Books in Brief  ~ Summer 2023

selected new books from contributors & friends of Still: The Journal

Spirit of Wild, poems by KB Ballentine
“These poems speak to that spark in each of us that we might remember even through our sorrows, tragedies, joys, and silent seasons that the spirit of wild doesn't call us - it is us.” (Blue Light Press)

After Reading, poems by Bill Brown
"During the pandemic, Bill Brown started reading friends’ poems that he loved. He chose a quote from each poem and wrote a tribute poem as a response. Brown selected poems from 33 poets, most of whom he knows and loves as friends." (Iris Press)

"Not a traditional 'how to' writing handbook, it seeks to guide rather than dictate and to validate the complexity and range of styles--and even how one thinks about craft itself." Includes contributions from Still: The Journal contributors Frank X Walker and Crystal Wilkinson. (Amistad Press)

We Are Mary Shelley's Monster, poems by Danielle Byington
"Frequently, mythology ushers the reader through this chapbook, either in the context of ancient gods and goddesses or modern figures and celebrities. This crafting of the past within the present through familiar names and events intends to highlight the damage done, but also remind us of how we might heal on humanity’s circular path." (Finishing Line Press)

This Strange Garment, poems by Nicole Callihan
"Enduring surgery and treatment for breast cancer while caring for children, the speaker explores mortality and attempts to understand what is happening to her. . . . Callihan’s poetry captures that very power of defamiliarization, creating poetic space where flower meets explosion and light meets cancer." (Jessica L. Walsh for Terrapin Books)

Outside the Frame, poems by Catherine Pritchard Childress
"Catherine Pritchard Childress gives full-throated voice to those who are historically silenced, while bearing witness to a complex culture that both perpetuates that silence and cries out to be heard and to be seen." (EastOver Press)
“In his twentieth book, most of which was first composed on the backs of medical forms while on break as a third-shift medical technician, Sean Thomas Dougherty brings us a memoir-like prose sequence reflecting on disability, chronic illness, addiction, survival, love, and parenthood.” (BOA Editions)
Daughters of Muscadine, stories by Monic Ductan
"Two events tie together the nine stories in Monic Ductan's gorgeous debut: the 1920s lynching of Ida Pearl Crawley and the 1980s drowning of a high school basketball player, Lucy Boudreaux. Both forever shape the people and the place of Muscadine, Georgia, in the foothills of Appalachia." (University Press of Kentucky)
A Brief Natural History of Women, stories by Sarah Freligh
“In A Brief Natural History of Women, Sarah Freligh’s girls and women grieve, rant, stumble and topple, pour each other shots, desert each other, catch each other mid-fall; they are in equal parts desperate and resilient, weary and philosophical. This is a dazzling, acute, spiky book by one of the best flash fiction authors writing today.” (Kim Magowan for Small Harbor Publishing)

Linney Stepp, a novel by Diane Gilliam
"In this first novel by an award-winning poet, set in early 20th-century eastern Kentucky, sixteen year old Linney Stepp is sent to live with relatives in exchange for a boy cousin who can help her father work the farm. But living with the Chandlers–especially Aunt Hesty, grand- mother and wisewoman–Linney gradually discovers how to decide for herself who she will be.” (Saddle Road Press)

Sown in the Stars: Planting by the Signs, nonfiction by Sarah L. Hall, with photographs by Meg Wilson
"Sown in the Stars brings together the collective knowledge of farmers in central and eastern Kentucky about the custom of planting by the signs. Hall interviews contemporary Kentuckians who still follow the signs of the moon and stars to guide planting, harvesting, canning and food preservation, butchering, and general farmwork. Featuring photographs by Meg Wilson." (University Press of Kentucky)

What Things Cost: an anthology for the people, edited by Rebecca Gayle Howell & Ashley M. Jones, with Emily L. Jalloul
"What Things Cost: an anthology for the people is the first major anthology of labor writing in nearly a century. Here, [the] editors bring together more than one hundred contemporary writers singing out from the corners of the 99 Percent, each telling their own truth of today's economy.” (University Press of Kentucky)

Mabye This is What I Deserve, stories by Tucker Leighty-Phillips
"Tucker Leighty-Phillips builds a series of mythologies; of childhood, of Appalachia, of seeing the world through the 3D glasses of poverty. The stories dip their toes between sentiment and surrealism . . . Using the logic of childhood across kids and adults alike, Leighty-Phillips builds a world filled with wonder and tells a new story of working-class, rural living." (Split Lip Press)
This anthology features “poetry and photography from over 100 authors and artists in and around the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area and captures a portrait of small-town life in the Appalachian Mountains, created by and for the people who call these woods home.” 
Tamp, poems by Denton Loving
"Loving's second collection centers on the bond that endures between father and son, even after death. In plainspoken poetry that is often narrative in form, the writer's personal experiences living on an inherited cattle farm and tending to an aging orchard are detailed . . . with language that is lyrical and bursting with sudden shocks of emotional power." (Mercer University Press)

