From the series Snow Storm from a Moving Train, photographs by Mary Lou Reker

Poets of the Eastern States

The Bee in the Center of a Zinnia: On the Poetry of Jody Stewart

Jody Stewart (née Pamela Stewart) is a poet whose work I have loved for going on forty years. From the very first collections, The St. Vlas Elegies (1977) and Cascades (1979), to the later, major collections, such as The Red Window (1997) and Ghost Farm (2010), I recognized her unique gift. Stewart is one of the finest lyric poets now writing in this country. The genre of “lyric” is almost indefinable, because lyric poems don’t always finish their stories (as narrative poems do) or tell us what to think (as didactic poems try to do). It is generally agreed, however, that one of the genre’s signature characteristics is at times mysterious but beautiful and/or haunting imagery, and that one reads the imagery in a lyric poem for what it “says,” but doesn’t translate. Stewart, for instance, takes on many issues of concern, such as domestic violence and serious illness, without lecturing us or holding forth. Another major characteristic of the lyric genre is that lyric poems often “sing.” They pay careful attention to the music of the words. Consider the following short passage from “From the Summer Porch,” and I think you’ll see what I mean:

I see finches dip along the feeders
or at basin’s edge. They know
the sounds a house makes
or when thunder crawls the hills.
Bees, in golden thunder, sift through black-eyed Susans.
As a hawk’s shadow stains the clearing
jays, sparrows, cowbirds, doves
spiral up through leaves.

Note the long e’s, that assonance in this descriptive passage, which connects feeders-bees-leaves as a “sound-motif,” creating the tension as the hawk’s shadow “stains” the sky. Often, we expect a mournful undertone on the long o, and we do hear that running through know-golden-shadow, but those long o’s are interrupted by short vowel sounds, which helps to build the tension. The poem is pastoral, and thus the threat, when it arrives, is to an earthly paradise the poem glimpses “for one essential daily moment.” It is that moment the two poems by Stewart included here also celebrate. 

When I first met Stewart many years ago, she was a professor of Creative Writing at Arizona State University, accomplished, already confident in her voice, exceedingly modest—almost to a fault—and generous with her time. She still is. In those days, it was rare to be able to work with a woman poet, and we women in ASU’s creative writing program gathered ourselves around her, savoring the privilege. Stewart went on to teach at UC Irvine, University of Arizona, and University of Houston before receiving a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1982, in order to research Arthurian legend in England. She didn’t return for some seven years, marrying a Cornwall native son and making a life in St. Ives, Cornwall. When she did return, she and her husband ran a working farm in Western Massachusetts, raising Angora goats and the occasional Icelandic sheep and llama. The working farm has now been retired, and Stewart has returned full force to writing and publishing, most recently, This Momentary World: Selected Poems (Nine Mile Books, 2022). In addition to a Guggenheim Fellowship, Stewart has been awarded fellowships from Hawthornden Castle, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and the Elizabeth George Foundation.

To open a book by Jody Stewart is to enter another world—full of what David Wojahn has described recently as a “hard-won sense of wonder”—poems that are filled with Stewart’s “haunted and singular music.” There is to her poetry a crystalline elegance of syntax, a deceptive simplicity of diction, but also the meticulously observed details of the dailiness of life on a farm. The later poetry is full of a profound wisdom, perhaps drawn from working closely with animals and being a long-term cancer survivor. As she puts it in the author’s celebratory Foreword to This Momentary World, “I’m older now. Yay! I love being older; a bee in the center of a zinnia is a fine event.” That last observation is worthy of her “neighbor” from another century, Emily Dickinson, whose Homestead is just down the road from Stewart’s retired farm in Hawley. I think of Stewart as having the tonal equivalent in her poetry of a musician’s perfect pitch. Her imagery is astonishingly beautiful, and her poetic ear is dazzling. Personally, I marvel at her poems, learn from their technique, return to ponder their insights. I hope you’ll follow up this brief introduction by acquiring her latest collection, but for now, please savor the marvelously varied Eastern States Poetry that Jody Stewart has curated for our winter issue of Persimmon Tree.






