Category Archives: SaraEve Fermin

Interview with Jennifer Hudgens + a Review of Girls Who Fell In Love With War


$10.95 | 86 pages | order here


SaraEve Fermin Reviews Girls Who Fell In Love With War by Jennifer Hudgens

Some books of poetry welcome you in. Some promise you hope, some are a declaration of war. Some are rolling landscapes, are promises of rebirth, are dark carnivals revealed after all the patrons have gone home. Some are a scream, a cry, a kiss or a consolation.



Girls Who Fell In Love With War is all of those and more.



Jennifer Hudgens brings her first full length anthology to life and holds nothing back. A book born in the fires of trauma, mental illness, body image and death, the Oklahoma based poet speaks with a voice that transcends pain and reminds you that yes, there is another side to the gutting. 


Daddy,


Thank you for teaching me charm, grace-
for showing me what it means to be so human

even when it feels similar to breaking.

—from “Wild World”


More than anything, this book is a tribute to her father, who passed from cancer in 2015. His memory is painted across the manuscript, twirling many poems into childhood memories one could pluck like jewels and hold to lips, like sweet strawberries. In “Ostriches”, Hudgens manages to tell the story of disappointment turned ritual turned coming-of-age–


Forgiveness was the Grand Canyon.
 

Every summer Daddy made

promises he was never able to keep,

the best salesmen anyone had met.




—from “Ostriches”


The book delves into the politics of the body, centering on eating disorders and self-harm. Hudgens is open and blunt in her poems, a refreshing read into a topic that can often be fraught with metaphors. 


The trick was to swim,

not flounder,

not tarry,

not drown.


—from “Cutter”


Hudgens demands her space. She demands to be taken seriously, demands to be seen, demands to her own self worth—something that is so hard in a time when people will do so much to take that away from a survivor. She demands not to be seen as the actions that made her, but as the person she has become. 


Stop telling me I am broken.

Stop telling me I have to ‘let things go’.

Stop telling me how to heal.


When you left- you took your fool mouth,

and left me to my bravery at dusk.


—from “Let Go”


Girls Who Fell In Love With War is available from Swimming With Elephants Publications as well as from Hudgens site, where you can get a signed copy. Pick up one today. Fall in love with your own wars. Find the courage to win.


SaraEve : If you could start this interview, what would you ask yourself?

Jennifer : Honestly? I’d ask, “Why do you do what you do?” When I ask, it means, why do you ‘do’ poetry? I’ve had people ask me that a lot. My answer: is because it is a huge part of who I am. I think and breathe poetry. I cannot function well without writing. I turn into this bitter, angry person that I don’t even recognize anymore-especially if I’ve not written enough.

SaraEve : How do you begin writing a poem?

Jennifer : Usually, the poems just hit me. I could be driving in rush hour traffic or trying to focus on homework. Hell, I could be dreaming about mermaids and zombies, then I wake up, and there’s a poem. My poems are very organic. Rarely do I just decide to write about something and it happens the way I want it to. I sit down to write, and let whatever comes-comes. Editing comes in very handy once I’ve gotten it out. I want to say my poems are magic, they find me, just when I need them, and sometimes when I wish they wouldn’t.


SaraEve : Thank you for Girls Who Fell In Love With War, it is both beautiful and tragic, glorious in the story of triumph, a Girl who is constantly becoming. You address eating disorders, depression, trauma and abuse. You talk about losing your father to cancer—I’m sorry. Can you talk about how this had an impact on your writing?

Jennifer : No need to apologize. All of these things that have tried so hard to break me, have made me who I am. As cliché as that sounds, I wouldn’t be here right now if I hadn’t found poetry as an outlet. I used to write poetry so thick with metaphor that nobody could understand it. I even go back and look at my first chapbook and have no clue what the hell I was writing about. At one point, I decided to stop hiding behind my words, and come full force with them. My life has been an uphill battle, always. Every time I get kicked, I find strength to pull myself back up. I guess it’s the stubborn Irish in me. Losing my Da less than a year ago was the hardest thing I’ve ever lived through. I’m still not sure I’ve managed to live through it. I think I’m just kind of floating along. When you lose a parent, people either try to console you by saying things like, “At least he’s in a better place,” or “At least he’s not in pain anymore.” Those people are the ones that haven’t lost someone particularly close by. I’ve had people tell me to get over it, or that it’s been long enough. I’ve lost friends who have no clue how to be around me anymore. The roughest part is, I just want my friends around. I don’t have to spend time talking about my Da, but if he comes up in conversation, I’d like it to be okay to tell stories about him. I’ve never experienced this sort of heartbreak. It’s managed to fuel some very powerful poems, one of which people love to hear, “Tiny Bones and Dust.” Every time I read it, I sob. It makes people cry, but it’s honest. Sometimes, I wish I could just write funny poems, or pop culture poems, and not write so much about pain. I had an older poet once tell me that she didn’t understand how someone could turn pain into art until she met me. I was floored by it. 


SaraEve : You are an editor at Wicked Banshee Press, and your work has been featured at several presses. Can you talk a little about your submission process, and how it has helped you amass a manuscript’s worth of poetry?

Jennifer : Editing for WBP has been a joy. I love helping new voices get exposure they deserve, solely on their merit as writer’s, publishing through presses has been great. I don’t submit as often as I should, but when I do, just like all poets, I try really hard to not have any expectations. Some people think I don’t get rejection letters. I do. Usually from places I’ve forgotten I even submitted poems to. The majority of places I’ve been accepted in have been really awesome. I know not every poem is a masterpiece, and all we can do is try, right? I’d like to make a book of blackout poetry with my rejection letters.

