Archive for Stealing Dust

With December Right Around the Corner….

In the last few days, we have survived Winter Storm Boreas, Thanksgiving, and Black Friday — a trio of events that have made the last week a bit more chaotic than normal (Although, I admit, while I have many family members who love Black Friday sales, I sleep in…actually saving a lot of money!). I have the rest of this weekend to catch up a bit with grading papers and reading a pile of chapbooks that are sitting on my nightstand.

And speaking of chapbooks, writer William Kelley Woolfitt has posted an interview where I talk, no gush, a bit about chapbooks.  Yes, I talk about Stealing Dust and Wearing Heels in the Rust Belt, but I also spend a great deal of time discussing other poets’ chapbooks.  The website has other great interviews in its archives including posts by Justin Hamm and Michael Meyerhofer.  Take a look!

In other good news, the latest issue of Flycatcher is live!  It’s a beautiful issue featuring poems by Rupert Fike, Thomas Rain Crowe, Valerie Neiman, and Mike James.  And yes, two of my poems are also featured.  Happy Reading!


Spring Cleaning with Poetry

Anthony and I have spent the last few days spring cleaning.  It’s always amazing to me how much stuff a couple can gather in a short period of time.  So far, we are getting rid of two bags of clothes and four boxes of books.  Plus, I’ve been trying to download my personal library just a bit, so I have placed many other books on Paperback Swap. But we will still have work that needs to be done.

All of this cleaning reminds me of an anthology I just read, Sweeping Beauty: Contemporary Women Poets Do Housework  edited by Pamela Gemin. This collection contains poetry from many of my favorite poets including Jan Beatty, Denise Duhamel, Diane Gilliam Fisher, Allison Joseph, and Judith Vollmer, and as with all anthologies that I read, I was introduced to many new poets as well.

Although I do portray working-class/Rust Belt/blue-collar women in my poems, they seldom are working domestic chores.   Why is that?  I’m not sure — Stealing Dust contains my factory women poems, a sequence I’m rather proud of because we don’t see a lot of factory workers in poetry who are women.  But Stealing Dust also contains a poem titled “Canning Season” which talks about my mother’s kitchen in August.  In “Splintered” I make a passing reference to laundry on clotheslines, but that is it.  Have I deliberately abandoned the traditional women’s world of work at home?  (Or maybe it’s because I’m a terrible housekeeper and don’t want to write about it!)  I’m not sure, but I do believe it’s something that I need to explore  if I am going to continue to write about the working-class world.


My grades for the semester are done, and it looks like I will be teaching a creative writing class this summer.  So, yes, like everyone, my endings aren’t really endings, but starting points for new beginnings — in my case, new classes, new students, and hopefully, some new work. 

In the last week or so, I have managed to draft some new poems.  I’ve also received a rejection or two.  But today, I got the news that Adanna has accepted one of my poems.  I loved Adanna’s debut issue that was published last year, so I’m super excited to be included in this summer’s issue.

In other news, two great poets have chapbooks coming out from Finishing Line Press.  As most of my readers know, my first chapbook, Stealing Dust, was published by Finishing Line Press and I’ve been grateful for the Press’s support of my work.  Thus, I try to support them whenever I can.  Consider preordering Sheila Squillante’s Women Who Pawn Their Jewelry and Laura E. Davis’s Braiding the Storm.  (The links go directly to their blogs where you can learn more about their work!)

Now, I’m off to prepare for my summer course!  With the warm weather and bright sun, it does indeed, feel like summer.

In Escape Into Life

Today’s issue of Escape Into Life features poems of mine along with great photography by Mark Cohen.  Take a look!  I love the rough and tumble look of working class childhood Cohen captures in his work. 

Special thanks to Kathleen for recruiting my work for Escape Into Life and for talking about Stealing Dust on her blog today!

Cat Vs. The Manuscript

As many of you know, I am in the process of putting my first full length manuscript together.  It’s frustrating and daunting, mostly because I want to put all my poems in chronological order (I write a lot of narrative poems).  It worked with Stealing Dust, but I know that with a bigger collection, I have more room to play.  I’ve been looking at other full-length collections, and I realize that most poets do not place their works in chronological order, even if they write narrative poems.  So, now, I have been busy organizing my poems according to theme and tone.  That has helped.  But then, I realized that certain symbols and images appear again and again.  In the past I have mentioned that dead birds show up a lot in my writing, and I have at least four poems in this collection with dead birds.  Furthermore, there’s a lot of splinters, dust, makeup stains, cigarettes,and heels floating around in my works.  Do these images all go together?  I hope so.

As for the picture above, I promised myself that The Scrapper Poet would not become a “cat blog” but I had to post a picture of Lola helping me compile my manuscript.  She likes my dead bird poems.

Stealing Dust at The Centrifugal Eye

Special thanks to Sherry for her thoughtful review of Stealing Dust published in the latest issue of The Centrifugal Eye (click on page 98 and 99 to see the review).  I know how much time it takes to review a collection of poetry, and I’m always touched when my readers take time out to say something (nice or not!) about my work.