Poets and Courage: Poetry from the Eastern United States

When I was first teaching, I would tell students that “poetry has a spiritual life of its own” and, while I wasn’t sure what I meant, I knew I believed it and still do. Spirit/breath—what we breathe in and then return to the air—perhaps to touch, speak, sing, or share. How could one know where such forces might land. So many poems were submitted for this December issue, and, alas, I could only choose 15. Yet I would have loved to take a poem from each person who kindly submitted; what an anthology that would have been!

To read so many poems was both intriguing and moving. You poets all held so much in common: family love (grandkids!), grief, caregiving, personal trauma deflected through poetry, the physical self, political anguish, the natural world with its joys and damages, and works of real humor—all of which I would have enjoyed including. I felt I was listening to everyone have quite wonderful conversations with each other. And the clearly shared thread amongst all the voices? Courage! Lots of it.

As reasonably “mature” women we have all been through major difficulties, and there is much we recognize in each other. The more poems shared, the better we may come to understand one another. Lately, we may be aware of, and discouraged by, truly scary stuff. It takes courage to step up day by day, and courage to write of it, to speak out. Yet you all do! Brava! Poetry’s spiritual force insists on it.




From the series Snow Storm from a Moving Train, photographs by Mary Lou Reker



Madwoman in the Office

In the days of the Smith-Corona
I worked in an office
where our only debate was
elite versus pica, font sizes,
not class struggle
or the desire to eat chalk—
those ideas may have been interesting.
But no. If we discussed anything,
it was who should empty the trash
at clock-out. As for the news of the day,
we might have spoken of the war
nearly over or Nixon nearly gone
but we didn’t even have a water cooler
to gossip around.
All I wanted to do
besides shoot myself
was make a run to the office supply store
to replenish the White Out I had used up.
The thrum of adding machines
the ugly smudge of carbon paper
the phlegmy cough of the bookkeeper
who paced the hall, banner of Pall Mall
smoke unfurling behind him
waiting his turn for the one-toilet
washroom made me run for hills
that did not exist anywhere
near the New Jersey asphalt
road I was stuck on.
The poet Theodore Roethke
saved me when he whispered
something from behind the steel gray
filing cabinets, something about
manila folders he had known,
something about their inexorable misery,
and right then I decided
to set them on fire.






In Weather Like This

In weather like this
cattle bunch up
like stars
on one side
of a restless sky
nostrils flared
leaning into each other
chins against backs
lightning striking
like missiles
the wind’s grenades
a crazed moon
let out of the madhouse
in and out of the clouds
one night too many
to share the sky
with stars
huddled together like cattle
the storm has caught
in a corner of field
points of light
blown out
and out
and out
the moon
striking them dead where they shone






Broken Nest

A week after Hurricane Ian swept
away the roof
the outdoor chairs and table
the mangled umbrella wind-forced
around a sheaf of palm fronds
sand and drowned geckos
mildewed rugs and mud-footed bookcases
my small corner of paradise
not lost
but badly bruised
tossed and spun
as it was
for six relentless hours
and yet
and yet
one corner cushion on
my white couch survived
miraculously undamaged
and some small bird
is flying backlit spirals
against the turquoise sky—
how will she know
without a map of this broken
landscape where she built
days or weeks ago?
how will she find the one
unviolated corner of this world
that matches the nest in her bones?

End Notes:
1.  Ian, the fifth-strongest hurricane ever to make landfall in the U.S., was a Category 4 monster when it clobbered Southwest Florida on September 28, 2022. Ian tied Hurricane Charlie, 2004, as the fourth-most-powerful storm ever to hit Florida. (Internet news source, 2023)

2.  Hurricane Ian was predicted to make landfall near Tampa, which spent days preparing for severe storm conditions, but actually entered Florida further south near Ft. Myers, which was unprepared for the event.




From the series Snow Storm from a Moving Train, photographs by Mary Lou Reker




Once I was a baby head
a Liddle Kiddle vinyl head
until a big head filled my head
and my head was too small
The big head said do this not that
I did my best to do or not
I drank my milk and wore my socks
to pacify its no
Its list was long
like spiders’ legs
I acquiesced when I could
Its melodies of praise were bright and beautiful
In private, the head loved my head
It complemented all of me
But when we were with others
it turned away
I learned to think the way it thought
to measure love and privacy
to know its preference (atta girl!)
Whatever big head asked of me
I gave
Its gaze was gravity
I flowered in its garden
Appeasement grew into my skull
My skull was big with happiness
I grew into an unmade bed
The world was glorious
One day big head said here not there
I couldn’t fit my arms inside
a sweater or my skin
I had grown out of them
Nothing righted what was wrong
I’d grown
My handsprings, habits failed, devotion failed
Soon I dissolved
Except my Liddle Kiddle head
which surfaced, indestructible
on landfills, shorelines, windowsills







In the late 19th century Baron and Baroness de Hirsch bought land in Argentina to serve as communes for Jews fleeing pogroms.  


