fall with Hotel Amerika and The Pinch, so stay tuned for new work!

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

I am working on a collection of essays that explores rural life, the prairie, farm families (including mine), the Midwest generally, and other related themes. I am excited about this project because the essays vary in form and voice to include traditional narrative pieces, lyric and braided essays, and research-driven work. I hope to build a collection that stretches my creative limits and keeps the reader engaged through diversity and experimentation.

Who is your favorite author?

I’m not sure I can narrow it down to one, since “favorite” is highly dependent on my mood, what I’m currently working on, and the evolution of my understanding and taste. Since I often engage with the environment in my work, I’m going to name just a handful of the many talented people whose nature-driven nonfiction has influenced me: John McPhee, Annie Dillard, Michael Pollan, Aldo Leopold, Wendell Berry, and Terry Tempest Williams. 

What is your favorite poem/essay/book?

Another tough question! Annie Dillard’s essay “Living Like Weasels,” Anthony Doerr’s short story “The Shell Collector,” and John McPhee’s essay “Travels in Georgia” are go-to works when I need a quick boost, no matter what I’m working on. 

What inspires you to write?

Often the need to understand or examine a thing, such as a life event or an emotion, inspires me to write. Sometimes writing arises from indignation over injustice, as with my book and several of my essays. Lately climate change, intolerance, and bigotry demand that I write. All writing, even the most personal memoir, is a reflection of the world, and now more than ever writers are obligated to respond to, critique, and make sense of that world. 

What is your favorite sweet?

My mom’s Christmas sugar cookies are my favorite sweet. I enjoy them most without frosting, so I always hold a few (okay, more like a dozen) off to the side when my siblings and I decorate them. Rolling the dough out thin will result in a crispier cookie that bakes very quickly, so keep an eye on them. I prefer to roll the dough out a bit thicker, around ¼ inch or more, for a cookie that’s soft on the inside but pleasantly crisp on the outside.

Cathy’s Sugar Cookies
2/3 cup shortening
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
4 teaspoons milk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Thoroughly cream shortening, sugar, and vanilla using a mixer. Add egg and milk; beat until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl, sift together dry ingredients; blend into creamed mixture. Form dough into a ball, then divide in half. Cover and chill at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roll the dough on a floured surface to desired thickness. Cut into shapes with cookie cutters. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet for 8 to 10 minutes. Cool slightly, then remove and cool completely.

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

New Interns!

It’s the start of a new semester and we here at Sweet are welcoming not just one, but FOUR new interns!  Two at the USF campus and two at the Eckerd College campus.  Lots of amazing things happening this spring as Sweet continues to grow. You can check out their bios over on our masthead.

Samantha and Zoe will be working with Deedra at USF preparing for AWP, creating new chapbooks, and social media.

Javier and Katherine will be working with K.C. over on the Eckerd campus getting our first Sweet Aperitifs book launched (more on this new publication venture will be announced soon).

We would love for you to leave a comment below welcoming this new crew!

Sweet Connections: Melanie McCabe

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: Melanie McCabe
Title of Piece published in SweetThe Secret She Knows — Or Does Not
Issue:  9.3

Melanie McCabeFind her:

Facebook

Melanie teaches high school in Arlington, VA where she is trying to keep up with the writing pace “I maintained this summer, now that I have all these papers to grade.”
You deserve a gold star in our book, Melanie.

You can find out more about her on her website.

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

My memoir, His Other Life: Searching For My Father, His First Wife, and Tennessee Williams, which won the University of New Orleans Publishing Lab Prize, was published in September of 2017, and a piece that I wrote about it appeared in The Washington Post  in December.His Other Life by Melanie McCabe

I have also had new essays out in The Forge Literary Magazine, Barely South Review, and The Smart Set

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

I am currently at work on a novel and made it through two-thirds of a rough draft before my teaching life resumed this September.

Who is your favorite author?

I don’t have a favorite, but I have many that are beloved. As an English teacher, I am usually far more immersed in the classics I teach than in contemporary work — by necessity. I am currently teaching Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon and have always loved her work.

What is your favorite poem/essay/book?

I can never narrow choices down to a single favorite. A novel I admire a lot — and that I’ve taught– is The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. I love what he does in that book with the balance between truth and storytelling.

What inspires you to write?

The opportunity it affords me to express my thoughts and to create something out of those thoughts. I don’t need to be inspired. I write because I can’t help but do so.

 What is your favorite sweet?

The best sweet she ever had was a piña colada cake her mother made one year for her birthday, and never made again.  That cake has achieved mythic status in her memory.

Although we can’t compare, Taste of Home thinks this piña colada cake tastes just like the drink. We think everyone should give it a try and share a piece with you.

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

Sweet Connections: Amber Rogers

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: Amber Rogers
Title of Piece published in SweetCoiled
Issue:  9.1

Amber RogersFind her:
Twitter
Instagram

Amber teaches composition and creative nonfiction writing at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. “I’m still challenging and engaging students through their writing processes. As for myself, I’m in a place of healing. After a year of personal loss, I’m spending this year writing to grow and heal.”  You can find out more about her on her website.

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

I have recently been focusing more on the effectiveness of hybrid models in the composition and creative nonfiction classrooms. I have since presented at the Conference on College Composition and Communication this past spring on the topic.

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

I am currently part of a community of practice through my university, where I am pushed by my colleagues to write and submit more. I have two essays that are currently being polished by this committee.

Who is your favorite author?

I think my childhood heart will always adore Louis May Alcott and her characters in Little Women.

What is your favorite poem/essay/book?

Favorite essay of the moment (that I now have the pleasure to teach) would have to be “White Horse” by Sarah Baird.

What inspires you to write?

I write to understand my own life and the people in it. There’s also a simple “high” I get off of writing, especially further on in the process when the sentences are building themselves, complicating and evolving.

What is your favorite sweet?

My favorite sweet is my mother’s Red Velvet cake. It has a roasted walnut cream cheese frosting, and, even though I’m in my thirties, she still dutifully makes it for me for my birthday. No link to the recipe; it’s a family secret!

I checked with Bon Appétit and they didn’t list your mother as the best in America, but since it’s a family secret, I’m guessing that is why they deferred to Macrina Bakery in Kent, Washington.  I’m sure it doesn’t even compare to your mom’s!

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