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Gloria Mindock, Editor   Issue No. 111   September, 2022




Cervena Barva Press September Newsletter, 2022

Hi Everyone. September is here which will be a busy time for the press behind the scenes.
Bill and I will be concentrating on books and getting them released. Very exciting.

Happening later this month will be another Cervena Barva Press "Behind the Book" interview. Linda Nemec Foster will be interviewed which is exciting. Recently Annie Pluto interviewed Jennifer Martelli about her book, "The Queen of Queens." Check out the video on YouTube at:

Annie's review of her book appeared in July's newsletter in case you missed it. In this newsletter is another review of Jennifer Martelli's book by Susan Tepper.

Currently scheduling for October, November, and December readings.
There will be none in September. I need to concentrate on other things.

October Readings

On October 6th at 7:00PM/Zoom
Tom Daley
Doug Holder
Grey Held

October 19th at 7:00PM/Zoom
Elan Barnehama
Steven Ostrowski
Cammy Thomas

October 26th at 7:00PM/ Zoom
Meg Kearney
Dawn Potter
Catherine Parnell

November Readings

November 9th at 7:00PM/ Zoom
Barbara Murphy
Anna Warrock
Bill Yarrow

Cervena Barva Press Reads Around the World/India/Zoom
Video Forthcoming
Renuka Raghavan
Pankhuri Sinha
Vijaya Sundaram

The Zoom links to these readings will be available shortly.

Interview with Doug Mathewson by John Wisniewski

JW: When did you begin writing? When did you publish your first stories?

DM: I always loved stories-the telling and the hearing of them. Bits and pieces stay with you. Phrases, word order, inflection, everything. I'm not sure on the history of it, but in the '90's flash fiction, under its many names and descriptions, was becoming big and you could email your work to any number of publications both humble and grand. At that time the whole process of agents, letters of inquiry, cover letters, typed manuscripts in 12pt., double spaced, New Times Roman was beyond me. Who even to send it to? TV had taken away the readers of popular magazines 40 years earlier. That was when Kurt Vonnegut switched from magazines to writing novels. Magazines were done. I do remember the first story I sold. Matt McGee at "Falling Star Magazine" paid me $10. I don't remember if that was for one story or two, but Matt mailed me a check. Falling Star closed years ago. I still talk with Matt now and then and we have published him in Blink-Ink.

JW: What inspires you to write?

DM: There are all these ideas, phrases, impressions, pieces of conversation that go round and round in my head. I try not to obsess about things, but writing allows me to take things out of my head and put them into the greater world. Make some room, reduce the clutter. Not so much anymore, but used to be if I had issues in my life, unresolved or unclear, I'd put them in a story. This would help me better understand how I felt. The dangerous part of that is as you spin the story and make it real, that version becomes reality in your own life.

JW: Are there any authors or poets who inspire you?

DM: Everything I read, see, hear, or even just think about makes an impression. Everything from the comics I read as a kid, all the stuff both good and bad I read in school (even when I didn't understand half of it, and there was no one to ask), mountains of paperbacks, treasured favorites, all of it. These days authors I am reading are: Emily St. John Mandel, Becky Chambers, Jennifer Egan, Kevin Barry, Kelly Link, James McBride, and Charlie Jane Anders. Mostly women, mostly sci-fi, and that's okay with me. My copy of "Wind in the Willows" always stays close to hand.

JW: Doug, you are the editor of "Blink-Ink." What was the idea behind your publication?

DM: Blink-Ink is a journal of contemporary 50 word fiction. We publish quarterly in print only. We do maintain a website at that is primarily for news and information. I love the 50/55 word format. I've often written longer, and sometimes even shorter, but 50 words feels right for me. Going back, I remember there were three 50/55 word online publications that took my work regularly. I couldn't name them now, but back then they were important to me. Around 2009, all three closed within six months of each other. When I started Blink-Ink at first it was part of Full of Crow Press and Distribution. Soon we went fully independent. Plenty of changes over the years, but still in print, and still our 5 1/2 X 4 1/4 format.

JW: Can we look into your writing process. How do you begin to write a story?

DM: Like most people I have things going round and round in my head. I try to make words and ideas I see as similar come together. Find out where they lead. Maybe I'll type something up and carry it in my pocket for a few days, reading to myself, reading it aloud, and keep changing it. Either something useful comes out of it, or maybe it becomes part of something else altogether. When I'm lucky, a whole story just comes down in one piece. You just see it, and know it, and there is the complete story. Fiddle with word choice, tinker with punctuation, but it's done.

