September: traces of letting go /Review by Nicholas Kovach

SeptemberIn the book September by Katrina K Guarascio accompanied by the photographs of Gina Marselle, the author expresses a longing to letting go.

Guarascio is definitely capable of expressing her own process of “letting go” as she shows in three sections of the book. Her poems range from anger to nostalgia. Guarascio seems to have loved the memories that the specific baggage has given her; but she obviously is angered at what this has brought her.

In section I we see poems like “Impermanence” that expresses how she will always remember the memories of whatever she is trying to let go. She explains that, “Like a sunburn, I know you will absorb into me and fade into memory” because she enjoyed what was their but now views it as simple nostalgia.

In section II we see her demeanor change from a place of nostalgia to hate and relief that she is letting go. In the poem “Badge” we see that whatever she is letting go of is inconsiderate of her feelings being like a “scar dug into my [her] flesh… which you ignore every time you brush past.” “Badge” expresses her pain that this thing gave her and the loathing she now has for it.

SeptemberIn section III we see Guarascio’s attitude relax. In the poem “Warrior” we see now that she is joyous in newfound freedom and how “a sense of posture and responsibility is near impossible to slouch.”. She can finally let go and not care about the pain her baggage has given her. Overall, I thought that Guarascio is outstanding at expressing her feelings through poems.

Normally with poems I feel like I am reading another language. However, Guarascio is able to express her feelings through three stages of letting go. September is truly an excellent read with photography that is relevant to the poetry.

Available Soon: A Fire of Prayer by Gina Marselle

1 headshot for bookGina Marselle, M.A.Ed, resides in New Mexico with her husband and children. She is a high school English teacher, and finds enjoyment in being creative through poetry, painting, and photography. She has been awarded three grants for various philanthropy poetic projects.

In addition, she has published poetic work with The Sunday Poem Online Series, in the Alibi, the Rag, SIC3, Adobe Walls: An anthology of New Mexico poetry, Catching Calliope, Fix and Free Poetry Anthology I and II, and La Palabra Anthology I and II.

Gina reads her poetry at local coffee shops, art galleries, and has been a featured poet at the Church of Beethoven (now known as Sunday Chatter). She has one chapbook (self published) titled ‘Round Midnight (2012). Furthermore, she has coordinated the poetry event for the Summer Open Space Series sponsored by The City of Albuquerque since 2009. Currently, she is honored to be part of the collective La Palabra: The Word is a Woman, which is a writer’s collective founded by poet Jessica Helen Lopez.

Beyond poetry, she is an accomplished photographer. Her photos of New Mexico poets have been featured in the Santa Fe magazine Trend (March of 2011).She also photographed the cover of Jessica Helen Lopez’ poetry book, Always Messing With Them Boys (West End Press, 2011), and has her photography featured in September: traces of letting go a poetry book by Katrina K Guarascio (Swimming With Elephants Publications, 2014).

Her first collection of work, A Fire of Prayer: A Collection of Poetry and Photography has been published by Swimming With Elephants Publications (2015).

Shameless Promotion Weekly Feature: September

SeptemberThank you to everyone who checked out and reviewed last week’s Shamless Promotion of Some of it is Muscle by Zachary Kluckman.

This week, SwEP will be shamelessing promoting the work of Katrina K Guarascio and Gina Marselle in their collection of poetry and photography entitled September: traces of letting go.

There are two editions of this book currently available via, or for those of you in the Albuquerque are you can pick up a copy of September at Bookworks Albquerque and support not only a small press but a local independent bookstore.

Special pricing is available via Amazon and Createspace.

Check the links below for availablity:


Amazon Review of September:

Katrina K Guarascio is a personal favorite. This collection of hers is something I am extremely proud to own. The addition of Gina Marselle, and her photography, makes for a well balanced book,and a nice assortment of emotions. I would recommend this to anyone in love with words, because the context in which Guarascio sets hers is unlike the majority of poets I’ve experienced. This is definitely a positive thing, too. It shipped without any complications, very quickly, and arrived in perfect condition.