I write (usually) every day. I write as often as I can manage. I have specific folders for edited poems, whether for submissions or chapbooks, or some other project I want to do. I will every-so-often take around 10-15 poems, and just sit with them, editing and shaping them into something I like a bit more. I think it’s important to step away from things you’ve written, and edit later, always later. It’s too close, you’re too raw, and the poem will end up butchered because of that. Give it a week or two. Give yourself time to pull back so that when you “kill your darlings” it won’t be so difficult. Oh, and always keep multiple files with different versions of the same poem. You never know when you might want to go back to a previous version.


SaraEve : Who are the poets that you keep going to?

Jennifer : Melissa May-Dunn, Sierra DeMulder, Ai, Dominique Christina, just to name a few. I wish I could just eat all of their poems, maybe I could become a poem.




Jennifer E. Hudgens was born and raised in Oklahoma City. She has always danced to the beat of her own drummer, just ask her mom. Using poetry as a means of expression and survival, Jennifer lives poetry. She watches the sky the way most people watch television. Jennifer is terrified of clowns, horses, and animatronic toys. She is convinced that damned Snuggle bear is secretly trying to steal everyone’s souls.

Jennifer is currently pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in English and Creative Writing at the University of Central Oklahoma with plans to teach high school students after graduation and pursue an MFA in Creative Writing. She is a pretty rad substitute teacher.

Jen genuinely hopes you like her poems. If you don’t, that’s okay too.

For more information on the author:

jenniferelhudgens.wordpress.com

Soundcloud.com/thehudgepoetry

thehudgepoetry.weebly.com


Contributing Editor


SaraEve Fermin is a performance poet and epilepsy advocate from New Jersey. An East Coast heart jumping circus trains, she is the editor-in-chief of Wicked Banshee Press. Nowadays can be found volunteering at National Poetry Slam Events. She is a Women of the World Poetry Slam Competitor and her work can be found in GERM Magazine, Drunk In A Midnight Choir, Free Verse Magazine and Transcendence among others. Her second book of poetry, The View From The Top of the Ferris Wheel, will be published by Emphat!c Press in 2015. She believes in the power of foxes and self publishing.


Interview with William James + a Review of rebel hearts & restless ghosts


$12 | pre-order here


SaraEve : If you could begin this interview, what would you ask yourself?

William : Why do you always wait until the last possible moment to do things, like check your email, or reply to interviews? Answer: because in my 33 years of life, I still haven’t managed to figure out proper time management.

SaraEve : You’ve titled your book Rebel Hearts and Restless Ghosts, a line that comes up in the book. From reading the notes, I understand this is an homage to one of your favorite bands, Modern Life is War. Would you like to talk a little bit more about how they have influenced your writing and the shape of this book?

William : There are two pieces to why & how MLIW came to be a huge influence on me, and they’re somewhat intertwined. I’m from a very small town in PA that has a population of less than 500. It’s a town that seems to have utterly nothing to boast about, except for perhaps its insignificance. It’s a struggle to find anything to take pride in when you live in a place that stifling; it’s even more difficult when every day it seems like people from the coasts (or just from cities hundreds of times bigger) dismiss everything you do as being valueless because it doesn’t come from a major population center. The thing about MLIW is that they’re from Marshalltown, IA…and not apologetic about it. Jeff [Eaton, lead singer] wrote lyrics that spoke to the experience of being “just a factory worker’s son from a railroad town” and the frustration of knowing that “there’s something happening somewhere, and we know we know we gotta get there” – themes that spoke to me much more deeply than some song about the hard streets of New York, or wherever. It was inspiring to hear someone speaking about experiences I shared, as though they mattered. When I started writing the poems that eventually would become the book, I knew that I wanted to write my own experiences without fear or apology, to represent where I came from rather than where I thought I wanted to be.

SaraEve : For the past two years now you have been aiming to submit 100 poems for publication, regardless of your acceptance rate. This is an admirable feat and your commitment to the craft is something that should be celebrated (high fives to you!) How has this practice helped to push your writing?

William : It’s become a part of my editing process. If I ever think a poem is done, or rather that I can take it easy and not put the work into a poem 100%, there’s nothing like getting told a dozen or more times that the poem isn’t good enough yet to make me go back to the notebook and keep working. Of course, the inverse of that also applies – I tend to sit on a poem forever, telling myself that it isn’t good enough to show anyone yet. Having the goal of 100 rejections has kind of forced my hand, and made me be more vulnerable with sending out work that I might otherwise have hidden under a bushel forever because I didn’t believe it was as perfect as it should be.

I guess it keeps me always striving for the balance between accepting the inherent imperfections of being a human artist, while also never settling for any less than the best I am able to do at the time.


SaraEve : Thank you so much for your dedication to suicide prevention and mental health. It is a serious topic that needs to be addressed and I find that more and more poets are speaking out about their experiences with mental health. Can you talk about how you start a poem when dealing with some of these darker issues?

William : I’m not really sure there’s a conscious process in that. Most of the poems I have that speak on my struggles with mental health and suicidal ideation never really start out as poems, at least not in the sense that they’re meant to be shared with an audience or a reader. I have a poem in the book titled “Letter To Myself Following A Second Failed Suicide Attempt” that is just that; a conversation with myself, trying to work through the things I need to allow myself to believe. Eventually, I come to realize that I might be saying something that a younger version of myself would have needed to hear, and that if I needed those words then maybe someone else does too…so I start crafting them into a more purposeful poem.

