How I Kiss Her Turning Head, Now Available as fabulous and beautiful Ebook!

My prose chapbook, How I Kiss Her Turning Head, published by Monkey Puzzle Press, is a book with several sketches and short works of fiction about the obsessions and dark thoughts of mothers and babies; it is available for three bucks as an ebook. You know you want it.

Write me at Jen at )Fishclamor( dot com. Love to send you one. You’ll like it, I know you will.

(If this email doesn’t work, please let me know in comments?)

Thank you! Drop me a line!

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Carl Nelson’s Review of How I Kiss Her Turning Head —thank you Carl!

Maternal Horror


Jennifer Woodworth’s newest book, How I Kiss Her Turning Head, which is just out by Monkey Puzzle Press, is a most gentle jaunt into the genre of Maternal Horror.  ‘Maternal Horror’ is a term I have had to coin myself.  But this is not Rosemary’s Baby.  This is the Brahms Lullaby of Xtreme Mothering.  The baby and child in these stories and sketches comprise a wonderful blessing – so wonderful, that we follow our first person hero as if pushing off down the pipe of some Xtreme Sport …  Right down the rabbit hole of maternal instinct, without time to say, “Hello!  Goodbye!” into a sort of mental ward where the ordinary and quotidian prerogatives of life conflict to our first person narrator’s charming wonderment.  And off we go, as the book paints a gentle rebellion for two.

“I have never wanted anything more than I want babies.”  The narrator tells us at the beginning of the first and best story, “Mother of One”.  And shortly she adds:

“I want another baby,” I say to my husband.”

“I know you do,” he says.  He means he does not want another child, not now, not ever.”

How charged and compact that exchange is!

Our author knows a subtext, and next to that, a rebellious flight of words.  All of this makes for a good read.  Her stories churn in the updraft of a contained conflagration.  Her words and flights of fancy are cloaked like actors to carry more romantic weight.  But all of the ducks here are rubber ducks.  Her first person narrator “contains multitudes” of insight, but all from an idea fixee.  Her first person narrator is entirely rational aside from being mostly fixated.  Imagine an Asperger of mothering, with the soft voice, and gentle nudging of the genuinely aware – and you’ll be getting close to the voice of this narrator.

The interest of the first story, “Mother of One” – which is a lovely jolt of maternal compulsion – is deciding partly where the horror lies.  Is the Surrogate Mother, or is the Outsourcing Birth Mother the monster of this tale.  Is it the narrator’s world which is a bit off kilter – or is it the narrator?  The ending tale finds our heroine legally confined but still rebellious.   Though it wouldn’t surprise me to hear our narrator reply from her ward – in an attractive way and with an appealing tone, (or perhaps she would just ‘suggest’), if asked, ‘how it could be “rebelling” when the world is backaswards?’.

Jennifer Woodworth has a playful dramatic sense, writes a fine narrative, composes a lovely tune with her words, and is smart enough to say things worth reading.  This is a small book to purchase and enjoy, and possibly to start your collection with.

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And now for something completely different, A MixTape!

The really nice online lit mag Little Fiction|Big Truth has a cool feature–their authors make up a mixtape of tunes they listened to while writing the stories in the books they have just writtten.

I liked Andrew F. Sullivan’s MixTape and the way he wrote about the music so much I bought his book All We Want Is Everything.  Also I liked the story I found at Little Fiction.  

Both his book and his mixtape are available  here: Andrew F. Sullivan’s MixTape.  I love the music and the stories.  Enjoy! 

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The New Bop Dead City Is Out!

This lit mag is a nice collection of stories and poems including a powerful three-part poem by Daniel Tobin, the poem “Bar Joke” by Allyson Whipple, and Liz Grear’s story, “The Inside of My Elbows” and several others, not to mention one of my prose poems, “Three Fortunes” and my short-short, “The Orange Tattoo.”

Pick up a copy for three bucks at Bop Dead City, Issue 17!


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Poem of the Day:  The Problem with Burning Down Your Own House by Amorak Huey

I found this poem on the front page of Booth magazine last week.

You’ll want to meet this poem–this poem has it all–it’s smart and funny and great with conversation and is so goddamn beautiful you will want to cry.

The Problem With Burning Down Your Own House by Amorak Huey

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“Avra” by Jennifer Givhan–Poem of the Day

Another poem to feel for days. Jennifer Givhan’s lovely, singing, surprising  Avra. Check it out.

