ČERVENÁ BARVA PRESS NEWSLETTER
Gloria Mindock, Editor Issue No. 106 January, 2022
Cervena Barva Press January Newsletter, 2022
Welcome to the January Newsletter. Happy New Year!!!! I hope 2022 is a great year for all of us.
In December, I said good-bye to my space in the Armory for the press and bookstore. Now the bookstore will sell
Cervena Barva Press books only. I will be working at home. This month and next month,
I will be returning the consignment books that people wanted back. Most of you donated them.
I gave many away and some of the books besides the used books were donated to Zachary Bos.
He is opening up a bookstore in Fitchburg, MA. I am so happy the books found a good home.
Because of Covid, the space sat empty for 14 months. I opened the store a few times during
the summer and fall but it was time to leave. I left because I needed to change some things.
I did not leave because of the city taking over the building. I had a wonderful rapport and was
treated fine. I was not part of the group of tenants fighting with the city.
I thought the city was clear and they explained everything that was going to happen.
I am so happy they saved the Armory for the arts.
Thank you to those who came to say
good-bye on my last day. It meant so much to me. Thank you for the many emails, messages,
and phone calls too from those all over the country who could not make it into the space.
I was so touched by it all.
We published 12 books in 2021. Here they are listed.
Ifs, Ifs, Ifs
musings by David G. Walker
City of Stories
by Denise Provost
Confini: Poems of Refugees in Sicily
by Michelle Reale
WITH NO SWEAT AT ALL by Alisa Velaj
Marsupial Mouth Movements by George Kalamaras
SHALOM, MY TEARDROP! by Mimoza Erebara
How The Twins Grew Up: A collection of short stories for children by Milutin Durickovic
In the Arms of the Father Poems by Flavia Cosma
Temporary Shelter by Olena Jennings (Fiction)
Everyday Divine by Noel Sloboda
WALL AND NEUTRINO THE POET IN NEW YORK Selected Poems by Constantin Severin
Millie Collins, Your Barn is Gone by Sherri Felt Dratfield
In this newsletter, we are starting out the new year with three interviews.
Thank you to Karen Friedland and John Wisniewski. You both are the best!
Interviewed are Catherine Arra, Flavia Cosma and Mark Pawlak.
Please note: Our program and email software does not display letters with character marks correctly, this is why they are omitted.
CATHERINE ARRA's poetry and prose have appeared in numerous literary journals and in several anthologies.
She is the author of Her Landscape, Poems Based on the Life of Mileva Maric Einstein (Finishing Line Press, 2020,
(Women in Parentheses) (Kelsay Books, 2019), Writing in the Ether (Dos Madres Press, 2018) and three chapbooks,
Tales of Intrigue & Plumage (FutureCycle Press, 2017), Loving from the Backbone (Flutter Press, 2015), and
Slamming & Splitting (Red Ochre Press, 2014). Arra is a native of the Hudson Valley in upstate New York,
where she lives most of the year, teaches part-time, and facilitates local writing groups. In winters
she migrates to the Space Coast of Florida. Find her at: www.catherinearra.com
I spoke with Arra about her most recent book, Deer Love (Dos Madres Press, 2021), a collection of poems about the
spiritual bond forged between a woman and a female deer whom the poet named Forest. Author Robin Stratton describes
Deer Love as "a beautifully written narrative about the life and seasons of a pack of wild deer who come to accept
the poet as one of their own. She gives them apples and corn; in return, they venture near and offer her 'the gift
of transcendence, the miracle of empathy.' For me, each poem was like seeing the face of God close up.
I absolutely loved this book."
I was keen to learn more about Arra's journey as a poet, writer, educator, and naturalist, and the updated
status of the deer herd she so beautifully and poignantly brings to life in Deer Love
(confession: the last poem in this collection brought me to tears!).
What started you on your poetic journey? What called you to poetry, versus other forms of writing,
acknowledging that you also write and publish prose? What was your most significant "poetic schooling"?
What started me? Maybe Dr. Seuss, fairy tales, wordplay, and games. As a young girl, I liked language and making
up skits to act out with cousins and friends. I made up stories to tell my younger brothers at bedtime. Poetry came
later, in my early teens. The first poem I wrote was about my grandmother's hands. I kept notebooks of drawings and
poems, some my own, others copied from poets I admired.