SaraEve : Who are the poets that you keep going back to?

William : Ryler Dustin’s Heavy Lead Bird Song was the first book of poetry I ever bought, and I’ve often gone back to that one. Philip Levine is someone I discovered late, but his work definitely strikes a fire in me. Of course, I continue to draw water from the well of punk rock & hardcore – Jeff from MLIW, Aaron Bedard from Bane, Pat Flynn from Have Heart/Sweet Jesus/Free, Sean Murphy from Verse, George Hirsch from Blacklisted, etc. A lot of these guys, I read their lyrics the same way one might read a collection of poems.

That all being said, the people who most excite me are the people getting up to read their first poem ever on the open mic, the people who don’t know “how” they’re supposed to be poets so they just write, recklessly, fearlessly, without any preconceptions about proper form, structure, line breaks…all the stuff that we all tend to get caught up in the further down this rabbit hole we go. The kid who’s reading a poem at the open mic because they literally can’t help but share their art with anyone who is willing to pay attention – that’s who I truly believe is the future of poetry, and who I keep looking to for reminders of why I want to do this in the first place.



Poem from rebel hearts & restless ghosts:

Letter To Myself Following A Second Failed Suicide Attempt

Hey kid, what the fuck were you thinking? Did you honestly believe
the lie that was fed you that life will never get any better than this?

Did no one ever tell you that you shouldn’t listen to ghosts? What
could something dead possibly have to teach you about the fine art

of staying alive? You’ve put too much belief in whispers, given
credit to the chains they drag over your body. When you try to count

enough reasons to want to wake up tomorrow, do you not realize
the scraping sounds in your chest are merely the cheapest product

of the oldest crime? There is a reason those eyes, candle burning in
your haunted sky are glowing green. You still suck breath between

gritted teeth in spite of the ghouls’ most dedicated efforts. I know
right now your wrists are spitting crimson. I know right now,

you are trying to dry-swallow one more pill. Believe me when
I say even at your most embarrassingly awkward rock bottom,

you are still a fucking thunderstorm tucked beneath your breastplate.
The hypnotic rhythm of pulse in your temple represents

one thing all the wraiths hovering above your bedside cannot have.
Too cowardly to bloody their hands trying to remove it by force,

they instead resort to a weaker form of warfare. This black hole
you are so desperate to drown in is nothing more than a chemical

siege they have laid on your mind. Remember this: you are
not bottle rocket, but pipebomb. Not train derailment,
but slow-burning fuse. You are not knife wound. Not sword-
swallower, not fallout. You are sky. When tomorrow spills

from your poison gut like shards of broken crystal, do not bother
picking up the pieces. It is not you who has shattered, only the glass.


Click here to read “Reclamation” from rebel hearts & restless ghosts.


Review of rebel hearts & restless ghosts by SaraEve Fermin

May our songs carry voices over lifetimes.

May our screams pull God from the sky.


—from “Liturgy for the Underground”


William James isn’t saying he is the Punk Rock Poet Preacher we need. All he is asking is that we honor the voices that carved us into our truest selves, the grief and joy and fear and hope and kaleidoscope of experiences that make life worth sticking around for.


When I was 22, bad chemicals in my head

caused me to believe death had forgotten I existed,

and would perhaps need my helping hand.


—from “Greet Death”


This is depression, stripped down to its bare bones. As a person who lives with major depressive disorder, this statement cried out to my bones. James does a brilliant job of describing the stark aloneness of depression, but also hope. The hope of survival, of making it through, of knowing it might not exactly get better, but maybe different.



…Call me

restless. Wanderlust. Call me getting the hell out,

call me escape. City life. Streetlights, lock your doors,

call me restart. Call me not dying in your

hometown, call me 600 miles away from high school.

Call me success story. Call me happiness is

a new life in a new world. Call me living free

instead of dying. Call me home-

sick. Call me home.



—from “Reclamation”


The book is divided into eight sections, each section marked by a Modern Life Is War lyric. The hardcore punk rock life shows up several times in the book, both as memories of days past and thoughts on being the “old fuck” at the show. A contributing editor at Drunk in a Midnight Choir, James has written several pieces on how music has influenced his poetry, as seen here-


The microphone becomes

a cube of sugar dropped on an anthill – enveloped by voices 

eager for their chance to share in the sorcery of the night.

—from “Homesong”


This book also contains a kick ass not generic poem about pomegranates, a love poem that breaks ribs, a persona poem about the Golden Gate Bridge and poems with supplemental link. It is 80 pages of beauty and sincerity, of New England determination and a commitment to suicide prevention. A Timber Mouse book, you can preorder rebel hearts & restless ghosts at williamjamespoetry.com.



Photo courtesy of Lauren Elma Frament

William James is a poet, punk rocker, and train enthusiast from Manchester, NH. A contributing editor at Drunk In A Midnight Choir, and a Pushcart Prize & Best of the Net nominee, his poems have appeared or are forthcoming in various journals including Word Riot, SOFTBLOW, Radius Lit, Atticus Review, and the Emerson Review, as well as the anthologies “Again I Wait For This To Pull Apart” (Freeze Ray Press, 2015) and Best Indie Lit New England: Vol. 2 (Black Key Press, 2015). His debut full-length poetry collection “rebel hearts & restless ghosts” is forthcoming in 2015 from Timber Mouse Publishing.


