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!

Sweet Connections: Karen Babine

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: Karen Babine
Title of Piece published in Sweet: Midsommar Dag
Issue: 8.3

mg-8222_1Find her:
Twitter
Instagram

Based out of the Twin Cities, Karen teaches composition at North Hennepin Community College. She also travels around the country in her Scamp Camper. Sounds like a great pastime! You can find out more about her at www.karenbabine.com, and www.assayjournal.com.

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

My second book, All the Wild Hungers, which contains the piece that Sweet published will be released in early January 2019 (open for preorders now!) and that’s been really exciting.

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

My next project is about the 2014 Scamping trip I took by myself from Minnesota to Nova Scotia to research my dad’s family, who were among the first French Acadians to Nova Scotia in the 1600s. It’s been fun to revisit that trip, especially in light of my niece and elder nephew being old enough to go camping with me by themselves.

Babine scamping

Who is your favorite author?

Paul Gruchow is my all-time favorite, particularly Boundary Waters, as it was the first book I ever read that taught me that I could write about Minnesota, I could write about rural Minnesota, it could be published, and people could care. I didn’t have to write about more exciting places. I was a sophomore in college at the time and it was the most important moment of my writing life. Right now, though, I’m revisiting Boundary Waters, as well as Sigurd F. Olson’s writing about the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in the 1950s, as Olson (and his writing about the place) was instrumental in getting it protected. It’s really important right now, as various protections for the place are being repealed by the current administration, to think about the relationship between writing about place and advocacy.

Honorable Mentions go to Tim Robinson, my favorite Irish essayist, and my current favorite books these days are Julija Sukys’ Siberian Exile and Elizabeth Rush’s Rising.

What is your favorite poem/essay/book?

Since I’ve spent so much time in Irish literature over the course of my career, most of my favorite poems come from that direction. My favorite poem is William Butler Yeats’ “The Stolen Child,” which is the only poem I have completely memorized, but I’ve got a soft spot for James Russell Lowell’s “The First Snowfall,” which my grandma used to recite any time it snowed. My favorite poems seems to be event-specific like that. My favorite story is on that line between story/novella—Andrea Barrett’s “Ship Fever,” which is about that horrible summer of 1848 on Grosse Ile, Quebec. I’m particularly drawn to any work that has a deep connection, in one way or another, to the natural world and the way it exerts itself on the humans that find themselves there.

What inspires you to write?

It’s amazing how I don’t really believe in inspiration anymore, as I used to, the flurry of an idea and writing so fast so I wouldn’t forget. A lot of my work is research based, as even that provides really essential questions for me to explore. These days, I’m much more of the mind of the novelist Will Weaver, who once told me, when I asked him if he kept a writing schedule: “Yes, because it would be a shame if the angel of fiction showed up and I wasn’t there.” I try to keep to a schedule of Morning Pages, three longhand pages before I do anything else in the day, which is sometimes hard to maintain during the semester, but it’s the work of being a writer—and that always feels good, even if I don’t get anything earthshattering from it.

What is your favorite Sweet?

I really love to cook—and bake—which is one thing that made All the Wild Hungers so much fun to work on. I kept finding expensive cast iron pots and pans, as well as Nordicware cake pans, in my thrift stores at ridiculous prices, and that gave me a canvas. I’ve taken over the spare bedroom with my implements, which I’ve started calling the Cook Nook, which is now a running joke in the family. My favorite cake is probably Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Perfect Pound Cake, which is indeed perfect, and the last time I messed with it, I wanted to replicate a really good Bailey’s Raspberry Truffle ice cream I had, so I replaced the milk in the recipe with Baileys, then made a ribbon in the middle of the cake with raspberries and chocolate. It was insanely good. Today, I’m taking advantage of the fresh zucchini a friend gave me and I’m making a coconut lime zucchini cake in my Citrus Slice pan. Should be good!

Karen dessert

Remind us to come visit you the next time you are in a baking mood!

