Thursday, December 23, 2021

Open Poetry Reading! January 2, 2022 2-4 PM


Cholla Needles Open Poetry Reading

January 2, 2022 2-4 PM
The Joshua Tree Folk Stage
Bring a mask and a lawn chair for comfort!
We have a covered meeting area in case of rain/snow.

Come early and enjoy the
Joshua Tree Retreat Center Restaurant
located at the large red dot on the map


Wednesday, December 22, 2021

New Book! Gaah! Halp! Halp! I'm Losing It! by Sam Schraeger

Yep. It's a comic book. With three unique stories based on the true-life adventures of Little Snot, legendary Comic Book Hero. You'll either love it, or hate it. Good thing about books like this - there's no in-between. And that's what makes this life fun! Give it a shot! Discover how Little Snot learns Anger Management, and much much more.

Also, a full length novel available by Sam Schraeger:


Thursday, December 16, 2021

Review of Whatever Feels Like Home by Susan Rukeyser

I love the poetry Susan Rukeyser includes in her fascinating flash fiction. For example, this line about a goldfish: “His translucent fins fanned like the scarves of an old burlesque dancer still going through the motions.”

These ten stories take us deep into the lives of the characters, and not the normal fiction characters of politics and fame. Susan instead focuses on our friends and neighbors, and manages to reach in and expose my own foibles to myself. My gut tells me that you too will find yourself in at least one of these stories, and members of your family in other stories, and for sure your next-door neighbor. And, those characters whose stories are unique and new to you will become life-long friends due to Susan’s love of her characters. I know Hank now has a soft spot in my heart, and I wish him a long life with good friends.

Susan’s descriptions of events are precise and vivid: “And wasn’t this what you did, when you lost a guy who probably wasn’t your forever guy but what if he WAS? You go crazy. You rage. You weep. You break into his trailer and sit on his couch with a knife across your lap, so he will shit himself when he opens the door after a long shift, sore and beat, and all he wants in life is a shower and to be left alone.” Another story paints a colorful picture of living together full-time, “Resentment, old as this marriage, sticks to doorknobs and window sills. It gums up the corners.” 

I marvel at how Susan seemingly effortlessly embeds seventeen syllable micropoems into her stories. I just stare in wonder at and savor the skill, and admire the work that goes into this precision. From two different stories: “Mrs. Anderson stretched as birds chittered, a brook sputtered over stones.” And “You were the girl who could never leave. How did they know you slept through it?” With this careful, pristine writing throughout, I highly recommend this book for your reading pleasure. The stories I have seen previously live just as strong with re-reading, and I know this will be a small book I’ll return to with pleasure.

To order by snail mail, send a $5 check (add $1 for postage in Canada; in US, add $2; outside North America, add $5) to: rob mclennan, 2423 Alta Vista Drive, Ottawa ON K1H 7M9.

Susan will have signed copies to sell at The Folk School during the Local Authors Book Release Party on February 27, 2022:

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Open Poetry Reading! December 5, 2-4 PM!

Cholla Needles Open Poetry Reading

December 5, 2021 2-6 PM
The Joshua Tree Folk Stage
Bring a mask and a lawn chair for comfort!

Come early and enjoy the
Joshua Tree Retreat Center Restaurant
located at the large red dot on the map


New Books! Emily Dickinson Series!

Emily Dickinson (1830–1886)

After her death, friends of Emily’s compiled her poems and had them printed in three small volumes that sold and sold and sold. My parents, grandparents and great-grandparents loved these poems as presented by her friends.

In the mid-20th century, two generations and two world wars after her death, the academic community declared that these friends of Emily did not know what they were doing, and proceeded to re-write her history and her poems to fit their pre-conceived ideas of her work.

We present these poems as they originally appeared to the public who truly loved and admired her work.

Her three books as originally presented between 1890-1896:
Poems (1890)
Poems Series Two (1891)
Poems Series Three (1896)


New Book! Country by Jeffrey Alfier!

Jeffrey Alfier composed these exquisite photos in villages, towns and cities around the world. Like the photos we have from our astronauts demonstrating that we live on one planet, Jeff’s photos introduce us to individual citizens of the world. Simply looking at regular people living their lives gives a clear understanding that as humans we live in one country.

Jeffrey is the author of many books of poetry. He runs Blue Horse Press with Tobi Alfier. Together they have publish San Pedro River Review as well as poetry collections by many authors.

A sample 2-page spread:

A great stocking stuffer, especially if mixed with Calendar Girls 2022!


New Book! The Everyday Holy Of We by Susan Abbott!

how love clarified
the everyday holy of we

The Everyday Holy of We celebrates the journeys of women from the mythic, archetypal, historic, and to the familial. Crafted mostly in villanelles (all but one poem), Abbott expertly uses the repetitive rhyming form in natural cadences that add humor, poignancy and sometimes haunting depth to each poem. All poems are creatively paired with an image from her vibrantly colorful original works of art.

An epigraph from Muriel Rukeyser, “Along history forever, some woman dancing, making shapes in the air,” sets the tone for what follows - a combination of joy, praise, protest, exhilaration, lamentation and hope.

The collection comes in two sections - “Summons of a Common Sisterhood” and “The Abiding Spark.” The first section introduces readers to female figures such as Miriam’s daughter (a force of nature herself), to the tarot archetype Temperance, to anonymous women who have dealt with domestic violence or who have gone missing. The second section is a love story of two women that covers the trajectory of their relationship from the beginning to the death of one of them and beyond. It addresses themes of love, desire, loss, grief and the gut-wrenching challenges of “walking your girl home.” Overall the poems and art work together inviting readers to remember the sanctity of everyday life and be inspired by the resilient potency of our interconnectedness.

- - -

Susan Abbott is a poet/artist who does her best creative work from a place of silence. An eclectic watercolor and mixed media artist, Susan has exhibited her art in various Morongo Basin venues over the past decade including participation in the Highway 62 Open Studio Art Tours, the Joshua Tree Farmer’s Market, The Joshua Tree Public Library, and Joshua Tree Astronomy Arts Theater.

Her writing has appeared in old feminist rags such as So’s Your Old Lady, Sojourner, and Perspective. Her coming out correspondence with her mother was included in Between Ourselves: Letters Between Mothers and Daughters (Houghton Mifflin, 1984). Her newer work appears in Cholla Needles, When Women Awake, Feckless Cunt: A Feminist Anthology (World Split Open Press, 2018), and Touching Creatures Touching Spirit: Living in a Sentient World by Judy Grahn (Red Hen Press, 2021).

Her chapbook Nasty Woman Rise: The Dream and the Curse (2017) was published by Cholla Needles. In 2019, Susan collaborated with Cynthia Anderson on the beautiful art-poetry collection Now Voyager.


December issue released! Cholla Needles 60!

Creative art and writing by:
Susan Abbott
Ernest Alois
Cynthia Sidrane
Tanni Haas
Tina Quinn Durham
Rod Drought
Kent Wilson
Catherine A. Coundjeris
Michael H. Brownstein
Greg Wyss
Jonathan B. Ferrini
Dave Benson

Click here to purchase Cholla Needles 60 on-line ($5)