At about fifteen, I learned to play guitar and began writing my own songs and lyrics. I took a poetry class in high
school and was reading canonized poets such as Dickinson and Frost, as well as E.E. Cummings, Richard Brautigan,
Ferlinghetti, Ginsberg, Plath, Sexton. I was listening to the poetry of Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, The Beatles,
Simon & Garfunkel. I was writing with abandon. I edited the poetry class magazine named Insight Out.
I've always liked the mystery and slant of poetry, the compression of statement, the "Wow!" when a well-edited,
image-rich poem punches me in the gut. I liked short stories and novels too. I liked to read. I guess it's not
surprising that I became an English major in college, though my goal was to become a photojournalist who would
both write and take photographs for human interest publications. How I ended up an English and writing teacher
is another story, but it turned out to be the right path and good work. Not only did I keep writing, but I
became a better writer through teaching, and I became and remained independent. My creative writing classes
were run workshop-style. I was the facilitator-teacher as well as a writer-participant. Through the years,
I accumulated boxes of raw material that has been revised, edited, and now appears in my books along with
new work. To this day I remain in contact with students who have become published poets and novelists.
That is the best reward.
Tell us a little about your poetry practice-what inspires you to write a poem?
Practice. A good word. For me, writing is a practice, like yoga, which I do four to five times a week. The more
I write and keep the channel between the conscious and the subconscious open, the better and more fluid I become,
just as yoga keeps me strong, flexible, and balanced. Writing is a practice and a discipline.
I write every day, usually in the early morning, unless life needs me elsewhere. If I'm not working on a
particular poem, I write in my journal with that first cup of coffee. Many poems and short prose pieces have
sprung from morning journal meandering.
Other times, an idea or full poem will rush into my brain while on a walk, driving, in the shower, half asleep,
or whatever. When that happens, I repeat the words or lines over and over in my head, imagine them on paper, and
then write the first draft as soon as possible. This is when the "word angels," as Sharon Olds calls them, grab
you by the butt and insist that you write them or else they will disappear as fast as they came. Word angels are
gifts of spirit.
Anything can inspire a poem or a series of poems that will lead to a book. The usual is a strong emotion
("a lump in the throat," to quote Robert Frost) or a sudden insight involving a person, situation, event,
or a state of mind. Deer Love was inspired by a beautiful wild doe, Her Landscape by the life of Mileva Maric
Einstein, (Women in Parentheses)
by the confines in which women often live by their own making or by societal and cultural expectations,
Tales of Intrigue & Plumage by the natural world, Loving from the Backbone by love and sex, Slamming & Splitting
by the difficulties of relationship, marriage, and divorce.
How do you prefer to work?
I prefer to work alone and in silence. I need solitude without interruption to write and to stay in
that altered state where the creative process happens.
As facilitator of local writing groups, are you also a participant?
I facilitate two writing groups at a local library, and yes, I'm also a participant. When a poem is ready
for an audience and critique, I bring it to the other writers who write across genres. I think it's important
to test work with a diverse group of readers and to be open to feedback. I also have close poet friends with
whom I share my work before I send it out into the world.
How long did you spend on the manuscript of Deer Love, from concept to completion?
The poems in Deer Love were written one by one over four to five years, while I was working on other poems and books.
The deer poems are based on a primal and transcendent relationship I had with a wild deer whom I named Forest.
I lost Forest the same time I was going through the end of a twenty-year marriage-relationship. Soon after,
my father died and the world closed in pandemic lockdown. Revising and sequencing the poems into a narrative
arc during quarantine grief became another transcendent bridge.
What are you working on right now?
Right now I'm working on a series of persona poems based on the major arcana/archetypes of the tarot deck.
These are slow coming and require research with intuition. I imagine sequencing the poems in a new book along
with poems written in the time of Corona.
Which poets or writers, contemporary or otherwise, have most inspired you? What quality of their work speaks to you?
I have many favorite poets and writers, past and present. I prefer narrative and lyrical poetry over experimental.
I like poems that have one foot in everyday life and the other in spirit or the eternal. I like language that is
compressed, cogent, imaginative, and honest.
What are your feelings about the state of "the literary community" right now, especially in this time of global pandemic?
