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:

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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:
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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:
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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:
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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!