Locusts and drought plague the new land. My child, 
you say, will not be born here, 
struggle not to think of what’s left behind—
dear papa, my sisters, are you gone?
Eight years later in a Brooklyn walk-up, you scramble eggs
in bacon grease, juice oranges and strain the seeds, 
watch me eat as if that can fill you—
you say you don’t believe— how can there be a god?
Still, you call yourself a Jew— 
Miriam, what did they do to you? 
Teach me a new language: 
cool cloth on fevered forehead 
is love; plastic couch cover translates to 
fear of going without, again
shrouded mirrors after death means 
maybe there is a god
Bruised by a husband who punched
and the son who turned away, 
would you forgive that I saw
but didn’t speak? My daughter is named for you,
for how you held your palm
on my cheek. And on my sweetheart’s hand, 
the ring that bound your finger
as you planted seeds in grudging dirt.






Zip Code *

Delivery didn’t knock, didn’t waste
Time for my “John Hancock,” but stashed my box
Of online deals (OTC pills, toothpaste,
Mouthwash, Drano, and such)—hoping to outfox
Thieves—on the porch concrete floor behind a square
Granite base upholding a wood pillar
Of pseudo-neo-classic, one of four,
Fitting my family portico’s white flair.
Aluminum siding! Kinfolk neither
Cared nor knew what patchwork infrastructure—
Corinthian/Rococo mishmash, here, there,
Trade, conquest—gave our bartered bones shelter.
What long bloody miles from creek to river
This rowhome street—upscale in time—this star!

*During the 1920s, much of the domestic architecture of University City in West Philadelphia presented a neo-classical revival with a plethora of white-painted wooden columns, porticoes, and porch railings. As the twentieth century rolled along, Italianate replaced Greco-Roman details on the aging houses. Renovations continue.







as we both are, I see now
though I thought you straw or stick
sloughed off that third rinsing, following
my friend’s mother’s dictum
to take out a stain,
any blemish of the world, found even amid
this tender lettuce that nourishes us both,
scarcely green, purpled at the stem.
A fourth time to be sure
though sand still dotted the floor
of the spinner, I, each time
heaving water down the reluctant mouth
of the drain. Again and again I spin, I spin
above the rim the mile you have scaled.
Trespasser, now you have a face,
tiny horns, have found your floating world,
appetite-home-longing, as if anything
could stay as we left it, waiting for
our return like that long time it took
to go from plant to carnivore.
More human than I, to remember,
scent the pale lettuce as I could not,
recognize nourishment, belonging,
even in this foreign place.
I cry out: It’s the startle response
and my husband pinches you out of sight.
No, no, we have a yard, this is a house,
not a sixth-floor apartment! But he
doesn’t listen, maybe doesn’t hear.
The head swivels, the body
without a backbone, it’s all wish, will,
as much as I. Too late. Small miracle
in my kitchen I didn’t recognize.




From the series Snow Storm from a Moving Train, photographs by Mary Lou Reker



The Threshold Effect

Eyes open to the uncommon
beauty of common grackles beyond
my window. They chortle and crake—
Quisculas quiscala.
Teal and purple iridescence loosed
from the projection wheel.
I stumble out of bed like an old-timer
in an old movie. First face-splash,
a thank offering for another day.
Last night’s dream scenes dissolve
in a camera cutaway as I walk back
into the bedroom.
What did I come in here for?
I read that passing over thresholds
resets memory, prompts a new episode.
Get up to pee and dream lines leak
out your ear onto the pillow.
Night has its owl, day its hawk
and every remembering is a forgetting.
In sleep, eyes dart back and forth—
an actor scanning a script.
Before the prompter cues,
before coffee, I would glide awhile
a bird-woman slipping like smoke,
like water around the edges.






