A November Evening at Mo Java

If you’re in the area, I hope you’ll consider attending this reading at Mo Java. I’ve posted the press release from Rex Walton below. Thanks, Rex, this should be great fun!

an evening at mo java

A November Evening at Mo Java

Come to Mo Java Coffee on November 5th, 7pm!

Tonight, we have music, plus three fantastic writers from the Lincoln and Omaha areas:

Jim Pipher

Our songwriter for November is Jim Pipher, a very busy musician around Nebraska!!

A versatile bass and guitar player, Jim Pipher has been performing in Nebraska and throughout the Midwest for more than 40 years, in bands covering musical styles from the jazz standards of the 1930s to 1970s country rock, Motown/Stax soul to traditional gospel and bluegrass.

Jim has two solo recordings: THE LAST TALL TREE and TORMENTED GENIUS. Jim’s original songs take listeners to places of stark beauty, creating a musical portrait of Great Plains life that is unparalleled in contemporary recordings.

Jim is perhaps most in his element on stage and can be seen performing regularly with The Fab-Tones (rock, soul, R & B), The Lightning Bugs (a Mills brothers inspired jazz trio specializing in “Moonbeam Swing”), The Toasted Ponies (award winning traditional and contemporary bluegrass) and The Melody Wranglers (old school country that would make Hank Williams proud).


our three writers are:

karen shoemaker

Karen Gettert Shoemaker

Karen Gettert Shoemaker is a writer, teacher and business owner living in Lincoln NE. Her first collection of short fiction, Night Sounds and Other Stories, was published in the United States by Dufour Editions in 2002 and republished in the United Kingdom by Parthian Books in 2006. Her novel, The Meaning of Names, will be published in 2014 by Red Hen Press.
Her fiction and poetry have appeared in the London Independent, Prairie Schooner, South Dakota Review, Fugue, Foliage, West Wind Review, Kalliope, Arachne, The Nebraska Review, and has been anthologized in A Different Plain: Contemporary Nebraska Fiction Writers; Nebraska Presence: An Anthology of Poetry; and Times of Sorrow, Times of Grace.; An Untidy Season.

She is currently a writing mentor with the University of Nebraska’s MFA in Writing Program. She has taught literature and writing at the University of Nebraska, both Lincoln and Omaha campuses, and has conducted writing workshops through Hastings College, Chadron State College and the Nebraska Humanities Council.

She received her Ph.D. in Creative Writing from the University of Nebraska Lincoln in 1997.

laura M wiseman

Laura Madeline Wiseman

Laura Madeline Wiseman is the author of the full-length poetry collections Drink (BlazeVOX Books, 2015), Wake (Aldrich Press, 2015),American Galactic (Martian Lit, 2014),Some Fatal Effects of Curiosity and Disobedience (Lavender Ink, 2014),Queen of the Platform (Anaphora Literary Press, 2013), and Sprung(San Francisco Bay Press, 2012). Her dime novel is The Bottle Opener (Red Dashboard, 2014). She is also the author of two letterpress books, nine chapbooks, and the collaborative books The Hunger of the Cheeky Sisters: Ten Tales (Les Femmes Folles Books, 2015) with artist Lauren Rinaldi and Intimates and Fools (Les Femmes Folles Books, 2014) with artist Sally Deskins. She is the editor of Women Write Resistance: Poets Resist Gender Violence (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2013).

She has a Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in English and a M.A. from the University of Arizona in women’s studies. Currently, she teaches poetry in Writing in the Schools and Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Nebraska.

britny cordera doane

Britny Cordera Doane

Britny Cordera Doane is the youngest author to have a book published in the history of the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Her poetry has been featured in UNO’s 13th Floor literary magazine, the Mythic Poetry Series by Silver Birch Press, the Women for Women international publication: Forget Me Not, and most recently in both the Fall 2014 and May 2015 Pinyon Reviews. Her maiden voyage, Wingmakers, was published by Pinyon Publishing in February 2015. Known locally as the Old Market Poet, she is often set up with her typewriter, in Omaha’s Old Market district, sharing her work with others.


