Saturday, December 21, 2013

More Cookies!

These are some of the cookies I brought to the Artists of the Mahoning Commons holiday sale at the Old Ward Bakery this Thanksgiving. The twice-yearly sale is all ambiance–painters, potters, woodworkers along the walls with tables full of the gorgeous and unique, need and whimsy. Music too, this year a string quartet, which really zings in the open, wooden spaces.

Chewy Cherry Oatmeal Cookies

1 ½ c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. cinnamon
2 ½ c. oats
1 c. butter
1 c. brown sugar
½ c. sugar
2 eggs
1 T. honey
2 tsp. vanilla
1 c. dried cherries
1 c. white chocolate chunks

Preheat oven to 350. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Mix flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon; stir in oats.
With electric mixer, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add honey and vanilla; beat until blended. Add flour mixture in two additions, beating until well combined. Stir in cranberries and chocolate chunks.
Drop dough onto prepared pans by heaping tablespoonfuls about 2” apart. Bake 9 to 11 min. Let cool on sheets 5 min.; transfer to rack to cool completely.
Makes 3 ½ dozen.

Almond-Oatmeal Wafers

1/3 c. flour
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ c. butter
½ c. sugar
2 T. corn syrup
1 tsp. vanilla
2 T. milk
½ c. oats
½ c. finely chopped almonds
3 squares semisweet chocolate

Preheat oven to 350. Line baking sheets with foil.
Mix flour, salt and baking powder. In medium bowl beat butter, sugar, corn syrup and vanilla until well blended. Stir in flour mixture alternately with milk until well blended. Stir in oats and almonds. Drop by teaspoonfuls 2” apart onto cookie sheets.
Bake 12-14 min. until edges are browned. Cool completely on sheet on rack. Remove from foil with thin-bladed spatula.
Melt chocolate over hot water. Drizzle from spoon over cookies. Chill until chocolate is set.
Makes 40

Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

10 T. butter
¾ c. brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
1 c. flour
3.4 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
1 ½ c. chocolate chips
¾ c. coarsely chopped macadamia nuts
¾ c. coarsely chopped pecans

Cream butter, sugar and vanilla. Add egg. Combine dry ingredients; add to creamed mixture and mix well. Fold in chocolate chips and nuts.
Drop by teaspoonfuls 2” apart onto greased baking sheets. Bake at 350 for 10-12 min. or until golden. Cool on a wire rack.
Makes 2 dozen.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

New poem up at

I have long loved this journal, centered on humankind’s relationship with the natural and built environment. The essays, fiction and poetry are juxtaposed with rich imagery. Sharks, monarchs, redwoods, ice, sprawl, November.

I wrote my poem about an abandoned house after walking around with a neighborhood development organization. We were identifying the properties in most critical need. I think a lot about the generation that has grown up with the bleeding, block after block of vacant houses built in the ‘30s and ‘40s, charmers, all. One of my students told me, “My mom says when she was growing up there was a family in every single house,” like it was the most remarkable thing.

This is a manmade disaster.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Call for Papers: College English Association of Ohio

The College English Association of Ohio
Spring Conference
Theme: English and the Arts
Youngstown State University
April 5, 2014

“Down the Hill.” Acrylic, charcoal on wall, by Dragana Crnjak

Call for papers

Submission deadline March 7, 2014                              

Calls for multidisciplinary approaches in higher education are once again on the rise as research shows the value of addressing subjects from many angles and shrinking budgets highlight the value of cooperation. Please join the discussion to share strategies for dialog and collaboration between English and our colleagues in the Arts and Humanities as we also make connections among ourselves.

Work by creative writers is welcome.

Critical Submissions

CEAO welcomes proposals for individual 15-20 minute sessions or 60 minute panel sessions from full-time faculty, graduate students, adjunct, and part-time faculty, as well as  undergraduate students or individuals living/working both inside and outside Ohio. Faculty, graduate students, and administrators from institutions of all sizes and types – public, private, community, technical – are welcome.

Possible topics include:

       Interdisciplinary programs and practices
       Connections between the arts and literature, composition,
professional writing/journalism, creative writing and linguistics
       Creative practices and methods in literature, composition,
professional writing/journalism, creative writing and linguistics
       Interdisciplinary initiatives within English departments
       Outreach to arts programs and broader community programs
       Professional development programs geared toward cooperation
       Digital humanities within and across the English curriculum
       Incorporating the arts into teaching pedagogy

Send proposals of 300 words or fewer to by March 7, 2014. All proposals submitted by the deadline will be considered. In addition, include your name, academic rank, university affiliation (if applicable), and a short 100-150 word biography in the email message. Please indicate if you will need technology for your presentation. Previously presented or published papers are not eligible.