No doubt that Covid has changed life forever and forced us to develop a better relationship with ourselves and with the
natural world, to open our eyes to how we have mistreated our planet and wildlife. As much as we want to return to the
world before Covid, we can't. We have launched and landed in a digital universe that is here to stay. Covid has been
a crossing into the future that Asimov and Bradbury wrote about in the 1950s. My fear is that we may be headed for
a real-life Matrix if we are not careful.
I think Covid and isolation have shown us the best and worst in ourselves (our shadows) and this awareness will
likely surface in literary work to come. Covid certainly slammed the literary life and community, especially in
the way books are published and marketed. As you know, major publishing houses have closed down or merged, making
the market more competitive. Many small independent presses have gone belly-up. Digital direct publishing and
self-publishing are the new kids in town. Amazon has become the greedy Goliath of marketing and sales.
Now is probably not a good time to be an up-and-coming novelist unless you go the self-publishing path. It's
never a good time to be a poet, but we persist out of love. I'm thankful for small independent presses such as
Cervena Barva, Dos Madres, Finishing Line, Glass Lyre, and Kelsay Books, to name a few, that have stayed the
course, continued to publish quality books, and have adapted to digital venues (social media, YouTube, and Zoom)
to remain true to their mission. I'm also grateful for online literary zines and journals.
Has Zoom/social media been a good thing for you?
Yes, Zoom and social media have been good alternatives to live readings, and in some instances may have
provided more exposure. I had three books published from October 2019 to April 2021 during the height of Covid.
I relied on social media to introduce and promote new work by making short video readings. This gave me the
heebie-jeebies at first, but I got used to it.
I've done a few Zoom readings, though I'm not a fan of the venue. I feel disconnected from myself, as if talking into a
void. I'm okay with taking virtual yoga classes and being part of a Zoom audience, but I can't do it for more than an hour.
I prefer live readings and human interaction.
What has been your relationship with your various publishers over the years?
I've been blessed to have had my work accepted and published by wonderful editors who publish quality books.
The only disappointing experience I had was with Red Ochre Press, long out of business.
My very first chapbook, Slamming & Splitting, won their biannual contest in 2013 and was published in
2014. By 2015, the press folded into oblivion and took my book with it. I was devastated.
My first book. My debut in publishing after 30-plus years as a classroom teacher.
What I did was re-publish the book myself through CreateSpace, which is now Kindle Direct Publishing via Amazon.
The rights to the book reverted back to me and I published a second edition under my own publishing name.
The CreateSpace/KDP generated another host of problems and, to this day, the formatting of the Kindle version is a mess.
I didn't enjoy the self-publishing experience and much prefer to be vetted by a small literary press.
Between hunters, accidents, and other acts of fate, Deer Love describes the dire precariousness
of existence for the deer that share your territory, and their seeming nobility in the face of it.
Can you update us on the status of beautiful Forest's offspring and herd-members right now?
The deer herd of which Forest was a part is in peril. A virus, EHD (Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease),
spread by biting midges or gnats that carry the virus and proliferate in prolonged wet and humid
conditions, decimated deer populations in counties south of me last summer.
This year EHD hit Ulster County, New York. The DEC reported that they have collected over
750 deer carcasses since late August-early September 2021. Due to climate change and the
tropical-like conditions created by continual rainfall, the deer population is diminishing by the day.
I pray for an early hard frost that will kill the insects.
The virus is contracted the same way humans contract Lyme disease. Tiny biting midges carry the virus.
When a deer is bitten, it will likely become sick with a high fever, oral blisters, excessive salivation,
and delirium. The animal will perish within 24-36 hours. It is not pretty. Some deer survive the virus and
develop immunity. This was true in southern counties. Wildlife officials expect the same in Ulster and that
next summer the midges and virus will head north looking for new hosts.
I've heard some say that the virus is nature's way of thinning an over-populated herd ... survival of the fittest.
This is likely to be partially true; however, the disease is more likely to be a result of climate change.
Hunting season generally suffices to thin deer herds. Watching the deer I've come to know and can identify
by name grow sick, suffer, and disappear into the rotting smell of death and decay in the woods is heartbreaking.
A silent spring full of bones awaits us. Like Covid, this too is a wake-up call.
How do the deer continue to affect you as a person and a poet?
I wrote Deer Love because a special doe had the animal courage, nobility, and instinct to trust me,
connect with me, and love me. Through her, I became part of her wildness, her world, and I connected to the
primal instincts in myself.
