Sweet Poetry: Q&A with Lauren Gordon

Today’s Q&A is with Lauren Gordon, a contributor of poetry to the inaugural issue of Sugared Water.

Lauren Gordon is the Pushcart Prize nominated author of Meaningful Fingers (Finishing Line Press) and Keen (horse less press). Her work has appeared with Sugar House Review, burntdistrict, Coldfront Magazine, Rain Taxi, Smoking Glue Gun and Poetry Crush. She lives outside of Milwaukee.

a little taste of “I’m Building a New Spinefrom SW#001:

out of Himalayan salt;
luminescent pink vertebrae
an unfathomed history.

In this life, I will move with meaning,
move with ferrite light,
I am an Alaskan sky,

SW: What are you currently reading?
LGChange Machine by Bruce Covey and What is a Domicile by Joanna Penn Cooper.   Glowing recommendations all around—very lovely and well-crafted poetry. I’m also reading 123 Magic because my toddler has reached the very special age of two.

SW: What are you working on now?
LG: Right now I am working on organizing and revising a full-length manuscript of poems and also sending out chapbook manuscripts, and another full-length ms to publish. There must be a publisher somewhere interested in Little House on the Prairie persona poems, right?

SW: What writers/works have inspired you?
LG: Louise Gluck’s Wild Iris – I read it while I was in the middle of going through a divorce and it changed my world. What Is Found There by Adrienne Rich is another book I constantly re-read. Mary Oliver’s The Leaf and the Cloud is what I read when I feel uncertain. Martha Zweig’s Vinegar Bone has had a much more profound impact on me since becoming a mother. Francesca Bell is another poet who always knocks the wind out of me.

SW: Where do you seek inspiration?
LG: I love this question for the word “seek” because “finding inspiration” is a misnomer. Poetry is work whether the muse shows up or not. I mostly seek inspiration from reading or working with a prompt, but I love being Facebook friends with presses and poets, because someone is always pointing to a poem and yelling “read this!” And I have learned to take better notes, because I can’t trust my brain to remember anything.

SW: Would you talk a bit about your writing process?
LG: Before I was a mother, I had a very regular writing routine and was naively self-indulgent about my time and my writing. Now I seem to write in bursts and then spend months editing, revising, and workshopping. One of the chapbook manuscripts I am sending out right now (On My Legs, My Heart, My Liver) was written in two days, which is insane. I’ve never done that before. I sat down to write a poem about marriage and addiction, and it became torrential. I also like the torture of NaPoWriMo in April. I work best with deadlines and structure.

SW: With what are you obsessed?
LG: Small presses and publishing. Checking Duotrope manically. Keeping the chipmunks out of my potted plants. With the temporary feeling of being alive. Tactility. The books I read as a kid. Dispelling the notion that poetry isn’t work. Oh, and whole pineapples. I’ve been buying one every week and perfecting my cutting technique.

Lauren Gordon | web | @clevernameetc SW#001


Poetry Chapbooks: Meaningful Fingers (Finishing Line Press), Keen (Horse Less Press)

Poetry Antho: Knocking at the Door (Write Bloody Publishing)

Lit Mag: burntdistrict volume 3 issue 1,  2 poems

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Sweet Fiction: Q&A with Carol Guess

Today’s Q&A is with Carol Guess, contributor of fiction (co-author Kelly Magee)  to the inaugural issue of Sugared Water. Their collaborative piece is titled “The Storm Grower.”

Carol Guess is the author of thirteen books of poetry and prose, including Darling Endangered and Doll Studies: Forensics. Forthcoming books include How to Feel Confident With Your Special Talents (poems co-written with Daniela Olszewska) and With Animal (stories co-written with Kelly Magee). She teaches at Western Washington University, and keeps a blog here: www.carolguess.blogspot.com.

a little taste of “The Storm Grower” from SW#001:

The garden is in the backyard. Hurricane, tornado, blizzard. Betty grows them in rows, strung up on the fence with twine. People come to her with their demands, and she gives them shoots and cuttings and bulbs: a hurricane eye in a Styrofoam cup. “Keep it moist,” she tells them, or, “Plenty of light.” They walk from her house carefully, down the front porch steps cradling weather. They use the storms for insurance claims, to get rid of unsightly properties, to deal with termite problems or annoying neighbors. “Watch the size on this one,” she says of a super cell in a glass dome. “Could get out of control.”

