Sweet Connections: Ellen Stone

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: Ellen Stone
Title of Piece Published in Sweet: “Today is the Sabbath of medicine” and “Dear garden shed”
Issue:  10.

Stone Photo

 

Ellen lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan and has recently retired from Community High School where she taught high school special education and English for over 20 years. She continues to advise the Poetry Club there. Currently, you can find Ellen in her garden, the woods, the kitchen, the backyard with her dog, at a poetry event, or writing somewhere in my house.

 

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

I just found out my first full length book of poems, What Is in the Blood is coming out next March with Mayapple Press. This collection has been a long time coming and is largely based on growing up with and now caring for my mom who is bipolar. I have a sonnet coming out next winter or spring in the first American abortion anthology, Choice Words: Writers on Abortion edited by Annie Finch.  My poem, “In Wisconsin” was chosen by The Citron Review as one of 10 poems they published in an anthology to celebrate their first decade of publishing.  I have also been honored to have poems nominated for the Pushcart prize or Best of the Net by Two Cities Review, Up North Lit, and Eastern Iowa Review.

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

I am currently working on a new book with a working title, Daughters Leaving Home in the Age of Aggression – that deals with the complexity of watching three daughters in their twenties find their way in the world as a mother who is an assault survivor.

Who is your favorite author?

Oh, that is impossible… Recently, I have been reading C.D. Wright, Diane Seuss, Jericho Brown, Ilya Kaminsky, and Camille Dungy. So many poets and writers transfix me with their words.

What is your favorite poem/essay/book?

Again, I cannot say I have a favorite poem, essay or book – there are too many to mention.  If I to go back to old favorites, though, I would reread some of James Wright, Gwendolyn Brooks, Sylvia Plath, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Langston Hughes, Thomas Hardy, Rita Dove, Ross Gay…see what I mean?

What inspires you to write?

I write for fun, or for joy, or to explore ideas.  I write to help quell intense feelings that overtake me.  I also write to help me cope with overwhelming situations, or to solve problems.

What is your favorite sweet?

I think I would be inclined to say, pie is my favorite sweet, but to be honest, I tend to make crisps more often because they are easier. I also adore plum jam…it has just the simplest, but most transcendent flavor.  Ann Arbor’s Farmer’s Market had prune plums this fall that I washed, pit, cut in two, and cooked down with some sugar or honey and lemon.  That jam will keep us going through the winter!

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

2019 Pushcart Nominations

Sweet is proud to announce this year’s Pushcart Prize nominations. Congratulations and good luck to the following authors:

CREATIVE NONFICTION

Hannah Star Bright, “How to Bleed a Child,” Issue 12.1

Kristine Jepsen, “Jaw Wiring,” Issue 11.3

Vandana Khanna, “The In-Between Girl,” Issue 11.3

POETRY

Emily Rose Cole, “MS Nocturne with Fuse, Crosshairs, and Irreparable Fissure,” Issue 11.3

Becca J.R. Lachman, “If I Had It In Me, I’d Make a Grocery List Worthy of My Century,” Issue 11.2

Michael Schmeltzer, “What Accidental Grace Fills the Mistakes,” Issue 11.3

Sweet Connections: Leslie Jill 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: Jill Patterson
Title of Piece Published in Sweet: “Running” and “Heat”
Issue:  10.2

Patterson Photo

Find her:

Twitter
Instagram

Jill can be found in West Texas, at Texas Tech University, trying to survive a crazy fall semester. You can learn more about Jill by visiting her website.

 

 

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

I received a Pushcart Prize, and one of my essays was listed as notable in Best American Essays of 2018.

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

I just finished a nonfiction book, written in flash chapters, about a capital murder case I covered, working as the defense team’s storyteller. Both the perpetrator and the victim owned arsenals (over fifty guns in the first, over a hundred in the latter), and the two men taunted each other into a gunfight. The case serves as the book’s plotline, but there are pop-up “chapters” on shooting ranges, self-defense, Archie comics, John Wick, baseball, water pistols, Harold Edgerton, Ted Cruz, active shooter training, snake charmers, etc. The book is a meditation, a long lyric essay, on guns in America.

Who is your favorite author?

Just one? I can’t even. Current writers I’m reading: Landon Houle, Elissa Washutta, Jehanne Dubrow, and I cannot wait to crack open Mitchell S. Jackson’s Survival Math, Aisha Sabatini Sloan’s Dreaming of Ramadi in Detroit, and Toni Jensen’s forthcoming Carry.

What is your favorite poem/essay/book?

