Sweet Connections: Sean Ironman

Each week we will be connecting with our contributors showing where they have been, where they are now, and what’s up for the future. 

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

Sean Ironman

Find him:
Twitter 
Instagram

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

Who is your favorite author? 

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

What is your favorite poem/essay/book? 

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

What inspires you to write? 

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

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

What is your favorite sweet? 

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

Sounds like a great story, and very true! 

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

Sweet Connections: Mariela Lemus

Each week we will be connecting with our contributors showing where they have been, where they are now, and what’s up for the future.

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

Mariela Lemus.jpeg
Find her:
Instagram

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

 

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

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

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

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

Who is your favorite author?

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

What is your favorite poem/essay/book?

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

Ah!  Another Sweet Contributor!

What inspires you to write?

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

What is your favorite sweet?

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

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

Sweet Connections: JR Tappenden

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: JR Tappenden
Title of Piece published in Sweet: Tree for the Forest, Peregrine 
Issue:  8.3

JR Tappenden

Find her:
Twitter
Instagram

JR Tappenden is a successful poet who draws from emotion. You can find out more about her at jrtappenden.com.

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

My chapbook Independent City came out from Wells College Press in October 2016. It’s letterpress printed with a custom woodcut on the flyleaf, printed in an edition of 150 copies. Both the poems that appeared in Sweet are included. I couldn’t be happier!

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

I’ve been working on a series of poems that help me process my own grief for my dad. He died in 2016 and I found I had a lot of conflicting emotions that I needed to process. They’re structured as notes addressed to “Dear Sister.” Most of the time, the sister is my real sister, Kara, but sometimes the sister is me, or another woman who I encountered during my dad’s last days. All the titles are “Regarding…” something. There’s one in Superstition Review called “Regarding Your Wish for Do-Overs.” Others from the series have also appeared in Kestral, and New Limestone Review.

Who is your favorite author? 

I have to pick just one? No way. Right now I’m loving Terrance Hayes, Natalie Diaz and Danez Smith. I’ll also miss the great, departed Brigit Pegeen Kelly.

What is your favorite poem/essay/book? 

One book of poems that I go back to again and again is “Satan Says” by Sharon Olds.

What inspires you to write? 

The world is so strange and wonderful. It can be terrifying but also tender. How else to process all of that?

What is your favorite sweet? 

Ice cream. Especially strawberry ice cream. It tastes like summer.

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

Interview with Chelsea Biondolillo

Chelsea Author PhotoChelsea Biondolillo is an essayist, teacher and technical writer. Her latest work, The Skinned Bird, is a collection of essays that examine personal experiences with striking clarity and depth. Below, Chelsea expands on her usage of creative tools to weave memories, self-meditations, and precise imagery to build a space where her readers can learn along with her how to sing, how to love, and how to fly. The Skinned Bird will be available May 1st, 2019.

What made you decide to use birds and the language/song acquisition process as a storytelling tool in this book?

I learned about the stages of song acquisition in my ornithology class in grad school, but didn’t write about them until a couple of years later. At the time, I was having a crisis about what my immediate future would look like, having failed to find a permanent job or to finish a book after school. In the hopes of having a somewhat peaceful place to write for a couple of months while staving off the inevitable (which was moving back in with my parents), I’d moved into this guy-I-was-dating’s house, and he’d gone from being a doting suitor to a controlling jerk almost immediately. He reminded me of my biological father in dozens of ways, so one day while he was out of town, I called my mom to ask her to clarify some stories I half-remembered hearing as a kid about her first marriage. I originally thought the essay I was writing was just about them, but that’s why I love writing essays, because after a few edits there were more hints at my own crummy situation.

As far as the birds themselves… I have known a bit more than average about birds since I was a kid. When I was teaching myself to be a journalist, birds were a handy subject because I could easily observe them without expensive equipment (beyond a good field guide and pair of binoculars). There are tons of research papers about bird biology, bird behaviors, bird ecology, and the bird experts I’ve met have nearly all been very approachable, interesting people. I once called a man to talk to him about a grad school paper on vultures he’d written nearly thirty years ago and we spoke for over a half an hour—he didn’t have an answer for me, but he had observations that he still remembered and still cared to share.

In the section titled, “Safari,” you really incorporate various animals as a key element. How would you describe your relationship with nature? Why did you decide to use nature as one of the main motifs in this book?

