Poetry

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  •   “These poems are at once cerebral, naturalistic, and elegiac. Blessedly free of any dogma, they are a most welcome and refreshing read.” —Chris Holbrook “James Riley has produced an elegiac collection that also celebrates the mystery of existence, reminding us, like the poet H. D., that the mysteries remain.”—Rhonda Pettit “There is a grave tenderness in these poems…a mixture of love and pain and grief and hilarity.”—Mary Ann Taylor-Hall “If as readers we are willing to consider Einstein’s posit that the separation between past, present, and future is only an illusion, although a convincing one, then Broken Frequencies offers proof of this connection and more.” —Audrey Naffziger Broken Frequencies confronts the disconnect between the present and the past in our personal lives. Each poem is a search for meaning in an otherwise random sequence of events which lean always toward the relationships which lend significance to our lives, the connections between those we love and those we have lost, and the many possible futures each moment implies. From “The Heart’s Sad Music,” there is no escaping the realization that We are surrounded by the ghosts of those we love.
  • INCLUDES COMPLETE SPANISH TRANSLATION

      "Embrace[s] immigrants, broken people, and people otherwise disillusioned and dispossessed ... at once intimate, poignant, and raw." Foreword Clarion Reviews (4-star review) Cradled by Skeletons: A Life in Poems and Essays (Mecida por Esqueletos: una vida poemas y ensayos) is a raw expression of identity and place. This memoir relates Marta Miranda-Straub’s experience of trauma, resilience, and transformation. The book also portrays how her life’s work as a social worker, educator, leader, activist, advocate, and community organizer has been fueled by discernment, resistance, and transformation of individual, institutional, and societal systems of power. Miranda-Straub has a keen sense of awareness and she questions injustices with intention, compassion, humility, and humor. There is a shared connection with both the victim and the perpetrator in her writings that exalts the grit and grace of humanity.  When asked what makes Cradled by Skeletons unique, Marta replied:  “I believe the uniqueness is the personal narrative, it is my life. ‘Everyone else’s is already taken,’ Oscar Wilde."  Cradled by Skeletons may be similar to other books in this genre; however, every fiber of my thumb print is exposed and every skeleton that has cradled me has been surfaced and adorned with the beading it deserves. It is una Fiesta de los Muertos, a feast of the dead for those of us living due to their generosity of spirit.”    
  • with Foreword by Deni Naffziger

    Now Available New Release

     

    “In this collection, Marianne Peel takes a reader on a journey of the heartfrom Greece and Turkey to Nepal and China, from Ukraine to the US. With passion, curiosity, and a keen eye for detail, Peel introduces readers to places and lives that seem, on the surface, to be far removed from her own. These are people—loving, shattered, joy-filled, and oh so human—with whom Peel shares the intimacy of story, music, and dance. No Distance Between Us is indeed the message, not just for Peel in her travels, but for all of us who are transported with the poet.”—Laura Apol, author of A Fine Yellow Dust

    “Peel’s poems… reflect an astonishing awareness of detail, encompassing empathy and transformation. A haunting poetic accomplishment.—Jan Freeman, author of Blue Structure and Simon Says

    “Peel’s…lyrical tenderness and compassion for humanity reveal a keen eye and an abundance of the heart. Each poem tells a story, and each story tells a truth. Stunning.”Julie Maloney, founder and director of Women Reading Aloud

    “Peel’s pen brings us into a community of wise women and caring men scattered across the globe, in out of the way places. No Distance Between Us is a rich estuary, a houseboat of stories full of heart.”—Jeremy Paden, 

    “From the beautiful to the unimaginable, compassion radiates from ‘the underbelly of each word’ of No Distance Between Us. [Peel’s] exquisite storytelling voice brings to life vivid characters with their human joys and heartbreaking struggles. … The poetry…opens our hearts ‘to let in the light.’ To hold each other’s hands, and sing.”—Katerina Stoykova, author of Second Skin

    Cover art, "Yearning to Roam," by Jana Kappeler; Cover photograph, "Starry Sky," by Wil Stewart; Frontispiece art by Alicia Kon; Interior illustrations by Annelisa Hermosilla

