Holy Ghost Town by Tim Sherry

Tim Sherry’s latest volume of poems, Holy Ghost Town, tells the story of a place in the wilderness that is more than trees. In plainspoken language, he takes the reader to Holden Village, an abandoned mining town turned into a Lutheran retreat center in the North Cascades of Washington state. And there he explores the balance between faith and doubt, escape and reality, history and hyperbole, the serious and the hilarious – in the wilderness, a place to find answers beyond the questions of everyday life.

“Holy Ghost Town is a remarkable book-length evocation of a very special place. In the genre of place writing, it compares to “Paterson” by William Carlos Williams. Whereas Williams focused on the city in the person, Sherry gives voice to the community in the person, the community that embraces its interrelatedness with the other-than-human world. I admire how these poems honor and enact grace, ecology, hilarity, and diversity. As they seek divinity, they do not shy from religious language and ritual. At the same time, the wisdom offered here tells us that sometimes we need to skip church and follow our feet into the woods where stillness, silence, and attention become prayers in the divine mystery of wilderness.”

—Derek Sheffield, author of Through the Second Skin

Tim Sherry knows the perils of belief. Anyone who writes poems today about a wilderness Bible camp has already leaped well above the high bar for risk factor. Marry that to the occasional stubborn doubt, the nagging question, and you have a faith forged in gnarly fires, one that puts boot to both internal and external trails. Whether assessing his own god-like nature in a mirror or marveling at a girl whose t-shirt says Religion Sucks Sometimes Too, in this paean to his beloved Holden Village and the wild lands that birthed it, Sherry keeps adjusting the scales as he seeks the sweet spot of balance. Don’t let the plainspoken style of Holy Ghost Town deceive you. Its depths mirror Lake Chelan, the water he travels to access this remote Cascade retreat. Take the plunge. Come up cleansed, yes, but also with more chuckles than you have any right to expect.”

—Peter Ludwin, author of Gone to Gold Mountain

“In Holy Ghost Town, Tim Sherry tells the story of a place in the wilderness that is much more than beautiful landscape. In words clear and full of tenderness, he describes an abandoned mining town turned into a Lutheran retreat center that I and all who go there know as a place of reflection and transformation. Sometimes he puts words to what I have felt and couldn’t express on my own. Other times he sheds light on something I have seen differently or not at all. It is poetry in which I can lose myself and find myself. Sherry’s poetry reflects balance between faith and doubt, escape and reality, history and hyperbole, the serious and hilarious, that all who have been there know to be Holden Village, ‘a holy ghost town, a metaphor in the mountains'”

—Elaine Harrison, assistant to the directors at Holden Village

“The story of Holden Village told in Tim Sherry’s Holy Ghost Town is one you might call serendipitous, though the visitors who come each year to the old mining town, now an ecumenical Christian retreat center in the north Cascades, know it as a place to shed worries, make room for peace of mind, marvel at the beauty of God’s wilderness, and live the core values of the Holden community. It is a stirring history of the grand dreams, the love of wilderness, and faith in God that every morning herald a bright new day when one out hiking at Holden might imagine being “right at heaven’s door” around the next bend in the trail.”

—Marjorie Rommel, 2016-17 Auburn poet laureate… Read More

Drunk On Love Cover

“An offbeat Tom Robbins-esque romp that stands tiptoe on the brink of erotica and oozes with sexual energy and honesty that will skip your heart, cause a belly laugh, and have you ponder exactly what the fairy dust of love-lust is really all about. Throw in a little mystery, raw hunger, irony, friendship, eggs and toast, God Angst — you name it, and you’ve got a quirky book that will charm the pants off any heretofore reader, frigid or non.”

—Monica Devine, author of Water Mask

“For the characters that haunt this provocative collection of stories and poems, Love is their god, its pursuit their religion. They do so with reverence, abandon, and, best of all, with humor. Prayers are answered, as prayers often are, in most unusual ways. Hopes are dashed, with cruelty, and with kindness. Feldman offers a tasty platter of tales of arousal, lust, longing, loss — sprinkled, from time to time, with a good belly laugh.”

—Don Stull, coauthor of Slaughterhouse Blues

“There is not only sex and beauty in Feldman’s Drunk on Love, but trouble and plenty of it. Young love grows old and disenchanted, romance merges with cruelty, and people change and then change again. The characters in these beautifully crafted stories are both familiar and surprising, and for all the hard-won wisdom within these pages, Feldman could very well have titled the collection Drunk on Life.”

