Preorder Laurie Stone’s new book Streaming Now: Postcards from the Thing that is Happening from Dottir Press. This collection of hybrid narratives is filled with enough love and inspiration to help readers feel less alone. The topics range from the “moral ambiguities of buying a lobster from Trump supporters or making the case to let Jeffrey Toobin’s penis off the hook.” With a combination of memoir and criticism, Laurie Stone’s essays contain truth and celebrate freedom and things lost in our world today.
Books ordered from Dottir Press will ship on or before May 10, 2022. We can’t wait!
Laurie Stone’s strange and otherworldly postcards are captivating, erudite, and moving. What is particularly startling is when you realize that the strange place she is writing from is the heart. We should all make such a trip and, thankfully, now we have this beautiful book as a guide.
Iris Smyles, author of Droll Tales
Laurie’s essay “Bird or Bat” is featured in Issue 1 of SR and she has three essays featured in Issue 10. To see more of her work, check out her website.
Congratulations to Susan Wingate for her new novel Gag Me published by Roberts Press. Fans of mystery and twists will enjoy this book about a character with Asberger’s Syndrome solving the murder of her best friend. Once you pick this book up, you won’t be able to put it down. It’s different, fun, and truly innovative. Order today from Amazon!
The perfect cozy for a rainy afternoon… Wingate’s latest GAG ME: A Friday Harbor Novel is a mystery lover’s delight with plenty of small-town charm, shocking twists, and a puzzling mystery.
The Prairies Book Review
Susan Wingate’s “The Last Maharajan” is featured in Issue 1. To see more of Susan’s work, you can check out her website and Twitter.
Congratulations to Rochelle Hurt for her new poetry collection, The J Girls: A Reality Show, published by Indiana University Press. Meet Jocelyn, Jodie, Jennifer, Jacqui, and Joelle as they navigate growing up in the late 1990s. In this hybrid blend of poetry, screenplay, and drama, episodes capture moments of the girls’ adolescence, following them through every bad decision, poetic monologue, and campy performance where every girl experiments with who they are on and off screen.
Fierce, fresh, and playful, this book is something we’ve all been waiting for. From the descriptions of the Cast List to the End Credits featuring the “Beatitudes for Meek Girls,” the entire collection is a wild, candid ride through the highlights and critiques surrounding teenage life. The themes, much like the friendships within, transcend across every generation, unleashing the universality of self-discovery and the importance of creating a better world for girls.
Like the teenagers at its center, Rochelle Hurt’s The J Girls: A Reality Show is wild, smart, aching, and fearless. This genre-exploding book exquisitely captures the thrumming ecstasy and terror and guilt and bravado and tenderness and rage of adolescent girlhood. The J Girls understand that no girl is ever only one girl, and they claim themselves, in all of their iterations, again and again. This book is the bite-and-glitter I wish I’d had as a companion during my own high school years; I’m so grateful to have it now.
We’re also very excited to share an interview that dives deeper into the collection and Rochelle’s inspirations and writing process behind it. This interview was conducted via email by our Blog Editor, Taylor Dilger.
Taylor Dilger: Could you describe some of your inspirations for this collection?
Rochelle Hurt: This book is a reflection of my own adolescence that is both fictionalized and deeply personal. It was heavily influenced by my own girlhood: the rust belt, Catholic school, church festivals, the wet n wild makeup section at Rite-Aid, girls’ bathrooms, single parents, Avon, hot dogs, belly-button rings, skunk highlights, Salt-N-Pepa, The Craft, But I’m a Cheerleader,Survivor, MTV, Jerry Springer, Ricki Lake, the Spice Girls, and PJ Harvey–as processed through some later influences: Reality Hunger, RuPaul’s Drag Race, Lana Del Rey, Baroque paintings, the Gurlesque, burlesque, Gwendolyn Brooks, Anne Sexton, Dolly Parton, Sylvia Plath, Sharon Olds, Harryette Mullen, Judith Butler, and just feeling out of place in academia. I wanted to write all the delicious trashy things that sophisticated culture tells me to hide.
TD: You combine poetry, screenplay, and drama together in a unique hybrid blend. Could you tell me more about this choice and why you decided to fit this piece in this particular form?
