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I’m busy preparing for Words Awake!  I’ll be on a poetry panel at 9:00 am, reading poetry at 3:15, and selling copies of Mansion of Memory all day at the Winston-Salem Writers booth.

Please join us.  It’s free.

From today until March 20, you can get the kindle version of Donna Walker-Nixon’s novel Canaan’s Oothoon for free. Sounds like a plan.

Synopsis of Canaan’s Oothoon:

A bad seed blows into Allard’s Crossing, Texas. Canaan Watson is beyond anything the women of this little town have seen. Brash and daring, he believes himself to be the reincarnation of poet William Blake and that he is destined to find his perfect mate – his Oothoon – to create his new world order. Cautious, but strangely attracted, some of the local women fall under his spell: Emma Mae, an elderly woman who wants nothing more than to talk to her deceased daughter through a medium; Lura, the Pentecostal woman who wants to feel the kind of love he offers; and Maria Elena, the vulnerable teenage granddaughter of Bonnie Hobbs. An ‘Oothoon’, according to Canaan, is the kind of woman who can cast off middle class propriety and give into her own sexuality but Bonnie Hobbs knows that’s just a load of manure he uses to cast his spell over the gullible and unwary.

Bonnie is one tough grandma and she’s seen the likes of this good-for-nothing Canaan before. When he shacks up with Lura, it’s proof to Bonnie that he’s worthless and not to be trusted, but Bonnie seems to be alone in her conviction. Soon her cousin Emma May gets sucked into Canaan’s lies when he leads her to believe that for an ongoing sum of money she can really communicate with her deceased daughter. As the women around her are slowly drawn into his web, Bonnie tries to protect her land, her friends and even her own granddaughter from his evil schemes but is it already too late?

Words Awake!
A Celebration of Wake Forest Writers and Writing!

March 23-25 on the campus of Wake Forest University

I’ll be part of a panel “Writing Poetry” at 9:00-9:50 am March 24

(Eric Ekstrand ‘07, Helen Losse MALS ’00, Robert West ’91) (409 Benson)

part of a reading Writers Reading IV:  The Poets:  at 3:15 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. March 24

Eric Ekstrand ’07, Helen Losse MALS ’00, John York ’77 (401B Benson)

signing Better With Friends and Seriously Dangerous at the Wake Forest University Book Store table

and selling Mansion of Memory at the table for the Winston-Salem Writers

Join us.  It’s free! See entire schedule.

We all need to eat and drink to stay alive. But having a meal is more than eating and drinking. It is celebrating the gifts of life we share. A meal together is one of the most intimate and sacred human events. Around the table we become vulnerable, filling one another’s plates and cups and encouraging one another to eat and drink. Much more happens at a meal than satisfying hunger and quenching thirst. Around the table we become family, friends, community, yes, a body.

That is why it is so important to “set” the table. Flowers, candles, colorful napkins all help us to say to one another, “This is a very special time for us, let’s enjoy it!”

emphasis mine


Everyday—even on sabbatical—I check my in-box for the Dead Mule.  But it isn’t everyday that we get fan mail.  In fact, fan mail comes infrequently enough that it is worth writing about.

I will respect the privacy of the young woman who wrote the note to the Mule, but I will include in full—minus her name—my response to her note in hopes that a part of it might serve as a reminder to all writers and potential writers.   That sentence is in bold type below.

Hi N—,

Thanks for your kind comments about one of our summer chapbooks.  We at the Dead Mule are happy you enjoyed the poems by CL Bledsoe and will pass your comment along to him.  Writers are always glad to know their work has been meaningful to someone, and publishers and editors are glad that work was presented by their magazine.

Why don’t you try writing about your Dad, and maybe your Mom. too?  You never know what you will come up with when you start writing.  Every famous poem or story began with a blank sheet of paper.

Hope you enjoy the rest of your summer.

All the Best,
Helen Losse
Valerie Mac Ewan


The Dead Mule has enough stories, essays, and poems (including four chapbooks) to keep most of us busy all summer long.  More stories and essays will be added from time to time, and a full issue of poems will be posted on October 5.

Submissions for short (500word) stories and nonfiction are open.  Poetry submissions will open again after the first of the year.  Until then, enjoy the many poems from out already-full in-box.

Consideration for the Dead Mule submissions for Best of the Net is underway.  We’ll make those announcements in August or September.

I have a poem, “Gondola Ride ,” in the July issue of Pig In a Poke.  Also poems by Scott Owens and Jessie Carty, among others.  There is fiction; there are essays.

Thanks to editors Harry Calhoun and Trina Allen.

My book review of Collin Kelley‘s debut novel Conquering Venus on Vanilla Heart Press has been published at Blogcritics.

“Shortly after Irene and Martin meet, they “sit on the balcony for hours … discussing art and poetry, dancing around their true selves, the strange desire to confess deep secrets.” (p. 45) But why? Away from the confines of home and with alcohol flowing to remove inhibition, the characters become free to ignore convention. Or are they now free to explore it?”  Read the entire review

Kelley is also a poet.  In fact, he’s been published in the Dead Mule.

Read Collin Kelley’s poems in the Mule.

Scroll down to find nominated poem.

“Ice To Water” by Clare L. Martin

“Foundings” by Scott Owens

“What It Is Like” by Dale Wisely

“riven” by Evie Shockley

“There Is No Map” by Felicia Mitchell

Lines Written After Hearing W. S. Merwin Read a Poem About His Last Conversation With His Father” by Sherry Chandler


“The Circle of Light” by Ann Hite

“Til Death Do Us Part” by Diane Hoover Bechtler


David Abel, Marcus Bales, Gary Barwin, Edward Bell, Lee Ann Brown, Laynie Browne, Kim Clark, Amanda Earl, Charlie Felsenthal, Richard Froude, Gloria Frym, Mary Rising Higgins, Maryrose Larkin, Amanda Laughtland, Valerie MacEwan, Jesse Morse, David Moscovich, Sheila E. Murphy, Dan Raphael, Dana Rapisardi, Elizabeth Robinson, Judith Roitman, Spencer Selby, Marilyn Stablein, Dawn Stanfield, Martha Vallely, Nico Vassilakis and Mera Wolf

31 prose pieces, 31 words each. Loose cards in folding wrapper with wraparound band. 3.5″ square.
You can buy it here.

Valerie MacEwan is the Publisher and Editor of the Dead Mule School of Southern Literature.

So Val’s off vacationing in Costa Rica, when the Mule needs attention.

Read “Wiggle Room,” the final story in Ann Hite‘s short story collection, Life on Black Mountain, posted by me. 🙂

Summer Issue entries begin June 21.

January 2023