Descent & Other Poems receives 2017 Luschei Prize Honorable Mention

Source: Descent & Other Poems receives 2017 Luschei Prize Honorable Mention

Descent & Other Poems also was listed as a favorite on LitHub.


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Upon Hearing that “Bread is the Way Sun Enters Our Body”

Upon Hearing that “Bread is the Way Sun Enters Our Body” by Dennis Camire

I feel this need to knead on my knees

    And praise the daily “tran-sun-stantiation”

Of sun into whole grain calories via

         T he Holy ghost of yeast. And kudos

To pepperoni pizza dough now morphing

              Into these acned teens of Helios

While the bread sticks become nothing-less

       T han batons of this God-force handed off

To hungry loved ones so, in mere contemplation

             Of a “single grain of whole wheat,”

T hey might finally cross the

              Finishing line into the divine!

Oh yes, bless the shamans of our bakers

          Keeping those stone oven temples’ fired

To coax golden Goddesses inside honey wheat

    To continue illumining the skyline of every slice!

And after we caffeinate conversations

         By singing how each sweet portly, pastry

“Is just sun made up in so much make-up”—

    Or by declaring “the solar flare of each éclair”—


Or by shimmying in kind to “the northern lights’

           Cosmic cursive espied in the marbled rye”—

Consider, finally, the sourdough’s soul’s

               Own second rising when musing

How that same sun beams through

           T he doughy body’s own celestial abode

So our neurons feel the same heat

            As those distant rings of Neptune do—

And our membranes glow for the same reason

           As any of the solar system’s marvelous moons—

And sun, bread, and body s are now just one

              String-laden cosmos-in-expansion—

Heeding us, surely, to feel the vitamin d of delight

            As her hand, say, alights and tans your thigh—

Or to know the solar radiation of a soul

          So freely giving love over to your blue being—

Which fathoms, now, how that sacred moment

             Of silence before breaking open the loaf

Is heightened by looking into one another’s eyes

             And recognizing all the sunshine in disguise.


From Combed by Crows, poems by Dennis Camire


A favorite poem by Emily Dickinson, born 12/10/1830

Happy Birthday Emily

In Winter in my Room
I came upon a Worm—
Pink, lank and warm—
But as he was a worm
And worms presume
Not quite with him at home—
Secured him by a string
To something neighboring
And went along.

A Trifle afterward
A thing occurred
I’d not believe it if I heard
But state with creeping blood—
A snake with mottles rare
Surveyed my chamber floor
In feature as the worm before
But ringed with power—

The very string with which
I tied him—too
When he was mean and new
That string was there—

I shrank—”How fair you are”!
Propitiation’s claw—
“Afraid,” he hissed
“Of me”?
“No cordiality”—
He fathomed me—
Then to a Rhythm Slim
Secreted in his Form
As Patterns swim
Projected him.

That time I flew
Both eyes his way
Lest he pursue
Nor ever ceased to run
Till in a distant Town
Towns on from mine
I set me down
This was a dream.


from Never Completely Awake 

Poem videos can be seen on the book page above.

Beautiful               by Martina Reisz Newberry

for my Aunt Jan who is . . .

