Catching Up, Keeping Up

I know, it has been too long. But believe me when I say that I have been enjoying a much needed siesta since the fantastic success of the first ever season of Impossible Language and am in the planning stages of season two. There will be more poems and art. Promise. 

In the meantime, let’s take a moment to appreciate what the Impossible Language alum have been up to, shall we? The poets that have been a part of this series are worker bees doing great things. 

- Adam Clay - Adam is one half of the editorial team for TYPO and the newest issue just hit the internet. Gosh, read it, it’s a humdinger. He was also the poetry contest editor for the Pinch Journal Literary Awards and I am pleased to say he picked a good one (because of course he would). He’s also got poems everywhere and hopefully his new book, Stranger, will be coming out from Milkweed sooner rather than later.

- Ada Limón - Ada got a gorgeous new website AND is releasing a new book from Milkweed Editions called Bright Dead Things. I can make do with Sharks in the Rivers til then, but just barely. 

- Ruth Baumann - Ruth is the Can’t Stop Won’t Stop around here. She publishes so much that she has actually stopped telling people about it. TELL THE WORLD RUTH WE LOVE YOU. Her chapbook these tornadoes has been a finalist in many chap competitions and in the meantime she has written another chapbook. Ok Ruth, you can stop now. 

- Caki Wilkinson - Her new book The Wynona Stone Poems is going to come out in November and Oh My God Look at the cover of that book. It is beautiful. Also - follow Wynona on Twitter. She’s a riot. 

- Sean Patrick Hill - Besides continuing to publish gorgeous poems, Sean started a poetry broadside press in Louisville called Green Fuse Press. The first release is a nice Graham Foust - go get one. 

- Abraham Smith - It has been announced that he co-edited an anthology called Hick Poetics with Shelly Taylor that should be coming out this year from Lost Roads Press and I srsly can’t wait. In the meantime, I like to read Only Jesus Could Icefish in Summer out loud in the bathtub. Is that so wrong?

- Jonathan Owen May - I got an overwhelming response to this guy - y’all really loved his poems. Ok fine - he posts some of them here. Enjoy! He also writes about books and the media on the Reading at Recess blog - AND HE SPEAKS GERMAN, PEOPLE.

- Laressa Dickey - Laressa has been travelling the world, doing readings and otherwise living a beautiful life. Miel has just released a beautiful tiny chap called Little Voice Box - check it out!

- Clay Cantrell - Clay will be embarking on his thesis year at the UofM this fall. In the meantime, he is busy writing a lot more good poems than me, playing folky fuzz ass guitar, opening for the likes of Jerusalem and the Starbaskets and probably planning world domination through death metal. 

- Jessica Comola - Damn, who knows what Jessica Comola is up to besides being a mysterious genius poet who is probably writing a masterpiece. Have you read Girl at the End of a Matchstick at Anti-? So good.

- Tim Earley - Tim just released a book this year - the excellent Poems Descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery - and people are freaking out about it. Seth Abramson did - he recommended it to “anyone with a pulse”. I second that notion. Tim is taking over the Trobar Ric reading series in Oxford, MS, and I totally look forward to many pilgrimages down south. 

- Heather Dobbins - The Common recently posted a glowing review of Heather’s book In the Low Houses, a book that has been in my read and read and read stack as of late. Trust me, that stack is short. I recommend you read it also.

- Tara Mae Mulroy - Tara Mae just posted a brief interview about her writing process on her blog. I so enjoyed her chap Philomela and find reading about her writing life pretty interesting. Here’s hoping Swallow Tongue gets picked up soon!

- Elaine Scudder-Walters - Elaine came out of poetry hiding to read to us and it was wonderful. I know she’s a school teacher, and what a crazy job that is, so let’s hope this summer is a super poetic one.

- Caitlin Mackenzie - Congrats to Caitlin for having her poem “Postcards from the Northwest" nominated for the Best Single Poem Award for the Forward Prize! Fingers crossed - it’s soooo good. I bet those Pacific Northwest rivers and lakes are looking pretty nice right about now.

Boy. I will have to get to the artists next round because that is a lot of talent for one tumblr post. Buy some books, read some poems, and stay tuned for announcements regarding the next season of Impossible Language. xo

Last night, I was lucky to host Impossible Language at story booth for the first time. I know I’ve talked a big game about the art/poetry connection and am so proud of what has been accomplished so far in the 430 space, but I must say…hosting and hanging at story booth is just so chill. I think everyone really liked it. 

The reading was wonderful, with much credit to Heather Dobbins for helping to bring these poets together. 

1. The story booth space, with a view from the mic

2. The wonderful Elaine Scudder-Walters

3. Heather Dobbins, in full gif glory. Her reading made me say, “Damn, Heather." Which is a good thing. Her book, In the Low Houses, is splendid. 

4.Caitlin Mackenzie, who I was delighted to meet, and who I think brought the Oregon rain down with her. Read her poem “The Dive" - it’s a good one.

5. Tara Mae Mulroy, author of my current favorite chap, Philomela.

6. Tara Mae, Heather, and Matt Gallant at the book table

7. Your host Ashley Roach-Freiman

8. Matt Gallant, creative non-fiction editor of the Pinch Journal

9. The handsome bartender, Will

10. Another view of story booth

This Saturday @ story booth - four poets, 6pm.

Elaine Scudder-Walters is native Midtown Memphian and a graduate of Rhodes College. She has an MFA in Poetry from the University of Alabama where she received the Dean’s Merit Prize. She also worked as an Assistant Poetry Editor for The Black Warrior Review. A teacher with the Memphis City Schools since 2003, she currently teaches CLUE at Snowden, a school attended by five generations of her family.


