Salt & Roses

Buffy McKay is a poet of power. In Salt & Roses, she looks hard at life across a range of free verse, villanelles, and haikus, and leaves us with poignant and glimmering lines that can stop you dead in your tracks. When she captures the ethereal essence of inner and outer landscapes, you can imagine her with the likes of Mary Oliver and Elizabeth Bishop, sipping tea and swapping lines about fish.

— Doug Pope, author of The Way to Gaamaak Cove

The gorgeous poems in Buffy McKay’s Salt & Roses traverse the wilds of Alaska and comb the watery landscapes of Rhode Island and Scotland. McKay’s connection to each place runs deep, and these roots she shares in a generous and loving way. In one poem, she illustrates how ancestry lives in a smoked fish and her mother’s word for it: dunghnak. This collection sensually explores the lands dear to McKay, family homelands which nourish her body as well as her soul. She captures life’s beauty with a wide-angle lens. Yes, there are salt and roses within these pages, but also cancer, death, loss, and regret. More than a book of poems, Salt & Roses is a book of prayers.

— Martha Amore, author of In the Quiet Season and Other Stories

Pomace stubbles the pint glass
Buffy in Scotland
One day of sun, three of rain
Buffy in a cabin in Skagway, Alaska
My hand, fingers spread
Holds my chest
The river is the voice of always
Adept as the moon of your fingernail
Describes the skin on my body
Buffy practicing her regret
To her indigenous mother
Her spine creaks
She fiddles with words
To make this beautiful book

— James P. Sweeney, author of A Thousand Prayers: Alaska Climbing Expedition: Marine Life Solidarity… Read More


Margo Waring’s poetry is tuned to the pitch and roll of the seasons. Just as spring returns cyclically to Southeast Alaska’s beaches, forest paths, and mountain peaks, youth too ebbs and flows in the present tense, permeating old age. In this, these poems teach us to let memory carry us forward with the same agility that it carries us back. I will listen to my stream, writes Waring. Hear it dissolve in the sea.

— Corinna Cook, author of Leavetakings

Margo Waring writes beautifully of place, time, memory, and aging. Her years of attention to the changing seasons and climate of southeast Alaska uncover, like March’s melting snows, her awareness of life’s gifts and the losses that come to us all.

— Nancy Lord, former Alaska writer laureate and author of Fishcamp, Beluga Days, and pH: A Novel… Read More

Miss Tami, Is Today Tomorrow?

This heartwarming book maps the humor and curiosity of kids as they learn the meaning of words and the logic that underpins their experiences. In these vignettes for grown-ups, Tami Phelps, a Montessori teacher for 20 years, describes encounters with her students as they process the world around them. In their innocence, young children are at once naïve and brilliantly perceptive. They often miss the mark, which is precisely what makes these stories so hilarious. And it’s not often students stay in touch with their kindergarten teachers, but the author’s former student illustrated the book to boot! These stories will make you smile, and remember how the best teachers can make a lasting mark on the rest of your life.

—Monica Devine, author of Water Mask

Our daughter was a Montessori kid through and through. Her journey began with Miss Tami and she loved it. When asked on the last day of her kindergarten year what she wished for, her answer: “another 100 days of school.” Montessori teachers are different and Ms. Tami is one of the best.

—Peter and Cindy Ljubicich, colleague and parents

“Dear Miss Tami,
Thank you for teaching me to think and read. I hope you never die.
Love, Alexander”

(4th grade writing assignment to a former teacher)

Circles by Cirque Press
Announcing Circles, a new imprint of Cirque Press designed for illustrated books. Look to these engaging books for image and light, fun and fantasy, mystery and music. Circles focuses on the singing of the spheres, the clock of the seasons, the mirth of the hyena, and the renewal of legend and myth.… Read More

Someday I'll Miss This Place Too

In the tradition of Heather Lende and Seth Kantner, these dispatches from the Kuskokwin are insightful and funny and fully human. Dan Branch has written a heart-breaking book that is also filled with wit and wonder. A true joy to read.

—Brian Castner, author of Stampede

Dan Branch, “ignorant but lucky,” turned what began as a one-year lawyering commitment in Bethel, Alaska into a lifetime of learning, adventure, compassion, and reflection upon what makes a “good” life. His memoir in essays provides a fascinating personal and historical record of western Alaska in the 1970s and ‘80s. While much of what he experienced as lawyer and magistrate is heart-breaking, Branch balances his account with admiration for those he learned from, humility for his own missteps, and a big-hearted sense of humor.

—Nancy Lord, former Alaska writer laureate and author of Fishcamp, Beluga Days, and pH: A Novel

From the frozen sloughs and tundra of the Kuskokwim River country to the deep forests of Ketchikan, Branch takes us on a “stranger in a strange land” journey with the boundless empathy of a perpetual outsider wanting only to understand what it means to be an Alaskan.

