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Friday, April 15, 2022

Interview with Arlice Davenport, author of Everlasting

All of us at Meadowlark hope you are enjoying National Poetry Month! 


Adding to the festivities, Meadowlark poet Arlice Davenport, author of Everlasting and Setting the Waves on Fire, was interviewed by Meadowlark publicist Linzi Garcia. Learn about the poet and his poetry !


How is Everlasting similar to and different from Setting the Waves on Fire? Everlasting resembles Setting the Waves on Fire in two primary ways: They each rely on the philosophical concept of Being, the first principle or power of all that is. They also rely heavily on imagery from the natural world. I think that imagery is one of the most important poetic devices, after metaphor, which I’ll talk more about later. The natural world offers us the most recognizable and resonant images, although there are other significant sources of poetic imagery—natural and artificial. I like to butt up against what I consider to be the ultimate force of all that exists—Being—and then convey its importance through the natural image.

Has your writing changed? If so, how? By all means. One of my personal goals is to not become too predictable. So I have shied away (for the most part) from long narrative poems about, say, European destinations, one of my mainstays of inspiration. I now want to achieve a more immediate, Zen-like effect that manifests or shines through my poems, guided by two major devices: metaphor as this is that, and mysticism as like attracts/becomes like. I think that a case can be made that both principles aim at the same thing: unity of identity. Metaphor doesn’t say that this is like that; there, we are in the territory of simile. Rather, metaphor identifies/unites two disparate objects (of thought or feeling, et al.). They are the same. Likewise, the mystic’s like becomes like indicates a process of unity, oneness, and the intertwining of essences. But that’s probably enough philosophy for now.

How would you describe the curating, editing, and publishing process for Everlasting? That’s an easy answer: I initially did it myself. I had a different manuscript in hand when I realized that it was not achieving my goal of associative insight: meaning conveyed through metaphor and image. So I scrapped it, keeping only a few poems, and added all new poems, which I then curated and edited myself. I sent the new manuscript to Tracy Simmons, publisher of Meadowlark Press, as an offering for the debut of Meadowlark's Poetry Press. She accepted, then I fairly quickly reworked that manuscript, jettisoning more narratives and funneling in more newly written, shorter poems. With her indulgence—and that of her assistant and publicist, Linzi Garcia—we made it work. Of course, during the proofing process, I had many other eyes than mine peering at the poems and pages. I would not have had a completed book without them.

How did the publications of Setting the Waves on Fire and Everlasting affect your literary life? When Waves was launched in October 2020, I felt for the first time wholly validated as a poet. I have had several poems published in different journals, newspapers (yes, newspapers), and online venues. But there is nothing like holding your first book of poems in your hands to say, “You are indeed a published poet,” which, of course, had been one of my life goals. Everlasting can do one thing well in the wake of this initial delight: show that I have grown and improved as a poet. I could say that in some ways, I like the new book better than Waves, but that is disingenuous. I would simply wish for readers to say, “Hey, this, too, is good.” That would be enough reward.

What do you enjoy about publishing with Meadowlark? One term sums it up: creative collaboration. With Meadowlark, you quickly come to understand that making and publishing a book is on par with making a movie. It takes a tribe to create a satisfying, final product. That collaboration only adds energy to a book, which comes alive when it attracts several points of view. You can’t match that feeling when you are toiling alone on your laptop in the wee hours.

What's your favorite part of the publishing process? Hearing Tracy say, “Yes.” After that, it’s the proofing stage, which is still editing at its best.

Tell me about the section organization and titles in Everlasting. I wanted the four books (or sections) to be linked, but also to be able to stand on their own. I like the sense of books within a book. Whether that approach succeeds is up to the reader. The first book is self-declared mysticism; the last, a resurrection of Europe. Do they mesh? Again, the reader decides. Authorial intent takes a back seat to reader appropriation of and reaction to a given work.