Tara Mae Mulroy is a graduate of the University of Memphis MFA program. Her chapbook, Philomela, was released from dancing girl press in January 2014, and her poems, stories, and essays have appeared in CutBank, Third Coast, Zone 3, and others. Her blog is at


After taking a ten-year education vacation to California and Vermont, Heather Dobbins returned to her hometown of Memphis. Her poems and poetry reviews have been published in Beloit Poetry Journal, Big Muddy, The Rumpus, The Southern Poetry Anthology (Tennessee), and TriQuarterly Review, among others. She has taught for fourteen years in Oakland, California, and Memphis, where she founded River City Scribes, a creative writing workshop for teens. Her debut collection,In the Low Houses was recently published by Kelsay Press and will be available for signing at Story Booth.

Caitlin Mackenzie is a writer whose work has appeared in publications such as CutBank, Lambda Literary, Colorado Review, Fugue, and Structo. One of her poems was recently nominated for the Forward Prize. She earned a MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars a few years ago and promptly moved to Eugene, Oregon, where she now lives and plays in the mountains and streams.

Better late than never, finally some images of the gorgeous art featured at the second Impossible Language on 1.18.14. 

1. The empty gallery, facing our brand? Logo? Kindly painted by April Pierce. The gallery for all three Impossible Language(s) has been the amazing Crosstown Arts. I’ve loved working for them and with them - I mean, srsly, they are doing good things for this city.

2. Left view of the gallery, featuring work from all three artists - Caitlin Hettich, Amelia Briggs, and April Pierce

3. Right view of gallery.

4. Right view again, square. 

5. Pigs’ ears, Caitlin Hettich. You heard me right.

6. Painting by April Pierce, who really brought the art/artists together for this. They are all working towards their MFA for this glorious stuff here at the University of Memphis and I have to say - they are making excellent work. Thanks y’all. 

PS. Don’t forget - four lovely poets will be reading 4.26.14 at story booth at 6pm. This is a new venue for us, but I’ve been there and I must say it’s looovely.

I am intensely lucky to work with talented, hard working artists who are willing to put together beautiful shows in one day. I don’t think it has been well-represented in the past just how lovely the art comes together for Impossible Language, but no one works harder than the artists. They come into the gallery hours before I do and make the space unique and gorgeous.

The top three photos are of embroidery pieces done by Meghan Vaziri and the next four are mixed media pieces by Mary Jo Karimnia. The final shot is the right wall of the gallery leading to the front wall. I could say a lot more about both of these women, but I’ll leave it at thanks. 


1. Jonathan Owen May

2. Laressa Dickey

3. Clay Cantrell, who collaborated with Laressa Dickey to create a music/poetry duet that caused Meghan Vaziri’s lightbox to flicker. Transcendence? I think so. 

4. Jessica Comola (& Tim Earley) 

5. Tim Earley

6. Coordinator and host Ashley Roach-Freiman tests the spotlight before the reading. 

7. Artist Meghan Vaziri cuts loose thread from her light box and embroidery installation Susannah and the Elders

8. Artists Meghan Vaziri and Mary Jo Karimnia looking luminous. 

9. As always, a wonderful audience. 

meet yr makers pt. 2

Memphis artists Meghan Vaziri and Mary Jo Karimnia use unconventional media: thread, tulle and seed beads, in the production of their artwork. Their use of nontraditional materials is both deliberate and thoughtful. The materials play with light, catching it, absorbing and reflecting it though gauzy fabric, masses of circles and transparent and opaque beads.
Each of Vaziri’s pieces references a specific story, which can be gleaned from the titles: Susanna and the Elders, Rangda, The CastleThe artist loves stories, particularly those moments in stories which seem more real than so-called real life.

Karimnia’s work grew out of a conventional mosaic practice and the use of small objects to construct an image. The figure is a strong presence in her work and relationships play an important role in the content. Her work is grounded in playfulness and Karimnia is observant of contrasts within both society and ourselves.

meet yr makers

THIS THURSDAY, these incredible poets + artists will be gracing lucky MEMPHIS @ CROSSTOWN ARTS. Gallery opens 6:30, reading begins 7:30. As usual, bring your $$$ to buy books to fill mouths and gas tanks.

Tim Earley is the author of three collections of poetry, Boondoggle, The Spooking of Mavens, and, most recently, Poems Descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery (horse less press, 2014). A limited edition chapbook, Catfish Poems, was recently published by Delete Press. His work has appeared in “Chicago Review,” “Colorado Review,” “jubilat,” “Dreginald,” “The Atlas Review,” “Caketrain,” and many other journals. A recipient of two Writing Fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, he lives and teaches in Oxford, Mississippi.

Jessica Comola’s poems have appeared in “The Journal,” “Painted Bride Quarterly,” “Everyday Genius,” “Anti-,” “Eccolinguistics,” and other publications. She currently lives in Oxford, Miss., where she serves as poetry editor of Yalobusha Review and is completing a master’s degree in fine arts in creative writing at The University of Mississippi.

Laressa Dickey is a poet, dancer, and somatic worker. Born in Tennessee, Dickey received her MFA in 2005 from the University of Minnesota. She is the author of four chapbooks from MIEL press ( including Companions, Corps of Discovery (2012) and A Piece of Information About His Invisibility (2012). Her work appears in CURA, Precipitate, Cerise Press, The Southern Women’s Review, Referential Magazine, Isotope, and other journals.

Clay Cantrell is an MFA candidate at the University of Memphis. He also records experimental folk songs.

Jonathan May grew up in Zimbabwe as the child of missionaries. He lives and teaches in Memphis, TN. His work has appeared in [PANK], Superstition Review, and Rock & Sling. He’s recently finished translating the play Dreams by Günter Eich into English.

Featuring artists Mary Jo Karimnia and Meghan Viziri