Now Available: Light as a Feather

Light as a feather coverSwimming with Elephants Publications has released it’s most recent anthology, Light as a Feather. Featuring a collection of writers from around the world, this collection ranges from the weary to the hopeful. It includes the struggles with body images, eating disorders, and depression which are an unfortunate effect of the society we have created for ourself.

Light as a Feather will be available very soon from Swimming with Elephants Publications!

Hear what is being said about Light as a Feather:

Light as a Feather transports readers into the bleak landscape experienced by so many of us who suffer from eating disorders and depression. We are swept into an exploration of bones clinking “like wind chimes,” “blubber like chain mail,” “nights so black,”and “making friends with bullets.” These poems are raw and revealing yet communicate hope through perseverance and love.

Lucretia E. Penny Pence
Associate Professor of Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies

Today I ate“I ate today”. This simple statement, which opens the poem Falling, is the perfect embodiment of the simple necessity and stark power of the work contained in this collection. With themes centered on eating disorders and mental health issues, many may hesitate to pick up this collection, expecting either a morose and somber compendium of struggle, or perhaps thinking there is nothing here they can relate to. They would be wrong on both counts. Light as a Feather is a potent and surprisingly gentle assemblage of voice and experience threaded together with a delicacy that almost belies the harsh, at times almost violent, brutality of body image, external perspectives and self doubt that go hand in hand with the issues being discussed. The authors included herein have strewn themselves in vulnerable and fearless positions throughout these pages to speak truth, empathy and encouragement to anyone reading and frankly the result is an impressive, urgent and altogether timely message. Sometimes the simple act of feeding yourself makes you a lighthouse. There are shipwrecks within these pages, and for every one of them, there is a survivor hugging the coastline of their own body, holding a lifeline and refusing the sea’s invitation to determine their shape.

Zachary Kluckman
Author of Some of it is Muscle and Animals in Our Flesh

The writers in this collection range from poets who have published more than one book, to high school students just embarking on their writing careers, but they all write about these difficult subjects–depression, eating disorders–with passion and honesty. This book, which showcases human experience carefully crafted into poems, ends up being more uplifting than bleak, and reminds us that “everybody wears beauty exquisitely.” An important collection!

Lisa Chavez
Associate Professor at the University of New Mexico

Meet our contributors:

Victoria Alexander is trying to take over the world using poetry and kittens, after all, no one wants to kills a kitten. It’s purrrfect.

Nika Ann is a writer. She enjoys reading poetry out loud to her cat, playing tag with the snooze button on her alarm clock, and drinking beers while watching Austin City Limits. She is not known for taking author bios very seriously. Please follow her blog site:

Blythe Baird is a 17-year-old actress, poet, feminist, and hopeful future member of Pussy Riot. She lives just outside of Chicago, IL. Other publications include Banango Street, GERM magazine, The Postscript Journal, and Weird Cookies Poetry.

Angela Blasi is a wandering wordsmith from the Garden state who’s been in love with performing since childhood.  She is an unabashed dreamer whose work reflects a mind that is constantly wondering.  A writer since she could first hold a pencil, her work is unwavering in its honest look at the world we have created for ourselves and our roles in it, examining everything from the socio-political to the passion of erotica.

Alicia Borillo is a lovely girl who likes elephants and writing poetry for the world to see. She has big dreams of inspiring the world.

Lurana Brown is a massage therapist, pianist, and mother. Her poetry has appeared on The Blue Hour and in Penny Ante Feud 13: Dying Words by Shoe Music Press.

Marian Dragomir is from Romania; He is a poet with 2 books of poetry published, “Verses for the Big life” in 2010 and “A book with mask” in 2012. He has participated with poems in more than 20 newspapers from Romania and in more than 15 anthologies, and she has also published more than 20 book reviews in different newspapers from Romania.

SaraEve is a performance poet and epilepsy advocate from Union City.   She is currently the editor-in-chief of Wicked Banshee Press (2014) and has competed in the 2013 Women of the World Poetry Slam.  The 2012-2013 Jersey City Slam Co-Slammaster performs locally, regionally and nationally and is a regular volunteer at National Poetry Slam events. 

