Tag Archives: poetry

I Stole You a Poem but It’s Really Me Asking You to Watch Movies With Me

Inspired by Bob Schofield’s WIKIPEDIA ARTICLE ABOUT LOVE WITH PLENTY CITATIONS and the practice of newspaper blackouts created by Austin Kleon.

You like to look for things
no one ever sees1
and let me tell you:
I won’t disappoint you.2
But you’ve got to understand
some people stay invisible for a reason
and I’ll have to go soon.
my dad says3
people just want to stay
saved!4 but
I can’t deal with the whole
‘we face our monsters5 bravely and
though it looks like we’re about to lose we
win at the very last moment and
everything is explained in a succinct paragraph and
the curtains close as the lights go out and
no one questions anything’ bit.
It’s too tidy and
unrealistic and
that’s why I have trouble.6
I need new stories7 where the itch of confusion isn’t
always satisfied and sometimes
the story is just bloodied hopeless
but you can’t just ask people why8
they devour one another9
can you?
Can I
ask you something?
What do people scream when
they see you10 coming?
I really need to hear it.11
I’ve been trying to tell people I love this thing
that scares me shitless but everyone says
I’m in too deep and
if I don’t come up for air soon
there will be drowning
but I can’t believe them because
look at this story:
aren’t we doing that already? and
what will we do12 with this mess of red
suffocating us? and dammit
how can you be so terribly
knowing the only thing that stands between us and death14
are these bodies?

She looks at me
(you can see me?15)
and opens her mouth and here
come the answers I probably won’t know how to hold.

“One: Yes. I see you.
Two: Don’t leave me16. Okay?”

“Three: People scream:
Are you fucking kidding me?17
something about dead people18
I can’t remember which, I
always get confused.

Four: What else? Right:
Four: How can I be so happy?”

She coughs,
rubs the side of her nose.
There’s a pause–

“God,” she says,
grabs my hand,

–then the truth19:
“It’s such a beautiful day.20


1. Amelie, Rise of the Guardians
2. Pitch Perfect
3. Pitch Perfect
4. The Incredibles and/or Saved!
5. Pacific Rim
6. Amelie
7. Beginners
8. Mean Girls
9. Snowpiercer
10. Monsters vs. Aliens
11. The Dead Girl
12. Gone Girl
13. Terribly Happy
14. Prisoners
15. Rise of the Guardians
16. Coraline
17. Bridesmaids
18. The Sixth Sense
19. Beginners
20. It’s Such a Beautiful Day

Contributing Editor

Alexis Smithers is a twenty one year old explosion of messes. They are queer black writer that was published in a book about how horses heal (Wild at Heart by Heather Kirby), and has work that can be found on theEEEL. Fun facts: they tied a pillowcase to their back and tried to fly after seeing Sky High, their mantra can be found in Wreck-It Ralph, The Babadook, or Orphan Black (depending on the day) and they’re terrified of mostly everything but art makes the fear easier to hold.

Poetry On The Go: Five Podcasts To Get Your Poetry Fix

We all need a little poetry in our lives, right?

Whether it be through dog-eared books, online journals, or through this very website, there are always ways to get your poetry fix. But if you’re looking for something a little different, I’ve created a list of excellent poetry podcasts that will blow your mind (and ears) with such an wide array of talent available! Let’s begin, shall we?

Voicemail Poems

Described as “missed calls you actually want to hear”, ‘Voicemail Poems’ presents a unique twist to the genre of spoken word poetry. Created by poet John Mortara, this podcast creates a sense of communication with poet’s leaving recordings of their poems through voicemails. With a whole host of poems to choose from, “Voicemail Poems” presents originality and style to the spoken word genre.

Subcity Radio’s Rhyming Optional

A selection of Scottish talent now, with ‘Rhyming Optional’, A monthly radio show broadcasting the latest in Scottish spoken word poetry. Hosted by the talented spoken word poet Kevin P.Gilday, “Rhyming Optional” debuts a mixture of the latest in spoken word talent with a fine selection of music to accompany it, making it a feast to listen to.

Read Poetry and Eventually Die

A fairly new podcast aimed at changing the discourse and social commentary of poetry, it features a mixture of contemporary and classic poetry of which Steve Roggenbuck breaks down and picks at, analysing what messages he perceives from the work. His enthusiastic and quirky approach to the subjects of poetic style and delivery is an infectious sound that you can’t help but keep listening to.

Write About Now

“Write About Now” provides the latest in American slam poetry, directly from Houston, Texas. It streams half an hour segments of shows, focusing on the latest mainstream poets to grace the stages of America. It features the likes of: Clementine Von Radics, Alex Dang, Ebony Stewart and Derrick Brown. This podcast focuses on the powerful and the dynamic, making it an incredible listen and a firm favourite.

The Indiefeed Poetry Podcast

The Indiefeed Poetry Podcast was created by Indiefeed to collect and showcase extracts of performance poetry from a whole host of popular poets. With the likes of JeanAnn Verlee, Andrea Gibson, and Jeremy Radin gracing the airwaves, this podcast features an extensive back catalogue, making it the perfect podcast to start immersing yourself into spoken word.