They come to her with needs and cash, and she sends them away with solutions.

One day a child rings the bell.

SW: What are you currently reading?
CG: I’m focused on legal cases and journalism aimed at freeing nonhuman animals from captivity.

SW: What are you working on now?
CG: I just started a new poetry collection about a woman in an eating disorder treatment center.

SW: What writers/works have inspired you?
CG: Too many to list! But current favorites include Allison Benis White, Shane McCrae, and Richard Siken.

SW: Where do you seek inspiration?
CG: Often from visual art, especially photography and painting.

SW: Would you talk a bit about your writing process?
CG: Writing gives me pleasure. It’s not a struggle; it’s the joy in my day. As a prolific writer, it’s important to me not to write the same book twice. I’m constantly seeking new subject matter, new forms, and new ways of collaborating with other artists. I like to feel challenged and pushed.

SW: With what are you obsessed?
CG: Nonhuman animals, including my four domestic companion animals and the wild birds living in the trees around my house. I’m also obsessed with seeking freedom for animals in inhumane captivity, and would love to find creative, artistic ways to contribute to this movement. Ideas welcome!

Carol Guess | blog | SW#001

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Sweet CNF: Q&A with Sara Walters

Today’s brief Q&A is with Sara Walters, a contributor of creative nonfiction to the inaugural issue of Sugared Water. Her piece, “Kept,” was our first acceptance of CNF for the magazine.

Sara is currently pursuing her MFA at the University of South Florida, where she also teaches. She has a dachshund named Weasley and writes a lot of essays about dead people and pretty girls. She is still anxiously awaiting the arrival of her Hogwarts letter.

a little taste of “Kept” from SW#001:

No matter how much I search my closets, tear apart the boxes in my garage labeled with my name, dig into the drawers of my dresser, and overturn the bookshelves in my room, I will never find anything of Kevin’s.

I will not find a borrowed sweatshirt, draped over my shoulders at a football game in late October while we watched my brother play. I won’t find a necklace, a ring, a bracelet that had once hung from his neck, fit snugly on his finger, cuffed his wrist. I won’t find any wrinkled notebook paper with his barely readable print, promising in graphite and eraser dust that I was the only girl he ever loved… [...]

There are no pieces of him for me to hold onto.

SW: What are you currently reading?
Sara W.:  I’m reading a lot of young adult lit. I love writers like Sarah Dessen, John Green, David Levithan, and Rachel Cohn. As far as nonfiction goes, I really loved reading Lidia Yuknavitch’s The Chronology of Water.

SW: What are you working on now?
Sara W: This summer, I’ve started working on what I hope will become my MFA thesis. It’s a weird, disjointed, screwed up look at my shitty experiences in the world of relationships and sexuality, and although that sounds really overdone, I’m hoping my take on things will not necessarily be “new” or anything, but just extremely accessible and easy for a lot of women and men in my generation to connect with.

SW: What writers/works have inspired you?
Sara W: Truthfully, the writers I work with here in my MFA program at the University of South Florida never cease to supply me with endless inspiration. This is such an incredible group of human beings. They’re all so perfectly weird, and both broken and whole all at once. They are always reminding me with their writing and their companionship that this world is not the black hole of impending and inevitable oblivion that it often feels like.

SW: Where do you seek inspiration?
Sara W: People. Places. Things. Nouns, in general.

SW: Would you talk a bit about your writing process?
Sara W:  It generally starts with a lot of self-loathing, and ends similarly. Somewhere in between, I write some words that sound at least okay, and then I take those semi-okay words to my mentor, Ira Sukrungruang. He tells me what words are better than okay and how to make the less okay ones more okay. I send them out to magazines. Sometimes, amazing publications like Sugared Water pick them up and publish them, and I feel a very strange and beautiful ache in my heart knowing that I just gave away pieces of myself to perfect strangers. I only hope that my okay words make those who read them feel a similar strange and beautiful ache.

