Friday, July 27, 2018

Review of Ronda Miller's MoonStain

· Paperback: 110 pages
· Publisher: Meadowlark; 1 edition (May 17, 2015)
· Language: English
· ISBN-10: 0692434666
· ISBN-13: 978-0692434666

In exquisite style, poet Ronda Miller shares her life-changing events in MoonStain. She writes of finding freedom in tumbleweeds that taught her “how to roam”, of feeling pelting “fresh summer rain” and “hedge apple sized hail.” But Miller can never know how different she would be if her mother hadn’t died—suicide—when she was three. As a result this child “was left to grow wild and free.”

Miller reveals to us the depths of her emotional turmoil and her desperate need to find her identity—before it’s too late—in her powerful poem, “Mama Slam.” In this composition she reveals how she attempted to cope through self-destructive behavior.

Fortunately for her—and us—Ronda learns she doesn’t need to be angry at her mother, or to become her mother. Instead, only by being herself is she set free.

--Jim Potter, author of Taking Back the Bullet: Trajectories of Self-Discovery

We encourage readers to order all Meadowlark Books through a favorite Independent Bookstore.
You can also order from Amazon or direct from the Meadowlark Bookstore.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

A Publisher's Diary -- Oh the Places these Poets Take Me

I was looking forward to Poetry in Pittsburg, first because it was my chance, finally, to meet Olive Sullivan, author of Wandering Bone (Meadowlark 2017) in person. Olive has had a rather tough time, health wise, since the publication of her first poetry book. So I was thrilled to get this opportunity to help Olive debut her book in her hometown. We were joined by Ronda Miller, WaterSigns (Meadowlark 2017) and Izzy Wasserstein, When Creation Falls (Meadowlark 2018).

Any author who has ever organized a book event knows that they can be hit and miss. It's not unusual to hear a story about an author traveling for a reading to find perhaps only an audience of three. So there is always a certain amount of anxiety prior to a book event, and as soon as even a handful of attendees show up, you can hear the authors breathing great sighs of relief.

At this book event, however, we had more than a handful. We pretty much filled up our seating and ended up adding a few extra seats. Even better, the audience was warm and appreciative. It was truly one of the best poetry readings I have attended.

Much credit, of course, goes to Olive and the work she did sharing the news of our event with the locals. I spent the rest of the weekend feeling pretty blissful and relaxed. I wanted to figure out how to bottle the entire experience and perhaps repeat it, town by town, all across the state of Kansas.

 (And the second reason I was looking forward to Pittsburg? I attended school there, my freshman year of college, nearly 30 years ago! I have made a few trips back to visit friends, but the last one was too long ago. I was due for a return visit. And how wonderful that it was such a great one!)

I had a fabulous time in Pittsburg, Kansas, with poets Olive Sullivan, Ronda Miller, and Izzy Wasserstein. We were hosted at the fabulous Eclectic Soul Studio. It was a beautiful setting and the audience was warm and welcoming. As well, we were treated to music by the band, Amanita. 

For our Poetry in Pittsburg event, we also enjoyed the following before and after press!

July 20, 2018 - Joplin Globe
Pittsburg Poet Sullivan to Read from Latest Book

July 21, 2018 -- KOAM TV, Channel 7 Pittsburg
Book Launch

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Celebrating Poetry in Pittsburg at the Eclectic Soul Studio on July 21

Pittsburg, KS – Three poets will be reading and talking about poetry on Saturday, July 21, 4-6pm at the Eclectic Soul Studio, 601 North Broadway. All have had books published by Meadowlark Books, Emporia, within the last year.

Olive Sullivan, Pittsburg, debuts Wandering Bone, her first full-length book of poetry. In addition to writing, Sullivan performs in the band Amanita, and in her free time, likes to fly-fish with her husband, the scholar and writer Stephen Harmon; takes long walks with dogs; and travel anywhere that requires a passport. She is an apprentice bookbinder.

