SwEP Mid-Month Review

Into the Sunset

A Review of Courtney A. Butler’s Wild Horses
By Beau Williams

Like the name suggests, Wild Horses is the struggle of an unbridled soul ready to escape from the reins. Courtney A. Butler dissects the intricacies of a fierce heart under stress and scatters them through this collection in twenty-two poems.

This collection is a frustrated soul screaming from behind a crumbling barrier. In the book’s introductory poem, “Words, Like Meat,” the first line reads:

“I scrape words
like meat
from the inside of my ribs
They have hung there
clinging desperately to what
oxygen they could”

This line summarizes why this book exists. Butler portrays a person that has had this “meat”, these weighing parts of her that needed to be released, and Wild Horses is that release. Butler tackles the delicate topics of loss of a loved one, being the “other” girl, carrying secrets, searching for love, and (like true wild horses) learning to break free. This collection has the longing and reflection of Plath, the fierceness of Ke$ha, the nature influences of Wordsworth, with a hint of zany like Lewis Carroll.

This book has hidden its structure quite well. There are no full-stops, though there are commas, hyphens, italics, and capitalized letters to subliminally guide the reader’s eye through the pages. The lack of full-stops gives the book a sense of uncertainty that Butler carries with grace; a slight unease that really sets the tone ahead of time and prepares the reader for the topics soon to follow. There are no sections, no interludes, and no quotes, Butler just gets straight to it and gives you exactly what you came there for.

As previously mentioned, the introductory poem seems to be Butler giving herself permission to write the rest of the work; “Words, like Meat” is Butler strapping the bomb to the dam, once the switch is flipped, whatever has been pushing itself against the walls will finally be released, and it was.

After that, the book really dives into relationships between the subject and the people closest to them. The second poem: “DNR,” lays out the concept of the book. It is about a person who is trying to come to terms with a situation in a relationship that neither of the participants have any control over. This is a recurring theme throughout the book. In “DNR,” the topic is death. In later poems the topics are love, lust, miscommunication, and distance.

It can be argued that one of the most intimate, relatable, and touching poems in the collection is “The Importance of Being Broken (Or Sitting in a Bathtub with Your Clothes On and the Lights Off).” Here, Butler describes the deafening moment of collapse; the moment where all the stress and all the worry has finally become too much.

“because all the shit has been hitting all the fans”

This poem gets into the mind of a person who has reached a breaking point and literally crumples into a ball, fully clothed, in their bathtub with the lights off; contemplating turning the water on, the light on, removing their clothes, finding strength but ultimately doing none of these. The content of this poem is relatable to nearly everyone. Everyone has hit rock bottom. Everyone has given up hope. Everyone has crawled into an unlikely place in an awkward fashion in search of any sort of comfort. Butler doesn’t sugarcoat anything about this mental state.

“Maybe you were pushed off that cliff
Maybe it was your fault
or maybe you got caught in the landslide
The reality is
everything you were was on that cliff
and now everything you are is
broken in a bathtub?”

Though raw and heavy, Butler ends the poem on a strong note; describing how, at the end of this, you will start to mold your new shape together like a carved bar of soap — highlighting the brand new you that will finally be able to stand up and turn on the light.

Butler also has a fun, cutesy side which is apparent in her poem “The Long Slow Huzzah! (or Tea Time Going Over a Cliff).” This one has a very surreal feel, like Salvador Dali meets Alice in Wonderland. In this poem, the author describes falling in love as a metaphor for having a tea party… while tumbling off a cliff.

“Pale yellow tablecloth rippling in the breeze
taking all the fine china with it (…)
Well then, I’ve gone and fallen in love with you ”

This might be the most animated piece in the collection. Short and sweet, “The Long Huzzah!” is quaint and joyful, with underlying tones of terror. There is no mention of fear, no imminent crash to end the plummet, just weightlessness. The mention of a cliff face insinuates it is connected to a ground and with no mention of the ground throughout the poem or plans to get out of this situation, one can only assume the postscript is bloody and riddled with shattered porcelain.

Wild Horses is a solid collection that would find home on the bookshelves of the strong-of-heart. “Closer to One” is one of the last poems in the book and sums up the target audience very well. Here, the subject considers themself as two people: the untamed animal in a cage, and the caregiver.

“Yes! I say, finally
Yes to your thirst
Yes a thousand times
to the nectar you crave (…)
You are right to thirst
and I will answer you”

This book is for any static heart who has ever felt tied down or unheard. This book is for the wild of spirit; for anyone who has needed to scream and doesn’t have the haven. Wild Horses lets you know that you are never alone in these places, and that others have been where you’ve been and (like you) survived to ride free.

Click here to help support Independent Bookstores during this time of social isolation by purchasing Wild Horses from Bookworks Albuquerque. 

 

Review by Beau Williams:

Beau Williams is a fairly optimistic poet based out of Portland Maine. He co-runs a weekly poetry class at Sweetser Academy and facilitates workshops at high schools and colleges around the New England area. His work has been published in numerous poetry websites and journals.

