My First Real Reading

                                                                                 luminous_echoes_anthology-1On May 13th I participated in my first public, professional reading. As I mentioned here, the purpose of the reading was to promote Luminous Echoes, the anthology of runners-up in Into the Void Magazine‘s 2016 poetry competition, with proceeds from the anthology benefitting Pieta House, an Irish charity dedicated to preventing suicide and self harm.

I decided to go because I had won the opportunity, many of the authors in the volume are distinguished poets, and I could combine the occasion with seeing family and friends. The reading was very well planned and run by Tom Daley, one of the poets in the volume.  We sold out of Luminous Echoes and raised $940 for Pieta House. 

I was somewhat embarrassed because I had the idea we were going to read from Luminous Echoes, but actually, of course, we were supposed to read our work, of which I have little, and tout our books, of which I have none. Discovering this recalled my violin anxiety dreams–“Here, go out in your underwear and play this concerto you’ve never seen before.” 

Also, we were reading in alphabetical order. I was last. 

So while my talented, practiced fellows were masterfully reading, I was feeling like an idiotic bumpkin, and I’m sorry to say I was too nervous to properly appreciate their work. In the end, it was OK, though: I read the first poem I ever published, which you can read and listen to here, my poem from Luminous Echoes, which I wrote about here, another poem from that volume, and the winner of the most recent Gemini Magazine poetry contest, because I am Associate Editor there, and I helped select that poem, which you can read here.

I was able to buy books by several of the poets to help make up for my inattentive listening, and I am honored to have participated in this event with them and made their acquaintance. I am thankful to Tom Daley for organizing, Heath Brougher, the judge of the contest, for conceiving of the volume, editing it and participating in the reading, Philip Elliott, the editor of Into the Void, for his support of the project, and the five Boston-area friends who came out and supported me. Next time I will try to have a book to hawk. 



Luminous Echoes Reading May 13th

I just drove from Dixie to Cape Cod, so I’ll be brief. The reading I talked about in this post will be from 1-3 today at Arts at the Armory Cafe in Somerville, Massachusetts. Please come if you can, and enjoy some good poems for a good cause (Pieta House, a suicide and self harm prevention charity). Thanks!

“The Land of Rainbow Greetings” Already Up on With Candlelight


Those editors at With Candlelight are fast. My story is already up, and I’ve already been paid.

The story is about a man who writes icky poetry for greeting cards. He meets a woman who claims his greeting cards changed her life, but things aren’t always as rosy as they seem to be at first. The man has a crisis about the meaning of his life and work.

I especially had fun inventing different greeting card poems for this story. Also, the woman can hardly finish a sentence–hence her recourse to prefabricated poems–so her dialogue was fun to write.

As usual, I found some typos in the printed product. It is very difficult to get all these out. I hope you will check out and enjoy the story here anyway.

Photo credit: 13bernta, Rainbow. June 2010. Flickr Commons. CC BY-NC 2.0.

“The Land of Rainbow Greetings” Accepted


I just received word that my story, “The Land of Rainbow Greetings,” will appear in a new journal called With Candlelight. This is especially welcome because when I first wrote this story, I wasn’t sure I liked it. I wrote it in a hurry for a deadline at a place that rejected it, and at the last minute I Hemingwayed it big time–cut three quarters of what I had written. Initially, I’d had a whole dinner party, but I pared it down to just the two main characters. I also didn’t know if I liked it because it is based heavily on an idea, and I wondered if the idea had taken over the story and made it a dull fable.

I liked it so little that for a year I just left it here or there at places that seemingly forgot about it. Then a few days ago, on Submishmash, I think, I saw that With Candlelight was looking for material. I went there and had a good vibe from the editors’ statements. This story seemed right because it is basically literary with a slight element of horror, and they like horror but are open to various genres and cross-genre work. Still, was the story good enough to bother them with?

I reread it and liked it a lot better. I even felt bad that I had consigned it to limbo for so long. I felt it might merit the $15 honorarium With Candlelight was offering. And luckily, the editors agreed–in very short order.

I draw a couple of conclusions from this: 1. Keep your eye on those newsletters. Some opportunities will pan out. 2. Revisit your work once you have some distance on it. It might surprise you. And 3. The editors of With Candlelight are cool people with great taste.


Photo credit: 13bernta, Rainbow. June 2010. Flickr Commons. CC BY-NC 2.0.


Out in Paperback

IMG_1812In 2013, University of Delaware Press published this collection of essays edited by my husband, Donald R. Wehrs. Emmanuel Levinas, whose views inform the literary criticism in the volume, believed that human nature was fundamentally ethical, that we are all “accused” by the Other, and this responsibility for the Other constitutes us as subjects. 

I have an essay in this volume, “Milne and the Tonstant Weaders,” and just so you know, not only my husband, but the outside readers for the collection also liked it. Essentially, the essay repudiates readings of Milne as only colonizing (toward children and colonial others). I argue that viewing Milne through a Levinasian lens reveals his sociability and his ethical concern with others and with the dawning ethical subjectivity of his son and the children in his audience.

