Archives for posts with tag: Books

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.


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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.


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.


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

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.


The 97 contributors to the Nancy Drew Anthology (Silver Birch Press, October 2016) are sending photos featuring the book in their home environments for a series we’re calling “Nancy Drew Around the World.”  Author Kathleen A. Lawrence provided this photo of herself standing in a snow drift in Central New York at the junction of NY Route 81 and Cortland Route 13 in front of the welcome sign to Cortland, New York. Kathleen contributed the poem “Detecting Nancy Drew,” featured below, to the collection.

detecting ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kathleen A. Lawrence is an emerging poet who especially likes the challenge of the abecedarian. She grew up in Upstate New York and is from Rochester, the home of the Garbage Plate, Kodachrome, and Cab Calloway. She has been an educator for 30 years, remaining in Central New York in the shadow of the seven hills as a communications professor at SUNY Cortland. Five of her abecedarians recently appeared in the HIV Here & Now poem-a-day countdown.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: I live in Homer/Cortland, New York — a couple of hours by car to just about anywhere else in the state! SUNY Cortland, the college where I teach, is just about five minutes from where I’m standing.

Find the Nancy Drew Anthology at


The 97 contributors to the Nancy Drew Anthology (Silver Birch Press, October 2016) are sending photos featuring the book in their home environments for a series we’re calling “Nancy Drew Around the World.”  Author Vijaya Gowrisankar provided this photo taken ouside the Sanskruti Building in the Thakur Complex, Kandivili (East), Mumbai, India.  Vijaya contributed the poem “Darkness now intrigues,” featured below, to the collection.

Darkness now intrigues

Glow of light a constant companion
For darkness was a frightening feeling
From streetlights to night lamps to stars
Or a torch that I always carried as armor
Or tightly clasped hands of elders as support
This defined me for the first ten years of life

Nancy Drew then crept in, to replace Enid Blyton books
Fingernails chewed as each page unraveled her strength
Sleepless nights where darkness was forgotten
As mind grappled with the plot of each mystery
Each book left me yearning for more, filled with awe
She became an inseparable part of my life and thoughts

An invisible friend, not an imaginary fictional character
She brought about subtle changes in my personality
My walk was more confident, fear fled to find another victim
I was more alert of my surroundings, no longer a shrinking violet
Looking at life and people with a different perspective
My parents smiled secretly at this transformation by Nancy Drew

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Vijaya Gowrisankar released her third book of poems, Explore, in December 2016. Her first two published books Reflect and Inspire, are bestsellers. She was announced as one of the winners of Inspire by Gandhi competition, organized by Sampad, a UK organization. She has been announced as the Winner of AZsacra International Poetry Award (Dec. 2015). Her submissions have been published in Forwardian, Triadae Magazine, iWrite India, Dystenium Online, Taj Mahal Review, and Silver Birch Press. A participant in the Poetry Marathon 2016  (24 poems in 24 hours, 1 poem per hour), she has also reviewed and edited poetry and fiction books. She participated in NaNoWriMo 2016 and completed her first novel in November 2016.

Find the Nancy Drew Anthology at


Martin Scorsese‘s celebrated new film Silence, based on Shūsaku Endō’s 1966 novel is an intense journey about the nature of faith — and what people will do when their beliefs are threatened. The film and book take place in 17th century Japan, where converts to Roman Catholicism are persecuted by those in power — and face life-or-death decisions about whether to keep or abandon their faith.

In Faith Stripped to Its Essence (ACTA Publications, September 2016), Patrick T. Reardon has written a guide that, in his introduction, he calls a “pilgrimage through the discordant voices of faith in Endō’s novel.” Reardon’s 111-page book features brief, reader-friendly chapters that break down the subject matter of Endō’s complex novel into thought-provoking, accessible material.  Questions for individual reflection or group discussion appear at the end of each chapter.