Contributing Editor

Jade Mitchell is an 18 year old poet / writer who resides near Glasgow, Scotland. Her work has been featured in The Grind Journal, Inky Paper and Ink Scotland. Aside from working on her writing and poetry, you can find her listening to Lorde and reading every poem she can find in sight.

The Dance Interview Series | Desireé Dallagiacomo

Desireé Dallagiacomo is a Pushcart Prize nominated poet, teaching artist, and radical feminist. In 2014, she ranked 3rd overall at the National Poetry Slam (as a member of Slam New Orleans) 3rd overall at the Individual World Poetry Slam, and 3rd overall at the 2015 Women of the World Poetry Slam. Her work has been featured on EverydayFeminism.com, Upworthy, The Huffington Post, and the San Francisco Globe. For more of her work visit poemsbydes.tumblr.com, and for booking inquiries email d.dallagiacomo@gmail.com.

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

DD : I would ask myself why in the hell I thought I could do an interview this badass in the same week that I have final exams.

DMR : Do you have any writing habits or rituals? Any particular routine you follow when crafting a piece?

DD : Gah. For years I never even thought to identify my process. I just kind of wrote and ended up with something, and it always seemed like a bit of a miracle with no rhyme or reason.

My process is pretty sporadic, but it’s absolutely identifiable. I usually vomit a whole bunch of stuff on paper, thousands of words, and then I go through my notebook, highlight what’s working, type that up, print it out, and start dissecting it and treating it like an erasure or a found poem. Whenever people come across drafts of my poems, they’re always a little shocked by how colorful they are. I highlight, circle, underline, cross out, rewrite, draw arrows, blocks, etc.  I tend to write in very busy places, and I try to write as much as possible before I even look back through it. I am of the mind that one should always work to cut and not add; so I try to get it all out on the front end.

From there, I work through many, many drafts. I try to pay attention to language economy, word choice, consistency of metaphor. Lately, I’ve been trying to treat poems as individuals, and I have been trying to give every poem exactly what it needs and nothing more.

DMR : Do you find you write more so when “inspiration strikes” or do you force yourself to write whether it’s there or not? Which do you advise to fellow poets?

DD : I think that I used to tell myself that writer’s block was a thing, but I don’t really think it’s a thing. I think, for me, I’ve got to go after it. If I don’t go after it, I’ll watch Netflix all day instead. I definitely have things that I know I can do to help me find inspiration, and sometimes it comes to me. I do believe it is for me to force myself to write, because 9 times out of 10 that’s what it’s going to take to crank out some work I’m proud of.

DMR : Do you believe in finished pieces or do you believe all pieces are open to later editing when revisited?

DD : I think it’s weird to pick a piece back up that has already lived a life. I don’t feel like I can come back and edit a piece, and it remain the same piece. It’s like sewing a blanket with 2 separate fabrics. My writing style and my content move around so much, that it’s very difficult for me to pick a poem back up after I’ve memorized it, or submitted it. I work on most of my poems for months, and then I just have to tell myself it’s done, because if I didn’t I would never stop working on it. So for me, a poem is done when I convince myself it is. That being said, there are many poems that I’ve been working on for years, and they have never seen the light of day.

DMR : Do you keep an audience in mind whilst writing?

DD : It depends. I mean, I’m always aware that someone will read or hear a poem that I write, as that is what I do for a living. I know that my work will live outside of my computer or my notebook. I’ve never had much of an issue with sharing my work with folks. So, I guess I am thinking of an audience. That audience may be folks attending a poetry slam, the audience may be my mother, the audience may be folks that read my poems in print. For me, audience doesn’t affect my writing all that intensely- it definitely used to! I am so grateful to have moved past the point in which audience dictates my writing, but it definitely did at one point. I guess now I just always am aware that I always have an audience, so I’ve tried to tune them out.

DMR : I think there is always a risk when sharing work on a writing platform that eventually you begin writing what you believe will get a reaction rather than writing what is important to you personally. Have you ever fallen prey to this? Do you have any advice on how to separate the public’s value of a piece from your own?

DD : That’s a tricky question. If we believe that art exists to create social change, then of course we want a reaction! I believe art is a political act, and I think it always should be. This doesn’t mean that one must write all their poems about rape culture or white supremacy, but I think we have to see our art as revolutionary. When I write about my brother, I am writing about the prison industrial complex. When I write about my mother, I am writing about womanism, LGBTQIA issues, class issues. I would hope that one can find the sweet spot, what works for you AND works for your audience. Obviously, what works for the writer is the most important thing, but I think it can coexist with getting a “reaction”. I hope all my work gets reactions! When people are not reacting to my work, then my work has no business being in the public sphere.

DMR : You mentioned in our first exchange that the process of writing your poem One Side of an Ongoing Dialogue with Sharon, My Therapist was specifically challenging. Can you elaborate on that? What about that poem provoked you?