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

Sweet Connections: Kristine Langley Mahler

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: Kristine Langley Mahler
Title of Piece published in SweetDominant/recessive
Issue:  9.2

kristinelangleymahler_photoFind her:

Twitter

Kristine can be found in the suburban prairie just outside Omaha, Nebraska. You can find out more about her on her website www.kristinelangleymahler.com.

 

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

I completed my master’s degree!

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

I’m still doggedly pursuing the privilege of home by examining my family’s four-hundred-year occupation on native land in Quebec, Wisconsin and Minnesota, but I am also nearing the completion of my book-length erasure of a 1963 Seventeen etiquette guide for teen girls

Who is your favorite author?

To look at my shelves, I’d have to say Margaret Atwood since I’ve got nearly every book she’s ever written, but I prize the two books Jo Ann Beard has written like gold.

What is your favorite poem/essay/book?

House of Rain by Craig Childs

What inspires you to write?

Shifts in memory

What is your favorite sweet?

Mahler peachblueberrypiePeach-blueberry pie with pecan crumble topping

3C blueberries
3C peeled/sliced peaches
1/2C sugar
zest + juice of one lime—combine and let it juice for 10 minutes.

Mix 3T cornstarch + 2T sugar, stir into the juiced fruit.

Cook in a basic pie crust at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.

While it’s cooking, combine 3/4C flour, 3/4C pecan halves, 1/2C sugar, 1/4t salt + 6T cold, chopped butter in a food processor and pulse until it becomes crumbly. Add 1T milk, transfer the crumbs to a bowl, and rub between fingers until they make large crumbs. Refrigerate and spread on the top of the pie after the 30 minutes have elapsed. Reduce oven to 375 and cook for another 35 minutes.

Heaven.

That pie is gorgeous! Thanks for sharing the recipe!

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

Interview with Stephanie Anderson

Stephanie Anderson_4Stephanie Anderson is an author, essayist, and educator of Creative Writing. Her latest work, One Size Fits None, explains the differences between conventional and regenerative agriculture, and incorporates a sense of depth through connecting with farmers around the country. Below, Stephanie relates the relationships of agriculture, what she enjoyed about this creative journey, her beliefs on a weed’s contribution to organic land, and details about a spiritual connection to nature.

 One Size Fits None informs us of the environmental divide between two sides of farming. When writing this book, did you find it possible to view each operational challenge as interconnected?

Regenerative farmers and conventional farmers do face many of the same challenges, such as inclement weather, weeds, disease, and so forth. And yes, those issues are often interconnected. For example, fertile soil tends to produce healthy plants that resist insect, disease, and weed pressures more effectively, so healthy soil makes overcoming those challenges less daunting.

The difference, of course, is how farmers think about and handle challenges. For example, a conventional farmer usually addresses the challenge of soil fertility with synthetic fertilizer, which actually kills the microbiology required for rich, healthy soil—the kind that stores water and helps plants repel diseases and pests. That decision to use synthetic fertilizer makes overcoming many other challenges more difficult.

But I think regenerative farmers and conventional farmers can bond over their shared struggles. It’s something they have in common and a fruitful place for dialogue to begin.

Who were the writers that were helpful as a guide when writing this book and why?

I have long admired Michael Pollan’s writing, especially The Omnivore’s Dilemma. That book completely changed my understanding of agriculture and motivated me to join the conversation about it.

I also drew much inspiration and knowledge from Mark Kramer’s Three Farms, Kristin Ohlson’s The Soil Will Save Us, Judith Schwartz’s Cows Save the Planet, Dan Barber’s The Third Plate, Barry Estabrook’s Tomatoland, Robert Albritton’s Let Them Eat Junk, Wendell Berry’s The Unsettling of America, David Wolfe’s Tales from the Underground, Lisa Hamilton’s Deeply Rooted, Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation, Liz Carlisle’s The Lentil Underground, and many others.

