Clarity, with a Certain Descriptive Flair: Interview with Nate Chinen

by Kristen Holt-Browning

This is some town: last year, I received a notification from the library that a book I had requested had come in and was ready for me to pick up. As I walked in, I happened to run into an acquaintance, a fellow PTA mom at our kids’ school. She asked what I was up to, and I replied, “Oh, just picking up this new book on jazz. I heard it’s good, thought I’d check it out.” She gave me a quizzical look and asked for the title. Huh, didn’t know she’s a fan of jazz, I thought as I replied, “Playing Changes by someone, I can’t remember his name.” “Nate Chinen,” she said. “He’s my husband!” Naturally, I forced her to put me in touch with him so I could get him to join us at Get Lit! And, I snagged an interview:

GLB: I’m interested in how your own background in music—if any—shaped and influenced your writing career. Have you ever played an instrument yourself? Do you think a background in music is necessary to write about music? Why or why not?

NCI don’t think musical training is essential for a music journalist, any more than practical filmmaking experience is necessary for a movie critic. But there’s no question that fluency in music is extremely useful, and probably a crucial advantage. My own experience bears this out. I grew up in a family of entertainers, and I gravitated to the drums at an early age. I studied jazz drumming and thought it might be my career. I went to college in a city with a deep jazz pedigree, throwing myself into the local scene. At the same time, I was studying poetry as an English major, and somehow this led to freelance work as a jazz critic for the local alternative weekly paper. As I learned on the job, I realized that my musical background informed what I did, often in invisible ways. It wasn’t just the technical stuff — it was an awareness of the culture on and off the bandstand, and the way jazz musicians related to the world. That still guides my work.

GLB: Personally, I find the idea of writing about another art form fascinating. What, do you think, is the key to writing well about music? What’s the value of writing about jazz for your reader—that is, how does reading about jazz enhance or interact with the experience of listening to jazz, either live or recorded? 

downloadWriting about music is a slippery topic, because there are a handful of different ways to do it well. For me, the best approaches always combine clarity with a certain descriptive flair, along with some tether to a broader context (historical, biographical, cultural). And I’m the sort of writer who always seeks out the music in language, so it’s a fun challenge to evoke the texture of a sound, or the feeling in a room. When I was working as a critic for the New York Times, a lot of my job involved going out to the clubs and reviewing a show — with the idea that I was documenting something for posterity, but also providing a service for people who might want to catch the engagement later in the week. Now that I write mainly for the Web, in an era when anyone can cue up a song within moments, I’ve adopted a slightly different approach. The way I see it, the role of a critic has shifted from that of “gatekeeper” to “guide.” A guide is someone who can provide helpful context, or point out subtle details you might have missed, or show you how things connect, or keep you in the know. Ideally, the writing enhances an experience of the music — along with letting people know that it’s out there in the first place.

static1.squarespaceGLB: The people reading this interview are lovers of books, but might not know much about jazz. Can you give us a few recommendations? What programs or artists should we be listening to and following?  

One suggestion I always give people who ask this question is: find out whether there’s a scene in your backyard, and start checking it out. Jazz is a music that really comes alive in close quarters, and in real time. Those of us who live in Beacon now are lucky to have so much vital improvised music around us: at Quinn’s, and the Howland Center, and across the river at The Falcon. Go check it out! You’ll be supporting artists directly, and you’re sure to get something out of it.

That said, I’d be remiss if I didn’t put in a plug for WBGO, where I serve as editorial director. It’s a 24-hour jazz radio station that streams online, and I produce a ton of content for the website, (One popular feature is Take Five, an annotated list of five notable new tracks, posted every Monday. Follow those recommendations for a while, and you’ll have a good handle on the scene.) As for artists to follow, I’ll restate my endorsement of the artists profiled in Playing Changes, each of whom has kept doing fantastic work since the book was published. I’m writing these answers from a train in Holland, where I attended a festival and saw another mind-blowing performance by singer Cécile McLorin Salvant and pianist Sullivan Fortner — the first two artists mentioned in the book, on page 1 of the Foreword. It’s exciting how much energy is on the scene now. If you’re just getting into the music, you picked a great time.

