Coming soon … poetry chapbook!

Just a quick happy Friday announcement: In June I’ll be publishing Every wrong could be righted with a slow dance, a collection of poems. It will be a limited print-run, with each copy numbered and for sale on my website. I’ll just leave this here:

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For those of you who don’t know, I have an MFA in poetry from Goddard College, where I studied with Chase Twichell and Michael Klein. I wrote my thesis on the natural metaphor and compared the work of Yosano Akiko and Walt Whitman. My poetry has been published in Malahat Review (Canada), FifeLines (Scotland), California Quarterly, Asheville Poetry Review, and Roach Motel.

I also feel compelled to share that I just ate a fortune cookie and it informs me, “Your sense of humor will soon cheer up a friend.” I’m not sure if my poetry chapbook is exactly rife with witticisms, but it does have several poems about kissing.



Music + words


The Low Counts onstage at Jack of the Wood

I recently told a new friend that if one doesn’t have children, one doesn’t have a way to mark the passing of time. (Only I didn’t say “one” because that would sound weird in casual conversation.) What I do have is a blog. Or various blogs. And it turns out that they mark not only the movement of years but my own waxing and waning interests and obsessions.

I used to write about music a lot. Like, all the time. I still love music, but my literary focus is more on, well, literature these days. And my music writing Tumblr page, NavyBlack, has languished over the past two years. But it’s kind of fun to look back at the shows I went to, the albums I listened to, the bands I thought about, the videos I watched, the singles I cheered for and the careers that have taken off since I was standing up-close-and-personal at intimate shows (Alabama Shakes, I’m looking at you).

I’m in the process of moving some of my favorite writing from NavyBlack to its own page on this website. You can find it here. Feel free to visit and browse.

Happy birthday Wilma Dykeman!

Wilma Dykeman was born in the Beaverdam Community (now part of Asheville) on May 20, 1920. In her writing, she explored the people and land of Appalachia. Her 18 books included The Tall Woman (1962), The Far Family (1966), and Return the Innocent Earth (1973). In her first book, The French Broad (1955), she “made the first full-fledged economic argument against water pollution (seven years before Rachel Carson),” according to


Dykeman sitting on the Clifton Heights balcony, early 1960s


“Sometimes it seemed that work was the only certainty, the only lasting truth in a human world of fitful change. Work and the mountains remained.” — Wilma Dykeman

Indie 500 flash fiction contest!

In case you hadn’t heard, Mountain Xpress has brought back its Indie 500 flash fiction contest. Submissions are open through Tuesday, May 31. For details and to enter a 500 word story, click here or scroll down.

HOUSE FP FictionContest

All writers are invited to submit a Western North Carolina-set story of up to 500 words. Prizes include $50 plus publication for 1st place and publication plus bragging rights for two runners up.

The final judges are Katey Schultz and Jake Bible. Continue reading

How to Talk to Rockstars turns 1!

Time flies. This time just a year ago How to Talk to Rockstars was making its debut.


Celebratory cookies were eaten, wine was imbibed, books were signed, and a tour was launched. I’m so glad that I got to share the journey with all of you and, since we can’t get together for an anniversary cupcake, I’ve decided to hold a giveaway.

All you need to do to win a copy of How to Talk to Rockstars is name your favorite rockstar, either in the comments field of this blogpost or on my Facebook page.

Two winners will be selected at random on Monday, May 30.

The shape of the hole you leave

Earlier this week I wrote about the farewell show of stephaniesid, a local band I’ve loved for more than a decade. You can read the full story here. I’m very passionate about local art, though, and I wanted to share some of my feelings about the connection between the musicians and fans on the Asheville music scene. Here’s a bit of that:


Photo by Michael Oppenheim Photography

To those who had been listening — remember stephaniesid classing up Bele Chere on the Battery Park stage? Launching Downtown After 5 during a warm spring rain? Workshopping an album’s worth of music during a monthlong residency at Isis Restaurant & Music Hall? — there was raw edge. The sound filled the auditorium, Tim Haney’s drum kit propelled each song forward, Chuck Lichtenberger’s piano was mostly lovely and occasionally wild. Vocalist Stephanie Morgan (who has always explored the capabilities of her voice, cajoled it like an untamed horse, with its danger and might equal to its grace and beauty) danced her way through each song, shaking the lyrics from out of her own being.

Because I can’t be objective — I love these musicians and want to cheer for them as much as I want to weep for them (read their personal blogs and Facebook posts if you want to know the story behind the band’s breakup) — I’ll say this: I wonder what shape hole the absence of stephaniesid will leave in the fabric of Asheville.

Not everyone will feel it. And no band is responsible for forever composing the soundtrack to the town that birthed it. Asheville is a launching pad for those who dare to dream and try and leap; those who leap must make that jump count. So Steph and Chuck and Tim are in mid-leap now. Those of us at Diana Wortham got to see them unfurl their wings and take to the air. I suspect everyone in the crowd felt the liftoff, our own hearts jarred and swayed in that break with gravity.

… Here’s the thing: We Asheville music fans have a special relationship with our bands. They’re our neighbors, our friends, our collaborators. We come to know them and we’re (knowingly or unknowingly) contributors to their sound. We move around, swimming in the same stream of inspiration. We share a language. We touch those who touch us. These songs aren’t just markers of a place in time, they actually tell us something about ourselves. So to love a band in Asheville really means something, because that love comes back to us. And to participate in that chain reaction, to feed art and be fed by it, is a miraculous thing.