First up in our new video reading series is CRYSTAL STONE! Crystal’s new book Knock-Out Monarch was recently published. (You can order from her directly. DM the shipping address and Venmo her @Crystal-Stone-1 for $12.75 which includes the shipping cost.) You can learn more about her here: https://www.crystalbstone.com/
Today’s Bad Mouth Online in the Meantime is the last in the weekly series. Beginning in June, the Online in the Meantime series will be a monthly feature. Stay tuned!
2.3 (episode 55) featuring LIZ AXELROD!
Liz Axelrod received her MFA from the New School in 2013. Her work has been published in Yes Poetry, The Rumpus, The Brooklyn Rail, Electric Literature, The Ampersand Review, Wicked Alice by Dancing Girl Press, Counterpunch.com, and more. Her Chapbook Go Ask Alice (June 2016) was chosen as a finalist in the Finishing Line Press New Woman’s Voices Competition. Liz has reviewed books for Boog City, Kirkus Reviews and Publisher’s Weekly, was founder, co-host and curator of the Cedarmere Reading Series in the home of William Cullen Bryant (2014-2017),and is currently an Adjunct English Professor at Central New Mexico Community College & University of New Mexico Valencia Campus.
Here are some links to book reviews, interviews, and poems:
Go Ask Alice came out in June 2016. It was a finalist (Fifth Place) in the Finishing Line Press New Women’s Voices Series. Five is my favorite number. I was born on the 5th, my sister and I are five years apart, as are my mom and her sister. My daughter, my dad and grandma were all born on the 23rd, my daughter was born on 1/23 and the book is catalogue number #123. Numbers are weird. Might have to write a poem about that. You can find it here: https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/go-ask-alice-by-liz-axelrod-nwvs-123/
There is a story behind “Daddy Dearest.” Of course it’s about my relationship with my Dad. He passed away two years ago. We were close, then not so close, then estranged. When the book came out my stepmom called to ask what I meant by that poem. I told her it was a metaphor. “Oh, for surfing the internet, right?” She asked. “Yep – that’s right.” We didn’t talk about it again. She and my dad had three copies of the book but never shared it with their friends.
Annie Woodford is the author of Bootleg (Groundhog Poetry Press, 2019), which was a runner-up for the Weatherford Award for Appalachian poetry. Her second book is the winner of Mercer University’s 2020 Adrienne Bond Prize and will be published in 2022.
Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Terrain, Southern Humanities Review, Epoch,Blackbird, The Southern Review,The Rumpus, and Prairie Schooner, among others. She has been awarded scholarships to the Sewanee and Bread Loaf writers’ conferences as well as Barbara Deming Fund and Jean Ritchie fellowships.
Originally from Bassett, Virginia—a mill town near the North Carolina border—she now teaches community college English in Wilkesboro, North Carolina.
“Snake Cane” is a poem that arrives from my primal memories of the Southeastern Virginia woods where I spent so much time as a child, and from being around adults who feared snakes with a passion, a worry that I have now passed down to my daughter as I warn her to look out for copperheads and rattlesnakes when she runs around barefoot in our yard on our North Carolina ridge. The first time I met Sandy Ballard, the editor of Appalachian Journal. I announced to her that I was going on a hike on the hillside up above the Hindman Settlement School, where the Appalachian Writers’ Workshop is held each year in late July and she advised, “I don’t know how much concrete you’re from, but watch out for snakes.”
Whenever I would go on walks with my granny as a child, she would carry a walking stick and tap ahead of her as we went. I read an article from the Virginia Humanities Foundation about Norman Amos, a master carver from the county beside the county where I grew up and was fascinated by the snake canes he carved. You can learn more here: https://virginiafolklife.org/sights-sounds/remembering-norman-amos-master-carver/. I like to think this folk artist used his art as a way to channel the power and the beauty of the snakes and other animals he depicted, a sort of magic I aspire to in my poetry. This is a poem that moves back and forth through time and is another instance where I am trying to imagine the life of people my grandparents’ age. I have always been fascinated by stories of the way people had to stay up all night tending the fires that cured tobacco and this poem depicts that practice and is a sort of ode to the wary intimacy we used to have with our landscape because we lived in it on much closer scale. I am thankful to editor Jason Howard for originally publishing it in Appalachian Heritage, now Appalachian Review: https://muse.jhu.edu/article/688196/summary.