Sullivan will be joined by Ronda Miller, Lawrence, author of
WaterSigns and MoonStain, both published by Meadowlark Books. Miller is the current state president of Kansas Authors Club, a writing organization that has been supporting authors since 1902. She is a Life Coach who specializes in working with clients who have lost someone to homicide.

The third poet in the trio is Izzy Wasserstein, Topeka,  author of When Creation Falls. Wasserstein teaches English at Washburn University, writes poetry and fiction, and shares a house with a variety of animal companions and the writer Nora E. Derrington. Her first poetry collection, This Ecstacy They Call Damnation, was a 2013 Kansas Notable Book.

Meadowlark Books is an independent publisher, specializing in printing books by authors from the heartland since 2014. Learn more at

The event will take place at Eclectic Soul Studio in Pittsburg. Eclectic Soul Studio offers a variety of classes and workshops including belly dancing. Owner Lastacia Ross is a certified intuitive healer. who offers reiki and meditation as well as sound healing and other services. 


Monday, June 11, 2018

Announcing The Birdy Poetry Prize, by Meadowlark Books

Now accepting entries! Meadowlark Books is pleased to announce that the first Birdy Poetry Prize for a full-length poetry manuscript will be awarded in 2109. Prize includes $500 cash and publication by Meadowlark Books. 

Read the complete guidelines here.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Driving Together, Poems by Tyler Robert Sheldon

Driving Together
Poems by Tyler Robert Sheldon
Published by: Meadowlark Books
ISBN-13: 978-1732241008 
Retail Price: $15.00

Meadowlark Books is pleased to announce the publication of  Driving Together, poems by Tyler Robert Sheldon.

From Kevin Rabas, Poet Laureate of Kansas, 2017-2019, “Tyler Robert Sheldon’s first full-length poetry collection is a gem, a culmination of years of study and effort. As an MA student Tyler impressively published more than forty poems individually, demonstrating both his industry and his ambition, his talent and grit. With his MFA in Creative Writing currently in progress and this book complete, Tyler takes the next step as a poet and educator. With this collection, his audience and reach quickly extend. Tyler’s life is both ordinary and extraordinary, and he charts some of his journey in verse in this book. He does so with hope and pluck, with a kind of simple, clear vision. What he sees, we see.”

Sheldon received his BA in English and MA in Creative Writing from Emporia State University. He is currently an MFA candidate in Poetry at McNeese State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He has also published the chapbooks Consolation Prize (Finishing Line Press, 2018), Traumas (Yellow Flag Press, 2017), and First Breaths of Arrival (Oil Hill Press, 2016). He is a book reviewer at the Los Angeles Review and Tinderbox Poetry Journal.  

We encourage readers to order our books through their favorite independent bookstore, 

or direct via the Meadowlark Bookstore     /    Amazon

Praise for Driving Together:

“Intimate and lovely, the poems of Tyler Robert Sheldon allow us to appreciate the small, overlooked wonders of our familiar worlds. In Sheldon’s poems, there’s great compassion for people, for landscapes, for family members, and for an unromanticized past. In this poet’s work, it’s the little things that count—moments of conversation, kitchen windows, the flights of native birds, the ‘sea ghosts’ of Kansas. [Sheldon] writes frequently of an overlooked Midwestern state—Kansas—and a storied Southern one—Louisiana—with an exacting eye for detail and a sense of earned wonder. In Driving Together, we encounter a poetic voice that will take us into the heart of each destination, and it’s a joy to hear this voice unwind in these fine and succinct poems.”
~ Allison Joseph, author of Confessions of a Barefaced Woman

“Tyler Sheldon performs a young poet’s affection for formative experience recollected in early manhood, seasoned with a mischievous whimsy.”
~ Steven Hind, author of The Loose Change of Wonder