DD : Oh, boy. When I wrote that poem, I was 22 and almost literally going crazy. I was in an awful relationship, and I felt incredibly isolated. I was spending a lot of time alone and removed from people and things that I loved. It originally started as an apology letter to the person I was dating at the time, and then one of my close friends/colleagues was like “Hey I like that line about your therapist. Have you ever tried to write a letter to her?” and it was like a light bulb went off. I wrote about 4,000 words, and then I just kept cutting away at it. I had the poem printed and taped to the walls of my apartment. I cut the poem up, I highlighted, blacked out, rearranged. The process was invigorating and very, very active (I am a real lover of processes more than products). I sat with that poem for weeks. The video of that from 2012 (also) is when I had just memorized it. I had not performed it in a slam memorized, and when I watch it or hear the audio I have some serious envy of that performance. When I hear that specific performance, it sounds like I want to jump out of my skin- and I did. So overall, that process was one long, angsty edit after another. It was one of the most rewarding to write, and it was the first time I really wrote something that had a fire under it on stage. It was the first poem that really moved folks, and it really made me believe that art can be transformative.

That poem is a snapshot of me in one of my darkest places. Reliving that is a privilege, and a great task to do again and again.

DMR : Richard Siken recently mentioned that what helped him find his voice was recording himself reading his poems aloud and revising toward how the poetry sounded verbally rather than revising toward the page. As a spoken word poet, do you have any similar techniques? How do you create a rhythm in written words that translates to a spoken performance?

DD : Hmm. That’s interesting. I don’t know. I am a harsh writer, and I use harsh letters and syllables in my writing. That’s something that really plays a role in my performance, honestly. I usually try to cut as many words as possible, which makes sentences jumpy and jagged. I don’t change poems from the stage to the page, and I write many poems that I don’t read aloud. I believe that poems can exist exactly the same in all the spaces that an author wants them to.

I don’t have any techniques, really. When workshopping performance, I try to move from my natural tendencies to other parts of voice. I whisper, recite poems in an accent, stare at myself in a mirror while I read a poem monotone. I want to find the valleys in the poem, find the syllables that want breath and the ones that don’t. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut and read the same way again and again. It’s important to me to work to be intentional and aware of my voice. This same thing translates to the page- but for me, I play around with punctuation and line breaks and such. Again, I like sharp looking poems. I like poems to have a lot of enjambment or a lot of odd punctuation. It’s also important to me to guide the reader to read the poem how I would, and this comes with finding the voice of a poem.

Long story long, I’m not sure that I do write for the stage or come up with a technique to make the transition seamless. I really try to pay honor to a poem’s voice, and sometimes it takes me a while to learn it. My goal is to always give the poem what it needs, not what I want it to have.

DMR : On the topic of your spoken word poems, do you have any tricks/tips for performing? Eg: memorisation, confidence, portraying emotion without allowing it to overwhelm you.

DD : Oy. Get the poem in you. That’s when it comes to life. Memorize. Live the poem. Let it be inside of you, and recite it everywhere. In the car, to your garden, on the treadmill, whatever. Let the poem live everywhere. It will tell you what it needs if you let it.

Audiences want to be a part of a genuine moment, give them that moment. Don’t fake it. DON’T. FAKE. IT. The audience will know, and your poem will be pissed. Do what you have to do to give the audience an authentic moment. That is when the magic happens. Don’t be scared to lose it on stage- Lord knows I have. If it overwhelms you? Great. My motto, you have to cross the line to know where it is. Break down in rehearsals, break down in your home venue. Let it out, and then dial it back.

DMR : Your poem Real Sex Tips, with Kaycee Filson, is fierce as lion roar. What does the process of collaborating with another poet look like for you? How do you accommodate including another person into your process?

DD : Collaboration always looks different for me, depending on the other folk/s in the equation. I am someone that does a bulk of writing, and then I whittle it down to its most potent parts. For me, the process looks like lots of notes, lots of reworking, lots of conversation, many many drafts. Working with Kaycee was interesting, because we are close friends. We have a chemistry and shared understanding already, so it was just a matter of focusing that energy. It really took us months to write that poem, and it started from a very different place than it ended up. We also memorized that poem like 2 days before Nationals, haha. So those videos floating around the internet are actually some of the first times we performed that poem memorized, so it still had a lot of its urgency and nervous energy- which I think is really important for a poem.

DMR : To finish, this question isn’t about your writing process, but it’s one I always like asking fellow poets. My favourite quote by you is, “nobody wants to develop my negatives in their dark room.” Which quotes/excerpts of your own work do you take most pride in?

DD : Haha, what a question. All of my poems mean a lot to me. The line that means the most to me in this moment today is probably “And is that not living?/ Being so close to death you paint it on your skin?” That is from my poem SINK. That poem took me my whole life to write, and now it’s living.

Check out more of Desireé’s work on her blog, including this list of videos & the merch on her sidebar that includes two chapbooks & a broadside of her legendary poem “Thighs Say”! :

You can also find her work in Words Dance 13 : 2013 Summer Issue!

Thank you, Desireé!