Which are your favorite poems in this collection? Why? I always find it hard to pick out a handful of favorites, not because all poems are equally good, but because on re-reading them, I see elements that strike me as valuable. In general, I like desert images, because historically they have been the habitation of early mystics, and because their openness and apparent barrenness give birth to existential or spiritual possibilities. But I also like my love poems—“Berries” and “Heritage,” especially—and poems about the fecundity of nature and the human person, and, of course, poems about Europe.

What inspired you to use this cover image? I knew from the outset what I wanted to title the book, to suggest that art is more than ephemeral. I searched for a natural image that would express the theme of “everlasting,” and what could be more expansive and permanent than the universe?

Regarding the writers, musicians, philosophers, and visual artists in this collection, how have some of these creators individually and/or collectively inspired you? That answer, too, can be summed up in one word: excellence. All the names I mention represent a debt of gratitude for the artistic prowess that each person displays in his or her work. The best way to learn to write well is to read well, that is, to read great writers. I imagine that the same principle applies to other artistic endeavors. When I read Cavafy or Dante, when I listen to Schubert’s string quintet in C major, when I think about Plato or Teresa of Ávila, when I marvel at Rothko, Valazquez, Van Gogh, their exceptionalism, their foundationalism, their “language” of the spirit—whatever the medium—all this is unforgettable, formative, of a depth that I can only hope to aspire to. I could praise them and so many others all day long. But then, when would I have time to write?

Alice Davenport
Arlice Davenport
What did you enjoy most about the book launch event? I want my book launches to be a joyous and fun occasion. Having so many readers articulate my poems aloud creates a chorus of voices that can only invigorate all who hear it. [Watch it here…]

What do you hope to achieve with this book? I would love for readers to feel drawn to a type of mysticism that can nurture them and change their vision of the world. Rilke wrote in “Archaic Torso of Apollo,” You must change your life. If my poems can even approach this type of profundity, I would be satisfied. 

Tell me about your hopes/plans for the next collection! Well, I don’t want to jinx things, but I would like to publish one more book (after that I would take a breather) that goes even deeper than Everlasting. Exactly what that means and what shape that would take are not unknown to me, but I don’t want to count on any initial ideas. After all, I threw out the original manuscript I had for the second book. I could easily do the same for the third. In any case, I would love to have a hat trick of Meadowlark books. (Stay tuned!)


Order Everlasting and Setting the Waves on Fire Here!


Monday, April 4, 2022

Congratulations Jonathan Greenhause - WINNER of the '22 Birdy Poetry Prize!

It is with great excitement that we share the announcements for the 2022 Birdy Poetry Prize! 

Check out the video below to hear Guest Judge and 2021 Birdy Finalist Bart Edelman (Whistling to Trick the Wind) announce the 2022 winner, Jonathan Greenhause! Additionally, hear Publisher Tracy Million Simmons announce the finalists and semifinalists for this year. Last, but certainly not least, hear Birdy poets Ruth Maus (Valentine), Brian Daldorph (Kansas Poems), Alison Hicks (Knowing Is a Branching Trail), and, now, Jonathan Greenhause read from their collections. 








Friday, April 1, 2022

New Book Announcement! Songs for Ghosts by Julie Valin (+ Launch Event Details & Excerpt)

Nothing says happy National Poetry Month like a brand new poetry collection!


April 1, 2022 - Meadowlark Poetry Press is over the moon to announce the upcoming release of Songs for GhostsThis is California poet Julie Valin’s first Meadowlark book and second poetry collection, following The Distance Between (Six Ft. Swells Press 2011). 

About the Book

Nothing dies for good in this poetry collection. In plainspoken and free verse rock ‘n’ roll style, Valin celebrates the moments that make and break us, the travels that invigorate us, the people who mean the world to us, and the feelings attached to the ceaseless entrance and exit of these moments. Memories intertwined with songs is a motif, and, with a soundtrack (linked to Spotify) included in the back, the book reads as if it's an invitation to hang out with the poet, listening to her handmade mixtape.

About the Book Launch Event

For our California readers and anyone wanting to travel: The Wild Eye Pub presents an After Hours Poetry book release with Julie Valin and Bill Gainer, longtime friends and forerunners of the After Hours Poetry gang.