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

”Through an anthropologist’s eye (and heart) Kerry Dean Feldman offers us vivid stories of love, whatever that might mean in these postmodern times. We find more laughter than tears here and a proper dose of sensitivity and tenderness, and that’s how it should be. Feldman writes intelligently and compassionately, as well as passionately. We even encounter a delightful first kiss along the way.”

—Ron McFarland, author of The Rockies in First Person: A Critical Study of Recent American Memoirs from the Region… Read More

Silty Water People by Vivian Faith Prescott

Silty Water People is a collection of poems exploring the effects of assimilation on contemporary Tlingit/Scandinavian families in Wrangell, a small island community in Southeast Alaska.

Two hundred and twenty years after colonization began, through the complex themes of intergenerational trauma, identity, racism, and history, Prescott uses mythology, geological time, and a deep connection to place to weave Silty Water People.

“Reading Vivian Prescott’s delightful new collection, Silty Water People, I feel as if I am bonding with a poet companion who is living and raising a family in Lingít Aaní, or Southeast Alaska. Prescott’s lyric is steady like a trusted boat captain’s hand on the wheel, elegiac, attentive to the Wrangell cross-cultural atmosphere and history. All literature used to be local and regional, finding universal resonances within its sense of place; so it is with Vivian Prescott, a bard of her hometown, her family, and of an ethical, investigative, historically conscious, contemporary poet’s life.”

—Ishmael Angaluuk Hope, author of Rock Piles Along the Eddy

“Deeply personal and powerfully written, these poems offer a deep look into the relationships in which parents and children navigate life in two cultures. While Prescott writes, “time cannot heal everything we do to ourselves,” these poems, without flinching, take steps toward healing by exploring the intersections of culture, language, and mothering with honesty and grace.”

—Nicole Stellon O’Donnell, author of You Are No Longer in Trouble and Steam Laundry

“Vivian Faith Prescott’s poetry is a triptych of naming, of stories shared by tongue, of characters landing like words, like rain, onto the text-peppered page. In this writing, men and their otter oiled fingers, clenched smokehouse fists, haul and bludgeon salmon. Spruce-rooted women grounded in gather and harvest, their hair an incognito wing, pull their children close into the “curve of hip.” Silty Water People catalogs the Stikine River region, Tlingit clans and language. Its poetry maps community and myth.”

—Kersten Christianson, author of Curating the House of Nostalgia

“She felt / the brush of hair feathering across her back, / tree-pitch sticking her thighs.” In these eco-feminist-mythological poems, Vivian Faith Prescott both walks us through a traditional world, and invites us to challenge what we’ve always known to be true. These poems touch some of the painful bones of racism, culture, and identity, and ask questions that many before her have been too afraid to ask. And in this exploration, she peels away layers of hurt, reminding us of what it means to be human: “I reach to touch / bedrock exposed to low tide.” We won’t soon forget the bedrock exposed in these poems.”

—Emily Wall, Professor of English at the University of Alaska Southeast, and author of Flame, Liveaboard, and Freshly Rooted… Read More

Wide Open Eyes by Paul Haeder

Wide Open Eyes: Surfacing from Vietnam — a collection of braided tales by Paul Kirk Haeder (fiction).

What radiates from every page of Paul Haeder’s Wide Open Eyes — Surfacing from Vietnam is a journeyman’s gift for showing the ties that bind ordinary people to their own crystallized struggle with “their Vietnam War baggage.”

These 17 fictional stories confront estrangement war veterans and their families have dredged through lives which are heroic because they all are survivors. This is a collection of stirring interlinked stories of reclamation from the perspective of the walking wounded.

The characters are colorful inside Haeder’s cauldron of quirky visceral story-telling. Lost souls are deftly moved from plot to plot as this writer shows a wizard’s sense of life’s absurdity. There is sinew and heart sculpted into myriad of protagonists.

—Ordinary people are scrawled into this atmospheric collection, yet Haeder seeks to explore the devastation of heartache by deploying black humor and leafy poignancy. From an old Army colonel lamenting rotting teeth getting yanked, to a hard-boiled street person humping it in the West flailing at his own demons from America’s War with Vietnam, this is funny, stirring stuff from a talented writer.