SW: With what are you obsessed?
Sara W: My dog, Weasley. Chapstick. Instagram. Alysha Nett. Tattoos. Obscene shades of nail polish. Hypothetical situations.

Sara Walters | website | SW#001

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Myth+Magic Special Edition: Call for Submission: July 15 through August 25, 2014

Sugared Water is seeking works inspired by myth and magic for a special limited edition. We’re seeking works that update old classics, perhaps moving a mythic character into the modern world, or personal pieces. If Hades owned a bookshop in downtown Chicago, what would a visit be like? We’ll also consider trickster stories and fables. Choose a pantheon or people and give us your take. Tall tales welcome.

We will read for this issue until it is full (no more than 56 pages), accepting work as it strikes us. Give us evocative, descriptive language. Spin and enchant us.

We’re fans of literary work and genre, so feel free to blend the two, or step to one side or the other.

Poetry • Fiction • Creative Nonfiction • Comics & Sequential Art • Art

Some topics you might consider:
Magic gardens, tricksters, witchcraft & herbalism, magic realism, origin stories, retelling of myths about gods and monsters, divination & fortune telling, gods in the modern world.

We’ll consider creative nonfiction as long as it touches on some relationship with myth or magic, or perhaps an affection for oral narratives within your own family—you could tell us how fantastical figures have influenced your development as a writer. Personal essays welcome.

  • Fiction & CNF should follow standard manuscript format. We’ll consider micro forms and short forms up to 4,500 words.
  • Art & Comics: No more than 5 .JPGs/pages at a time, please. We already have a cover, so we’re looking for internal art. High contrast black & white pieces work best.
  • Poetry: submit all poems in one .doc, .docx, or .rtf. No more than five poems per submission. Please format your works in 12 point Times New Roman or Garamond font.

Include a cover letter with brief 3rd person bio (no more than 50 words, no more than 5 previous publications listed), and contact information. Anything else you tell us is strictly up to you, but we’d love to know what you’re reading or what inspires you.

Payment: 1 (one) contributor copy of the resulting limited edition, handbound & numbered issue.

We may wish to archive a few pieces on our website, but we will always ask your approval first.

We accept submissions made via Submittable.

If you’re a Duotrope user, you can report your submission there as well.

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Sweet Poetry: Q&A with Paul David Adkins

Today’s brief Q&A is with Paul David Adkins, a poetical contributor to the inaugural issue of Sugared Water.

Paul David Adkins lives in New York and works as a counselor.

a little taste of “Romancing Christin Garren’s Among the Monarchs in Iraq Despite Central Command’s General Order 1,” his poem:

The order states No Drinking No Drugs No
Gambling No Converting the Afghans to Christ

No Bringing a Girl to your Room No Mailing Home
a Weapon or Live Spiders No Sex with Anyone
not Your Wife No Destroying or Stealing
National Treasures

Polled, you answer

Yes Yes No Yes
Yes Definitely No Maybe No

It’s hard
to figure you out.

SW: What are you currently reading?
PDA: I just finished reading Sally Rosen Kindred’s Book of Asters, Natalie Diaz’ My Brother was an Aztec, and Tarfia Faizullah’s Seam, and I am revisiting Carolyn Forche’s The Angel of History, as well as the work of Robin Behn.

SW: What are you working on now?
PDA: I am attempting to finalize a manuscript entitled La Dona La Llorona, a series of poems addressing the Mexican diaspora as seen through the eyes of a murderous, legendary ghost.

SW: What writers/works have inspired you?
PDA: I often return to Edgar Lee Masters, Weldon Kees, Gregory Orr, and Amiri Baraka, and particularly enjoy current authors Rachel Contreni Flynn, Rebecca Dunham, Christine Garren, and Cate Marvin.

