Archives for posts with tag: elegies

Silver Birch Press is pleased to announce the October 1, 2014 release of  Vanilla Milk: A Memoir Told in Poems by Chanel Brenner. The 104-page collection focuses on a mother’s and family’s response to the sudden death of the author’s six-year-old son. These poems might be read as written snapshots forming an elegiac album, depicting how a traumatic loss alters relationships, love, and parenting, and perceptions of danger, time, and life. Characterized by unsparing honesty, clarity, and restraint, the poems explore the limits inherent in “recovering” from the grief of losing a child, and the need to continue experiencing joy. Includes a 20-page album of family photographs.

Praise for Vanilla Milk by Chanel Brenner: 

“The poems inside of this book were torn from the heart of a woman whose suffering is so immense that it could swallow her whole. Instead of letting the staggering pain consume her, Chanel Brenner crafted these undeniably gorgeous meditations on the death of her son. I read Vanilla Milk four times before putting it down, because I was afraid to let it go. Chanel Brenner has crafted a resplendent work of art that is unrivaled in its ability to make sense of the ebbs and flows of grief.” MATTHEW LOGELIN, New York Times bestselling author of Two Kisses for Maddy

“Chanel Brenner’s Vanilla Milk is a transcendent work. The skill and courage of these poems inspire me to be a better writer, the generosity in them inspires me to be a better person.” MIA SARA, author at [PANK]

“Brenner’s book joins the ranks of great elegies or lamentations for the loss of a child: Ben Jonson’s poem for his son, Jan Kochanowski’s Laments, Stephane Mallarme’s unfinished long poem “A Touch of Anatole,” and two contemporary works—Stan Rice’s Some Lamb and Edward Hirsch’s Gabriel. Brenner’s book of poems dealing with the loss of her son Riley stands along with these great classics—art’s attempt through poetry to fathom the unfathomable sorrow of suffering. Vanilla Milk breaks the heart, moves the soul as few books of poetry can—but, like all great art, it heals as well. You will never see the world the same way again.” JACK GRAPES, author of The Naked Eye, Method Writing, and Poems So Far So Far So Good So Far to Go

Vanilla Milk…is a surprising blend of formats which melds a memoir to poetry…Chanel Brenner is not the first to use poems to immortalize and capture the events surrounding a child’s death: Stan Rice’s Some Lamb is one example of an outstanding synthesis of poem/memoir — and Vanilla Milk deserves to take its place alongside it, on the shelf of exceptional writings.” MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Chanel Brenner’s poems have appeared in Cultural Weekly, Poet Lore, Rattle, The Coachella Review, Diverse Voices Quarterly, Foliate Oak, Glassworks, and others. She was awarded first prize for her poetry in The Write Place At the Write Time’s contest. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and son.

Find Vanilla Milk: A Memoir Told in Poems by Chanel Brenner at

by Thom Amundsen

I have tears this evening
Pools, welling in my eyes
Imagining a spirit soaring
Streaking across our skies.
Hers, a delightful voice
Allowing us our choice
To recognize the human condition
To celebrate her marvelous vision.

We were hearing your words
Welcoming a stately event
All of us gave pause afterwards
This new sound began an advent.
Hers, a delightful voice
Allowing us our choice
Realizing today we have a mission
Heartfelt we wish only inclusion

You spoke eloquent verse
Eyes that recognized nature
Passion of a healing nurse
We needed a path mature
Hers, a delightful voice
Allowing us our choice
We are a society driven by a common
Ground; shrieks to lessen the demon.

That day, you shouted aloud
Spoke of nations, of people
A message of love so loud
Tipping the cynic’s steeple
Hers, a delightful voice
Allowing us our choice
Know today we have made a decision
Sweet words shall stifle our aggression

Remind me your love today
Compassion, delight in real
Moments may lead our way
Paths we may reach surreal,
Hers, a delightful voice
Allowing us our choice
When will our song bury oppression
Live wise, sing Maya’s lasting impression

© Thom Amundsen 2014

IMAGE: Maya Angelou, poet & author (1928-2014).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Thom Amundsen has been writing poetry nearly all his life, but recently attacked it with a feverish urgency, enjoying dabbling in many different variations of verse. He is a family man, teacher, director of theater, and an uncertain poet. Visit him at