Archives for posts with tag: Books


Essential Words
by Joan Leotta

When the pandemic closed this county’s library buildings, our librarians still went to work to keep the internet “fires burning” so that those in our area without service could access signals from the parking lot—a literal beacon in Covid’s storm. Essential workers with no contact allowed. No checking out books permitted—at first.

My own bookshelf provided solace in a broad range of offerings for rereading—meetings with old friends that took me to Italy, to the West, to the past—on wings of words, trips not even Covid could cancel.

I began to read and borrow books online, in spite of eye difficulties with computer reading. At last, drive-up service came. We can now roll up to the door, call inside, and Kim or Christie or another librarian, pops out, books in hand. These angels with book carts know us, and often add items to our requests—things we might enjoy, things we may have found if we had browsed or talked with them.

The hallowed halls of my branch where shelves of books take the place of treasured frescoes are made holy by the ministrations of our librarians. The books themselves are secondary. Book clubs can continue by zoom, but the librarians are the beating heart of what makes the library my happy place. Books are important, but it’s the encouraging words (and actions) of our librarians that have been, are, and will be essential during and after the pandemic.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This photo is of the two librarians (Kim WIlson, left, and Christi Iffergan) that I interact with most at the SW Branch of the Brunswick Library system here in Brunswick County, North Carolina.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This is more of an homage than prose poem or vignette—a cheer for the librarians who have kept up the sense of community here in rural Brunswick County with their unfailing attention to individuals—expressed as best they could (in emails, in calls) even when the library was closed, and as it opened, like a flowering bud, provided more and more of the aroma of kindness that is essential to all human life. Our librarians are great!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: When she is not playing with words on page or stage, Joan Leotta loves nothing more than sitting at table or walking the beach, laughing and talking with family. She spins poems, articles, essays, short stories, and performance pieces most often around her core interests—food, family, nature, travel, and strong women. Her poetry books include  Languid Lusciousness with Lemon (Finishing Line Press), Nature’s Gifts from Stanzaic Stylings (free online), and a mini-book from origami poems (free, but also printable). Another short collection will be released by Origami in 2020. Visit her at and on Facebook.

We started the Silver Birch Press blog on June 24, 2012 — and today celebrate our fifth anniversary. Thank you to our community of contributors, readers, and nearly 10,000 followers for making the Silver Birch Press blog part of your daily routine.  Cheers!

For a trip down memory lane, below is a replay of our first post (June 24, 2012).


To me, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is the quintessential summer book. It chronicles the hot months of 1922, when the Great War was over and the Great Depression was yet to come. The 1920s were a blissful time when possibilities seemed limitless — and everyone seemed to be having fun (despite, or perhaps because of, Prohibition). These were the years when the cocktail was borne (to make the booze go farther), when women bobbed their hair and danced with abandon. It was The Jazz Age, as Fitzgerald called it — a name that stuck.

Every time I pick up The Great Gatsby — and I’ve read the book perhaps a dozen times — I am drawn in and enraptured by the book’s poetry and romance. To quote the song Kiplinger plays: In the morning, In the evening, ain’t we got fun. Yes, Gatsby is great fun — even with its sad ending. The story seems fresh and real, even though it took place 90 years ago.

I believe, though, that required high school reading of Gatsby is ill advised. Teens are too young to appreciate the longing and loss portrayed in the book — which is much better read after you’ve suffered some major hard knocks out in the big, bad world.

We all have a Gatsby in us — a hopeless romantic, an impossible dreamer who tries to hang onto the inner spark that makes life worth living. So pour yourself a lemonade (or something stronger), plop yourself in a lawn chaise, and dive into the greatest novel of all time. Happy Summer!

Walking in the shadows of knowledge
by Mathias Jansson

The smell of old dust
ageing paper
and endless rows
of silence

Small paper cards
in wooden boxes
yellow by light
all the letters
in the alphabet
neatly written in typewriting

A summer in the shadows
of knowledge
three weeks filled with dreams
adventures and stories
caught between
the covers
of library books.

IMAGE: “Blossoming Almond Branch in a Glass with a Book,” by Vincent van Gogh (1888).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: As a teenager I worked one summer in a public library. I can still remember the smell and the special atmosphere of the library.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mathias Jansson is a Swedish art critic and poet. He has contributed with poetry to different magazines and anthologies as Maintenant 8, 10, and 11: A Journal of Contemporary Dada. He has contributed to anthologies from Silver Birch Press and other publishers. Visit his Homepage and Amazon author page.

