Diary Book Cover Sneak Preview

Image

The cover! All who have followed my postings of Esther Small’s diary excerpts will be happy to know that the full 1886 transcribed diary will be going off to the printer any day now. This slim book will include my introduction and afterword detailing the process of transcribing the diary and researching Esther and her family. I also put Esther’s personal writing in the context of other 19th century women’s diaries. This is intended to be a companion, of sorts, to Church of Needles as the diary and Esther’s story inspired an entire section of poems in the voices of Esther and her family, as well as a fictional tangent based on a real giantess who lived in Esther’s town during her lifetime. The diary will be available for sale at my readings and perhaps on my Etsy site. Church of Needles can be purchased now through Red Mountain Press and on Amazon.

I have to thank the team at Small Batch Books in Amherst for their great work on the diary, from copyediting and cover design to top notch advice. They’ve impressed me every step of the way.

Poem Inspired by a Photo Taken by Itinerant Photographer

Image

Image From New England Reflections 1882-1907 Photographs by the Howes Brothers

The following persona poem is based on the above photograph and appears in my upcoming collection Church of Needles, officially published on May 30 but available for pre order right now at Red Mountain Press and Amazon.com

 

 

BLACK WOMAN STANDS FOR THE ITINERANT PHOTOGRAPHER

Said in town, a gentleman wished to see me.

Early April, the yard still pocked
where the dull cow stands
blinking back a sharp sun,

winter’s waste laid bare around us.

Trees haven’t yet recalled their leaves
and a cold drizzle slicks the pump handle.
This far north, spring storms still surprise.
April brings a slackened grip, a brighter light
to view winter’s leavings: not warmth, not flowers.

I’m wondering Sir, why you want to see me.

They say in town, you carry a box with an eye and wish to see everyone.
I think they’re mistaken if they believe

you wish to see me, my soiled apron,
dress rubbing bare at the elbows, the scar
I wear down one side of my face.
But this is New York where I am free
to live in one room beneath a low-slung roof, to plot my days and garden.

So, if you still wish to see me, I ask
that you see me true, not seated in repose beneath that pretty oak.

I don’t often take time to rest. See me standing
beside the stones I’ve heaped
to build my own wall,
the hens a blur of flight. Please,
let the light refuse to soften me.