Nate Chinen was a critic for the New York Times for more than a decade, and he is currently the director of editorial content at WBGO, the global leader in jazz radio. His book Playing Changes: Jazz for the New Century, explores the many changes—ideological, technological, theoretical, and practical—that jazz musicians have learned to navigate since the turn of the century, touching on topics such as commercialized jazz education, the synergies between jazz and postmillennial hip-hop and R&B, and in-depth profiles of influential artists including the saxophonists Steve Coleman and Kamasi Washington, the pianists Jason Moran and Vijay Iyer, and the bassist and singer Esperanza Spalding.

He lives in Beacon with his wife and two daughters.

Nate will be our featured guest on November 10!

Beacon’s Own Nerds with Knives: Emily and Matt Clifton

Interview by Julie Chibbaro

Beacon, N.Y. is a small but fertile city. We have lots of fresh food and creative people. When those two come together, the results can be magical.

Emily and Matt Clifton are two such creative people. They’re not professional chefs, but they love to cook, and they’ve managed to share their love of cooking with a whole lot of people through instagram and their website, nerdswithknives, and now, through a new cookbook, Cork and Knife , which focuses on cooking with booze!


I found a moment to catch up with them and ask a few questions. We’ll get to hear more from them on October 13, at our Get Lit Beacon literary salon at Oak Vino in Beacon (5-8pm).

GLB: So, you wrote a cookbook! Where did the idea for this come from?

E & MC: We were actually approached by the publishers, Page Street, who have developed a pretty solid range of cookbooks and other non-fiction publications. I think they do a lot of outreach to established food bloggers where they feel the style would work well in book format. We went through some ideas over phone calls and after one conversation where a lot of our ideas were gently rejected (mostly because they already had similar books in the planning) we were asked if we had any other thoughts and, after we shared a slightly panicked look, Emily said “well . . . we do cook a lot with booze” and that was that.

GLB: How did your audience find out about you?

E & MC: It was a slow process! The first year or so of writing for the blog, our audience was pretty much just our mums and any polite friends we could convince to visit the site and leave a nice comment. We weren’t taking it seriously at all so we posted very sporadically (a no-no), didn’t really have any kind of theme (another nope), and our photos were pretty terrible (not a great look for a food blog).

Around the second year as we got more into it, we began to find our voice, and Emily upped her photography game so we also began to develop a visual style. We learned a lot about the web development and all the social media things that you need to do in order to expand your reach. At one point we got a ping from a forum in Hungary that linked to one of our recipes and there appeared to be a very energetic conversation about it. We still don’t know what they were saying, but it was a lovely signal that we’d expanded beyond the circle of people who could pick us out of a line up.

GLB: Do you follow any other cooking shows? What are some faves?

E & MC: We would (and still do) watch anything with Anthony Bourdain. He had such a unique way of seeing deep into the heart of so many communities through their food. He showed us that food encompasses everything about a culture; what it values, what it finds pleasurable, what its politics are.

A Chef’s Life on PBS is great. We love Vivian Howard and made a special trip to visit both her restaurants in Kinston, NC, last year. It’s less a ‘cooking’ show than it is a portrait of a talented and charming chef going back to the food of her roots, specifically eastern North Carolina. She visits farmers, cooks with elderly ladies who’ve been making the same dish for 60 years and stresses out about having two very busy restaurants. It’s wonderful. Similarly, Mind of a Chef, also on PBS, showcases a wide range of creative chefs and their behind-the-scenes recipe development.

Samin Nosrat’s “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat” was an incredible explosion of knowledge, passion and just throwing her heart into cooking. She’s one of those people who is so enthusiastic about what she’s doing that it’s infectious. You can’t want watch her and not become a better cook. Or at least a better eater.

We’re excited to come and talk with you at Get Lit!

Matt and Emily live in Beacon, New York, with their dog Arya; cats Trixie and Ziggy; and variable numbers of chickens (the count is currently three).

Art is Patriotism: a Discussion with Playwright Mona Z. Smith

by Jody Strimling-Muchow

She’s talking and laughing with the girl behind the counter when I walk into the coffee shop. Traffic has threatened to make me late, and I’m feeling a little frazzled, but she turns to me with a smile that is so sunny that any anxiety evaporates on contact. Mona Z. Smith is a delight to be around.

We take our coffee to a corner table and start chatting like old friends, almost before I can get my phone set up to record. Mona was a journalist before becoming a playwright, an old hat at interviews (admittedly a part of the above-mentioned anxiety), so we start with how that came to be.

