Archive for Wearing Heels in the Rust Belt

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!


The Authors Among Us Event

This Sunday, I will be taking part in Chautauqua’s The Authors Among Us program, an event that is designed to celebrate writers who have taken classes from the Writers’ Center at Chautauqua.  Since there are many of us involved in this program, I will only be reading one poem from Wearing Heels in the Rust Belt, but I will be selling copies.

If you are on the Chautauqua grounds, stop by the Literary Arts Ballroom from 2 pm – 3 pm.  Then stay to listen to the writers of the week:  Poet Mary Slechta and Prose writer Nancy McCabe.

The Big Poetry Giveaway: The Rust Edition

Poetry Giveaway 2013

April is just around the corner! (And today, we might even get some real spring weather!) In the last few years, I have taken part of April’s Big Poetry Giveaway, and this year, I am again participating!  (If you want to participate, please see the guidelines for this giveaway found on the blog of poet Susan Rich.)

For those of you who are new to my blog, I’m a poet/writer who lives in Western Pennsylvania.  I’m the author of two chapbooks, Stealing Dust and Wearing Heels in the Rust Belt.  I teach at Jamestown Community College just across the state line. My main interests are working class studies and rural issues.  Please leave me a note for a chance to win one of the collections below! (And yes, both titles have the word “rust” in them — I did that on purpose!)

wearing heels cover      My chapbook, Wearing Heels in the Rust Belt, winner of Main Street Rag’s 2011 Chapbook Contest, is the first selection.  Part working-class narrative, part coming of age story,  Wearing Heels features poems that were first published in 5 AM, Cave Wall, Copper Nickel, Harpur Palate, and River Styx.  This chapbook also features my poem, “The Summer I Stopped Catching Bees” which was originally published in Glass: A Journal of Poetry and then was selected for Sundress Publications’ Best of the Net 2011 issue.  (You can also read the poem here.) If you are a fan of narrative poetry, this chapbook collection may be something that you will enjoy!

Many of my regular readers already have a copy of Wearing Heels (again, as always, thanks for the support!).  Still, you may want to throw your name into the hat, so to speak, for Rust or Go Missing by Lily Brown.

tn9781880834916  Rust or Go Missing is a collection of sparse images.  This is not to say that the poems inside are sparse — indeed, Lily Brown’s poetry relies on the line, sculpting poems through white space and concrete images.  This collection, published by the Cleveland State University Poetry Center, features poems that were originally published in Coconut, Denver Quarterly, Fence, Octopus, and Pleiades.

So, go ahead! Drop me a note (with contact information — preferably an email) for a chance to win.  I will pick the winners during the first week of May and besides contacting the winners, I will make a formal announcement on my blog.

Hello, 2013!

So, 2012 saw the arrival of Wearing Heels in the Rust Belt, winner of Main Street Rag’s 2011 Chapbook Contest.  This past year was also the year that I tackled the 100 rejection goal — a goal I failed miserably.  I didn’t even get 100 submission packets out the door.  By my tally marks, I only sent 56  submissions out.  Out of these submissions, I received 33 rejections and 15 acceptances.  I had to withdraw 4 submissions and I still have 4 submission packets out for consideration.

For those of you wondering about my exploration in other genres, I’m still writing.  I have written two short stories (flash fiction — both stories were under 1000 words). I sent both out, and got two rejections notes (included in the tally above).  However, I’m doing more reading of short stories.  I learned to write poetry by reading poetry, so I’m assuming that it works the same way with fiction. Right now, I’m reading What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us by Laura van den Berg, a collection of short stories about lives revolving around extraordinary things (Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, etc).  It’s a wonderful read!

Goals for the new year?  I know that I have several friends who are hinting that I get a full length submission packet ready to go.  I’m trying, I really am.  But for now, I’m going to keep it simple.  Writing Resolution One: Post one poetry book review per month.  Writing Resolution Two: Once again, try for another year of 100 rejections.  At the very least, I want to beat my goal of 33 rejections from last year.  And, in doing so, hopefully, I will send out more submissions! Writing Resolution Three: Continue my exploration into other writing genres.  I would love to post more about what I’m doing with short stories, but the process still feels so very new to me.

Happy New Year Everyone! May all of you be happy and safe and productive (if you want to be productive, that is) in the months to come!