“Not many poets can bridge the wild terrain between lemons, ghosts of an inland sea, semiotics, a hurricane, and a coyote howling in the Flint Hills of Kansas, but Tyler Sheldon, in his first full-length collection of poetry, speaks directly and distinctly to the everyday realities and deep-night mysteries of life. Driving Together invites the reader to climb on for a ride across vistas of land and language, picking up speed by reading the omens along the way, and slowing down just in time to arrive at new understandings of home and adventure. His writing is clear-eyed and precise while embracing a wide vista of time and place. As he writes in ‘Elegy,’ ‘This poem believes / in extinction, knows / blades and grass keep / secrets just like us.’ Come drive together with Sheldon to find the more expansive view of our lives made visible in the quiet and original heart of these poems.
~ Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, 2009-2013 Kansas Poet Laureate, author of Everyday Magic: Field Notes on the Mundane and Miraculous

“Tyler Robert Sheldon’s Driving Together excavates a family history and maps its place in Kansas with a storyteller’s mind and a poet’s precision. These poem’s honor Sheldon’s identical twin brother who died after a ‘small handful of hours,’ and give a language for the spaces we make for the lives that were too short: ‘I see you behind my eyelids, and touch / you as I pluck a leaf from concrete.’ Sheldon writes to illuminate how loss defines a place—'Our best scenery / is not on the ground’—and in doing so, preserves what is fleeting.”
~ Ruth Awad, author of Set to Music a Wildfire

“Driving Together by Tyler Robert Sheldon is a dynamic book of verse that celebrates life through love: fraternal love, romantic love, love for mindfulness, love for nature, love for writing.  In its lines, the poet confesses his greatest fears, but they are released along with the breath the reader exhales when each syllable is pronounced; likewise, it is there where the poetic voice and the reader intersect in a journey of words that can be read peacefully time after time: ‘…The record will spin like the passing world…We’ll listen again—as many times as we need.’ In these pages, the poet holds an inner dialogue with himself, guiding the reader through the poetic voice’s rite of passage. With each verse, Sheldon’s voice matures, reaching a catharsis in the end.  The present moment is full of creative energy through which the poet continues his life journey, ‘his ears alert, his eyes full of wind and moon.’  This is a book I will read again and again.”
~Xánath Caraza, Writer-in-Residence, Westchester Community College, New York

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

An Interview with Marcia Lawrence, owner of Ellen Plumb's City Bookstore

To celebrate Independent Bookstore Day, Meadowlark intern, Jessica Jackson, took a moment with Marcia Lawrence of Ellen Plumb’s City Bookstore in Emporia.

JJ: What made you want to open Ellen Plumb's? What was your inspiration?

ML: I moved back to Emporia after an absence of nearly 40 years (I attended ESU in the 1970s). After a couple years, I was committed to staying and bought a house. I'd barely signed the papers on a mortgage when the announcement came that Town Crier (our former bookstore) was closing. Well, I can't live in a town without a bookstore! A group of community people met at my house for months, trying to find a way to bring a bookstore back to Emporia. Finally, I called a halt to the meetings, as business decisions like this cannot be made by committee. I'd been working closely with the Small Business Development Center at ESU on a business plan and financial projections--and this is not my first small business--so I truly understood the risks involved. After some deep reflection, I quit my job, invested all my personal savings, and opened Ellen Plumb's City Bookstore.

JJ: What makes Ellen Plumb's special?

ML: Ellen Plumb's City Bookstore is, by design and intent, a safe and comfortable place for book lovers of all kinds. The bookshop vision is to be community-oriented, to give back to the people of our town in promoting literacy and love of books. Of course, the other thing that sets Ellen Plumb's apart from most other indie bookstores is our Espresso Book Machine. We are thrilled that our machine has arrived in Emporia and is currently being refurbished by book-loving VekTek engineers. They will install the Espresso Book Machine at Ellen Plumb's in the coming weeks.

JJ: Ellen Plumb's has become a pivotal part of Emporia's community, not just the literary
Marcia Lawrence,
Ellen Plumb's City Bookstore
1122 Commercial St.
Emporia, Kansas
community, how do you feel about that?

