Saturday, November 30, 2013

Anthology Behind Schedule!

Dear Contributors and Potential Readers of "Through A Distant Lens:  Travel Poems":

my original plan was to have the new book ready for holiday gifting.  A few days after releasing the call for submissions, I received a phone call out of the blue asking me to teach a creative writing course at Skagit Valley College (two hours+ round trip drive from home).  The instructor originally scheduled to teach this had bagged out on short notice -- of course I said yes, and then scrambled hard to put together text and syllabus.

Shortly after that, I was asked to take part in poetry judging for a local competition, so of course I said yes, and guess what?  This year saw a record-high number of submissions.  That is good news for the local writing community.

Long story short:  I am not at the point I hoped to be with the new book project, for which I have also received more submissions than anticipated.  The overall quality is high, the poems are delightful, and I do not want to rush this compilation in order to meet my earlier, arbitrary timeline.  January completion is looking much more realistic, and keep in mind that a poetry collection will be a delightful Valentines Day surprise for a loved one.

The cover photo has been (tentatively) selected.  Many poets have already been notified, but if you have not yet heard about your submission, hang in there.  Heartfelt thanks to all who sent poems.  This will be a gorgeous collection.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

*** New Anthology Takes Beautiful Shape ***

Poems have been arriving from all over the place, including Australia, for Write Wing Publishing's new anthology "Through A Distant Lens:  Travel Poems."  These poems are amazing, set in Machu Picchu, Long Island Sound, Venice, Croatia, Burgundy, Wisconsin, and Buenos Aires, to name just a few, and also some destinations of the imagination.  This collection will have more pages than "Surrounded:  Living With Islands," thanks to all the wonderful submissions.  The deadline is October 18, so if you have been thinking about it, stop thinking and get writing/revising/polishing.

In other news, I had a fabulous reading with my friend and fellow poet Linda Beeman on September 25 at Anchor Books & Coffee in Clinton.  We had a wonderful turnout, seeing many well-known faces and encountering some new ones.  The audience was attentive and all were good listeners.  Linda read from her chapbook "Wallace, Idaho" and I read from "Ring of Fire, Sea of Stone."  Whoever claims that poetry is dead in America is just plain wrong.

What a wonderful buzz of energy to have a roomful of people devoted to listening to poetry, reading poetry, writing poetry, even buying poetry books (what a concept!).  The evening was pure delight from start to finish.  Many thanks to Bruce and Trish Didier and to Debbie at the Clinton Library for co-hosting this event.

Stay tuned for news of the status of "Through A Distant Lens," and keep those poems coming!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Multiple Readings in September!

Musing on the death of the wonderful Seamus Heaney, taken away from us too soon:  I recently was feeling a bit frantic at the thought of giving three readings in September, but since Seamus died, it seems appropriate to be out there putting poetry forth into the world.  Here's what I'm doing:

1)  12:30 workshop and reading with members of JANE'S STORIES PRESS FOUNDATION at In Other Words bookshop in Portland, Oregon on Saturday, September 7, 2013.  There will be readings from JSPF's new anthology, "Bridges and Borders."

2)  11 AM to 12:30 PM on Saturday, September 14:  reading at the new festival in beautiful Coupeville, on Whidbey Island, Washington, "The Art of the Boat."  My poems will be about, what else, kayaks.  This festival will hopefully turn into a yearly event celebrating boats, art and writing about boats, and the people who sail around in them.

3)  6 PM on Wednesday, September 25 at Anchor Books & Coffee in Clinton.  I'll be reading from my recently-published chapbook, "Ring of Fire, Sea of Stone."  Also reading from her chapbook "Wallace, Idaho" will be local poet Linda Beeman.  Co-sponsored by Sno-Isle Regional Library and the Clinton Library.