Animals show up often in my writing for two reasons, I think, and the first is that I was often a lonely kid and animals were accessible to me in a way that children my own age weren’t always. The flash essay, “Safari Club,” is set at a restaurant of the same name (recently torn down) in the small town where my grandparents lived my whole life. It was full of hundreds of taxidermy animals, all shot by one man: Glen E. Parks. I was fascinated by them as a kid, and how close I could get to them—I could touch the walrus whiskers and pet the musk ox trophy, I could press against the glass right next to the tiny antelopes with giant eyes. The creepiness of the place didn’t occur to me until much later, and by then I considered it campy more than anything—though Parks excesses do not charm or interest me like they did when I was a kid.

The other reason animals show up is not unlike the reason they show up in fairy tales or Aesop’s fables, or in so many idioms: sly as a fox, wise as an owl. Sometimes, it is easier to talk about our weaknesses and shortcomings (and triumphs) from just enough remove to lessen some of the burden of responsibility they can represent. Or, said another way, sometimes it is easier to be like something else, for all the possibility it contains in the negative—e.g.: I may be like a magpie when it comes to collecting useless junk, but at least I don’t collect junk the way my grandmother did, which was clearly symptomatic of a hoarding problem. I use an extended bird metaphor throughout The Skinned Bird, even though at different times the metaphor fails, because though we are sometimes like birds, ultimately we aren’t birds, and that can be a relief.

 

TSB cover

 

The essays in the “Kick Ball Change” section center o women in your family and the connection between them. How would you describe that connection?

It’s complicated. My mother was willing to do just about anything to avoid moving back in with her mother, and I know very well that feeling—though the two homes in question couldn’t be more different from one another, there’s nothing quite like having to give up your own rules of engagement to live under another’s. And now I live in my grandmother’s old house! (It’s much less messy now that it’s mine.) My mother and grandmother (and I) share many similarities. Besides a strong shared streak of creativity, we were all heavy readers and collectors of things most don’t find particularly valuable. My art-making and writing is very much the result of their influences and I’m grateful for that. My worries about my weight, my fear of being disliked—these also are the result of their influence, and I’d give those gifts back if I could.

In Part II: The Silent Stage, you include a section called “The Story You Never Tell.” Why did you choose to include this story, but block it out with large images of shells? Is there a reason that you chose photos of shells to cover the text?

Rather than prescribe how any one reader ought to approach that piece, I’ll say that generally, in the natural world shells have a variety of functions: armor, home, protection. In this essay, they also serve as an obstruction. They are in the way.
By obscuring nearly all the text, obstruction becomes the content, instead of words. I was inspired here by artists and writers who use different kinds of redaction and omission in their work–Salvador Plascencia’s People of Paper has a character whose mind cannot be read, and so when the omniscient narrator passes over him, there’s a big black box on the page. In Terry Tempest Williams’ When Women Were Birds blank pages inform the narrative, standing in for years of untold stories. In Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s Guantánamo Diary and memoirs of war, the text is sometimes redacted by the heavy hand of censorship. There are, maybe, as many ways to not-tell a story as reasons one might prefer not to, and here, I wanted to explore what happens to the experience of reading when access to the text is out of the reader’s control.

Your use of footnotes to incorporate quotes in your pieces as footnotes and excerpts is creative and unique—what led to your decision to incorporate other artists’ and writers’ words in this creation? How did you choose which quotes would fit the best with what you were writing?

My first use of quotes was in a series of drawings and collages I did, several years after I’d graduated from art school. In the first collage, I used song lyrics and lines from favorite poems and filled a page with them, layered one on top of another, in different shades of gray felt pens, until you could only read a word here or there. I collaged pencil drawings, photo transfers, into a mash-up of my work and the work of others. I thought of this layered image: my drawings of master drawings, my photos of an artist’s sculpture, my handwriting but someone else’s poem, as a kind of conversation. As far as the quotes I use in my current essays—I usually start with a pile of “collage” material built up from researching a topic. And then try out different elements on the page, and in relation to the other elements, to see which spark the strongest connection for me.

