Archives for posts with tag: Novels

The Shakes
by Joe Johnston

I am still waiting for the shakes to stop.
I am still waiting for the magic of Big Sur
     to envelop me in calm
          comfort, to

I did the work; I rejected the
mythos and I rejected the
ritual and I decamped to the
valley. And I waited.


I waited as the shakes continued
and I waited as the Fall rolled in and
the tide rolled out.



The beats go on as the
     Beats went on, and
I don’t have the right map so I’m
lost, off the road, a city light
     my only beacon, waiting for
          the. shakes. to. stop.

PAINTING: Big Sur Coastline by Eyvind Earle.

kerouac ferlinghetti

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: A popular book many young people read to broaden their boundaries is Jack Kerouac’s 1957 novel On the Road. But I don’t feel that enough people bookend the experience by reading his tragic Big Sur (1962).  I didn’t come to it myself until much later in life, which is may be a good thing. When I think of Lawrence Ferlinghetti, I can’t help but picture him as this calming grandfather, protector, and champion of a wild bunch of maniacs, unable to save some of them from themselves. This poem is part homage to that calming grandfather.

PHOTO: Jack Kerouac (left) and Lawrence Ferlinghetti in front of Ferlinghetti’s house at 706 Wisconsin St., San Francisco, California (early 1959). Photo by Kirby Ferlinghetti. (Online Archives of California)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Writer and filmmaker Joe Johnston made his first movie at the age of 11, an industrial espionage thriller that continues to play to excited crowds in his parents’ living room every Christmas. His prose, poetry, and video literature have appeared in Atticus Review, Matador Review, and Iron Horse Literary Review. His recent film How to Make a No-Sew Coronavirus Face Mask from a Poem was featured in Michigan State University’s 2021 Filmetry Festival, viewable here.  He currently resides in Michigan with his loving family of fellow artists and is working on a feature-length play about a dystopic suburban road rally.

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!

david katz

PHOTOGRAPH: Poet David M. Katz with his copy of The Great Gatsby Anthology in New York City’s Riverside Park, lush and green in the summertime, about two blocks from his home, and a few hours by train from Gatsby’s terrain.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: David M. Katz‘s poems have appeared in Poetry, The New Criterion, The Paris Review, PN Review, The Raintown Review, Alabama Literary Review, and Southwest Review. “The Last Page,” his poem featured in The Great Gatsby Anthology, also appears in his most recent book, Stanzas on Oz, Poems 2011-2014. That book also includes a lengthier poem, “Scott’s Last Tape,” which concerns Fitzgerald’s death. His other books of poems are Claims of Home, Poems 1984-2010, and The Warrior in the Forest. As a financial journalist as well as a poet, Katz has long savored Fitzgerald’s ability in Gatsby of being able to catch the economic zeitgeist of the 1920s.

mcdaris gatsby
PHOTOGRAPH: Still life with The Great Gatsby Anthology in the home of Catfish McDaris (Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 2015).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Catfish McDaris’s most infamous chapbook is Prying with Jack Micheline and Charles Bukowski. During the past 25 years, he’s done over 20 chapbooks. An aging New Mexican living near Milwaukee, he has four walls, a ceiling, heat, food, a wife, a daughter, two cats, a typing machine, and a mailbox. His novel Naked Serial Killers in Volkswagens is forthcoming from Weekly Weird Monthly. His archives are held at Marquette University Archives (Catfish McDaris Collection).

gatsby cover June 2015 On March 15, 2014, Silver Birch Press issued a call for submissions for poetry and prose inspired by F. Scott Fitzgerald‘s masterpiece, The Great Gatsby — with a plan to issue the collection in April 2015 to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the novel’s publication. We intend to issue the book soon (but have to push our release date a bit due to factors beyond our control). Thanks to the authors from around the world who contributed their work to the collection. We’ll keep you posted on the spring release date. Stay tuned — and thanks for your patience.

Cover art by Erté

Self-Portrait of the Artist as a Middle-Aged Man
by Massimo Soranzio

The pity is,
the public will demand
and find
a moral—
or worse.

On the honour of a gentleman,
I will not serve that
which I no longer believe:
not one single
serious line.

I have recorded,
what a man says, sees, thinks—
studied through a microscope in the morning,
repeated through a telescope in the evening.

I will express myself
as wholly as I can,
using for my defense
silence, exile
and cunning.

Neither more,
nor less alone,
not only separate from all
others, but to have
not even one friend.

No drama
behind the historical raving:
they are all there,
all the great talkers,
for the first hunt of the season.

and all the things they forgot,
bringing on the rain—
and we
wanting to go for a stroll.