MZS Headshot 2017 B&W 2

MZS: I grew up in a town of 62 people. One main street, with no stop lights or stop signs. But there was a weekly newspaper. I was the manager for the baseball team, mostly because, in a town that small, you’re related to almost everyone, and I wanted to get out and meet other people. The editor of the paper didn’t want to go to all the games all over, so he said “Hey, you keep the stats anyway, do you want to start writing stories, I’ll pay you ten bucks a story.” Which was huge money back then!

From there I went to the University of Nebraska, which has a fabulous journalism program. I had some great mentors there and ended up, right after graduation, at the Miami Herald. My first ever plane ride was out to Miami. My first story was the execution of a teenager whose body was found floating in a canal – it was the cocaine wars. This was the early 1980’s. It was not at all like Miami Vice. It was ugly and not safe, and I was one of six police reporters, by far the most junior, so I was working the late-night shifts. So it was pretty grueling training, especially for someone who was from a town of sixty-two people. But I was in my twenties, young, stupid and brave. After almost four years I decided I needed to take a break. I just got tired of writing about all the horrible things that human beings are capable of doing. So I told my boss I wanted to take a sabbatical. We arranged for me to be gone for three months and I went to Paris for four years. Never went back to the Herald. And that’s where I discovered the theatre.

GLB: Why Paris?

MZS: There were various issues involved, including a guy. I think we were both running away from various things at the time, looking for a cool-off period. He was there to write the great American novel. I thought I would just be stringing for various newspapers while I was there, but I met these actors, and they really changed my perspective. I saw everything I possibly could while I was there. Art and architecture and theatre. I soaked it up like a dried out old sponge. I had never been exposed to these things in my tiny town. It was a shining moment to see all of the good things that human beings are capable of creating. And I thought that I couldn’t go back to writing about all the horrible things. Not that theatre doesn’t take that up, but there’s just something so positive about the act of creation, even when you’re dealing with some of the darker forces in human nature. It just felt like where I needed and wanted to be.

After four years, we found ourselves expecting a baby, and so we moved back to the States. So suddenly I was a new mom, which is certainly an act of creativity too, and managing to write and get ready to apply to Columbia Graduate School of the Arts. My daughter was ten months old when I started that three-year program to retrain myself as a playwright.

Pretty quickly, I realized that that was not a great pathway to making money. Things between me and my baby’s father weren’t going well, and I was looking at being a single mom with a career in the arts. So I went to the head of my department and told him that I needed some kind of work study, so that I would have the skills to get a job when I graduated. I ended up working at Second City for two years, and then in my third year Andrei Serban invited me to come work on a production of Tales of Hoffman at the Vienna Opera House. That experience helped me figure out how to be a practicing artist, have a career, be a single parent and somehow make it work. I leveraged that experience in non-profit administration to have a series of jobs for about twenty years and continued to write books and plays on the side. It’s not easy, especially as a woman. We tend to end up having to manage not only children but extended family, juggling all of those plates. But I managed to get a new play up every four to five years. Which seems like forever, especially when I watched younger, unencumbered, unattached writers who seemed to put out a new play every year. And I was jealous sometimes. But my daughter needed to come first.

I’m someone, I still have one foot in that 1960’s traditional world that I grew up in, and then the world that I’m also trying to inhabit, that says “it’s perfectly fine for you to be a playwright, pursue a career, be a creative. There’s a quote by Mary Oliver that I really love:

My responsibility is not to the ordinary, or the timely. It does not include mustard, or teeth. It does not extend to the lost button, or the beans in the pot. My loyalty is to the inner vision, whenever and howsoever it may arrive. If I have a meeting with you at three o’clock, rejoice if I am late. Rejoice even more if I do not arrive at all.

GLB: Your work is really about big things. There’s a lot of research that goes into it. What draws you to that?

MZS: I think that’s informed by my initial career as a journalist. Even though it’s important to me to not write about the horrible things that people can do, I’m very aware that from the moment I started writing plays I was writing about the human condition, and often our failings, specifically where our American democracy falls short of its ideals. That goes back to early inspirations. I wouldn’t have been a journalist if I hadn’t lived through Watergate. Woodward and Bernstein were superheroes to me. I feel that one of the roles of an artist is to be the Greek chorus, to call attention, and say, in a beautiful, compelling way, “we need to examine this. We need to look at our mistakes.” We should come out of the theatre feeling changed, and emboldened to make courageous choices and to ask others to live up to the ideals we all share as citizens of a democracy. That’s patriotism to me.