—Richard Chiappone, author of The Hunger of Crows, Water of an Undetermined Depth, and Liar’s Code

The first time I met Dan Branch he wowed me with his storytelling over more beers than I could count. I literally couldn’t get enough of his tales of rural Alaska. The last time I saw him, I spent eight hours on an Alaskan ferry begging for more, and Dan delivered every minute of the way. And such is the case with Someday I’ll Miss this Place Too. The depth and breadth of Branch’s experience, along with his masterful storytelling makes for a great ride, whether on a ferry, or on the page.

—Jonathan Evison, author of Small World, This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance!, and All About Lulu

Someday I’ll Miss This Place Too is a stranger-in-a-strange-land memoir, the story of a newly minted California-educated lawyer who finds himself doing legal aid work in the remote Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. The year commitment stretches to twelve. To say the author comes of age there is both a given and an understatement. His profound respect and compassion for the people he serves, mostly troubled Yup’ik Alaskans, haunts both him and the reader. Branch invokes in me a curious sense of fernweh, a feeling of longing for a place I have never been. This is as Alaskan as any book we have, both culturally significant and deeply moving.

—David Stevenson, author High Places, Sacrifices, Mysteries, and Forty Crows… Read More

Out There in the Out There

Out There in the Out There takes us deep into the wilderness of the “real” American west at the end of the last century, and it’s one helluva rollicking ride! Jerry McDonnell knows this time, this country, these characters. You can smell the wood smoke, the horseshit, and the bears. His yarns and fish stories are infectious, but it’s his navigation of the human heart that will haunt you sweetly down the trail. This is a no-bullshit collection from an old bullshitter of the first order. Take a joy-ride into the out-there—let the tail go with the hide!

—Mark Gibbons, Montana Poet Laureate, 2021-2023, author of In The Weeds, Connemara Moonshine, blue horizon, Forgotten Dreams and other collections

McDonnell’s stories are forceful, tender, violent, funny, and thought-provoking. You wouldn’t want to be “out there” with anyone else for this author is a man who sees, smells, and feels the rhythm of the earth and just plain knows how to live and thrive in the wildest of places.

—Monica Devine, author of Water Mask and five children’s books including Iditarod: The Greatest Win Ever and Kayak Girl… Read More

Fish the Dead Water Hard

Eric Heyne’s moving debut collection, Fish the Dead Water Hard, beautifully engages the cycle of the seasons in Alaska while exploring the course of lives—aging and mortality. This book takes us from Alaska to Greece and Spain and points in between. Whether observing nature, society, or the domestic sphere, Heyne is always clear-eyed. By turns poignant and tender and sexy and humorous, this book charms with its perspective on mothers, fatherhood, daughters, life, and death…Do yourself a favor, get swept up in the shifting currents of Fish the Dead Water Hard and be moved.

—Sean Hill, author of Dangerous Goods and Blood Ties & Brown Liquor

Though centered in Alaska, Eric Heyne’s poems travel the world. Brilliantly observed and buttressed by a strong poetic craft, they take us to the spot and open our eyes. Whether set in the Brooks Range or at the Acropolis, a steady thoughtful voice holds the book together, while intimate poems of family life embody Heyne’s core emotions. This collection resonates with life.

—John Morgan, author of The Moving Out: Collected Early Poems, Archives of the Air, and River of Light: A Conversation with Kabir

In Fish the Dead Water Hard, Eric Heyne shares Alaska in summer, when hieroglyphic lichens “spell out their slow story in a dead language.” During brutal, long winters, ice fog fossilizes all trace of life. He mourns a young one gone too soon who leaves us “to mourn the impossible lives of the living.” He honors a beloved stepmother who “talked to us like we were worth listening to.” These poems are dispatches from above ground, where the poet asks “What else can’t I be?” He advises those of us not quite ready to go yet to “just assume you’re still in love.” Eric Heyne shows us, with delicacy and grace, the quality of light in a forest half eaten by leaf miners, then wonders about what forest his daughter will see. That succession-in-progress, like a five-armed sea star, is “balanced and incomplete, like poetry, like life.”

—Peggy Shumaker, author of Gnawed Bones, Just Breathe Normally, and Cairn

These poems appear for us like cairns in a dark wood and we read them with delight and curiosity. Each word of Eric Heyne’s poems is stacked with intention and meant to show us something about the complex and layered woods we are walking through. Heyne doesn’t shy from the darker moments—the fear of a biopsy, the loss of sexual desire, the warming of our world. But these poems are also markers, built to help us find our way. “And someone, awaiting migration, finds/this stack of stones on the horizon and is no longer alone.”

—Emily Wall, Professor of English at the University of Alaska, and author of Flame and Breaking Into Air… Read More

November Reconsidered

November Reconsidered

“There are adjustments now
To the November rain
To the November expectation
To the November settlement
Schedules and scoldings
Homework and housework
They adjust to me and I adjust to them.”