In the case of “Phrenology” which includes a lot of different quotes, my original plan had been to write an essay about women in science. I’d spent weeks executing all sorts of Google searches, several pages deep, with different combinations of women + scientific words, like women in geology, women astrophysicists, etc. These led me to books on topics as wide ranging as the Mt. St. Helens eruption, women executed in the electric chair, and mathematical equations from the Harvard “Computers” (women tasked with completing astronomical equations). Eventually, I had all these pieces, but after several rounds of revision—that essay has been overhauled more than any other I’ve worked on—the text focused more on my own experiences with science, and the quotes and collaged statements haunt the periphery.

Hypothetically, if you could become any type of bird, which type of bird would you be? Why?

I am enchanted by birds, but I like my thumbs too much to want to be one. What I love most about birds is their diversity and adaptability. Humans don’t occur naturally on every continent, but birds do. They can adapt to our habits, but don’t always choose to. They are also our closest link to dinosaurs—and if you get a close look at the talons of a condor, it’s easy to see the dinosaur still in them. When I lived in Ucross, Wyoming for one long spring, there were Sandhill cranes nesting just a few dozen yards from my bedroom window. Every morning I would hear their eerie calls (https://www.xeno-canto.org/372031) and once, they were joined by a crowd of red-winged blackbirds (https://www.xeno-canto.org/439853). I listened to the birds and wind across the plain, and nothing else for several long minutes and thought, “This sound is millions of years old. This is what the Cenozoic could have sounded like.

Sweet Connections: Jen Town

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: Jen Town
Title of Piece published in Sweet: Ghost Theories and Diorama Turned to Ashes
Issue:  10.2

Screen Shot 2018-09-30 at 11.51.27 AM

Find her:
Instagram

Jen resides in Columbus, Ohio. She can be found either at her house in German Village or in a coffee shop. You can find out more about her at www.jentown.com.

 

 

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

My first book, The Light of What Comes After, won the 2017 May Sarton New Hampshire Poetry Prize from Bauhan Publishing, and was published in April 2018. Since then I’ve done some readings, including at Penn State Behrend and the Columbus College of Art and Design.

thelightsm

 

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

 

I’m working on two book projects. One is a collection of mostly ekphrastic poems, called Paper Girl. The other, The Futurist, features poems with robots, dinosaurs, octopuses, bivalves, and ghosts. I’m also writing book reviews for the online review site, The Bind.

 

Who is your favorite author? 

 

I don’t think I have one. Should I? I like so many and it changes frequently. I went to a reading by Elizabeth Strout. I’d already read a few of her books, and now I have a goal to read all of them. I like Jorie Graham, I like Diane Seuss, I like Kathy Fagan, I like Jamaal May, I like Lo Kwa Mei-en. I read Larry Levis, Richard Hugo, Rilke in undergraduate and they are still incredibly important to me. I reread Levis when I feel stuck, and I just reread Hugo’s A Triggering Town. I like Gabrielle Calvocoressi. George Saunder’s Lincoln in the Bardo made me cry. Willie Lincoln dies! It’s not even a spoiler–we all know he dies. But it was so well written and his portrayal of both Lincoln and Willie was so poignant; it was 11 PM at night, I’m reading in bed, and my wife comes in to find me sobbing.

 

What is your favorite poem/essay/book? 

 

For a while I would have said Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast. It’s Hemingway’s memoir
on his time in Paris in the twenties, his marriage to his first wife, Hadley. All the characters are there: F. Scott and Zelda, Gertrude Stein, Picasso. It’s about that period of excess sandwiched between the despair of WWI and then the Great Depression and then WWII. Stars burn brightest before they die. It’s also just…Hemingway is so clearly creating this narrative of himself and it’s pretty dramatic stuff. “Hunger is good discipline,” he said. But also there’s lots of white wine and oysters and trips to go skiing. It’s also about being young, like The Great Gatsby. So it’s about youth, and wine, and hunger, and nostalgia, and learning to write those Hemingway sentences. It’s great stuff, if you’re into all that. I’ve been telling everyone I can about Black Hole Blues by Janna Levin, which is about LIGO and the journey to detect gravitational waves. It’s about the science, but also about the personalities of the scientists who worked on LIGO and how science like this gets done. Levin is an astrophysicist, but also a good writer. It was an engrossing book. I’m still not over reading Just Kids by Patti Smith and also M Train. She’s always sitting in cafes writing things out long hand in pencil, wearing a watchcap (what the rest of us would call a beanie), and eating brown toast. In M Train, there’s a chapter where Smith describes the objects in the room around her and her space is still so Bohemian New York in the Seventies, it’s wonderful. As Liz Lemon said in 30 Rock, “I want to go to there”.