Steel Pen Panel on Historical (Re)tell: The Writing and Craft of Telling Retellings of the Historic

2015 Steel Pen Print Flier

This weekend, I’m attended the Steel Pen Conference in Indiana. I’m really excited about speaking in the panel “Historical (Re)tell: The Writing and Craft of Telling Retellings of the Historic”  with Cat Dixon, Britny Cordera Doane, Lindsay Lusby, and P. Ivan Young. Here’s the details for the event, the proposal, presenters bios, and descriptions of their anticpated readings and talks. I hope you’ll consider attending. It should be great fun.

Historical (Re)tell:  The Writing and Craft of Telling Retellings of the Historical
with Cat Dixon, Britny Cordera Doane, Lindsay Lusby, Laura Madeline Wiseman, and P. Ivan Young
Indiana Writers’ Consortium’s 2015 Steel Pen Creative Writers’ Conference
9-10 am, Saturday, October 10, 2015
Radisson at Star Plaza, 800 East 81st Avenue
Merrillville, Indiana

Historical (Re)tell: The Writing and Craft of Telling Retellings of the Historic

“Tell the truth but tell it slant,” writes Emily Dickinson. This panel of poets and writers presents work that engages with the historical past by telling retelling of the historic, tales that offer what wasn’t said but should’ve been, what wasn’t written down but likely happened, whose voices speak that didn’t speak because at the time there wasn’t a platform on which for them to stand. Panelists explore the craft aspect of myths and legends retold from other voices, new perspectives, and counterintuitive stances. Accurate, inaccurate, or close, this panel of authors will explore how facts become transformed into the tales, histories, and family stories that inform how we tell our worlds. Panelists will discuss the craft of such writings and read from their work as they engage with the questions: What is the process for writing poems based on research and pre-existing texts? What kind of research is required to (re)tell a historical kinship between historical luminaries? How does a poet navigate fact and (in)accuracy when writing about the past? How does the influence of the world outside the poet hinder or enrich the truth as it is conveyed in poetry of (re)telling? What are the strategies of other contemporary writers who do similar work on the historical record? At what points can a writer depart from fact in the service of the story that wants to be (re)told?


Dixon photo

Cat Dixon

Cat Dixon is the author of Too Heavy to Carry (Stephen F. Austin University Press, 2014) and Our End Has Brought the Spring (Finishing Line Press, 2015). Her poetry and reviews have been published in Mid-American Review, Midwest Quarterly, and Sugar House Review. She volunteers with The Backwaters Press. www.catdix.com.

Cat Dixon will be speaking about her work with Eva Braun collected in her new chapbook Our End Has Brought the Spring (Finishing Line Press, 2015). She will address researching her subject, the time period, and Hitler’s reign as well as the few sources devoted to Braun’s life. She will address the question: Does the poet have the right to humanize what public opinion perceives as a monster? Dixon will also discuss her manuscript of work on Bob Levinson and her process that includes family interviews and research on hostage survival, hostages that have been released, and on her subject. Her talk will address the questions: Does the poet have the right to give voice to a man held in captivity? Should the poet contact the family of the person? Her presentation will address authors that have done similar retell work such as Alvin Greenberg, Angela Lambert, Zeina Hashem Beck, W.D. Snodgrass, and Frank Walker.


Britny Doane

Britny Doane

Britny Cordera Doane is the youngest author to have a book published in the history of the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Her poetry has been featured in UNO’s 13th Floor literary magazine, the Mythic Poetry Series by Silver Birch Press, the Women for Women international publication: Forget Me Not, and most recently in both the Fall 2014 and May 2015 Pinyon Reviews. Her maiden voyage, Wingmakers, was published by Pinyon Publishing in February 2015. Known locally as the Old Market Poet, she is often set up with her typewriter, in Omaha’s Old Market district, sharing her work with others.