RH: While I was writing this book, I was also studying in a Ph.D. program and reading a lot of gender and queer theory on performance as a means of subversion. In a dramatic performance, one can control her own image and manipulate the audience’s gaze, sometimes by parodying the stereotypes that have been placed on her and exposing the scripts she’s been given as bogus. I knew that performance and camp had to be a part of these poems, so I thought about the ways that teen girls perform their identities in groups in order to understand and empower themselves. In the late 90s, when this book is set, reality TV was really taking off, and the ways in which reality so often seems “scripted” came into focus–the roles we’re supposed to play based on gender, class, race, sexuality. It was a toxic culture in many ways, and direct critique was just not available to many young women. So I wanted to give the teens in this book another way to process, perform, and parody their own reality as working-class girls while still allowing them to have fun and gain some agency.
TD: In “The Birth of Anger at the Roller-Skating Rink” you write, “Even my first kiss came / like an accidental slap from a strange man, who, / on his way across this very room to the arcade / or concession stand, tripped over me like a dropped / candy box and decided he wanted a piece, so took it.” Many of these poems cover women’s sexuality and identity. Could you elaborate on the importance of talking about these topics in our society today?
RH: Writing about the lives of women and girls is a form of resistance for me. American culture remains toxic in many ways, and while attitudes toward sexuality and women’s bodies have improved, we still see direct assaults on reproductive rights and LGBTQ rights in our political system, which is deeply racist, misogynistic, homophobic, and classist. We still live in a culture that objectifies and sexualizes women and girls while demonizing them for expressing their sexualities–particularly if they are working-class or women of color. We live in a culture that punishes women seeking abortions but gives second chances to rapists if they’re white and educated. I live in a state (Florida) that is currently trying to ban abortion after 15 weeks and to ban discussion of sexuality and gender identity in schools. They have already banned trans girls from playing sports in school. We haven’t made nearly enough progress in the last 50 years, and now it seems we may be going backward politically. Somebody once told me my poems were full of rage, and they were right.
Laurie Uttich creates a safe space in her new poetry collection, where readers know they’re not alone. Somewhere a Woman Lowers the Hem of Her Skirt will be published by Riot in Your Throat, a press dedicated to feminist poetry.
In this book, Laurie guides you through different experiences in life with vulnerability and relatability, critiquing gender roles, expectations put on women, and society. Some other topics include abuse, mental health, old and new relationships, and finding your way back home.
Her language is fierce and strong, telling unforgettable stories about breaking free from a quiet midwestern mold and demanding more from a world with inequality and injustice. These poems support everyone navigating their own journey in life with poems like “A Prayer for My 17-Year-Old Son on the Other Side of the Door” and “To My Student With the Dime-Sized Bruises on the Back of Her Arms Who’s Still on Her Cell Phone.”
Her knowledge from her own heartache, raising boys and making connections today is written in a way that makes it seem like she is speaking directly to you, sharing encouraging words of hope and strength. This closeness and raw emotion from Uttich invites the reader to dig deep in a brave, self-accepting way, while gently reminding everyone that they have the strength to bring about the change needed in the world and break out of our own molds others have put us in.
These poems will take you out, spin you around, and teach you just how important a woman’s life is. They’ll remind you of the distance between where you grew up and where you live now, and then they’ll collapse that distance so you see who you are is everyone you’ve ever been. And they’ll do all that with breathless grace, humor, and compassion.
Katherine Riegel, author of two poetry collections: What the Mouth Was Made For (2013) and Castaway (2010)
Congratulations to Dallas Woodburn for the release of her new novel, Thanks, Carissa, for Ruining My Life published by Immortal Works. This YA novel is the perfect friends-to-lovers romance that you won’t be able to put down. Join characters Carissa, Rose, and Brad as they navigate self-improvement, identity, and acceptance in our image-obsessed culture.
If you would like to listen to a deep dive into the book, check out Marissa Meyer’s The Happy Writer podcast where Dallas talks about the challenges of writing romance, creating powerful character arcs, and not giving up on the draft of a book you really love.
A perfect young adult romance, this slightly outlandish but totally delicious story is as contemporary as it is witty.
Dallas Woodburn writes with rare insight and compassion about the aching glory of being young.
Hilma wolitzer, author of an available man and the doctor’s daughter
You can also read Dallas’s short story “Tarzan” in Issue 13 before it is featured in her new short story collection, How to Make Paper When World is Ending, coming out this summer from Koehler Books. Keep your eyes peeled!