Julie and Bill will be celebrating their new book releases with poems, stories, songs, drink and all-around merriment.

Doors will open at 6 p.m. for dinner and drinks, so arrive early! Show will start promptly at 7 p.m.

Questions? 530-446-6668 or info@wildeyepub.com

Learn more about the event here...

About the Author

JULIE VALIN turns songs into poems, since she is perpetually influenced by music, and she was too shy to be in a rock ‘n’ roll band. Her poems have appeared in The Gasconade Review, The Black Shamrock, The Poeming Pigeon, Chiron Review, Red Fez, and more, plus several anthologies & collections, including the Punk Rock Chapbook Series by Epic Rites Press. She is a book designer for her own business, Self to Shelf Publishing Services; she works at her community library; and she is also a co-founder of Six Ft. Swells Press. She loves piling books artistically on her nightstand and running through the woods knowing nothing is really chasing her. She lives in Northern California with her husband and daughter.

Sneak Peek






What Readers Are Saying

Julie Valin’s poems in Songs for Ghosts are that crackle and pop of the needle hitting the record, the first sliver of moonshine through the window, the thump in the chest when love calls, the sound of a radio on in an empty room, and the songs you choose to play when ghosts appear. There is a deep rhythm to these poems. They are that 1980s first synthesizer kiss, the alternative circa 1991 combat boot kick in the heart, the razor wire of punk that leaves scars to be proud of, and they soothe and sin like the blues.
–Todd Cirillo, Kisses From a Straight Razor, Six Ft. Swells Press Publisher

Julie Valin is a poet of barrooms and jukeboxes, buttercups and bird ghosts, snapshots and lazy angels. In her collection, Songs for Ghosts, she takes her reader on a vivid ride, filled with music and sunlight, nostalgia and hope. She tells the reader, “All the poets have already said it the right way,” but that doesn’t stop Valin from saying it her way. The poems offer the reader a dynamic, honest, melodic adventure, in a world where she lets us know from the beginning, “I am the radio left on in an empty room.” Valin’s affection for the connection between music and memory are an ongoing theme, playing throughout her poems. It’s as if the reader is sitting beside her when she writes, “...I go back to the Blues, / sip my coffee / with a splash of bourbon, / watch the record spin behind the glass, / and listen to poets sing / 80-year-old words / to fill me up / once again.” This is an invitation to pull up a barstool and pore over the dazzling Songs for Ghosts.
–Kirsten Casey, Ex Vivo: Out of the Living Body, Poet Laureate of Nevada County, CA

I don’t know what that thing is . . . that thing that makes a poem great, but whatever it is, Julie Valin has got it.  She writes of ghosts, record players, and the romance of cheap beers—of things lost and the sensuality of everyday moments—every word a frayed yet somehow perfect translation of the endless longings of the heart. Like an old master blues picker, she plays the truth in every note, and lifts our spirits to the moon.
–Shawn Odyssey, Edgar and Agatha Nominated author of The Oona Crate Mystery series 

The poetry of Julie Valin’s Songs for Ghosts is immediately accessible and engaging, alive with music and precise imagery. These poems are full of the stuff of life; the big passions as well as the quiet moments that reveal our common humanity. Simultaneously playful and full of hard-won insight, this collection maps the human condition with the truth and humor of Valin’s unique voice.
–William Taylor Jr., Pretty Things to Say

In Songs for Ghosts, Julie Valin’s rhythmic, addictive voice pays tribute to life’s sublime, beautiful, and hauntingly painful details—it sings!
–Kim Culbertson, Songs for a Teenage Nomad and Catch a Falling Star

Julie Valin’s poetry is a delight: amusing, heartfelt, thought-provoking. Valin infuses many of her poems with her love of music; readers feel as though they are with her, driving down the road, crooning along to the radio. In Playin’ the Storm Out, she writes, “My own blues, / my own flat notes and rises: / a song in the windchimes, / the sad and hopeful harmonica / of my memory / never taken out and played.” In this collection, Valin captures that sense of ineffable longing most of us have felt at some time, though have not been able to give voice to. For all of what life encompasses, read Songs for Ghosts.
–Judie Rae, The Weight of Roses and Howling Down the Moon

 PREORDER SONGS FOR GHOSTS,
RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW!

