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!

Sweet Connections: Jeff Newberry

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: Jeff Newberry
Title of Piece Published in Sweet: “All My Possible Selves from Alternate Universes Meet in a Bar for a Drink,” “Failure is an Art,” “Teaching is an Art,” “Memory is Sequential Art,” and “Mosiac”
Issue: 5.1, 11.2, 11.3

Newberry Photo

Find him:
Instagram
Facebook

Jeff can be found in teaching and grading mode at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton, Georgia, where he is core faculty in the Writing and Communication Program. You can learn more about Jeff at his website.

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

In July, WordTech Editions released my new book, Cross Country, a collaboration with the poet Justin Evans. Cross Country is a dialogue in epistolary letters. Written primarily in 2015 and 2016, the letters range from personal meditations to commentary on social and political issues. 2016 was a rough year. Trump was elected. The Pulse Nightclub shooting happened. I’d turned 40 in 2014 and was dealing with a lot of personal baggage, too. My daughter, Madi, was diagnosed in utero with Spina Bifida. Her birth in 2014 provides the backdrop for many of the poems, too.

Newberry Book

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

I am working on a memoir of essays, including the ones published in Sweet. Tentatively titled The Daily Comics: A Memoir in Frames, the book is a collection of experimental essays. I’m fascinated by writers like Brian Oliu, Dinty W. Moore, Sarah Minor, and others who explore experimental forms in their writing.

Who is your favorite author?

You might as well ask me which is my favorite child! A few names pop to mind: Dinty W. Moore, Ira Sukrungruang, Jake Adam York, Seamus Heaney, Colson Whithead, and Erica Dawson all pop to mind immediately.

What is your favorite poem/essay/book?

It’s an anthology chestnut, but my favorite poem (at least lately) is probably Seamus Heaney’s “Digging.” I love the way he marries personal biography with aesthetic commentary. The poem exists in this weird liminal space between confession and critique. As a writer from a rural, blue collar background, I wholly understand the poem’s final lines:

But I’ve no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I’ll dig with it.

What inspires you to write?

Hamlet says that the time is out of joint and that he was born to set it right. I don’t have such lofty ambition (perhaps secretly, I do); but I do think that my writing emerges from a need to explore and to set right or realign the world. Humans are the only storytelling creatures. Stories have power that we have yet to understand. For me, writing is an act of storytelling, even when I’m writing a lyric poem.

What is your favorite sweet?

I adore sweets of all kinds, but every Christmas, I take it upon myself to bake pecan pies, which I spike with bourbon. Pecan pie is definitely my favorite sweet (today).

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

Sweet Connections: Sarah Fawn Montgomery

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 Fawn Montgomery
Title of Piece Published in Sweet: White Witch as a Young Girl
Issue:  10.2

Montgomery Photo

Find her:
Twitter

Sarah is currently an Assistant Professor at Bridgewater State University outside Boston. Most days you can find her walking around the lake by her home, which she says is vibrant and always changing. You can learn more about Sarah by visiting her website.

 

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

My book Quite Mad: An American Pharma Memoir was published by The Ohio State University! It was terrifying to share my story about mental illness, medical sexism, and big pharma with the world, but also validating to connect to many other folks who are struggling.

Montgomery Book

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

After Quite Mad, I’ve been writing standalone essays again and have pieces coming out in some exciting places like Brevity, Split Lip Magazine, and Essay Daily. And I’m also working on my next nonfiction book

Who is your favorite author?

There are too many to list, but recently I’ve been (re)reading Jericho Brown, Natalie Scenters-Zapico, Donika Kelly, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Ada Limón, and other favorite poets.

What is your favorite poem/essay/book?

Again, there are too many to list, but in the past few weeks I’ve read If You Leave Me by Crystal Hana Kim, Mostly Dead Things by Kristen Arnett, and On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong.

What inspires you to write?

Reading, nature, weird science facts, a great meal, solitude.

What is your favorite sweet?

I have quite the sweet tooth and try to have dessert as many nights as possible—I recently had a lavender caramel that won’t leave my dreams.

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: Dinty W. Moore

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: Dinty W. Moore
Title of Piece Published in Sweet: Frida’s Circle
Issue:  3.2

Moore Photo

Find him:
Twitter
Instagram
Facebook 

Dinty spends his time in his Appalachian Ohio garden trimming and pruning and picking off dead leaves, tying up the tomato plants that are weighted down with watery green globes, chasing away bugs, calculating when to harvest and what to cook. Dinty is also finishing a book. You can learn more about Dinty by visiting his website.

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

A few new books. A few grey hairs. I’ve lost some weight.

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

The book-in-progress is titled, for now at least, To Hell With It, and examines the myth of Hell and the mostly man-made theological construct of the Original Sin through the lens of Dante’s Inferno. It is an indictment of organized religion and “inventive” Christian theologians, and also, if I pull it off, a funny book filled with odd stories and facts.