Contributing Editor


SaraEve Fermin is a performance poet and epilepsy advocate from New Jersey. An East Coast heart jumping circus trains, she is the editor-in-chief of Wicked Banshee Press. Nowadays can be found volunteering at National Poetry Slam Events. She is a Women of the World Poetry Slam Competitor and her work can be found in GERM Magazine, Drunk In A Midnight Choir, Free Verse Magazine and Transcendence among others. Her second book of poetry, The View From The Top of the Ferris Wheel, will be published by Emphat!c Press in 2015. She believes in the power of foxes and self publishing.


Poetry For Movers—Movement In Space, Time and Self


Running Foxes by Gladys Paulus

The Last July

…Still, the clocks in this house get smaller

every day with acres and acres of dirt

ready to claim us. When I say,

at last, I am completely flattened,

how is it that loss

can always find

more room?

– from Mammoth by Rachel McKibbens

Elegy (For Marge and Nathan Sands)

…But today, even from New York, my home in Cincinnati

is still folding around me like and egg. It isn’t yet the city

in which my father will leave my mother. Or the city to

which he’ll return. Or the two weeks between that I won’t

remember. Or the two weeks after he comes home but

isn’t really home. Or the decade we’ll spend pretending it

didn’t happen. Or the years I will immediately fall asleep

each time my mother mentions her own sadness.

– from The New Clean by Jon Sands

Release It

…Worth is not a well to be poisoned

it is not a tumbler being filled or



drank from by some audacious God,

nor a monthly allowance we get

when we are not beautiful.

Drive to the ocean. No, drive to



the Redwoods. Drive to whatever

landmark reminds you that

becoming is a slow glory and leave

your shame. It will not follow you home.

– from We Slept Here by Sierra DeMulder

I want to have children so they can one day grow old and watch me die


…Her body is starting to give up on her.



Her mind is telling her it’s over

and her heart beats this every two beats.



Will I be there when my mother dies



or will it be something



I only see



in me?

– from It Starts From The Belly and Blooms by Thomas Fucaloro

Late Night Speech With My Brother

…It is not

too late. Your life is ahead of you,

behind you is thirty years of

death- I have seen a man of eighty

drop his parents hands and just walk the other way

– from The Dead and The Living by Sharon Olds

Contributing Editor


SaraEve Fermin is a performance poet and epilepsy advocate from New Jersey. An East Coast heart jumping circus trains, she is the editor-in-chief of Wicked Banshee Press. Nowadays can be found volunteering at National Poetry Slam Events. She is a Women of the World Poetry Slam Competitor and her work can be found in GERM Magazine, Drunk In A Midnight Choir, Free Verse Magazine and Transcendence among others. Her second book of poetry, The View From The Top of the Ferris Wheel, will be published by Emphat!c Press in 2015. She believes in the power of foxes and self publishing.


6 Songs Turned Poetry From A Concert Addict*

*To put this list in context—When I recently told a friend, on Facebook, that I had attended 34 Dave Matthews Band concerts, a friend of his replied ‘I have not even attended 34 concerts in my entire life’. Some of the artists on this list I have seen perform more than once. Dr. Gregory House said Music is the global constant. I tend to agree with that snarky piano playing fool. 


Stars shine down from the black

And we’re picking through the broken glass

Well how could we know our lives

would be so full of beautifully broken things

– “Broken Things” by Dave Matthews Band, from Away From The World

A warning sign

It came back to haunt me, and I realised

That you were an island and I passed you by

And you were an island to discover



Come on in

I’ve gotta tell you what a state I’m in

I’ve gotta tell you in my loudest tones

That I started looking for a warning sign


– “Warning Sign” by Coldplay from A Rush of Blood to the Head

I am waiting for something to go wrong

I am waiting for familiar resolve

I am waiting for another repeat

Another diet fed by crippling defeat


And I am waiting for that sense of relief

I am waiting for you to flee the scene

As if you held in your hand the smoking gun

And on the floor lay the one you said you loved


– “Expo ’86” by Death Cab for Cutie from Transatlanticism

I can see the light come peering through the sky in my mind
Closing people come in but also lying on the floor

I would hold you in my arms until we both are home

I would hold you in my arms until we both are all alone

– “Signs of Love” by Moby from 18

Hand over my mouth; I’m earning the right to my silence.

In quiet, discerning between ego and timing.

Good judgment is once again proving to me

that it’s still worth it’s weight in gold.



From now on I’m gonna be so much more wary when you start to speak

and my warm blood starts to boil,

that seeing you is like pulling teeth and hearing your voice is like
chewing tin foil.

– “Blood on the Ground” by Incubus from Morning View

Come inside look around

I lift you off the ground

Snapped your ribs made a lover

So you could share each other

Come inside

Kneel

Remember…

– “Flesh and Bone” by Alien Ant Farm from ANThology

Contributing Editor


SaraEve Fermin is a performance poet and epilepsy advocate from New Jersey. An East Coast heart jumping circus trains, she is the editor-in-chief of Wicked Banshee Press. Nowadays can be found volunteering at National Poetry Slam Events. She is a Women of the World Poetry Slam Competitor and her work can be found in GERM Magazine, Drunk In A Midnight Choir, Free Verse Magazine and Transcendence among others. Her second book of poetry, The View From The Top of the Ferris Wheel, will be published by Emphat!c Press in 2015. She believes in the power of foxes and self publishing.


Interview with Megan Falley + a Review of Bad Girls, Honey: Poems About Lana Del Rey


Megan Falley just keeps on bringing the sparkle. This time it is with a chapbook release by Tired Heart Press, BAD GIRLS, HONEY (Poems About Lana Del Rey)! Falley uses her muse, Lana Del Rey, to explore life, love, sexuality, womanhood and more through a series of conversations and monologues. Read more about Falley’s process in this interview!