Karen G (Garrabrant) is a decades plus poet and organizer from the Atlanta area. She co-founded Cliterati, the once a month reading at Charis Books & More, the oldest feminist bookstore in the country. She’s also served Poetry Slam Inc. as a trustee, Tournament Director and slam manager. Loving poetry in all forms, she also works in a library.

SethWilson I. Gray is a Rio Rancho Youth Poetry Community youth poet. Currently a student at V. Sue Cleveland High School, he is also a member of the High School Poetry Community and the Storm Slam Team. He is the former state champion for Poetry Out Loud, participating in the National Finals in Washington D.C. in 2013.

Katrina K Guarascio is a writer and teacher living in Albuquerque, NM. She sponsors the Rio Rancho Youth Poetry Community and The Second Saturday Slam.

Jennifer E. Hudgens originally from Oklahoma, has been previously published in Kill poet, Decomp Magazine, Pedestal Magazine, Requiem, Divine Carcass & Artistica. Jennifer has put out several chapbooks & spoken word CD’s and has been featured on Indiefeed Performance poetry. Jennifer released chapbooks 1729 in 2012, For the Ghosts We Were and The Curious Lives of Harriet Turbine in 2013.

Mikel K is a poet and memoirist living in Mableton, Ga., a suburb of Atlanta, with his photographer-artist partner Just Joan, and their three dogs, two cats, two turtles, and bird. K was voting best Atlanta Poet, the last two years in a row, by readers of Creative Loafing, Atlanta’s weekly newspaper.

Jessicah Kean was born in small town South Carolina and raised on any given country road. On a dare from a high school teacher she began her writing career that transcends the page to the stage and has given her a network of support over the years. When asked her reason for writing…”It’s cheaper than therapy.”

Hillary Kobernick is a three-time member of Atlanta’s Art Amok! Poetry Slam Team. She holds a Master’s of Divinity from Emory University and currently pastors at a church near Chicago. Her poetry has appeared in literary magazines in the U.S. and Canada, including decomP, Paper Nautilus, and Bellevue Literary Review. Her work can always be found at

Benjamin Longfellow is currently an Adjunct English Instructor and Head Rugby Coach at Adams State University. He has a M.Ed from Antioch University Midwest and will finish his MFA in Creative Writing, Poetry at Western State Colorado University this summer.

Katelyn Lucas is a Bay Area-based writer and performance poet who has represented the Bay Area at National Poetry Slam events since 2010. She is the co-founder of The Voice of a Generation, a local business pairing artists with opportunities and dedicated to the enrichment of arts programs in local schools.

Levi J. Mericle is a twenty-six year-old poet and spoken word artist from Tucumcari, NM. He enjoys writing and submitting work in the forms of poetry, lyrics and children’s literature. He has struggled with mental illness for about fifteen years. His goal in life now is to help people (kids and teens especially) and be an advocate for life.

Piper Mullins is a survivor and activist. She is the Slammaster of the Denver Mercury Cafe Slam and was a competing member of the 2013 Denver Mercury Slam team. Her work has been featured in such publications as Metrosphere and La Palabra: The Word is a Woman.

Barbara Rockman teaches poetry and multi-genre writers workshops in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Her poems appear widely in journals and anthologies and have been twice nominated for Pushcart Prize Awards. She is the author of “Sting and Nest,” winner of the New Mexico-Arizona Book Award and the National Press Women Book Prize. A graduate of Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA in Writing, Barbara can be reached at

Barnamala Roy a UG 3 student of Presidency University, Kolkata, India.  Her poems have been published in Voices, The Statesman, the South Point High School magazine, Ascent and a few little magazines.

Danielle Smith a student and poet and V. Sue Cleveland high school, enjoys Pina Coladas and getting caught in the rain, and aspires to exceed five feet tall and spread music and energy to the world.

Sarah Smithson is a tenacious young woman who has blossomed into a poet. She is the only person who knows how to correctly use the masculine grunt at poetry slams. She greatly enjoys the nerd life, frequent existential crises, her two best friends, and calling her dog a fatass in a wittle flubby wovey voice.

Mojdeh Stoakley is a 4x award winning bi-racial writer, performer, photographer & teaching artist. Her photography & writing have been published by many media sources and journals such as WBEZ online, Alarm Press, F News, and Muzzle Magazine, among others.