ML: That's a very nice thing to hear! I grew up in a small Kansas town, and it took everybody to keep the community vital and thriving. That responsibility to cooperate, collaborate, and help the entire community thrive is practically part of my DNA.

JJ: Where do you see Ellen Plumb's in the future? Any plans?

ML: There's never a scarcity of dreams and plans for the bookshop! We are committed, this year, to growing and expanding genre selections, and hope to add about 25 percent more titles. We'll be adding to and refining some regular events. Naturally, there's a big push to roll out the first phase of the Espresso Book Machine program, with lots more to come in future years.

JJ: What about you?  What kind of books do you like to read? What is your reading life?

ML: These days, I spend many evenings reading ARCs (Advance Reading Copies). I work with our industry trade associations (American Booksellers Association, Midwest Independent Bookstore Association, IndieBound) to assess, critique, and promote new books--many by first-time authors. I always try to read the books written by authors who do book events at Ellen Plumb's. That's about once a week, so that's a lot of books in and of itself! Because of the imminent arrival of the Espresso Book Machine, I am revisiting some old favorites and a number of newer titles in the self-publishing, writing, and marketing/promotion genres. I particularly enjoy biography, history, and historical fiction. 

Meadowlark Author, Mike Graves, at Ellen Plumb's City Bookstore.

Meadowlark Author, Cheryl Unruh, at Ellen Plumb's City Bookstore.

Monday, April 16, 2018

A Publisher's Diary - When Creation Falls

Izzy's first box of books arrived on Friday and I've been turning the cover over and over in my hands, caressing it, loving the image and the color. When we first began talking about the cover concept for When Creation Falls, I had never heard of the Stone Flower monument in Jasenovac, Croatia.

A monument stands
at Jasenovac, a flower
or a plume of smoke
opening to the sky.

~from "I find My Own Name in Shoah Records," Izzy Wasserstein, 
When Creation Falls (Meadowlark, April 2018)

I have read these poems at least a dozen times  throughout the process of selecting Izzy's book for publication, editing the book, and working with Meadowlark's layout and design intern, Sammy Beck, turning a manuscript into pages with a cover. I am struck by the number of times Izzy's poetic phrases have come to me, as comparison to things I've seen/done, as related to something I've read in the news, as memory. And I look at this cover and think that it is a perfect example of how the world is tied together in so many ways we don't often give ourselves time to imagine. Izzy Wasserstein was born and raised in Kansas. Meadowlark is a publisher of books with strong ties to the Midwest. Yet this cover depicts a stone flower that stands in Croatia, a monument that until a few months ago did not exist for me, a monument that has opened my eyes to far-reaching results of a story I thought I knew.

Nothing is so strange or new if you open your eyes wide enough, if you allow your mind to process the fact that everything is connected, that all of us are connected. Family Photo, I Rarely Write Before Dawn, Confessions of a Homeschooler, A Time Traveler Sends a Postcard Home... these are the titles of one poet's work, Izzy Wasserstein. These are the titles of poems where I see myself, as well, and because each time I come up with new connections, I will read these poems again and again.

...from "You Will Come Up Short", by Izzy Wasserstein:

The walls you build around yourself will crack.
The poem you write will fail.
This poem will fail.
Your song of protest will not sway the President,
nor the mayor, nor the mayor's dog.
You will pull apart your pockets seeking change,
and finding none, you will give up the milk,
   or the eggs, or the flour.

Starting with her Kansas childhood, Izzy Wasserstein explores questions of science and faith, myth and politics, When Creation Falls. From nights listening to Royals baseball on the radio to paleontology, from prehistoric past to end of world, these poems explore how we relate to an indifferent universe, how we make meaning, and how we might create something better.

Order through your favorite Indie Bookseller   -   Buy on Amazon
Order from Meadowlark Books

Cover Image: Bobonajbolji (, removed tree, mirrored image, added overlay - image alterations by Meadowlark Books. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.