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Ann Beattie’s “Snow”–Story of the Day

I just discovered Ann Beattie’s “Snow,”–available on the net (click the word “snow”)–an amazingly powerful and impossibly tiny, almost a-prose-poem story.

For some reason, I can’t call it flash.  It’s two and a half pages long and extraordinary in every way.  Read it; you will love it.

Also read Louise Erdrich’s “The Shawl.”  A story that is as good as “Snow.”

Wow, what a fabulous day of reading!

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Poem of the day: “Coyote Girl” by Kristina Lucenko

You’ll still be feeling it (in the best way) days later:

“Coyote Girl” and other poems by Kristina Lucenko

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Stories “Screwing Up, Importantly,” and “Mother of One” Published in Bellow Lit Journal

This journal first published “Mother of One,” together with one of my favorite stories, “Screwing Up, Importantly” in 2013 and get this…

Amazon still has it, for just four (4) bucks, right here! (Click this link)
You’ll like one or the other and possibly both.  One is funny, and the other, the first story in How I Kiss Her Turning Head,  is a “psychological thriller.”  

They couldn’t be more different.  So check them out.  You do have time for “Screwing Up, Importantly,” you do. 


Thank you for supporting your local crises of being and fish, and as always, thank you for supporting the arts!  

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How I Kiss Her Turning Head still available!

Monkey Puzzle Press, publisher of my chapbook, How I Kiss Her Turning Head, is sadly closed, but my little book is still available from me.  Just drop me an email — jen at fish clamor )dot( com.

They’re $10, free shipping.  You know you want it. :)

Posted in fiction, genre? what's a genre?, How I Kiss Her Turning Head, notes from the studio, poems, prose poems | Tagged | 4 Comments

Found: New Novel to Read, and a Really Nice Writing Blog

I recently read a review of Lee Martin’s Late One Night that sounded like just what I was looking for, and that’s not easy to find, so I ordered it and started reading it today.  Speaking of hard to find, I thought the review was at Brevity Journal, but I can’t find it, or link you to it.  Forgive me.

Anyway, the book has beautifully crafted prose, a great opening in terms of story-telling, and I’m totally committed after the first four chapters.

I got curious about the author, whose name sounded familiar, and discovered Lee Martin has a writing blog.  Somehow I was looking for an article about comedy and writing he wrote, and instead I found a blog I’ll be visiting on a regular basis when working–if you’re a prose writer, you’ll probably like the blog, too.

A recent post about following a climactic moment has a great question to ask ourselves as we finish a story, with a piece of a crushingly beautiful story to illustrate.  Other posts were similarly structured.

I love that–a little discussion of something very meaningful to me, and a short, fine piece of writing.  Just what I wanted to find in the blog I didn’t know I was looking for.

More on the book later, after I read it.

Articles on comedy in writing, anyone?

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Notes on Movies and Favorite Essays

A good poem is the news of a single soul; a good film is the news of maybe a  thousand souls.  This fact occurred to me a couple years ago and I’ve been trying to catch up on movies ever since.

So….drum beat….Fish Clamor Staff’s Favorite movie may well be Terrence Malick’s Days of Heaven.  Watched it for the nth time last night.

As it happens, I came to movies late, and only through writing–Roger Ebert’s writing.  I find his writing so amazing in itself that the film he’s reviewed sometimes seems almost irrelevant. I often read his essays, never seeing the films.

After I saw Days of Heaven, though, I read Ebert’s crushing Great Movies essay about it, and that’s when writing and film came together for me.  Other people’s writing, I mean.  I have no idea how to write a film review, but when I’ve seen a great movie I can direct you to a fine essay about it, probably by Roger Ebert.

Roger Ebert’s Great Movie Essays are all on the web together.  It’s a treat to watch one of his 300 plus Great Movies and then read his essay.  I highly recommend this double experience.

Ebert knew how to write about the news, that’s for sure.

Roger Ebert’s Great Movies

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Let’s pretend we’re wild… (Failed_Tweets # 3)

Let’s pretend we’re teenagers, write our hardened selves into a wild drag race & fly down Main Street at dusk, straight on out of this town.

(This, slightly tweaked, still legal tweet in response to, and appreciating, @ReedsyHQ’s call for dangerous writing in 2016–thank you @ReedsyHQ!)