 

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Author Michael D. Graves Hosts 1930s Cocktail Party, Fourth Book in the Pete Stone Private Investigator Series Released


Emporia, KSMeadowlark Press and Michael D. Graves announce the publication of the fourth book in the award-winning Pete Stone Private Investigator series. Shadows and Sorrows is available for pre-release order through meadowlarkbookstore.com and a launch event is planned for Thursday, April 14, from 4-6 pm at Twin Rivers Winery, 627 Commercial Street, Emporia. Attendees will enjoy readings by the author and themed cocktails will be featured. 1930s cocktail attire is encouraged; party fedoras will be on hand for guests.

Shadows and Sorrows opens in Wichita, Kansas, on April 18, 1938. Cocky Wright has been Pete Stone’s friend since they first met on a baseball field, a couple of kids with skinned knees, lots of moxie, and not much else. Now Cocky is dead, Cocky’s wife and daughter are in danger, and shady characters are after something Cocky was hiding. Was Pete’s friend dealing secrets to the German American Bund? Was his friend really out to threaten the safety of the country?

Accident or murder? Pete Stone is searching for the truth, once again, and he must solve the puzzle before his pal’s reputation is tarnished forever.

Books 1 and 3 of the series were recognized as Kansas Notable titles. The first book of the series, To Leave a Shadow, received the designation in 2015, and the third, All Hallows’ Shadows, was named to the list in 2021. All Hallows’ Shadows was also the recipient of the 2020 J. Donald Coffin Memorial Book Award by the Kansas Authors Club, and it was a Midwest Book Award Finalist. The series is set in 1930s Wichita, the character of Pete Stone a memorial to the author’s grandfather.

Shadows and Sorrows, by Michael D. Graves

Shadows and Sorrows, by Michael D. Graves

$15.00 - $60.00

Buy now

 
Michael D. Graves, Author
Pete Stone Private Investigator Series


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Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Birdy Event this Friday! Let's get ready with a review of Kansas Poems

This Friday at 7 p.m. CT, we are celebrating the fourth annual Birdy Poetry Prize

We look forward to seeing you there!
Please register ahead of time at tinyurl.com/birdypoetry2022,
and find all the other details here...


To add to the festivities leading up to the event, we would like to take a moment to revisit our 2020 Birdy Poetry Prize finalist, Kansas Poems by Brian Daldorph. Not only can you find excerpts of the book and videos of Brian reading, but now, we get to share this review of the poetry collection, written by Meadowlark Publicist Linzi Garcia. 


Connecting in Kansas: Brian Daldorph’s Kansas Poems


The winters of 2020 and 2021 were brutal. With record highs of COVID-19 infections and deaths and record low temperatures across the nation, those of us who could endured, created, and shared what we had, both in supplies and craft. We developed virtual communities to connect with one another that thrived beyond conventional place and time.

In a world where place and time blurred, poets including Brian Daldorph saw the circumstances as an opportunity. He released Kansas Poems (Meadowlark 2021), a poetry collection that tells stories collected over the last twenty years that Daldorph has resided in Kansas. The collection takes readers from near and far on a stroll down the KU frat house road, through Oak Hill Cemetery, onto Daldorph’s front porch, and clear across The Flint Hills. This book was the touch of warmth readers needed to help carry them into spring.

The poetry collection, organized into seasons, starting with spring, opens with the poem “Unfreezing,” an appropriate entry into a season of rebirth and celebration of the new book:

First daffodils

outside City Hall

facing south. Spray

of crocuses

in the front yard of 829 E. 13th.


And in his heart?


All the flowers of spring

waiting

only for warmth (3)


The book transcends the confines of time by connecting present-day Kansans and readers with preceding and future generations. In “Sailing to Manhattan, Kansas,” the characters observe the timelessness of the rocky landscape one summer day:


We look out together at the still

green waves of the Flint Hills--

“We’re seeing the same thing people saw

hundreds of years ago--

This land’s too wild to be tamed.