In our highly crazed, digitalized, rushed, desensitized, sex-in-the-head world, I think that humans have lost a
connection to nature, the earth, and our better instincts. D.H. Lawrence warned about the dangers of this severance
between humans and nature in his novels, which are based upon his observations of how the Industrial Revolution was
changing the agrarian world. He was spot-on.
Deer are innocents. They are not predators. The worse they can do is eat our gardens and try to live with us
in the habitats we have taken from them. Deer are highly sensitive, spiritual, intelligent creatures, as are
I wrote Deer Love for Forest. She reminded me that humans and animals are the same at the core.
We are all feral. Like them, our lives are shaped by the need to procreate, survive, to be a part of
something bigger ... a herd, a community, the species, the world. She reminded me that we are stewards
of Earth and all its creatures. She reminded me that love transcends.
Thank you, Karen Friedland and Cervena Barva Press, for this conversation.
1. When did you begin writing, Flavia?
2. Any favorite poets?
3. What was it like growing up in Romania?
4. Could you tell about your book In the Arms Of the Father? What inspired you?
Thank you, John Wisniewski, for giving me the opportunity to recount here a part of me.
Generally speaking, all of us have a few points of reference in life, some events of real significance that
impact in a definitive way our future, and maybe shape our life as a whole.
For me, there have been just two such occurrences, but they are still present no matter what and are constantly
reflected, one way or another, in my literary creation.
For starters, it was the unexpected, sudden death of my mother when I wasn't yet 14 years old and, due to our
circumstances, left me totally alone at that age.
The second dramatic event equally traumatic was my running away from communist Romania and having to spend close
to two years in a UN Refugees' camp in Greece before being accepted as a landed immigrant by Canada.
-Yes, I grew up in post war Romania, under the "Dictature of the Proletariat," an epoch marked by
"The big Class struggle" when I, as a child saw a lot of injustice and suffered in my turn privations and
frustrations, including hunger and discrimination.
-I write since I learned how to write, and soon I discovered with enchantment some great Romanian poets
followed later on by the discovery of universal poetry and the wealth of illustrious poets such as
Rabindranath Tagore, Ana Akhmatova, George Bacovia, Sergei Esenin, Arthur Rimbault, Verlaine,
Edgar Allan Poe (translated into French by Charles Baudelaire), Pablo Neruda and others.
At one point in my youth, I was fascinated by Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides,
Homer (Iliad and Odyssey), Sapho, the ancient Greeks, etc.
-About "In the Arms of the Father"-
The manuscript of this poetry book received the Third Prize 2007 John Dryden Translation Competition,
a competition organized by British Comparative Literature Association and
British Centre for Literary Translation.
As they say, writing poetry is an exercise in sincerity, the poet is trying to put order in disorder,
the monologue becomes a dialogue under the bright ray descending upon us from the watchful,
pure eye of The Muse-Poetry, justice struggles to conquer injustice, hope wishes to replace
despair, harmony wins against chaos, sometimes. We are searching for ways to reach beauty
and perfection, we strive for solace and warmth in the Arms of the Father, we rest
exhausted in the infinite beauty of the natural world, we cry and we wait for miracles,
spinning tales, always. The present book is reflecting our world, our souls and our beings
engaged in this adventure called life. Let the reader be the mirror and the judge.
Interview with Flavia Cosma by John Wisniewski
5. Could you tell us about writing your travel memoir, Flavia?
6. You have also written a novel. Could you tell us about writing it?
7. What interests you about fairy tales?
8. What keeps you so prolific?
9. Any future plans and projects?
5.-Postcards from Rhodes, published by Stories that Bind (Variety Crossing Village), 2010, Toronto, Canada,
is a traveling memoir dedicated "to the enchanting island of Rhodes, Greece, and to all people who dare to set
foot into a fairy tale." It's a travel journal as well as a hymn to a beautiful Greek island where the author
was invited for a creative stay at The International Writers' and Translators' Centre of Rhodes, where she
landed for the first time in March 2005. It was a question of love at first sight. I discovered a place where
the past was still intertwined with the present, where the beautiful Aegean Sea was whispering its wonderful
ballads right in front of my windows, where we could feel history breathing under our soles at every step,
where the poetic imagination found inspiration at each street corner, be it the Malta's Cavaliers' Castle dating
from the XV century or the Temples and Sanctuaries lost in time, contemplated once by Homer and Pindar and who
knows who else.