Contributing Editor /

Donna-Marie Riley currently resides in the South West of England. She is author of the poetry collection Love and Other Small Wars, published by Words Dance, and also featured in Between Sentiment and Sensation: Vol I, published by Red Paint Hill. She romanticizes cold coffee and bitten nails and she likes her poetry shaken, not stirred.

11 Questions with Yena Sharma Purmasir | Interview

Yena Sharma Purmasir is a 22 year old poet and author from New York City. Her first book of poetry, Until I Learned What It Meant, was published by Where Are You Press in 2013. A recent graduate from Swarthmore College, Yena has spent her first year of “real adulthood” doing a year’s worth of service at Hour Children, a non-profit supporting formerly incarcerated women and their children. Yena was the Queens Teen Poet Laureate for 2010-2011 academic year. In 2014, she was the recipient of the Chuck James Literary Prize from the Black Cultural Center at Swarthmore College. Most recently, she learned that she is one of Coffee Meets Bagel’s “top 10% most LIKED members.” She owes all of her success to her family and friends, who not only read her poems, but also continue to help her choose the perfect profile picture.

TM : Yena— you just recently finished your National Poetry Month: 30 Poems In 30 Days challenge. How do you think it went?

YSP : This was my fifth National Poetry Month endeavor and each time I’m just so tired and so proud afterwards. I do think that I was very lazy, this time around. A lot of the poems I wrote, I typed on my phone because I was writing them on trains and subway platforms. The thing about writing 30 poems in one month is that many of them aren’t going to be good. It’s just not possible. But there’s so much visibility, because we’re sharing them on Tumblr. I almost want to have a gentle disclaimer to new readers: please don’t judge me for this! a lot of my stuff is better than this! On the other hand, this challenge is like a diary – kind of. I think sometimes about putting together all the poems I wrote on April 6th across five years, to see how different each year was. I’m proud of these 30 poems, even if I never use some of them for anything else. Even if I don’t like them, they’re still important. I have my favorites from the month, probably at least ten, that I want to submit places and include in my next book. I’m really happy I wrote that poem about my brother and Zayn Malik. I don’t know if I would’ve thought of writing it if I wasn’t writing 30 poems in 30 days.

TM : Can you sit down with intent to just write a poem or do you need to be inspired first?

YSP : Hm, it’s probably a mix of both to be honest. I get a lot of ideas throughout the day. If I’m not careful, I lose them. My friend Anne is a writer with a few novels under her belt, and what I admire about her is how frequently she writes. How she sits herself down and manages to churn out really lofty projects. It was easier for me when I was in college. It’s not even a year since I’ve graduated, but I do feel like working in an office is taking a lot out of me. It’s harder to find that time to sit and write something, to make it as great as I imagined it to be. I do it sometimes, but I also have more unfinished documents on my laptop than I’ve ever had before. It’s a bad habit, to be honest, and one I’m wishing to shake myself out of. I’m planning a “Big Day Poetry Day” for this Saturday- which is literally just a whole day for doing poetry things, writing, editing, sending out submissions. I will say that I think I have it easier than other creators. It doesn’t take me as long to write something. A lot of the poems that are well-received are written really quickly. I think that’s the point of poetry. Audre Lorde talked about this, how poetry was for the poor, for the working class, because it was such a quick form of expression. When I hear about someone who has been working on one poem for days or weeks, I feel worried for them. I don’t think that’s the best way to create, but more than that, I think it starts to drive you crazy. Saying I wait to get inspired sounds lazy, but I’m honestly inspired every day. I don’t mean all my ideas are good, but at least I’m thinking, at least my brain never stops trying to piece together bits of real life and magic. It’s like taking care of a garden. Some of it is nature’s responsibility and some of it is ours. I’m responsible for my writing, which means I need to sit down and roll up my sleeves and do something. If the poem stays in my head, it’s never going to get anywhere else.

TM : How did you come up with the idea for this poem:

“14 of 30”

YSP : There are two answers to this question. First, it was April 14th, and I had to write something. Second, okay – this poem is autobiographical. I wonder about some of the people I have loved and some of the people I have missed. I wonder if they read my blog. I wonder if they bought my book. I wonder if they try to find themselves in my poetry. In some of the things I write, I know I (or the speaker – hey, not everything is autobiographical) sound like I have been the world’s saddest, strongest victim. But that’s not the only way the story can be told. I wanted to write something like I was on the other side of a computer screen. Like I was reading about how this person I loved hurt me and the rest of the world believed I deserved it.

TM : Was the choice to do all capital letters something that happened while you were writing it or something you decided on afterwards?

YSP : I knew I wanted it to be in all capital letters as soon as I had the idea. I felt like it was the kind of angry email you would get from someone you used to whisper to on the phone. Because they wouldn’t be able to yell, all they would have is capital letters. It reminds me a bit of the howlers in Harry Potter. I don’t write too much in all capital letters. In some poems, I don’t capitalize at all. But this one needed that sharp lettering. I think the typography itself looks harsh and painful. I wanted readers to know immediately that this was not going to be a gentle poem.

