DR - Writers Center Readings
8:32PM Dec 26, 2021
Irene Hoge Smith
But it was exciting to me to take my mask off, which the readers can do. It's a real pleasure. It's been two years since I've been here. And since many of you have actually I've seen for the first time in two years. So it's we've been through a lot together, and in our different ways of life. But in the meantime, at the Delmarva Review, we're blessed. This year, we had the largest number of submissions ever, almost 5000, which is a lot for us. And the, this is our 14th edition. We've, and we passed the 400 writer mark, sometime during this, this period, which means that we've published 400 Different authors, their new work. At some point in the Delmarva Review, which is for all of us who are editors is very exciting. We never thought we'd get this get this far actually. I'd like to say that as the executive editor, I couldn't do any of this without a very strong team. We have 10 people who are our editors, our genre editors, we as we call ourselves, fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, all very strong.
And Hal Wilson is our fiction editor. James O'Sullivan, our assistant fiction editor Bill Gourgey, our Managing Editor. He does things I can't understand because he he's one of those, those tech enthusiasts. And as well as being a writer, and out of the Hopkins program, he also teaches at MIT and elsewhere. And the whatever I have a problem or we have a problem publishing, he's the guy that solves it, usually pretty quickly. And usually, it's because I don't understand what is being said. It's a language problem. The, this is our large—pardon. That's right. We doubled everyone's salary this year was zero for zero. This is our largest issue for over 400 pages. It didn't start off, then our target, our target was a lot less. But when we when we huddled and tried to make final decisions, either in the poetry or fiction or nonfiction arena. We just had an impossible time. The quality of work that has come in has just been fantastic. So for everything good that you read that you like, here, believe me, there is a lineup behind it of very good work that we just couldn't publish. And so we're very thankful for that. The Delmarva Review wanted. The reason we we've started publishing this 14 year, years ago, was that we wanted to provide a a really good place for authors to present their work. For those who are serious writers who really wanted to write their best work, and get it published somewhere. We wanted to give them a good home. And that was our desire, mainly because most of the commercial publications were reducing how much how much work they were taking, or they were going out of business. So the best work of writers was just getting was just languishing. And so we wanted to contribute to fill that that hole. And I think we are to an to an extent. Also, today I'm announcing that the submission period for the 15th anniversary issue is has opened and will remain open until March 31 next year. For and so if you're if you're ready to test the waters with your best wor, this is a great year to do it. Going forward, we divide this book into three sections, three big sections. We start off with nonfiction, and then we go into fiction. And then we end with poetry. Each section is over 100 pages. So each section is almost a book in itself, if you will. We opened it with a, an interview with one of the writers, which helps get into the genre, if you will. And we tried that last year, and it seemed to be successful with our readers. And this year, we did it a little, a little more. So in the non, in the nonfiction, for example, we start off with an interview that I had with George Merrill. And it's about an incident with his father, when he was 12 years old, and something that he couldn't talk about for his entire life. But he developed leukemia. And now his time had come to talk about it. And that's the opening piece in the in the, in the nonfiction arena. So there, there's a lot of strong work in here. But that's, that's enough of me talking. It's available if you want to buy it. Of course, if you're here, and if you're a contributing author, you can buy it and almost half price. And otherwise, it's $18 a copy. Or you can go to Amazon or any of the large retailers and they'll sell it as well. But I'd like to go now to the writers themselves. They're the ones that we're, we're so excited about. And the first one—you have the bios. So what I'm going to do, we're everything's being recorded. So what I'm going to do is just introduce the name of the writer, you have the the biographical information. The first is a nonfiction writer, Caroline Bock.
Thank you, Wilson and thank you everybody at the Delmarva Review. I'm thrilled to have my flash, creative nonfiction included in this year's issue. I wrote this piece. And it's unusual for me because I really consider myself a fiction writer, though often my fiction is autobiographical. But I wrote this about a year into the pandemic. And it really reflects very closely the moment that I was in so I felt an important to call it nonfiction. It's a braided essay, the first one I ever wrote, where I weave together different threads of the past and present around a theme. And that theme is desire. And it's called Desatarium, something desired as essential.
Oxygen, I suppose I should start with the basics. Water food shelter. My youngest brother would say oxygen. He has been positioning patients who must be laying prone on their stomachs so they can breathe. This is before they are put on ventilators, which are a last option. He explains this all as the night hums around me. His break is over. He has to hang up. Yet he says stay on the phone with me for one more minute. Don't leave sex too long for DESA Desiree is the Italian or Latin. I inch toward his side of the bed toward his back. A Salt Lick. Now Ill he wishes only for the gods to intervene for deus ex machina in our queen size bed and begs off any touch I desire only desire. Music. If there wasn't her clarinet playing, we live in a house of silence. She insists on practicing willing the music from her lips. She stomps around the house, swings her clarinet. My daughter is 15 and has had one season of high school marching band. The football team lost every game, but the band roared, filled the stands. The crowds were there as much for the halftime as a sport. Often on for hours she plays. I don't know if it's good or bad. I can't even carry a tune. Notes collide a cacophony, a crescendo, a concert of one. She wants to march for the rest of her life. She wants to be first chair. She wants to be surrounded by music, and even more, leading the music: a drum major a conductor, the music should follow her, not the other way around. The notes cut the last of the umbilical cord. Books. I often imagine what it would be like if I have only one book to read for the rest of my life. I would choose the complete works of Sherlock Holmes found in red leather. When I was 16. It was given to me by one of my best friends before her no one had ever given me a book as a gift. Owning books was impractical. Certainly not essential. Not in my family. Now she's a video artist in San Francisco. I deduce this from my sleuthing on social media. She's adopted a name different from the one I knew her by when we were 16. When we would coax one another down the down the sidewalks of street players, guitarist and saxophonist of marijuana whiffs of the baby, baby baby, of Saturday night crowds on Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village. Let's be honest. When I'm desiring is my 16 year old self.