—Coupled with his imaginative story-telling and eye-watering vernacular, this collection comes with arresting photographs anchoring each story. Eighteen photographs are an added creative touch to his fiction. The writer was in Vietnam — after the war — as his preface sets the stage for the first casualties of war.

“From a lonely bookseller in Albuquerque to a street vagabond in Tucson, these are people most readers pass over in their lives. As readers of this collection, if we keep our eyes open and ears tuned, Haeder shows us vibrancy in people struggling. The author pins a lot of these stories on the theme ‘surfacing from Vietnam,’ but the reality is we as readers are forced to dive deep into the author’s realm of sometimes twisted characters and unforgiving plots.”

—Rick DeMarinis (1995), Author of The Year of the Zinc Penny, The Mortician’s Apprentice, and other works

Cirque Press Author — Paul Kirk Haeder
Paul lives with Copernicus (ball python), 17-year-old Ruby the Cat, partner, Lisa, inside the tsunami-rich Central Oregon Alsea River ecosystem. He’s been a newspaperman in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Washington, Oregon, as well as for magazines and newsgroups. Radio show host, social worker, K12 teacher, college educator, Paul continues to fight for and live inside the world of precarity, cobbling together jobs to barely survive the assault of predatory, parasitic Capitalism that has been eating at souls for more than half a millennium.… Read More

Life Revised by Leah Stenson

Leah Stenson’s Life Revised, a memoir about suicide, is a compelling literary montage of poetry and narrative prose that examines the author’s reactions to the simultaneous loss of her grandparents–one by suicide, the other an unintended consequence of that suicide. In this unflinching and revealing exploration of personal tragedy, Stenson takes us beyond suffering to her ultimate healing through her Buddhist practice. In a world where suicide is relentlessly on the increase, the need for open, honest communication surrounding suicide and its aftermath has never been greater. Life Revised offers insight into resilience of the human spirit.

“If we are to read poetry and prose together in words that speak directly to our spirit, let it be in the beautifully, heart embracing warmth and affection of the language of Life Revised. The complexity of Stenson’s work and clarity of language draws the reader into family dynamics, challenging us to bear witness to transcendence unfolding within and around us. Life Revised shows us how we can know ourselves, and through this discover healing of the heart and mind.”

—Dr. Fanny Brewster, Jungian analyst and author of Archetypal Grief: Slavery’s Legacy of Intergenerational Child Loss

“In prose reflections and poems that invoke the landscapes, rooms, sounds and atmospheres of the past, Life Revised maps a journey from anger’s unknowing to new understandings and the perspectives they afford. In this moving and courageous book, Leah Stenson becomes, as she affirms, the author of her own life.”

—Lex Runciman, author of Salt Moons: Poems 1981-2016

“Breaking apart a life of struggle, perseverance, despair, and hope into brief fragments that must resonate individually while, combined, paint a robust human portrait is a monumental task. But Stenson does it, somehow, magically, with wisdom and honesty, exploring the many contradictions and paradoxes of relationships—both familial and societal. Her ability to probe the human condition with such elegant prose and heartfelt poetry is a treat that remains fresh and vital to the last page.”

—John Sibley Williams, author of As One Fire Consumes Another and Skin Memory

“Here is a modern woman boldly sharing her truth. Life Revised is both wise and compelling. Leah Stenson makes no attempt to disguise her troubles, mistakes, or regrets. Instead she shows us her winding path from trouble to understanding. Once I started following Stenson on her journey, I couldn’t stop reading.”

—Penelope Scambly Schott, author of A is for Anne and Love Song for Dufur… Read More

Waves by Chris Laskowski
CIRQUE Press Books

“Building community is so important, especially at this time. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to publish with Cirque. You do so much more than publish books. You support your authors individually and collectively and work hard to create … Read More

Author Index – original

Author Index A Allen, Luther deer hunter 9(2), 19 Amilie, Kari Nielsen Christmas in Patagonia 10(1), 57 10-Minute Lunch Break Poem 10(1), 57 Amore, Martha Winterkill 10(1), 19 Anderson, Jean Shadow Play: Writing Introspective Fiction in an Action-Oriented Land 10(4), … Read More

Contests and Prizes

Contests and Prizes The Andy Hope Literary Award This award is the brainchild of writer Vivian Faith Prescott. Vivian co-directs Raven’s Blanket, a non-profit based in Wrangell, Alaska, whose mission is to enhance and perpetuate the cultural wellness and traditions … Read More

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