6.-The Fire that Burns Us, soon to be published in its Second Edition, is a bitter-sweet meditation on the role a
totalitarian society plays in crushing on purpose and with determination, the lives of its citizens. The laws,
absolute inhuman, make impossible the reunifications of a family separated by the defection of one of its members,
in this case the husband, who decides to ask for political asylum in a Western country once he manages to
trespass the "Iron Curtain." The theme of injustice and persecution perpetrated by the State against many
defenseless people haunts them long after such a State was relegated to the garbage bin of History.
7.-Ah, the theme of Fairy Tales! Fairy tales are an intrinsic part of poetry, more exactly, every poem can be
a Fairy Tale in miniature. They unbridle the imagination, breathe the fresh air of freedom and jump with
unsurpassed ease from a world to another. Even from my early childhood, when nested in my grandmother's lap
I was listening to her endless treasure trove of fairy tales, I promised myself that once I'll grow up, I'll
write a book of fairy tales. My book Moonlight Fairy Tales published in 2009 by In Our Words Inc Press, Toronto,
Canada, is the fulfilment of that early promise.
8.-What keeps me prolific? I really don't know. Am I prolific? I write as I live; many thoughts and ideas are
crowding at the gates of my mind all the time and some of them are fortunate enough or persistent enough to see
themselves neatly written (more or less) on a piece of paper.
9.-Plans and projects: To stay safe in order to see the end of this awful Covid-19 pandemic. To continue writing
poetry, to continue promoting poetry through The Biannual International Writers' Festival at Val-David, QC, Canada.
In the short run I am working to complete a book of short stories named tentatively "Who are our angels?"
I hope to be able to finish some early projects and to keep publishing more books, hopefully.
John Wisniewski: Mark, your memoir of Denise Levertov has just been published.
What was it like being inspired by Denise Levertov?
Mark Pawlak: The answer to your question would require a book. The memoir, My Deniversity: Knowing Denise Levertov,
is the only full response to your question, but I'll try here to briefly summarize. When I first met her at MIT
in 1969, as I describe in the memoir's first chapter, it was like sticking my finger in an electrical socket. I
got a charge from that encounter unlike anything I'd ever experienced with another person, and bear in mind,
I'd rubbed shoulders at MIT with some very eminent people, including Nobel Prize winning physicists.
But Levertov was uniquely electric. Meeting her was like encountering an exotic creature for the first
time and I was determined to find out what made her tick. I wanted to understand what it meant to
be a poet, a very accomplished one. Studying with her, she inspired me to delve into poetry in
much the same as I had taught myself physics from a young age by reading widely and deeply and
by not being afraid to experiment when writing poems.
And she inspired me in another way, too. In 1969, the Vietnam War was raging and college campuses,
including MIT, where hotbeds of antiwar activism. Many prominent poets such as Robert Lowell,
Robert Bly, and Galway Kinnell were speaking out against the war and writing antiwar poems. Denise Levertov
was one of the most outspoken among them. So in addition to poetry, by her example, she inspired me to become
politically active in opposing the war and especially in opposing war related research at the "Pentagon on the Charles,"
as we came to call MIT because of the vast amount of Defense Department dollars devoted to scientific research at
After I graduated, she mentored me in poetry. As our friendship grew, I learned she held strong opinions
on many subjects and was not shy to express them. The word complex doesn't begin to describe her.
She could be fiercely critical but also kind, generous, and nurturing, especially if you were an
aspiring poet admitted into her intimate circle. I didn't want to write a hagiography, so I have tried
in my memoir, to present her in all her complexity as I experienced it.
JW: Any poets that inspire you?
MP: The list would go on for pages. Levertov was in the 1960s a member of the emerging American poetry
avant garde, as represented by the seminal Donald Allan anthology The New American Poetry. She was grouped
with Charles Olson and Robert Creeley as a member of the Black Mountain School. They all looked to
William Carlos Williams and Ezra Pound as mentors, so at first I studied those two American modernists.
Doc Williams' early collections Spring and All and The Descent of Winter remain foundational books for me
that I return to for inspiration over and over. After Doc Williams and before the emergence of Olson as a
guiding figure in post-war American poetry there were the Objectivists-Charles Reznikoff, Luis Zukovsky,
George Oppen, Carl Rakosi, and Lorine Niedecker-a group whose observational poetics continues to inspired me.