Justice. I desire this for others as much as myself. Adjust world just that justice. Work. I am not an essential worker. What writer is. I teach so that helps someone, me more than my students on some days. I could be more essential. I could be a nurse like my youngest brother. He came to nursing late in life. One day he announced he was going to nursing school. I asked why? He replied, Because I'm tired of corporate. I thought for a moment he said corporal, implying in some leap of poetics, he was tired of being who he was. At his core. He's a sensitive motherless boy, who was shuttled between relatives for years. He should have been given a lot more love growing up. But then maybe that could have been said of most of us. As a nurse, he got what he wanted—to be needed to have purpose to be essential, which sometimes is as good as love. Family. Gravid clouds crowd the night sky. It's a cold night in March. I desire spring, but it is long in coming this year. I'm still on the phone with my youngest brother. I tell him, I'm staying here with you. Oxygen, sex, music, books, justice, work, family. I desire nothing else.
And especially some of the more difficult projects that I've tackled, including this one. These poems that I'm gonna read are from a current manuscript project that is a critique of white supremacy and privilege. And this first poem is called damage. When I walked to school, the weather forecast says snow. My feet make trails of ice thick enough to slip an unsuspecting foot and crack a collarbone. Call it luck to be born leaving the damage not receiving it. Though to call it luck, I'd have to admit the sequence of events that landed me on the right side of the pavement. I am oblivious as a cold front bearing down on the neighborhood for eight blocks. Arriving at school with glue thick on my hands. Ready to begin the day's work. All the words in our history books that just need a little cutting and pasting to make them true. Winner takes all because there aren't enough spots on the dice for you to win fair and square every time. Because when you count your money into little piles at night, you always see double. Because from up on this cliff, you can't tell whether the bodies in the lake below are swimming or drowning. From up here, your Rambler feels more like a castle. Drawbridge slammed shut. A book no one needs to read to know the end of. Where there's a front door, there's a right of refusal, a bell to make a statement. This house only has one story and you're going to be the one telling it.
Irene, Irene Smith. It's all yours.
Thank you Delmarva Review and all you wonderful writers. I'm going to read very short excerpt from my memoir, which I'm happy to say has been published now. It's called the good poetic mother and it came out earlier this year from IP books. This vignette took place just a few miles south of here at 8th and A SE—the neighborhood was very different back then. And it was in the middle of the last century. It's called already broken. Down on the sidewalk, somebody is screaming. A warm breeze comes from the tall curved windows. And the round second storey room is filled with sunlight. My big sister was just here with me. But now she's not. I want to look out the window. But now more grownups are shouting and I pull back. This is my first memory. I was to and Patti was four. And we live with our parents in our grandmother's brick row house in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington DC. A corner house with a round tower. Patty and I up before the grownups had been playing tag, I was the one chasing and Patti was the one running and she was going too fast and ran into the window screen. The screen fell out. And so did she. She landed on the sidewalk two stories down, just missing a spiked iron fence. Our father ran downstairs to see what happened then back upstairs to get his car keys. And by the time he got back to the street, somebody else had taken Patty to the hospital. She broke an arm and a leg as we say in our family. That's the story I got. In fact, my own memory consists only of the image of that sunny room, my sister there and then not there, shouting confusion, fear and shame. My next recollection another visual memory with no story attached must be from some weeks later, we'd moved from my grandmother's house to an apartment in Annapolis, Maryland. I remember Patti dressed in white wrappings having to be helped up and down. Not being much fun. I learned the term body cast years later. We told about Patty in the window whenever kids compared stories about scars and accidents and close calls. Our tale always had the parts about playing tag and a window screen and our father running up and down the stairs. Sometimes she missed the fence by feet sometimes by inches. But this was the version we could tell without our father getting angry or a mother starting to cry. The summer Patty went out the window our parents were five years into a marriage that would last another decade. After they split up and our mother left, Patty ran away from home. She was 17. I was 14. And we grew up with infrequent contact, little relationship, and few opportunities to review old stories. I'm not sure now exactly when it was we had the telephone conversation, only that we were both adults by then. And that she had something different to say about how she went out the window. We hadn't been playing tag Patty said, but we had been naughty. Dressing up. Putting on brand new dresses we'd been told not to touch because they were for someone's wedding. Listening to my sister, I had an unbidden image of brushed nylon smoking, pastels, maybe pink and mint green, and could almost remember the irresistible pole of something beautiful, and forbidden. Our father was the one who found us, she said, and he became enraged. She mentioned the therapist and hospital records, and the fact that it had been her right arm but her left leg that were broken, and how she had recovered or reconstructed her own memory of what happened that day. Did he push her throw her, she was sure of one thing. My arm was already broken when I went out the window. Thank you.
One person I forgot to to introduce is Katherine Gekker. Our assistant poetry editor. And if you don't think that is a chore. When you have about three or four thousand poems that come, come and you've got to make decisions, I just can't tell you how much I appreciate Katherine's wonderful work in being able to do that. And we get to hear some of that today. So Jona Colson.
Good afternoon. Good afternoon. privilege to be here. Thank you to Delmarva Review, I finally got in. So thank you for years and in such great company and that of all those submissions. So thank you. Totally wonderful. And thank you to Wilson via Thank you very much. So I'm going to read three poems this afternoon two from the Delmarva Review and then just one from a previous collection. So the two that were wonderfully accepted. For this are odd poems. I'm wasn't quite sure what to do with them. And I'm really happy that they found a home here. The first ones called the Wicked Witch of the West. As a kid, I was always fascinated by the Wicked Witch of the West whenever the Wizard of Oz would come on. I was terrified of her. I would hide behind my father, and look at the scenes of the Wicked Witch of the West. And I've always felt that the villain has some of the most interesting characterization is always the most fascinating to me in a narrative so this isn't like an origin story, but it's just from her point of view. And when it comes down to it, she just wanted her sister shoes right so put it was can't blame her. The Wicked Witch of the West. All I wanted was my sister shoes. The Conjuring pair of Ruby studded slippers to remind me of her before the farmhouse plunged down and struck in mid spell. I had no intention of hunting the girl and her dog, or the three ignorant friends she made. I do not like to use my power. All comes back three fold in buckets of water that drown me. I can see all of my mistakes. No one is forever loyal. Not even guards are monkeys that I winged in a rush of gratitude. Kind of makes you like a little bit. Just a little. The next came out an assignment from the Washington from pardon me in the fine arts work center in P town. The assignment was to write about something ugly, but as beautiful inside. So being in Provincetown, or even being on the East Coast or any coast, I chose the oyster oysters pretty ugly on the outside but it's pretty wonderful on the inside the oyster I am not beautiful. No one thinks me charming. I am covered and crust and muck, male and female swooning across the bed with milky curls of semen and a cloud. I survive with my mouth closed and carry life on my back, sauce snails with their pink fuzz. Cushion Moss with green roses sticking to the calcium underside. Then untethered from this bar, I float exposed and iridescent. I am not beautiful. interrogate me on the half show, finger, my mantle and gills that filter the seeds and purities Well, I remember my life before I was stolen from that private cave. And maybe just circling back to my father, who would shelter me from the Wicked Witch of the West. I'm going to read a poem from my collections published a few years ago called The last time I saw my father. The last time I saw my father sound in Merrifield, he was standing on the front porch, almost the weight of a ghost. As I waved goodbye, I felt a nerve Twitch like a dog's ear patting a fly. He never sold me the world. He never said that people are good. But the next morning, when he stopped like a hair snapped in a steel trap. My name knelt down beside him. And the smallest sigh became a lullaby. I touched his hand. And like any good son straightened his dark hair, before they carried him out into the air. Thank you.
And next is Susan Land. And I mentioned that each section is divided. And we start off with an interview. And Susan, we started off with an interview for the fiction section. Thank you.
I'm gonna read a little bit from the interview, and then a little bit from the short story, because I like the way they kind of talk to each other. So the question was, what inspired you to write her gestures her rules? And I said, writing a story for me is like giving a party, choose a venue, make good guests list, decide on food and drinks, and then hope for the best. Except I have to give the same party over and over again, and deal with gatecrashers, ghosts and plots. Yoga inspired me to write this story, and aging hippies and aging former hippies and the marketing of spirituality. I liked yoga before it was offered to gyms and corporations, when it was still a somewhat eccentric thing to to like I was living in the Hudson Valley and very young. There were hostages in Iran. And at the Omega Institute, they were classes and walking barefoot on hot coals did not walk on hot coals. But I considered for a brief time living a life devoted to following a spiritual path. I have no idea what I was thinking, except that I soon decided I was not selfless enough. And there was this. I had a friend who did a lot of yoga, and wrote down her dreams, and earnestly informed me that she could hitchhike alone, and be safe because she was special. She seemed to truly believe she could not get hurt, no matter whose car she climbed into. And I want to thank everybody and especially James Sullivan, who interviewed me and it was great to think and oh, why did I do that and, and then to be able to edit the way I sounded, which I wish I could do in real life. And here's the beginning of the story. Her gestures her rules. By the early 80s When the New Age was still new, my mother, a local legend, operated the most popular yogis To do an Ulster County ying yang yoga catered to aging hippies, rich and poor. I conceived in 1969 at an ashram in Goa was a significant line in her biography, and illegitimate half Indian daughter. Her students were fascinated by me, as they were by every aspect of my mother's life, her clothes, her diet, her true beliefs, her original religion, and of course her long legs and her sick hair. So dark my hair could have come from her. Not from a never named Indian father. We made a good team. Occasionally my mom would lift an eyebrow ever so slightly, and I'd lower my voice or sit still should wink her thanks. I was unnatural. And my every gesture, opening a door hoping to roll out a yoga mat, pouring a cup of Celestial Seasonings, tea, elicited gratitude way out of proportion to the effort. Holidays and my birthdays became opportunities for her acolytes to show their reverence with a donation to my college savings account. To be clear, I was also an acolyte until I wasn't her boyfriend, a little less so. Nate Wilde was a source of fascination to us all. He wasn't tall or remarkably handsome or charismatic. But he ran and he often gave off the aura of a runner's high. Nate remember that was a new thing. Once upon a time.
Nature Nate lived in Woodstock, where he was working on his dissertation and managing his brother's dental office. He and my mother spent every Saturday night together. While I got farmed out to one or my or another of my mother's students, students, they considered it an honor to take care of me. Nate manage the money in my college account. It had been his idea to open one for me. And the account grew steadily until I turned 11. Then, and this was carry a roll man at the studio dropped precipitously. I was worried that I was the reason that I'd stopped being cute, and I had forgotten I'd gotten less respectful all around. But the problem wasn't just my zits and unwanted facial hair and bad attitude. The studio is less successful for various reasons. Everyone was obsessed with the hostages in Iran. And people wanted to be home to watch the news. Gas was expensive and maybe about to be rationed. Ying Yang Yoga also had new local competition, Jazzercise, herbal medicines, poetry therapy. Also, a couple of my mother's long term students started teaching out of their houses. Nate warned my mom, you have to fight back, Ilana, you can't own this away. We were eating Tempe out of ceramic bowls, and the meal suddenly seemed out of sync with next level of agitation. You have to finish your PhD my mother noted completely changing the subject. He said that is also correct. But we're talking about your livelihood. No, we are having dinner. You have to get serious Nate insisted. He stabbed at the woodstove warmed air with a chopstick. I was terrified. I'd never seen anyone risk piercing my mother's unflappable or I was afraid she'd slap him out of his life force on the spot. Advertise he demanded. She lowered her head. I want it to knock Nate down. Then she looked up and said something about consulting the goddess of commerce. Nate grinned. By my 16th birthday, Ying Ying yoga had a new age shop. Mom ordered merchandise model clothing, even made minor alterations, mostly hemming. Ying Yang also offered classes for pregnant women and old people and cancer patients. Our profits were going up, but not fast enough.
Judith McCombs we haven't seen each other for two years. So it's good to see you.
Okay. And it's true about my parents. I'm surveying our country I grew up in most of the continental United States. Because of that work for the government, Song luminescence leaving for my parents who surveyed our country before the light the darkness slowly filling abandoned voices welling in your ear. The shallow newborn pathways still are spilling chords and stories here and almost here. Above your eyes, the constellations dimming, they found her in the ever deeper dawn, and then the shadows glow worms slowly glimmering, your phosphorescence flickers and is gone. All you know began with their dark dreaming, sloth shy caress and sweetly lulling breath all your songs are stolen from her seeming. Your silence from the silences he left you cannot stop one our slowest spinning there 1000 roads are photos you can't name their leavings taught you losses are beginning their contours map the Odysseys you claim sacred goodbye to luminescens Leaving say goodbye to shadow voices gone take the stories doubt and yet believing take the roadways fading into Dawn and this next one comes from a wonderful anthology fire and rain eco poetry of California. Called it's the title is pictures not in our albums it takes place in the Mojave Desert 1948 A very deserted place then on no radio. We were all alone. Somewhere it is still a dream of safety. Our young parents hauling us up the dark pass. Father blocking the wheels of the trailer while mother lets go the emergency brake and eases the forward into low pulls forward and slows pulls forward and waits. As if I had watched from a road cut, I see the small oval Ford pale in the shadows or gray blue trailer weighing it down the asphalt road falling away on all sides into blackness. The curve ahead climbing to blackness across the vast basin of desert. The night drown ridges and foothills a coyote health house and is answered there are no lights but ours on the earth. No farther lights except the slow stars. In the back of the car in the warm nest of children. I drift from sleep to waking breath to breath as the car Labor's and rests, labors and rests and the night outside is a slow swirling sea lapping the mountains Blackwater is so vast that a ship could found her 1000 lit lit ships go down all light but our own go under.
Sue Eisenfeld. There we go.
Thank you all for being here today. And thank you for publishing my piece took me four years to write. I am going to read a couple of excerpts from my long essay from Hell's half mile to power house. A cowboy a fireman, a fisheries biologist to foresters two botanists, three nurses, six guides, plus a naturalist and a writer. walk onto the rafts. This is no joke. From places near and far we descended upon Idaho and chartered a back country plane to drop us off in the middle of the Frank Church River of No Return wilderness, the largest roadless area in the lower 48. To be in a six day whitewater adventure on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River, one of the deepest gorges in North America. With two years of angst and anxiety under my belt and anticipation of this trip, I choose one of the leisure boats. The leisure boat is the safe boat in my mind as a very well trained guy does all the work of rowing and maneuvering and keeping us from harm. And we guess just sit on top and enjoy the view. 2.3 million acres of jagged Western wilderness. Two years is a lot have time to know something is coming and to think about it and worry about it and come up with all the ways injury and death could occur, or at least discomfort. Over the past 24 months every time the river trip crossed my mind my stomach lurched. I did not want to fall out of the raft into the icy water hit my head on a rock breaking arm or leg, get caught in a window shade, drown, or any of the other river catastrophes I'd heard about. I wanted adventure. But at middle age, I wanted to come home unscathed. Even though I'm on the leisure boat, we've had a brief safety training. I'm still nervous about some other unknowns, like what about the bathroom situation. And we will be self conscious of our bodies on the raft not so tight and firm anymore. At age 46, I'm the youngest of this group of 60 and 70 Somethings, and Neil's retirement is one year away. All these older folks seem joyful and free spirited and unafraid. And yet I'm still obsessing that this trip might be my last. Before I know it, we've glided over a bunch of rock gardens with ease, no doubt, no doubt due to the death maneuvering on the part of the experienced guide. I can see the churning ahead the wide highway of slate grey khaki green river with occasional areas of bubbling white froth, and peaks like sharks rising. Sometimes the water gets darker a moonlight blue next to deep boulders. Sometimes the canyon narrows or an obstacle appears that agitates the water and then the raft bounces and jostles over whatever's underneath causing the ripples, the ripples and our bodies jiggle side to side front to back the river massage. And we get splashed with icy buckets of snow melt. Then in a moment the water is calm again see through to the bottom covered in bowling ball boulders ever caught my previous and first river trip on the North Fork of the koi Cooke River and Alaska, up there and Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve. Only 2000 people visited that park each year. I was 25. Then with only a few years of camping and backpacking experience no river experience no expectations not much knowledge not much fear, entering a place where proficiency in wilderness skills was necessary for survival. In August of that year, in 1996, whitewater was sparse and the water was low, so low that our group had to paddle hard all day every day to get anywhere, blistering my hands and splitting my fingers into bloody canyons as I was the oldest participant on that trip and the only one with a job. One of the 319 year olds who were my trip mates nicknamed me office hands. With the Alaska memory sparked, my body begins to remember that it has already been on a river. It recalls the way the raft glides over a patch of silky water slipping on top of a surface boulder making no splash on the descent. It knows that the bubbles in the brewing beast only indicate the deepest water not something more sinister and that the river points our best route forward with arrows of whitewater nature's subtle navigation signal and that a jarring bounce off a boulder will send the raft into a backwards twirl. I begin to recognize the river like a home I once knew or dream I once had. I settle onto I settle into a spot as the second paddler on the left behind the firemen paramedic. I should say I decided to get off the leisure boat it's too leisurely and I decided to join the paddle raft where we just do the paddling ourselves. Okay, I settled on to a spot as the second peddler on the left behind the firemen paramedic who offers the group a variety of legal and illegal painkillers. Smooth talk talks the men and women alike with a conspiratorial close in lean, and who apparently earned the nickname The nickname Hollywood when he was young. He knows how to set and keep a pace which is what the guides tell him is his job as the foreman. I try to mimic him exactly. Lean forward with my whole upper body, dig in or spear the water with my paddle pullback, lean forward, dig in pullback, we paddle up to 30 strokes at a time upon the guides command forward, back or drift. In this way we conquer powerhouse rapids artillery rapids, Cannon Creek rapids, and pistol Creek rapid the sound of each proceeding its presence, almost just spreading open of the river like a zipper as the whitewater unfurls around us and we pass through. By day three running in the river starts to seem like old hat and I keep the same position for the drop at Marble Creek rapids. The drop and jog of Jackass rapids and the banded Island and riffle I'm starting to feel pretty good badass about my skill set, having remained in the boat so far, and so, on day four, which the guides tell us offers the biggest whitewater yet, I am as hungry for the rapids as a wild dog. The guides rise at 5:30am at the start of yet yet another bluebird day and set out our first and then second breakfast. We've been bathroom and now for four days, getting through it just fine. In Alaska, we were not allowed to put anything into the river, no cooking materials, no body oils, no body fluids, no solids. Here, we've been instructed to pee in the river not on the land, so the soil and campsites won't smell like urine. When we're on the land. Men simply unzip and pee directly into the water women squat at the edge behind a wisp of a plant. Or if we pull our raft out of the current for a moment, we may all simply hurl ourselves over the side, wait into the river up to our waists, and stare at each other across the raft. As we pee into the water together in our clothes. All of us are totally used to this now. At Camp the guide set up a glorified ammo can called the Groover for going number two. Day four with its icy white sky unfolds with tap and one tap and falls tap into tap and three operate whoa point rapids and Jack Creek rapids they range from quick steep drops into large holes to plunges the guides have to scout in advance. The team on my boat is solidified now the firemen me and a cadre of 60 plus year old women who are fearless and inspiring with not a judgmental one among them. Women of all shapes and sizes and life experiences kind independent fit and full of joy, not broken by burdens. Despite enduring many of life's hardest trials. I didn't come to the river to take inspiration from anyone. And yet these women begin forming a picture in my mind of what a later life woman can look like and strength and power, a model I've never even considered that I will need in my days ahead. It is on one of these rapids that without warning without reading it without planning without intellectualizing we come up fast on a large black boulder in the river. In a flash or large bulbous, steady, safe vessel that's been so gentle and protective all week. Absorbing our potential breaks and bruises veers up vertically on the right in a dramatic 45 degree angle. That perfect moment like in a cartoon when the character is suspended in the air before falling. No one screams no one loses a breath and no one's stomach knots. Lean someone yells and we enact a maneuver we were trained to do during the first day's orientation to keep the boat from flipping when it rides up high on one side. Each of us physically stands up lays forward or otherwise springs from position in order to lean into that terrifying high side of the boat with our full body weight. And so all the weight of our eight perfect imperfect, forgiving forgiving selves rises up against us against the forces of gravity trying to take us down trying to flip that boat and land a saw and the turning water in the middle of a shoot. The moment is over in an instant the boat lowers itself as if it had no intention of becoming upside down and we paddle away like that's what we were born to do.
Thank you. Katherine, Katherine Williams
Thank you. I'm delighted to be here and delighted to be part of the Delmarva Review issue. Excuse me. I wrote this after seeing one of Shawn Scalise painting a coal exhibit of Sean Kelley's paintings at the Philips a number of years ago, and particularly a painting called because of the other. And this poem is entitled because of the other. In the night, a poem came lulling me to sleep before I wrote it down. Now in the morning, rough edges emerge, pieces not fitting together. Raw plates of grief sliding back beneath each other. What I wanted to say, did I want to say it is that the person I became Out of annoyance and frustration and love. The one who made sure the bills were paid work the extra jobs so he could study healing rituals in Africa. lay on the floor one night in Vermont holding the dog from sheer loneliness stood beside him in the lingering light of the community garden, sharing coffee from the same cracked cup. While playing water from the split hose over his new bile. lettuces watched beside him in slowly unfurling astonishment at the blossoming of our daughters curled into the warm hollow of his body for 30 years of grateful nights. But I wanted to ask, did I want to ask it was can this person ever become what she never was because of the other?
And this is a poem written later on a trip to Ireland, old woman walking remember this fine mist that forms a scrim between the hills that lead to the vast white that hides the neighboring see. Remember the comfort of the ordered stones that cradle this one lane road? Each a headstone for the nameless hands that hauled and split and arrange them into balance. Never forget how spider webs appear and appear the closer you lean in to the whole wall shimmers with glistening silk. And fragile hammocks hang from rock to rock and sparkle. Even beneath this shrouded Sun will you remember the insistent gravitational force that pulls you away from the wall across the path past the chuckling birds that lace their way through blackthorn past even the blazing kappa Nullah to small protected field where two cows lie in ruminant silence, their calves leaning against them.
The next the next reader is Ronan Keenan, who was just nominated for a Pushcart Prize for his piece.
Thank you, everyone. Thank you, everyone. Marva for giving my work this platform and of course for the nomination. I gotta read the first couple of pages from my short story just called Welcome Day. And really brief background. It's set in my home country of Ireland. And it's really about a single parent and her struggles with her past, present and future. It's where there's a pipe bomb inside the way Maria holds the envelope at arm's length. The strain of fear has gotten into here, Jimmy would say you could see her now panicked about opening a letter. This is the same Maria who'd hardly break stride when planting loaded packages near the Belfast barracks years ago. Back then, she could create thick barriers in our mind, making it easy to categorize the soldiers as a faceless enemy from across the border, rather than really being young lads barely out of school home sick and frightened in strange Borderlands. These days, Maria's barriers are low and permeable, allowing fear to seep through whenever it wants. Today, it has come through her letterbox. Sure enough, this envelope contains what she dreaded. The note inside is written on thick card with deep imprinted letters. bolded and black are the stomach churning words. Family Welcome Day. Underneath conjoined italics. Tell her to embrace the Xavier college spirit with fellow parents and pupils to celebrate the new school term. The move down south was supposed to make things quiet or easier. An event like this would be neither. She'd rather be stuck under blinding lights for days, being interrogated by sweaty man pounding the table and continuous frustration. At least then she just had to keep her mouth shut. For once she can't blame Jamie for dragging her into something. She chanced her arm at this Xavier private school thing, not believing that her son Robbie would be accepted. The sob story worked. Yet with the school notice if she bailed on the event and stayed in bed for the day. Robbie wouldn't blink he'd been through worse. As Maria walks to the car, her tights make the itchy noise of funerals and court cases. When the car shoulders the life she swats aside plastic rosary beads dangling from the rear view mirror. We're only going for a week whilst you'd be nice to everyone and it'll be fine. She says glancing at Robbie, who's sitting up front for the first time despite being just seven Do you hear me Robert? Who's Robert? That's your proper name your big boy now. When my hair be like this every day? Yes. And this school is to keep it nice and neat. She says resisting the urge to toss the deep part in that looks like a freshly plowed field. And by the way, let me answer have any parents ask you a hard question. hard questions like what? She takes a deep breath, calming herself with Jamie's old carps about city folks down south living in their own bubble. As if news from north of their own island rebounds off some sort of invisible blockade that would make North Korea envious. Look, these are all Georgian buildings. You see, she tells Robbie, remembering how the school's brochure described the surrounding city streets. What's the Georgian building? Very old. This is the start of he thinks what questions will he throw it or once the school starts giving him homework. Although it can't be much worse than her stuttering lecture to him on the difference between being on remand and in prison. At the bottom of the street looms the school its pristine white paint and long frosted windows, making it look more like a government building. On arrival, a small smiling senior pupil accompanies them up concrete steps past a heavy black door and through marble hallway. the rattling of cheery chatter in the distance sends beads of sweat down Maria's back. She turns to see Robbie Quist off by several older boys, who excitedly asked him where he's from. Isn't that obvious? He's from up north. God knows what Robbie will tell them. Maria instinctively goes to follow but is swiftly directed to a table scattered with name tags. She stands alone at the doorway of a large large ballroom or sticky label in hand facing a crowd of colorful parents who banter away like their lifelong friends. Her eyes with a radically around the room. Wary of making contact with anyone. Out of options she skirts around the perimeter sneaking peeks at the rosy faces, gleaming teeth and shiny hair. They all look fit and fit and healthy. Though not as thin as her in the mirror she catches sight of her exposed raw bone arms, which are not an achievement by choice. Leave it there
Hi, everybody. I thank you very much to everyone to Delmarva and thank you to all of you for showing up but also for my fellow readers what a delight to be surrounded in beauty. Today. It has just been an honor to hear you all. I have a few poems to read and then you get to go so I'll be fast. This the this first one came to me and the last one also on a trip that my wife and my three girls we made out to Glacier a couple years ago. And at Glacier there was a presentation by a think she was a Yale doctoral student now a doctor named Rose bear don't walk who was talking about the local flora and fauna and the the indigenous roots and the histories there and So you'll see how that informed then what I took away from that. This is called Bitter Root. This is not my story. I have no stories. But the story a Salish woman told at Glacier, which leases its time on a patch of land ancestral to her people. For someone like me without stories or people, her telling was a benediction. This is the story. People were hungry, baby starved. Hunters grew weak and can no longer hunt the few morose elk left to hunt. Most seeds cannot sprout. Most sprouts seem to sick in at the sight of sky. A grandmother despaired And wouldn't you to have despaired? After all, the word means nothing more than the common coming down from Hope. This is the story. Grandmother isn't a hero because she despaired but because she opened to the river and wept with her hot face against the chalky Earth. She wept so the river could see. And the Tamarack could see and the sky could see and the sun could see. And the river, the Tamarack, the sky all saw, but only the sun spoke, and only to a red winged blackbird to the grandmother flew the Blackbird. silver haired grief and Scarlet shouldered love, looking long at one another by the slow River. Go said one's eyes and find their the flower who sunrise blossoms will seem my hair whose moonlight roots will seem your hair your roots, though bitter will save you. That is the story. By what river shall I weep? From my tears? What routes must I mash? What salty paste eat when my red winged messenger arrives? How will I know to listen? Thank you. This next one, like Katherine's is also inspired by a painting about a month before March 2020 in the world shut down my good friend, the poet David Kaplan, I went down to the National Gallery of Art, sort of for inspiration sort of just to be out and about before things went and I came across a painting from which I get the title this poem called The Descent from the Cross. When I was Catholic and in high school, come down off the cross we need the wood. The priest used to tell the stress among us Nikka Demas and the aroma Theon Joseph it turns out are the two usually given credit for taking the dead man's body down? I've been obsessing over Andrea salaries lamentation, we're naked edemas holds the nails in one hand and in the other the Claude hammer somehow like the nails spotless next and it could be miss the Magdalena weeps. Stop the story here. And so Ari's limitation. Stop on Nick Bemis, his eyes, locked on the seven inch Roman nails. Pride from heel bones, on the five inch nails that slid between radius and ulna. Stop on those eyes that don't understand. Stop on Mary Magdalene tears. Look at them. Broken pearls. Those who would retell and remember must retell and remember Mary staring us the onlookers down. Stop the story at last on marry a mother of sorrow, not the first or last in her lap. Again, she holds her boy against her hand again, her son's soft back. All grief sees itself here. Whatever story else you wish to tell, has no place among the loving. Young men get zealous states turn corrupt mobs allow massacre and mothers and lovers bear the brunt. When you tell this and here in salaries lamentation, where a young man has died, and each face says I'm sorry, I don't understand. On the happier notes, this this next one there's a happy one a downer and then I'll end on a happy note. This next one is a sheer steal from Walt Whitman, who like many people here, I'm sure dearly I dearly love. And one day watching a couple of my daughter's at a playground, what women stepped into my body and basically inspired this poem, which is called what we met the playground and if you know the poem Omeo life, I know it sounds a lot like it that's on on purpose. Walt Whitman at the playground. To see my belegginged daughter leap over the mulch, brown hair burnished bronze, to hear her laugh to be a laugh. Oh, to watch the pendulum mean swingers faces now toward heaven, and now toward Earth. To what arc? Oh my soul? Could I better Aspire? Oh, yoga panted mothers. Oh, cargo shorted father's. Oh, floral wrapped caregivers on benches. What song could I sing the Oh, love incarnate answer. A hymn of fellowship, a litany of praise, or reminder that the leaves have already begun their descent. And you will not be back. I guess a bit of a downer there at the end. Thank you. This next one. So I have three daughters. Two of them had to have the same relatively major surgery is a bilateral year to reimplantation by the way. So this one I don't remember whose surgery it was at which I wrote this. It doesn't really matter. What matters is, like many of you might think about what went into what we have now what what do we have to go through to get the knowledge that we have, what sacrifices had to be made that we never knew about? So this is called pediatric surgical waiting room 1:30pm. You can guess when and where I wrote it. I'm waiting with these other waiting parents. And I'm aflame with gratitude to the children chain of pedagogical death and maiming and suffering that taught the teachers until now until today, until my daughter's surgeon who just now took in hand honed metal and gashed skin cell from skin cell lipid from lipid through a diaphanous membrane and opened her to the world. How many impossible lessons had to be learned? What depth to deep gas to little, what infections, what cries endured by mothers and fathers left with no choice but to place on the sacrificial surgeon's table, a child whose suffering has no value, but for the next offerings. If I could name you unbroken line, I would make a rosary of your names as we wait terrified of adding to your holy rings. And this last one, I promise is the whole way through. I don't think there's anything of bummer in it. It's called view through the lodge pole. And it's one of those moments I frequently have, where I realized that I'm so grateful in that moment for that moment, that that moment might make it all worthwhile. So this was again out an early morning just outside Glacier National Park. So it's called view through the lodgepole
The sky Wedgwood blue, and the clouds frosty white. I stare up to the lodgepole pines and think this moment might be enough that if I had to leave life, right after looking away, my gratitude would go on brightening to blinding gold as the clouds now do in the murmuring, Dawn. Thank you
That about wraps it up. I'll mention two things. As we're, as we the editors, were putting this 400 some odd pages together trying to figure out you know how to begin it, how to end it. What follows him it was difficult to do because we do not look at topics for an issue. It's open. We're our interest is in good writing. And so we welcome it. And toward the end of the season as we're selecting The final pieces and the book is getting bigger and bigger and bigger. And I'm thinking, well, we lost that target a long time ago. I was thinking back to my days at Sewanee, where I was in the Writing Program at Sewanee as a as a kid. You know, in my late teens and 20s. And I was a I was in the writing program of Andrew Lydell, who was the band editor the Sewanee review at the time, and he was the last of the agrarian writers of the South, and a close friend of Robert Penn Warren. And of course, we were all in awe as our 10 students who were in the hills tutorial class. Each of us was hand selected by Andrew to be in his class. We all thought we were pretty good. We never got anything published, but we thought we were really good. But there was one who stood out his name was Richard Tillinghast. And Richard was clearly an outstanding writer. At the time, he became an assistant editor of the Sewanee review. And then he went on to teach at Harvard and at Yale and various other places, winning one award after another and pushcarts and all kinds of things. And so in the last couple of days of looking at the putting together the Sewanee the the Delmarva Review, excuse me. We're a lot bigger than the Sewanee Review. I get an email message out of the blue from Richard just I hadn't hadn't talked to him hadn't seen him hadn't communicated with him. Since back in 1965. It's been a while. And he said, I like the Delmarva Review, and I might send you a few things. Would you be interested while we're at the end? And so I said sure. So he he sent me six poems. And he said, you know, these were written at various times in my life one back in Sewanee, and then various times in my life, see what you think I sent them out to? to Katherine, and to Anne, our poetry editors. I hadn't even read them yet. When I got a response back from both, yes, let's take all of them. And so I did. And so that is, he was his was the last that we that we accepted for the for this issue. And then he also won one pushcart nomination yesterday. So we're very pleased with that. But it shows you how interesting this process is. And if you as a writer, you know, never stop, never give up. We are interested in those of you who want to aspire to do the best. And we encourage you to keep going I can remember talking to you Holly and say, we want more. Well, I'm not writing anything right now. We'd like more. And so that's the that's the way I literary journals should work, I believe. We really do. At the Delmarva Review, we really do stick to our standards for quality, and in writing. And we don't break that. Even when we want to have some one of our best friends. And you know, which is the always tempting. It doesn't happen. It just doesn't happen. I also like to save in this issue. We made room for a student, a high school student. We do get college students pretty frequently. Who who we've published but we won't we're interested in actually and actually selecting a high school student every issue. And, and working with the school if we can this year. We were talking about doing that. And then I got an email from Neil Gillen who is the editor of a book from the students at Churchill High School. And the so we said we're going to start there. And we did select one of the students and we published in this book, and we also did a review of, of Neil's class or his group of students. So we're starting that. So if you're interested, you can you can, you know, if you're if you know, high school students who are interested, let us know. I mean, send us have them send their work. And we'll you know, it's pretty hard for them to make the cut into this kind of a book. But that's one of the reasons we want to try and put the effort out. Now, does anyone have any questions about submissions or about the authors of the process? If they do we've, this is a great time to ask. If not that I expect all of you Yes. March 31. Is it better to submit earlier, since you're talking about a big book, if you submit early, you actually have an opportunity to set the pace for the rest. So it's a big advantage? I think most writers would not think of it that way. But as an editor, that is true. We get a big push of, of pieces on the first few days of a submission period. And then the last week is absolutely insanity. You know, but for example, the first date November 1, we got about 60. Submissions. You know, that's a lot for a day. And we average about now about 20 a day, something like that. And that'll go down over the holidays. And then January 1, it just, it's just and then it's difficult, you know, to get your pieces really read carefully. I mean, it's, we try hard. We read every piece that comes in at least once. So you at least one set of eyes goes on it and if not more last year. That's right. That's right. Any other questions? Or thoughts? Well, as we're leaving, we have hell here for fiction. Myself, which kind of covers the baileywick but I always end up arguing with fiction and poetry and nonfiction. And they're all there and they always win. So and Katherine is here and and Bill is here. So we're you've got a good representation. Thank you very much on behalf of Delmarva Review.