TM : Would you like to read it aloud?


TM : How do you start writing a poem?

YSP : My creative writing teacher in high school told me that I always end my poems with a punch. Before he said that, I didn’t think too much about endings. But ever since then, I focus a great deal on them. When I start writing a poem, I generally start with some imagery I’d like to include. Typically speaking, these images show up in the first few lines. From there, the poem kind of shapes itself. I know what I’m trying to do in terms of the big picture, but I’m not too particular with the details. I let it flow. Now, I might have some concrete ideas about what I want to happen in the middle. If I do, I try to rein it in. The ending, surprisingly, is something I try to exercise zero control over. Some of my best endings almost write themselves. When I think about my process, I feel like so much of it is actually subconscious. I’m stunned at what themes I weave into a poem, how subtext is present throughout when I didn’t intend for that.

TM : And how do you know when one is finished?

YSP : This is going to sound like a really bizarre metaphor, but I mean this in the nicest way. I think creators have this really powerful sense of responsibility for their work. We want everything to be perfect and neat and focused. I don’t have any children, but I imagine it’s a lot like being a parent: wanting your kids to do the right thing and be the best version of themselves and, among other things, never let you down. Once I’ve written the bulk of my poem, I read it over a few times. I change a few words, maybe shift a line break or two. Sometimes I reorder stanzas, a trick from a really brilliant English Lit professor. But I try not to poke at a poem too much. At a certain point, it feels like this is as good as it is gonna get with this poem. If I change it too much, it’s not going to be the same poem – which is fine! But that likely means that I’m not ready to write about this yet. My poem is finished even before I edit it. I know a lot of writers are going to disagree with me. That’s fine. I think editing is important part of the process, but the poem doesn’t need it. I’m the one who needs it. I’m the one who doesn’t want this poem to go out into the world looking like that, giving everyone a bad attitude. I wrote a poem pretty recently and I thought that it was this really benevolent piece. It got a decent response on Tumblr and I thought everyone was on the same page as me. It was my mother who told me that it was not a benevolent poem. She told me it was tough and unyielding. I love that poem, I think it’s one of the most important things I’ve ever written, but maybe it’s not the nice little poem I crafted. Maybe it really is this wild, unforgiving thing. And that’s okay. None of my poems need to be changed. I’m the one who is having trouble. I’m the one who has to learn to let go.

TM : Do you have any examples of notes you’ve taken that have turned into poems?


TM : Would you consider yourself a largely autobiographical poet or do you write a lot of fiction?

YSP : Oh god, so I actually dug through my archive to find a poem I wrote two years ago that could easily answer this question. When I was younger, in high school, I wrote a lot of fictional poems. I mean, there was a lot of truth in what I was writing, but I disguised a lot. I started using a type of code that only I could understand – or at least I thought I did. Looking back, when I reread some things I wrote years ago, even in college, I’m not too sure what I was drawing inspiration from. I do write about things that happen to me and some of it is very explicit. I’ve written about my family, especially my parents and brother, with total honesty. My extended family and I aren’t very close and I feel like some of what I write, if they were to read it, might hurt. For their sake and the fragility of our relationship, I write some fictional poems that could serve as a reflection of my life, but could also just be something I dreamed up. My romantic and sexual poems are really quite scattered. Part of this might be because I started writing these poems before I started dating and falling in love. Some of my poems from my early years of writing had really lofty ideas. I think that’s the sign of a young writer, wanting to write about the whole world, of which we have only seen a fraction. I think I’m an older writer now. I’ve been writing for fourteen years, with the same diligence and discipline. The difference now, I guess, is that some of what I write must be real. That sounds funny, but when I was writing sexual poems at fifteen, everyone knew I was not talking about me. Now, there’s this mystery, because it could be true. I’m very purposeful about this. I don’t like details to match up across poems. If I notice that I keep coming back to the same imagery, I switch something out. I am a private person and I feel very protective over the private things of my life. I have some good friends who have told me that they’re surprised by how vulnerable and expressive my writing is. I think they believe that most of what I write is autobiographical. But it’s not. Or it is. Take your pick. If anyone has ever tried to sketch the course of my relationships with my poetry, I think they’d get confused. The timelines don’t make sense and maybe that’s the point. That poem I was talking about, the one I wrote years ago, here’s how I ended it: “I still don’t think anyone could know me from what I write.”

TM : What would you consider your “break out poem”?

YSP : 2013 was the first year of the Where Are You Poet Contest, held by Clementine von Radic’s press. I submitted my manuscript in July. In September, I received an email saying that I was one of the eight finalists. Each of us had to submit one poem to represent our manuscript. Each of the poems would go up on the Where Are You Press blog. The winning poet would be decided at least partially on how the poem was received. It was kind of no brainer for me. I picked a poem called “The Beauty Radius.” It’s a really personal poem about being a woman of color, struggling with nearly polarized beauty ideals. It took off like wildfire, not entirely by accident. I reached out to some blogs geared for women of color and people of color, not thinking anything of it. I saw the notes rise up so quickly. I received messages from young brown girls, telling me how much it meant to them to read it. This was all before I even won the contest. I remember thinking that even if my book doesn’t get published, 1,000 people had read something I wrote. I know that seems like a small number, but that’s 1,000 people who don’t know me. That’s 1,000 people who had never heard my name before. I love that poem. I love what it stands for and how many people it touched. I love that it’s so personal and honest and yet, other people found a way to connect to it. When I reread that poem now, I’m not even a little jaded. It’s so familiar to me. It’s like looking at my own face in the mirror. It’s the poem that started it all. I’m still proud of it. I think I will be proud of it forever.

