Thank you Bellingham

To make a prairie it takes a clover and a bee
One clover and a bee

And revery
The revery alone will do
If bees are few
~ Emily Dickinson


It takes a community to make a Clover.  From this community comes a Mayors Arts Community Award for Norman L Green and me for Clover, A Literary Rag. We thank our mayor and all those who wrote letters in support of this award. Especially noted and unabashedly adored, Laurel Leigh.

Norman asked me on the telephone if I might be interested in a project like Clover nearly eight years ago.  I was just getting the Independent Writers’ Studio going in the wake of recession–so of course–I thought it was a dandy idea. Raised eyebrows, here.

We figured we would have stories and poetry from the IWS groups and who knew, others might be interested. Business plan completed.

After Tuesday night groups Norman washes out the coffee cups by the fire escape on the third floor. I watch.  This is where  most of our Clover conferencing happened and continues to transpire.

IWS groups were supportive and wrote with deadlines in mind.  Village Books carried our rag.  James Bertolino not only mentioned Clover in the Village Books Chuckanut Reader, but he submitted poetry!  Others followed.

I love David Lee’s poetry and thought about sending him a copy of Clover. I did. He loved it, and sent us poetry and told his friends. Friends and friends of friends responded. We advertised  on Poets and Writers website–hooked into Submittables and Clover grew.

Norman and I are grateful–but not beyond words.  Words were made for occasions like this. Celebrate with us.  In an age of political catastrophe where we dig through the darkest flaws of our national character, it is gratifying to see the support a literary rag has garnered.  Small as we are.

We will keep the lights on.

Thank you Bellingham!




About this Feud, Maybe

As the recipient of the first SULLY Award for certain auspiciousness for Clover, A Literary Rag, I want to applaud its creator, Mike Allegra.  A fine writer with a keen sense of greatness he thinks we should carry on the tradition of the SULLY by creating a writer’s contest — just what the rules of the contest should be are to be determined.  He is asking us for suggestions.  What do you think?  Why not message me on Facebook — Clover’s page — or to Mike. See link below.

And to Laurel Leigh — you introduced me to Mike and I have to agree with him about you nosing in to make a connected and wonderful place for writers here in Bellingham and  beyond its borders. From your work at Village Books hosting Open Mic to your ongoing support of Clover,  your support of writers and literary arts inspires all of us, every day.   So we know who you are! And count you as a true friend.  Thank you.

Here is a link to Mike Allegra’s page — hop over.

Remember folks, April 30th is our deadline for CLOVER, v. 13.  Get on it!


Spring Frogs

The wetlands chant Buddhist mantras — Spring and frog song.

Straight across from my patio on the other side of the street is a pile of dirt taller than my house.  It comes from new construction–the tip top of it directs the eye to the North Star.  My daughter calls the mound of dirt Mt. Temporary.  Kids and sleds slipped and slid down the hill during the snow days of January and February.  In the evenings couples huddle atop Mt. Temporary to watch the sun set across the sky skirted by the northern Canadian mountains.  Eagles and hawks and great blue herons fly over — Canada geese honk and spread their wings as they go about their aerial business.  Green headed mallards and mallard hens swim in shallow pools upon the wetlands.

And like I mentioned, the frogs provide a soundtrack worthy of Buddhist contemplation.

I had back surgery almost three weeks ago, and because of that I took a month off from the studio groups and most other professional endeavors so that I could concentrate on recovery. I want to say this was a minimally invasive procedure. I have had back problems for 7 years, but the surgical repair was to fix a problem that came from me moving a table out of the house last year.  One of the things I am required to do is to walk every day and to never try to twist a heavy oak table through the front door ever again.  Ever.

I am a lifelong walker. The growing lack of mobility before the surgery prevented me from long walks, and I missed that. These long Cordata walks through wetlands and neighborhoods allow me to check the cusp of tall trees where a red tailed hawk alights to check out a duck dinner on the ponds below and occasionally an eagle flies overhead. My glasses might show a spray of rain, but I am warm and happy as I walk onward. Thank you each for your well wishes.

Our studio groups begin again March 27. Monday group starts at 1PM — Tuesday — group at 7PM.  So get ready to write!



IWS Gets Around — Jim, Sara, and Janet O.

Sara Simard and Jim Milstead share the podium at Village Books in Fairhaven, this Sunday, the 15th, at 4PM.
Sara will read from her new collection from IWS Press called HEART. Jim will read from both  of his collections, COLLAGE and SCENARIO.
You know Jim from Poetry Night and the Peace Vigils. You know him from his dedicated support of writers and writing in our community.  And of course you know him in our IWS groups.
Sara and Jim met in a writing group of mine more than a decade ago. Sara’s poems are homespun, spoken from her experience, and the humor is underplayed and always there. Her first book of poems, WATER POEMS came out a few years back; this Sunday we celebrate HEART.
Join us!
Or if you are in Texas Join janet oakley!

The Pulpwoods Queens Book Club, the largest book club in the USA and the world with 620+ chapters, was started in a beauty salon/bookstore in Texas around 18 years ago. I took a chance a year ago and submitted Timber Rose for consideration as a book club pick. To my surprise, it was selected as a “backlist read” for February 2016. Then I was invited to be a featured author at The Girlfriend Weekend starting this January 12th. In addition to a chance to share my novel with over 400 book club members attending, I’ll be serving them dinner dressed as Pat Conroy, long time fan of this gathering and wearing gems, tiara and other glam stuff on Saturday for the themed ball, Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend. You never know where your writing is going to take you!