While visiting Kevin O’Dare’s organic farm in Vero Beach, we are introduced to the point, regarding weed existence, that “we’re actually putting foreign plants into where they are.” How does this continue to complicate the idea of what is “natural”?

When Kevin said this, he was describing his views about weeds. He was pointing out that most weeds are not invaders or evil plants as some people might believe. Many weeds are native to their environment and have evolved special traits to thrive in it. They fit the definition of natural: existing in or caused by nature.

If we look at weeds this way, then we also see that most crops are technically “foreign plants,” as Kevin put it, in their adopted environment. When he sees weeds growing among his vegetables, he sees nature just doing what it does. As the farmer, he suppresses the weeds enough for the vegetables to thrive, but he also understands that the weeds are part of the environment.

But crops can be natural, too. We often see the word “natural” applied to plants grown without unnatural, human-made inputs, like chemicals or genetically modified seeds. “Natural” can also mean the use of practices that mimic nature, like intercropping or composting to produce fertilizer. These applications of “natural” describe practices rather than an intrinsic trait. In other words, crops can be natural if we grow them that way.

 In Part Two: Holistic Regenerative, the belief starts with recognizing a buffalo’s natural contribution to the land. What areas of holistic management do you personally connect with on a spiritual level? And how do you write the spiritual?

I like how holistic management defines humanity’s place in nature. Under this view, we aren’t separate from nature, but active members of it—beings who both depend on the natural world and participate in its functioning. I find this way of thinking very satisfying because it helps me understand my place in the natural world and my relationship to its various elements.

But that view also comes with great responsibility. We can’t just reap nature’s benefits without giving anything back. Holistic management asks us not to dominate, but to contribute. Just like any other member of the natural world, we have a right to survive, and that requires the use of nature’s resources. But we have to restore what we take so other members—animals, plants, ecosystems—can live, too. Our survival depends on theirs, and vice versa.

As a writer, I try to embed the spiritual into the physical. In One Size Fits None, buffalo embody the spirit of regenerative agriculture and the philosophy’s potential to make us contributors rather than dominators. Buffalo also symbolize the ecosystems that existed before us and serve as a reminder of our responsibility to those ecosystems now that we have placed ourselves within them.

What was the most surprising aspect of writing this book?

I was surprised by the tremendous generosity I experienced from the people who helped me put this book together. The people I interviewed gave their time and knowledge so freely and openly. Many others read the manuscript or parts of it and contributed valuable feedback. I am grateful to so many people!

 

 

Sweet Ornaments

What do you do when you have a contributor who has started his own business? You team up, of course!  Sweet loves to support our contributors and even more so when the support comes back around to All Of Us.  Hey, that would be a great book title. Wait, it is!

Red Beard Knife and Wood is the creation of Riley Passmore, who gave us “Type One” back in issue 8.1. If you head over to Instagram, you can check out some of his photos and videos from the process of designing and creating these ornaments exclusively for Sweet.

20181210_180648

These are available now for purchase in our online store for only $5! Hang it on your tree this holiday season and then keep it out wherever you write to remind you to submit that next piece to Sweet! After that, you can check out Red Beard for more unique gifts.

Many thanks to Riley at Red Beard for his continued support of Sweet!

Sweet Connections: Ashley Inguanta

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: Ashley Inguanta
Title of Piece published in Sweet:
7 Ways of Unfolding and Dedication: To The One I Will Marry
Issue:  6.2 and 8.2

Ashley Inguanta

Photo by Delila Smalley

Find her:

Instagram

You can find Ashley in the Florida wilderness, on her friend’s farm teaching her daughter how to talk to horses. You can find out more about Ashley on her website www.ashleyinguanta.net or check out her art store Echo and Dime.

 

 

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

I published a hardcover art and poetry collection, For the Woman Alone, with Ampersand Books in 2014. In 2016, Ampersand published my first full-length collection of poetry, Bomb.  I’ve also had the honor of working on my newest manuscript at Sundress Academy for the Arts.

