Wisdom from Writers: Jessica Sequeira

I think of the Sephardic Jewish tradition where a texture of fabric, bit of gold filigree, painted twig, strike of the tambourine, song lyric or dance step is never alone, but connected to the whole. The luminous glow in each individual element has to do with its sense of belonging. Idiosyncrasy finds its dignity and respect through recognition in a lifeworld of people and nature.

I recently spoke with writer and translator Jessica Sequeira about her electric and incandescent collection of linked flash narratives,  A Luminous History of the Palm, Sephardic Jewish traditions, palm genuses, the flexibility of the human essence, and more.You can read the full interview here at Tiny Molecules.

A point of view can change so much based on where one is, the language one is speaking, the culture, and the resources that are available. To translate between realities perhaps gives a sense of personality not as essence, but as something more akin to Tarot cards, where the image matters less than the way it’s interpreted and how it finds itself in the larger system of relations.

Find out more about Jessica Sequeira  on www.jessicasequeira.com. Jessica’s book A Luminous History of the Palm (April 2020) is available from Sublunary Editions. 

Wisdom from Writers: Bruna Dantas Lobato

Translation felt like a way to be my full self again, to make my Brazilian self and my American self be in dialogue with each other.

I recently spoke with writer and translator Bruna Dantas Lobato about her acclaimed translation of Caio Fernando Abreu’s story collection, Moldy Strawberries, untranslatable moments in texts, joy and curiosity as an act of genuine artful engagement, Brazilian writers you should know about, and more.You can read the full interview here at Tiny Molecules.

I’m drawn to books that are formally innovative and show a side of Brazil we don’t see often in English, especially if there’s room for me to play with the style and be surprised and challenged by it.

Find out more about Bruna Dantas Lobato on https://www.brunadantaslobato.com/. Bruna’s translation of Moldy Strawberries (June 2022) is available from Archipelago Books.



Wisdom from Writers: Tucker Leighty-Phillips

I am always thinking about–how do we defamiliarize our world? How do we return a childlike wonder to everything around us? How do we regain an innocence, excitement, and enthusiasm that feels dragged out of us through the cynicism of adulthood?

I recently spoke with author Tucker Leighty-Phillips about his debut story collection, Maybe This Is What I Deserve, children’s games, rural life, poverty, Runescape, and more.You can read the full interview here at Tiny Molecules.

Intuition in storytelling is a strange thing. Sometimes it means making up words that “sound right.” Sometimes it means cutting out entire sections of prose and letting white space do the talking.

Find out more about Tucker Leighty-Phillips on tuckerlp.net. Tucker’s book Maybe This Is What I Deserve (June 2023) is forthcoming from Split/Lip Press.



Wisdom from Writers: A Conversation with Elizabeth Kirschner

Writing is such intense, I mean really intense, cerebral work, it’s positively brain-scraping. The concentration is excessively demanding, requires such a full and strict attention, that I’ve always needed a counter-balance, that is, physically demanding work, which brings me into the garden.

I recently spoke with author Elizabeth Kirschner about her story collection, Because the Sky is a Thousand Soft Hurts, lyrical language, breaking points, gardening, and more.You can read the full interview here at Tiny Molecules.

I always packed and unpacked my books first, as these were my most beloved possessions. I couldn’t inhabit a new ratty apartment if books weren’t on the shelves, which says something, I believe, about my relationship to language. It was more important than my even rattier relationships to men.

Find out more about Elizabeth Kirschner on https://kirschnerwriter.com/. Elizabeth’s book Because the Sky is a Thousand Soft Hurts (June 2021) is available from Atmosphere Press.


Hello Michigan poet friends!

I’m very excited to be organizing the inaugural PoetTreeTown event for this upcoming April Poetry Month 2023.

What is PoetTreeTown? It’s a community-centered “poetry in public” celebration of Michigan-based poets, in which select poems will be printed and displayed in the local shop windows of downtown Ann Arbor businesses during the entire month of April! Participating businesses include Literati Bookstore, Ann Arbor District Library, Downtown Home and Garden, 826michigan, Avalon International Breads, Third Mind Books, The Pretzel Bell, Blue Tractor, Grizzly Peak Brewing Company, Bivouac Ann Arbor, Cherry Republic, TeaHaus, Vault of Midnight, Comet Coffee, Slurping Turtle Ann Arbor, FOUND gallery, Vinology Ann Arbor, Mindo Chocolate Makers, Ann Arbor Art Center, Bløm Meadworks, and more!

All folks based in Washtenaw County, Michigan are invited to submit an original poem for consideration. All ages welcome, no prior poetry experience required. I’m hoping we receive a range of submissions, from elementary school writers to debut adult poets to published Poet Laureates. Poetry is for everyone, of course!