SaraEve : If you could begin this interview, what question would you ask (and answer) yourself?

Megan : I would begin the interview asking who and how I loved, since I think that is the most important thing to know about a person right now. 

And I would respond by asking what that had to do with the book, and move on.

SaraEve : How do you begin writing a poem?

Megan : Often it begins with a line, an image, a tiny scrap from my day. Lately I like writing poems in the notes section of my phone rather than on a laptop or paper, because it seems so low stakes, like I am texting or something, and that takes the pressure for it to be “good” off of me, which frees something up. I’ve been on a ton of airplanes lately and some of my best poems have been written in the clouds. There’s something of comfort to me knowing that I am in a flying death trap and could plummet at any minute and still I choose to spend my possible last moments writing something down.

SaraEve : Thank you so much for BAD GIRLS, HONEY! What a fun and exploratory read! You take on so many important issues—feminism, abusive relationships, gender binaries and others—and explore them through a complicated and beautiful poetic relationship with Lana Del Rey. What was it about Lana and/or her music that first called out to you in a pivotal way? Is there a specific poem in the book that highlights this moment?

Megan : Angel Nafis was reading a new poem in her living room in which Kanye West gives her advice—I believe—on the eve of her high school graduation. I have always admired how Angel engages with persona (thinking of the Celie from The Color Purple poems specifically) and how these poems never seemed contrived. I asked about her process with this and she said something like, “You have to ask who your patron saint is, and write from there.” I went home that night and wrote my first Lana poem. 

I really like the idea of bad advice. Of complicated relationships. Of the nuances and aches in female friendship, especially when queerness and the body is involved. I felt all of that with Lana Del Rey. I don’t always agree with her in interviews or in her lyrics, but I have an undying fascination with her as well. It seemed like an organic muse for me. It’s boring to write from the perspective of or imagine conversations and scenarios with someone you completely agree with. I dig the idea that we could really affect each other, for better or for worse. 

Growing up, whenever I would pass the exit for Coney Island with my father, he would pull over and we would ride the Cyclone. When Lana came onto the scene as the self-proclaimed “Queen of Coney Island”, I felt a nostalgia for her even though she was brand new. Interacting with her image in my work seemed impossible not to try.

SaraEve : I love “Elizabeth Grant Takes Me to an Alcoholic Anonymous Meeting”. There is so much power in taking away an icon’s stage name—Madonna and Prince automatically come to mind—and you do it with this haunting piece. There is a similar caustic wisdom found in Undressing Lana. If you could pick a stage name, what would it be?

Megan : I try to be my most authentic self in my writing, which is why I have never had, nor ever wanted, a stage name.

SaraEve : Who are the writers that you return to over and over?

Megan : Sharon Olds. Jonathan Safran Foer. Conor Oberst.


Click here to read four poems from BAD GIRLS, HONEY @ [PANK]


Review of Bad Girls, Honey by SaraEve Fermin


I’m a haunted house people line up for. There’s nothing as beautiful as a prom queen
 in a fiery crash — sequins winking in the flames.


—from “Lana Del Rey Sells Me on Sadness”


So begins Megan Falley’s newest chapbook, Bad Girls, Honey, a collection of poems centered around her personal muse, music artist Lana Del Rey. The book explores a range of emotions from sadness to apathy to love, as well as experiences, such as womanhood, coming of age, sexuality and the patriarchy. These exquisitely crafted poems are a series of conversations with or directed towards the self-proclaimed ‘Queen of Coney Island’, a woman in love with the alluring beauty of fatalism, as shown in the above excerpt, a recurring theme.


In “Lana Del Rey Helps Me Decide What My Pussy Taste Like”, Falley engages in conversation with Del Rey, one that starts lighthearted with images of bright pink and cherry cola, then delves into deeper issues that plague womanhood, inherit misogyny and the world’s need to take what is not theirs:

It is a rite of passage, for us girls—to name

our salted daughters. To taste our cake

and christen it too. To find out what it answers to

when called for in the dark.

—from “Lana Del Rey Helps Me Decide What My Pussy Taste Like”


There are lots of shining summer moments in this book, but it was “Lana Del Rey Explains to Me Why She Makes Music” that made me well up. Falley taps into the part of me that wants to be a better poet. The part of me that often needs permission to be the writer I am. The part of me that writes unapologetic, broke open for this:


Why the ballerina in the music box 

doesn’t run out.



The wave wants to crash to this song.

The fruit wants to rot to this song.



I am a self-admitted fan of everything Megan Falley. And Lana Del Rey. And Persona Poems. Still, don’t be fooled, these are so much more than persona— a conversation with the self, a way to use a love of music (or in this case, a muse) as a mirror. It is a reflection on society, on what Lana is saying about us. These poems have weight, are neatly arranged (Falley has impeccable line break usage), and are flashing a little pout. Waiting for you to come in for a kiss.



Bad Girls, Honey: Poems About Lana Del Rey is available from Tired Heart Press. Find it here!



Photo by Bridget Badore

Megan Falley is the author of two full-length collections of poetry on Write Bloody Publishing. She has toured nationwide with her books After the Witch Hunt (2012) and Redhead and the Slaughter King (2014) and is the winner of the Tired Hearts Press Contest with her chapbook Bad Girls, Honey [Poems About Lana Del Rey]. She is a Women of the World and National Poetry Slam finalist, winner of the 2015 Rustbelt Regional Poetry Slam and has been featured on TV One’s Verses & Flow. Her work has been published in Rattle, PANK, Pen Center USA’s The Rattling Wall among other literary journals. She is the creator of the online writing course, Poems That Don’t Suck, and is currently touring with poet Olivia Gatwood as part of their show, Speak Like A Girl. When she is not writing and touring the country, she is singing dirty songs sweetly on her ukulele.