Drawing from the work of Mircea Eliade, Technicians of the Sacred Edited by Jerome Rothenberg, and Joseph Brodsky, Britny Cordera Doane will discuss how mythology was used to give meaning to things that were at one time unexplainable and how writers use mythology to not only preserve the past, but also to explain the unexplainable within their own lives. Doane presentation will explore the importance of origin stories, and how every culture has a unique origin story for their myths, the connections and patterns found within mythology, cross-culturally, and intertextually, and the language of the sacred found in symbols, mythology, and poetry, to convey our everyday experiences and to connect with the mysteries of the universe. Her talk will also explore the phenomena of axis mundi within mythology and sacred traditions.


Lindsay Lusby

Lindsay Lusby

Lindsay Lusby is the author of Imago (dancing girl press, 2014). Her poetry has appeared in Sugar House Review, The Lumberyard, Fairy Tale Review, and elsewhere. She is Assistant Director of the Rose O’Neill Literary House, serving as assistant editor for Literary House Press & managing editor for Cherry Tree.

Referencing the work of contemporary (re)tell writers such as Kate Bernheimer, A.S. Byatt, Italo Calvino, Angela Carter, Neil Gaiman, and Jeanette Winterson and drawing upon her reading of the scholarly text Twice Upon a Time: Women Writers and the History of the Fairy Tale, by Elizabeth Wanning Harries, Lindsay Lusby’s talk will touch on the long tradition of (re)telling in the folk and fairy tale genre, how different versions play off one another to create new meaning through historical contrast, and how the (re)telling of fairy tales has traditionally leaned toward reframing the stories in a way that highlights the need for current social change.


laura madeline wiseman KHN

Laura Madeline Wiseman

Laura Madeline Wiseman is the author over twenty books and chapbooks and the editor of Women Write Resistance: Poets Resist Gender Violence (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2013). Her most recent book is Drink (BlazeVOX Books, 2015). She teaches creative writing, English, and women’s and gender studies in Nebraska. www.lauramadelinewiseman.com

Drawing from the work of contemporary (re)tell work such as that done by Carole Simmons Olds, Natasha Trethewey, and Margaret Atwood and the work of feminist scholars such as Elaine Scarry, Laura Madeline Wiseman will explore scholarly framework when approaching writing about family violence, the body, and girlhood as those stories challenge depictions of gendered expectations in fairy tales and myths such as those of mermaids, the wives of bluebeard, and the lady of death. Specifically, her work is interested in exploring the narrative quality of myths and troubling the plots such tales offer. Her presentation will also address researching a family ancestor and the craft of writing poems that seek to preserve a voice that might otherwise be lost from the historic record, as such work invokes the political, educational, and reformist landscape of the nineteenth century.


P. Ivan young

P. Ivan Young

Ivan Young is the author of Smell of Salt, Ghost of Rain (Brick House Books, 2015) and the chapbook A Shape in the Waves (Stepping Stones Press, 2009). He teaches Creative Writing at University of Nebraska Omaha and is Coordinator of The Center for Faculty Excellence.

Ivan Young presentation will explore classical mythology, biblical myth, and fairy tale as one method for retelling of self. His talk will build from Sir Philip Sidney’s notion of the poet as a combination of the philosopher and the historian (in the older context) and will transition into Mark Doty’s piece on the perspective box. His seeks to address the question: What are we accomplishing in retelling the past? Sidney suggests that the poet finds a greater truth in retelling, but Doty explores the possibility that we may be distorting the past. Young seeks to explore the space in between such positions, how both clarity and distortion are a way of shaping the self within the contexts of our own experience, education, and political foresight, and the ways retelling not only shapes current experience but also how it reshapes our perceptions of the past.

the chapbook interview: Sarah Ann Winn on “the ephemeral things I hold dear”

You are the author of the chapbook Portage (Sundress Publications, 2014). What did you learn during your MFA studies about the chapbook?

