SwEP April 2020 Newsletter

New Releases

Due to the outbreak of COVID 19 and the closures it caused, our new releases of 2020 have yet to be celebrated and recognized. However, Swimming with Elephants Publications has created and released four titles since the beginning of the year. These four publications are available at all major book distributors but we encourage our audience to please consider picking up these new releases from the poet directly or an independent bookstore.

by Bill Nevins

This is a slender volume of poems of great depth. Nevins braids themes of loss, grief and rage about the senseless loss of beautiful young people (including his beloved son) in wars that never end; historical conquest and current betrayal of indigenous peoples in the Americas; and cruel policies that cause the death of children today in immigrant detention camps. Sweat lodge incantations tell ancient stories of immigration, land theft, and the greed that drives wars for natural resources, and the legacy of curses that follow in the form of natural disasters.

Irish history with its own long sorrows also threads through Nevins’ work with allusions to Yeats and poems printed in Irish. Like all poetry, these poems should be read aloud to reveal their internal rhymes and the cadence of old oration as the poet writes of universal themes. Quiet declarations of truth are woven through these poems that urge us to live safe in “shared loving energy,” as Nevins puts it, not afraid of anything at all.

“Awe” is essential reading for this time of great unknowing and uncertainty, when truly we can live only in the present. In the title poem, Nevins reminds us that all the past is in the here, in this now.

Review submitted by Mary Dudley 

The heart is a muscle
by kat heatherington

Kat Heatherington is a queer ecofeminist poet, sometime artist, pagan, and organic gardener. She lives south of Albuquerque New Mexico, in Sunflower River intentional community with a varying number of other humans and cats. Kat’s work primarily addresses the interstices of human relationships and the natural world. She has one previous book, The Bones of This Land, published in 2017 by Swimming with Elephants Publications and available at Bookworks and Harvest Moon Books in Albuquerque, as well as on amazon.com. She can be found online at https://patreon.com/yarrowkat and on instagram at @sometimesaparticle. You can contact the author at yarrow@sunflowerriver.org.

The Emigrant and other poems 

Though he lived only 38 years, Jan Slauerhoff (born in 1898 in Leeuwarden, the capitol of Friesland in The Netherlands, and died in 1936) is considered the only poete maudit of Holland in the 20th Century, a late Romantic poet influenced by Rimbaud, Verlaine, and Corbiere.

His first poem was published as a teenager in the communist magazine the Neeiuw Tijd. After university study of medicine in Amsterdam, he worked for the rest of his life as a ship’s doctor on different ships and therefore visited many different continents, including Asia, Africa and the Caribbean of the Americas.

His longing for the passionate love for a woman and his restlessness in being a wanderer at sea, with especial sympathy for the poor and the downtrodden, figure importantly in his poetry.

There’s a story doubtlessly true that toward the end of his life, he was on a boat in the China Sea where Chinese would row out to receive shots against typhoid and diphtheria from him. Two years before his death, his final book of poems, Soleares, was awarded the Van der Hoogt Prize in The Netherlands.

He was also the author of the romantic semi-documentary novel of the 16th century Portuguese poet Luis de Camoes with whom Slauerhoff deeply identified in The Forbidden Kingdom (1932), and Life on Earth (1934).

But it’s as a poet that Slauerhoff is most deeply remembered by the people of The Netherlands, for his embodiment of the themes of modern anxiety, and the home-away-from-home that his poems evoke. Indeed he was among the first European, African or American poets in the last century to write not simply of  but within the Orient, and many poems among the 31 here reflect that domain.

Querencia is a connection with land, and with water, which sustains life. It is a remembrance of one’s history; where one began. It calls upon a place of origin. Yet, it also transcends a want and desire for where our future will take us. Querencia is not grounded by the traditional concept of Aztlán, that of the U.S. Southwest. Rather, it follows the Latinx diaspora; wherever it lands, wherever it develops roots.This project builds upon the querencia developed from the historical knowledge and social factors regarding ethnic enclaves such as the immigrant neighborhood of Roosevelt Park along the Grandville Avenue “César E. Chávez Boulevard” Corridor in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Chicanos/as, exiled Cuban-Americans, Dominicans, and refugee Central Americans have reestablished their querencia in the Latinx diaspora within this barrio. Thus, Nuestros antepasados y la nueva generación en SW Michigan observes through photography and bilingual poetry how this West Michigan community represents its ‘latinidad’.

Current Events & Projects

Currently, all in person events are on hold until the stay at home order is lifted and events can be rescheduled, but there is still a lot going on in the poetry world.

Several of our poets have begun virtual Open Mics or virtual Poetry Slams, where work can still be shared. SaraEve Fermin has begun a group called: I need you so much closer: a virtual bi-monthly artist talkspace.  Kai Coggin has taken her Wednesday Night Poetry to the web and is hosting her show on April 1st (WNP Virtual Open Mic, Poetry Through the Pandemic). Zachary Kluckman and his Mindwell Poetry Team are also hosting a weekly Open Mic with a featured poet: The Poet Speaks: Open Mic & Featured Poet.

These are just a few of the many, many virtual shows which have popped up. A quick search of Facebook or Instagram should reveal several more events all over the world which you can participate in. (If you have a show, leave a link to it in the comments on this page to be shared).

Please support these poets and organizers by virtually attending or participating in their shows, purchasing their wares directly from them, and/or sharing the information with interested parties . Also, be willing to tip or donate a little extra to their cause.

Effects of COVID 19

As far as the current situation has affected Swimming with Elephants Publications, it should be noted that all of our upcoming publications and much of our advertising is currently on hold while we are out of the office.

We apologize for these delays and encourage our authors to continue to share their work and promote their publications in anyway that suits them at the moment, and, as always, let us know how we can help.

We have faith that once our offices reopen we will be able to tackle the already scheduled projects with little delay.  

What’s to Come

The ability to publish is a luxury which should not be the top priority of our society at the moment, but we do believe we will return to a place where a small press like ours has a purpose and a future.

Although we have no idea what the future holds for our small press, we have our fingers crossed that we will survive this difficult time and come out on the other side better than before.

We still have five upcoming publications scheduled, including the selected manuscripts from our 2019 Open Call and our Annual Anthology. We have extended our timeline for these publications and we appreciate the patience of our followers and poets.

You can continue to support us by supporting our poets and supporting independent bookstores.


Would you like to contribute to May’s Newsletter?

Send a message via the Contact Us option regarding upcoming events, projects, or any other poetry related information we might include in our monthly update.