Ode to Nothing

On either side of the yard
white islands
of receding snow turn to quartz.
The moon rising
is a bird settling in for the night,
folding its white wings
against the dying body
of my father
though by morning an eastern towhee
has eaten all I offered
against the iced yard:
oiled sunflower seeds
and a paper plate
of corn cakes and bacon grease
he couldn’t eat.
I lifted the soft-boiled eggs
of his scrotum
to wipe him clean.
I believe every nothing
provides a space for something
worth tending.  In winter
our oak keeps its leaves,
letting go
of nothing,
those tiny fingerlings,
born from the hole we dug
together, he and I, one spring.
A cobalt sky
reflects on snow melting,
grass poking through.
In the shower where I bathe him
the soap is used to slivers
the size and shape of his nails
I’ve clipped and left
to litter the tiles. Nothing left
to do but keep tending. It is
nothing. Nothing
to my need.






Two Black Geldings

The two black geldings know
what I cannot know.
What I know
is one will leave.
When I call them in, they gallop together
out of darkness,
themselves darkness,
and I cannot tell one from the other
until they storm the barn, puffing and steaming,
one with a half-moon on his forehead,
the other, a star.
They have many acres to graze
but they are always in step,
their alertness tuned
to the same suddenness.
They pay attention to everything
and to nothing.
I lead them in, I lead them out.  I feed them.
I do not know them.
And when the one left behind
looks across the field, down the road
where the other has been taken
he whinnies the softest sound
I have ever heard.




From the series Snow Storm from a Moving Train, photographs by Mary Lou Reker



Love Letters to the Wild

Yes, I did weep. Yes
we painted the walls of our living
room with a smoldering red, like the urge
to shatter the sheetrock. The crumpled
papers, wood stove creaking
from its effort of holding in
so much heat.
We lived inside that firewall
for a long time, it was
our little box with a crank you could wind up and we
would open our mouths and sing —the nightingale boy and I.
Sang where no one could hear, until
utterly heartsick we threw open the doors and
went outside in the ferns and learned
to love each other.
Or if I went out alone it was
to the street with catalpa trees and long
catkins of cottonwoods. It is possible
to walk down the centerline in moonlight
when all has quieted and the neighbors’ lights
have gone out, utterly lost
in the dark crosshatches of branches.
Once the shadow of a pothole proved
to be a porcupine, gathering its coat of shards
and shuffling away.
My hands are pearlskin. My feet
grow hair and claws inside their slippers.
Yes, I tell you,
I am out here —






Still Life With Pear

You are painting a picture. Someone might ask of what, and you would lie. You would tell a lie and say, a still life, a still life with pear and vase. But really, you are painting the aftermath. Your canvas is stretched over a memory made vivid. You remember with every window view and mirror reflection, even opening a closet door, seeing the clothes you didn’t wear that day. You sketch the one room house, the filmy smoke that rose to the ceiling, smoke that became fog, turning the air hazy grey. He knew how to use smoke and fog and haze, to obscure, disguise, capture. He fed his purpose to you. Your head was not yours; you could see and not see. What you saw was him warming his bare feet in you. This is the ugliness that is in your pocket, disgust amid coins. You penciled in the secret, erased it, drew it again. You caulked the crack in the plaster of what he did to you. The painting is you at 15, not the lie, not the overripe pear and the empty vase. The pear on the table softens, begins to spoil. Fruit flies stir the air above it. You spread the blanket of your painting over the rotting pear. You try to cover it, but still it shows through.  Like a fish under pond ice, the shadow swims beneath the paint. You layer on thick slabs of color but there it is, just below the surface, the persistent image, the ghost pear, the still life.






Paula Modersohn-Becker: Six Paintings

Sleeping center of a quilt,
she curls like a grub
or the dark, dirt-encased cocoon
of a squash-borer rooted
in an inch of soil, studying
to molt.
Earthenware belly,
heaped stone fruits,
labial fold in the spread cloth––
earth as a table, a wall of seeds.
She bears the weight of her fertility
without the myth.
Her round flesh is a fact
no less than the curving birch.
The dark dress takes hold––
a root thrust from deeper dark.
Lids closed, blood mouth closed,
her face blooms on a short stem.
The flower in her hand will last the day.
Against clouds’ truthful glare
our flesh is wood.
Eyes lift, cardboard to mirror:
portrait of the maker, drawing.
Her chalked half-smile
sees what we are. We who were living,
we who are still to come . . .






