"This work is unlike any other, in its range of rich, conjuring imagery and its dexterity, its smart voice. Carroll-Hackett doesn’t spare us—but doesn’t save us—she draws a blueprint of power and class with her unflinching pivot: matter-of-fact and tender." —Jan Beatty

Archive for the ‘Must Read Writers’ Category

Monday Must Read! Walking Wildwood Trail by Amelia Williams

Amelia Williams is an artist/poet/activist from the Rockfish Valley area of Nelson County, Virginia, and author of Walking Wildwood Trail: Poems and Photographs.

Walking Wildwood Trail is more than just a beautiful books of poems. It is a brilliant artful act of protest against the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Amelia is planting copyrighted art works with poems incorporated into them along the pending path of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and copyrighting the entire installation.

When the proposed pipeline path was changed, another alarmed landowner contacted Amelia, and she started a second series of art installations. The newest project in Bath County consists of three parts in a large triangle, each separated by a thirty minute walk from the next, made of materials that include rocks, bone, copper pipe and jewelry parts. They represent the pipeline itself, the blast zone for construction, and the threatened homes.

Williams decided to begin this creative journey when she read about Canadian artist Peter von Tiesenhausen, who waylaid a mining company when he registered his 800 acres as intellectual property in the form of land art.

Now Amelia is teaching others how to do this, both the art and the copyright process, in an ongoing fight against the construction of this dangerous pipeline through farmlands, old growth woodlands, national forest, and near homes and schools.

Amelia’s artworks are designed with place in mind; the sixteen on the Wildwood Trail are in muted earth tones and made of biodegradable materials. They will not be permanent in the landscape. A GPS map and trail map allow people to track down each piece, often located off the ground in trees. Working with wool, recycled paper, wood, found materials and beeswax, both plain and colored, her work looks almost as if it has grown there.”

Read More About Amelia’s Art Activism Here

Buy Amelia’s Beautiful Book Here!

Proceeds donated to Wild Virginia for the battle against construction.




Monday Must Read! Everything Here Is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee

Thanks and Love to my fierce beautiful cousin, Sherrie McGimsey, for pointing me to this amazing read. Our country’s failure to properly provide services and safety for our brothers and sisters with Serious Mental Illness is a failure to the families who love them as well. They are all our children. 


Mira T. Lee‘s debut novel, Everything Here is Beautiful, was selected by the American Booksellers Association as one of Winter/Spring 2018’s Top 10 Debut titles. Her short fiction has appeared in journals such as the Southern Review, the Gettysburg Review, the Missouri Review, TriquarterlyHarvard Review, and American Short Fiction, and has twice received special mention for the Pushcart Prize. She was awarded the Peden Prize for Best Short Story byThe Missouri Review (2010), and an Artist’s Fellowship from the Massachusetts Cultural Council (2012).

From Ms. Lee’s website

everything here is beautiful

Two sisters: Miranda, the older, responsible one, always her younger sister’s protector; Lucia, the vibrant, headstrong, unconventional one, whose impulses are huge and, often, life changing. When their mother dies and Lucia starts to hear voices, it’s Miranda who must fight for the help her sister needs — even as Lucia refuses to be defined by any doctor’s diagnosis. Determined, impetuous, she plows ahead, marrying a big-hearted Israeli only to leave him, suddenly, to have a baby with a young Latino immigrant. She will move with her new family to Ecuador, but the bitter constant remains: she cannot escape her own mental illness. Lucia lives life on a grand scale, until inevitably, she crashes to earth. And then Miranda must decide, again, whether or not to step in — but this time, Lucia may not want to be saved. The bonds of sisterly devotion stretch across oceans, but what does it take to break them?

Told from alternating perspectives, Everything Here Is Beautiful is, at its core, a heart-wrenching family drama about relationships and tough choices — how much we’re willing to sacrifice for the ones we love, and when it’s time to let go and save ourselves. 

From Pamela Dorman Books (Viking Penguin), January 2018. 


from Kirkus Reviews

The tumult of loving someone with a chronic mental illness can exhaust even the most caring person.

