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Saturday, July 18 – 4 pm – RiverWalk Gallery – Washington, NC
The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature Reading
and Official Book Release Party for
Better With Friends

also featuring Carter Monroe, Val MacEwan, Marty Silverthorne, Robin Dare, Joseph Lisowski and others


“Creativity arises out of the tension between spontaneity and limitations, the latter (like the river banks) forcing the spontaneity into the various forms which are essential to the work of art or poem.”
—Rollo May

“You are the only person who can forgive yourself. Once that forgiving has taken place, you can then console yourself with the knowledge that a diamond is the result of extreme pressure… The pressure can make you something quite precious, quite wonderful, quite beautiful and extremely hard.”

—Maya Angelou

Nic Sebastian of Very Like a Whale has interviewed me as a part of her third ten questions series of interviews about poetry.  This series deals with the opinions and habits of poetry editors, and I was asked to participate because I am the Poetry Editor for The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature.

The Mule was begun in 1995 by Valerie MacEwan as a print magazine under a grant from the North Carolina Arts Council. It soon become an online only literary magazine. I joined the Mule staff in 2005 as a Poetry Co-Editor and became Poetry Editor in 2007.  Since then, poetry submissions at the Mule have increased.

Read all about it.  Ten Questions for Poetry Editors – Helen Losse.

The Dead Mule Barn

We love our Mule.

Thanks to Nic Sebastian for the interview.

EDIT:  Oh, by the way,  Nic Sebastian has been in the Mule.  Read her poems here.

SECOND EDIT:  See also, or Why I love Val.


Last week Nic interviewed Steve Schroeder.  And look for interviews with eight  other poetry editors in weeks to come.

Coming up (once a week on Tuesdays):

Susan Culver, editor of Lily and Poetry Friends
Justin Evans, editor of Hobble Creek Review
Paul Stevens, editor of The Shit Creek Review, The Chimaera and The Flea
Nicolette Bethel, editor of Tongues of the Ocean
James Midgley, editor of Mimesis
Reb Livingston, editor of No Tell Motel
Kate Bernadette Benedict, editor of Umbrella
Christine Klocek-Lim, editor of Autumn Sky Poetry
John Wang, editor of  Juked
Mary Biddinger, editor of Barn Owl Review
Edward Byrne, editor of Valparaiso Poetry Review

April is National Poetry Month. And this year the Dead Mule has once again put together a diverse group of poets for its April issue. The Mule just keeps getting better and better, if I do say so myself.

Included in this issue (mostly in no particular order) are H. Dale Duke, who sent us a great poem; Tim Tomlinson, man of adventure, Brenda Kay Ledford, who’s annoyed by Yankees who correct her speech; S. Scott Whitaker, last in the Mule in the fall of 2007; poet and publisher Reb Livingston; Jessie Carty, who has a great new chapbook; Joseph Trombatore, a fifth generation Texan; Norman Cooper, also from Texas; Rosanne Osborne, who sent us four sonnets; Lisa Allender, a poet and actress from Atlanta and LA; Harry Calhoun, who’s in the Fundamental Mule ( so Harry was Mule before the I was a Mule); David Need, a poet and professor at Duke University; Melanie Faith, who “became southern” when she studied in Charlotte; Susan Washinsky, who entrusted the Mule with her first published poems—poems she’s tweaked for years; Corey Mesler, a poet with a famous book store; Shelby Stephenson, who sent us five poems from his new manuscript, and the third in our Poets Laureate Series, SC Poet Laureate Marjory Wentworth. The South is filled with the best posts in the nation. Enjoy.

Each spring I gather a few of tiny violets from the place in our yard in which they voluntarily grow.  I float their tiny heads on a bowl of water in a small pink depression ware bowl to honor a grandmother I never knew. The few pieces of depression ware that I have belonged to her. Today I looked for these volunteer flowers that now sit to my left.

My grandmother, Ellen Ora (also called Elnora, Nora, or Norie) Tingle Jones died prior to WWII, prior to my birth. She and my grandfather, Lee B. Jones (Paw to us kids) had five children, now all deceased. There was Fern, the only girl, who married William O. Carpenter and had a son, also William; Lloyd who married Daisy and had a daughter Merle and a son Lee; Earl Ray (Daddy) who married Elsie Rosa Jefferies Jones in England during WWII and had me, Pam and Michael; Walter, who died in the Pacific during WWII; and Robert Chester, who never married. At some point Nora and Lee were divorced, but details concerning that were never clear. Only that Daddy waited until she had died to join the army—the same army that had rejected him earlier.

My grandmother lived in East Joplin at 321 High Street, where my grandfather lived until his death. This was the home in which my father and his siblings grew up—half a block from Junge Stadium where my Dad once gave Babe Ruth a shoulder massage. Sweet Peas grew on the fence that separated Paw’s house from his neighbor. As a child, I loved them.

But today isn’t about Paw or the sweet peas. It’s about the grandmother I never knew. It’s about the women who came before me—women who had to be strong. Women like Nora. Women without whom I wouldn’t exist. Seems like floating violets is the least I can do.

