Katy Haas

Pembroke Magazine – No. 52

The latest issue of Pembroke Magazine contains poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction by emerging and established authors from the US and abroad. A young mother struggling to nurse trades notes with a gorilla; a Midwesterner finds a bathing suit in a sock drawer that whisks his mind back to a Grecian beach; a woman desperately seeks to return to her home at the edge of the world; a man takes a manic road trip with his schizophrenic uncle; a couple in a gated community is saddled with the job of maintaining an exalted lawn; a woman flees a California wildfire for a holy site near Albuquerque; and much more. Cover art by Margie Labadie.

The Lake – June 2020

The Lake‘s June issue features Sheila Bender, Phillip Henry Christopher, Robert Eccleston, Edilson Ferreira, Mercedes Lawry, Bruce Morton, David Olson, Carolyn Oulton, J. R. Solonche, Hana Yun-Stevens, Nwuguru Chidiebere Sullivan, Tanner. Reviews of Matthew Caley’s Trawlerman’s Turquoise and The Valley Press Anthology of Prose Poetry.

Reading “Insomnia in Moonlight” by Alice Friman

Gettysburg Review - Autumn 2019Guest Post by Emily Lowe

Alice Friman’s “Insomnia in Moonlight” in The Gettysburg Review Fall 2019 is a moving poem that grapples with a popular theme within this issue: death. Friman handles the topic delicately, with humor, and with heft. The poem is broken into four irregular stanzas beginning with the dead waking in the night, making noise. This stanza read with immediate intrigue through the life Friman breathed into death about a speaker who cannot sleep because the dead are alive in their thoughts. It suggests playfulness, too, written with a lighter tone than often associated with death and mourning.

Friman then equates the dead to the sun, something bright and fixed, and the speaker to the changeable moon, “she wears my child face—round, / sunburnt, and pensive.” The final lines in the poem are the most striking, offering up the speaker’s recount of a total eclipse where the moon tried to “blot out the sun.” It felt like a reflection of their desire to hold death in their hands and make sense of it, but the speaker admits that the moon fails in its attempt to resist permanence, to resist, as Friman puts so eloquently in her final two lines: “geometric progression, the unerasable / dead, and everything else I don’t understand.”


Reviewer bio: Emily Lowe is an MFA candidate in Nonfiction at the University of North Carolina Wilmington where she is also a fiction editor for Ecotone literary magazine.

Find New Favorites in The Malahat Review

Magazine Review by Katy Haas

The cover of the latest issue of The Malahat Review is a calming scene: a full moon framed by powerlines over a pastel sky. It invites readers to pick it up and open it to discover what’s inside. I had found two new favorites in the pages: “Nice Girl” by Hollie Adams and “A High Frequency Words List” by Matthew Gwathmey.

In “Nice Girl,” Adams’s speaker likens herself to a mall who would “never automatically / open the doors even though / there’d be a sign saying / Automatic Doors.” She admits she’d keep them locked because she’s “evil / even though in real life / I’m always doing nice things.” This poem is a fun exploration of one’s inner self and the intentions behind actions. There’s a sense of humor in this piece even as it leads to introspection, an enjoyable aspect.

Gwathmey’s poem is in four sections, each one a list of words picked from the Fry and the Dolch sight word lists, used in children’s vocabulary development. This piece is just four paragraphs listing off words, a cool form of recycling.

There is plenty more poetry and prose to find inside this issue of The Malahat Review. Grab a copy to find your own favorites.

Life in Lockdown: Re-Reading Woolf’s The Mark on the Wall

Guest Post by M.G Noles

The Mark on the Wall is a brief tale in which Virginia Woolf describes a winter evening at home in the English countryside during WWI. She, like her fellow Britons, are under lockdown because of the war. Frankly, she has nothing but time on her hands, and she is so lonely that all she has to do with her time is gaze at a mark upon a wall.

The curious mark is the platform which allows her to ponder, not only the mark, but her life, her surroundings, and that pesky mark she cannot be bothered to walk across the room to identify. Could it be a nail? Perhaps a bit of gravy? She doesn’t know. So, she allows her mind to fly off in a thousand different meditations on life and death, on what it all means, on her place in the scheme of it all.

