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.”
NEW RELEASE!Nine hundred twenty-five Appalachian women have graduated from the life-changing New Opportunity School for Women programs located in Kentucky, North Carolina, and Virginia/West Virginia. In I Am Not a Nobody eleven of these courageous women share their life stories—difficult and painful stories of abuse, poverty, limited education, drugs, and early marriages. They also share their life-changing journeys with the New Opportunity School for Women where they became empowered to believe in themselves and their values and abilities and gained the courage to succeed—for themselves and their families.
In Leira Clara’s Flowers one little girl, Leira Clara, learns from her grandmother to love gardening and to share the happiness of gardening with others. Grandmother teaches Leira Clara that growing isn’t enough. “Flowers are to share,” Grandmother tells her. Leira Clara takes her advice to heart. When she returns to her flowerless yard at home, Leira Clara discovers that her parents do not garden because they believe they are too busy to grow and care for a garden. Leira Clara decides to take it upon herself to grow her own flowers and to share them with her neighbors and friends.
One of her neighbors, Mr. Thorney, presents a challenge to her plan. Mr. Thorney lives alone and seems to fiercely dislike children. From his window he often yells at the neighborhood children and their dogs. Only grass and bushes grow behind his picket fence—no flowers. Undaunted, Leira Clara is determined to share her joy with Mr. Thorney. The book demonstrates the ability of a child to understand that loneliness can lead to unhappiness and grumpiness and that gardening and flower-sharing have the power to heal and to open one’s heart to kindness, sharing, and happiness.
Leira Clara’s Flowers is a lyrical narrative based on positive psychology and choice theory, essentially about making choices that cultivate kindness. Passing down a love of nature from generation to generation also embeds the idea that multi-age levels work well together. Those familiar with the well-loved classic Miss Rumphius will love the similarities. The book combines social-emotional learning skills with a love of nature. In today’s environmentally challenged and increasingly busy world, fewer and fewer children are spending time outdoors.
Leira Clara’s Flowers is delightfully illustrated in vibrant watercolors.
Now Available New Release
“In this collection, Marianne Peel takes a reader on a journey of the heart—from 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
New Release!Selected by Kirkus Reviews for Best Indies Books of August 2022 Booklist "An impressive and thoughtful exploration of the mistakes good people make." Kirkus Reviews (starred review) Sherry Robinson, award-winning author of Blessed, returns with a daring novel about social taboos, secrets, grief, and self-discovery. Shadows Hold Their Breath takes place with the backdrop of the 1970s feminist movement and in the final years of the Vietnam War. It tells the story of Kat Hunter, a woman who decides that the only way she can understand her unresolved grief and discover who she is meant to be is to do the unthinkable—the unforgivable. In October 1979, six years after suffering the loss of Beth, her dear friend and sister-in-law, to enemy mortar fire near the village of Quảng Ngãi, Vietnam, Kat begins to question everything about her traditional life. In the middle of the night, she slips away from her home in Lexington, Kentucky, her husband, and her three young daughters and boards a Greyhound bus with no specific destination in mind. On the bus, she meets Molly, a young woman who reminds her of Beth. With nowhere else to go, Kat follows Molly and Molly’s boyfriend, Jake, to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Once there, Kat joins the artists community and guards the secret that she is married and has abandoned her children to the care of her husband. Kat’s journey of self-discovery ultimately leads her down an unexpected path—but what is she willing to sacrifice for that journey? Cover art: Annelisa Hermosilla
“A durable love that celebrates resilience fuels Small Acreages, in essays that range from satire to self-reflection, humor to history. Stamper’s clear, graceful style and passion for place bring Wendell Berry's work to mind. But Stamper fills a space that Berry cannot: she writes a woman’s experience of family, community and landscape, as housewife, historian, teacher, daughter, thinker, and mother. The essays in Small Acreages shed light on who we are—all of us—and how we might proceed from here—Leatha Kendrick, author of And Luckier.
Small Acreages completes a trilogy of connected essays told in Georgia Green Stamper’s unique Kentucky voice. In Small Acreages, readers are returned to Stamper’s Eagle Creek world and its colorful characters, but her voice has both deepened with time and widened to include her journey beyond Natlee. Many of the essays in this new collection are reflective or as Stamper phrases it, she hopes “to add a handful of words to the ongoing conversation about what it means to be human.” Her wry humor endures, however, popping into even the most poignant of pieces, grounding her, cutting through the absurd as her daddy taught her to do, reminding her as her mother did that “you might as well laugh.”
Small Acreages introduces new essays to her readers and collects some of Stamper’s most requested and popular essays from her earlier books. Returning readers will not be disappointed as they reconnect with Stamper’s unique world. New readers will delight in discovering this authentic Kentucky voice. Both will find her voice true as she weaves effortlessly between the lyrical to the vernacular, from sublime topics to the mundane. With wisdom and humor and compassion, Stamper reminds all readers that if we strive to unite with the universe, we must pay attention to the “small acreages that have been entrusted to us” for safekeeping.
Cover art: Jana Kappeler
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