The Structure of Milk

I live in fear of milk gone bad,
pour jugs of it down the drain
days before the little inky date
condemns it to sour. The gallon
in my refrigerator dies on my birthday,
which I share with Yoko Ono, John
Travolta, Toni Morrison. My husband
says bad milk turns to cheese, which
I love, and him too, still, even now.
All the diets my mother followed
had her drink milk so skim, it was
blue, a light deified breast-milk
blue. I was born on the last
day of Aquarius. I once wore a gold
charm around my neck that fell
to my breastbone: a woman
holding a jug high over her head,
pouring fake diamonds that shone.
Her tiny metal arms could just bear
the weight of those glass chips filled
to the lip. When we cleaned out
my parents’ home—after—we found
packets of powdered milk unopened
in a cabinet behind the quick oatmeal,
tins of tea, a jar of instant coffee.
Food to take to the moon. Stale food,
yes, but not turned, not bad. Remnants
of a Depression girlhood. Today,
nearing the end of Aquarius, I’m warned
not to delay, not to skip a step or a rehearsal.
Try to draw a diagram, my horoscope says.
Don’t wait until the very last minute.




From the series Snow Storm from a Moving Train, photographs by Mary Lou Reker



Breast Cancer, 5 Years After

I thought my dance with death would begin with a bow,
formal steps to fine music (under a candelabra of radiation)
death’s long arm looped around my shoulder
a little too confiding, a little too intimate,
the smirk under his mask a little too knowing.
One of those guys I remember from high school.
Yet death was not close, and not he: Instead,
I saw her later, in the woods. She growled,
her long feet clawed. She rolled and twisted
ran up the steep ridge trail, paused,
lifted a lip and bared a tooth
(are you sweet, should I test you)—she stared,
a mother in her element. I whispered,
Go home. I have earned myself
another afternoon to walk this place.






Children’s Literature

A white triangle, a ceiling by night
bisected and disturbed. But the child
at the breakfast table, his slow
feet dragging the air between wooden chair and floor,
spoons up his gooey, yellow egg.
The white ceiling is as far away as Papa’s bookshelf,
or that lion in his picture book hunched
by a pool in a sun-struck enclosure.
So exposed the lion must curl into himself
though his dusty eyes stay open
no matter the streaked white of sky.
With the tip of a spoon, the boy
traces the bright yolk diagonally across his plate
which is the color of chalk. But the sky
above the tired lion burns
along the electrified fence line.
The lion knows it’s a school day,
all shoe laces and geometry.
He reaches his paws into the tepid pool
even as it’s shrinking. Good Morning, Mr. Lion
says the boy, eager with his tendril of tongue.






The Girl with Nothing to Say

has a bitter mouth and heavy salt on her tongue.
So burdened she can’t even find a first word,
she steps softly out of the house.
Beyond, green-ladened lust crouches.
The girl bends low, slipping across grass
onto the hot road. There is nowhere to go
even as she walks father and farther
from her closed front door. Behind her,
crows screech a hawk away from their nest.
This girl feels how each step is the small glow
of a blister. At first saliva fills her mouth
so she can spit, but then it thins.
Still, she lifts one foot then another
until she knows that thirst is her only future.





Sixty-Something and Flying Solo: A Retiree Sorts It Out in Iowa
by Marian Mathews Clark
  Sixty-Something and Flying Solo: A Retiree Sorts It Out in Iowa is an edgy, humorous memoir with serious ponderings. An Oregon transplant with no kids and no significant other, the author is someone about whom readers could say, “I wouldn’t want to be in her shoes, but if she can make it, I can, too.” Pieces such as 'What Not to Say at a Funeral' and 'Dusting and Other Insanities' provide a backdrop for monthly accounts of her fall into retirement’s abyss where she clings to her to-do lists while she alters her diet, her wardrobe and her vow to become more domestic. When she resurfaces a year later, she’s surprised at the landscape and what has saved her. Marian Mathews Clark grew up among loggers in Mist, Oregon (pop 50), then caught the Union Pacific to Iowa to attend Graceland College. In the ensuing years, she capped perfume bottles on Coty’s assembly line in New York, was stranded on Loveland Pass during a blizzard, ironed costumes for Polynesian dancers at the Calgary Stampede, tried to shear a sheep in Australia, earned an MFA in Fiction from The Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and with co-writer Patricia Stevens was a finalist at O’jai’s Film Festival for their feature script Timber. Bart Yates, author of The Distance Between Us, said of her memoir, “Clark is a sly writer; she lured me in with…broken garbage disposals and mysteriously disappearing walls; only later did I realize she was…writing about mortality, loss, joy, and love. Great stuff.” 2015 edition available from Amazon, Culicidae Press, and from your local independent bookseller.