Who is your favorite author?

This changes weekly, but I always cite Vonnegut, Didion, Dickens, Benchley (Robert, not Nathaniel), and John McPhee.

What is your favorite poem/essay/book?

This is truly impossible to say.

What inspires you to write?

Questions that haunt me, make my brain itch, that seem unanswerable.

What is your favorite sweet?

Gelato, from GROM – Il Gelato come una volta
Via del Campanile, 2, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy

Moore Sweet

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

Best of the Net 2019 Nominations

Sweet is excited to present our nominations for this year’s Best of the Net 2019. Be sure to read these again!

For Poetry

Sara Ryan, “My Father Asks If I Was Raised By A Jackal
Published in Issue 11.1 September 2018

Jen Karetnick, “It’s about the dog, but not really about the dog,
Published in Issue 11.2 January 2019

Cynthia Atkins, “House and Home
Published in Issue 11.2 January 2019

Diane LeBlanc, “Expired
Published in Issue 11.2 January 2019

Amanda Moore, “Which Came First
Published in Issue 11.3 May 2019

Meghan McClure, “Remember That Quince Can Burn Like A Star
Published in Issue 11.3 May 2019

For Essays

Jody Kennedy, “Ruger Single-Six
Published in Issue 11.2 January 2019

Vandana Khanna, “The In-Between Girl
Published in Issue 11.3 May 2019

Congratulations to our nominees and best of luck to you!

Sweet Connections: Gianna Russo

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: Gianna Russo
Title of Piece Published in Sweet: Somewhere Jazz
Issue:  10.2

Russo Photo.jpg

Gianna is living in her 1928 bungalow in Seminole Heights, where the distant gunshots are fewer and the local hipsters are plentiful. She loves it there. Gianna continues teaching creative and academic writing at Saint Leo University, where she also directs the Sandhill Writers Retreat. Gianna is still puttering around in her garden and dancing in her imagination. You can learn more about Gianna by visiting her website.

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

A ton has happened since then! I went back to school and earned an MFA in Poetry from The University of Tampa. My second poetry collection, One House Down, is due out in October 2019 from Madville Press.  I’ve had a number of magazine publications, and I was named Creative Loafing’s Best of the Bay Local Poet.

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

I’m working on new poems and a memoir. The poems are coalescing around ideas of immigration, social justice and the haves and have-nots. They’ve been influenced by my having a Mexican daughter-in-law and by a visit to Immokolee, Florida, where migrant farm workers grow and pick the majority of our fresh vegetables. It was very troubling to witness their living conditions.  The hateful rhetoric and actions coming from the current US administration is also influencing this work.

I’m also working on a biographical memoir about my grandfather.  He was a Florida legislator in the early 1920s and then a judge in Tampa.  I’m using archival papers and my own memories and experiences to tell our story.

Who is your favorite author?

For a book lover and literature teacher, that’s a terrible question!  My favorites right now include my numerous mentors (they know who they are), along with Ross Gay, Natalie Diaz, Ada Limon, and the Appalachian writer Ron Rash.

What is your favorite poem/essay/book?

Again, this only applies to right now: A Catalogue of Unabashed Gratitude by Ross Gay.

What inspires you to write?

The sound of owls at dusk, the feel of palm fronds in the rain, the taste of good wine, the smell of sulfur water, the sight of bats among skyscrapers, powerful poems, and provocative conversations, to name a few.

What is your favorite sweet?

I have a huge sweet tooth.  One of my favorites is classic flan de leche.  This recipe supposedly comes from the now-defunct, very famous Spanish restaurant in Ybor City, Las Novedades, where it is said Teddy Roosevelt and his Roughriders ate before embarking to Cuba for the Spanish American War.  I was given the recipe thirty years ago by my neighbor, Hortensia Ramirez, whose uncle had worked there before it closed sometime in the latter part of the 20th century. This flan is absolutely the best!  And easy!

You will need 4-6 ceramic custard cups
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 can water
4 eggs beaten well
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
4-5 tbsp. sugar

First, caramelize the sugar by heating it on high in a nonreactive pan until it starts to melt. Reduce to medium and stir until sugar turns golden brown.  Pour into custard cups.  Beat together the other ingredients. Pour over the sugar in the cups.  Place the cups in a large pan with water that comes up to about the half the height of the cups (a water bath). Bake in a 350 oven for 20 minutes, then reduce oven to 300 and bake for an hour or until set (insert toothpick to test).  Allow cups to cool on a rack and overnight in the fridge (cover with plastic wrap once cool).  To unmold, run a knife around the edge of each cup and turn it over onto a plate.  The sugar should cascade over the flan.  Delicious!