Reardon’s book is an essential addition to the canon of writing — both fiction and nonfiction —  that endeavors to bridge differences among religious groups and focus on the significant questions that all believers need to address. “What are we required to do because of our faith?” Reardon writes. “What does it mean to believe?”

If you plan to see Scorsese’s film — or if you’ve already seen it — Faith Stripped to Its Essence will enhance and deepen your viewing experience of Silence, and provide material for reflection for years to come.

Find Faith Stripped to Its Essence by Patrick T. Reardon at This beautiful volume also makes an impressive gift — for the modest price of $12.95.


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 Julie E. Bloemeke provided these photos taken at Rhodes Hall in Atlanta, Georgia. Julie contributed the poem “Triple Hoax,” featured below, to the collection.


 AUTHOR’S NOTES ON THE PHOTOS: I submitted two photos, a reflection of duality in my history with Nancy Drew.  In both, I wear a pendant, bought years ago precisely because it reminded me of the spider sapphire on the cover of one of the hardback Nancy Drew books I owned and read as a girl.   In the first shot, there is a portrait of Millie Benson, far more an adventurer and rogue spirit than my poem gives her credit for.  It is my way of paying homage to my fellow Toledoan writer.  A high wind raced over the porch as I took the photos.  The only way to keep Millie in place was to tape her photo to the inside cover.  The gusts were so strong that my copy of The Spider Sapphire Mystery blew off of the columns, many times, missing my head by mere inches.

I chose to shoot at Rhodes Hall in Atlanta for its columns and stone, its suggestion of castle, its name, Hall, another tip to other Nancy Drew titles and locations.  The sun flare reminds me of ghosts, orbs, another layer of mystery, all caught without my knowing as these are self-portraits, taken with a timer.  I could not see my pose or the light; it was all a mix of guesswork and chance.  So when I went back and brought up the frame, lit as it was, with Mildred looking over Nancy, Nancy looking over me, me looking over the anthology, it seemed a haunting serendipity.

In the other photo, I wanted to unbutton Nancy, to satisfy some of her longing, and mine.  Perhaps I wanted to scandalize Millie a bit too.  I left many clues; the more one regards the photo, the more there seem to be.  The old lace in the window is both a hint to a Nancy Drew title, and to one of the only humorous lines of poetry I have — as of yet — written.  My boots are also a metaphor: all of the suggestive seduction of tying and untying, brass bound, the hidden staircase of want.  The ring I wear was made in Toledo; I purchased it from the Toledo Museum of Art after my poem won the 2015 ekphrastic contest there.  Look closely at the layers in the window; there are two people passing by, made captive by the camera, caught and reflected back, people I did not see at the time.  With no one behind the lens, my expressions are for an unknown, the intensity behind my eyes a surprise even to me.

 Triple Hoax

How I searched those promising titles,
their suggestive seductions: scarlet
slippers, brass-bound trunks, hollow
oaks that refused to reveal where.

How every mystery stopped me,
Ned and Nancy at another “No
Trespassing” sign, perfect set-up
of near lust again interrupted.

How could Ned and Nancy resist
all those heavy breathing phone calls,
that sensual slinking behind
moss-covered mansions, intense

whispers in the dim light of twisted
candles, the two of them, alone, crouched
under the hidden window, fingering
that spider sapphire in the dark?

Book after book, I began to get a clue,
suspect a double jinx, but still I held out,
determined to find the key

to Nancy’s jewel box, the secret
of Shady Glen, hoping that Nancy
would rip off her velvet mask, slip

under the hidden staircase, unbutton
that old lace and say, here, Ned,
is the real twin dilemma.

But instead, there was only the persistent
mystery, the tease of the broken
locket, those damned leaning chimneys, 
the crossword cipher that kept me—
captive witness, dancing puppet—
from unveiling the silent suspect,

the true sinister omen, the phantom
trick behind the text,
the Carolyn Keene who wasn’t

so Carolyn
or Keene,

who wrote Ned and Nancy
into perpetual chaste,
the hex of a wooden lady
who never held a secret after all.