This man is one.

File:John Hope Franklin.png

Dr. John Hope Franklin

January 12, 1915 – March 25, 2009



See my previous post concerning my only encounter with this great man.

EDIT:  See also UNC Press blog

Big developments in the anti-death penalty movement!

•    On March 18, 2009 the state of New Mexico joined 14 other states and the District of Columbia in abolishing the death penalty!  That makes a solid 30% of states in the U.S.A. that have recognized the potential for uncorrectable mistakes, the high economic and moral costs and the prejudiced application of this practice of state killing.  As reported by the Zimbabwe Star “ten other states are considering bills to abolish the death penalty, and much of the debate centres around the risks of executing the innocent and the death penalty’s high financial costs.”
•    From the Moratorium now! Campaign: “We are excited to report that SCS/SB 321-which would create a death-penalty study commission-is on the Missouri Senate’s Formal Calendar.”

Meanwhile, on the Battlefront:

Last Week (03/16/09–03/22/09)

03/19    Phillip Hartford, Alabama !!!STAY ISSUED!!! to allow adjudication of lethal injection suit

03/20    Dwayne Woods, Washington  !!STAY ISSUED!!! to allow further appeals

This week (03/23/09–03/29/09)

03/26    Ronald Puksar, Pennsylvania !!!STAY ISSUED!!! to allow further appeals

Next Week (03/30/09-04/05/09)

04/01    Richard Boxley, Pennsylvania  scheduled, but likely stay for further appeals

for more information go to The Armband Protest Agaisnt the Death Penalty

On Wednesday morning, I overslept – slept right through the alarm, I guess – but was awakened 17 minutes later by the ringing telephone.  Bad news: Paul had died.

We got up confused – bumbled our way to readiness for our day trip to Salisbury.   But we finally got on the road.  Once there, we stopped by one of the rail fanning sites and chatted with Steve, another rail fan.  We had the job of letting him know about Paul.  Steve said he’d never seen Bill without Paul (not quite spot on, but you get the idea).

We grabbed a chicken biscuit and went on to the North Carolina Transporation Museum, located in Spencer NC. (Here I digress, Spencer becomes Salisbury along the road.) At the Transportation Museum, we looked at the exhibits in way we’d never seen them before.  There were no crowds, as there always are on Rail Fan Day and in the Bumper to Bumper Car Museum, it was actually cool.  Bill was able to take lots of pictures, including those of the new (not yet finished) exhibit concerning NC Lining Bar Gangs (Gandy Dancers) that was dedicated on Tuesday during Black History Month.  The Museum does a nice job of telling the social as well as the mechanical and economic history of the growth of the railroad.

After we left the museum, we went to the Wye (Salisbury Junction) where we met a couple of rail fans and photographed three trains.

Then supper, and on to Laughing Sky Books, where poet Jenni Russell hosted the store’s first open mic (scroll down).  Jenni’s husband Jack (Poet Jack Anders) acted as MC. A small but appreciative crowd listened to prose and poems.   Jessie Carty was one of the poets who read. Jenni hopes to have future open mics about every three months.

We got home in time to catch the second half of the Duke game.  The stupid Dookies won.

*   *   *   *   *

After that darkness we call nighttime, the alarm rang.  This time I heard it.  And up we got to greet our friend Vic (not to be confused with our Victor, who’s our son), who had planned to drop by.  Good news:  Vic has an extra ticket for the Wake Forest game, and would Bill like to go?  Duh. Vic left,  we ate sandwiches, and Bill went to meet Giles to get his hair cut.

Bill was only back for about an hour when we had to leave for the Founder’s Day Convocation at Wake Forest University, where Anthony Parent, my thesis adviser, was speaking. Weathering Wake: African-American Experience” concerned the history of blacks at Wake Forest. Parent was brilliant, as he always is.

Anthony Parent

(photo Windows on Wake Forest)

We planned to see him at the reception following. We couldn’t find him, so we decided to eat.  After all, Wake Forest can throw a fine party.  Hors d’oeuvre included not only veggies and dip, breads and cheeses, but chicken and shrimp on skewers, and petit fours.    Wine was poured, coffee was brewed.  Caterers gathered empty plates. Bill was going to miss his ride to the game.

Finally, we found Tony, who looked radiant in his doctoral robe and cap.  His smile was beautiful.  Finally, he is getting the attention he deserves.  Tony Parent is the best teacher I ever had.  I love him.  We talked briefly, and Bill and I rushed home.

Phone calls indicated we crossed paths with Vic on Ransom Road, Vic in a car we don’t recognize, a car that belongs to Steve.  We don’t know Steve.   Bill drove to meet Vic to walk to the Wake Forest game.    Bill met Vic then Steve.  They were all in their seats by tip-off.  I watched on television.  The Demon Deacons won.  Wake beat State 65-78.

*   *   *   *   *

Today all we have to do is prepare to go to Mooresville for Paul’s memorial service.  He will be buried in Arlington (in 4- 6 months) but Saturday will include celebration of his life, followed by a service with full military honors, including a 21-gun salute, probably in the rain.

July 2018
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