Just ask Miranda, elder sister to Lucia, a brash, brilliant journalist whose periodic descent into severe psychosis has taxed their relationship and forced Miranda to confront the limits of family loyalty. Of course, she knows that Lucia can be attentive, charming, and kind, drawing in friends and colleagues—at least until the inevitable delusions take hold. It’s scary stuff. To Lee’s credit, Lucia, the more compellingly drawn of the two siblings, never seems like a psychological case study. Instead, we get inside her head—perhaps even inside her soul—to grapple with the challenges she faces. Her loving first marriage, to an older Israeli East Village shop owner named Yonah, begins and ends abruptly, revealing the magnitude of Lucia’s impetuous nature. Later, she hooks up with Manuel, an undocumented Ecuadoran immigrant working odd jobs in Westchester Country, New York, and has a baby. A move to Ecuador, where Lucia, Manuel, and baby Esperanza live in close proximity to Manuel’s family, is both comforting and stifling and raises questions about the cultural assumptions governing gender, parenting, and assimilation. In addition, what it means to live outside one’s country of origin is explored from both Manuel’s and Lucia’s perspectives. The book also exposes the helplessness of family members wishing to fix a fraught situation; the class dimension of health care delivery; and the rampant misinformation surrounding the treatment and diagnosis of illnesses like schizoaffective disorder. Lastly, vivid descriptions of the gentrifying Lower East Side of 1990s New York City, the heavily immigrant towns along the Hudson River, and several communities in Ecuador ground the characters in distinct locations.

An evocative and beautifully written debut.


Buy this beautiful, necessary book

everything here is beautiful

Monday Must Read! The Selfless Bliss of the Body by Gayle Brandeis

gayle brandeisGayle Brandeis grew up in the Chicago area and has been writing poems and stories since she was four years old. She is the author of Fruitflesh: Seeds of Inspiration for Women Who Write (HarperOne), Dictionary Poems (Pudding House Publications), the novels The Book of Dead Birds (HarperCollins), which won Barbara Kingsolver’s Bellwether Prize for Fiction of Social Engagement, Self Storage (Ballantine) and Delta Girls (Ballantine), and her first novel for young readers, My Life with the Lincolns (Holt), which won a Silver Nautilus Book Award and was chosen as a state-wide read in Wisconsin. She released The Book of Live Wires, the sequel to The Book of Dead Birds, as an e-book in 2011. 2017 brings the release of two new books: in June, a collection of poetry, The Selfless Bliss of the Body (Finishing Line Press) and in November, a memoir, The Art of Misdiagnosis: Surviving My Mother’s Suicide (Beacon Press.)

Gayle’s poetry, fiction and essays have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies (such as Salon, The Rumpus, The Nation, and The Mississippi Review) and have received several awards, including the QPB/Story Magazine Short Story Award, a Barbara Mandigo Kelley Peace Poetry Award, a grant from the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, and a Notable Essay in Best American Essays 2016. Her essay on the meaning of liberty was one of three included in the Statue of Liberty’s Centennial time capsule in 1986, when she was 18. In 2004, the Writer Magazine honored Gayle with a Writer Who Makes a Difference Award.

Gayle currently teaches in the low residency MFA programs at Antioch University Los Angeles and Sierra Nevada College, where she was named Distinguished Visiting Professor/Writer in Residence 2014-2015. She served as Inlandia Literary Laureate from 2012-2014, acting as literary ambassador to and for the Inland Empire region of Southern California. During her tenure, she worked extensively with the community, including at-risk youth, and edited the anthology ORANGELANDIA: The Literature of Inland Citrus. Gayle is currently editor in chief of Tiferet Journal and founding editor of Lady/Liberty/Lit. She is also mom to kids born in 1990, 1993 and 2009.

Visit Gayle’s Website

Buy Gayle’s Beautiful Book!

Praise for The Selfless Bliss of the Body

From the title poem, The Selfless Bliss of the Body… “somewhere under skirts/of black, a nun brings/herself to orgasm/” to the final poem, “Last Words”… “my love/for the world riding/ my last breath- I love you/ I love you I love you” I am enthralled, inspired; each poem a gift of wonder.”Alma Luz Villanueva, author of Gracias