 

What inspires you to write?

Reading inspires me, of course. Also, animals inspire me, and news articles about science, and strange happenings–like how in the very cold winter they had in 2017 in Florida, iguanas were falling from the trees. But they weren’t dead–they were frozen. And when the sun came out, they warmed up and walked off. I want to learn new things that change how I see the world. I listen to a lot of podcasts, including Every Little Thing, Cosmic Vertigo, Philosophize This, and Radiolab. I’m interested in etymology and really like the NPR podcast, That’s What They Say. Also history, famous women in history, fashion history, the Roaring Twenties, Henry the VIII and his many wives….I’m practicing a kind of research decadence right now.

What is your favorite sweet?

I’m glad you asked because this gives me the opportunity to wax rhapsodic about one of my non-writing passions, The Great British Bake Off (GBBO). Particularly series 5.

My wife and I started watching GBBO about a year and a half ago, and my wife took up baking in earnest around that time. The show itself is this safe space from the world, which is so full of noise and terrible news. In the GBBO tent, people are from different parts of Great Britain, they have different customs and accents, but they all come together to create the best bakes, to avoid soggy bottoms and whip their egg whites into glossy, stiff peaks, to engage in friendly competition with no cash money in the end. Meanwhile Mel and Sue, the hosts, wield not whisks but puns, and Mary Berry’s eyes light up at bakes with a bit of “tipple” in them, and Paul Hollywood’s piercing blue eyes and–like some British bread-baking Hemingway–peacocking puffery serves as the counterpoint to Mary’s gentle criticism and floral blazers. And I haven’t even mentioned the amateur bakers themselves, how each has an endearing personal story and families that loves them and shed tears of joy at their progress.

As part of Carrie’s baking frenzy, inspired by this television confection, she made Toasted Cashew and Marzipan Brownies. We’d (I say “we” but I do the dishes and offer unsolicited advice when I shouldn’t and show up conveniently at the end to lick a spoon) never baked with marzipan and had a little trouble finding it. Luckily, we live in a German neighborhood and Juergen’s Bakery had some. It’s worth seeking out, trust me. These blondies are decadent and you can eat a small bit and be sated. Or you can eat a large bit in some kind of Marie Antoinette, Sofia Coppola-like sugar orgy. It’s up to you.

https://food52.com/recipes/73880-toasted-cashew-and-marzipan-blondies

 

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

Sweet Connections: Melissa Matthewson

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: Melissa Matthewson
Title of Piece published in Sweet: Draw Two Circles, So Joined
Issue:  7.3

MelissaMattewson

Find her:
Twitter 
Instagram
Facebook

Melissa is based out of Apple Valley, Oregon on her organic farm, Barking Moon. She also teaches at Southern Oregon University. You can find out more about her at www.melissamatthewson.com.

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

I won the AWP Intro Journals award for creative nonfiction in 2015. I completed my MFA in creative writing in 2015 from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. I completed my first book manuscript, Tracing the Desire Line: A Lyric Memoir, which is still waiting for publication. I have had residencies at PLAYA and Art Smith. I’ve published essays and book reviews in a number of journals.

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

I’ve just finished my first book manuscript which explores identity, sexuality, marriage, and feminine desire. I’m excited for that! I’m now working on a new collection of essays about the intimate rural and several questions related to beauty, wildness, the feminine, home, and the rural feminine agrarian voice. The seed essay for this is coming out in American Literary Review this fall.

Who is your favorite author?

Such a hard question! Annie Dillard.

What is your favorite poem/essay/book?

Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

What inspires you to write?

The power of expression of story. The beauty of words. The connection established between reader and writer. The intimacy of language.

What is your favorite sweet?

I love pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.

Sounds heavenly! We will be sure to try them out, maybe with this recipe we found on Food Network.

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

AWP 2019 Portland

Come visit Sweet: A Literary Confection at the AWP conference in Portland, Oregon. This week, from Thursday March 28 to Friday March 30, Sweet booth #10058 is featuring a variety of chapbooks for purchase, with author signings scheduled throughout the conference.