Sarah Van Alsten is a 17 year old from Connecticut with a passion for dogs, reading, and biology. She is intent on seizing life with a vengeance and seeing the world.

Genevieve Vigil is a wandering artist and dreamer who is currently rooting herself back home in the central desert of Albuquerque , NM. 

Kirstina Ward is a sophomore at Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee, Oklahoma. She is studying Psychology with a creative writing minor. Her work has been featured heavily on her mother’s fridge and read aloud at many a slam competition.

Emily Warzeniak is a biology major at UNM planning to specialize in nutritional and alternative medicine and healing arts. My biggest mission is to unite the opposing worlds of art, science, and spirituality within myself as a poet and one day as a healer.

Laura Welsh was born and raised in College Station, Texas. Now in her mid-twenties, she owns and operates a business training and competing jumping horses in the Olympic equestrian disciplines. Laura participates in slam poetry, and performs her own original work. She represented her home community in the 2014 Women of the World Poetry Slam.

Abigail Wyatt, a former teacher at Redruth School, writes poetry and short fiction from her home in Cornwall and hopes for the best.

Now Available: Cumulus Collections

Danielle CoxAn anthology of poetry, prose, and artwork from students at V. Sue Cleveland High School 2013-2014.

Now Available!

All proceeds benefit the CHS Poetry Community.

SethWilson I. Gray
Artwork:  Suzette Licano
Alexander Schlesinger
Casey Shearer
Artwork: Ambrosia Hernandez
Victoria Alexander
Artwork: Stephanie Baker
Kaley Bertrand
Jillian Kovach
Artwork: Miguel Lastra
Santina Dioniso
Photography: Kristina Dominquez
Victoria Alexander
Alyssa Robinson
Artwork: Elizabeth Koschade
Artwork: Cory Toby
Atira Kennedy
Artwork: Rachel Rounsville 38
Sarah Smithson
Photography: Steven Fiedor
P. Madison Baggett
Rachel Rounsville
Meredith McFall
Shannon Mulligan
Miguel Lastra & Meredith McFall
Photography: Lauren Garcia

Cover Photography by Danielle Coz.

September: a review by Mark Fischer

poetry by Katrina K Guarascio
photography by Gina Marselle

Review by Mark Fischer


September is a book in three parts, three phases of letting go. The majority of poems in this collection speak to fleeting moments, a restlessness in the character, a yearning for something –  more realized in exquisite experience of the current moment. The words cascade down the pages in short, clean lines making effective use of crisp white space that many poets underutilized. In this effect, I feel a sense of impermanence, like snapshots taken in temporary bivouacs on a road trip through young adulthood. The never-ending summer. The last days of youth.

SeptemberThere is sadness, insight, worry, and relief sprinkled throughout this collection. Ruminating on love amid campfire smoke or the morning breeze on clean sheets, I am able to feel the conflicts and contemplations. In “Impermanence” Guarascio expertly describes internalizing the past and what it means to not let go when she writes “Like a sunburn, I know you will absorb into me and fade into memory. You cut me under the skin.”  September is full of vivid images like this that develop into a cohesive flickering film of transition. The poet is ever seeking sense out of hardships, patterns in roadkill.

The photography that accompanies this collection is superb. Images are well paired with poems. The many super close-ups speak of parts, the shapes of the body, and match the introspection of the poems. Gina Marselle has a great eye for emotion and her work is a well chosen accent to the book. Both Guarascio and Marselle are teachers in New Mexico. It is something to appreciate to discover your children’s lives are being enriched by the likes of strong artists as these women.

September is a strong collection. It’s like a dreamy short film shot on 38MM with a soothing shoegaze soundtrack playing in the background. If you were to make your crush a poetry mix-tape, Guarascio would be on it – twice. Wake me up when September ends.

Guarascio is an active member in the poetry slam scene in Albuquerque. She is responsible for establishing a poetry and spoken word community in Rio Rancho and coaching a youth poetry slam team. She is the founder of Swimming with Elephants Publications which is bringing the talents of many exceptional spoken word poets to print. Order September: traces of letting go from Amazon or Createspace.