My whole body arcing / to face itself..” Brandeis, the “Chagall woman” writes at the beginning of this volume. Yes, it is quite a feat to face the translucent and filmy, vibrating and silent flux of being and “almost-not-being.” For this reason alone, we must rise and applaud. Gayle offers us a rarely seen contemporary woman-metaphysics — a liquid diamond made of light areoles and auras, a floating naked body of “surrender,” of “danger zones,” of self-silhouettes — a “pulse of pure movement.” These undulations of perception, eros, and constant questioning, body-life and social investigations of the continuous blur of woman-existence is key to all of our ongoing world chatter. Perhaps, with this book, this almost-self-magic collection, all of us can notice what it takes to inscribe and see our hardened rushing lives as truly meaningful, even though they come and go, as we peer at them. A monumental achievement.Juan Felipe Herrera, Poet Laureate of the United States

More from Gayle Online







Gayle on Youtube

The Art of Misdiagnosis Book Trailer


The Book of Live Wires Part 1


The Book of Live Wires Part 2


Vanna White Is Pregnant


Happy Reading!



Monday Must Read! Rachel Dacus: Gods of Water and Air

rachel dacusRachel Abramson Dacus is a writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area and the author of three poetry books and a spoken word poetry CD. Her most recent book, Gods of Water and Air, combines poetry, prose, and drama. It follows two poetry collections, Earth Lessons and Femme au ChapeauGods of Water and Air is a passionate exploration of personal transformation, delving into everything from reincarnation to growing up with an artist and rocket scientist father, to living in an immigrant community on the Pacific Ocean.

Praise for Gods of Water and Air

This is a book to relish for such insights, by a poet clearly up for the ride, and not afraid of the risks.” — Rhina Espaillat, author of Where Horizons Go

Visit Rachel’s Website

Buy Rachel’s Beautiful Books

Gods of Water and Air

Femme Au Chapeau

Earth Lessons

More from Rachel Online









Happy Reading!



Monday Must Read! J.P. Dancing Bear, Love Is a Burning Building


j-p-dancing-bearJ. P. Dancing Bear is the author of five full-length books of poems, six chapbook, several essays, and more than 1000 individual poems in such magazines and anthologies as Shenandoah, Mississippi Review, Natural Bridge, DIAGRAM, No Tell Motel, Third Coast, Copper Nickel, Cimarron Review, Poetry East, North American Review, Atlanta Review, Verse Daily, Poetry International, Marlboro Review, Hotel Amerika, Seattle Review, Permafrost, Puerto Del Sol, Controlled Burn, Cranky, Rattle, Americas Review, Slipstream and many others. His work has recently been translated into Chinese.

Honors include the 2002 Slipstream Chapbook Prize, the 2010 PEN Oakland-Josephine Miles National Literary Award, Highly Commended in The Forward Prize 2010 (UK), and 14 Pushcart nominations.

He is the editor of The American Poetry Journal, owner of Dream Horse Press, publisher of the Orphic Prize and APJ Book Prize series, as well as the first animal rights poetry anthology And We The Creatures.

J.P. Dancing Bear has been invited to give poetry readings around the US. 

For nearly 15 years he was the host of “Out of Our Minds” a weekly radio show for public radio station KKUP featuring some of today’s best contemporary poets. Bear works with Nicaraguan poet Blanca Castellon on translating of her poetry into English, the first will appear in Redactions, Marlboro Review, International Poetry Review, iconoclast, Pirene’s Fountain, Numéro Cinq and The Bitter Oleander. He has also worked with Mexican poet Oscar Wong to translate his work into English. He also is currently working with Yu Xuan to translate contemporary Chinese poet, Sheng Tong (aka Holy Child), into English.

Visit J.P. Dancing Bear’s Website

Buy J.P.’s Books

Fish Singing Foxes: Forthcoming Dec 2017 & Available for Pre-Order

Love Is a Burning Building


The Abandoned Eye

Family of Marsupial Centaurs

Conflicted Light

Inner Cities of Gulls

Billy Last Crow

Read More from J.P. Dancing Bear Online






Interview with Lit Pub


Hear Him Read



Happy Reading, y’all!



Monday Must Read! The Long Weeping by Jessie Van Eerden


JessieJessie Van Eerden is the author of Glorybound (WordFarm, 2012), My Radio Radio (Vandalia Press 2016), and most recently, her collection of portrait essays,The Long Weeping, just released from Orison Books.