I modeled my own poems after Reznikoff and Niedecker, especially. I later came under the influence of
the New York School Poet's Frank O'Hara and James Schuyler; both have informed my more recent work.
When I joined Hanging Loose as an editor 40 years ago, I came into contact with a wide world of contemporary
poets too numerous to name, many of whom have also been inspirations.
JW: What were the early years like for you, on your way to becoming an established poet?
MP: Starting out, I was often unsure I was on the right path. As the Russian critic Victor Sklovsky wrote,
"A crooked road, a road in which the foot feels acutely the stones beneath it, a road that turns back on
itself-this is the road of art." I frequently despaired that I was mostly stumbling in darkness, but Levertov
would invariably step forth at the right moment and illuminate my way, reminding me, quoting Henry James,
that, "Our doubt is our passion. And our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art."
The Black Mountain Poets, and Levertov in particular, placed an emphasis on the craft of poetry; and so I
structured the sections of my memoir around the idea of how I had committing myself to being mentored by a
master of the craft of poetry. It's divided into chronological chapters with the titles "Initiation,"
"Apprenticeship," "Journeyman," etc. I like to think such framing demonstrates my progression to becoming
an accomplished poet.
Sticking with the topic of craft, I should think that any young poet starting out could get a rich education
from Levertov's essays on poets and poetics: The Poet in the World and New & Selected Essays. I'd also
recommend her published correspondence with West Coast poet Robert Duncan. Every time I dip into that
850 page tome I get fresh morsels of poetic sustenance.
JW: Could you tell us Mark, about writing and editing your book Reconnaissance?
MP: The observational poetics of Reznikoff and Niedecker, which I mentioned, really came into play in writing
the poems of this book. My pre-pandemic work-week habit was early mornings to stop at a cafe after my bus ride
to Harvard Square before getting on the subway to my job across the city at UMass Boston. I'd make notes about
the homeless denizens of the square who were just waking up and their interactions with commuters; then on the
Red Line I'd draft sketches of passengers that caught my eye.
I've always kept a writer's notebook. It was something Denise Levertov encouraged me to do as a way of
"inviting the muse." It was something she herself did. She described such a notebook as a place to copy
lines from poems you found important or passages that expanded or deepened your understanding of poetry.
If a word or phrase came to you, or an image, then write it down in your notebook, she told us; also
snippets of conversation you overheard, your observations of people and objects. My notebooks have been the
place where my own ideas about poetry have evolved, as well as where many of my own poems have gotten their start.
There were two inspirations for this book. First, Basho's haibun travelogue Narrow Road to the Interior, in
which he combines terse prose descriptions with poetic epiphanies in the form of haiku. The other was the
11th Century Japanese court chronicler Sei Shonagan's The Pillow Book. Each summer I vacationed with my family
on the coast of Maine for a few weeks. There I kept journals noting my observations of the landscape,
the flora and fauna, the people and their customs, which became my poetic journals modeled on those two Japanese models.
As for editing Reconnaissance...I have had the good fortune of having one of the best editors anywhere in
my colleague Dick Lourie. With this book, as with others before, I gave him a manuscript that was largely
chronological in terms of the poems' composition. Dick ordered the poems, giving the whole a structure so
that the individual poems talked to one another in a way that enhanced the underlying themes. Not for the
first time, the result was a revelation to me about my own work. People who tout self-publishing are missing
the experience that only a good editor can offer. The final product is always a much better representation
of my poetry than I could have offered without his intervention.
JW: What inspires you to write?
MP: That has changed with time. My first poetry collection, The Buffalo Sequence and Other Poems
(Copper Canyon, 1977) was a reflection on my childhood growing up in blue collar Buffalo. It was
inspired by the kids I was teaching at the time at The Group School, an alternative high school
for poor and working class Cambridge teens. Like me growing up, many of them lived in public housing.
My next three books, spanning the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s, were filled with political poems,
although not exclusively. They were attempts to speak truth to power. The title of the last of those
three books, Official Versions, aptly addressed my major preoccupation at the time: the questions of
truth and untruth, government propaganda-it can't be called anything else-and the American media's
uncritical repetition and distribution of "information" issuing from the mouths of our nation's leaders
and their spin doctors in the Washington press offices. The next issue of Arrowsmith will feature my essay,
inspired by recent events, looking back on those poems, which say as much today as when I wrote them
after 9/11, the Invasion of Iraq, and the U. S. Bombing and invasion of Afghanistan.