Beau has performed internationally and nationally both as a solo artist and with the performance poetry collectives Uncomfortable Laughter and GUYSLIKEYOU. He was the Grand Slam Champion at Port Veritas in 2014 and was the Artist in Residence at Burren College in Ballyvaughan, Ireland in January of 2017. Beau’s book, Rumham, is available for purchase on Amazon.com.

Happy New Year from Swimming with Elephants Publications


We want to start by thanking everyone for all their support over the years. As we enter year seven of Swimming with Elephants Publications, it is amazing to see how what started as a small chapbook publication agent has bloomed to be the publisher of close to 100 publications supporting authors from all over the world.

As you know, this is a not for profit venture, which means that the resources and time spent making each publication is undertaken without charge. We sustain our business model through the sales of our anthologies and the reimbursement of the first 25 internet sales, along with the occasional submission fee. We are a fragile beast, but at this point we are persisting and that wouldn’t be happening without the hard work of our authors and supporters.

Thank you to our authors for having faith in our little sideshow and allowing us to spread your words in print. Thank you to our supporters and readers, who continue to pick up new SwEP titles and get to know our new authors.

What’s New?

We have become an official affiliate of Bookworks Albuquerque, a local, independent bookstore. Bookworks has always been a great supporter of Swimming with Elephants Publications. Not only do they carry our books on their shelves and website, they have hosted several events and releases for Swimming with Elephants Publications authors over the years. We encourage everyone who wishes to purchase a title online, to do so through Bookworks Albuquerque. By doing so, you are supporting not only Swimming with Elephants Publications but our local independent bookstore. Shop small. Support Local.

Another collaboration which has occurred over the past year, has been with NMTESOL and Central New Mexico Community College (CNM). Over the past year we have been working with the ESL Program (English as Second Language) at CNM to produce two publications created by ESL students and the ESL Club, Open Language. We are excited to share the voices of these students who might otherwise have been unable to express themselves. We look forward to more collaborations with the ESL community in 2020.

Time to Get to Work

January of 2020 is already a busy time. We are currently working on creating author statements which will be sent out by the end of the month. If you are an active SwEP Author and do not receive a statement by the end of January, please email us. You must reply to your author statement to remain an active SwEP author and to receive any available royalties for 2019.

This month also has us busy with selecting manuscripts from the Open Call for publication in 2020. Although our Open Call judges will select three manuscripts for publication, all submissions are still considered as our 2020 publication calendar is created. Please stay tuned to our website and Facebook page to get a look at this year’s publications as soon as they are announced.

Speaking of publications and submissions, Swimming with Elephants Publications has made an important change. Beginning in October 2019, submissions for chapbooks and poetry collections will only be accepted through the fall submission Open Call. We no longer have the ability to put together last minute collections or begin midyear projects. If you or someone you know would like to submit a manuscript, the next Open Call for submissions will be in October 2020.

Many of our authors have projects in the works and are continuing to promote their publications and their work. Keep your eye on the website and the Facebook page for the announcements of tours and shows in 2020!

New Releases from 2019

(in no significant order)

Sad Bastard Soundtrack
By Paulie Lipman

Cement
By Sarah Menefee

Immigrant Memories & Poetic Ambitions
By Laura Jijon

Intersex, Truth and Spirituality
By Maria Sanchez

Trumpet Call: A Swimming with Elephants Anthology
By Maxine Peseke

OM Boy
By Manuel González

Among God & Other Drugs
By Matthew Brown

Belly Up Rosehip
By Tyler Dettloff

Sell Me Insanity
By Marcial Delgado

I’ve Been Cancelling Appointments with my Psychiatrist for Two Years Now
By Sean William Dever

disaster in die / an overdose sunrise
By bassam

Small World: Central New Mexico Community College
By Yueh Ni Lin

Shorn: apologies & vows
By Benjamin Bormann

Provocateur
By Jessica Helen Lopez

Trauma Carnival
By SaraEve Fermin

Light as a Feather: An Anthology of Resilience
By Courtney Butler

Thalassophile: a chapbook of poetry
By Abigayle Goldstein

Click here to see the full Swimming with Elephants Publications Catalog.

Thank you for reading and for being a part of our Parade! Have a wonderful 2020!

Sincerely,

Kat Crespin & Maxine Peseke

SwEP + BKWKS = BFF

Swimming with Elephants Publications, LLC is excited to announce our official affiliation with Bookworks Albuquerque.

Bookworks ABQ has been a long time supporter of Swimming with Elephants Publication, LLC hosting various events and supporting our local authors throughout our six years in business. But now we are taking it one step further.

We are happy to say, that Swimming with Elephants Publications, LLC is now an official affiliate of Bookworks ABQ. What does this mean? It means Bookworks is our go-to for all online book orders. Although all of our books will still be available via Amazon, Barnes and Nobel, and other major distributors, we encourage our audience both local and national to purchase directly from Bookworks ABQ. Doing so will support small businesses, both Swimming with Elephants Publications and Bookworks Albuquerque.

Click on the pictures below to order some of our latest publications directly from Bookworks and keep your eyes open for our next Bookworks event on Small Business Saturday, November 30, 2019.