Connect with Megan:

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Contributing Editor


SaraEve Fermin is a performance poet and epilepsy advocate from New Jersey. An East Coast heart jumping circus trains, she is the editor-in-chief of Wicked Banshee Press. Nowadays can be found volunteering at National Poetry Slam Events. She is a Women of the World Poetry Slam Competitor and her work can be found in GERM Magazine, Drunk In A Midnight Choir, Free Verse Magazine and Transcendence among others. Her second book of poetry, The View From The Top of the Ferris Wheel, will be published by Emphat!c Press in 2015. She believes in the power of foxes and self publishing.


Three to Watch: Women of Color Speak Out on the Importance of Mental Health



The following are three amazing women who have taken the darkness of mental health and highlighted it through the power of poetry. This is a serious issue that is not being discussed—in a county where nearly 15 million Americans, one in 10 adults, experience depression each year. Women experience depression at roughly twice the rate of men, regardless of race or ethnic background, and only an estimated 12 percent of African American women seek help and/or treatment, as it is viewed as a personal weakness or not a health problem.*

Here are three women breaking the stigma, speaking out and shining a light on it. Let them be a reminder that you are not alone.

1. Taylor Steele: Falling Slowly

…but depression isn’t beautiful,

isn’t romance.

A man once told me

he found my going to therapy

sexy

I said ‘I will fight you.’


2. Angelique Palmer: What to Wear to your Standing Appointment With Your Shrink After the Two Most Horribly Challenging Weeks of Your Life So as Not to Get Committed to the Nearest Mental Facility As A Danger To Yourself and Others—A Love Poem







…It is the 20 year old remix that says

you hate the person that you are becoming.

Black reminds you of a time you wanted to

erase, cloak invisible, disappear.

Do not invisible.

Do not disappear.

Do not wear black.


3. Tonya Ingram: I am Twenty-Two





…I am a Gryffindor

who begins attacking the normal part of my body

for never seeing The Notebook.

The butterfly rash across the bridge of the nose

is depression.



*statistics from www.nami.org



resources:



National Alliance of Mental Health:
(for help in answering questions regarding symptoms of mental illness, treatment, local support groups, legal resources, etc.)

1800-950-6264

Monday-Friday 10am-6pm EST

www.nami.org

National Suicide Prevention Hotline

1-800-273-8255

www.suicidepreventionhotline.org


These are 24 hour resources. If you feel like you need to speak to someone, please know that you are not alone and there are people willing to walk with you in this fight. Depression is real and can be treated. You are not broken. You are a beautiful survival story waiting to break open. 



Contributing Editor


SaraEve Fermin is a performance poet and epilepsy advocate from New Jersey. An East Coast heart jumping circus trains, she is the editor-in-chief of Wicked Banshee Press. Nowadays can be found volunteering at National Poetry Slam Events. She is a Women of the World Poetry Slam Competitor and her work can be found in GERM Magazine, Drunk In A Midnight Choir, Free Verse Magazine and Transcendence among others. Her second book of poetry, The View From The Top of the Ferris Wheel, will be published by Emphat!c Press in 2015. She believes in the power of foxes and self publishing.


Sway This Way | Said The Manic to The Muse
 by Jeanann Verlee | Review


120 pgs, $15 | Order on Amazon. | Review by SaraEve Fermin

Said The Manic to The Muse
 by Jeanann Verlee


I was born of the fist. The hot irish temper.
Trailer parks. Pabst Blue Ribbon. Men in work boots,
crusted wife beaters. Fire ants. Weevils. Moth wings on window sills.

—from “Brawler”


This is the Jeanann Verlee that many people are familiar with. A poem that can be found on many Tumblr™ accounts, it is one of the most honest and vivid poems in Verlee’s second book, one that catalogues the life of a woman, an artist, a survivor, a lover, a fighter, a manic, a dog lover—with the turn of each page, she lays out patchwork of poems that can be both breathtaking and gut-punching.

You hate me. You are too kind to say so.
I’m sorry I told our stories. I am low. I never thanked you
for sacrifice.

—from “Genetics of Regret”


A loose litany, this poem is a reminder that there are skeletons in every pen, between the pages of every book. Verlee rattles off a succinct list of apologies to her mother for regrets never uttered, for truths revealed and for coming into her own. It is a gripping piece, one that had me grasping my own pen and paper by the end.

I gifted you the will of gunpowder, a matchstick tongue
& all you managed was a shredded sweater & a police warning?
You should be legend by now.
Girl in an orange jumpsuit, a headline.

—from “The Mania Speaks”


In the last third of her book, Verlee directly faces some serious demons, one of them being Manic Depression. “The Mania Speaks” is a persona piece dressed in red at a funeral—it demands your attention. It is the siren call of the bad blood dancing in the brain, lit up for everyone to see. Beautiful and twisted, it is one of the darker yet playful poems in the book.

Still, nothing prepared my heart for this:

…Life is a dog.
And it doesn’t even matter if she is a good dog

(she is) or a kind dog (she is) or pretty dog (she is)
or an expensive dog (she isn’t)…

—what matters here
is the night she fought those men.