JW: What do you have for future plans and projects?

DM: There are a few things I'm working on. In December of '22, we will bring back "Woodlot." It is an imprint of "Blink-Ink" just like "The Mambo Academy of Kitty Wang," but we haven't used it for years. I have a character named "Wolf Girl." She was in "Whammy Bar" and a couple of things, and it's time to bring her back for a longer visit. There is a great book by a friend of mine that I want to find a home for. Also, I have this half-done novella. It was a project with someone else, but it fell apart, so now I need to do something with it.

Wise to the West by Wendy Videlock Reviewed by John Riley

Wise to the West by Wendy Videlock
Able Muse Press, 2022

Wendy Videlock is a writer who is able to write poems with grand themes while also making you smile. That is not to say she has developed a formula that allows her to "be heavy" in a lightheared manner like a skilled teacher. She is not concerned with teaching or converting. What she is concerned with is writing poetry that lifts the corners of our lips into a smile while sending vibrations into the deeper reaches of our bodies.

You don't have to read far in Wise to the West to discover how she is able to make this happen. The fourth poem is titled "An Act of Possibility" and, as are many of these poems, it is tightly packed into only eight short lines:

To open up the heart
may be difficult as a cliché
and might well be an act

of possibility,
the hand of generosity,
a sacred new geometry-
a brave new world

of pitch and luminosity

After first reading, the poem is saying beware. Don't decide that we "understand" it and move on. It's a common and profound experience to realize, regardless of all efforts, that we can't truly open our heart, even when it's the best solution to our current problem. To attempt it "might well be an act." In short, we'd be a phony. But why is that "difficult as a cliché?" The only difficulty I thought I had with clichés is avoiding them, but this line suggests we may want to examine our cliché's further. Afterall, we don't only avoid the cliché. First we determine why it is a cliché. From the beginning we are looking below the surface the way one does when trying to honestly open the heart. In a mere three lines Videlock has rolled up our sleeves and slipped us a task that may be "an act of possibility" if we can maintain the necessary honesty. If that theme is not clear, the final lines, "a brave new world//of pitch and luminosity" states it again. The close of a poem that opened by mentioning the difficulty of cliché ends with the very familiar phrase "brave new world." We first smile, then we feel our questioning drop another floor deeper into our thoughts. When it is followed by "pitch and luminosity," we see and feel the theme again. It's a subtle poke to the mind.

I've gone on so much about a short poem at the beginning of West to the West as a way to introduce the dark pitch and shining luminosity that is to come. Take "Western Wiccan" in which the narrator uses a scorpion in a bedroom-something specific to the western part of the United States-to reflect on human euthanasia. The book ends with a poem titled "Ode in the Slow" that is a 21-line, single sentence poem. The pace is managed by a light use of commas and dashes but most of all by syntax and the choice of words that sometime rush on and sometime pull back.

The Queen of Queens by Jennifer Martelli Reviewed by Susan Isla Tepper

The Queen of Queens by Jennifer Martelli
Bordighera Press, 2022

Jennifer Martelli's poems are a new discovery for me (I'm sorry I didn't find them sooner). After reading this daring exquisite book, I have a lot of catching up to do on her other work. I bought the book because the reviews were so good and the book cover is hypnotically beautiful. When I look at it I feel feminine and complex and determined. There is a logic-string to the pearls that run through these poems like a red thread.


You can't make a man look that bad and live.
When I got sober I was told to forgive.

              But how do I stay sober after I forgive?
              A brutal man gave me a gray pearl ring-

Broke his brutal teeth on my gray pearl ring.
He wanted to eat me up so I'd disappear.

              He thought he'd eaten me all, but no, I didn't disappear.
              I sat in his boozy belly, all warm red and pink.

Warm in my belly, my booze all sweet and pink.
Would you rather feel anger than sadness?

              Would you rather feel angrily all of your sadnesses?
              How sweet must you be to be loved by God?

How sweet is the silence in the belly of God?
You can't make that man look bad and live.

Martelli's poems are brutal in the sense that she gives herself no excuses. What was, was. What is, is. That's a rare find. Nothing in her poems feels extraneous. She cuts the meat then throws away the junk parts then slices and cubes the rest of it for the platter. She presents the platter.