Our chapbook and broadside lineup this year includes:

Kindling Book Image - SmlKindling by Lisa Laughlin

Lisa will be signing the last of these handmade chapbooks on Thursday from 3:00pm-3:30pm. Don’t miss your chance to get this beautiful book!

cc919a4e-ef92-487b-a1a9-01aa107f7a30Borderlines by Jill McCabe Johnson

Jill McCabe Johnson’s lyric essay, “Borderlines” dives into memory and water. In poetic prose, Johnson fragments a moment in her life, seeking to understand and uncover the innocence of childhood and the dark shadows that ever follow.

001-637x1024Rules for Loving Right by Brian Baumgart

In Rules for Loving Right, Brian Baumgart practices misdirection in that understated way unique to the upper Midwest. These are the final handmade chapbooks we have in our inventory, so get yours before it goes digital!

All Of Us - CoverAll of Us—Sweet: The First Five Years edited by Katherine Riegel

If you’re looking for a great poetry anthology, look no further! Katie will be at the booth and ready to tell you more about this book.

LadyInInk_CoverPageLady in Ink by R. Claire Stephens

Still our most popular book, Lady in Ink is a mystery, the kind that everyone is trying to solve every minute of their lives: “Why did I do that? Why in God’s name did I do that?”

All of these are available in the Sweet Shop online if you can’t make it to Portland this year.

New to the Sweet lineup this year:

0692bdd6-b2dc-4d29-9dce-ede33bfd43efAfter the Night, a comic by Jarod Roselló

This comic details a father’s struggle with the demands of raising his little girl. In a heartwarming sketched style, Roselló candidly retells his own experiences and lessons learned on the importance of patience, love, and family.  

Also making a first-time appearance, are the winners from our 2018 Nonfiction and Poetry competitions:  

Jaw Wiring_What You Need to Know_Page_1Jaw Wiring: What You Need to Know by Kristine Jepsen (nonfiction winner)

This pamphlet-style prose piece is an excellent teaching tool for explaining hermit crab essays. Using the guise of a medical pamphlet, Jepsen details her own experience with jaw wiring as a treatment for a broken jaw. Each section title and formatting detail alludes to a brochure one might find in a waiting room—but the content takes readers down a different path.

17e68b70-d3b1-4bb3-aafb-594b6fdaeaff“1943” by McKayla Conahan (poetry winner)

This broadside is created in conjunction with Print St Pete (http://www.printstpete.org/), a community letterpress located in St Pete, Florida. 1943 is a snapshot of a time in world history roiling with conflict and desperation, where the workings of the human heart are raw and real and the ties that bind us together are more important than ever.

McKayla will be signing copies of this beautiful letterpress broadside Friday from 3-3:30.

BodyOfStarlight_coverAnd if that weren’t all enough…we will be introducing Sweet Aperitifs and their new book from Melissa Carroll, Body of StarlightMelissa will be signing pre-release copies on Saturday from 10-10:30. 

Also available for sale are our Sweet t-shirts and Christmas ornaments. Stop by and say hello to us at booth #10058 and chat with our authors!

Sweet Connections: Cynthia Atkins

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: Cynthia Atkins
Title of Piece published in Sweet: Imaginary Friends
Issue: 9.3

Cynthia Atkins

Photo Credit: Alexis Rhone Fancher

Find her:
Twitter
Facebook

Cynthia is based out of Rockbridge County, VA, and teaches at Blue Ridge Community College. You can find out more about her at www.cynthiaatkins.com.

 

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

I’ve had some publications I am really proud of: Apogee Lit, Cleaver Magazine, Los Angeles Review, Prime Number Magazine, The Rise Up Review, Rust + Moth, Zocalo Puboic Square and also a few anthologies: “Who Will Speak For America” Edited by Stephanie Feldman and Nathaniel Popkin (Temple University Press, 2018) and “The Elegant Poem” (Persea 2019). I was also asked to appear as an Editor on the masthead of American Microreviews and Interviews.

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

I am working on my manuscript-in-progress–“Still-Life With God”—a book that attempts to take God back from religion and look at the mental health and psyche of the culture in this new crazy age of social media, bots and all.

Who is your favorite author?

Dickinson/ Plath / Ferlinghetti / Winterson / Eliot /Baldwin

What is your favorite poem/essay/book?

Too hard to name just one—-

What inspires you to write?