—from “Why You Cry At the End Of Her Life”


I am a dog mother. I believe in the magic of animals—my dog is intuitive, he knows when I am going to have a seizure. The poem spoke to me on multiple levels. Verlee confronts her own demons regarding motherhood in several poems in this collection of poetry, such as “The Session” and “Mathematician”.

Jeanann Verlee’s Said The Manic to the Muse is a powerful second collection from this Write Bloody author. Filled with truth wrapped in glitter, guilt, guts and glory, it is a read worth the time and the processing that will ensure.




Jeanann Verlee is author of Racing Hummingbirds, recipient of the Independent Publisher Book Award Silver Medal in poetry, and Said the Manic to the Muse. She has been awarded the Third Coast Poetry Prize and the Sandy Crimmins National Prize for Poetry and her work has appeared in The New York Quarterly, Rattle, and failbetter, among others. Verlee wears polka dots and kisses Rottweilers. She believes in you. Learn more at jeanannverlee.com.

Connect with her: Tumblr + Facebook.


Contributing Editor


SaraEve Fermin is a performance poet and epilepsy advocate from New Jersey. An East Coast heart jumping circus trains, she is the editor-in-chief of Wicked Banshee Press. Nowadays can be found volunteering at National Poetry Slam Events. She is a Women of the World Poetry Slam Competitor and her work can be found in GERM Magazine, Drunk In A Midnight Choir, Free Verse Magazine and Transcendence among others. Her second book of poetry, The View From The Top of the Ferris Wheel, will be published by Emphat!c Press in 2015. She believes in the power of foxes and self publishing.


The Dance Interview Series | Stevie Edwards


We are proud to bring you the second installment in The Dance Interview Series, a talk with Stevie Edwards, author of Humanly.  An epic collection that delves into the dark rooms of both the heart and mind as well as the high cliffs of love and freedom. Humanly is Edwards’ second collection of work, a celebration of living and of the act of life.  Read more about her new book as well as a poem from the collection in this stunning interview!


SF : If you could begin this interview, what question would you ask yourself?

SE : Do you have any pet peeves about the ways in which your poetry, particularly your latest collection Humanly, gets discussed?

Well, firstly I am very grateful that anyone is bothering to discuss my work at all, but it really grinds my gears when I see myself (the person) and the poetic speakers in my poems (crafted personas) being conflated. On one hand, I think this line gets tricky when engaging with confessional poetics and much of my work is inspired by lived experiences. On the other hand, the fact that I have dealt with many of the issues (i.e. suicide) discussed in many of my poems and that some of my identifiable autobiographical information (i.e. being from Michigan) shows up within the collection does not mean that there is a one-to-one correlation between me and the speaker in any particular poem. Such readings tend to dismiss the craft of this collection and focus instead upon my personhood, upon me as a survivor or as opposed to me as a poet.  As somebody who has spent over half of my life studying and writing poetry, I find this dismissal very frustrating. Furthermore, calling me the actual speaker of some of these poems becomes pretty absurd when you consider some of the claims my speakers make. For instance, I have a poem where the speaker claims her body is a coliseum that contains lions, tigers, and bears. Spoiler alert: I’m pretty sure I’m the only animal inhabiting this body, unless there’s a tapeworm waiting to be found. And gosh darn it, I reserve the right to be fictive and surreal. After all, what is more surreal than surviving what reason says should have killed you? I think there is a tension between realism and surrealism in Humanly. As I was treating myself to a mani-pedi today (because it’s my birthday tomorrow), I was thinking about how weirdly intimate it was to have a man I didn’t know gently hold my hand and file my nails, about how these small daily acts are what realism is built out of. To some degree, I think of realism as an active assertion of sanity: I did this, I went there, I ate, drank, spoke, wept, shat, etc.  But I also think that survival requires a certain element of fantasy. Because to live beyond something like suicide, to live inside of a body you thought you’d never see again, is a fantastical act. I set about this collection with the intention of writing an epic of surviving oneself, not a memoir. And this epic has predators and pills, shitty selves and shitty exes, gloom and inner light, that are simultaneously mine and not solely mine. On a slight sidenote, I’ve been considering sending “Against Explanation” by Tarfia Faizullah as a  response to people who email me questions or write publicly under the assumption that I am the speaker in my poems. Then, I decided that was too passive aggressive, but her piece is definitely worth a read.

SF : How do you begin a poem?

SE : Usually poems begin in my head during the moments I have to myself. When I lived in Chicago, nearly all of my poems came to me on the subway during my hour-and-a-half commute to and from work each day. My current commute is a ten minute walk and ten minute bus ride, which is more desirable in many ways, but  sometimes I miss having that block of time each day with no specific task(s) to complete. Here, in Ithaca, I go on a lot of walks, and sometimes I’ll start to hear a line, or sometimes a poem title. I find being quiet in public is for some reason a good poem recipe for me. Today, the title “On Celebrating a Birthday I Tried to Swallow” came to me, but I haven’t written that poem yet. Also, I find that if I walk with the cadence of a specific poem in my head (this week it’s been “Angel’s Heart Clowns the Ocean” by Angel Nafis, but it alternates a lot) often lines will come to me in a similar rhythmic pattern.

SF : Thank you so much for writing Humanly.  It is one of the most necessary pieces of work that I have read this year, baring every inch of your roller coaster mind and heart for readers to sink into.  From mental health to heart break to menstruation, it is a smashing of highs and lows. You break it down into four chapters: Dread Clothes, Take, Fang and Fantasy and Anchor.  Could you expand on these titles a bit more?.

SE : I’ll give some brief comments in the order of the sections.

