Swimming with Elephants Publications

an independent, not for profit, publishing agent focusing on supporting the working author and non-profit organizations


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Coming Soon from Swimming with Elephants Publications, LLC

The results of our summer Chapbook Competition has gifted us three amazing new authors and three amazing new titles.

Kat Heatherington’s the bones of this land was released in October.

Courtney A Butler’s Gypsy Horses is looking at a November release.

Manuel Montoya’s The Promethean Clock –or- Love Poems of a Wooden Boy should be available in December.

We have a few other titles on the plate for consideration giving us a very busy end of the year. Keep your eyes on our website for more updates in the coming weeks.

Want to support our press? Pick up one or five of the publications we offer. Find links on our website. Also, you may simply donate to our small business via the Paypal link on the home page (we’d rather you bought the books, but hey, support is support).

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All Things Grow… even in the crisp autumn cold.

Lately I find myself in a transition phase of recognizing where my own trauma and anxieties end and I begin. This poem, “All Things Grow” by Lydia Havens, performed with Kate Noel, at this summer’s National Poetry Slam in Denver, paid tribute to that transitional phase; and while I didn’t get a chance to see the poem performed in person, I read reactions to it left and right and, upon reading it (and seeing the video), felt a growth inside of myself.

I believe that’s the true meaning of poetry: feeling yourself grow and flourish in the moment, alongside another person, because of another person’s experience and words. I think there’s something especially enchanting about poems like that, and furthermore something enchanting about Lydia — they have this remarkable talent of being explicit and raw and shaping it into something beautiful, something that… grows, far beyond the usual expectations of what one thinks of when they walk into a poetry slam. And that might be one of my very favourite things about Lydia Havens as a writer, too: they are so far beyond the typical slam artist. Instead, they are the true definition of a poet. In a few brief words, they are walking, talking, magical, lizard-y poetry themselves.

“All Things Grow” by Lydia Havens, performed with Kate Noel

bless every poem about trauma,
& struggle, & loss i have written
thus far, for getting me this far.
bless all the space they needed to take up. bless them for knowing
when to step away.

bless all the songs i cannot
listen to anymore because
nostalgia & association will be
the death of me. bless the fact
that i am not dead yet. bless
the fact that i don’t know
where my abuser is anymore,
and i am okay with that.

it doesn’t mean i’ve forgiven him,
but it does mean i’ve forgiven myself.

bless my mother for believing me.
bless my mother for driving me
to all the psych wards, then picking me
back up after discharge. bless
my mother for believing in me.

bless my friends for carrying me home.
bless my friends for making me a home.
bless the city of Boise. bless all the light
it gives us, even at night. bless all
the rivers, even when they want
to overflow. bless the scars on my arms
that faded, and the ones on my face
that didn’t. bless all the ways i spill
like metal secrets against the floor.

bless the glitter always on my hands,
and the becoming. bless the way
my hair is growing out. bless the meds
that worked until they didn’t. bless the way
i never stopped working.

bless the fact that once, i thought
i didn’t know how to write a happy poem.
so bless all the cliches i am learning to love
because i like being a happy person
more than i like being a good writer.
bless vulnerability. bless bravery.
bless whatever it is i’m doing right now,

because everyone that’s ever hurt me
has tried to make me quiet—drown me
in the frantic water i just learned how
to endure. this is not a survival song.
this is the song I sing because I’ve survived.
the opportunity for the joy i have always deserved,
because i have always deserved to take up space.

that’s all. that’s all.

(text posted with permission)
You can visit Lydia’s website, here, and further support them by buying their book, “Survive Like the Water” and, of course, watch the video performance of “All Things Grow” again and again.
Don’t forget to follow them on instagram for magical selfies, and on twitter for more updates about poetry and their life in Boise.

 


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The Book You Need to Have

Language of CrossingWhen the manuscript of Language of Crossing first crossed my desk, I immediately knew it was an important work which profoundly reflected upon some of the most disturbing issues concerning immigration in America. In light of recent events, the building of “the wall” and American relations with Mexico, it is even more important than ever.

Through poetry, Liza Wolff-Francis tells the stories, demonstrates the horrors, and gives a human face to those people who are so greatly affected by the immigration. The struggle continues. This is not a reflection of what is past, but a collection of what continues. If you want to truly understand the strife of the undocumented, start here.