Beautiful isn’t it,
the way some beaches are sand
and some are small, smooth rocks and
the way the water bends like molten silver
when the weather is hot and
it’s late in the afternoon?
the way the sky tears down the middle
for lightning and mends again later on
how breath turns white in the cold and
how the world’s roads move across the land
no matter what
Beautiful, isn’t it,
the way love rhymes with glove and
silk rhymes with milk and
rage rhymes with cage?
the way the light stays on and on
during the Summer months and
a different kind of
when Fall makes it fade early
the cleanliness of bones in moonlight
when the desert is silent and without wind
the cool rind of a honeydew melon
and the perfume inside it inviting taste
the way a woman hums to herself
while she gets dressed and
sighs one hundred sighs
when she undresses
the accident of passion,
the brush of hands, then mouths,
then bodies doing more than brushing—
flesh on flesh
to music older than the stars
the smell of soap
and burning wood
and frying onions
and a diner far up the road
that you didn’t know was there
Beautiful, isn’t it,
the smooth red bark
of the manzanita plant and
a long teardrop earring
that touches a woman’s neck
and how Beautiful
a full cupboard
jars of delicious things
There is the Beautiful
ice sculpture
with perfect pink shrimp surrounding
and the Beauty of buttered potatoes
Beautiful the strange trailing roots
of water lilies and
the zippers on dark leather jackets
the figurine
of the two-headed saint and
the red satin lining
of the box it came in
a new book, a new shirt,
new sheets, a new pen.
the lover that used to matter,
the one that matters now,
and the ones that never mattered
a pain that stops,
a cut that heals,
a scar that was earned,
not inflicted
a hand sitting in for
your mother’s hand
a dance, a smile sitting in
for the ones your mother
could not give
Did I say how Beautiful
is the purity of a
man’s shaved head
or the long, dark hair,
a man might have—like
a river down his back
a drinking glass so clean
it looks like water
holding itself
a runner, a cyclist,
birthday cake
a childhood that might
never have been but was
the way you read
or hear this poem—
your eyes wishing
for everything,
wanting this to be one thing
that will not be content,
one thing
that will not be captured.

What I would Give Up

What I Would Give Up

I would give up all the words in the world
but not words that open doors
to unknown rooms.
I would give up all the rooms in the world
but not this room
where I heard music for the first time.
I would give up all the music in the world
but not this music that holds all the light
I have ever seen and all the light I have not.
I would give up all the light in the world
but not this light that makes me reach
for a pencil to write words.


by Joan I. Siegel from Archaeology, Deerbrook Editions 2017

Lucid Dreaming; a poem from Never Completely Awake

LUCID DREAMING by Martina Newberry

for Kate

Sometimes my dream life
is a euphoric slumgullion
of rock and roll and Milky Way
candy bars and 5-dollar-99-cent champagne.
I can’t find a place to recover
or the right role to play.

You’re so cool
and I have so many questions to ask you,
starting with
“How did you get so cool?
I’m wrapped up in countless failures.
I’ve got Spanglish in my ears
and Ebonics in my nostrils—

shouldn’t something brilliant
and memorable come from that?
I’ve fallen in and out of love
with myself a trillion times,
bought the vitamins,
played the jukeboxes,
lost my keys, dumped my quarters

at the Laundromat and still…and still…
I have eaten scrambled eggs
and cotton candy
and desktop computers
and felt-tipped pens
and straw hats
and bath towels.

I know some lyrics to some songs,
a line or two from some movies, still…
In the old days, I dreamed myself new
every month or so. Oblivion was far off
and I could show substance and testament
so earnest, it would make your teeth ache.
I dreamed myself with wings and webs of silver,

dreamed myself diaphanous, icy.


From Never Completely Awake, Deerbrook Editions, 2017

View a video poem by the author from this book

New title forthcoming by Sarah White

Sarah White is also the author of Wars Don’t Happen Anymore (Deerbrook Editions, 2015) reviewed in American Book Review

Sarah's flier 2

The Starry Night

The Starry Night
That does not keep me from having a terrible need of — shall I say the word — religion.
Then I go out at night to paint the stars.
— Vincent Van Gogh in a letter to his brother


The town does not exist
except where one black-haired tree slips
up like a drowned woman into the hot sky.
The town is silent. The night boils with eleven stars.
Oh starry night! This is how
I want to die.

It moves. They are all alive.
Even the moon bulges in its orange irons
to push children, like a god, from its eye.
The old unseen serpent swallows up the stars.
Oh starry starry night! This is how
I want to die:

into that rushing beast of the night,
sucked up by that great dragon, to split
from my life with no flag,
no belly,
no cry.

–Anne Sexton



With thanks to J.P. Dancing Bear