Clue: 23 Nancy Drew titles below. *

* (1) The Triple Hoax (2) The Scarlet Slipper Mystery (3) The Mystery of the Brass-Bound Trunk (4) The Message in the Hollow Oak (5) The Mystery at the Moss-Covered Mansion (6) The Sign of the Twisted Candles (7) The Hidden Window Mystery (8) The Spider Sapphire Mystery (9) The Double Jinx Mystery (10) The Clue in the Jewel Box (11) The Secret of Shady Glen (12) The Clue of the Velvet Mask (13) The Hidden Staircase (14) The Secret in the Old Lace (15) The Twin Dilemma (16) The Clue of the Broken Locket (17) The Clue of the Leaning Chimney (18) The Clue in the Crossword Cipher (19) Captive Witness (20) The Clue of the Dancing Puppet (21) The Silent Suspect (22) The Sinister Omen (23) The Secret of the Wooden Lady

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: A sleuth of intuition, Nancy searched for symbols, signs, clues, not only to solve cases, but the mysteries of the people she encountered — their gestures, tone of voice, shifty glances, contradictory stories.  And Ned, her “special friend,” was curiously exempt.  Ned and Nancy snuck out, broke rules, trespassed, untied each other, freed one another from kidnappers and enemies.  He rescued her; she rescued him.  And yet in all of this, no passion or true physical intimacy, not even a startling kiss to emphasize the throes of their continual life-or-death predicaments.   I read Nancy Drew voraciously, waiting for such a moment, hoping the detective I so admired for her pluck would let her guard down, expose the clues of desire.  And when she didn’t, I began to feel a sense of betrayal and frustration, a flagging trust, as if the hex had been on me all along.   Couple this with my discovery that Carolyn Keene — who I much admired and longed to be — was not a person but a pseudonym, and I felt doubly duped.  It was only in further research for “Triple Hoax” [included above] that I learned another truth.  Growing up in Toledo, Ohio, I spent almost two decades living only miles from Mildred Wirt Benson — largely Carolyn Keene — while she was alive, and often still writing.  It is a great regret that I only discovered this well after her death.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Julie E. Bloemeke’s poetry manuscript, Slide to Unlock, was recently chosen by Stephen Dunn as a 2016 finalist for the May Swenson Poetry Award.  Her manuscript also placed as a semifinalist in six book prizes, among them the 2016 Crab Orchard Review Poetry Open Competition, the 2016 Washington Prize, the 2015 Hudson Prize, and the 2015 Crab Orchard Poetry Series First Book Award.  A graduate of the Bennington Writing Seminars and a 2016 fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, her work has appeared or will be published in Gulf Coast, Crab Orchard Review, Chautauqua Literary Journal, Drunken Boat, Poet Lore, The James Dickey Review, Four Chambers, and Bridge Eight among others. Her work has also been included in various anthologies, including The Southern Poetry Anthology Volume V: Georgia, My Cruel Invention, and The Great Gatsby Anthology, among others.  A 2016 finalist for the Saluda River Poetry Prize for the state of South Carolina, she was also the winner of the 2015 ekphrastic competition at the Toledo Museum of Art, where her work was on view with the Claude Monet collection. In November she served as the inaugural Poetry Director for the Milton Literary Festival in Georgia.

Find the Nancy Drew Anthology at

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 Marilyn Zelke-Windau provided this photo taken at Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin. Marilyn contributed the poem “Long Overdue,” featured below, to the collection.

 Long Overdue

I’m reading Frank Dixon now.
It’s a Hardy Boys Mystery.
I found it amongst your death’s leavings.
The first page is mildewed.
It says, “After 30 days, return to Dave.”

At bedtime, when I was eight,
I read Nancy’s stories
of the moss-covered mansion
and the broken locket
and the old clock, attic, stagecoach.
I was in love with Ned Nickerson.