January 15 at Village Books

Independent Writers’ Studio members, Jim Milstead and Sara Simard will read from their recent collections. Jim authored Collage and Scenario in the last few years. Sara’s second book, Heart  is just out. Frequent contributors to Clover, A Literary Rag; IWS published Heart and Collage.

Both appear together next Sunday, January 15 at 4 PM  at the Fairhaven Village Books.  I will be hosting.

Jim and Sara met in one of my afternoon writer’s group about 15 years ago.  Each has a distinct and true voice, and I urge you to join us for a wonderful Literature Live afternoon!

May You Laugh

I will drink champagne. The Christmas lights still shine in the dark 4:00 hour. Spring will come–insert your favorite maxim here. Whenever you feel wintry gloom listen to a baby laugh.  Good medicine for which I can vouch.

A week ago last Friday I was walking my little dog Kirby just after 5 PM.  A big, off-leash dog attacked Kirby. I screamed as the aggressor shook my gentle 12 pound dog. The dog’s owner pulled the animal off Kirby. Kirby could walk so the owner of the dog named Fletcher determined my pup was OK. I was so shaken I just wanted to get home.  Kirby was not OK. His neck wound had to be stitched with 5 staples.

Three days later I came down with the flu.  Kirby was pretty content that I was in bed with him where I could administer adequate nursing care.  My 17-year-old cat, Lucy, was happy to share our quarters, although on her own terms. The right side of the bed for feline occupancy only–Kirby could have the left.

I am recovering nicely.  My voice is nearly a voice again and Kirby is just fine–staples will come out next week.

While I have been off my feet, I have been reading.  I have read 6 Agatha Christie novels, my favorites feature Hercule Poirot.  I have not read the newspaper or checked my email or gone on Facebook.  Home for the holidays, my sweet daughters and their dad and Luca have kept me comfortable.

Unexpected ending for an odd year.

Amongst the dramas, our family delights in its youngest member. Baby William’s laughs and giggles as he explores this new world that comes with edges to conquer has made me a believer all over again.

Happy New Year! May you be well. May you laugh.

Cheers,  Mary

PS From Kirby — may you always keep your big dogs (named Fletcher) leashed!



Pushcart Nominations for Clover, A Literary Rag

We are pleased to announce our Pushcart nominations for 2016:

From volume 11 of Clover
David Lee: “January, a birthday poem”  The first four lines read:

The exuberance of midnight elk

stealthily picking their way
through dream shadow
across the ruined forest
. . .
One of the finest poets writing today: Find the rest of Dave’s poem on Page 5.

Mike Allegra: “A Short Fuse”  Timely beyond imagination–the story takes Mike to a western fireworks stand where a German Shepherd greets him with an icy stare and the owner interrogates Mike as to his love of guns and America. Page 83.

Christine Clarke  “Xiu Mei’s Husband”  The poem is spare, down to the bones, relays a story equally fragile that of a wife and a husband, a man who controls within his closed fist. Page 21.

Michael Dylan Welch: “Seventeen Ways of Looking at a Haiku” — Michael translates an abstract reality into concrete imagery.  One you will read over and over.
Page 203.

From Volume 12 of Clover:

Bryce Milligan: “Radio Nights” We travel in time  as we look at how progenitors discovered and reacted to radio news from great grandfather in London to Texas grandfather and then  poet son.  Page 118.

Joseph Powell:  “The Poet”  Joe grew up on a farm. He cleaned out cow stalls and listened to “rancher talk.” His dad butchered cows for beef. His good clothes were secondhand. When the learned professor expressed shock that Joe should rise from such a beginning, “The Poet” was his response. Page 99.

All our writers are prize winners–and if you want to check me out on this get yourself one or more  of our magazines  for holiday giving.

The world wobbled this November–it is time for writers to write. We need  the insight and inspiration. Norman and I are grateful for all our contributors and to each who submits writing to us.

We’ll keep the lights on.





Clover 12

clover_12_coverJust delivered! Norman Green and I are delighted to bring you Volume 12 of Clover, A Literary Rag. Politically astute with unusual twists–the writing is marvelous–funny and wise and weird.

This volume is dedicated to the memory of our beloved IWS sister, Shelley Muzzy.  Shelley’s death came as we prepared our latest Clover for publication. Her energy danced in life. We loved her and miss her laugh; chocolates she brought from Trader Joe’s for Tuesday night meetings; her stories from Indonesia and Thailand: and, all the fabrics she loved from Asia.  Shelley’s novel-in-progress “Love & Haight,” was about the Summer of Love, 1967 San Francisco.  It was nearly completed at the time of her passing. Shelley’s story in Clover, v. 12 is called “The Rat Man,” and it is from her memoir. Oh those would-be lovers who come with a rat on the shoulder and  friends without noses.

I wrote an unattributed poem to close Clover. An image that caught my attention while we walked my  two-week-old grandson through the park across the street from my daughter’s Brussels’ apartment.  In the park are both a mosque and a Catholic church.

Sunlit spiral
butterfly afloat
priest and imam

The littlest of images, but then I recall one of my favorite poems by Emily Dickinson:

“Hope” is the thing with feathers

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –
I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.


If you want to buy the latest Clover at Village Books, give them a day or two to catalog it. If you want to get it right here from us directly. Follow the link.



From Clover


In the winter edition of Clover, A Literary Rag I will be reviewing Douglas Cole’s Bali Poems and Take to the Highway: Arabesques for Travelers by Bryce Milligan.

I do not know a job better than one that requires reading poetry and prose by such fine writers.

I was in the bank the other day and the teller noticed my savings account for the Independent Writers’ Studio.

He said, “So you have the dream job?”

“Yup,” I answered with a smile.