Barger, Kevin

Observable Acts

 

bassam

bliss in die/unbinging the underglow

Bella, Gigi

22

 

Bellamy, Hakim E

Prayer Flag Poems

 

Bjustrom, Emily

Loved Always Tomorrow: A Chapbook

 

Bormann, Benjamin

Shorn: Apologies & Vows

 

Brown, Matthew

Verbrennen

 

Butler, Courtney A. (editor)

Light as a Feather: An Anthology of Resilience: Second Edition

 

Butler, Courtney A.

Wild Horses

 

Christina, Dominique

They Are All Me

 

Coggin, Kai

Periscope Heart

 

Crespin, Eva Marisol

Morena

Fermin, SaraEve

Trauma Carnival

You Must Be This Tall to Ride

 

Gërvalla, Jusuf

Bekimi I Nënës / A Mother’s Blessing

 

Gibson, Wil

Quitting Smoking, Falling in and Out of Love, and Other Thoughts about Death.

 

Unease at Rest

 

Goldstein, Abigayle

Thalassophile: A Chapbook of Poetry

 

González, Manuel

…But My Friends Call Me Burque

González, Sarita Sol

Burquenita

 

Grillo, Christopher

Elegy for a Star Girl

Guarascio, Katrina K

The Fall of a Sparrow

 

My Verse,

 

September

Heatherington, Kat

The Bones of This Land

 

Hendrickson, Brian

Of Small Children / And Other Poor Swimmers

 

Hirshman, Jack and Justin Desmangles

Passion, Provocation and Prophecy

 

Holtry, Mercedez

My Blood Is Beautiful

 

Hotlry, Mercedez & Eva Crespin

Xicana Revolt

 

Hudgens, Jennifer E.

Girls Who Fell in Love with War

 

Kluckman, Zachary

Some of It Is Muscle

 

Kluckman, Zachary (Editor)

Trigger Warning

 

Lambersy, Werner

Pina Bausch

 

Lipman, Paulie

From Below/Denied the Light

 

Lopez, Jessica Helen

Cunt.Bomb.: A Chapbook

 

The Language of Bleeding

 

Lopez, Jessica Helen & Katrina K Guarascio (Editors)

Mothers and Daughters

 

Macaron, Kristian

Storm

 

Marselle, Gina

A Fire of Prayer: A Collection of Poetry and Photography

 

Montoya, Manuel (MJR)

The Promethean Clock or Love Poems of a Wooden Boy

 

Nance, Niccolea

For Those Who Outlast Their Pain

 

Nevins, Bill

Heartbreak Ridge

 

Oishi, Mary and Aja Oishi

Rock Paper Scissors

 

Rottschafer, S.L., Ph.D.

La Diáspora de Un Aztlán Norteño: : Michicanidad Creativity as Witnessed in Bilingual Ethno-Poetry and Photography

 

Smith, Danielle

Gnarly

 

Warren, R.B.

Litanies Not Adopted

 

Williams, Beau

Nail Gun and a Love Letter

 

Wolff-Francis, Liza

Language of Crossing

 

Anthologies

 

Parade: Swimming with Elephants Publications Anthology 2018

 

 

 

 

Light as a Feather; an anthology of resilience is Now Available

Now Available from Swimming with Elephants Publications, LLC

Light as a Feather:

an anthology of resilience

Available at Bookworks Albuquerque and all major book distributors.

Click here to order today from Amazon.

“This collection is a wrenchingly painful, honest, and ultimately beautiful depiction of what people with eating disorders struggle through. Part of the insidiousness of disordered eating is that it operates so definitively in secrecy. It is characterized by locked bathroom doors, midnight binges, furtively skipped meals, and deeply held shame. Shame thrives in darkness, and this book brings in light. It shines on all the pain that is so often hidden away, and in doing so is a message of resilience, healing, and hope.”

~Amanda Knoll, MA, LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor)

Light as a Feather, Second Edition takes the focus on eating disorders from the mere act of survival into the courageous world of resilience. The authors within, through wit, humor, and ruthless self-reflection, pull back the curtain on what is often misunderstood, even considered too taboo to discuss outside of hushed voices. Eating disorders have long been perceived as a one trick pony. The truth is far more nuanced, spreading across biological sex, gender identity, ethnic background, race, and creed. Light as a Feather feasts its truth before you like a banquet, with prose and poetry shining across the table, delicacies ready to be plucked. Each story is a peek into an individual universe unique in its own existence.

Yes, this book is about disorders, but each writer’s experience could not be more diverse. Yet all are threaded together somehow, with a gentle and raw humanity that will ring true even with the most hesitant of readers. However, do not make the mistake of believing this carefully crafted work will pull its punches. Light as a Feather, Second Edition is violent in its lack of apology. When a group of survivors gather to share their stories, they do so with shocking brutality. In fact, they wear their own flawed humanity so keenly, you cannot help feeling your own internal urgency to unburden the truth.

Let reading Light as a Feather make you brave, as brave as the contributors found within these pages.