The opening piece in this collection offers a tasty heap of what is to come:

16 Reasons I Became a Grey Pearl

1. I grew tired of being a grain of irritation in the world's soft palate.
2. Thought I'd be a moon floating in a cloudy afternoon sky.
3. Being asexual, I craved bondage.
4. Craved four gold prongs to hold me in place on a band for the left ring finger.
5. Needed to backhand someone right on the mouth.
6. Felt silky, felt smooth.
7. Felt unsure so I committed to Pescetarianism
8. Bounced like an idea and got lost.
9. Was pried from my hinged jewel casket with a flat shucking knife.
10. Wanted to be shucked. Wanted to be shucked so bad.
11. Wanted sisters.
12. Wanted to be drilled and strung on a gold chain.
13. Wanted to tink-tink against another bead.
14. Wanted to hang around a woman's neck.
15. Wanted to taste her sweat.
16. Wanted to be dropped in a glass of red wine vinegar to see
      if I was pure enough to dissolve.

In line 7: a pescatarian is someone who doesn't eat red meat or poultry, but does eat fish and other seafood. The term pescatarian was coined in the early 1990s and is a combination of the Italian word for fish "pesce," and the word "vegetarian."

This is a divine book for many reasons. Such as its candor laid out brilliantly. The loving warnings like colored flags waving to make a point. Or that magic meal out of a million when you find a pearl in your oyster. Pearls invade each poem like tiny sea creatures that wash up with the waves to burrow into the secret sand.

When Truth Comes Home to Roost by Diana Dinverno Reviewed by Susan Isla Tepper

When Truth Comes Home to Roost by Diana Dinverno
Celery City Chapbooks, 2022

Writers are told to make every word count. That advice has been my own metaphorical bible for many moons. In this slender chapbook, which is a hybrid prose poem / memoir, Ms. Diverno follows that advice to the literal letter.

This is the shortest memoir I've ever read. Yet, at its conclusion, I felt I knew every nook and cranny that informed this writing. I sat on a park bench reading this book on a beautiful summer day and my own emotion at the ending page numbered 24 was Astonishing!

It opens with a prose poem. The first paragraph sets up place, and emotional and economic status of the family:

Fourth Grade Shoes

In August, I nodded when my mother asked if I liked the red, white, and blue shoes. Oxfords, she called them, suggesting a stylishness absent in the other sale-bin options. I wore them the first day of fourth grade, and every day thereafter, slipped them into galoshes when snow covered the road to and from school. My mother's sparkly ring, the one that sat on the shelf, disappeared. Above my head, the word pawn floated by. It wasn't intended for me. I didn't try to look it in the eye, and it, too, disappeared.

There are 3 more stanzas to this piece, but I won't give them away. Diverno's writing is precise, and always clear. There is no fudging on the deep matter that travels very deep and is part and parcel of this telling. When a writer has the courage to present factually, the work can be magnificent as evidenced here. Different poetic forms have been used throughout the book, lending a freshness to each piece that is linked, yet is also dramatically different in plot and scope. The way each day changes, somehow, big or subtle, from the one we lived before.

Birth Father

Work sent him to a Detroit pharmacy where my birth mother served customers at its soda fountain. I imagine she caught his eye with her glossy hair, cherry-tinged lips, and 4'10" frame, a butterfly, amidst sundry-stacked shelves, flitting near invoices on his clipboard.

He gave her a ring with a pink stone. But he was so old, she told me years later to explain why she'd refused his proposal, then added:

He was the ugliest man I ever laid eyes on. He married someone else, she said, started a family.

I think about him, his other children, wonder if we would have been friends or reckless with one another's hearts. (continued in the book...)

I found this work transformative. How gently it pulls up hard truths recalling a time of hopeful innocence unwinding like a spool of yarn toward the terrors of war in Southeast Asia, and its concurrent losses and radical changes. Tugging pieces of writing that reflect on family, neighbors, friends, strangers and a world trying to adjust and just get by.

See you next month with book releases, launches and more news.

Thanks for your support of Cervena Barva Press. We appreciate all of you!

Be sure to check out our videos online at YouTube and subscribe if you haven't.

Cervena Barva Press is one of the most active presses in the country!

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
John Riley, Poetry and Fiction Reviewer
William J. Kelle, Webmaster

See you next month!


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