I: “Dread Clothes” is a line in the first poem of the collection, “Luck, Luck, Noose,” and also reocurrs in a couple other poems. At one point, this entire manuscript was called “Dread Clothes,” but I ended up thinking Humanly captured the emotional range of this collection (which isn’t all dread all the time)  in a more complete way. When I think of “Dread Clothes,” I think of the way that sometimes we wear grief and depression around town each day, the way you can’t just neatly pack them away while you go do all the daily things you need to do to stay employed and socially engaged.

II:  I chose the section title “Take,” because this group of poems is largely about what can be taken from a person by non-consensual sex and other forms of disregarded personal boundaries and also about trying to take that ineffable thing back. The poems in this section are both wounded and fang-baring.

III: “Fang and Fantasy” was another title I kicked around for this manuscript. It first appears in the preface. This is the section title I am least sure of how to explain but also is my favorite. Most of the poems are about dealing with the aftermath of a suicide attempt. I think with the title “Fang and Fantasy” I was trying, to some extent, to name the inner beast that says terrible things like, “Kill yourself.” It certainly is a thing with fangs, but it’s also a fantasy, an illogical voice that suggests a bottle full of pills will solve the things that are wrong in your life. That it could be easy and clean, without collateral, somehow less burdensome to others than your living is—when the truth is that even the loneliest person’s suicide affects others, and also that suicide is rarely (if ever) neat and clean in a literal sense. If you take a bottle of pills you will probably vomit more than you knew you were capable of. It will be gross and terrible and painful and will likely fuck up your internal organs. Suicide being easy is an unuseful myth.

IV. “Anchor” is titled after the action I feel like that section is attempting, to find something sturdy in the importance of human relationships. Maybe it’s corny, but I think that section is about finding reasons to stay alive in friendship, love, and an idea of home.

SF : Michigan comes up in more than one poem, from “Genesis of the Only Michigander Who Doesn’t Drive” to “Not Gently Will I Lose Her”. I would love to know more about your home state and how it has shaped the writer that you are now.

SE : Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but many of my favorite living writers have come out of Michigan. Sometimes I think that it’s a place that’s so economically beaten down, we have to make up stories—that there is some great need to say both “I am” and “I could be.” To some degree, to grow up in a place where many of my friends were teen mothers and go to an Ivy League graduate program was an act that required an active imagination. As far as more direct ways in which it’s shaped my writing, I think it’s a place that’s shaped my obsessions. Humanly is less about class than my first book (Good Grief), but I think the aggregate classism I’ve experienced in my life (particularly in higher ed) is always there. I feel conflicting pressures to use all the big words I know and prove that I’m smart enough to be where I am in life  and to try to use colloquial diction that represents where I’m from, how I talk when I talk to people who seem like home to me. Also, I grew up in a family full of grand storytellers, and I think the simple act of riding in a car or sitting around a table and hearing the wild stories my uncles and cousins would tell taught me more about narrative structure and how to captivate attention than any book or class on writing has ever taught me.

SF : What poets do you continually go back to?

SE : Oh gosh,  there’s so many. To name a few: Terrance Hayes, Marie Howe, Philip Levine, Sharon Olds, Richard Siken, Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon, Nick Flynn, Patricia Smith, Jan Beatty, Rachel Zucker, Jericho Brown, Lynda Hull, James Wright, and Muriel Rukeyser.



Theory of Time

Try this: my bed is covered in Kleenex and late bills.

I am starting to forget stilled frames: where I put

the stamps, the extra cellphone battery, my dead

grandmother’s phone number I must have called

a hundred times. It started with 694. I’m afraid

these prescriptions that slow neuron riots edging

my system toward overload have taken away time,

how it used to hover before me or me behind it.

I could at least see and catalog tiny oscillations

of wing, fist, story, garbage. Broke for memories,

let’s invent a room I used to stay in. A good find

for the price, someone had bothered to paint the walls

a shade other than the landlord’s eggshell, maybe red

with sloppy trim work around the door frame—

either unskilled or possessed by the laze that comes

with temporary housing, with no time to nest

before the next life plan reaching out of Tarot cards

and spreadsheets. If I dash numb sky rational

at a rate of Lamictal and wine into tenure track

and vintage suits, at what point do I pass the fragile

center of ghosts in the brain, and is it better?



Stevie Edwards is a poet, editor, educator, and an advocate for mental health awareness. She is currently Editor-in-Chief at Muzzle Magazine, Acquisitions Editor at YesYes Books, and a Lecturer at Cornell University. Her first book, GOOD GRIEF (Write Bloody 2012), won an open manuscript contest and received two post-publication awards, the Independent Publisher Book Awards Bronze in Poetry and the Devil’s Kitchen Reading Award from Southern Illinois University – Carbondale. Her second book, HUMANLY, was recently release by Small Doggies Press. Her poems have appeared in Verse Daily, Rattle, Devil’s Lake, Indiana Review, Salt Hill, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from Cornell University and a BA from Albion College.

You can purchase Humanly at Small Doggies Press or on Amazon.


Contributing Editor


SaraEve Fermin is a performance poet and epilepsy advocate from New Jersey. An East Coast heart jumping circus trains, she is the editor-in-chief of Wicked Banshee Press. Nowadays can be found volunteering at National Poetry Slam Events. She is a Women of the World Poetry Slam Competitor and her work can be found in GERM Magazine, Drunk In A Midnight Choir, Free Verse Magazine and Transcendence among others. Her second book of poetry, The View From The Top of the Ferris Wheel, will be published by Emphat!c Press in 2015. She believes in the power of foxes and self publishing.