Bomb, Ampersand Books, 2016

For the Woman Alone, Ampersand Books, 2014

The Way Home, Dancing Girl Press, 2013

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

For quite some time now I have been working on The Flower, a full-length collection of linked writings that explore time travel, the relationship between language and experience, and a house that changes with death. I am hoping this book will be out in 2019, but I am not in a rush.

 Who is your favorite author?

Francesca Lia Block

What is your favorite poem/essay/book?

Echo by Francesca Lia Block will always be very important to me.

What inspires you to write?

Windows. I love windows–metaphorical and physical. I’m not sure how to answer this question because it is so personal. Metaphorical windows as in perspectives, as in leaving and entering worlds, inspire me. Physical windows are also fascinating to me. In Florida there are lots of homes from the ’50s with very small windows, but then you have homes from the ’20s with rooms that are all windows. In one of my classrooms two walls are basically all windows. We keep the shades open, and when it rains, the mood changes in the room, and it may shift their writing. That shift–whether it’s large or subtle, and that connection to windows–inspires me.

What is your favorite sweet?

The last time you asked, it was chocolate cake. But now that the holidays are approaching, I have to say my favorite sweet is pumpkin pie.

Pumpkin Pie always reminds me of my grandmother, so it’s one of my favorites. It just feels like home.

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

Sweet Connections: Jill Kolongowski

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 Kolongowski
Title of Piece published in SweetDrought, Tuesday Afternoon
Issue:  9.1

Jill KolongowskiFind her:
Twitter
Instagram
Facebook

Jill can be found “on my couch, commenting on terrific essays for my teaching gig at College of San Mateo, reading the next book in the Expanse series, or watching the Great British Baking Show.” Us too!  Love that show.

You can find out more about Jill on her website www.jillkwrites.com – which is super cool, by the way.

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

I published my first book, a collection of essays (part personal essay, part literary criticism) called Life Lessons Harry Potter Taught Me. Each essay treats a theme in the series (like friendship, food, or feminism) both as a writing professor and as a Hufflepuff who’s loved the series since childhood.

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

I’m doing research for my second book, tentatively called Tiny Disasters, a collection of essays about how we respond to disasters both large and small.

Who is your favorite author?

That’s always changing! But I come back to two for their sentences over and over: Jo Ann Beard and Joan Didion.

What is your favorite poem/essay/book?

This, too, is always changing! I refuse to pick just one: Eula Biss’s essay “Notes from No Man’s Land,” Brian Doyle’s essay “Joyas Voladoras,” and Jo Ann Beard’s book The Boys of My Youth.

What inspires you to write?

Truthfully, I rarely feel inspired to write. The act of writing itself inspires me–I write to find those moments of discovery and connection, when something new and unexpected arises and the piece starts to tell me what it’s about. Failing that, only reading can inspire me.

What is your favorite sweet?

I rarely eat sweets because I have no self-control, but I love the Secret Breakfast ice cream at Humphrey Slocombe in San Francisco (bourbon ice cream with cornflake cookies), and the raspberry rosemary old-fashioned doughnut at Blue Star Donuts in Portland, Oregon.

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

Sweet Connections: Leslie Salas

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: Leslie Salas
Title of Piece published in Sweet: ”Picky Eater”
Issue: 4.3

Leslie Salas

Find her:
Facebook
Twitter
Instagram

Leslie is now an instructor of Humanities & Communication at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida.  You can follow her on social media or check out her website https://lesliesalas.com/.

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

I have two book anthologies out now: Other Orlandos (Burrow Press, 2017) and Condoms & Hot Tubs Don’t Mix: An Anthology of Awkward Sexcapades (Beating Windward Press, 2018).

 

 

 

I also joined the Sweet masthead as the editor for graphic narrative (and comics poems) and have helped create and/or run three different creative writing conferences. I’ve also presented my creative and pedagogical works at several regional and national conferences such as AWP, CEA, and more.