Canada LeeSometimes I’m writing outside of culture. For instance, I wrote a book about Canada Lee, a Black actor and activist who was blacklisted during the McCarthy era, and whose death was attributed to that blacklisting. And I wrote a play about Japanese American soldiers during World War Two, and the racism they faced. But I have chosen to do that on occasions where I felt like the story really deserved wider attention and just wasn’t getting it.

GLB: What are you working on now?

NEW FIRE LOGO 600x375_3MZS: My current project is actually the first full-length play I wrote in graduate school, Fire in a Dark House. But I picked it up again because it’s about anti-immigrant fervor during World War One. It looks at the impact of that on two families in a small town on the Great Plains. It’s based partly on research I’ve done into my own family history, one side of which is German American. It looks at the effects of propaganda and media in terms of shaping that anti-immigrant sentiment, so it’s really a timely piece. I actually did my first television pitch for this project, with my long-time collaborator and writing partner on this project, Traci Mariano, to a room full of people my daughter’s age. I was so nervous, but I did it, because I never want to stop learning!

Mona and Traci

GLB: So you start with a big idea, like the Japanese American battalion, for instance. And obviously in the case of your current project you had a personal connection, but when you don’t, how do you break it down and make it personal, make it theatre?

MZS: I do a lot of interviews and listen to a lot of oral histories, so that I can hear people talking about their stories in their own language. And then I read and research and try to immerse myself until I land on a story, a voice, a circumstance, a plot point. Something I know I can build around. Something that feels close to me, that I can live with for a while. Because if it doesn’t really touch you, then how are you going to live with it for, in my case, the four or five years it takes to get a project done, working nights and weekends and when my kids are in bed. Which is when it gets done.

Fire in a Dark House will be read on October 26th, at 7:30 p.m. at the Paramount Hudson Valley Theatre in Peekskill (more information in the link).

Observing the Living World: Interview with Melanie Challenger

By Julie Chibbaro

In my day job, I work as an editor for a bioethics research institute called The Hastings Center, in Garrison, N.Y. I spend much of my day reading the thoughts and analyses of multidisciplinary scholars who offer possible solutions to some of our most difficult ethical problems, like how to best face the technology that can change babies before they’re born, or how to deal with human research issues in an increasingly corporatized medical environment. I often get to meet interesting people at work, both staff and visiting scholars.

My author guest today is Melanie Challenger, who will visit the Center in November.


She is one of those unusually talented people: a singer, a writer, a researcher, a philosopher. She is relentlessly curious about nature and science, and manages to incorporate her passions into a field of study that is very much her own. I had the chance to ask her a few questions about her work, her visit to the Center, and some of her adventures.

GLB: What is the connection for you between the arts and science and nature?

MC: I have sort of wandered off course and ended up accidentally in what can loosely be called environmental philosophy. I didn’t train in philosophy, something that I was very anxious about for a while. Now I see it as its own quiet advantage. I began life as a student of English literature and language, and went from university into the arts, assuming I would be a creative writer. I wrote and published early poems, which led to collaborations with composers as a librettist. During my teens and twenties, I had also trained as a singer, and worked in education departments in classical music, so that was very much in my blood. Now, whatever muse I once had has also wandered off, although I continue to work in music. But this early training has allowed me a fleshed out understanding of different forms of human expression, and also a clearer idea of where one form ends and another must be taken up. When I began to battle with creative writing, I realized that I wasn’t anywhere near as interested in character or narrative as I was in ideas. I was always using writing to try to understand concrete ideas about what the world is and what relationship we can have with reality. It took me a long time to realize that – in my case – I couldn’t get the arts to sharpen the lens hard enough on the subjects and questions that interested me. Perhaps this was lack of talent. If I’d been Kafka, such failures might have been fewer. But even Kafka can only offer a prism through which questions can be shattered and given witness. When it comes to making real headway in very gnarly questions like what is a category like wildness? On what basis might it have value? The kinds of questions I realized I was desperately seeking answers to, nonfiction offered an easier way to lay bare some tentative answers. Initially, I dipped my toe in using creative nonfiction, which is really personal essay. This is a very effective way of reaching people with complex science or philosophy, who don’t necessarily want to read through technical ideas. But even this was a distraction for me. And while my latest book does contain the presence of me and the odd anecdote, I have tried to find a style now that is both accessible but much more directly about the ideas. So I guess what I’m saying is that the creative arts, humanities like philosophy, and science are often all interested in similar fundamental questions about the nature of reality. But how they can answer the questions are necessarily different. They are not alternatives to one another. Each mode places limits on what can be understood or expressed. But they are leaky containers, with the ideas from each freely flowing from one to the other, influencing the content of each. My only regret is that we still live in a world where science is reported as if it has anything to say about meaning. Science can give us some of the content for meaning, but the job of making sense of the value of science lies squarely with the arts. Sorry . . . that’s an awfully long and still impoverished answer!

mel book.jpg

GLB: What made you want to travel?