In the final paragraph of her review, Sherry notes, “Weyant’s poems are populated with characters who share hand-me-down clothing, and hand-me-down roles and positions in a blue-collar town.  A quiet strength weaves its way through her poetry, revealing a grounded voice rooted in the power of humanity and nature’s cycles.  There were times when I hoped Weyant would reveal more of the poet who grew up and left such a town.  What became of the dust of the mill when she moved on?” 

What does become of the rust, the debris, the dust — in general, the remnants, of a Rust Belt little town?  In many ways, nature reclaims the ruins.  People move out and on, or stay behind to help build some kind of stronger future.  Some places die — but as poor as the economy is, I have seen the little towns of rural Pennsylvania perk up.   I’m not always the “I” in my poems — but I feel like I am on a first name basis with the girls and women found in my poems.  The review ends with a look to the future:  “Perhaps there will be a sequel, another volume of poetry.  Another book written, another page turned.  Another calendar pinned above the kitchen sink.”

I’m hoping there will be such a sequel.

Bloomsburg, Centralia, and Beyond

I had a great time at Bloomsburg this past week.  Poet Jerry Wemple was a fantastic host, and I loved meeting his colleagues and students.  My reading went well, and I was surprised (but pleased) to see people attend who lived in the surrounding areas.  JoAnne was a wonderful reader — so much so that now I have to go back and re-read her book, Red Has No Reason.

After the reading, about 10 people (faculty, community members, students) went out to eat and conversation turned towards the surrounding areas.  Bloomsburg University is in the middle of Anthracite Coal Country, and I was surprised to learn that I was only about a half hour away from Centralia, a place that has been a subject of both my poems and more importantly, my academic work in working class poetry and history.  (Centralia is a subject of many Pennsylvania poems and works of fiction that take place in coal mining countries). Centralia is the famous Pennsylvania “ghost town” that was destroyed by an underground mine fire.  Now, destroyed by a fire makes this particular event sound sudden and tragic.  Well, the events surrounding the fire were tragic, but the event actually lasted decades, and the town itself was surrounded by more than an underground fire.  Centralia was a hotbed (no pun intended) of politics — and its history is very complex.  You can read more about this town here.

So of course, I had to go exploring.  So the morning after my reading I went looking for Centralia.  And I have to admit that in spite of Centralia’s presence in such books as Weird Pennsylvania, there was really nothing strange or spooky about Centralia.  In fact, if I hadn’t actually been looking for what is left of this town, I would have passed right through it.  There’s a few foundations and dead end streets.  A few wooden signs marking past street names are nailed to trees. There are some homes there, but I didn’t want to pull over and gawk.  I did travel down a few gravel/dirt roads and was greeted by some cracks in the earth and the smell of sulfur, but no open flames and very little smoke.

I can’t say that I was disappointed at what I saw.  That would be the wrong observation.  Instead, I have to say that I was amazed at how the earth reclaims what we have built.  Some may disagree with me, but I believe that in a few more decades people traveling on this stretch of road won’t even realize there was a town there.

Off to Bloomsburg…

It’s another busy week for the Scrapper Poet.  I’m off to Bloomsburg for a reading with the talented mathematician/poet JoAnne Growney.  Yep, you heard that right. JoAnne is a poet and a mathematician.  I’m eager to listen to her read and to learn about the relationship between poetry and math. As for me, I will be reading from Stealing Dust, but I may sneak a few new poems in…

Snow & Celebrations

Here in Western New York we escaped most of the snow that hit the Northeast.  We got a few inches, and the roads have been slick.  The world has been very gray lately.  Still, when I opened up the Yahoo news today, and saw all the headlines (Chile, etc..), I have no complaints.

Today is Anthony’s birthday.  So besides celebrating Stealing Dust’s one year anniversary, we will be having cake and ice cream.  Thanks to all who requested a copy of Stealing Dust through my email.  Your copies will be sent out this week.



Happy B-Day, Stealing Dust!

One year ago, I was at the NeMLA conference in Boston, and I was having dinner with Mary.  We talked about many things that evening, but the one thing that I remember joking about was that my copies of Stealing Dust, my first chapbook, were on their way to my doorstep in Western New York (people who preordered my chapbook, saw the final copy before I did).  Yes, it’s true — Stealing Dust’s birthday is tomorrow, and here at The Scrapper Poet blog we are celebrating by giving away three copies!

Here is how you can get your copy: Please drop me an email at to request your copy.  Do not leave a note on my blog; use email.  You don’t have to tell me much in the note.  I am interested in why you are requesting a copy, (you read my blog, you like workingclass literature, you are one of my students who silently reads my blog but you don’t know how to get a copy of my chapbook, you have always wanted my book but are on a budget, you think that I am one of those evil poets that David Alpaugh talks about in the now infamous article “The New Math of Poetry,” etc….).  Also, include your address.

For all its flaws, I am proud of this chapbook.  It has its readers, both local and nationally.  It has been used in college classrooms.  I have talked about it at conferences.  While I still believe that a full length collection is a long way in the future, I believe Stealing Dust is a wonderful start.  Thanks to all of you out there who have blogged about my chapbook, recommended my work to others and written formal reviews of the poems.  Thanks so much!


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