“Eft” is a poem inspired by a hike I took with my daughter in the Carvins Cove Natural Reserve in Roanoke County, Virginia. She would have been in first or second grade and looked down and saw this little red-orange salamander in the leaves. While I had found many salamanders in creeks when I was a child, I had never seen one in the stage known as, I believe, “red eft.” We had hiked in for probably two miles and it was very remote feeling and beautiful that spring day. The school year was ending and though I was filled with uncertainty about my job and my life, it was beautiful to be on that mountain with my child. I didn’t even realize it was one long sentence until after it was written, which felt like a gift of form following the poem’s euphoria. It was originally published in Appalachian State’s literary magazine Cold Mountain Review: https://www.coldmountainreview.org/issues/spring-2015/three-poems-by-annie-woodford.
The latter three poems I read have all been written since 2016 and are my attempts to grapple with whiteness and the spiritual repercussions of trying to survive “our nation’s peculiarly brutal economy,” as Matthew Desmond described the way capitalism and white supremacy are intertwined in his essay on the NYT’s 1619 Project. “This Machine Surrounds Hate and Forces It to Surrender” takes its title from the mantra written around the body of Pete Seeger’s banjo and is meant to establish the poem and the music being described in the poem as part of that tradition of using art to dispel the power of fascism. I was thinking of an amazing series of photographs by the photographer Johnny Milano, chronicling the KKK in the Virginia County where I was born and grew up (https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/gavon/fascinating-frightening-photos-of-the-modern-kkk) and of an exhibit about the banjo that was featured at the Blue Ridge Folklife Museum at Ferrum College in Franklin County Virginia at some point in the nineties, delineating the complex history of that originally African instrument. When this poem was written in the summer of 2017, there was definitely a feeling of some evil trying to assert itself in white rural America and this poem was about trying to cast a spell against that evil.
Oscar Micheaux was a Black filmmaker who made films about and for Black people during the silent era in American film. He was often based in Roanoke, Virginia, where I lived for many years, and even shot movies there. Unfortunately, much of his work has been lost. The area where he filmed and lived in Roanoke was known as Gainsboro and Henry Street, which was a thriving community of Black-owned businesses and homes decimated by the urban renewal push starting in the 1960s. I went to a lecture at one of the only remaining buildings in Historic Gainsboro, the lovely Gainsboro Library, and was moved to see the mostly elderly audience members get up out of their chairs and start pointing out churches and business in a photograph projected on the wall that overlayed the old neighborhood with the parking lots and interstate created by urban renewal. Twenty-six churches were destroyed during Roanoke’s urban renewal.
“Wilkes County Posada” is the newest poem in this packet and honors my new home here in the foothills of the North Carolina Mountains and the incredible people I have met since moving here. I am an agnostic who has never been a church goer. I was raised in no religion, but my mama did tell me the story of how her father told her the animals knelt in the barn on Christmas Eve. I might believe in that, and the women who work extra shifts in back-breaking jobs in December to make sure their children have presents under the tree on Christmas morning.
Kofi Antwi is an African American writer, educator, and assistant editor of Black Arts Movement Reader. Kattywompus Press published Kofi’s debut book Tidal Wave. Kofi’s devoted work to inner city communities has formed a relationship as facilitator of writing workshops that explore lyrics and memory as entries into one’s writing. Kofi’s writing was featured in Staten Island Arts Exhibition: Know Me, an exploration about identity through the lens of creative arts. Kofi’s poem “vintage:was nominated for Best Poem on The Web. Antwi’s writing has been published by Great Weather For Media, No, Dear, Rigorous, and various literary magazines and journals.