TM : And finally, can you tell us a little bit about what you’re currently working on?

YSP : I’m planning big changes for my blog (fly-underground.tumblr.com). I’ve talked to a few friends and other writers on tumblr, but I’d like to keep some element of surprise. In a few weeks, things will look very different. I’m finishing up my first grown-up job in July. I’ll be working at an international youth leadership camp in upstate New York for the summer, but after that, there is endless possibility. I am applying to some writing fellowships and programs. I going to start doing freelance work. I’ll start submitting to more literary magazines. I want to finish up the manuscript of my second book of poetry and really start writing the novel I’ve been outlining for the past year. I’m giving myself about a year to focus on writing. My whole life writing has been on the back burner, that thing that I did in between school and work. Considering that, it’s amazing what I’ve been able to do with my writing – but imagine what I could do if I wasn’t juggling anything else? Who knows! It’s a really exciting time in my life. I can’t wait to see what happens.

Check out Yena on Tumblr and Twitter @YenaPurmasir, and find her first collection of poetry in the Where Are You Press Shop!

Contributing Editor

Trista Mateer is a writer and poet living outside of Baltimore, Maryland. She believes in lipstick, black tea, and owning more books than she can ever possibly read. Known for her eponymous blog, she is also the author of two collections of poetry.

Indie Press Interview Series | Dancing Girl Press

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Raised among the corn fields and twisty back roads of northern Illinois, Kristy Bowen has been writing something or other pretty much ever since her dad taught her the alphabet at 3 years old by bribing her with chocolate. Thus, she spent much of her youth making up stories on swingsets, day dreaming in class, and decadently reading bad horror novels and trashy romances while sprawled across her bed. After an ill-fated career path in marine biology as a freshman in North Carolina (tragically ended by her phenomenal badness at even the most basic math), she moved on to Rockford College, where studied English by day and lurked/toiled behind the scenes of campus theatre productions at night. While there, she developed a love of Sylvia Plath, gothic novels, girls with guitars, the cozy labyrinth of library stacks, and brilliant but troubled men (aka the Heathcliff Complex).

Because she is also a sucker for clean white notebooks and the smell of newly sharpened pencils, she moved to Chicago and followed it up with an MA in English Lit from DePaul University, reading, writing and entertaining the notion of teaching her vast knowledge of last minute essay writing and creative distraction to a new generation (the idea of which was quickly dispensed.) She later earned an MFA in Poetry from Columbia College. Along the way, she wrote a lot of poems, started the online lit zine wicked alice, nurtured a passion for book and paper arts, and founded dancing girl press & studio.

She is the author several longer and shorter written (and occasionally visual) endeavors, including the full-length projects major characters in minor films, (Sundress Publications, 2015), girl show (Black Lawrence Press, 2014), the shared properties of water and stars (Noctuary Press, 2013), in the bird museum (Dusie Press, 2008) and the fever almanac (Ghost Road Press, 2006). Her sixth book, salvage is due out from Black Lawrence Press in 2016.

Since poetry & art are highly rewarding but terrible paying endeavors, she splits her days between the studio and moonlighting in the library of an arts college surrounded by way more books than she will ever be able to read. The rest of the time, she lives in a big old drafty art deco building near Lake Michigan with a pack of mongrel cats, even more books, and all sorts of thrifted lovelies. She is obsessed Joseph Cornell, victoriana, carnivals/sideshows, horror films, diagramatic things, vintage housewares, old scientific & botanical illustrations, architectural drawings, postcards, drive-in movie theatres, roadside motels, and all things paper.

WD : When & how did Dancing Girl Press come about? What was the spark to start it & what did its infancy look like?

DGP : In 2001, I had started an online lit zine, wicked alice, devoted to women’s writing and based on the success of that, I thought it might be cool to launch an entity that produced something a little more tangible than the internet allows. I was just starting to work in book and paper mediums after years of only focusing on writing, and was seeing so many micro presses doing interesting things, that I decided to go for it in early 2004. I remember standing in the aisle at Quimby’s Bookstore in Chicago and poring over all the chapbooks and zines and thinking, hey, I can do that! I started by just issuing a chap of my own to get the logistics down—cost, supplies, shipping, marketing. By that fall, we had our first official title from Adrianne Marcus and call out for submissions for the next year. It was a little slow going in the beginning, getting the word out and getting the submissions we were looking for. But it sort of snowballed from there. We steadily built our catalog for the next couple of years, and were moving a bit slower while I finished my MFA, but in late 2007, we moved the whole operation, which had previously been happening in my dining room, into a studio space and tripled the number of books we’d publish the next year. It sort of just snowballed from there.