Melanie Rae Thon’s Sweet Hearts remains one of my favorite books of all time—I still admire the storyline, the sound of her language, the compassion and grace of this book, and what mercy Thon feels for her protagonist, Flint Zimmer.

What inspires you to write?

Finding patterns, connections; digging deep into a subject; chasing rabbits.

What is your favorite sweet?

If you’re heading to AWP San Antonio, don’t miss the Mexican Donuts at the Iron Cactus on the Riverwalk: sweet cream filling, powdered sugar, Kahlúa fudge sauce. I love them! My favorite dessert; I wish I knew how to make them!

Patterson Dessert

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

Sweet Connections: Maxima Kahn

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: Maxima Kahn
Title of Piece Published in Sweet: Following the Footsteps
Issue: 10.3

MaximaKahn_0925Find Her:
Facebook
Twitter
Maxima lives in a beautiful little town in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada in Northern California, part of the amazing Yuba River watershed. Maxima’s website is currently under reconstruction, but you can learn more about her by visiting her blog and Patreon.

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

I’m deliriously excited that my first full-length collection of poems, Fierce Aria, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. This comes after years of intensive work on it and sending it to a lot of contests and presses. So, if you’re sending your manuscript around, keep at it! I’ve also had poems published in a bunch of wonderful literary journals since Sweet and essays on popular blog sites. And I helped to put on the Sierra Poetry Festival last year, which was amazing. Forrest Gander was our keynote. We are underway planning this year’s festival: https://www.sierrapoetryfestival.org/

FierceAriaCover3

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

I am writing new poems and essays and also working on a book on how to ignite and sustain the fires of your creativity, which is my area of expertise.

Meanwhile, my Patreon site has turned out to be a source of immense pleasure for me, to be able to intimately share my working process, my ups and downs and insights, my poems-in-process, and to converse with others about their creative process, has been so wonderful.

Who is your favorite author?

I don’t have just one. In fact, there are truly way too many to name. Here are a few of the long-time faves: J.D. Salinger, Jorie Graham, Rainer Maria Rilke, A.R. Ammons, Mark Doty. Here are a few recent reads that have totally inspired me: Tracy K. Smith, Joan Houlihan, Rusty Morrison.

What is your favorite poem/essay/book?

Again, this is an impossible question. Two books that changed my life include Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse and Mary Oliver’s American Primitive.

What inspires you to write?

I wanted to say everything, but truthfully a few things inspire me more than anything else: 1) Reading great writing, especially adventurous, remarkable, smart writing with dazzling, surprising use of language. 2) Wrestling with how to be a human being on planet Earth—ideas, questions, feelings. 3) Partaking of amazing art of any kind. These three things really get me going.

What is your favorite sweet?

Last night I had delicious dark chocolate with cherries from Chocolove. These are cool because they are fair trade and also come with a poem in them. Here’s a link in case anyone wants to buy me one! https://www.chocolove.com/shop/fair-trade-organic-dark-chocolate-cherries-73-cocoa/

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

Sweet Connections: Laura Donnelly

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: Laura Donnelly
Title of Piece Published in Sweet: An Ordinary Sleep
Issue:  9.3

Donnelly Photo

Find her:

Twitter

Laura can be found teaching poetry at SUNY Oswego, digging in her garden, or watching the latest season of the Great British Bake Off. You can learn more about Laura by visiting her website.

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

I recently learned that my second collection of poems, Midwest Gothic, was selected by Maggie Smith for the Richard Snyder Poetry Prize. It’s slated for publication by Ashland Poetry Press in 2020.

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

While working on the new book, Midwest Gothic, I’ve often returned to Virginia Woolf’s comment that “we think back through our mothers.” More specifically, I’ve been thinking back through my mother and grandmothers’ relationship to a specific kind of rural life and religion that my mother (and I) eventually left. That leaving was both an escape and a loss, and this project tries to hold those truths side-by-side.

Who is your favorite author?

Some of my early favorites that I still return to: Jane Kenyon for grounding, Naomi Shihab Nye for wonder, Ellen Bryant Voigt for music; and Woolf, of course, who I mention above.

What is your favorite poem/essay/book?

A few of my favorite books from this past year: Ross Gay’s Book of Delights, Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweet Grass, and Richard Powers’ Overstory. My reading obsessions are turning increasingly towards gardening and the environment.

What inspires you to write?

I recently saw the documentary about the pianist Seymour Bernstein (Seymour: An Introduction), and there’s a marvelous part in it about the way that practicing music is really about listening. About being deeply attentive. Poetry provides a space for a similar kind of attention, and in that space, I often find my poems know more than I do, are more honest or aware or… something. That might not exactly be an inspiration, but it’s a deep pull that keeps me coming back to poetry.