Order the Language of Crossing from Amazon for only $10.95 by clicking here.

About the Publication:

Liza Wolff-Francis’s Language of Crossing is a collection of poetry that mirrors the true heart-stories along the US/Mexico border. Giving face, voice and humanity to all those who make their way across fronteras, her work is that of a necessary endeavor. She writes of a reality that must be ignored no longer. It is the struggle, strife, and violence that is endured by those who flee their country in hopes of a better life. Her poems, brutally honest and minute, rouse compassion as all good poetry must and begs the question of accountability. Language of Crossing is a political outcry, a finely tuned collection of endurance of a people, and a passionate advocacy for all to take notice. Wolff-Francis is a real activist planting poetic prayer flags across the vastness of a desert.

Reviews from Amazon.com:

By Francois Pointeau

“In Brownsville there’s a hundred
stash houses where they keep the immigrants
once they’ve crossed over in north heaven.
The coyotes take their shoes from them,
take their clothes so they don’t run, keep them
behind locks. Quiet. Callados.
En silencio, until the next trek
on into the land of the free.

(from the poem “In Brownsville there’s a stash house where they keep the immigrants”)

The poems in Language of Crossing by Liza Wolff-Francis will break your heart. Is this the America we live in? Yes it is. Is this the way we treat the poor and the needy? Yes it is.

Whatever happened to: “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” –The New Colossus, by Emma Lazarus

These words have become the Myth of America. Wolff-Francis brings the tragedy, the reality of the true faces of the immigrants to life, not the myth…she paints us a picture of what is going on right now on our southern borders. She gives individuals crossing our borders a human face, a human heart, and a human longing for a better land, a better place, a simple place where you can raise your family without the fear of death at every corner. And for many of these immigrants, what they find is everything but. Wolff-Francis doesn’t pull any punches. What she writes about, we can not ignore, we can no longer turn a blind eye to. This is an important collection of poems, and you need to read it.

By hanginwithlewis

I’m so glad I was able to get a copy of Language of Crossing. As I’ve been listening to NPR and hearing about humanitarian crises in Africa and the Middle East, I’ve kept wondering at how strong our national political policies must be, that we turn a blind eye to what’s happening at our threshold. Before the book launch reading at La Resistencia Bookstore in Austin, I knew there were people crossing the border, and many if not most of those journeys did not have a happy ending. But I hadn’t realized there was a humanitarian crisis in progress, so I feel that I’ve at least had my eyes opened in a way that allows me to look at what’s going on more critically and realistically. Not that I’ve saved any lives yet, per sé, but I’m glad to be able to read about your perspective, rather than only hear the President’s. And the found poem that opens the collection, “Border Trauma,” is still haunting me months later.

LizaHeadShotAbout the Author:

Liza Wolff-Francis is a poet and writer with an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Goddard College. She was co-director for the 2014 Austin International Poetry Festival and a member of the 2008 Albuquerque Poetry Slam Team. She has an ekphrastic poem posted in Austin’s Blanton Art Museum by El Anatsui’s sculpture “Seepage” and her work has most recently appeared in Edge, Twenty, unseenfiction.com, Border Senses, and on various blogs. As a social worker, she has worked with Spanish speaking immigrant populations for twenty years. She wrote the play “Border Rising” from interviews with undocumented Mexican immigrants in Los Angeles. She currently lives in Albuquerque, NM.


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Michal by Sarah Allred

Michal 

by Sarah Allred

I see these women
bags under their eyes
and blissfully unshowered
and I envy them
who get to pour
their love into one or
two or maybe three
finite little creatures
who haven’t had the
chance, yet, to be
terrorized by the world
As I sit here
with my flat belly
in a clean quiet house
and I remind you
to call your therapist
before it’s too late
and I listen to my boyfriend
talk about his exwife
and I remind a good friend
every time I see him
he is a good, generous man
and I call my mother
and I miss my sister
and it hurts to love
this way, this much


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Hannah /6&26 by Sarah Allred

Hannah/6&26

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I am not afraid of anything
not even a Tyrannosaurus rex
she says cheeks plump
in the yard I pick
tiny yellow flowers from
between thorns I think they
look like berries
I nod and agree

I am afraid I will never
be able to love again
she says cheeks plump
in the yard I exhale
smoke and wish I could
say anything true that would
let us feel better but
I nod and agree