WD : What does a typical work day look like for you?

DGP : I work a full-time job in a college library from 2-10pm most days, so my studio time happens earlier in the day. I usually get there in the morning and spend some time printing and assembling and shipping books, working on layouts and cover designs, and answering e-mails, depending on which needs more attention at any given moment. I might have some downtime later in the day at the library, where I will read new manuscripts or work on marketing/ promotional stuff, go over proofs.

WD : What’s your favorite part of the job?

DGP : Outside of just getting to read and choose new work, I LOVE working on covers and indulging my visual side. We approach covers in many different ways..sometimes the author will work with a designer or artist friend and just deliver something readymade. Sometimes I’ll work with them to find art or come up with a concept and then hammer out something after some back and forth. Sometimes, the author will just set me loose on my own, with or without some general ideas. Since I tend to work on projects that are both visual and written more and more, I love working similarly with other people’s writing—finding that perfect visual that makes the book complete.

WD : What other indie presses do you adore?

DGP : One of our authors, Eireann Lorsung launched Miel Books, which makes some beautiful titles. Also many of the presses that were pre-cursors to dgp are still putting out lovely books—Bloof, Horseless, Maverick Duck Press, New Michigan, Black Ocean, Octopus, Greying Ghost. And I am of coursed biased toward the presses that have published me—Dusie, Sundress, Noctuary, Black Lawrence.

WD : Tell us an anecdote involving the press!

DGP : My favorite story was how we landed our studio space. I had just finished my degree and had a little extra set aside leftover from my student loans. I was toying rather idly with the idea of getting a studio space where we could also maybe host readings and events. Meanwhile, I had been in love with the Fine Arts Building for years and passed it everyday on my way to and from work, and had frequented a coffeeshop/bookstore housed there at one point. So imagine my surprise at finding a listing for a studio in the building on Craigslist one afternoon. I called immediately on a total whim (even though I wasn’t sure if doing this was even a possibility) and was told that particular studio was taken, but another artist had let them know he was moving out that very morning and would I be interested in seeing his (which was smaller, but more affordable). Of course I said yes, and while the manager hinted that there was actually a waiting list, I offered to write a check right then and there for first months and the deposit. I’m not usually one for swift or rash decision making (Taurus that I am, ) but something felt completely inevitable and right about it and I dove head first. I can’t say I’ve ever moved that impetuously on anything and it worked out beautifully and allowed for us to grow so much in the last 8 years (which we probably couldn’t have done in my dining room..lol..)

Click here to check out all of the chapbooks by Dancing Girl Press here!

Thank you so much, Kristy!


Amanda Oaks is the founding editor of Words Dance Publishing. Her works have appeared or are forthcoming in numerous online & print publications, including decomP, Stirring, Dressing Room Poetry Journal, Glamour, Elle, Parenting & Artful Blogging. She is the author of two poetry collections, Hurricane Mouth (NightBallet Press 2014) & her co-authored split book, I Eat Crow (Words Dance 2014). She likes poems that bloody her mouth just to kiss it clean.

Sway This Way: Kissing Angles by Sarah Fletcher | REVIEW

32 pgs, £4
Order from Dead Ink or Amazon.
Review by Jade Mitchell

Kissing Angles is not your typical exploration of love.

Sarah Fletcher slips through the surface and explores the cracks beneath, for this isn’t love that we know of. This love is darker. Whether it be through playful visions of lovers dressed in drag, or through love affairs with boys from New Orleans, what Fletcher brilliantly captures is the kind of love that causes friction – the electric pulse that connects you with another. Through poems such as “The Wrestler and The Sailor’s Daughter”, Fletcher captures this intensity instantly.

“As she moves on him
like an approaching tide,
she says she wants
to match his skin, be turned
to pearl string purple,
just like him.”

But it isn’t just love that Fletcher delves into. It’s the repercussion of it. Fletcher looks into the loss and the longing for what once was, capturing the highly-strung emotion. 
One of her strongest poems, “This Villanelle Has Two Endings” explores this perfectly. With the juxtaposing stanzas building up the essence of hope, it also reveals the barren reality, that the golden image of your ideal future may not always come true.

“You hold my hand, and hold our child’s too.
(The bleeding will subside. I leave the room.)”

What Fletcher also takes influence from is the love affairs of the past. From history, she picks women such as the Kraut Girls and Eva Braun; all of whom faced prejudice throughout their lives for the love they indulged in. She pinpoints the prejudice that the Kraut Girls faced due to their supposed betrayal for the men that captivated their hearts, whilst capturing the intensity of Eva’s relationship with Adolf Hitler from her own perspective.

“Against my yellow hair, he said I looked like flame.
He touched me, then, and did not burn.”

Kissing Angles is love cracked open, with Sara Fletcher conjuring the hunger, the ambition and the rawness of the feeling, making it a powerful read from a promising poet.