SW: Where do you seek inspiration?
PDA: I use my memory primarily for inspiration:  stories or books I heard years ago often earn my attention.  Musically, the work of Throwing Muses, Einstuezende Neubauten, The Residents, and The Birthday Party hold special sway.

SW: Would you talk a bit about your writing process?
PDA: I tend to let an idea germinate regarding a poem, then find a quiet time to write it on a word document.  I usually revise as I write, and often will google or research terms or phrases which I need while composing the piece.  I will write until I feel I have a work about 80-90% complete, then return to revise until I feel it is sufficiently polished.

SW: With what are you obsessed?
PDA: I am currently obsessed with WWI German U-Boats, and have written a book on the submarines, both WWI and II, entitled U.  I am also preparing, I think, to explore the harrowing confines and horrors of the Bangladesh garment industry.

Paul David Adkins | website | @koenigsburg14 | SW#001

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Sweet Poetry: Q&A with Loretta Diane Walker

Today’s brief Q&A is with Loretta Diane Walker, a poetical contributor to the inaugural issue of Sugared Water.

Loretta Diane Walker is a multiple Pushcart nominee and an award winning poet. She has published two collections of poetry. Walker’s work has appeared in a number of publications. Her manuscript Word Ghetto won the 2011 Bluelight Press Book Award (1st World Publishing Press, 2011).  She teaches music at Reagan Magnet School in Odessa, Texas.  Loretta received a BME from Texas Tech University and earned a MA from The University of Texas of the Permian Basin.

a little taste of “Lifting Mama,” her poem in SW#001:

I wake with Mama singing; I love the morning.
Love. A word tossed around so much
it has dark circles around its eyes.
I love my socks, fingernails, the way ants follow a soul
from Carver Street to French Place.
Love is a little purple gnome
sitting on the dashboard of an old Chevrolet pick- up.
The seasons’ erratic nails scratch years
of flakey rusted dandruff on its hood.

I am fully awake now. I get to change my mind
and this resentment I have towards the sun.
Love is my sister’s arms around mother’s back.
With an ulcer eating her stomach, she says to Mom,
“Put your arms around my neck, Mama. On the count of

SW: What are you currently reading?
LDW: I am currently reading a novel entitled Yoga of the Impossible by my mentor, Diane Frank.  I am also reading  a book of poetry entitled The Wine-Dark House by Rustin Larson.

SW: What are you working on now?
LDW: I am working on a collection entitled In This House.  This collection encompasses poems about the journey my family embarked upon two years ago with my mother becoming a bi-lateral amputee and also poems about my journey towards recovery.  I was diagnosed with breast cancer on July 25, 2013.  These poems depict my struggles and resolutions with having cancer, enduring chemotherapy and radiation.  I just completed treatment in May of 2014.

SW: What writers/works have inspired you?
LDW: Since my diagnosis in July, I have been inspired greatly by the Texas 2010 Poet Laureate, Karla K. Morton. Her book Redefining Beauty is about her journey with breast cancer. I have also revisited the works of Naomi Shiab Nye, Mary Oliver, Jane Hirshfield, Mary Karr, and Diane Frank.

SW: Where do you seek inspiration?
LDW: I seek inspiration from snippets of life. I am inspired by grocery baskets scattered in Walmart’s parking lot, a bird with a broken wing kicking against cement, children laughing on the playground, people waiting at a bus stop. I truly believe life is a poem waiting to be written.

SW: Would you talk a bit about your writing process?
LDW: I have a “ten/one” rule. This means I read at least ten poems (from an anthology or by one poet) before I start writing. Usually a word or a phrase will jump start my creative juices.  I like to write while I am in a restaurant .  The background chatter keeps me centered.

SW: With what are you obsessed?
LDW: I am obsessed with Words with Friends, Zumba, Free Cell and the television show The Property Brothers.

Loretta Diane Walker | SW#001

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Sweet Fiction: Q&A with Rebecca Emanuelsen

Today’s brief Q&A is with Rebecca Emanuelsen, a contributor of fiction to the inaugural issue of Sugared Water. Her story “Fred the Fish” was our first acceptance of fiction, and also inspired the goldfish cover for SW#001.