MC: There are two reasons I like to travel, one nakedly selfish and the other more sensible. The first is that I am a keen amateur naturalist and I derive an immeasurable amount of pleasure (and, I hope, some insights) from spending as much time as possible observing the living world. I’m lucky that I live in the middle of a forest down several miles of rough track. My neighbors are goshawks, hares, butterflies, stouts, adders. The only visible house is several miles away. We own only about 11 acres but we’re sat in around 30,000 acres, and even though this is managed forest, it still means that every day is an observation of the nonhuman world. But when I try to develop ideas about value or hypotheses about human nature or whatever, I think it makes an enormous difference to have at your hands a more intimate experience of other species and natural processes, their behavior and constraints. But I also travel to see people. A portion of my work is probably what we would call an anthropology of science. I have always been compelled not just to read other people’s technical papers but to go and talk with the person who wrote them (assuming they’re alive). I like to see the environments in which ideas are formed and the individual personalities doing the writing. This is what journalists also do, but in my case, it’s not about giving a personal touch to the story but a more specific, ethnographic way of making sense of cultures of knowledge. I continue to find this a powerful way of seeking out what information might help in answering very broad or complex questions. But it also can help prevent someone like me, who is doing very interdisciplinary work without being an expert, from impoverishing another person’s ideas or woefully misunderstanding them.

GLB: Can tell us about your work at The Hastings Center?


MC: I recently started as a member of the UK’s Nuffield Council on Bioethics. Bioethics is something that fascinates me, because it lies at the intersection of practical applications like laws and ethics, and the analysis of ideas about the life sciences. But I have really noticed, as I’ve worked more in bioethics, that environmental philosophers are curiously underrepresented. Now this, to me, is both curious and very important. There are panels working on subjects like, for instance, gene-editing or gene-drive for malaria eradication (via mosquito control) or synthetic biology, as another example, that have almost no expertise or even, in some cases, interest in the fundamental intellectual history that might shed light on questions of nature, ecology, or the value of other species. I am really passionate about trying to correct this, and looking at consensus building in philosophy will be the focus of my time at the Center.


Melanie Challenger studied English literature and language at Oxford University. She published a sequence of poems, Galatea, which won a 2005 Eric Gregory Award and was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. Her first nonfiction book, On Extinction: How we became estranged from nature was published in 2011. It was selected by Publishers Weekly as one of the best nonfiction books of 2012. She was the recipient of a Darwin Now Award for her research among Canadian Inuit and the Arts Council International Fellowship with British Antarctic Survey for her work on the history of whaling. Her latest book, How To Be Animal: A new history of what it means to be human, is forthcoming in 2020.


Putting Ghosts to Rest with Love: Interview with Catherine Arra

by Kristen Holt-Browning

When I started writing poetry again a couple of years ago, after a decade-long lapse , one of the first people I looked up online was Catherine Arra, my high-school creative writing teacher. I was happy to see that she has continued teaching–and impressed to learn that she has published several books, including her latest collection, Writing in the Ether. I felt like a nervous, eager student all over again as I asked Ms. Arra (I’m still getting used to calling her by her first name!) her thoughts on poetry in relation to prose, and how teaching and publishing interact with and live alongside the practice of poetry.


GLB: I’m always interested in why poets choose to, or feel compelled to, write in verse rather than prose. Your most recent book, Writing in the Ether, seems to be a deep exploration of lineage and family history, how generations interact and how their choices continue to reverberate through the years. Why did you want to write a book of poems on these topics? What does verse allow you to do that prose perhaps wouldn’t? 

CA: I think all poets write at least one book that explores their own genesis. Writing in the Ether is mine. I wanted to experiment with writing memoir in a nonlinear manner, and in both poetry and prose. Some content naturally worked better as poetry, other content as prose. For the most part, I allowed the writing to choose its genre.