I have always loved Milne’s children’s books, and one of my favorite memories from my daughter’s early childhood is her laughing with delight and making me fall off her bed over and over to dramatize Pooh’s falling down the bee tree and flying “gracefully into a gorse bush.” So I am happy that Delaware has now released the collection with my essay in it in paperback. I hope it will be assigned more in courses and purchased by more libraries. I have read the whole volume, and I believe all the essays deserve wider exposure. 

Lolita Essay Accepted


I have not posted for a while because I have been involved in writing an article on Lolita for a handbook on affect and literature commissioned by Palgrave. Today I got word the article, “Affect and Fascism in Lolita,” was accepted. I am still doing a few odds and ends of research (there’s time to add a note here or there), but basically it is done.

I am excited. First, the handbook project will be the first time, as far as I know, that many different branches of inquiry into affect and literature will be brought together, including affect theory, cognitive science, psychology, phenomenology, and philosophy. Second, I believe I have noticed things about Nabokov’s novel that no one else has, things I look forward to sharing once the handbook is published. Third, I learned a ton about Nabokov, Lolita, affect theory, psychology, and cognitive science.

And finally, there is light at the end of the tunnel now. I am looking forward to getting back to creative writing! 

Photo credit: Alex Bakharev (assumed), Samizadat copies of en:Vladimir Nabokov’s works Colection [sic] of en:Nabokov House, 14 April 2006, Wikimedia Commons, PD.

Valentine’s Day Flash Up in Every Day Fiction

8471582899_5f46379692_mThe story I wrote about here is now up in Every Day Fiction. It is a Valentine’s Day story for curmudgeons, or perhaps the recently, bitterly divorced, or those about to be. You’ve been warned.

When I read about the effects of space radiation on the brain, I immediately wanted to use this in a story. Initially I wrote a version of the second half of my flash for a contest calling for 500-word flash fictions on Valentine’s Day that Apex Magazine was running. When the story didn’t win, I cast about for another market and was fortunate enough to find helpful and understanding editors at Every Day Fiction who helped me transform it into something better.

So if your relationship with your loved one is strong and enduring, or if you want to churn up all your feelings of hatred and resentment all over again, check out the story here. And please vote and comment! We authors live for that.

Photo credit: Debora, Happy Valentine’s Day, 13 Jan. 2013. CC BY-NC 2.0.

Valentine’s Flash Accepted by Every Day Fiction


I’m pleased to report that my flash science fiction/horror, “My Feeble Valentine,” has been accepted by Every Day Fiction and will appear there on Valentine’s Day. This was an interesting acceptance process, since I first submitted only the second part of the story. Although the readers liked it, they felt it was too cryptic, so then I wrote the first part and resubmitted. Then they accepted it, but the editor in chief rated it as “marginal” and recommended more revision. Not wanting to displease him, I put in still more elaboration and then cut fifty words to get it back down to their 1,000-word limit.

I like the result, and appreciate the feedback and opportunities to revise. Also, I am proud to have been accepted by Every Day Fiction, which pays a bit and is the first Canadian journal to accept my work for publication. I look forward to their review/comment process, which I hope will give me even more insights into this story.

In other news, I am Associate Editor of Gemini Magazine, and the editor, David Bright, liked my audio found poem, “Can #4: Friskies Chicken and Salmon in Gravy,” so much that he is featuring a link to it on Gemini‘s home page. I wrote about my can poems herehere, and here. I’m flattered that David liked this one so much and really appreciate the advertising. 

I encourage you to visit Gemini, not only to click on the link to my poem and check it out, but also to sample the eclectic, high-quality literary fare there. And of course, please look out for my Valentine’s Day story in Every Day Fiction

Photo credit: Debora, Happy Valentine’s Day, 13 Jan. 2013. CC BY-NC 2.0.

Prose Poem Up in Cactifur


My prose poem, “My parents’ books will be the death of me,” is up in Cactifur here. While I am thrilled to see it there, and honored to be in good poetic company, I got a little fancy with this one, and the editors did not entirely get it–I take full responsibility for this. The poem is framed by this: “ll:” and this: “:ll.” These are meant to be musical repeat signs. I really intend for the whole poem on the page to appear as it appears below the title, but if this does not fit their format, that’s OK. The problem is, this, “LL:,” as it appears in the title, makes no sense at all, which is why, without attaching any blame to the editors, I do want to explain how it came to be there. I hate to annoy editors, but I plan to contact them directly, and apologetically, as well.

In light of this contretemps, I of course asked myself, “Do you really need those confusing repeat signs?” and the answer, for now, is, “Yes, yes I do.” The poem is based on a recurring dream, and both its recurring-ness and my recurring sense of distress while in the dream are fittingly represented by the repeat signs.

In answer to a question posed in the poem, no, I do not need The History of the Italian Madrigal in three volumes, yet I believe it is still on a shelf somewhere in my house. The decanter is here as well. 

Update: Jim Thompson, the editor of Cactifur, has fixed the title. So everything is OK now. With the poem, anyway.


Photo credit: Untitled (bookshelf). Original uploader, Ђорђе Д. Божовић at English Wikibooks. 22 Dec. 2005. CCA-SA 3.0.