The pain of being human and trying to order, sort and ask the
big questions of LIFE—

What is your favorite sweet?

My son’s name is Eli and I am from Chicago and I love Eli’s CK—and here is the recipe and a blog.

Eli’s Cheesecake

The Original Recipe-Make It Better:

1. 1 cup granulated sugar.

2. 1/4 cup cake flour.

3. 2 large whole eggs, room temperature.

4. 1 large egg yolk, room temperature.

5. 3/4 cup sour cream, room temperature.

6. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

7. 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Super yummy looking!  We are totally going to try this one.

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

Sweet Connections: Chelsea Biondillo

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: Chelsea Biondillo
Title of Piece published in Sweet: Crazy
Issue: 7.2

Chelsea_B_BlackWhite (1 of  1)-49 (1).jpg

Find her:
Twitter
Facebook

Chelsea lives near Portland, Oregon where she is doing renovation projects on land inherited from her grandparents. You can find out more about her at www.roamingcowgirl.com.

 

 

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

Well, my essay on Vixen made it to the Final Four in the March Shredness essay/music competition. That was pretty great, but, more exciting: My full-length manuscript has found a publisher! The Skinned Bird is available for pre-order now and slated for publication May 1, 2019 by KERNPUNKT Press.

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

Right now the final draft of the manuscript has a looming deadline, and then I’ll be working hard to schedule readings and events–I’m so excited about this book I’m insufferable to be around these days.

Who is your favorite author?

There’s no way I could pick one, and the list changes hourly/based on the weather. But here’s today’s: I love Ellen Meloy, Amy Leach, Camille Dungy, David Quammen, Elena Passarello, Lina María Ferreira Cabeza-Vanegas, Pam Houston, Maira Kalman, Paul Crenshaw, Nicole Walker, Javier Zamora, Traci Brimhall, Ursula K. LeGuin.

What is your favorite poem/essay/book?

Maggie Nelson’s Bluets comes to my mind all the time, as does Galway Kinnell’s The Book of Nightmares.

What inspires you to write?

The sublime in the natural world. That balance between horror/awe really inspires so much thinking, and the best way for me to work through those thoughts (how does this phenomenon work/ what does it impact/ why does this matter/ and what does it tell me about how people work-what people impact-why people matter) is to write about them.

What is your favorite sweet?

Ice cream sandwiches made with homemade cookies. I used to really love the ones at Churn in Phoenix and my new favorites in Portland are made at Ruby Jewel. If I were making my own, I’d use a cookie recipe on Epicurious, and put Ben & Jerry’s Americone Dream or Tillamook hazelnut/chocolate ice cream in between.

Ice cream sandwich cookie

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

Sweet Connections: Anne Bruno

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: Anne Bruno
Title of Piece published in Sweet: Mother’s Day 1971
Issue:  5.3

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Find her:
Twitter

Anne teaches English and Creative Writing at the Wheeler School in Providence, Rhode Island.

We totally had to look that one up, but it looks like an amazing school!

 

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

Besides the day to day accomplishments of managing teaching, kids, dog, husband, life, etc., I feel lucky to have had work published in very cool places like Barrelhouse, Word Riot, Talking Writing and Vestal Review.

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

I am currently in the thick of completing a first draft of a novel that moves in and out of the late-2000’s and the mid-80’s, set in Rhode Island and Pennsylvania, though half or more of this plan might get scrapped. It is exciting and extremely hard, this first draft business.

Who is your favorite author? 

Just one??? Ralph Ellison, Mary Oliver, Vladimir Nabokov, Tony Kushner, Toni Morrison, William Shakespeare, William Faulkner, Lydia Davis….

What is your favorite poem/essay/book? 

Lately I am obsessed with Mary Oliver’s essay collection, Blue Pastures.

What inspires you to write? 

The sky when I walk my dog after dinner, the conversations I overhear at my daughter’s softball games, smells, Boccherini, Thelonius Monk, heartache, tea in a giant mug, and Dixon Ticonderoga pencils.

What is your favorite sweet? 

My mother’s Crème de Menthe Squares. I make them gluten free (kids and I have Celiac), substituting GF flour for regular. Ignore xanthan gum if you’re making these non-GF.

Anne Creme de Menthe SquaresCreme de Menthe 2

We love these recipes passed down from family. It just warms our hearts!

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