Here in the Dark, stories by Meagan Lucas
Here in the Dark is a gritty genre blending wallop of short stories, set mostly in Southern Appalachia, that explore the female experience of lawlessness. Perceptive, intimate, and brave, these sixteen stories encompass shame and forgiveness, loss and redemption, oppression and revolution, and signal a new way of thinking about power and trauma.”  (Shotgun Honey Press)

Sidle Creek, stories by Jolene McIlwain 
“With stories that take place in diners and dive bars, town halls and bait shops, McIlwain’s writing explores themes of class, work, health, and trauma, and the unexpected human connections of small, close-knit communities.” (Penguin Random House)

Without Warning: The Tornado of Udall, Kansas, nonfiction by Jim Minick
"Without Warning, tells the human story of this disaster, moment by moment, from the perspectives of those who survived. . . and connects this history to our world today. Without Warning tells a larger story of community, survival, and how we might find our way through the challenges of the future." (Bison Books)

The Parting Glass, poems by Lisa Parker
The Parting Glass, like the old Irish song, is a toast to the places and people who make up the author’s roots and base. However Appalachian at its root, it tells a universal story about what grounds and keeps us, even as we move in cities and circles far from home." (Madville Publishing, winner of the 2021 Arthur Smith Poetry Prize)

“The hybrid nature of Linda Parsons’ sixth collection, with poems, diptychs, and micro essays, brings oppositions into focus . . . as she lifts the veil on what it means to live and create fully, even in the face of impermanence.” (Madville Publishing)

Once a City Said: A Louisville Poets Anthologyedited by Joy Priest
"Priest takes the city’s narrative out of the mouths of politicians, news anchors, and police chiefs, and puts it into the mouths of poets. What emerges is an intimate report of a city misshapen by segregation, tourism, and ruptures in the public trust. Featuring 37 poets . . . Once a City Said archives the traditions and icons, the landmarks and spirits, the portraits and memories of Derby City." (Sarabande Books)

"This timely novel unfolds against a backdrop of evangelical, fundamentalist anarchy. . .Most of the characters walk a perilous line between the exigencies of religion and country, of love and duty, of conscience and exploitation. This powerful novel almost hurts, but it also hints that there may yet be a way to heal." (Joan Connor for Malarkey Books)

Hillsville Remembered: Public Memory, Historical Silence, and Appalachia's Most Notorious Shoot-Outnonfiction by Travis A. Rountree
"In this first book-length scholarly review of the Hillsville shoot-out (Hillsville, Virginia, March 1912), Rountree examines various media written about and inspired by the event and explains how the incident reinforced the nation's conception of Appalachia through depictions of this sensational moment in history.” (University Press of Kentucky)

Above Ground, poems by Clint Smith
"A remarkable poetry collection . . . from the #1 New York Times bestselling and National Book Critics Circle award-winning author of How the Word Is Passed. Clint Smith’s vibrant and compelling new collection traverses the vast emotional terrain of fatherhood, and explores how becoming a parent has recalibrated his sense of the world." (Little, Brown)

The Songs of Betty Baach, a novel by Glenn Taylor
“Set in West Virginia, The Songs of Betty Baach is a magical guide to resisting despair and a compendium of wisdom and rhythms. Refusing the erasure of the lives of women, Indigenous peoples, and Black people who have always called this region home, this eloquent and distinctive novel is a necessary remedy for the continued distortion of a land and its inhabitants.” Winner of the Juniper Prize for Fiction. (University of Massachusetts Press)

Splinter, poems by Susan O'Dell Underwood
"Susan O’Dell Underwood’s poems trace the unique experiences of the Appalachian diaspora. Splinter suggests the deep ambivalence in the breaking away, a sundering which can never be mended. These poems test the emotional spectrum, weighing the joyful possibilities and sorrows of leaving against the obligation of those who stay 'home,' grateful yet bereft in an altered place." (Madville Publishing)

They More Than Burned, fiction by Tara Stillions Whitehead
"Using film scripts, imaginary interviews, and a splash of speculative fiction, Stillions Whitehead creates a . . . feminist protest against Hollywoodized renderings of addiction, displacement, and recovery. They More Than Burned presents an anti-narrative condemning the industry’s gross exploitation of personal trauma, suggesting that more than truth and integrity are at risk." (ELJ Editions)

With Access to Tools, poems by Dana Wildsmith
"With Access to Tools offers a means for navigating a new time of change. Opening with a series of odes to traditional tools . . . the book then shifts, as has our world, to cyber tools which work at a physical remove that echoes the pandemic’s societal disruption. The book concludes with persona poems offering a note of hope through the strength of individual cerebral tools." (Madville Publishing)

Where You Come From Is Gone poems by Annie Woodford
"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, winner of the 2023 Weatherford Award for Poetry)

Appalachian Ecocriticism and the Paradox of Place, edited by Laura Wright and Jessica Cory
“A collection of scholarly essays that engages environmental and ecocritical theories and Appalachian literature and film. These essays
 . . . engage with a variety of ecocritical methodologies, including ecofeminism, ecospiritualism, queer ecocriticism, and materialist ecocriticism, to name a few.” (University of Georgia Press)

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