Congratulations to Meg Tuite for the release of her new book White Van published by Unlikely Books. This collection of poems shines with Meg’s unique descriptive voice with stories that capture womanhood in a cathartic and honest way. It’s a wonder to read each word and experience all that they offer.
Gorgeously brutal, jaggedly mattering, Meg Tuite’s incantations crackle with the clarities of a true visionary. White Vans treats the trample and grime of trauma with cleansing ecstasies of language. This book will turn you inside out.
Garielle Lutz, author of Worsted
White Van is available for purchase on Amazon. Keep reading for an excerpt from the book!
Squeezed In By Despair
The sky absorbs itself into tiny clusters of strangely beaked branches cutting incisions through the veined hiss of tired blue. Step on to the cackle of leaves beneath your shoes. Wallow your way in and out of trees, skeletal tall, old as aches, and smell darkness bleed into each pore. No sense in pretending what the forest hides. Bodies compost history, groan and gnash dust into rich, brazen dirt damp with the guts of wanderers. A multitude of eyes size up the stench of your leeched family tragedies. The caverns of sad, lonely trails deepen across your face. It’s okay. You’ll never find yourself alone. A pack of swaying columns covered with bark imperceptibly surround you.
For more of Meg’s writing, you can also read her short story “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” in Issue 12.
Meg Tuite is the author of a novel-in-stories, Domestic Apparition (San Francisco Bay Press), a short story collection, Bound By Blue, (Sententia Books) Meet My Haze (Big Table Publishing), White Van (Unlikely Books), won the Twin Antlers Collaborative Poetry award from (Artistically Declined Press) for her poetry collection, Bare Bulbs Swinging, Grace Notes (Unknown Press), as well as five chapbooks of short fiction, flash, poetic prose, and multi-genre. She teaches workshops and online classes through Bending Genres and is an associate editor at Narrative Magazine. Her work has been published in over 600 literary magazines and over fifteen anthologies including Choose Wisely: 35 Women Up To No Good. She has been nominated over 15 times for the Pushcart Prize, won first and second place in Prick of the Spindle contest, a five-time finalist at Glimmer Train, finalist of the Gertrude Stein Award, and 3rd prize in the Bristol Short Story Contest. She is also the editor of eight anthologies. She is included in the Best Small Fictions of 2021. Her blog: http://megtuite.com
Congratulations to Eileen Pollack for the release of her new book Maybe It’s Me: On Being the Wrong Kind of Woman published by Delphinium Books. These humorous and emotional essays capture what it’s like to grow up in a world where females are more appreciated for their bodies instead of their minds. Eileen tells her stories of breaking the gendered rules laid out for a girl in the 1960s that still carry on today. With her experiences from pursuing a physics degree at Yale to a marriage of “supposed equals,” everyone can find truth in Eileen’s message of love, connection, and acceptance.
Eileen Pollack’s essays are striking for their tender, smart explorations of love and longing, fear and injustice, memory and history, and the everyday project of claiming one’s place in the world. An illuminating portrait of womanhood and all its sorrows, challenges, and triumphs, Maybe It’s Me is a marvelous collection with a bold, powerful sensibility.
Natalie Bakopoulus, author of The Green Shore and Scorpionfish
Congratulations to Adam Tavel and his two new upcoming poetry collections, Green Regalia from Stephen F. Austin State Press and Sum Ledger from Measure Press. Adam says that he is “excited to have two books coming out roughly at the same time, yet these books couldn’t be more different in scope, tone, and arc. Sum Ledger is a collection of poems about money and social class, whereas Green Regalia centers on questions of ecology, the body, aging, and grief.” We couldn’t be more excited to get our hands on both of these wonderful new collections.
Sum Ledger is a powerful and wide-ranging meditation — via a dazzling array of poetic forms and sources — on money, class, and poverty, that complicates the narrative of late-stage capitalism in America. Weaving together the personal with the historical, imaginative, and political, Adam Tavel’s masterfully wrought poems empathize deeply with people in distress, be it turn of the century child laborers and almshouse residents, or his own family members and hard-working community college students. I can’t think of a book more appropriate for our current moment of political upheaval and economic crisis, or a better poet to lead us through it, with his unflinching eye, muscular language, and huge heart.