For more info see:
http://www.tampapix.com/lasnovedades.htm

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

Sweet Connections: Jacqueline Doyle

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: Jacqueline Doyle
Title of Piece Published in Sweet: Little Colored Pills
Issue:  11.2

Doyle Photo

Find her:
Twitter
Facebook

Jacqueline lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she teaches at California State University East Bay. Summer is generally a relaxing and productive time for teachers, but Jacqueline and her husband both had jury duty, and both were chosen for trials. They are also having work done on the largest room in their small house, so the contents of many bookcases are stacked everywhere you turn. Right now, you would find her in a state of chaos. You can learn more about Jacqueline by visiting her website.

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

I won a creative nonfiction contest at The Sunlight Press with a flash essay connected to my publication in Sweet. I’ve also had lyric essays and flash published in The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Juked, The Collagist, and Ghost Proposal, and accepted for publication in Little Fiction/Big Truths, F(r)iction, CRAFT Literary Magazine, the Minnesota Review, Pithead Chapel, and Passages North. My flash chapbook The Missing Girl (Black Lawrence Press) is over a year old, but I just had another review in Bellingham Review and an interview in Heavy Feather Review. I’m thrilled that the book continues to attract new readers.

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

Coming out as bipolar in “Little Colored Pills” was a major step for me, and inspired a longer project-in-progress that is part nonfiction, part fiction, part memoir: an exploration of my story and my bipolar aunt’s story within the expanded context of women and the history of the treatment of mental illness. The Lunatics’ Ball combines a lot of very disparate materials and kinds of writing and I’m still not sure what shape it will take. The title flash is coming out in F(r)iction next month; I’ve published two of the historical flash in The Collagist and a flash fiction in Connotation Press; a short hybrid essay will be published in Passages North next spring.

Who is your favorite author?

Years ago, I wrote my Ph.D. dissertation on the significance of modernist writers’ competing versions of Edgar Allan Poe. I’ve been thinking about Poe again lately, a bipolar author who fascinated me long before I was diagnosed. Two writers that I recently rediscovered were Shirley Jackson and Jayne Anne Phillips.

What is your favorite poem/essay/book?

I’m sure I read Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House before, but when I reread it last year I was blown away. I also loved rereading Jayne Anne Phillips’ Black Tickets. My favorite books are always changing.

What inspires you to write?

Breaking silences. Recovering lost voices. I started writing late in life, so I feel greater urgency than I might have if I’d started earlier. I feel like there’s a lot to say, and not enough time for it.

What is your favorite sweet?

My favorite recent dessert was a tres leches cake at a party for Cristina Garcia’s upcoming play, adapted from her novel The Lady Matador’s Hotel. Amazing and delicious! (The dessert and the book.) Here’s a Cuban-style recipe: https://www.justapinch.com/recipes/dessert/cake/tres-leches-three-milks-cake-cuban-style.html

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

2nd Annual Poetry Contest Winner

Sweet Lit is proud to announce this year’s poetry contest winner:

Sara Quinn Rivara, “When I Say Love I Mean El Greco’s The Assumption of the Virgin”

Runners Up were:
Emily Rose Cole, “MS Nocturne with Fuse, Crosshairs, and Irreparable Fissure”
Sara Quinn Rivara, “Instead”
Sara Quinn Rivara, “Love Poem, SE Portland”

Poetry editors at Sweet Lit narrowed down the submissions to 15 finalist poems, which the judge received stripped of identifying information. This year’s contest was judged by Katherine (Katie) Riegel, co-founder and editor of Sweet Lit. She is the author of Love Songs from the End of the World (forthcoming October 2019 from Main Street Rag Publishing), the chapbook Letters to Colin Firth, and two more books of poetry. Her work has appeared in The Gettysburg Review, The Offing, Orion, Poets.org, Tin House, and elsewhere.

The other finalists were:
Julia C. Alter, “Ode to My Kidney Bean (8 Weeks)”
Deborah Bacharach, “Shake and Tremor”
Brood, “Hidden Feathers”
Emily Rose Cole, “Dry Spell”
B.R. Dionysius, “Death is an Iron Lung”
Gregory Emilio, “My Mother and My Father in the Kitchen”
Mariana Goycoechea, “Eternal Return”
Dayna Patterson, “Our Lady of Lengthening Days”
Amie Whittemore, “Ode to Everything, Saunders Trail Attempt”
Amie Whittemore, “Ode to the Half-Male, Half-Female Cardinal”
John Sibley Williams, “Sycamores”

The winning poem will get $500 and publication in Sweet Lit.  Some of the finalists will be published in the September 2019 and January 2020 issues.

Congratulations to our winner and finalists! Many thanks to all who entered their fine work. Be on the lookout summer 2020 for next year’s contest.