As described above, my most recent poems, collected in Reconnaissance, are of a different nature.
JW: Could you tell us about editing and compiling When We were Countries? How Did this project come about?
MP: Ever since its first issue back in 1966, Hanging Loose magazine has published poems by high school-age writers.
Eventually we devoted a regular section of each issue to these teens writers. We're compiling issue #112 right now and,
as is typical, it has a large sampling of current high school-age writers. These kids never cease to astound us editors.
Our readers frequently send us notes that the teens' poems are among their favorites. Hanging Loose was a
trailblazer in recognizing the value of poetry by young adults and publishing them alongside professional writers.
Soon after I joined the editorial staff we decided to gather the very best work by teens we'd published in the
previous twenty years into the anthology Smart Like Me. Roughly every decade since, we've compiled another
anthology of our best teen writing. Three more anthologies resulted: Bullseye, Shooting the Rat, and, most
recent, When We Were Countries. For anyone interest to know more, an in-depth interview with the current
editors Dick Lourie, Caroline Hagood, and me will be featured in the next issue of Rain Taxi. It was conducted
by Marina Chen, a recent graduate of the Hanging Loose high school poetry section, now in college.
The Clarity of Hunger
Author: Cheryl Pappas
Published by Word West Press (September 2021)
Paperback, 46 pages
In her debut collection of short fictions, The Clarity of Hunger, author Cheryl Pappas guides us on a
transcendental passage of our deepest longings. Can our cravings be satiated? Can our desires be fulfilled? Buckle in.
Remember to keep your hands and feet clear of the ineffable narratives you are about to experience.
Much like an amusement park ride, Pappas writes her tales with judicious, unassuming acuity, that slowly builds up
before unleashing the staggering jolts held within. The collection displays a range of short fiction forms, and it would
be a travesty to categorize this book as a flash fiction collection. It is not. It is so much more. Have you ever read a
short story in the form of a mathematical word problem-much less one that leaves you with a gaping shock of reverence?
Cheryl Pappas writes with such veracity, her stories challenge readers to find fault. Good luck with that.
Within its 46 pages, readers are awarded 16 stories of incisive observations, imperfect characters, and agile language
that will leave you with retrospections long after you put the book down. In "The Root," a 119-word sojourn on the
congruence between humans and our natural world, Pappas evokes all five senses with expressive, resonant language and
imagery. Fractured parabolic fairytales like "Dreaming of Tulips," "Every Day the House," "The Golden Apple," and
"Gretel's Stepfather," will leave you teetering on the edge of dreamlike microcosms and agonizing reality.
The true stars of this collection are the stories written in remarkable atypical fashion. One example, "Hunger"
written in the aforementioned word problem format, is a story that highlights mordant examinations of characters with
their blinding insecurities living dispassionate lives. "Homework," the final and most outstanding narrative from the
collection begins with the question, "What is the end of your life?" and continues with multiple choice, revelatory answers.
I am proud to have a copy of The Clarity of Hunger on my bookshelf, as it will be counted among the seminal works
of speculative literary fiction. As a reader, perhaps the most crucial takeaway from this collection is the gentle,
yet firm reminder: anything can happen.
Any Cervena authors published in 2021 who will be at AWP in Philly, let me know. I will schedule a book signing for you.
Any Cervena authors who will be there, contact me.
I need volunteers at the booth to help sell books. Payment will be in books. Yes, I have a booth this year instead of a table.
Please subscribe to our YouTube Cervena Barva Press Channel and check out the videos. More to be posted soon.
See you next month with more news.
Červená Barva Press Staff
Gloria Mindock, Editor & Publisher
Flavia Cosma, International Editor
Helene Cardona, Contributing Editor
Andrey Gritsman, Contributing Editor
Juri Talvet, Contributing Editor
Renuka Raghavan, Fiction Reviewer, Publicity
Karen Friedland, Interviewer
Gene Barry, Poetry Reviewer
Miriam O' Neal, Poetry Reviewer
Annie Pluto, Poetry Reviewer
Christopher Reilley, Poetry Reviewer
Susan Tepper, Poetry Reviewer
Neil Leadbeater, Poetry Reviewer
William J. Kelle, Webmaster
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