Rebecca Emanuelsen lives, works, and writes in Michigan. As much as she likes pointing out locations on her hand and calling soda “pop,” she dreams of moving to a place where the sidewalk will never be coated in an inch-thick layer of ice. Her stories have appeared in Shimmer, Parcel, Fractured West, and elsewhere.

a little taste of “Fred the Fish,” her short fiction:

Fred the fish likes bloodworms and all the flakes except the green ones. Hannah picks those ones out, then sprinkles in a handful of everything else. Her portly little goldfish bobs in the water, gulping down food particles until his stomach begins to swell, only relenting in his feeding frenzy when morsels begin to float back up out of his mouth like smokers’ exhalations. The remnants of his meal eventually drift down to settle on the bottom of the bowl, creating a light film like dirty snow. They blanket the neon pebbles and the small castle that Hannah purchased with spare change scraped up from under couch cushions and inside cup holders.

“Thanks, doll,” Fred says, patting his bulging belly with a fin.

“No problem,” Hannah replies as she pops a piece of bubblegum into her mouth. “But I’m a real girl, not a doll.”

SW: What are you currently reading?
RE: I’m currently reading about fourteen textbooks a week because I’m working as a proofreader over the summer.
I’m also reading Nelly Reifler’s short story collection, See Through.

SW: What are you working on now?
RE: Short stories with various magical elements as well as an urban fantasy novel.

SW: What writers/works have inspired you?
RE: Howl’s Moving Castle and Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones are two of my very favorite books. I really appreciate DWJ’s world-building abilities and her treatment of young characters. She was a fantastic writer.

SW: Where do you seek inspiration?
RE: On long walks and in conversations with my best friend, Nichole “Prite” Mercado, who has kindly drawn a number of my characters over the decade that we’ve known each other.

SW: Would you talk a bit about your writing process?
RE: I have a weird, spotty schedule when it comes to writing. Sometimes I don’t write for several weeks. Sometimes I crank out a 6,000-word story in two days. Either way, my process usually involves thinking about something for at least a week (often much longer) and then researching various elements for a few days before putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). I’m generally not a “write every day” writer, and that’s fine because my current process works for me, though only for short stories. When I want to actually make progress on my novel, I have to commit to a more regular (preferably daily) schedule.

SW: With what are you obsessed?
RE: So many things. I go through periods of intense interest in various subjects. Chambered nautiluses, accordion music, and abandoned towns are three things I’ve been focusing on lately.

Rebecca Emanuelsen | blog | SW#001

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Sweet Poetry: Q&A with Caitlin Neely

Today’s brief Q&A is with Caitlin Neely, a contributor to two issues of Sugared Water. She published three poems with us including “Grace Hour,” “This is Use,” and “The Interior Part.” (She later joined our staff as an editorial assistant.)

Caitlin Neely will be an MFA poetry candidate at the University of Virginia in the fall. She graduated from Northern Kentucky University where she was the editor for Loch Norse Magazine. She is an editorial assistant for Sugared Water and a first year blogger for The MFA Years.

a little taste of “Grace Hour” (in our inaugural issue):

I tell landscape like it is.
A deer’s gray coat—dull lantern dusk,
the hills—knot of honeysuckles.

I turn it inside out. I sharpen the edge.

and “The Interior Part” from our second issue:

I take a spot on the sofa, watch the squirrel
in the backyard, the tire swing.

Is waiting dangerous?

The woods crack; March scatters.
Mayflies hang on buds.

Noon time shower,
boom of the weather man’s voice.

(A holler in a holler.)
(The small sin of wanting.)

I wake, scrape the winter off;
my body looser than it’s been in years.

SW: What are you currently reading?
CN: Right now I’m reading Brenda Hillman’s Seasonal Works with Letters on Fire and Middlemarch.

SW: What are you working on now?
CN: I’m working on revising poetry I wrote for my capstone last year. I’m also writing new stuff that’s focused on the body and, of course, nature too. No matter how hard I try I can’t get away from nature imagery.