As excellent as GMU’s program was, I didn’t learn very much about the chapbook in my classes there. Most of what I learned was in conversations with my friends who were submitting/assembling chapbooks. Occasionally someone would mention them in a class (usually a student), or I would see them as final products in displays for courses I hadn’t taken but wish I had been able to (like Susan Tichy’s poem-as-object class, Book Beasts), but overall, I was not required to read any, and there was no formal learning outcome which related to them specifically. I learned by going to panels and in the book room at AWP as well. They can be such tactile objects that being able to see them in person/hold them in my hands was an essential part of my learning experience.


Your chapbook Portage isn’t a tactile object in the sense that it’s an echapbook. What are the benefits of publishing echapbooks?

One of the benefits of publishing an e-chap is the wide audience. For a small publisher like Sundress, it keeps costs down, and distribution easy. At AWP, I was able to hand people my card, and more than one person said that they planned to have their class download it as an additional text, since it was free. What a great way for a poet at the beginning of their career to develop readership!


What chapbooks and chapbook presses do you admire for the tactile objects they create and why?

There are many presses that are doing a great job capitalizing on the physical capabilities of chapbooks. One thing that they have in common is their attention to detail/use of the form to enhance the already beautiful work. Something that’s been interesting to watch is the more and more frequent inclusion of hybrid works in chapbook lineups. This seems like a match made in heaven, where both are the manticores of the literary world.

In no particular order, here are a few I love:

Yellow Flag – Block print painted covers on some (like Erica McCreedy’s Red Winter), unique size on others (like Lauren Gordon’s Generalizations About Spines), this press clearly takes into consideration the style of the poet.

Porkbelly – These handmade beauties with full color covers are sold on Etsy. All of their titles are head turners. I admired them before they picked up my micro chap, Haunting the Last House on Holland Island (due out next year).


Miel Books – Their catalog would be dreamy in full size features as well – but in minis!? I felt like swooning at their table. Slip covers, illustrations throughout, diagrams, authors are frequently hybrid works writers. what’s not to love? Miel also does something rare – their chaps and microchaps have ISBNs, making them more available/visible to bookstores and libraries.

Red Bird Chapbooks – Have you seen Donna Vorreyer’s chapbook, Encantado? Its cover and images throughout were done by Matt Kish. It’s printed in full color on Superfine Ultra White Eggshell Paper. The inside text is printed on Archival Bright White paper. It’s in Garamond. I know all these things because Red Bird prints them on the copyright page! This is artistic pride, and well founded.

Sometimes it’s the small details that offer huge results: Hyacinth Girl and Blood Pudding both use pretty ribbon bindings, and full color covers. Dancing Girl’s covers are also in full color, but the texture of the covers are also somehow stylistically appropriate to the content (Sara Henning’s Garden Effigies cover feels like a sketchbook, mirroring the poems’ light touch and deft craft. Mary McMyne’s Wolfskin feels like a well worn storybook.) It doesn’t have to be an all out extravaganza. I have read and loved chapbooks where the presses didn’t go to such extraordinary lengths. I think, though, that something about the process of making these and reading them binds the reader and publisher together as people who love the same things. It also seems to imply a relationship with the author/connection with his or her work that as the reader, I appreciate.


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I adore the title of your chapbook and the ellipse design after each title of the poems within. There’s a sense of longing that permeates the book. What inspired Portage

The poems in Portage were inspired directly by my childhood, and being raised by my grandparents. When you’re raised by people who are a generation removed from most people’s parents, the question of how to hold on to memories is an ever pressing one, because they can see their own past slipping into history. I felt this sense of urgency move into high gear when my sister died while I was in high school, and have been trying to figure out ways to preserve my personal history/the ephemeral things I hold dear ever since.