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On trying to submit 3-6 poems located on 3-6 devices or WAIT!!!

Maybe they are in dropboxes?  Each with a different, obviously forgotten password… Aha!  All but the most important, the just-this-minute-finIshed one–that one is actually printed!




Where is it?  Where did it go? Oh, I see it; there it is.

Here’s to the printed poem about the clamoring fish that actually exists in the visible world.

implements of destruction

implements of destruction

And Theodore Roethke, here’s to the inexorable sadness, as you say, of stamps and SASE’s….the accoutrements of poems we can easily see.

So I bring you this one-of-the-best-ever poems from grad school
and before–Roethke’s magnificent “Dolor”:  What would Roethke say about the loneliness of the password no-one can be bothered to remember hiding god knows how many gorgeous love poems while their author is out catting around, writing new poems…



by Theodore Roethke

I have known the inexorable sadness of pencils,
Neat in their boxes, dolor of pad and paper weight,
All the misery of manilla folders and mucilage,
Desolation in immaculate public places,
Lonely reception room, lavatory, switchboard,
The unalterable pathos of basin and pitcher,
Ritual of multigraph, paper-clip, comma,
Endless duplication of lives and objects.
And I have seen dust from the walls of institutions,
Finer than flour, alive, more dangerous than silica,
Sift, almost invisible, through long afternoons of tedium,
Dropping a fine film on nails and delicate eyebrows,
Glazing the pale hair, the duplicate grey standard faces.


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Heikki Huotari’s book Truth Table soon to be released!

imageHeikki Huotari’s New Book! Click here!My excellent friend and long-time writing partner extraordinaire, the wonderful lyric poet, Heikki Huotari, has a new chapbook, Truth Table, which is surely in the mail at this very moment.

I’ve watched several of these poems grow up, from birth through driver’s licenses (where are they now?) and they are often magnificent.  (Details later.)  Order yours today; you know you want it!

I’ve known him as Robert Huotari since we were both mathematicians; he has publications under both names, many of which are online, to be devoured whole, with milk, possibly very slowly with green tea, or just-right with Baby Bear’s cafe au lait.


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Wondering about the grammar of another language, say, Dutch,

and how the words work in poetry–are they strong, reminding you of your senses, like Germanic words are in English?  Or not so much, boring you and making you wish the poem would just be over, like Latinate words can feel in an English poem…and speaking of Latin, I asked my Dutch friend, “Does ‘Who’s on First’ work in Dutch?”

“Not really.” said my friend.  “They never play baseball there.”

(Thanks to Erik Wijtmans for my favorite joke all week).



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Some Music I Love: Alela Diane’s album To Be Still

Sometimes I run across something so wonderful I have to pass it on.  I don’t really write real reviews very often, but love to share stuff that I’d want to know about myself along with some of the stuff i love about it… So i don’t wrote proper essays here or prove my outrageous claims (though i do that in other contexts sometimes!), but here is the loveliest fish i heard swimming by all day:

Alela Diane’s 2009 album To Be Still caught my attention while I had my good earphones on–what luck! I’d bought it years ago after hearing it somewhere, and I recall feeling utterly enchanted by this young woman’s strange, mysterious poetry inside her beautiful songs. There’s a link at the bottom so you can hear it, too.

From wikipedia, probably, I read enough about her to arrange this little story in my generally faulty memory: her dad’s a bluegrass musician, so she grew up doing music at his knee, and now he sings harnony when she records her music.

I see this album as evidence that we generally have a good bit of our mom or dad in us; as well as evidence that there is a god, who allows us to make ourselves completely ourselves; and possibly has a hand in helping us make ourselves different somehow from every single human being who has ever been born, before or after; as well as evidence that maybe, just maybe, this god is good…in spite of all of the scary, scary news…

Listening to To Be Still reminds me of Johnny Cash (possibly in part as her light to his shadow) with her mix of traditional form and sound with the sound of contemporary singer-song-writing, in a folk tradition, though what you walk away singing with is that thing that makes her writing (she is also a fine poet) and her music and album different from anything else you’ve ever heard, in the same way Johnny Cash made thst happen.

So check her out. There’s a youtube video i recall seeing: in it, she’s singing with her dad, recording this album, in an old falling-down church which is somehow flooded with bright sunlight. Of course it’s beautiful to see the two of them doing music together, and he is on her album as well, which is part of what makes To Be Still every bit as much her own thing as everything john cash ever made was his own thing.