Part rant, part meditation, part acerbic commentary, November Reconsidered is a gritty and darkly funny collection of November poems that transports us from site to site, back and forth through time. Marc Janssen’s satire takes a lyric yet steely look at a market’s cereal aisle, an eighth grade English class, a Toyota dealership, a California mall on Black Friday, a Happy Hour at Charlie Browns. Although he never flinches from the dark realities of life, Janssen also gives us moments of assuaging respite. On a solitary walk taken to escape the family hubbub of Thanksgiving Day, he notes this: The cold damp air made exhalation look full and white and alive, / White breath in a reverent day.

—Paulann Petersen, Oregon Poet Laureate Emerita, author of One Small Sun and Understory… Read More

Callie Comes of Age

Callie’s indomitable spirit corrals everything she does. Self-reliant, quirky, intelligent, sensual and untamed, she throws herself wholeheartedly into every new experience. For full effect, read Callie Comes of Age as you would a novel. The overall trajectory is best considered as a single narrative. In Callie’s search, each poem leads to the next discovery, her voice and personality irresistible as we follow her from childhood loss to adult resolution. Callie doesn’t question the grit required to get through her daily chores on the cattle ranch. An arid landscape dictates her hardscrabble existence. Ultimately, there’s a mystery for Callie to unravel.

—George Champlin

Callie Comes of Age is pretty darn masterful. The magic of Dale Champlin’s exuberant narrative, like Callie herself, is impossible to tie down. Beyond a braided story that will buckle you, the cascade of poems reveals a sensuous and hard, lonely and austere landscape. The sharp characters and sure-handed narrative pull us, while in a rhythm that alternates between shuffle, gallop, and gusty breeze, the poems with their details of snake belly, scar, and bone won’t let us go.

—John Morrison, author of Monkey Island

Ringing with an exquisite lyricism, Dale Champlin’s amazing Callie Comes of Age—a novel in the form of poetry—holds me in thrall. Set in the harsh ranch country of the American West, which shapes her life, Callie’s story evolves from an early childhood filled with tenderness and a strong sense of belonging into a grim tale of a sexually precocious and fiercely independent adolescence, in which glimmers of a dark secret begin to emerge. The deftly nuanced narrative kept me on the edge of my seat all the way to the end, throbbed by wonder.

—Ingrid Wendt, Oregon Book Award winner in poetry, author of Evensong… Read More

Baby Abe

Baby Abe: A Lullaby for Lincoln
This lullaby imagines scenes from Abraham Lincoln’s life, from his 1809 winter arrival in the world to his third birthday (1812). Period objects, foods, verbal expressions and manners are twined into the text. Scenes described are typical of life on the Kaintuck (Kentucky) and Indiana frontiers. Research began with Carl Sandburg’s two-volume biography; and, some years later, embraced the details of Sidney Blumenthal’s A Self-Made Man: The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln, 1809-1849 (2016).

Characters are generally true to history with the exception of the preacher, the tinsmith, the shoemaker, the Yarb Woman and the Widder. Although fictional, these characters are typical of individuals who would regularly visit remote homesteads.

66 Pages

ISBN: 979-8721903939

Circles by Cirque Press
Announcing Circles, a new imprint of Cirque Press designed for illustrated books. Look to these engaging books for image and light, fun and fantasy, mystery and music. Circles focuses on the singing of the spheres, the clock of the seasons, the mirth of the hyena, and the renewal of legend and myth.… Read More

One Headlight by Matt Caprioli

One Headlight: An Alaskan Memoir

“Quirky humor, bright language, and sharp emotional insight.” — Joe Okonkwo, author of Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction winner Jazz Moon

“Like no other book I have read. It will entertain you as it crushes you.” — Martha Amore, Editor of Lambda Literary Nominated Building Fires in the Snow

Matt Caprioli never belonged in Alaska: too gay, too bookish, a faltering vegetarian. As a spiritual and sensitive young boy, he’s raised by the exuberant and radiant but deeply impractical Abby Henry, who doesn’t view his baptism in a horse trough or machete marks on their new apartment door as peculiar. Abby works as a baker in Anchorage, so the two leave Lazy Mountain each morning at 3:30am to drive through single-digit weather in a rickety, church-donated Mustang with no passenger window, no snow tires, and one headlight. Lacking money and direction, Caprioli nonetheless adores his mother and the world they share.

As a young man, Caprioli leaves Alaska to chase his dream of writing in Manhattan, along the way working as a journalist and sex worker. His bond with his mother is tested as Caprioli tries to forget where he comes from. But when Abby falls ill at 53, Caprioli returns to Anchorage to care for her, and is forced to reckon with the true meaning of home.

In telling his story, Caprioli captures the love and joy of our deepest bonds, of the myths and hopes surrounding America’s largest state, and the momentous power of a quiet drive with those we love.

Kirkus Review of One Headlight… Read More

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