Rust Belt Sale!

wearing heels coverKnow a working-class or Rust Belt poet in your life?  If so, (shameless self promotion here), you may want to consider my December Holiday Sale.  From today until the end of 2012, I’m offering both my chapbooks, Stealing Dust (Finishing Line Press) and Wearing Heels in the Rust Belt (Main Street Rag) for the price of $12! Plus, you will also get free shipping! So yes, (without trying to sound like an infomercial) you get both chapbooks for the price of only $12!  If interested, drop me a note by email at

Hello, Weekend!

One would think that since the regular semester is over, that I would have more time to blog, but that hasn’t been the case.  I’ve spent the week finishing up spring semester’s business.  Plus, I started my summer creative writing class.  Also, Anthony and I have taken advantage of the nice weather to get some yardwork done.  I’ve also been trying to catch up with my reading and writing (and revising!)  I do, however, have some good news to report. Yesterday, I got an acceptance note from Cati Porter, the wonderful editor-in-chief of Poemeleon.  My poem, “Dear Suzy’s Bar & Grill” will appear in the next issue, which is dedicated to the epistolary form.

I also got my contrbutor’s copy of Sugar House Review, where my poem, “Crow Season” joins work by Liz Robbins, Kate Greenstreet, and Jenn Blair (among others).  Thanks to all the members of the Sugar House Review staff for such a beautiful literary journal!

Finally, special thanks goes to Jessie Carty who wrote a review of Wearing Heels on her blog!  Remember, (insert shameless self-promotion here), you can get your own copy (for $10 including shipping and handling) by dropping me a note at

Have a safe and happy holiday weekend!

April: The Month of No Poetry Writing

I admire people who actually get to write poetry during National Poetry Month.  I really do.  It’s just that April is the end of the school semester for me, and this past month, between grading and traveling and giving readings, I’m afraid that I didn’t get a lot of new poems done.   Furthermore, I think literary journals have been doing a bit of spring cleaning, since I received six rejections — two from journals that I thought forgot about me.  And no acceptances. Blah.

Still, it was a good month in many ways.  I sold more chapbooks and as I mentioned before, I’ve been “tickled pink” (as my mother used to say) about the positive response.  I am taking part in the Big Poetry Book Give Away, so if you haven’t signed up yet, you need to do so really soon!  (And thanks to everyone who left replies saying that they already purchased Wearing Heels in the Rust Belt).  I will announce the winners on the first of May!

Two Links for the Weekend

Sarah Blake Schoenholtz is celebrating National Poetry Month by hosting NPM Daily, a site posting columns and essays by poets.  The site has already had some great work by poets I know (Richard Newman, Julia Kasdorf, and Terrance Hayes) and poets who are new to me (I really have to check out more work by Rachel Mennies).  Take a look!

And, special thanks goes to C.J. Opperthauser who has posted a microreview of Wearing Heels in the Rust Belt here.   I’m thrilled that Wearing Heels is getting so much good press, and guess what? If you don’t have a copy yet, or if you want to enter for a chance to win a copy, please leave a comment here.

Thursday Morning Bits

We are slowly wrapping up the semester here at JCC and my students in my creative writing class are revising their work for their final portfolio.  Yesterday we had an Online Literary Journal Scavenger Hunt where we met in the computer lab to look at various journals.  Their class assignment was to pick their favorite literary journal and discuss why, citing specific works found in the journal.  So which journal ended up being the class favorite?  Blackbird.

Special thanks goes to Will Nixon who posted my poem “The Boy Who Ate Cigarettes” on his blog along with his own poem, “A Natural History fo Cigarette Butts.”  Who would have ever guessed that there were two of us in the poetry world who could (and would) write about boys eating cigarettes! 🙂

Finally, I  don’t know if I have a lot of readers in the area, but if you happen to be around Lakewood, New York, on Saturday afternoon, stop by Holly Richardson’s Off the Beaten Path, an independent book store located at 28 Chautauqua Avenue.  I will be reading at 2:30 pm.  Copies of Wearing Heels in the Rust Belt will also be for sale.  Off the Beaten Path is celebrating its three-year anniversary (go Independent bookstores!!!!), so besides my reading, there will be bookstore bargains and free food.

Review for the Weekend

Dave Bonta is reading and blogging about one poetry book or chapbook per day to celebrate National Poetry Month! I’m honored that he has picked Wearing Heels in the Rust Belt for his most recent review.  You can read what he says here, but I know that I will be following along for more books for my own reading list!

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