Creative submissions

Email to, including an attachment of poetry or short fiction/nonfiction selections suitable for 20-minute reading, as well as a cover page with contact information, academic rank and affiliation (if applicable), and 100-150 biography. Creative submissions may be published or unpublished works.

Participants may submit both a critical paper and a creative work, limited to one entry in each category, sent together as separate attachments in the same email.

Please visit for additional information. Presenters must be registered by the deadline and plan to attend the conference.

As part of the CEAO Spring Conference’s commitment to promote interest and dialog between English and the Arts, the conference greeting will be held at the McDonough Museum of Art ( and, during the conference, participants may elect to take a free, docent-led tour of the Butler Institute of American Art ( on the Youngstown State University campus.

Monday, November 4, 2013

When is a Bummer good?

… When it’s a Bummer Fund!

In November, the Youngstown Cash Mob will shine the spotlight on a wonderful non-profit that helps responsible pet owners with the unexpected expense of a pet illness or injury. Named after Bummer, a strong-willed cat, The Bummer Fund has helped many families in our area.

We are grateful to the Artists of the Mahoning Commons for offering to host our event. Bummer Fund Director Sue Sexton will be there offering treats and information about the organization. You might consider giving a gift in someone’s name; Sue will make a card that you can pass on to your recipient. All donations will be appreciated.

Youngstown Cash Mob
Saturday, November 30 * Noon to 5:00 p.m.
The Bummer Fund
@ Artists of the Mahoning Commons Holiday Sale
1024 Mahoning Ave.

If you’d like to contribute but can’t make the cash mob, please visit them on Facebook or email at

This will be our last scheduled cash mob in 2013. What a terrific year!

A Year’s Worth of Cash Mobs!
The Bummer Fund
Imagine That! Emporium
Carol Freeman’s Baked Goods
Bang! Hair Studio
YSU Summer Festival of the Arts
Maggie’s Magic Muffins
Niki’z Pub
Walrus Subs
Pretty & Plus Shop
Santa Fe Southwestern Grill
GreyLand Gallery

We have eaten well, updated our wardrobes and hair, and picked up some fabulous art, all while showing support for the hard-working small business owners in our valley. We look forward to another year of spreading the word about these unique establishments.

We’re putting together the calendar for some special cash mobs for 2014. Some ideas we’re kicking around are a kid-friendly cash mob, and visits to areas outside of Youngstown. If you have an idea, let me know.

I have several people on my Christmas list, and I will buy from locally-owned businesses as much as I can. I hope you’ll make that pledge with me, as well. For your boss, or child’s teacher, or that god-love-her idealist in the family? Maybe a contribution in their name to The Bummer Fund? The good kind of bummer.

Thanks for helping us spread the word.

Cash mob: like flash mob, only the singing is optional.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Pushcart Prize Nomination

Every year, editors of literary journals are invited to nominate six pieces for the prestigious Pushcart Prize. A slim collection’s worth are chosen to appear in that year’s Pushcart Prize, Best of the Small Presses. As the editor of Whiskey Island Magazine, I looked forward to this holding up of what I thought was the finest work submitted to us. Taken together, the nominations have to be an excellent slice of what’s being written exactly now. The lesser known journals are championing emerging writers and our experienced voices are nominated by the powerhouse publications in the literary landscape.

I’m honored that my poem “Later We Read Toby Tyler” is among this year’s nominees. Editors Mark Webb and Molly McCormack included this poem for the inaugural issue of their journal A Narrow Fellow, the name taken from an Emily Dickinson poem about a snake, “A narrow fellow in the grass.” I met Mark Webb at the Summer Institute writing workshop at West Virginia University a few years ago, a hard-working poet who cares so much about his craft. No surprise this journal has hit the ground running, a first-rate publication with several tremendously experienced poets, and I’m grateful to be included.

Here’s an excerpt of the poem, based on a day at the circus with my young son. I thank my family members for their willingness to see our stories in poems, without any certificate for historical veracity.  We did read Toby Tyler or Ten Weeks with a Circus (1960) by James Otis Kaler, about a small boy who runs away with the circus and befriends the monkey Mr. Stubbs. Thanks to my mom for putting so many books into my hands when I was a kid.
At the time I wrote this poem, I was reading the work of James Harms, a fine poet whose work I admire, also a Narrow Fellow Pushcart nominee this year.

Later We Read Toby Tyler

And the stakes being pulled from the ground, they whoosh like a screen door settling shut.

Lee jumped up and ran–easy from the front row–
laughed and glanced back over his shoulder. I yelled

over the tinny band, big top full of parents, hundreds
of kids on bleachers that must have crisscrossed the Midwest.

Maybe it smelled like popcorn or hay and he wasn’t listening
anyway, just racing forward on those little blue sneakers,

laughing and looking back, heading toward the gaping opening
elephants and horses burst through.

As the Pushcart Prize nominations go out, it feels like a celebration of writing, itself. It’s a great community to be a part of.