I hope you can still find it and that my memory is mostly accurate.  Ok, hey! I found a link after a search for “alela diane dad church dry grass and shadows.” Try Dry grass and shadows by Alela Diane Video in bright old church.

So my daughter is taking chorus & she is so excited! Somehow she arranged to get my guitar in my lap so I could play “age old blue” for her to sing to–by Alela Diane.  And this morning, she made her first complete Manga comic strip with adorable Kawai’i characters and a complete story while we drew together (I made a terrifying and accurate portrait of her feral, fanged cat, now tamed, sleeping upside down, with all of her half-mustache shining in the winter sun).

And this was a dream-come-true day here at the Fish Clamor studio–drawing and doing music with my daughter in the same day? One of those “Best Days” for me, I say, accidentally thinking out loud

Really? she asks, across the room, half-listening, half-playing some music app on my old phone.

Yes, baby. Yes, really.

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A stranger’s wonderful poem-a-day blog

Someone Else’s Wonderful Poem-of-the-Day site!

Look what I found! A wonderful site, starring many prose poems and some others, too.

Beautifully curated; don’t miss it if you need a little snack.


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Look at this yummy treat found by accident today! Desert Love Poem by Dominika Wrozynski

Desert Love Poem by Dominika Wrozynski

This is our second Christmas, the make-it-or-break-it Christmas where we decide. I didn’t know whether I would still love you tomorrow. So today you’ve left on a hunt for a natural tree because we are both tired of talking and my mother is coming to spend her first Christmas in New Mexico, eat green chile rice at your parents’, get to know their Chihuahuas as the dogs hump her leg. I wanted her to have a tree, not from the Walmart parking lot, but a pine from the mesa, cut by you with a blunt axe—the only one we have. You will refuse to wear gloves, knick your thumb, swear into the year’s first snow. But you will bring it back, remember when you hunted trees with your father last year, how his beard caught the sudden storm, and how he dragged the prize through his asthma home to your mother. She cried that night, cursed him for almost killing you both. You will then understand how she leaned into your father after she was tired of talking, after there was nothing more to say.





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Failed Tweets, 1

The Unreliable Narrator is so much fun in 1st person! Not really. OK maybe. 3 liars walk into a bar & the 2nd one is a fish.

#failed_tweet 1, #amwriting

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First Book Review By Total Stranger


Fish Clamor

Small Press Picks reviewed my book, How I Kiss Her Turning Head, and I do not even know the reviewer.  Check out the book discussion questions–what fun!  Never in my wildest dreams….!

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How I Kiss Her Turning Head, published by Monkey Puzzle Press!

Fish Clamor


My first prose chapbook, How I Kiss Her Turning Head, published by Monkey Puzzle Press, was released on May 31, 2014!  Get yours now! Available from Monkey Puzzle Press. They have a free sample, too. Tasty!

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Monkey Puzzle Press Announces Winners of their 2013 prose Chapbook contest!

Monkey Puzzle Press announced the results of their 2013 Prose Chapbook contest in their blog, here.  I was thrilled that my How I Kiss Her Turning Head (which used to have a different title) won an Honorable Mention.  I’ve read dome of the other winners here–they are good.  Happy to be in this company!

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First Book Review By Total Stranger!


Click Here! Or Click the big “Small Press Picks” circle!image

Small Press Picks reviews How I Kiss Her Turning Head, hereand I do not even know the reviewer.  Check out the book discussion questions–what fun!  Never in my wildest dreams.

Thank you Beth Castrodale!   Thanks also to Small Press Picks for the commitment to writing fine proper essays about books printed by small presses.

Posted in fiction, flash fiction, genre? what's a genre?, mother, motherhood, notes from the studio, prose, prose poems, stories | Tagged , | 1 Comment

From the Editor’s Perch…

From the Editor’s Perch….

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How I Kiss Her Turning Head, published by Monkey Puzzle Press!


My first prose chapbook, How I Kiss Her Turning Head, published by Monkey Puzzle Press, was released on May 31, 2014!  Get yours now! Available from Monkey Puzzle Press. They have a free sample, too. Tasty!

Posted in baby, fiction, flash fiction, genre? what's a genre?, memoir, mother, motherhood | 1 Comment

girl reads to cat

girl reads to cat

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