A West Virginia native, Jessie holds a BA in English from West Virginia University and an MFA in nonfiction writing from the University of Iowa. Her work has appeared in The Oxford AmericanRiver TeethImageBellingham ReviewWillow SpringsRock & SlingAppalachian Heritage, Ruminate, and other publications. Her prose has been selected for inclusion in Eyes Glowing at the Edge of the Woods: Fiction and Poetry from West Virginia(Vandalia Press); Walk Till the Dogs Get Mean (Ohio University Press); Red Holler (Sarabande); Dreams and Inward Journeys: A Rhetoric and Reader for Writers, Seventh Edition (Longman); Jesus Girls: True Tales of Growing Up Female and Evangelical (Cascade Books); and Best American Spiritual Writing (Houghton Mifflin).

Jessie has taught for over fifteen years in college classrooms and in adult literacy programs. She lives in West Virginia where she directs the low-residency MFA writing program of West Virginia Wesleyan College.

Follow Jessie on Twitter: @jessievaneerden. To see what Jessie has been reading, visit her Goodreads page. To learn more about WV Wesleyan’s MFA program (#wvwcmfa), visit the program website.

Visit Jessie’s website: http://www.jessievaneerden.com/

Buy Jessie’s beautiful books!

The Long Weeping

My Radio Radio


Praise for The Long Weeping

In these startlingly honest and imaginative essays, van Eerden enlarges the world around her, giving flesh to what is all too often flattened by the outside eye, anointing places and people and the throbbing spaces between them as she searches out and sings litanies to what she calls the “larger body I belonged to and could not leave.” Lush and razor-sharp, The Long Weeping shimmers with intelligence and grace. The truest essays I’ve read in a long time.”

Sonja Livingston, author of GhostbreadQueen of the Fall, and Ladies Night at the Dreamland

Van Eerden is one of the best essayists working today if judged by her craft and intellect alone, but her gifts go beyond those: she is also one of the most honest. The Long Weeping turns a visionary eye and a laser mind on subjects often simplified or even scorned by contemporary culture: white poverty; mysticism; love of family; the wisdom of modest people. Van Eerden is brave enough to say the hard things. She’s strong enough to love the hard places.”

Ann Pancake, author of Given GroundStrange as This Weather Has Been, and Me and My Daddy Listen to Bob Marley

More from Jessie Online









Hear Jessie Read



Happy Reading, y’all!



Monday Must Read! Cat Pleska: Riding On Comets

cat pleskaCat Pleska is a seventh generation West Virginian, and an amazingly loving and generous person. She is the author of Riding on Comets, and most recently, she published a cookbook with a sense of humor, One Foot in the Gravy–Hooked on the Sauce. Cat is a writer, editor, educator, publisher, and storyteller. She holds an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Goucher College. She is an essayist for West Virginia Public Radio and a book reviewer for the Charleston Gazette. She coedited the anthology Fed from the Blade: Tales and Poems from the Mountains. Pleska has been published in literary magazines and newspapers throughout the Appalachian region. She lives in Scott Depot, West Virginia, with her husband, Dan, one dog, four cats, and with a daughter, Katie, in nearby St. Albans.

Cat’s Website

Buy Cat’s Books!

Riding on Comets

Praise for Riding on Comets

“The gifts of Cat Pleska’s Riding on Comets are many: it is fresh, candid, gently humorous, tautly lyrical, and deeply moving.”-Lisa Knopp, What the River Carries: Encounters with the Mississippi, Missouri, and Platte

This is a storyteller who knows how to piece together shards of story into a brilliant mosaic of a life. A joy to read.”–Janice Gary is the author of Short Leash: A Memoir of Dog Walking and Deliverance, winner of two Silver 2014 Nautilus Awards and a 2014 Eric Hoffer Prize for Memoir.

Cat Pleska’s restrained but graceful prose allows us to witness four generations through the eyes of the author, first as a child and then through the years that followed as her people live, age, and die. The details Pleska offers have the immediacy of truths well told, with a resolute eye and spacious heart, neither shying away from family and personal dysfunction, nor sentimentalizing the bonds of fear and love that held her family together.”–Geoffrey Cameron Fuller is an author of the true crime Pretty Little Killers and the crime thriller Full Bone Moon

One Foot in the Gravy–Hooked on the Sauce

Fed from the Blade

More from Cat Online







Happy Reading!



Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: