Books in Brief  ~ Fall 2022

Where I Can’t Follow, a novel by Ashley Blooms

Blooms follows her critically-acclaimed debut, Every Bone a Prayer, with a story set in Blackdamp County, Kentucky. “Where I Can’t Follow explores the forces that hold people in place, and how they adapt, survive, and struggle to love a place that doesn’t always love them back” (Sourcebooks).

Shutter, poems by Taylor Byas

Award-winning poet Taylor Byas’s second chapbook continues her observant attention to form and music. “Byas deploys double exposed syntax and the unflinching accuracy of film . . . A love letter to desire and its attendant dangers” (Jeni De La O, Madhouse Press).

Thresh & Hold, poems by Marlanda Dekine

 Winner of the 2021 New Southern Voices Poetry Prize, Dekine’s debut collection “is a holy, radical unlearning and reclamation of self. Thresh & Hold offers magic, healing, and innovative pathways to manifest intimacy” (Hub City).

"Follow Cat Dixon’s journey across the state as she explores misconnections, unrequited love, and longing. Dixon believes what happens in Nebraska doesn’t stay in Nebraska" (Texas A&M UP).

"In 130 ink-and-watercolor drawings, the story of one year on a family farm in Kentucky unfolds: Landings grapples with the legacy of our cultural divide between art and land and celebrates the beauty discovered along the way" (Hub City Press).

The Dead Are Everywhere Telling Us Things, poems by Sean Thomas Dougherty

Chosen for publication by poets Jessica Jacobs and Nickole Brown, Dougherty’s collection is gut-wrenchingly honest. Jacobs and Brown note, “Raw and plainspoken, heartbreaking yet humorous, this book is free of even the slightest hint of poetry-posturing” (Jacar Press). 

The Attic Bedroom, poems by Rebecca Griswold

Griswold’s beautiful and inventive debut is described as “original and often startling.” “Lyrical, powerful, and bold, The Attic Bedroom explores survival and healing as a woman looks back on an earlier experience with a community that turns out to be a cult” (Milk and Cake Press).

I Thought I Heard a Cardinal Sing: Ohio's Appalachian Voices, poetry anthology edited by Kari Gunter-Seymour

The editor describes this diverse anthology as representing “Ohio’s Appalachian population, providing examples of honor, endurance, courage, history, love of family, the land; and provides evidence of how even against the odds our people continue to thrive” (Sheila-Na-Gig).

"Every poem in the Dark Hills of Home had its birth among the foothills and hollows of the western Alleghenies, between the Ohio and Monongahela rivers in the heart of Appalachia- where the sun rises late and sets early, and the night is never entirely absent" (Monongahela Books).

Visionary Folklore and Everyday Culture in Appalachia: "Drawing from her work as state folklorist, Emily Hilliard explores contemporary folklife in West Virginia and challenges the common perception of both folklore and Appalachian culture as static, antiquated forms" (University of North Carolina Press).

In the Backhoe’s Shadow, poems by Thomas Alan Holmes

“In his debut poetry collection Thomas Alan Holmes offers a measured evaluation of a lost past, balancing the consequences of generational shift with expanded understanding of family, love, and place” (Iris Press).

Lark Ascending, a novel by Silas House

House’s seventh novel is a meditation on grief and hopefulness in a dystopian future, “a riveting story of survival and hope, set in the not-too-distant future, about a young man forced to flee the United States and seek refuge across the Atlantic” (Algonquin).

"Traces is a retelling of Daniel Boone's saga through the eyes of his wife, Rebecca, and her two oldest daughters, Susannah and Jemima. The Boone women's joys and sorrows, as well as those of countless other forgotten women who braved the frontier, are invisibly woven into the fabric of America's early years and the story of this country's westward expansion” (University Press of Kentucky).

The Book of Susan, a novel by Melanie K. Hutsell

Described as a “riveting deep-dive into one woman's experience with bipolar disorder and God,” Hutsell’s second novel is “the spare and sympathetic recounting of a journey—from derailment, to diagnosis, to the discovery of a lifetime” (Paraclete Press).

Even When We Sleep, poems by Marilyn Kallet

This is the 19th published book from Knoxville-based poet/teacher Marilyn Kallet. “If poems are bodies that remind us of our bodies, then Kallet’s somatic poems tackle what it means to be alive and dazzling,” writes poet Tiana Clark about Even When We Sleep (Black Widow Press).

Runaway: Notes on the Myths that Made Me, nonfiction by Erin Keane

Editor in chief at, Keane’s debut memoir is about Keane’s parents, pop culture, and gender, “Runaway is an unforgettable look at all the different ways the stories we tell—both personal and pop cultural—create us” (Belt Publishing).

Pottery Town Blues, short stories by Karen Kotrba

Part of Bottom Dog Press’s Appalachian Writing Series, Kotrba’s story collection, set in East Liverpool, Ohio, “bubbles with history and place, sight, sound, and taste” (Bottom Dog).

Magicicada & Other Marvels by Kathleen Brewin Lewis

"Kathleen Brewin Lewis gathers the flora and fauna around her into a lyrical collection of poetry that soothes the spirit. This book is a tender testament to the earth's abundance" (Shanti Arts).

Strictly From Hunger, poems by Jennifer Litt

Accents Publishing released Litt’s debut noting the poet’s voice is “playful, yet fearless;” and Sarah Freligh writes that “Litt negotiates the space between humor and heartbreak in lyric lines that scald even as they soothe.”

The poems in Lucien Darjeun Meadows’s debut collection “address the West Virginian landscape, both in exaltation and extraction, balanced with poems about the speaker's own body, and emergent sense of queer identity, as ‘a boy made of shards" (Hub City).

Dear If, poems by Mary B. Moore

“Grounded in nature and the body’s knowledge of death, Mary B. Moore’s fifth poetry collection queries the divine, evoking its traces in doubt, dread, and awe. . . Inventive in image, metaphor, and wordplay, Moore mourns belief and its loss” (Orison Books).

Lioness, a novel by Mark Powell

Powell’s seventh novel is “a page-turning, heart-wrenching examination of extremism: What pushes people to act violently, and is that violence ever justified?” (West Virginia University Press).

The Tillable Land, poems by Melva Sue Priddy

If you pre-ordered Priddy’s debut collection from Shadelandhouse Modern Press, you received a pack of Cherry Bomb Tomato Seeds inside! Priddy’s poems, “a heart-racing, heart-breaking lyric,” are endorsed by Rebecca Gayle Howell, Maurice Manning, Molly Peacock, and others.

While the Whippoorwill Called, poems by Ann Shurgin

This debut collection of poems is described by poet Dick Hague as “filled with patient, careful description of her beloved Appalachia during and after significant absence” (Redhawk Publications).

Stewart’s first full-length collection “coalesces around themes of love, addiction, violence, sexual identity, and the corporeal body to betray the intimate moments that illuminate, especially, Black gay male experiences” (Eastover Press).

Choices, three novellas by Annabel Thomas

A journalist and novelist, Thomas sets her three stories in farming communities in central Ohio. Diane Kendig notes: “Thomas’s evocative, brilliant depiction of these settings and characters remains both contemporary and timeless, and above all, unforgettable” (Bottom Dog).

Daybreak and Deep poems by Jessica D. Thompson

"Jessica D. Thompson lives at the edge of a classified forest in Southern Indiana. Most of the poems in Daybreak and Deep were written in the nearby village of New Harmony, Indiana, the site of an early Utopian settlement” (Kelsay Books).

Townsend’s second novel is a story of intergenerational trauma and healing. “Mother Country is a bone-deep and unsparing portrayal of the ethical and emotional claims we make upon one another in the name of survival, in the name of love” (Graywolf Press).

Robert Morgan: Essays on the Life and Work, critical anthology, edited by Robert West and Jesse Graves

“This first book on Morgan collects appreciations and analyses by some of his most dedicated readers, including fellow poets, authors, critics and scholars. An unpublished interview with him is included, along with an essay by him on the importance of sense of place, and a bibliography of publications by and about him” (McFarland & Company, Inc.).

Poetry’s Possible Worlds, essays by Lesley Wheeler

Wheeler combines the personal with the poetic in her debut essay collection, analyzing poetry while narrating the story of her father’s unraveling. “Nothing is resolved, even after his death. The past and present keep shifting” (Tinderbox Editions).  

The Year of the Monster, stories by Tara Stillions Whitehead

Whitehead’s new collection of stories mixes "traditional prose with screenplay and script-hybrid" and "encourages close examination of how American media and our complicity in its marriage of violence and culture perpetuate the human and environmental crises” (Unsolicited Press).

"Where You Come From Is Gone examines the economic and racial violence of rural America, where whiteness is a fraught and often dysfunctional identity.Woodford's perspective is . . . to honor how people make beauty despite that precarity and perhaps because of it" (Mercer University Press).

Read all of Still: The Journal'past reviews


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