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Sonnet on Being Seventeen
by Amanda Elfert

At seventeen, I didn’t know much just,
Not much of anything; painful hurts would cut.
I gazed in the mirror wishing I was what,
Guys found beautiful, not a red complexion.
But skin cleared for grad photos somewhat,
And graduation was a monumental strut;
Into the wide world of a young adult but —
Drunk for first time, on two pints of beer chugged.
But made great friends, started with tea, no fear —
When fortune teller read our palm, seer —
Said I was too quiet, had to live, learn not be,
Girl committing to first guy of her dreams.
Then off to Mexican Orphanage, saw clear,
Those in need, how vital is charity.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Myself, age 17, at the San Diego Zoo on my high school’s mission and services trip to an orphanage in Mexico.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I think seventeen is such an age of change for young people. It’s on the cusp of finally being free and able to do more of what you like in life and less of what you’re told. It’s finding out that even with newfound freedoms there is still responsibility. And later in life remembering, you are never so free as you are at the end of high school and in university. You are free in ways you cannot comprehend and will never be again.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Amanda Eifert is a writer and blogger in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. She has poetry and short fiction published online forSpillWords Magazine and SickLitMagazine. She has an English BA and has applied to an MFA program in Creative Writing. You can visit her blog at mandibelle16.wordpress.com to see where most of her work develops. She also conducts  writer/blogger interviews on her blog and does a variety of other writing.

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We are honored and pleased that Porter Square Books in Cambridge, Massachusetts, will host a reading for the Nancy Drew Anthology (Silver Birch Press, October 2016). East Coast authors featured in the 212-page collection of writing & art — Kathleen Aguero, Jessica Purdy, Ellen Cohen, Kristina England, and Sarah Nichols — will read their work included in the anthology. Details below.

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WHERE: Porter Square Books, 25 White Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 02140, 617-491-2220, portersquarebooks.com.

WHEN: Friday, 2/24/17, at 7 p.m.

WHO:  Kathleen Aguero, Jessica Purdy, Ellen Cohen, Kristina England, and Sarah Nichols will read selections from the Nancy Drew Anthology.

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We asked the 97 contributors to the Nancy Drew Anthology (Silver Birch Press, October 2016) to send photos featuring the book in their home environments for a series we’re calling “Nancy Drew Around the World.” Author Jennifer Hernandez sent this photo of herself and the book in front of the giant walleye at Lake Mille Lacs on a road trip home from the League of Minnesota Poets fall conference. As she tells us, it doesn’t get a whole lot more Minnesotan than this! Jennifer contributed the poem, “Nancy Drew is my kind of princess,” featured below, to the collection.

 Nancy Drew is my kind of princess

          flashlight scepter in hand
Sleuthing through secret passages,
          tunnels, attics, caves
Girl detective slays her own dragons
          needs no rescue
Sheathed in smart frocks with
          matching handbags
Strawberry blonde hair
          tucked behind one ear
Clues deduced
          mysteries solved
Blue roadster
          speeding into the sunset

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Hernandez teaches and writes in the Minneapolis area. Her work has appeared recently in Mothers Always WriteRose Red ReviewSilver Birch Press, and anthologized in Bird Float, Tree Song (Silverton Books). She has performed her poetry at a nonprofit garage, a bike shop filled with taxidermy, and in the kitchen for her children, who are probably her toughest audience.

Find the Nancy Drew Anthology at Amazon.com.

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Top Hat & Tails
by Mark Andrew Heathcote

My mother & father fought day & night
But they made a hat with cardboard & glue
They measured my head & were erudite
This accomplishment, of their love, shone through.

To me who had more than just a few doubts
I slept right through it all and then came school…
The very next day Hat on, they recounts
My hat had won the show, yes, this was, cool.

“Oddest-thing-is” I don’t recall wearing it.
I don’t recall going to school at all…
All I remember is seeing the skip-
& joy in their proud hearts, still so, enthral.

As they recapped the story, late one night
Describing how they saved their silver foil.
A “40 a day habit,” I guess they’d to light,
Buy more packs, hadn’t they heard of Tinfoil.