Might as well try to chain the sea” (27).


Environmental seasonal changes are distinct in Kansas, and its towns and people often move in parallel with them. The Fall section opens with the poem, “Cooper City,” describing how a once-thriving rural town has fallen victim to the passing of time:


Storefronts Boarded up
but Jack’s Autos is still there
with rustbuckets, non-starters
and crooked Jack who left
half a leg and most of his soul in Vietnam.

Main Street’s a few hand-me-down stores,
some sleepy attorneys,
and Zeke Haskins, Undertaker, 
with old Zeke in the window wondering
days on end if he or Cooper City

will go first (51).


As with all life, death follows. There is a subtle melancholic tone throughout the book, built on the understanding that we will experience loss in a variety of ways throughout our lives, and often those losses haunt us. 


In the poem, “Visiting Findley,” the loss at hand is not that of death or disappearance, but that of change of character and relationship, because the son, Findley, is incarcerated. Daldorph writes from Findley’s father’s perspective:

            

I imagine visiting him with his pretty wife and first child. With

ten years carved out of his life how’s he going to achieve

anything like that? Who’d want to marry an ex-con? 

 

It takes me half an hour to get through security and ten doors 

later I’m in the meeting room, a row of cubicles with chairs in 

front of glass screens. 

 

I sit in my place and wait for Findley, for my son gone wrong, 

my tattooed, hard-eyed son, the son I tried to love but didn’t 

love enough, the son who never made it easy. 

 

I wait for my son (19).


One aspect of what makes this book dynamic is the variety of perspectives from which Daldorph writes. Telling the story of the deserted wife (“Missing Husband” 7), Paleontologist Handel T. Martin (“The Fossil Man” and others 21-24), and a june bug (“June Bug” 43), among others’, from the character’s perspectives shows Daldorph’s expert craft and reinforces that this collection shares Kansans’ and Kansas’ stories in their voices, both apart from and including Daldorph’s own experiences. 


The book guides the reader out of its pages during winter, beginning this season’s section with “First Snow”:


I stayed up late

watching snowflakes fall,

writing haiku. Then


I went to sleep,

dreamt of snow

covering me

in Oak Hill Cemetery

like a warm white shroud (71).


It is a simple, tranquil understanding of the movement of life to death. The winter section, and the book, concludes with a February estate salea last hint of what remains after death, before the next rebirth of spring.


Kansas Poems accomplishes a thorough journey across Kansas, and the virtual book launch event proved how readers from across place and time want to be a part of that journey. Though the event took place for Daldorph at 6 p.m. in Lawrence, many of his guests attended internationally in the middle of the night. 


Some of what happens in Kansas is unique to Kansas and Kansansdigging up “the great Kansas Rhinoceros,” for example (24). Some of what happens in Kansas is a microcosm of what happens everywhere and to everyone, such as the realization of growing up. This book is both unique and relatable—a necessary balance to appeal to a wide audience.


Whether living across an ocean or just a few doors down from the poet, Kansas Poems provides the opportunity to connect with the place that captivated Daldorph and his muses. 



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Listen to Brian read this Friday!

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One of the best things about our books? There are always more to order!
Order Kansas Poems Here



Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Welcome to our 2022 Interns from Emporia State University

 Meadowlark Press has had the pleasure or working with several interns from our hometown university, Emporia State University. We have two to introduce to you this semester.



Kelly Sullivan is in her fourth year at Emporia State University. She is studying English with a minor in creative writing. She aims to work in editing and publishing. While she is still in school, she is president of Quivira, the creative writing club on campus, as well a member of the German club. She enjoys reading fantasy and historical fiction, as well as poetry. She also enjoys writing flash fiction and poetry.


Roan McAnerney is a “super” senior at ESU majoring in English with a minor in Creative Writing. He has poetry published in the student-run journal Quivira and has helped publish multiple issues of The Flint Hills Review. He is pursuing a career in the publishing field, and maybe even will publish a few works of his own. He hopes to learn a bit about everything involved with publishing.