Submissions are now open through February 15, 2023. I’ve included the form link here, which explains the submission guidelines:

And make sure to follow PoetTreeTown on Facebook for all the updates! https://www.facebook.com/PoetTreeTownA2/

I’d be so grateful if you could share this submission call with Michigan-based writers in your life. Questions can be sent to PoetTreeTownA2@gmail.com.

Thank you for helping us bring Poetry to the People!!!!


Let me sing to you now about how books turn me into other things

It’s always a bit staggering — to find oneself and the world arriving yet again at a December 31st. Here we are, on the precipice of hope, and yet, how easy it is to feel the loss of the year past — how we want to hold so much in ourselves at once.

It has become a tradition of mine to celebrate December 31st with a remembrance and appreciation for some books I encountered during the year, books that brought company, wisdom, linguistic splendor, and perspective — for in times of ever uncertainty, books are a stalwart, omnipresent friend. Throughout electric days, blue days, and the always-prowling fog, look — a book is here, waiting to sing to you as you hold each other close.

I want to acknowledge — there are dozens of books that are still stacked on my floor, yelping to be read. There are dozens (thousands?) of books I mightily wish I could have included in this year’s list, but alas I have not met them yet! For me, the prospect of meeting new books, new poetic or narrative friends, gives me great hope for the new year. So, with the fact that it is impossible to include every book that has made an impact on me, here is my annual sampling of a few books I would like to highlight: texts that were exquisitely staining and impactful to me in one way or another —  and have inevitably shattered and rearranged my glass body, my glass path … books that after reading, I will never be quite the same.

In 2022, I’ve been questioning everything lately. So it seems appropriate to question this project as well. Why do we make “end of the year” lists anyway? What is the purpose? Why uplift the books that we do and not others? Who does that serve? How do we make decisions for which books to include in our end of the year lists, and how influenced are we by the lists that others make and share?

I pose these questions to you, to consider and graze on your own.

Here’s how I approach these questions: Sometimes I think of books as bandaids, adhering to my body, healing me wherever I go.

Sometimes I think of books and their content as organic material invisibly floating through the air and collecting on my skin, in my bloodstream. These book particles are vital invigorators, as vital to life as yeast is to a sourdough starter.

In both scenarios, there’s something that sticks to me…for some scientific or spiritual or poetic reason beyond my knowing. It is up to me to pay attention to this adhesive phenomenon; to notice the words that beg to stay, the wisdoms that make a home in me.

Of course, there are some books that just enter into our lives, through trusted recommendation or by a life-changing sweep of the hand at the bookstore or library. There’s a fascinating tango of choice and serendipity that dictates which books we read in a year, the only kind of uncertainty and dare that my soul can bear to look forward to.

Perhaps most of all, my “end of the year” list is a memorial, a reverent bow towards my bethlehem which will forever always be a city made of books and language and the experimental living spirit.

So, on this pensive day of old and new, I give a fizzy thanks to those who write books, make books, bind books, share books, give books, read books, and love books! Happy New Year, and Happy Reading.


(in no particular order:)

Bangkok Wakes to Rain by Pitchaya Sudbanthad *

Manywhere: Stories by Morgan Thomas

The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime That Changed Their Lives by Dashka Slater *

My Volcano by John Elizabeth Stintzi

If an Egyptian Cannot Speak English by Noor Naga

There Plant Eyes: A Personal and Cultural History of Blindness by M. Leona Godin *

feeld by Jos Charles

Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi *

Call Me Athena: Girl From Detroit by Colby Cedar Smith *

How I Became a Tree by Sumana Roy

The Overstory by Richard Powers *

Moldy Strawberries: Stories by Caio Fernando Abreu, translated by Bruna Dantas Lobato

Orwell’s Roses by Rebecca Solnit *

This Body I Wore by Diana Goetsch *

Autoportrait by Jesse Ball

Lapvona by Ottessa Moshfegh*

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk *

The Five Wounds by Kirstin Valdez Quade *

Everybody: A Book about Freedom by Olivia Laing

The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi *

Time is a Mother by Ocean Vuong*

Read Dangerously by Azar Nafisi *

Voice of the Fish by Lars Horn

Plans for Sentences by Renee Gladman

* A star next to a book title means that I listened to and enjoyed the audiobook version, and you might enjoy it, too! (Hint: Did you know you can borrow audiobooks from your library system through the Libby app?)

** While there are select titles that I would have liked to include here from the publisher I work for, I have decided to not include any Atmosphere Press books in this particular end-of-the-year roundup.