© 2016 Mark Heathcote

IMAGE: The authors homemade top hat.

heathcoteNOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: 
Well, I was born in Withington, Manchester, one of three children; I was the eldest and the only boy. We lived in a three-bed terrace house with no bathroom or indoor toilet. I lived there until the age of nine and was a quiet and unhappy child, but that changed when the family moved to the countryside, where I then had the freedom to explore nature at first-hand. I spent much of my free time climbing trees and swimming in lakes and rivers, making rope swings, stuff like that. I was looked on as a kind of Tarzan figure, that’s how all other kids saw me. I was never academic and was years behind all the other children at school. I struggled badly in high school and didn’t learn a great deal. I left school at age 16, taking dead-end jobs on local farms and then in factories. I left home at age 17 —  by then, there had been a messy divorce and relationships weren’t good all round and haven’t improved all that much since. So I moved back to Manchester, where I’m still residing now and have done ever since. I’m a father of five and for the past 14 years I’ve be employed as a learning disability support worker. I write a lot of poetry in my free time and enjoy music and gardening.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mark Andrew Heathcote’s debut book, In Perpetuity, published in 2016, is available from CTU Publishing. His work recently appeared at THE BEZine and in the Silver Birch Press “When I Moved” Poetry & Prose Series.

Version 4
I Have a Hat, a Red Suede Cowboy Hat
by Alice Morris

purchased in a southwestern shop miles from my seaside setting.
I’m fond of my hat, but seldom wear it past my yard,
perhaps because I fear the red is too dazzling, and the cowboy
style too out of touch for my nautically themed town.

Lately though, I’ve learned my lifetime of rodeo, and cattle herding
cowboy of an uncle, was inducted into
The North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame, which means
true cowboy blood must also run in my veins, which would

explain my long ago attraction to a flashy–red–western hat.
So now that I know my bold red hat is linked to proud legacy,
watch out — I’ll be busting free. No more — only-in-my-yard,
beautifully bodacious cowboy hat for me.

PHOTO: The author in her bold red cowboy hat. (Photo by Alice Morris, 2016.)

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: It was clear that I needed to write about my neglected red cowboy hat. And I knew my uncle’s being inducted into the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame would be key to this poem, but I did not realize that writing about Me, in a Hat, would lead to such a direct connection with my uncle, or put me so in touch with my heritage.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Alice Morris is a Minnesota native with a BS in English Education from Towson State University and an MS in counseling from Johns Hopkins. She comes to writing with a background in art — published in The New York Art Review and a West Virginia textbook. Her poetry is included or forthcoming in several themed collections and anthologies, a shared chapbook, The Broadkill Review, Silver Birch Press, The Avocet, The Weekly Avocet, and Delaware Beach Life. Morris is an active member of Coastal Writers and the Rehoboth Beach Writers Guild.

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Transaction
by Nina Lewis

When it all fell through
I went shopping.
The clothes store had a sale on
and I found this hat,
stared too long at the reflection
of my head wearing it,
mirroring thoughts
from another place.

Like a morning alarm
the repetitive store music
brought me back
to the cold tiled shop floor.

I checked the price tag,
decided it didn’t matter, this hat
was mine.

The sun was out by the time
I walked back to the car,
I pulled off the price tag
and wore it.

Every summer this is my hat.
Worn on holiday, in the garden,
out for a walk,
you never ask me
where it came from.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Hats disguise, conceal, and protect. I love this one and have worn it for years. It is beginning to fade. The photo was taken at Hanbury Church, after a long walk in summer sun up steep hills. I was red-faced so we shot in black and white. (Photo by Reg Nicholds, July 2016.)

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I have lots of hats, but only one I tend to wear. I took it on a recent photo shoot, so I knew I could supply a photo of it. When it came to writing, I remembered where it was bought and spent some time with memories I had archived. There is, as always poetic truth included in transaction. All good poetry has some depth. I tend to free write and then go back to clip and edit my poetry; this one flowed fairly naturally and has just been quietly moulded.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Nina Lewis is widely published in poetry journals and anthologies, including Abridged, Fat Damsel Take Ten, Hark, Here Comes Everyone (HCE), I am Not a Silent Poet, New Ulster Poetry, Nutshells and Nuggets, and Under the Radar. Nina was a runner-up in a Poet Laureate competition 2015/2016 and often performs at spoken word events and literary festivals. She was commissioned to write and perform poetry on “urban nature” at the Birmingham (U.K.) Literature Festival in 2014. Nina’s work also formed part of the poetry trail for Wenlock Poetry Festival, been found in the vaults of the Municipal Bank as part of an International Dance Festival, and 21 Haiku were used for an Art Installation at the MAC. Her debut pamphlet Fragile Houses, was published by V. Press in 2016. She hosts INKSPILL, an annual writing retreat at awritersfountain.wordpress.com..

silver_cover

To celebrate the holiday season, we’re offering a free Kindle version of the Silver Birch Press Silver Anthology – available Monday, 12/12 through Friday, 12/16/16 at Amazon.com. (If you don’t have a Kindle device, you can still read the book — with free reading apps, available at this link.) If you are in the UK, try Amazon.co.uk. The free offer also appears on all the international Amazon sites.