Sam Silvas, author of the short story collection Stanton, California, will appear along with more than 100 authors at LitFest Pasadena, which will take place in Pasadena, California, on May 20 & 21, 2017. For a complete schedule of authors and events, visit

third reich book

by Courtney Watson

inside cover1

It was the first estate sale of the year, an event of note in my sleepy corner of Virginia. The house was unremarkable except for the master bedroom, which had been converted into a library. The former owners, deceased, had been history buffs, and resting at eye level was a copy of Rise and Fall of the Third Reich — a book described as an account of the nightmare empire built by Hitler. When I opened the front cover, I discovered a Christmas tag taped over a map of Axis-occupied territories with yellowed Santa Claus stickers. Written in blue over the Atlantic Ocean, a sweep of ink brushing against the golden Reichsadler, was merrily inscribed “To Auddy With Love, Mabel 12-25-60.”

The 1200+ page book was well-read, with sentences underlined in green and purple. There was urgency in the arrows and questions and comments in the margins, with special attention paid to Karl Adolf Eichmann, architect of the Holocaust. Auddy commented on every mention of Eichmann, and such was his obsession that he left a bit of treasure for me to find 50 years later. Taped to the final page of the book was a fat yellowed envelope adhered with cracking brown tape labeled “Adolf Eichmann’s Death” in capital letters. In it was the end of the story, a folded page of newspaper detailing Eichmann’s capture in Argentina and subsequent execution on the gallows of Tel Aviv’s Ramleh prison, the first in Israeli history. I like to imagine that Mabel read the article before Auddy, and saved it for him.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I love stories that we tell ourselves about ourselves and learning about who people are—who they truly are—through their possessions. I’m deeply interested in marginalia and the story it tells, which is why I’m always on the lookout for books wherein the reader has visibly interacted with a piece of text; there is something fascinating, to me, about that conversation.

Courtney Watson1

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Courtney Watson is a writer and college professor in Roanoke, Virginia, where she directs the Humanities & Social Sciences program at Jefferson College of Health Sciences. Her writing has been published in Long Story, Short, The Virginia Quarterly Review, Boston Literary Magazine, 100 Word Story, and more. She is co-founder and co-editor of Rum Punch Press.

The Story of When I Lost Ping
by Tricia Marcella Cimera

In the book, Ping the Chinese duck
gets lost on the Yangtze River.
In my life, I lost The Story About Ping book.
We were both scared of getting our
tail feathers spanked, Ping and I.
But Ping found his way back to his
boat eventually and I found the book,
dew-soaked in the wet garden grass.
We shook the water off our backs
and sailed on, me and Ping the duck.

IMAGE: Cover of The Story About Ping (1933),

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: When I was six, I lost The Story About Ping. It was the first book I ever lost but wouldn’t be the last. I felt terrible when I realized Ping was nowhere to be found because taking good care of my belongings was strongly impressed upon me by my parents. Thus was born my guilt complex. Even after finding the book, my complex lived on (and on).


Tricia Marcella Cimera
is a Midwestern poet with a worldview. Look for her work in these diverse places (some forthcoming): Anti-Heroin Chic, Buddhist Poetry Review, The Ekphrastic Review, Failed Haiku, I Am Not A Silent Poet, Mad Swirl, Silver Birch Press, The Bees are Dead, Wild Plum and elsewhere. She has two micro collections, THE SEA AND A RIVER and BOXBOROUGH POEMS, on the Origami Poems Project website. Tricia believes there’s no place like her own backyard and has traveled the world (including Graceland). She lives with her husband and family of animals in Illinois / in a town called St. Charles / by a river named Fox and keeps a Poetry Box in her front yard.

The Lost Bright-Yellow
by Marion Deutsche Cohen

She has fallen asleep reading. When she wakes up the book is no longer
Has it dropped through the mattress? Did she leave it in her dream?
It’s bright yellow, as bright as a light bulb.
It literally can’t be missed.

It’s not in the washer
Not in the dryer
Not in the sink
Not in the bookcase.

She can order another copy.
But she can’t order another Intermediate Value Theorem
The one that says an object can’t get from one place to another
without going in between.

What did she do in her sleep? Take it outside the house? Leave it on
somebody’s doorstep? Throw it in a public trash can?
It’s too big for her purse.
Too big for her jewelry case.
Too big for the medicine cabinet.

She guesses she’ll have to get used to the new rules.
There just might be a god.
And there just might be no science.

Her husband remembers that she fell asleep reading.
And he’s getting worried, too.

SOURCE: “Lost Bright-Yellow”  appeared in the author’s chapbook, Sizes Only Slightly Distinct (Green Fuse Press).

IMAGE : “Woman Reading,” sculpture by Pablo Picasso (1953).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The “she” is actually me. I altered it because I wanted to include it in the chapbook, “Sizes Only Slightly Distinct”, which consisted of what I call “poetic parables without morals”. Other than that, that poem is totally true. (I found the book two days later, fallen to the foot of the bed.)