Originally, Writing in the Ether contained seven additional prose pieces, but this made the book lengthy and difficult to publish. Most small literary presses want collections of poems or short stories, not a hybrid; however, I was determined to keep the mix. Writing in the Ether was revised, resequenced, and renamed four times over four years before it reached its present form.

What motivated me to write this book were specific memories or gaps in memory that haunted me. I wanted to go back to find lost threads, weave them into my history, and put some ghosts to rest—with love. Poetry worked best for the more elusive memories by enabling me to offer essence with narrative, to render people and experiences in a series of dots—much like connect-the-dot coloring books, wherein the dots are connected with lines in order to create a composite image. For me, the dots became a map too, and the poems specific markers, tributes, or prayers. In many ways the creative work of “writing in the ether,” as the title suggests, became a healing process of acceptance and letting go.

GLB: Although you removed some prose pieces, you did retain several of them. I’m not sure if I should call them “prose poems,” or if perhaps “mini-memoirs” ismore accurate. How do you categorize the prose pieces in Writing in the Ether (if you do at all)? And why are these works written in prose rather than a poetic form?

CA: I would place the prose pieces in the genre of flash creative nonfiction, since they range from approximately 400 to 1,500 words. They are nonfiction memoir; and yet they possess the lyrical quality, sense imagery, and compression of statement characteristic of poetry. The six prose pieces in Writing in the Ether didn’t work as poems and needed a more fluid narrative form, with dialogue.

GLB: This is your fourth book. You also have two upcoming books (Women in Parentheses) (Aldrich Press/Kelsay Books, 2019) and Her Landscape: Poems Based on the Life of Mileva Marić Einstein (Finishing Line Press, 2020). You also taught high school Creative Writing for twenty years; now you teach part-time and run writing groups. How did, and does, teaching affect your writing process? How do you find publishers and publishing opportunities as a poet?

CA: All true! I taught high school English for thirty-four years, Creative Writing for twenty years, and I’ve been writing poetry since I was a teenager. As a teacher, I made it my practice to write with my students. I’ve always believed that teachers should model what they teach, to show as well as tell, and to do what they teach. For me, that meant being a reader, thinker, and writer. I usually wrote with my Creative Writing students and completed the exercises and assignments I gave them through units in poetry, short story, and drama. I learned with and from them through the collaborative workshop style of the course. Consequently, I produced folders and folders of raw material.

When I retired in 2012, I finally had the time to revise, edit, and submit that work for publication. My four published books are a blend of old and new material. My forthcoming book, (Women in Parentheses), is a similar blend, while Her Landscape: Poems Based on the Life of Mileva Marić Einstein is entirely new poetry that was written in a burst last winter, though I think Mileva’s story has been inside me since the mid-1990s, when I first learned about her and her life as the first wife of Albert Einstein.

For me, Her Landscape was another challenge, this time to write a book of persona poems based on research.

Now my folders are empty, and I’m writing new poems about wildlife, particularly the deer family that coexists with me. Like the Mileva poems, the deer poems seem to grab me and insist that I write them. I comply, not knowing what will become of them. For now, I’m enjoying the creative surge and ride.

About publishing:

Getting poems or manuscripts published is another type of work, which requires reading literary journals, poetry books and reviews, networking, subscribing to email lists that offer calls for submissions, and doing the research necessary to find small presses and journals that will likely be a good fit for my work.

I strongly suggest joining a good writing critique group for valuable feedback as you move through the stages of drafting and revising, and before you submit work for publication. When I couldn’t find a writing group near me, I started one at the Stone Ridge Library (in Ulster County, NY) and modeled the group after the writer’s critique circle I used in my Creative Writing classes.

No one lives or writes in a vacuum, and it’s important to work with other writers, to test your work on an audience, and to be willing to accept critical feedback. And, finally, it’s important to accept rejection from publishers (there will be lots of it) and to not lose your focus, intent, or your love for writing.

Catherine Arra is a former high school English and writing teacher. Since leaving the classroom in 2012, her poetry and prose have appeared in numerous literary journals online and in print, and in several anthologies. She is the author of Writing in the Ether (Dos Madres Press, 2018) and three chapbooks, Tales of Intrigue & Plumage (FutureCycle Press, 2017), Loving from the Backbone (Flutter Press, 2015), and Slamming & Splitting (Red Ochre Press, 2014). She is a native of the Hudson Valley, where she teaches part-time and facilitates local writing groups.

Catherine will be our featured guest on August 11!