You were curled up in your own room,
on the daybed, with your heroes.

Night pulled shades down at 9 o’clock
but parental rules mustered youthful ploys.
A flashlight beamed bright my sheet shelter.
In your room a nightlight was the factor at play.

Batteried lights didn’t burn holes in blankets.
They only woke us kids at 3.
Then, after droop-eyed bathroom calls,
our legs shifted mystery dog-eared pages
to bed bottom,
where reading would be resumed,

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Nancy Drew books were a mainstay of comfort for me as a young girl. I learned from her that it was okay to be a smart girl, to like puzzles, to try to figure out solutions—sometimes creative solutions—and to stick to a problem until an answer could be found. I cherished that alone time with Nancy, reading in bed, under the dining room table, or in the waterless bathtub with blankets and a pillow, door locked so that no one would interrupt me. Most of the books I checked out from the library. They had old bindings. I didn’t know then that there were several people who wrote under the pen name Carolyn Keene. Soon, Nancy’s mysteries were coming out more and more quickly. My allowance money was always gone at the bookstore. My birthday and Christmas lists became full of titles. I still have most of these books here at home. They stare at me and implore me to remember and reread them.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Marilyn Zelke-Windau is a Wisconsin poet and a former elementary school art teacher. She enjoys painting with words. Her poems have appeared in many printed and online venues including Verse Wisconsin, Stoneboat, Your Daily Poem, Midwest Prairie Review, and several anthologies. Her chapbook Adventures in Paradise (Finishing Line Press) and a full-length manuscript, Momentary Ordinary  (Pebblebrook Press), were both published in 2014. She adds her maiden name when she writes to honor her father, who was also a writer.

Find the Nancy Drew Anthology at


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 Shahé Mankerian provided this photo taken at The Getty Center in Los Angeles. Shahé contributed the poem “Dear 12-Year-Old Self,” featured below, to the 212-page anthology.

Dear 12-Year-Old Self

Ride your bicycle a lot.
Don’t pick up magazines
in the alley. Don’t call

any of the girls. Samantha
does not exist. Her phone
number belongs to Tyrone.

If you want to talk
to girls, go to the library.
The girl sitting pretzel style

in the Nancy Drew aisle
might be shy, but talk to her.
She will know more

about boys than Samantha
or Tyrone. Carry the books
she checked out to her bike.

Memorize the titles
because your job is to know
Nancy Drew. After you watch

her ride off into the sunset,
run to the checkout desk,
and apply for a library card.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: While visiting the Getty Center in Los Angeles, I couldn’t help notice the painting by the French painter Jacques-Louis David. In the portrait, the Sisters Zénaïde and Charlotte Bonaparte (Napoléon Bonaparte’s nieces) stare at the viewer blankly as if they are caught reading a secret letter. A clue. Naturally, the painting reminded me of Nancy Drew. More so, it reminded me of the Anthology cover: Nancy Drew’s shadow keeps her company as she sits hunched over a clue. The shadow acts as an extension, Nancy’s body double. Finally, look at Nancy’s stylish gray dress suit, and the depiction of the overextended shadow in obvious black. Now, look at the painting. Notice the colors of the clothing on the Bonaparte sisters? Gray and black. Coincidence?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Shahé Mankerian is the principal of St. Gregory Alfred and Marguerite Hovsepian School in Pasadena, California, and the co-director of the Los Angeles Writing Project. As an educator, he has been honored with the Los Angeles Music Center’s BRAVO Award, which recognizes teachers for innovation and excellence in arts education. His most recent manuscript, History of Forgetfulness, has been a finalist at four prestigious competitions: the 2013 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry Open Competition, the 2013 Bibby First Book Competition, the Quercus Review Press, Fall Poetry Book Award, 2013, and the 2014 White Pine Press Poetry Prize. His poems have been published in numerous literary magazines.

Find the Nancy Drew Anthology at