Marion Deutsche Cohen
’s latest poetry books are Truth and Beauty (WordTech Editions – about the interaction among students and teacher in her course, Mathematics in Literature, which she developed at Arcadia University) and  Closer to Dying (WordTech Editions).  and What I’m Wearing Today (dancing girl press – about thrift-shopping!). Her books total 27, including two memoirs about spousal chronic illness and including Crossing the Equal Sign (Plain View Press – about the experience of mathematics). She teaches math and writing at Arcadia University.  She was recently featured in an interview at, and at Her website is

by Danni Matthews

For tortuous hours I raged methodically,
plucking with hope at edges and seams,
dashing both in fruitless swoops,
my eyes wild and raving.

I knew it was nestled in somewhere,
cosy against worthless items,
its value hiding in shadows
of a suddenly-vast hoard of Things.

Doubt crept in as hopes were dashed;
my mind rattled with paranoia
and imagined hands plucked my prize
from its unrecalled stowaway home.

I raged less methodically now,
tearing around the room rapidly
and cursing unseen thieves,
dreams of big-spending ashes.

The search is abruptly abandoned,
and hand and heart reach for book,
that familiar comfort
to lessen the loss.

A book removed petulantly from shelf,
and all imagined thieves vanish
as my birthday money reappears,
and the room breathes, relieved.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Apparently no images of me exist at the time of the Birthday Money Scandal of 2003, but this was taken about a year afterwards.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I was given the princely sum of £60 total for my sixteenth birthday, and nominated a “safe place” in which to keep it. The safe place proved too safe, and I tore up my bedroom looking for it for quite some time before good old books prevented me from an irate breakdown. Afterwards I could laugh, but I do remember being especially incensed because my bedroom was so small it seemed impossible to lose anything!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Danni Matthews is a published writer from Manchester, UK. She has received awards, television opportunities, and recently attended a poetry residency in Portugal, courtesy of the Bread Matters Foundation. Danni is a self-confessed Word Nerd with a love of literature, and is currently working on her first solo poetry collection. She lives with her vast collection of books, and they’re all very happy together. You can find out more at Facebook.


nd invite

Find more information here or on Facebook.


Author Sam Silvas will read from his short story collection Stanton, California (Silver Birch Press, 2016) in a series of California appearances — date, times, and locations below.

Thursday, March 2, 7 p.m. — Orinda Books, 276 Village Square, Orinda, CA, 94563

Friday, March 3, 6:30 p.m. — Face in a Book, 4359 Town Center Blvd, Suite. 113, El Dorado Hills, CA, 95762

Saturday, March 4, 7:30 p.m. — The Avid Reader, 617 2nd St., Davis, CA, 95616

“Stanton, California is the best collection of short stories I’ve read in a very long time. Sam Silvas writes with enormous skill, deep empathy, and a ferocious commitment to the truth.” LOU BERNEY, Edgar Award winning author of The Long and Faraway Gone.

“Stanton, California, Sam Silvas’ short story collection about working-class families in the Sacramento area, evokes the feel of Hemingway’s short stories in that they are poetic and vital in their representation of hope and brutality.”
JERVEY TERVALON, best-selling author of Dead Above Ground andMonster’s Chef.

In this inspired debut 174-page collection, Sam Silvas examines the claustrophobia that comes from growing up in a small town and the enigmatic search for happiness inside and outside of it. Whether a man settles for life in Stanton or attempts to escape it, the choice is fraught with unforeseen consequences as the outside world butts up against the ways of his hometown.

In “Buck Stew,” a raffle prize of a Glock handgun suddenly offers heartbroken, long-time Stanton resident Jack Dixon new means to solve old problems. In “The Pottery,” the town’s clay pipe and tile plant physically towers over the town and looms large emotionally for the main character Danny Padilla, who has come to believe his significance can be measured in inches, be it a bullet from his beloved Weatherby .270 or the placement of a tile. In “Eat the Worm,” Todd Randle has been gone from Stanton for ten years when he returns home with his outsider bride. Within days of moving back, Todd finds his past glories may very well threaten his future happiness. He sets out to find answers in a sad and bizarrely touching encounter with his father over a Monday Night Football game. The signature piece of the collection is the novella, The Unluckiest Man in the World. Set near Stanton on the Sacramento Delta, it is inhabited by a family of glaziers, as fragile as the glass they install. The unnamed narrator has aspirations to move beyond the history that every male in his family appears destined to repeat. When he meets and falls in love with Katie McPherson, a fellow denizen of the Delta, all his bad luck seems to be behind him, but the past is as dangerous and powerful as the current of the river that he lives on, threatening to pull him under.

The town of Stanton is a character in all these stories, one that proves to be both a sanctuary and a prison to its inhabitants. This distinctive collection rightfully takes its place among great regional fiction.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sam Silvas received his MFA from St. Mary’s College, and lives in Claremont, California, with his family. In life and in writing, he strives to be deceptively honest. This is his first book.