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

I’m helping edit a collection of academic essays about Florida literature, and I’m really excited about the scope of the project (as well as the particular chapter I’ll be contributing). I’ve also been slowly chipping away at an academic textbook (written in comics format) but it will probably be a while before that particular project becomes a finished reality. In terms of my own creative endeavors, I’m working on a novel and have been putting the final touches on a poetry manuscript.

Who is your favorite author?

I love a lot of different authors for different reasons; don’t make me choose!

What is your favorite poem/essay/book?

See above. But I will say that I do have Maggie Smith’s “Good Bones” hanging in my office, and I keep recommending David Mazzuchelli’s Asterios Polyp and Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things. So those are some of my favorites, but in no way is this a comprehensive list.

What inspires you to write?

I can’t not write. It is part of how I process the world around me, especially in terms of digesting any reactions I have to current events.

What is your favorite sweet?

I recently learned that I’m allergic to dairy! As in, cannot process casein, so it isn’t even a lactose intolerance thing, it’s a cannot-consume-any-cow-milk-products-thing. Finding non-dairy substitutes for some of my favorites (like donuts and cake and brownies and cookies and whipped cream) has been a challenge, but luckily there are a lot of allergy-free things on the shelves (and lots of recopies online, too!) so it isn’t too bad. I will say I’m a sucker for the brownie cupcakes at McKenna’s NYC Bakery in Disney Springs!

 

Sweet Connections: Sandra Gail Lambert

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: Sandra Lambert
Title of Piece published in Sweet: The Beginning and the End
Issue: 6.1

1

Find her:
Twitter
Instagram
Facebook

Sandra resides in Gainesville, Florida. You can find out more about her at
www.sandragaillambert.com.

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

The publication of A Certain Loneliness: A Memoir from the University of Nebraska Press/2018

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

These days I’m book touring with my recently published memoir—Miami Book Fair, Southern Festival of Books, Decatur Book Festival, and a variety of bookstores.

Who is your favorite author?

Recently, I wrote an article for LitHub on feminist science fiction of the 70s and 80s, so my mind is currently full of the brilliant work of writers such as Joanna Russ, Elizabeth A. Lynn, Octavia Butler, and Vonda McIntyre.

What is your favorite poem/essay/book?

Harriet McBryde Johnson’s Too Late to Die Young was essential to having a solid sense of myself as a writer.

What inspires you to write?

It makes me feel good. Even when I’m in a despair of  “I’m no good and never will be” torment, it feels good.

What is your favorite sweet?

My poet friend, Aliesa, makes a perfect key lime tart.

I don’t know if it’s as perfect as Aliesa’s, but Taste of Home says this recipe is the best.

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

Sweet Connections: Lesley Wheeler

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: Lesley Wheeler
Title of Piece published in Sweet:  “Feeling Good
Issue:  10.1

Find her: Wheeler tea with honey in Lexington

Twitter
Instagram

One might usually find Lesley “in some corner of Lexington, Virginia, trying to get some reading or writing done”.  Check out more on her website https://lesleywheeler.org/.

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

In January I had a poem featured on Poetry Daily, and in February an essay—that felt like a rare conjunction! I also gave a craft talk and a reading as Visiting Faculty at the very first residency of the brand-new Randolph MFA program. Director Gary Dop is doing terrific work there and I was honored to be a small part of it.

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

I hope “Feeling Good” will be part of a poetry collection with the working title Turning Fifty in the Confederacy, which is probably self-explanatory. In addition to figuring out the transitions of middle age, I’ve been thinking hard about where I live. Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson haunt my campus and my small town.

Who is your favorite author?

Emily Dickinson!

What is your favorite sweet?

The sweet she craves most often, sadly, is Giapo’s chocolate-hazelnut sorbet in Auckland, New Zealand, but she is willing to consider substitutes.

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