Woolf wrote this story in 1917 while the world was falling apart around her. She endured nightly air-raids, rockets blaring, shots fired across the channel. And, so, she used her writing as a way to escape it all.

The contemplation of a mark upon a wall seemed absurd to me when I read it years ago. But, now, having been a shut-in for these many weeks due to Covid-19, I find myself (like Woolf did) gazing at simple things around the house—toothpaste tubes, detergent boxes, and soup cans—and then my mind goes flying away. Life feels so foreign when shut indoors.

Woolf writes that life to her at that time felt like “being blown through the Tube at fifty miles an hour—landing at the other end without a single hair pin in one’s hair!”

That is exactly how I feel right now, too, that life is all of a sudden a bizarre affair in which we are utterly out of control, “with one’s hair flying back like the tail of a race horse.” And, heaven knows where on earth we will land.


The Mark on the Wall by Virginia Woolf. 1917.

Reviewer bio: M.G Noles is a freelance writer and history buff.

Nonlinear Exploration of Life

Guest Post by Karen J. Weyant

Sue William Silverman’s life is hanging by a thread.

Or, at least that may be the initial reaction a reader may get from Silverman’s latest collection, How to Survive Death and Other Inconveniences. The title itself suggests that Silverman’s book is a catalog of death-defying experiences and yes, there are somber essays that explore her survival as a sexual assault victim and her hypochondriac ventures into the medical world. But other essays are more lighthearted, such as the one piece where, as a middle-aged narrator, she tells about her adventures at an Adam Lambert conference.

In essence, Silverman’s book is a nonlinear exploration of her life arranged into three sections adapted from the Three Fates of Greek Mythology: Clotho (the spinner) Lachesis (the measurer), and Atropos (the cutter). Sometimes, her essays tell stories in the traditional narrative form, while others use more experimental styles. However, read together, this collection is more than just about surviving death: it’s really about having hope and resilience in life.


How to Survive Death and Other Inconveniences by Sue William Silverman. University of Nebraska Press, March 2020.

Reviewer bio: Karen J. Weyant‘s essays have been published in BioStories, Briar Cliff Review, Carbon Culture Review, Crab Creek Review, Coal Hill Review, Lake Effect and Waccamaw. She is an Associate Professor of English at Jamestown Community College in Jamestown, New York.

Buy this book through our affiliate Bookshop.org.

Goldmine of Wisdom

Guest Post by Bright Heaven’s

Have you ever wondered to yourself (like I did): how do the world’s great entrepreneurs and innovators come up with such unique and brilliant ideas for their businesses? Then this book, The Idea Hunter, a very recent read of mine, is what I will recommend for you.

Ideas rule the world. In fact, the global space runs on an idea cum knowledge economy. It is on this premise that the book was written and it serves to bust the myth that brilliant, earth-shaping, and career-boosting ideas come from brilliant minds. Rather, it seeks to reveal that breakaway ideas come to those who are in the habit of looking for them all the time. These people are referred to as Idea Hunters.

In this book, I learned about how and what it takes for people to create a superb idea that leads to the creation of a successful innovation through the description of the characteristics and behaviors of several successful idea hunters. The Idea Hunter informs and unearths the habits shared by many great innovators and inventors of the past century. From very popular innovators such as Thomas Edison, Walt Disney, Warren Buffet, Steve Jobs etc., to less popular names such as Jack Hughes, Paul Romer, Jim Koch, Greg brown Jay Hooley, Michael D White etc., readers get a raw perception into how they developed their ideas and the steps they took to bring them into reality. What I find most interesting is how several top global brand/companies such as Apple, Walt Disney, Gore-tex, Elixir Strings, and Boston Beer, among others, came into being through a simple albeit conscious act—the serious business of Idea Hunting.

This is quite an average volume consisting of six chapters, and I can tell you that each of the chapters is a goldmine deposited with wisdom on how to generate and actualize ideas.


The Idea Hunter: How to Find the Best Ideas and Make them Happen by Andy Boynton, Bill Fischer, William Bole. Wiley, April 2011.

Reviewer bio: Bright Heaven’s is an educator, a writer, poet, author, public speaker, information scientist, and a budding musician from Nigeria. He has publications in the Korea-Nigeria Anthology and several Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) literary journals. Find him at: https://bright-heavens.site.live.

Buy this book through our affiliate Bookshop.org.