  • "Powerful…her poems give voice to emotions most of us hold but cannot express."—Sandra P. Aldrich "A psalm of hope that teaches us to hold hands across the centuries and embolden each other to sing out, to never again be stopped, so that our daughters and granddaughters will always know how loved and how lovely they are." —Rebecca Gayle Howell. No Shroud of Silence, a collection of literary poems and stories that span decades of life in Appalachia (southeast Kentucky), speaks of family, place, loss, grief, domestic violence, prejudice, perseverance, resilience, spirituality, humor, and hope. In the title poem a woman declares her independence and refuses to bend to the wishes of others. I am a force as real as your financial security/and so-called clout./I will not keep mum about injustice,/prejudice, political bigotry, racism, sexism,/or be quiet about the fact that/IN GOD I TRUST. "There is much healing going on here for reader and writer in poems and stories that study old wounds, / then bandage them with those healing words./ Read this book..."—Rob Merritt Reading Group Guide for No Shroud of Silence
  • with foreword by Rebecca Gayle Howell

    The Tillable Land is a heart-racing, heart-breaking lyric, a liberating coming of age for our stunted relationship to all that feeds us. I am changed by this book.”—Rebecca Gayle Howell, Author of American Purgatory and Render/An Apocalypse and Poetry Editor, Oxford American

    “Melva Sue Priddy’s The Tillable Land is a double helix of a book. One strand is a story about a family’s life—dairy farming and growing tobacco, and also food for the table—beginning with an initial purchase of an unforgiving seventy-acre plot of land that had been deemed untillable. The other strand concerns the oldest daughter who, from a very young age, bears onerous responsibilities both inside and outside a house ruled by a father who believes that children—and women—should be seen and not heard. Because she ‘could not be silent’ as she matures, her life is marked by the ‘tingling numbness’ of this past. Water runs through this book: falling, flowing, and pooling, it turns manure and silt into slurry, washes off topsoil, threatens to burst pipes and hoses in freezing temperatures, opens sinkholes, and thins menstrual blood. Perhaps this is what throws into relief ‘In the Adjoining Field,’ a poem about fire: ‘You have to burn off all the grease, / girl,’ says a grandmother lighting a skillet hung with ‘barbwire’ on a maple; ‘It’s how you get it clean.’ It’s another metaphor for a book probing one woman’s legacy of land and family, as she moves from her child-self onward to being a grandmother herself. Robert Frost’s ‘The land was ours before we were the land’s’ is a line that maps the trajectory of Melva Sue Priddy’s teeming book. The Tillable Land, often not pretty, formally enacts a winding, unwinding, rewinding journey that leads one woman, buttressed by smarts and beauty, to salvage from memory a place written into her DNA.”—Debra Kang Dean, author of Totem: America 

    “‘The farm raged with run-down fences,’ Melva Sue Priddy tells us early on in The Tillable Land, and ‘the family had no such boundaries.’ The poet sets those boundaries now, by chronicling a childhood where her father required his small children to do work they had neither the size nor strength to perform. Fear adrenalized her, and at age five, she could drive a diesel tractor by standing on the pedals. She lived on ‘land that god clothed / with rocks’ where ‘[s]ome of those rocks [were her] bones.’ Priddy makes brilliant use of the repetitive, braiding form of the villanelle to convey the relentless cycles of farm work. But somehow, amid this punishing labor, ‘another god spoke with [her]…and words warm songed through [her] veins.’ She never let go of that singing, and now she offers it to us. The next-to-last poem in this stunning collection finds Priddy at the Garden Center where she tells us, ‘Today I get what I want.’ Hallelujah!”—George Ella Lyon, Kentucky Poet Laureate, 2015–2016, author of Back to the Light

    Cover art: Julien Dupré

    In the Pasture (The Milk Maid) (detail), 1883, Oil on canvas

    Collection of the University of Kentucky Art Museum, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Henry H. Knight, 1958; transferred from the Carnahan Conference Center.

    Enjoy a preview of "What Chose To Be Remembered," one of the poems included in The Tillable Land by Melva Sue Priddy. What Chose To Be Remembered  Scored by water frozen in our ponytails from morning wake-up call, scored by the broad hipped holstein walking within hand’s reach, her soiled rump following the soiled rump before her, scored by the wolf moon’s hunger and charm— her predatory eye fixed on us— scored by the unsteady ground, jarring, slowing our steps, bone-cold and familiar, each morning we coaxed the herd. But, too, each cow’s billowing breath, the silver-shimmered pond’s edge, the snowflakes’ images repeated just above the freezing water, and we were scored, too, by life’s tingling numbness.

    Copyright © 2022 Melva Sue Priddy