SW: What writers/works have inspired you?
CN: Mary Ann Samyn is definitely the poet who’s inspired me the most. Also Beth Bachmann, Nathaniel Perry, Sylvia Plath, Kelly Moffett, Ida Stewart, and Brenda Hillman.

SW: Where do you seek inspiration?
CN: Everywhere! Language is my main inspiration so words I pick up from books, television, conversations, etc. are normally the starting off point/inspiration for my poems.

SW: Would you talk a bit about your writing process?
CN: I try to remain as “in the moment” as possible during a rough draft. I don’t like over-thinking lines or deciding where I’m going to go next before going there. A lot of my process comes from what I’ve learned taking improv classes. Once I’m revising I’ll work through the title, the language, the line endings, the emotional narrative, and anything else that needs clarifying. I rarely keep copies of the revisions I make for a poem. I like to “forget” where I’ve come from (in regard to the words, not the emotion behind them) unless I’m really having trouble choosing between two different versions of a line or phrase.

SW: With what are you obsessed?
CN: I’m very obsessed with baseball right now. I’m also obsessed with dance and ballet. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen Center Stage and First Position. I danced for a good part of my childhood. It’s something I’ve kept close to me even after I quit.

Caitlin Neely | Blog | @caitlinneely | in issues SW#001 & SW#002

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Sugared Water #002

We’re pleased to announce the release of our second issue of Sugared Water! | via WLH on Etsy.

Each copy of #002 is wrapped lovingly in a hand-pulled, four color serigraph with stencil on 100% recycled (25% PCW) 105lb stock. We used a technique called a rainbow roll, and though every print contains 3 ink colors, the gradient blend on each is unique. (We began with white, yellow, and red inks and printed a finishing line in metallic gold.) This edition is 195, each hand numbered & handsewn. (Spring 2014)

Our cover features a trio of feathers stacked to suggest a leaf form, inspired, of course, by one of the pieces inside—in this case, a poem.

Our contributors for Sugared Water #002:

Katie Berger, “Valentine’s Day”
Jessica Bixel, “The Sister and Other Inventions”
Su Cho, “In the Middle of the Highway, There is a Garden”
Wendy Creekmore, “This Place Turned Headstone”
Kelly Dumar, “Enough”
Malisa Garlieb, “The Pair” and “Blueberry Season”
Lois Marie Harrod, “Dump”
Scott Hartwich, “Montana Elegy”
Yume Kim, “The Little Girl and the Blue Umbrella”
Anna King, “Everything Afterward Had Always Been”
Christen Leppla, “Morning”
Rebecca McLeod, “Don’t Forget to Hang the New Curtains in Our Bedroom”
Caitlin Neely, “The Interior Part”
s. Nicholas, “Feed” and “Cherries”
Dustin Parsons, “Transmission” and “Mulberries”
Marina Petrova, “The Boat”
John W. Sexton, “The Legend of Flight”
Wes Solether, “I Lay Flush With”
SJ Stephens, “Hidden Among Trees”
Steven Wolf, “He Holds Me Together Against His Chest”

You can see our rainbow roll above, and a couple examples of the variations in the edition. You can achieve a more controlled and similar roll by using printing guides, but we decided to go-with-it-and-see approach. Our overlay is a line drawing screened in  metallic gold. we’ve stenciled the letters with cyan acrylic (a few are gold or red), and sewn the books with a heavy cream or white heavyweight thread.

Epistolary closing // Regular reading period to open April 1

Our epistolary special edition is about to close, new submissions nesting in our submittable pool every darn day. This has been a very popular theme—we’ve been fortunate to read some fantastic works and we’re not finished yet! Sugared Water: Epistolary is open for 4 more days. There’s still time to throw your letter-inspired works into the submission box!

April 1 is also the date of our regular submission period. We’ll consider 5 poems per poet, and up to 4,500 words of fiction or creative nonfiction. We’re quite interested in flash and micro forms, and are always accepting submissions of comics and sequential art.

Sugared Water #002 is set to release in mid-to-late April. Happy Spring!


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