What is your favorite sweet?

The best thing I’ve eaten all year is this bowl of strawberry-rhubarb crisp topped with vanilla ice-cream.

Donnelly Dessert

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

Sweet Connections: Christine Butterworth-McDermott

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: Christine Butterworth-McDermott
Title of Piece Published in Sweet: When Your Mother Loses Her Mind
Issue:  9.2

McDermott Photo

Christine lives in Nacogdoches, Texas where she teaches at Stephen F. Austin State University, the home of the only BFA in Creative Writing in the state. She teaches poetry, fairy tales, and literature of the 1920s.  Most often you can find her with students, working on a project, or on Gingerbread House Literary Magazine, reading, or enjoying time with her husband and daughter. You can learn more about Christine by visiting her website.

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

My second collection of poems, Evelyn As, was published by Fomite Press this summer.  It’s a project very dear to me as it let me explore a historical event to expose some very current issues.  At the turn of the century, Evelyn Nesbit was one of the first “celebrity” models, seen on postcards, in advertisements, drawings, and oil paintings. Her story was sensational: at fifteen, she was drugged and raped by famous architect Stanford White, and then she was courted by a millionaire Harry Kendall Thaw, who also abused her mentally and physically. Thaw eventually shot and killed White on a rooftop theater, supposedly to “defend” Evelyn’s honor. These men were extremely powerful, and their abuse of Evelyn and others was often covered up due to their wealth and position. As the crimes of men like Harvey Weinstein and Jeffrey Epstein continue to rattle us, it seemed important to me to try to give a girl like Evelyn a voice. My chapbook, All Breathing Heartbreak, is also due out from Dancing Girl Press this fall.  That’s a much more biographical collection and the poem from Sweet is featured in it. Lastly, I was nominated for Texas Poet Laureate, which was a complete surprise!  The poets appointed were Carrie Fountain and Emmy Pérez, who are both amazing. I was beyond honored to be nominated alongside them.

McDermott Book

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

I’m currently working on a new collection of poems which focus on animals and plants, particularly flowers and how so often pretty surfaces hold deep poison. Gingerbread House, which comes out 6 times a year, is always exciting and I am so profoundly grateful to work with the staff I do as well as the amazing artists and authors who contribute. They all continually inspire me.

 Who is your favorite author?

I have an obsession with writers of the 1920s, but I read a lot of contemporary work as well. I love the stunning poetry of Ada Limón and Aimee Nezhukumatathil, who both write about love in such a powerful non-cloying way, which I think is tremendously difficult. I think William Brewer’s I Know Your Kind about the opiate epidemic is brutally eye-opening and Kaveh Akbar’s Calling A Wolf A Wolf is a very honest, and therefore though harrowing, both are really beautiful books to me. I love mainstream fiction, especially anything that incorporates fairytales, and am a huge fan of books like Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects, Melissa Albert’s The Hazel Wood, and Alice Hoffman’s The Ice Queen. I deeply love the epic vision of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, which I think is brilliant. The scale of it is tremendous.

 What is your favorite poem/essay/book?

I’m fickle about favorites. People will often ask for a “top ten” and I can’t do it because I can think of at least fifty things I love. They’ll say, “imagine you’re on a desert island and you can only choose…” but I’m—gloriously! thankfully!—not on a desert island. All kidding aside, there are too many works to mention but some poems off the top of my head I read often and am inspired by are: “Glow” (Ada Limón), “Love and Other Disasters” (Philip Levine), “Down in the Valley” (Joshua Mehigan), “burial” (Ross Gay), “Born Again” (Jen McClanaghan), “Pomegranate Means Grenade” (Jamaal May), “Letter to the Northern Lights” (Aimee Nezhukumatathil), and “Breaking Spring” (Matt Hart).

 What inspires you to write?

Always other authors, my artist friends and my non-artist friends, odd overheard phrases, browsing Wikipedia for weird facts about space, animals or sea creatures, going to movies or the ballet, listening to music. My husband is a terrific writer in his own right and my biggest cheerleader/editor. My daughter’s generosity and wonder opens my eyes in new ways every single day. Often, it’s just experimentation based on the best question: what if. What if that person was a flower, what if I could rewrite history, what if that silenced person could speak, what if I dreamt like an octopus? These are the thoughts I have that grow into poems. Above all else, I would say that emotionally I am inspired by a need for healing. A poem often starts when I try to process something that happened to me, a community, a country, or someone I love. The world is equal amounts cruelty and beauty and I think most of my work comes from trying to contend with both poles.

 What is your favorite sweet?