Meanwhile, poems from all over the country, and from Australia too, are arriving for the new anthology "Through a Distant Lens:  Travel Poems."  Keep 'em coming!  The quality of poems so far is high.  This new project should result in a fatter (more pages) anthology than last year's "Surrounded:  Living With Islands."  Postmark deadline for submitting your poems:  October 18.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

NEW ANTHOLOGY: Call for Submissions

Through a Distant Lens:  Travel Poems
Call for Submissions

            Following the successful 2012 publication of the anthology “Surrounded:  Living With Islands,” the editor/publisher of Write Wing Publishing invites submissions of poems about travel.
            In a long-ago tavern, Sheryl was told she could tell someone to go to hell in a handbasket in such a way they would enjoy the trip.  She would like to hear from all you poets out there who can weave a tale of travel.  Maybe you had an out-of-body experience walking from your porch to the mailbox; maybe you lived in Morocco after college; maybe you do all your traveling while reading in your recliner.
            Submit 1-3 original unpublished poems in Times New Roman 12-point font, single-spaced.  Please include SASE, cover sheet with contact info, poem titles and brief author bio (~50 words), and $5.00 reading fee to help cover printing costs.  (Poems should not show writer’s name.)  Mail to:  Write Wing Publishing, 3795 Hubble Court, Clinton WA  98236.  Postmark deadline:  October 18, 2013.
            A prize of $50.00 will be awarded, at the editor’s sole discretion, for best overall poem.  Each poet selected for publication will receive one free copy of the book.  All rights revert to the authors after publication.
            About the editor:  Sheryl Clough earned her MFA at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Sheryl is a Founders Circle member of Soundings Review and 2010 winner of the William Stafford award from Washington Poets Association.  Sheryl’s book Ring of Fire, Sea of Stone won the 2013 San Gabriel Valley Literary Festival chapbook prize.  She is annoyed that "reading fees" over the past few years have risen to great heights -- as much as $30!  The $5.00 reading fee for this new anthology is a form of protest (also, however, an attempt to recoup the costs of publishing a book).

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Blue Lyra Review New Issue

Greetings on a gorgeous July day!  Now that the fireworks frenzy is dying down, maybe we can all turn our attention back (it may never have wandered) to some good reading and writing.  I have a new nonfiction essay just published in Blue Lyra Review, titled "Under Sand and Shadow."  See:

The essay deals with the wanderings of a fallen-away Catholic, formerly "good" girl -- that was me! -- as she attempts to make sense of some of the world's spiritual beliefs by hiking in the Arizona desert.  Give it a read and let me know what you think.

Copies of my award-winning chapbook, "Ring of Fire, Sea of Stone" are still available, signed by the author and mailed postage included anywhere in the U.S., for $10.  If you would like one, please send me a note at <>.

The older I get, the faster summertime flies by.  My husband once tried to explain the whole faster-passage-of-time thing to me.  Alas, I never took high school physics and it was too much to wrap my brain around.  Wherever you are, get out into that sunshine, take a hike, dig some clams, play with your dog, pick berries -- the charms of summer are numberless and fade fast.  Happy July, everyone.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Re-establishing Connections

On May 23, 2013, the Skagit River bridge collapsed, plunging several vehicles and their occupants into the glacially-fed river.  Thankfully, no one was injured.  This event has caused commercial disruption to an amazing degree.  Although I've lived in Western Washington most of my life, until this catastrophe, I did not appreciate or comprehend the amount of traffic using that bridge to get back and forth.

Pondering the speed with which our lives can change, I decided to organize a gathering with my daughter (a busy adult and I don't see her enough), my best friend from ages ago (lives in Monroe, an expensive ferry ride away), and an old pal who lives even farther away and who I haven't seen since last summer.  Plus two dogs:  Snickers and Lucy.  We planned a hike to Wallace Falls, a high waterfall lying within a State Park.  There are several viewpoints along the route, and one does not have to gain the highest point in order to have lovely views of the forest, mosses, the falls, and the singing Wallace River.

The weather was perfect, the company exquisite, and in addition to reconnecting with my hiking family, I felt a reconnection to the landscape in which I grew up:  the Skykomish River Valley.  I hadn't been back that way in many years, and was startled to see a roundabout (!) in the middle of Highway 2, plus a new McDonald's and Subway.

Four miles was as much as my arthritic joints could manage, and we retreated to a shaded picnic table to feast on smoked oysters, blueberries, four kinds of cheese, fresh veggies, and a cooler full of exotic beverages.