How do you define chapbook? A small collection of tightly woven poems, linked thematically or stylistically.

What makes a good chapbook? I think it’s important that each individual poem has a clear relationship to the next. Of course, as associate editor for ELJ, I also hope that the poems in each manuscript are polished, and as a reader I enjoy the physical object, but a core value for me is that strong link between each poem.


What chapbooks are inspiring you these days? So many! M. Mack’s Traveling (Hyacinth Girl, 2015), Shana Youngdahl’s Winter/Windows (Miel, 2013), Ruth Foley’s Creature Feature (ELJ, 2015), Laura Gordon’s Generalizations About Spines (Yellow Flag, 2015) (really anything by Lauren Gordon – all her chaps are amazing!), Amorak Huey‘s The Insomniac Circus (Hyacinth Girl, 2014) — these are just a few!

What chapbooks or chapbook poets have impacted your writing the most? I am so fortunate to workshop often with Jennifer MacBain Stevens and Sarah Lilius. Sarah’s What Becomes Within is brave and poignantly written, and Jennifer’s Jeanne (Be About It Press, 2015) and The Visitant (Shirt Pocket, 2015) are tightly woven and have such beautiful unexpected language. I also really love Sally Rosen Kindred‘s Darling Hands, Darling Tongue (Hyacinth Girl, 2014), Mary McMyne’s Wolfskin (Dancing Girl, 2014), Kelly Boyker’s Zoonosis (Hyacinth Girl, 2014), and Sara Biggs Chaney’s Ann Coulter’s Letter to the Young Poets (Dancing Girl, 2014).

What do you look for when you put together a chapbook? (I think I mostly answered this above)

How are you trying to get better as a chapbook poet? I’m trying to look for unexpected links in my work which already exist, and to write longer sequences. I have poet A.D.H.D, and tend to race from one interesting thing to another, rather than really settling in with a topic, and letting it blossom.

What’s next for you? I’m finalizing a full length manuscript of poems about Glinda the Good Witch who’s grown tired of Oz, and who leaves. These poems explore the intertwined ideas of home and identity.

Number of chapbooks you own: 30? 40? Many…

Number of chapbooks you’ve read: Almost all that I own. I am just now catching up with my AWP haul.


Talk about your commitment to the chapbook writing community. I enjoy reading chapbook manuscripts for ELJ, and appreciate their commitment to discovering new artists. I try to read widely, and beyond my own circle of friends, and tweet/Facebook promote the amazing finds I make. I’d like to commit to writing more reviews, but right now I owe 2-3, and this is enough of a backlog to tell me that this might be beyond me for now. Writing reviews is something that I really enjoyed doing as a School Librarian, and have moved away from it to a degree to focus on generating new material. Time to get back to it!

Ways you promote and serve other chapbook poets: Mostly, I recommend the ones I read and like to friends/followers. I try to talk about titles that I adore often in interviews and online, because word of mouth is so important in our community. I also enjoy trading manuscripts, because manuscript critiquing services can be expensive. (Of course, this is also self serving, because I get a second set of eyes/third/fourth, and I get to preview wonderful work.)

Where you spend your chapbook earnings: In my imagination — the only place that currency’s accepted.

Residence: Manassas, Virginia

Job: Free Range Librarian

Chapbook education: MFA from George Mason University in Creative Writing Poetry, MSLiS in School Librarianship from Catholic University of America (They seem equally important to my chapbook’s generation!)

Chapbook Bio: Sarah Ann Winn’s poems have appeared or will appear in Cider Press Review, Hobart (online), Massachusetts Review, Quarterly West, and RHINO, among others. Porkbelly will be releasing her micro chapbook, Haunting the Last House on Holland Island, in Summer of 2016. Her chapbook, Portage, is available as a free download from Sundress Publications. Visit her at http://bluebirdwords.com or follow her @blueaisling on Twitter.

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