Guest Poetry Editor Jody (formerly Pamela) Stewart’s most recent book is This Momentary World, Selected Poems, 1975-2014 from Nine Mile Press, 2022. Her work has received support from the Guggenheim Foundation, Massachusetts Cultural Council, a Hawthornden Castle Fellowship, and the Elizabeth George Foundation. She lives on a retired farm in western Massachusetts where she’s working on her seventh book of poetry, watching birds from the kitchen window, and hanging out with senior dogs.
Photo by Lindsey Royce

Cynthia Hogue’s most recent collections are Revenance, listed as one of the 2014 “Standout” books by the Academy of American Poets, and In June the Labyrinth (2017). Her tenth collection, instead, it is dark, came out from Red Hen Press in June of 2023. Her third book-length translation (with Sylvain Gallais) is Nicole Brossard’s Distantly (Omnidawn 2022). Her Covid chapbook is entitled Contain (Tram Editions 2022). Among her honors are a Fulbright Fellowship to Iceland, two NEA Fellowships, and the Harold Morton Landon Translation Award from the Academy of American Poets (2013). She served as Guest Editor for Poem-a-Day for September (2022), sponsored by the Academy of American Poets. Hogue was the inaugural Maxine and Jonathan Marshall Chair in Modern and Contemporary Poetry at Arizona State University. She lives in Tucson. Go to ArtsMart to order both her most recent book of poems and her latest translated work.

Rachel R. Baum is a Best of the Net nominated poet, kayak angler, dog behaviorist, and APA-ranked pool player. She is the editor of Funeral and Memorial Service Readings, Poems and Tributes (McFarland, 1999), and the founder of Moving Mountains Poets, a group of women poets, as well as the Saratoga Peace Pod, crafters who create warm items for families in crisis. Her poems have appeared in OneArt, Jewish Literary Journal, The Phare, Raven’s Perch, New Verse News, and others. Her chapbook Richard Brautigan’s Concussion, was published in 2023 by Bottlecap Press. She lives in Saratoga Springs, New York with her dog, Tennyson.

Jan Freeman’s most recent book of poems is Blue Structure (Calypso Editions). During a 2023 MacDowell fellowship, she completed a new manuscript, The Odyssey of Yes and No. Her poems recently appeared in Gargoyle, Plume, Poetry, and Salamander. She received the Spiral Shell Fellowship at Moulin a Nef and directs The MASS MoCA Writing Through Art Poetry Retreats. www.janfreeman.net.

Jane Ann Devol Fuller, winner of the James Boatwright III Poetry Prize, earned her MFA from the University of Iowa, and her poetry manuscript Half-Life (Sheila-Na-Gig Editions, 2021) was a finalist for the National Indie Excellence Awards. Her poems appear in Calyx, BODY, The American Journal or Poetry, Shenandoah, Verse Daily, in the anthologies All We Know of Pleasure: Poetic Erotica by Women, I Thought I Heard A Cardinal Sing, and elsewhere

Janlori Goldman’s chapbook, My Antarctica, was published in 2022 by Finishing Line Press. Bread from a Stranger's Oven, her first book, was chosen by Laure-Anne Bosselaar for the 2016 White Pine Press Poetry Prize. Gerald Stern chose her poem “At the Cubbyhole Bar” for the Raynes Poetry Prize. Janlori’s poetry has been published widely. She works at the Center for Justice at Columbia University, and teaches public health, social justice, and writing at NYU Law and Fordham. 

