Coming Soon: Worn Out Gorgeous

Coming Soon:

Worn Out Gorgeous

by Aaron Ambrose

We would like to announce the upcoming release of Worn Out Gorgeous by Aaron Ambrose, the second of three chapbooks which were chosen for publication from our 2020 Chapbook Open Call. Originally scheduled for release in June, the pandemic has pushed our release date to October, 2020.


Follow our website and Facebook page for upcoming release and performance information.


An additional note to our followers:

The ability to publish is a luxury which should not be the top priority of our society at the moment, and it has not been the top priority for our staff. However, we have every intention of fulfilling the contracts we made before the pandemic.

Due to the pandemic we have postponed this year’s Open Call for chapbooks and the Weekly Write. After the new year, in 2021, we will reevaluate our business model and decide on our next steps.

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 but it is far too soon to know what we will look like in the next year.

We still have one more chapbook from last year’s Open Call which we hope to release before the end of 2020 and are hoping to still be able put together our 2020 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.

Now Available: A Duet of Dying

The latest release from

Swimming with Elephants Publications

is now available!


“A Duet of Dying is a poignant and honest approach to surviving terminal sickness, living disabled, and the constant navigation of the healthcare system of the United States. From honest confessions like remaining with somebody caught cheating “Because I was on his health insurance,” in Why Did You Stay? part 3, to the foreign and familiar feeling of not knowing yourself apart from the “alien” in Pathogen, this collection is a special one for its approach through — and more aptly: with — sickness. Then there is the raw cruelty that is given a voice so aptly in Ringtones into Dirges; here, at last, are words for the battle with collections calls for MRIs and diagnostic tests; those which are necessary to life, but the collected debt of which could easily drive somebody to death. And I think, finally, finally, here is an honest testament — of love, of life (while actively dying), of death (and still living). And wonderfully, a narrative from two powerful queer voices, who offer this bittersweet collection, so purely.”

~Reviewed by Maxine Peseke

As always, we encourage ordering the collection from the authors personally or through an independent bookstore, but the collection is also available through Amazon and other distributors.

Click here to order today!

About the Authors

 Shanna Alden (they/them) is a queer poet, photographer, barista, and bartender living in Seattle, WA with their chosen family and a couple very soft cats. They sit on the board of Rain City Poetry Slam and consistently host weekly poetry shows.

Erin Schick (they/them) is a queer, trans, and multiply disabled social worker living in upstate New York and focused on disability justice and queer liberation. Their interests include the Pacific Northwest, women’s soccer, and sled dogs.

Pre-orders are Available for A Duet of Dying

“What is it to face something defined as inevitable and find some still breathing beauty within, however imperfect that beauty may be? If you are Shanna Alden or Erin Schick, then the answer is: sing your heartsong as vibrantly, fiercely and unapologetically as possible. With this collection, they do all of that and more. These are poems that do not attempt to define or even simply describe the experience of living with disability, or surviving terminal illness within a broken system of care. No, these are poems that translate every breath into a minor miracle, speaking to the blossoming of pain as eloquently as the slow simmer of determination beneath the surface. A Duet of Dying is, almost, improperly titled – because with every poem, you can almost hear the swelling voices of the choir, of all of those out there in the wide world who have experiences that will make this work invaluable. This collection is so utterly, inevitably human, it will leave you shaken.”

Zachary Kluckman, CPSW

Author of Some of It is Muscle and The Animals in Our Flesh

Pre-order A Duet of Dying today: !

SwEP Mid-Month Review: the heart is a muscle

Review by Lizzie Waltner

Kat Heatherington’s poetry collection, the heart is a muscle, brings to light ideas of love that address all aspects of life in a powerful manner and has a deep connection to nature throughout. Her use of, or lack thereof, of capital letters throughout her collection gives the pieces a softness. There are no sharp edges in this collection, which makes it very comforting. These pieces are bright and playful but not downplay the serious issues that wring our hearts.

In her first section, a house by the river, Heatherington’s poem ‘planting poem’ we not only get a taste of spring, but also the touch of the past and endings. For example,

i need to plant more food this year, and less flowers,
but that thin pale green leaf lifts my heart,
and i pray for rain enough to give them all blossoms.
the cat’s grave, her small lilac,
is undisturbed and thriving.

In this small section we see her powerful use of the past contrasting with the present. It not only reflects on the past, the previous dirt being flower filled and a resting space for her cat, but also what it can become which is more sustainable and hearty for the soul, growing more food and the ability of there still being beauty in her memories of her cat that can be represented by the thriving lilac.

This idea of needing more food, could also be applied to more than just nutritional value, and how sometimes all we can do is hope to get through the next months. We all need a little rain sometimes.

The central section is aptly named, stunning transitional moments, as it is not only done stunningly, but addresses some of the toughest realities everyone learns as an adult. In ‘breathing room’ Heatherington tackles the idea of distance and leaving, and the complexity we all feel when walking away from something we love.

now we both have room to breath
and are using it to cry with.
now I can see your stormcloud eyes
filled with pain, and watching me walk away
and not feel all the wind in my sails
fly towards the storm in your heart.

The piece ends with ‘we are both standing’ and I think that hits home hard, because despite sometimes leaving being a difficult idea to grapple with it can have a positive ending, such as being able to stand on ones own.

The last section of this collection, the flammable heart, is admittedly my favorite. This entire section made my heart ache, but in the best way possible. My favorite piece in this section is, maybe. It’s simplicity about wishful thinking with the simple phrase ‘or maybe not’ got me every single time it’s used throughout this piece. This repetitive technique in this poem is repetition at its highest.

and you will visit now and then,
or maybe you won’t,
and i’ll love you anyway,
and send you postcards and text messages
about the rain and the corn and the sweet desert stars,

The way the poems presents this idea of unconditional love, despite being aware of things not working out makes it that much more heart-breaking. At the end of the day, there is always wishful thinking for love and always a realization, that maybe it won’t work out.

Overall, this collection really gets under your skin and claws itself in, sometimes making you feel warm and fuzzy, other times letting those emotions sting throughout. It makes you feel alongside the narrator and presents itself in a relatable manner and uses wonderful metaphors and similes to give visual representation to emotions. Kat Heatherington does a fantastic job in this collection, and anyone with a heart will adore it.


Click the image to order the heart is a muscle from Bookworks ABQ.

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 She can be found online at and on instagram at @sometimesaparticle. You can contact the author at

Weekly Write: “Memoirs of the Childless” by James Miller

Memoirs of the Childless

Hours before
pulling out of Hyde Park, it is
suggested that the oil might need
changing. Your engine spins

and the look
on their faces is not unlike
that judgement of parents on the weak,
who have failed to kill the lice
in their children’s
matted hair.

No room
for the dining table
this time—two months
on the lease and you’re leaving
Ikea beige behind. Taste of 1995,
chips ahoy and fuzzed milk,
not a single stain-rim
on its sainted

Pull off its legs
like a bug in extremis,
roll the flat-top sundial disk
down three flights, slide it behind
the stairs. Turn south to curl
in your mother’s

stretch to touch
floor and ceiling. Another
inch and you’re ready for twenty,
thirty years of

James Miller is a native of Houston, though he has spent time in the American Midwest, Europe, China, South America and India. Recent publications include Cold Mountain Review, The Maine Review, Lunch Ticket, Gravel, Main Street Rag, Verdad and Juked.




“Like”, “Share”, and comment on this poem to nominate it for the Annual Swimming with Elephants Publications 2020 Anthology.

Click here check out the 2019 Anthology:  Trumpet Call; a Swimming with Elephants Anthology available for only $12.95.