The Silver Birch Press Silver Anthology is a 240-page collection of poetry, essays, short stories, novel excerpts, and stage play scenes from 62 accomplished and up-and-coming authors in the United States and United Kingdom. The writing ranges in style and subject matter — but all the work touches on “silver” in a variety of creative, original, and compelling ways.

We would appreciate any reblogs, tweets, emails, and facebook posts about this Kindle giveaway!

Happy Holidays!

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Chicago-area book lovers — join six authors who contributed their work to the Nancy Drew Anthology as they read from the collection on Friday, Dec. 9, 2016 at Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore in Forest Park, Illinois. Readers include organizer Cynthia Todd Quam, along with Steve Bogdaniec, Jennifer Finstrom, Jessie Keary, Elizabeth Kerper, and Patrick T. Reardon, A big thank you to Century & Sleuths Bookstore — and owner Augie Aleksy — for hosting the event!

WHEN: Friday, Dec. 9, 2016, 7-10 p.m. (CST)

WHERE: Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore, 7419 Madison St., Forest Park, IL, 60130. 708-771-7243

WHAT: Readings from the Nancy Drew Anthology by six contributors —  Steve Bogdaniec, Jennifer Finstrom, Jessie Keary, Elizabeth Kerper, Cynthia Todd Quam, and  Patrick T. Reardon! Get your autographed copy at the event!

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Mexican Hat Dance
by Betsy Mars

Golden, capped in the strong sunshine
against my father’s shoulder I stood tall,
and between my parents I felt alive

in this land so distinct and familiar.
The air was redolent with chocolate and spice,
electrical with lightning storms and surging hormones.

Taking the leap, cliff divers descended
in sheer drops for my entertainment
as I ate up the scenery and the sensation of being weightless.

My hat perched at a jaunty angle,
confident in a way I never felt
at home in a strange land.

Between pulpy bulls and bleeding fruit
proffered from vendors at the beach, I felt
like Hemingway discovering his muse —

but much less courageous,
cowering at night in the hotel room,
thunderstruck and hatless.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Me in Mexico at age 13. This is one of very few photos that exist of me in a hat. Hats were my mother’s domain, and she wore them well. I have no idea where this hat came from or why I was wearing it, but this photo captures a side of myself I rarely see in photos.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:  I hesitated to write for this prompt because, to me, hats were something that only my mother could pull off. When I wear them, I usually feel like a fraud, as if I am taking on a fake identity. Someone more bold. This photo brings back one of my favorite memories involving my parents. We took a trip to Mexico which was perhaps the first time I was abroad since leaving Brazil at age six.  It was an exciting and sometimes disturbing trip, but fueled my love for travel and experiencing other cultures.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Betsy Mars is a writer, traveler, mother, animal lover, and educator who is wearing a number of hats these days. Her work has been published in several anthologies, by Silver Birch Press, and soon will be published in the California Quarterly Journal and by Cadence Collective. Her writing is a means to define her identity after many decades of blurriness.

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That ring you gave me…
by Sofia Kioroglou

That ring you gave me on that day
more beautiful than a blossoming rose
a symbol of your undying devotion and our eternity

That ring you gave me on that day
declared our love to a long and arduous journey
during which true love has been forged

That ring you gave me, my love
I will always wear on my right hand
a token of eternal bliss

That ring you gave me
when I grew tired of the chase
I happened to find

And since the wind blows in my face
I sail with every wind
the ultimate find of my search, this ring

PHOTO: The author and her future husband Peter join hands at their engagement party.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The day my husband popped the question totally out of the blue is a moment indelibly etched on my mind. The poem, however corny it may be deemed, describes exactly how I felt when he placed the ring on my finger. When writing this poem, I drew inspiration from The Alchemist  by Paulo Coelho, which is an eternal testament to the transforming power of our dreams and the importance of listening to our hearts, and from Friedrich Nietzsche, a rather incongruous combination that  I hope makes sense to those who are tired of the chase but who learned to find. Based on Biblical references, it has always been the tradition of the Orthodox Church to place the wedding ring on the right hand of the couple.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sofia Kioroglou is a poet, a wife, a missionary, a pilgrim, and a perennial traveler to the Holy Land and Egypt. She likes to take her readers on an exhilarating tour of Jerusalem’s treasures through her poetry and to write articles on the delectable local fare in Jericho, near the Mount of Temptation, and  her visits to Cana, where hundreds of couples renew their wedding vows at the Wedding Church.  To learn more about her, visit her blog at sofiakioroglou.wordpress.com.