My bridge back to my hiking family was in fine shape, although the Skagit River at Mount Vernon still has no functional bridge.  The governor promises quick action; we shall see.  In the meantime, let us heed the exhortation of Wordsworth, posted on the old railroad grade trail:

Monday, April 22, 2013

Earth Day 2013

After several days of heavy downpour, frightening those of us who have watched large hunks of Whidbey Island slough itself into the sea, Earth Day burned glorious with sun.  I celebrated by taking my recyclables to the Bayview Recycle Park, and then taking Snickers for a walk in the woods.
As Snickers took off like a rocket through the underbrush, I strolled the still-muddy wooded path, observing the dappled spots of sun taking their shapes from the leaves and branches above.  Tree trunks lying on the ground, thrown down by winter storms, nursed communities of mosses and ferns.  Overhead, birds swooped and clouds scooted in the wind.  Earth Day, I thought;  how can there be only one day per year to celebrate all this?

We need an ongoing Earth Year, continuous, never-ending, to remind us every minute of every day to honor and respect the overwhelming beauty and complexity of our planet, our home, our Earth.  Maybe it should be called "Earth Age," the era when all humans band together to take back our planetary health.  I hope your Earth Day was as beautiful as mine.  Peace ...

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Rainy Day Workshop

On Thursday, April 4, 2013, I facilitated a poetry workshop sponsored by Friends of the Clinton Library.  My friend and fellow poet Pat Kelley Brunjes (Poems from the Desert Floor) presented a short course on how to give an effective reading.  Although our attendance was smaller than anticipated, the participants were enthusiastic and creative.  Here is a photo of two workshoppers in the process of creating ekphrastic poems based on sculpture:

We also created imagination-based poems, recalling looking out windows from our childhoods and what we saw out there.  Finally, we created poems by freewriting using a list of 15 randomly-generated words.  All the poems were interesting and vivid, and some were read in the evening at our 7 PM reading.

APRIL IS NATIONAL POETRY MONTH!  Host your own event to celebrate poems.  This can be as simple as a group of friends sharing a bottle of wine in your kitchen and taking turns reading poems important to them.  Our workshop was fueled by homemade chocolate chip cookies -- always a good idea for stimulating imaginations.  Read some poems, write some poems, talk about poems, give books of poems as gifts.  My best chum from childhood has requested my new book (Ring of Fire, Sea of Stone and yes this is a shameless plug -- buy it on Amazon!) as her birthday present.

Poetry will set you free!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

APRIL 4, 2013: Discover Your Inner Poet

Cookies!  Creativity!  Community!

Come one, come all to a free poetry workshop (afternoon) and reading (evening) at the Clinton Community Hall.  I'll be co-leading a workshop with my friend Pat Brunjes, author of the just-released "Poems from the Desert Floor."  I will work with poets to generate new work, and Pat will present ideas on how to give an effective reading.  We'll meet at the Hall at 3 PM, work until 5, and take a break for revision, dinner, hanging out, etc.  In the evening, all participants will read a poem of their choosing to an enthralled audience of friends, family and fellow poets.

Sponsored by the Clinton Library.  For further information, call Debbie Colfer, Branch Manager at the Clinton Library, 360-341-4280.

Hope to see you there!  Thursday, April 4, 2013 at 3 PM.

Friday, February 22, 2013


Hi Everyone -- those folks in the San Gabriel Valley and at San Antonio College are a bunch of poetry-loving machines!  My sister and I attended the 3- day litfest, held at West Covina, California's civic center over the long weekend, February 15/16/17.  82 degrees, a gentle Santa Ana breeze, flowers in bloom and palm trees overhead:  what's not to love?  There were four stages going, from noon until 9 PM each day.  When a poet or fiction writer was not reading, s/he was giving a knockout introduction to a fellow reader.  There was music, jewelry, painting, and feng shui advice; there was a special area on the grass for children's literature presentations.  Audiences were unfailingly receptive and generous.

And of course there was fabulous FOOD, from trucks that drove up every afternoon with everything from wild Alaskan cod tacos to churros and waffles.

My reading was at 1 PM on Saturday.  A special surprise was attendance by my 91-year-old mom and her sister, my Aunt Frances, who drove 9 hours from Green Valley, Arizona to attend the reading.