SOURCE: “James Joyce — A Portrait of the Man Who is, at Present, One of the More Significant Figures in Literature” by Djuna Barnes, Vanity Fair (April 1922).

IMAGE: Novelist James Joyce (1882-1941), drawing by Djuna Barnes, Vanity Fair (April 1922).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I found this interview to a celebrity from the past, James Joyce, by mere chance. Though not one of my favourite authors, Joyce has played an important role in my life, accompanying and inspiring me on several occasions. His answers in this interview, published around the publication, on his 40th birthday, of his masterpiece Ulysses, were poetic per se, so I just selected and reordered his words to produce this sketchy self-portrait of the writer.

Massimo Soranzio1

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Massimo Soranzio writes on the northern Adriatic coast of Italy, about 20 miles from Trieste. He teaches English as a foreign language and English literature in a high school, and has been a journalist, a translator, and a freelance lecturer on Modernist literature and literary translation. He posts some of his found and constraint-based poetry on his blog,

gatsby cover June 2015 In April 2015, Silver Birch Press will release The Great Gatsby Anthology, a collection of poetry and prose to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the novel’s 1925 publication. We issued our first call for submissions on March 15, 2014, and during the past four months we’ve received an outpouring of submissions from authors around the world — with contributors ranging from up-and-coming writers to those whose work has appeared in The New Yorker and The Paris Review.

The Great Gatsby Anthology is coming together — and we’ve decided to feature illustrations by renowned Art Deco artist Erté on the cover and inside the book. Our new cover appears above.

The deadline of September 1, 2014 is just six weeks away! If you’d like to submit, the guidelines are included below.

WHAT: Poetry, prose, paintings, drawings, photographs, and other work inspired by The Great Gatsby.

Poems (up to three — either original work or found/erasure poetry based on The Great Gatsby)
Short stories (up to 2,000 words)
Essays (up to 1,500 words)
Creative nonfiction (up to 2,000 words)
Short plays or screenplays (approximately 5 typed pages)
Other literary forms (up to 2,000 words)

TYPES OF VISUAL MATERIAL (send jpg files of approximately 1MB):

DEADLINE: September 1, 2014

RELEASE DATE: April 2015

HOW TO SUBMIT: Please email written entries as MSWord attachments and visual entries as a jpg attachments to along with your name, mailing address, email address, and one-paragraph bio. We also prefer entries that include a note that describes the creative process related to preparing the submission (why you created what you created, the choices you made, etc.).

PAYMENT: Each participant will receive a copy of The Great Gatsby Anthology.

Did you ever purchase a used book and find that it included some underlined passages? This used to annoy me — until today, when I was looking for inspiration and picked up Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut. I flipped open the book to page 41 and found an underlined passage that read like a poem (maybe I was just in the right mood). Here it is:

An underlined passage from Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut (Delta, 1963), page 41

The more truth
we have to work with,
the richer we become.

NOTE: If you’ve found a poem in an underlined passage from a book, send it to, along with the publisher, copyright date, and page number, and a one-paragraph bio, and we may feature it on our blog.

Marcia Meara started writing novels at age 69 and there’s no slowing her down. She’s just released her second romantic suspense novel in less than a year —  Swamp Ghosts, and the Kindle version is available free today (Tuesday, May 13, 2014). Get your free book at

ABOUT THE NOVEL: Wildlife photographer Gunnar Wolfe looked like the kind of guy every man wanted to be and every woman just plain wanted, and the St. Johns River of central Florida drew him like a magnet. EcoTour boat owner Maggie Devlin knew all the river’s secrets, including the deadliest ones found in the swamps. But neither Maggie nor Gunn was prepared for the danger that would come after them on two legs.  On a quest to make history photographing the rarest birds of them all, Gunnar hires the fiery, no-nonsense Maggie to canoe him into the most remote wetland areas in the state. He was unprepared for how much he would enjoy both the trips and Maggie’s company. He soon realizes he wants more than she’s prepared to give, but before he can win her over, they make a grisly discovery that changes everything, and turns the quiet little town of Riverbend upside down. A serial killer is on the prowl among them.


“The house became full of love. Aureliano expressed it in poetry that had no beginning and no end. He would write it on the harsh pieces of parchment that Melquiades gave him, on the bathroom walls, on the skin of his arms, and in all of it Remedios would appear transfigured: Remedios in the soporific air of two in the afternoon, Remedios in the soft breath of the roses, Remedios in the water-clock secrets of the moths, Remedios in the steaming morning bread, Remedios everywhere and Remedios forever…”

One Hundred Years of Solitude


Find One Hundred Years of Solitude, a novel by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, at