About Tidal Wave: Tidal Wave speaks to the interconnectedness that explores an aesthetic of abstract art. The use of ‘we’ in Tidal Wave fortifies the merge of collective voices, akin to the community that harvest a forgotten borough. The writing in Tidal Wave wrestles with language reimagined through placement of rhythmic science.
This week marks 52 weeks–one year!–of Bad Mouth’s Online in the Meantime feature! We’re celebrating this anniversary with a reading by Bad Mouth’s co-founder, co-conspirator, poetry powerhouse, much-missed-former-Burqueña:
1.52 featuringERIN ADAIR-HODGES!
Erin Adair-Hodges is the author of Let’s All Die Happy, winner of the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize. Recipient of The Sewanee Review’s Allen Tate Prize and the Loraine Williams Prize from The Georgia Review, her work has been featured in such places as PBS NewsHour, American Poetry Review, Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, The Rumpus and more. Born and raised in New Mexico, she is now an assistant professor of creative writing at the University of Central Missouri and the co-editor of Pleiades.
About the reading: “These poems are all from my second collection, Hysterical, which is about women’s fury, The Furies, ungraceful aging, and a little bit of breaking up with Jesus. Using the Oresteia as an organizing guide, the poems don’t shy away from women’s well-earned anger but center it, using it for fuel and light.”
Felecia teaches Creative Writing, American Studies, and Chicanx Studies at Central New Mexico Community College, where she is currently serving as the Presidential Fellow for Equity. Her recent creative work is available in A Larger Reality: Speculative Fiction from the Bicultural Margins a publication of The Mexicanx Initiative, Plume: Online PoetryMagazine, and her full-length collection of poetry Say That is published by the University of New Mexico Press. Felecia lives in the South Valley of Albuquerque along the Rio Grande with an extensive collection of cats, dogs, and other living things.
Tanaya Winder is an author, singer/songwriter, poet, and motivational speaker. She comes from an intertribal lineage of Southern Ute, Pyramid Lake Paiute, and Duckwater Shoshone Nations where she is an enrolled citizen. Tanaya’s performances and talks emphasize “heartwork” – the life path one is meant to follow by using their gifts and passions. She blends storytelling, singing, and spokenword to teach about different expressions of love. Her specialties include youth empowerment and healing trauma through art.
Angelique Zobitz (she/her/hers) is the author of the chapbook Love Letters to The Revolution from American Poetry Journal. She is a 2020 Pushcart Prize nominee, Spring 2019 Black River Chapbook Competition Finalist, 2020 Best New Poets nominee and a five-time Best of the Net nominee. Her work appears in The Journal, Sugar House Review, Obsidian: Literature & Arts of the African Diaspora, and many others.
Mikki Aronoff’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Ekphrastic Review, EastLit, Virga, Bearing the Mask: Southwest Persona Poems, Love’s ExecutiveOrder, bosque9, Intima: A Journal of Narrative Medicine, SurVision, Rogue Agent Journal, London Reader, Popshot Quarterly, and elsewhere. A New Mexico poet and Pushcart nominee, she is also involved in animal advocacy.
Amy Beeder‘s third book, And So Wax Was Made & Also Honey, is recently out from Tupelo Press. A recipient of an NEA Fellowship, a “Discovery”/The Nation Award and a James Merrill Fellowship, she has worked as a creative writing instructor, freelance writer, political asylum specialist, high-school teacher in West Africa, and a human rights observer in Haiti and Suriname. Her work has appeared in Poetry, American Poetry Review, The Kenyon Review, The Nation, Ploughshares, AGNI, The Southern Review and other journals.
Liza Nash Taylor is the author of two historical novels from Blackstone Publishing. She is a graduate of the MFA program at Vermont College of Fine Arts and was named a Hawthornden International Fellow for 2018. She was the winner of the San Miguel Writer’s Conference Fiction Prize in 2016 and her short stories and essays have appeared in Microchondria II (a flash anthology published by the Harvard Bookstore), Bluestem Magazine, Rum Punch Press, The Copperfield Review, Seven Hills Review, Gargoyle Magazine #66, Deep South Magazine and others.