Category Archives: Blog

Writing Kid Characters by Erika Raskin

Photo of group of kids from chest height down
 

One time I was on a literary panel and the interviewer asked why I chose to have three kid characters in Best Intentions. I sat there thinking (all eyes on me), ‘Eek, is he saying that was too many? Should I have practiced authorial birth control?’ But I pulled myself together and admitted I didn’t really understand the question. The moderator said that in his experience writers find children so difficult to craft and differentiate they generally stick to two juveniles per adult tome. I was surprised by this, because a. I’d never noticed and … Continue reading Writing Kid Characters by Erika Raskin

Meet Your Local Poets: Spotlight on Mary McCue


 

Meet Your Local Poets: Spotlight on Mary McCue Ivy resident poet Mary McCue is originally from Norfolk, Virginia. For many years she focused on her beloved violin and played in chamber ensembles. When hand surgery took her ability to play professionally, she moved to Charlottesville and studied poetry through coursework by teachers such as Charles Wright and Gregory Orr. Q: Tell us how you began writing poetry. Mary:  I wrote poems in the beginning to describe pleasure or gratitude. I remember writing one to my dentist as thanks for never hurting me. My family loved … Continue reading Meet Your Local Poets: Spotlight on Mary McCue

Insouciance by Laura Marello

Photo of royal penguin with its chick
 

I just wrote a new book of poems called Celestial Navigation. One of my favorite stanzas says: Penguins man the caps, huddle against the wind, sheltering downy chicks flaunting their deep insouciance their paradoxical grittiness. For a while now, revising the book, I have thought I should look up “insouciance” because I am not really sure I know what it means. So, I look it up: definition: casual lack of concern; indifference. synonyms: nonchalance, unconcern, lack of concern, indifference, heedlessness, relaxedness, calm, calmness, equanimity, coolness, composure, casualness, ease, easygoing attitude, airiness, carefreeness, frivolousness, carelessness; informal, … Continue reading Insouciance by Laura Marello

“Minimalist” Photos of Ricardo Elisiário


 

  Photography for me started as a hobbyist’s yearning for perfectionism and how to depict it using one of the simplest formats—the photograph—rather than any real try at becoming a professional. Over five years ago, Instagram and an inexpensive smartphone paved my way into this realm of scenes, colors and shapes. Mostly my most private bliss when capturing the moments led me to continue and eventually get my first and only DSLR, the beginner’s Nikon D3300 and its standard kit lens. And although as a photographer it’s difficult to rely exclusively on the art in … Continue reading “Minimalist” Photos of Ricardo Elisiário

Learning to Limit Deathbed Regrets by Susan Kille

Cross-stitched pair of lungs
 

Have you heard what dying people are said to regret? Working too much. Spending too little time with family and friends. Not speaking up when someone is out of line. Postponing joy. These are real regrets. I know this. In late August four summers ago, I was preparing to die. I was in an ICU where the force of high-flow oxygen reminded me of standing on a cliff in Ireland being firehosed by wind that travels unimpeded across the Atlantic. Pulmonary fibrosis triggered by mold secretly lurking behind the drywall of our Brooklyn brownstone caused … Continue reading Learning to Limit Deathbed Regrets by Susan Kille

A Challenge is a Challenge is a Challenge by Martha Woodroof

Child staring up tall staircase
 

  To me, being alive means dealing with one challenge after another—some glorious, others not so much. My current, decidedly inglorious challenge is having chemotherapy for metastatic cancer. I think of chemo as Paleolithic, micro-inch cavepeople marching around my cancerous body, brandishing clubs and whacking every cell in sight. There’s one! Healthy? Malignant? Who cares? Whack! Among the whacked healthy cells were the ones that hold onto hair. After the first chemo session, I went from having what one friend described as “long hippy hair” to being all-but-bald. So being who I am—a determined realist—I … Continue reading A Challenge is a Challenge is a Challenge by Martha Woodroof

The Sacred Delirium of Love: Collages by Bill Wolak


 

               I’m drawn to the wild juxtapositions that collage creates. I love the idea that anyone armed only with scissors and glue can construct an image that’s as fresh as a dream and just as startling. Also, I’m attracted to those images that are hypnotic and hallucinatory; the ones that are striking, irresistible, kinky, and unforgettable. One aspect of nature that is especially interesting to me is sexuality in all its complexity and manifestations. Therefore, many of my collages deal with the embodiments of desire, the markers of attraction, and the sacred … Continue reading The Sacred Delirium of Love: Collages by Bill Wolak

The Pulse(s) of February by Susan Shafarzek

Photo of fancy chocolates
 

The other day I heard somebody use the phrase, “the dead of winter,” and I thought, wow, it surely is. Punxsutawney Phil to the contrary—nor yet the strangely benign weather we’ve been having here in central Virginia, it’s the nadir, the bottom, the halfway mark. As dead as winter gets. Dark in the morning, dark in the evening and the trees still putting scratch marks on the sky. People are apt to scream for no reason, dogs are restless. Cats stare out the window with a patient but hopeless look. If you have a canary, … Continue reading The Pulse(s) of February by Susan Shafarzek

Capturing Clouds by Fred Wilbur

Photo of clouds in blue and orange sky
 

“I change, but cannot die.” Shelly “The Cloud” As my wife and I are on our morning walk, I often comment on the clouds above: the constant change they float themselves through, the subtlety of hues they dress in, the animal shapes and deities we conjure. And one day I must have said I’d like to paint clouds once too often—forget that I am not much more than an occasional house painter— because next birthday my kind and, no doubt, loving wife presented me with an online course simply titled Painting Clouds. With tabletop easel, … Continue reading Capturing Clouds by Fred Wilbur

Walking the Via Dolorosa of the Confederacy by Alex Joyner

Photo of sign of Appomattox Court House National Historic Park
 

Once I spent an afternoon at Appomattox walking the Via Dolorosa of the Confederacy. The Richmond-Lynchburg Stage Road is mostly just a trace now but this is the scene of the last march. Here’s where Bobby Lee rested beneath an apple tree (Gethsemane) waiting for word from Grant. Here’s where he met his troops after the surrender (And Lee wept). Here’s the long hill to the surrender ground lined with Union troops—ordered by Chamberlain to offer a profound salute to the beaten rebels. It’s all here in Appomattox—the gracious, merciful victors and the humble, honorable … Continue reading Walking the Via Dolorosa of the Confederacy by Alex Joyner