Check out more information about Sum Ledger on the publisher’s website and preorder Green Regalia from Amazon.
Adam Tavel is the author of five books of poetry, including two forthcoming collections: GreenRegalia (Stephen F. Austin State University Press, 2022) and SumLedger (Measure Press, 2022). His most recent book, Catafalque, won the Richard Wilbur Award (University of Evansville Press, 2018). His recent poems appear, or will soon appear, in North American Review, Ploughshares, The Georgia Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Ninth Letter, The Massachusetts Review, Copper Nickel, and Western Humanities Review, among others. He is a professor of English at Wor-Wic Community College, where he also directs the Echoes & Visions Reading Series. You can find him online at http://adamtavel.com/ and on his Twitter.
You can also find his poem, “Our Lady of Crabapple Hill” in Issue 13.
Congratulations to Quintin Collins for his latest collection of poems, Claim Tickets for Stolen People. This range of poetic forms shows “the resilience of Blackness in a colonized world.” The stories about his daughter, life in Chicago and Boston, and white violence all come together to honor “Black grief, Black anger, Black resistance, Black hope—and the persistence of Black love.” It was published by Mad Creek Books and was selected by Marcus Jackson as the winner of The Journal‘s 2020 Charles B. Wheeler Poetry Prize.
Reading Claim Tickets for Stolen People creates the feeling one has studying a transcendental sonogram: Collins’s poetry brings inner life into focus. Blackness is reclaimed, celebrated, embodied. He can give shape to Barack Obama’s tan suit and Jimi Hendrix’s guitar. He can be furious, funny, and fatherly in a single poem, with a range as broad as his compassion. This is a marvelous book. Claim Tickets for Stolen People gives shape to our magical, mercurial world.
Claim Tickets for Stolen People is available now! Use this link to get 30% off and free U.S. shipping with the code TICKETS.
Quintin has upcoming spring reading dates that can be found here. The next two coming up are April 5 at 7 pmEDT: Poetry Night at Sitwell’s Reading Series & Open Mic with Chris L. Butler (Virtual) and April 23 at 7:30 pm EDT: The Notebooks Collective Reading with Daniel B. Summerhill and José Angel Araguz (Virtual).
Collins deftly speaks back to every accusation, rumor, and lie America has flung across his back, devours every myth America trembles behind, and reclaims history in every ordinary moment of these poems. In every ordinary thing he has spoken here, he re-discovers joy, wonder, sorrow, and fear.
His poem “Rules for Conducting Yourself in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston” can be found in Issue 26 and Quintin can be found on Twitter and on his website.
How Strange a Season isthe ingenious product of a writer with real experience in the field of climate change journalism. Written by Megan Mayhew Bergman, this book shows her ability to write stories that reflect both subtle and profound changes to landscapes, and the way these changes to landscapes impact the quality of human lives.
When asked about the inclusion of climate change topics throughout How Strange a Season, MMB said, “No one wants to read a manifesto or be preached to, so when it comes to fiction, story has to come in front of principle, even if it’s principle that brought me to the page.”
In this thoughtful blend of contemplation and imagination, Megan Mayhew Bergman writes about the lives of strong women with topics including a modern glass house on a treacherous California cliff, a water-starved ranch, and an abandoned plantation on a river near Charleston. Bergman works to answer the question: what are we leaving behind for our descendants to hold, and what price will they pay for our mistakes?
This collection of stories will be released on March 29 published by Scribner. Preorder from Battenkill Books, your local bookstore, or any of the places listed here.
These are extraordinary stories. They’ll make you think deeply, maybe uncomfortably, always interestingly.
Over the last decade, MMB has been focused on substantive and compelling environmental narratives – working as an environmental journalist with The Guardian and an environmental essayist at The Paris Review. She also works with scientists, lawyers, and academics to help them share environmental stories in a way that reaches the hearts and minds of readers in her role as a Senior Fellow at the Conservation Law Foundation and as Director of Middlebury’s Bread Loaf Environmental Writers’ Conference.
Megan Mayhew Bergman is one of the best authors out there for chronicling our tangled, intimate, complicated relationship to the natural world; her elegant, lyrical prose documents an evolving crisis and our incorrigibly human responses to it…
“That Tingling of Inspiration,” an interview Megan Mayhew Bergman is featured in Issue 16 of SR. You can find out more about Megan and her work on her website and Twitter.