Beth Kanell lives in northeastern Vermont and writes award-winning Vermont features. Her novels include This Ardent Flame and The Long Shadow (SPUR Award winner); her short fiction shows up in Lilith and elsewhere. Find her memoirs on Medium, her reviews at the New York Journal of Books, her poems in small well-lit places.

Joan Larkin’s sixth poetry collection, Old Stranger, is forthcoming from Alice James Books in 2024. Author of Blue Hanuman and My Body: New and Selected Poems (Hanging Loose Press) she co-founded Out & Out Books during the 1970s feminist literary explosion. A lifelong teacher, she lives in northern New Jersey.

Donna Kennedy Maccherone is the founder of Zen Wise Writers, a growing community of writers and thinkers. Her work has been published in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Tiferet Journal, Collateral, ParentCo, Kaatskill Life, Paterson Literary Review, East By Northeast Literary Magazine, BrainChild, and The Weight of Motherhood, a Moonstone Arts anthology.

Janet MacFadyen's third full-length collection, State of Grass, is forthcoming in 2024 from Salmon Poetry. Honors include a Massachusetts Cultural Council grant and a Fine Arts Work Center fellowship, with recent work in The High Window, Osiris, Soul-Lit, Scientific American, and Wordpeace.

Jennifer Martelli is the author of The Queen of Queens, winner of the Italian American Studies Association Book Award and named a “Must Read” by the Massachusetts Center for the Book. Her work has appeared in Poetry, The Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day, The Tahoma Literary Review, Folio, Jet Fuel Review, The Northwest Review, Tab: A Journal of Poetry, and elsewhere. She has twice received grants for poetry from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and is co-poetry editor of MER. www.jennmartelli.com

Mary Cuffe Perez lives in Galway, New York.  In addition to six books – which include poetry, creative nonfiction, and children’s novels – she has published numerous magazine articles on natural history subjects, and fiction and poetry in several literary publications.  An e-chapbook, Up Our Way, will be published in December 2023 by Wordrunner Press.

Celeste Pfister has long been writing in the shadows of her roles including mother, physician, teacher, mentor, writer, artist, musician.   She has taught literary courses and had essays published in Reunion (Shodair Children's Hospital).  She publishes a bi-weekly blog, "Creative Inspiration," on topics of art and poetry.  She lives in Venice, Florida, where she paints and is working on her first poetry collection and a memoir. 

Rosetta Radtke loves living in Savannah, Georgia with her big sweet kittens, Henry and Beezus.  Besides writing poetry, her interests include design of any kind, mosaics, plants, and feeding and watching the birds in their yard. 

Elaine Terranova has published eight poetry collections, two chapbooks, and The Diamond Cutter’s Daughter: a Poet’s Memoir (Ragged Sky Press, 2021), about growing up in an Orthodox Jewish family in Philadelphia. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, American Poetry ReviewHotel AmerikaAlaska Quarterly Review and other magazines. She has translated Euripides’ Iphigenia at Aulis (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1998). The Academy of American Poets First Book Award, a Pew Fellowship, an NEA, and a Pushcart Prize, are among her awards.

Rhett Watts lives feet from a brook in Massachusetts with her husband and Siberian cat, Hugo. She facilitates writing workshops. Her books are Willing Suspension (Antrim House) and The Braiding (Kelsay Books). Her chapbook, No Innocent Eye, was co-winner of the Rane Arroyo Contest (Seven Kitchen Press).

Yvonne (aka Yvonne Chism-Peace): first poetry editor at Ms. Some awards: NEA (poetry/1974/1984), BRIO (1991), Leeway (fiction/2003), Pushcart Prize (#6). Recent print: Hopkins Review (Summer/2023), The Healing Muse (Summer/2023), Meetinghouse Magazine (Summer/2023), POETRY (July/August 2022), Quiet Diamonds (Orchard-Street, 2022) Arriving at a Shoreline (great-weather-for-MEDIA, 2022), Stronger Than Fear (CaveMoon, 2022). 


In 2018 Mary Lou Reker retired from the U.S. Library of Congress, where she oversaw its Doctoral and Post- Doctoral Fellowship programs. Now focused fully on writing and photography, her most recent exhibition was in Chicago area’s Green Hill Library, with a group show planned for Washington, DC.


  1. Stimulating, universal secrets captured and revealed. I need to go write now right now. Cheers to Jody Stewart!

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