I felt fortunate that my book won the chapbook competition, even more so after hearing work of the other chapbook finalists, especially Terry Lucas -- check out Terry's vivid poems in "Diesel," the anthology of the San Gabriel Valley litfest; here is a link to the bookstore, where my book is also available:

Here is Terry reading:

A million thanks to John and Ann Brantingham for organizing the festival, and to Michaelsun Knapp for judging the chapbook competition.  (That's Michaelsun and me in the photo below.)  This festival may become an annual event for Sandra and me.

Thanks to everyone who has encouraged and supported my poetry over the years.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

***LitFest SCHEDULE***

Here is the link for the schedule at the three-day San Gabriel Literary Festival.  Although my name is not on it (yet), I'm in the group 'Winners of the Chapbook Contest' shown for the Library Stage on Saturday at 1 PM.  I'll have 15 minutes for my reading.  (Remember that saying about everyone having 15 minutes of fame?  I guess this is it.)  Enjoy:

Stephanie Hammer, although she lives in L.A., is a student in our Whidbey Island MFA Program.  I hope to catch her reading on Saturday at noon, and also Diane Glancy's reading on Friday.  There will be so much poetry going on, it will be impossible to hear every poet.

I'll be posting tales of this experience on this blog after returning to Whidbey February 17.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Sheryl's Book Wins a chapbook competition

I'm absolutely THRILLED that my book, "Ring of Fire, Sea of Stone" has been chosen as the winner of the San Gabriel Valley Literary Festival chapbook competition.  I've been invited to do a featured reading at the Festival:  Saturday, February 16, 2013 at 1 PM.  The SGV litfest runs February 15 through 17 at the West Covina, CA civic center.  There will be four (!) stages going, with readings, music, graphic arts; something to interest everybody.  My sister Sandra is going with me and we will do a joint reading of one of the poems from the book.

My book is now available on Amazon:

If you would like to order a signed copy directly from me, I will have copies available upon my return (2/17).  Please send an email to:  <> or leave a reply to this post, and I'll be sure to save a copy for you.

Back to work!  I hope to finish a new manuscript of poetry this year, and make significant progress on a novel for which only one chapter is written.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Still Talking

My no-speaking experiment could be called a total failure, as I made it only about two hours between making the decision and speaking to another human.  I put my dog Snickers into the car and drove to a large off-leash area north of where we live; figured I'd be safe with the dog for company.  As she galloped away, I climbed the crest of a small hill after her.  As I topped the ridgeline, a beautiful young Dalmation cruised past me, and shortly behind her came a talkative fellow named Bob.  What could I do after he introduced himself?  Our social conventions do not allow for the possibility of non-response when a stranger tells us his name and offers his hand.  Soon we were chatting amiably on a topic easy for all dog people:  our dogs! -- their names, their ages, their favorite treats, and so on.

I thought of my friend Jim, now deep into his ten-day Buddhist retreat, and I realized that stopping speech could be best done in a controlled environment such as the one he chose.  Jim's experience will be more strict than anything I could handle:  no books, no writing paper (!), and of course no electronic devices.

I'm greatly looking forward to hearing about Jim's experience.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

New Year, Old Problems, What To Do?

Here we are, those of us who survived the shootings, storms and diseases that took so many people away in 2012 -- a New Year with its uncertain promise.

I have been thinking of things I could do to promote peace and harmony.  Apparently, writing poems is not enough.  The bathroom in my house is currently torn down to the studs; remodel made necessary by water leaking through the wall for years, causing rot of course.  Talking to the contractor, I find he is planning a Buddhist retreat later this month -- ten days of not speaking!  This seems like a pretty hard core way to know oneself better.  Does all the noisy talk of this world create peace and harmony?  Obviously not.  However, silence would not work either.  It is the lack of communication that is at the root of so many human problems.

Maybe the key here is using our powers of speech more selectively.  As an experiment, I'm going to try going the rest of the day without speaking.  I can't recommend this for everyone -- if you have to be at work this afternoon, obviously you will be speaking.  I'm teaching a class tomorrow, so speaking will be necessary again.  It has to be today!  At the very least, I'm hoping a new poem will be born from this experiment.

Would like to hear from those of you who have ideas for promoting peace, using speech more creatively, or anything else that crosses your minds.  Peace!