I love black licorice, which seems really appropriate after the other questions, since it is both bitter and sweet.  Again, I have so many favorites, but today here’s an alcoholic beverage: The Frisky Witch.  It’s simple—one ounce each of black Sambuca and vodka over ice in an old-fashioned glass. If you don’t like black licorice, you won’t like it—but if you do, it’s just lovely. In the right light, it can look like emerald in a glass.

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

Sweet Connections: Elizabeth O’Brien

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: Elizabeth O’Brien
Title of Piece Published in Sweet: Verdict
Issue:  8.2

EOB_img

Find her:
Twitter  

Elizabeth resides in Minneapolis and can be found hanging out in the local pubs. You can find out more about her on social media as she does not have a website.

 

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

My first poetry chapbook, A Secret History of World Wide Outage, came out in 2018 from Diode Editions.

Who is your favorite author?

Among dead poets–Larry Levis, Elizabeth Bishop, and Leonard Cohen. Living poets–  Diane Seuss, Mary Ruefle, Jericho Brown, Aracelis Girmay, Ada Limon, and Brenda Shaughnessy.

What is your favorite poem/essay/book?

Wolf Lake, White Gown Blown Open by Diane Seuss, Geography III by Elizabeth Bishop, Please by Jericho Brown, Citizen by Claudia Rankine, Electric Arches by Eve Ewing… I could go on.

What inspires you to write?

Often, a turn of phrase, or an overheard comment that strikes my ear in just the right way.

What is your favorite sweet?

Lately I’ve been getting a lot of mileage out of this great three ingredient Nutella brownie recipe, because it’s quick, easy, and chocolatey.

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

Sweet Connections: Louis Bourgeois

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: Louis Bourgeois
Title of Piece Published in Sweet: Carolyn Park Elementary
Issue: 5.2

Louis Bourgeois

Find Him:
Facebook

Louis is based out of Oxford, Mississippi where he is the Executive Director of VOX Press.

 

 

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

VOX’s Prison Writes Initiative (the only program in Mississippi that offers a comprehensive liberal arts education to Mississippi inmates) is growing each semester and is where most of my energy is focused.

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

Currently, we (VOX) are putting together our 3rd volume of Mississippi prison writing, titled Mississippi Prison Writing, which includes work from men, women, and youth inmates from several Mississippi prisons.

Who is your favorite author?

Right now, Jules Barbey d’Aurevilly.

What is your favorite poem/essay/book?

Right now, d’Aurevilly’s L’Ensorcelee.

What inspires you to write?

Fear.

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

 

Sweet Connections: Carolyn Williams-Noren

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: Carolyn Williams-Noren
Title of Piece Published in Sweet: My Daughter and Her Best Friend Made Blue Jay Masks at Camp
Issue10-3

Noren Photo

Find her:
Twitter
Instagram

Carolyn can be found writing, editing/proofreading for writers and publishers, and teaching at the Loft Literary Center. In between, she spends a lot of time walking (with her canine friend Luna) near the Mississippi River, puttering around her garden, and schlepping children from place to place. You can find out more about Carolyn by visiting her website.

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

The best news I’ve heard in a while is that the awesome little press known as Ethel will publish my chapbook, F L I G H T S, in mid-2020. And a new poem, “Working the Puzzle,” will be in Cimarron Review this fall.

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

I’ve been writing poems that reckon with the ways I’ve been (still am) connected to the oil industry.

Who is your favorite author?

This is the hardest question, and of course there’s not just one. A contemporary author I’ve been thinking a lot about lately is Ruth Ozeki. Her writing has followed such an interesting path over the years, and I’ve found her work meaningful in a different way each time I’ve intersected with it . I stumbled on My Year of Meats years ago and adored its form, humor, and subject matter. Of course A Tale for the Time Being was immensely popular and well-loved, and, besides being just plain intriguing and enjoyable, happened to connect with some ideas I’d been thinking about, too. And then, more recently, I brought The Face: A Time Code on a camping trip. It’s a record of a sustained meditation in front of a mirror, and wow — the face, identity, memory, aging — what a little book to read beside a lake!

What is your favorite poem/essay/book?

The book of poems I feel closest to is Jane Kenyon’s Let Evening Come.

What inspires you to write?

In July, as a way of getting unstuck, I wrote (quickly!) an abecedarium called “Reasons to Write a Poem.” Here’s a little bit of it:

Homes. Howling. How are you.

Indecision. Ice, all kinds. Inklings.

Jettison, jam.

Kaleidoscope, cake.

Lemons, lifetimes.

Marriage. Motherhood. Multiplicity. Men. Manliness.

Nobody knows.

Open the mouth.

What is your favorite sweet?

These brownies are my go-to.

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