Sarah Fletcher is a young British-American poet. In 2012, she was a Foyle Young Poet, and in 2013, She won the Christopher Tower Poetry Prize. She has been published in The Rialto, the Morning Star, and The London Magazine. Her debut pamphlet ‘Kissing Angles’, ‘a sexy, witty, bold collection’ (Gillian Clarke), is available on Dead Ink.

Contributing Editor

Jade Mitchell is an 18 year old poet / writer who resides near Glasgow, Scotland. Her work has been featured in The Grind Journal, Inky Paper and Ink Scotland. Aside from working on her writing and poetry, you can find her listening to Lorde and reading every poem she can find in sight.

19 Poems to Combat The Stigma Around Mental Health

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and Words Dance decided to take some advice from Neil Hilborn (as found in the first video) and do two things to create a platform to start conversations around the subject. The first part follows “Listen” with spoken word poets and the second part follows “Speak Up” with written word poems.

About Poetry & Mental Illness

Neil Hilborn, “OCD” Slam Poetry and Mental Health Awareness (includes the OCD poem)

Rachel McKibbens, Poetry as Therapy

Spoken Word

Sabrina Benaim, “Explaining Depression to My Mother”

Shane Koyzcan, “To This Day”

Anis Mojgani, “Shake the Dust”

Dan Roman, “Living With Depression”

Catalina Ferro, “Anxiety Group”


“After Lavender Season
by Ginny Wiehardt
(Editor’s note is helpful)

“Piano Teeth”
by Caitlyn Siehl

“So You Want to Kill Yourself”
by Meggie Royer

by Donna-Marie Riley

Poetry Suite
by Stevie Edwards

Poetry Suite
by Jeanann Verlee

“The Language of the World”
by Nick Narbutas

“A Prayer”
by Caitlyn Siehl

♥ Do you have a fav that we didn’t list? Have you written a poem that we could include? Click on over to our Facebook page & let us know in the comments with a link or by copy/pasting yours. We’re looking forward to what you share. ♥

Contributing Editor

Alexis Smithers is a twenty one year old explosion of messes. They are queer black writer that was published in a book about how horses heal (Wild at Heart by Heather Kirby), and has work that can be found on theEEEL. Fun facts: they tied a pillowcase to their back and tried to fly after seeing Sky High, their mantra can be found in Wreck-It Ralph, The Babadook, or Orphan Black (depending on the day) and they’re terrified of mostly everything but art makes the fear easier to hold.

Literary Sexts Volume 2

This is the highly anticipated second volume of Literary Sexts! After over 1,000 copies of Literary Sexts Volume 1 being sold, we are super-excited to bring you a second volume!

Literary Sexts is an annual modern day anthology of short love & sexy poems edited by Amanda Oaks & Caitlyn Siehl.

These are poems that you would text to your lover. Poems that you would slip into a back pocket, suitcase, wallet or purse on the sly. Poems that you would write on slips of paper & stick under your crush’s windshield wiper or pillow. Poems that you would write on a Post-it note & leave on the bathroom mirror. Poems that you would whisper into your lover’s ear.

Hovering around 40 contributors & 130 poems, this book reads is like one long & very intense conversation between two lovers & it’s absolutely breathtaking.


Giving Lit Sexts 2 as a gift? Print, cut out & add in your own! Write whatever you wish, your own Literary Sexts, make them funny, personal, pen out your favorite short love poems, private jokes, your love will be swoonin’ all over you, promise!

Free PDF Download:
Printable Matching Literary Sexts 2 Text Bubbles

Ordering Info:



(instant download)

The eBooks are for your own personal pleasure only. Please do not send them to others via email or any other means electronically. If you dig the book, send your friends the link to purchase their own personal digital copy or save up $6 to buy an extra copy for your friend. We work closely with all of our authors, we work really hard birthing these beautiful books out into the world, you passing them around for free discredits both the poet’s & publisher’s hard work & dedication. Your support keeps this small press alive, we appreciate it so much, without it, we couldn’t continue to bring these books into your hands + hearts. We offer the digital option because we trust that you’ll honor that + supporting artists is just the right thing to do.

Please read below if you want or have ordered & before you contact us with questions, thank you!

*** You will be checking out using PayPal, where you can use your PayPal balance, your credit card or your checking account to pay. If you choose the eBook option, after purchase, you will be redirected to a download page AND receive an email with a download link to download the book instantly. If you don’t have a PDF reader, you can download one here for free. You will receive a PDF that you can read on any computer, mobile device or digital tablet! You can read PDFs on your Kindle or on the Kindle mobile app by emailing them to your Kindle email address that you can find in the Kindle’s settings. If you have an iPhone you can email yourself the PDF & open it in iBooks as well (Google is your friend.) If you have trouble downloading the eBook, like the link expired, give us an email by forwarding your proof of purchase or giving us your order number & we will email you a copy!

If you have any questions, please contact us, we’ll try to be timely with our response, your patience is a treasure! wordsdancepublishing (at) gmail (dot) com!

Amanda & Caitlyn