A Wood Thrush is Waiting for You!

Memory_Ashley_COV_EMA little wood thrush has just taken flight! See the official cover of my new poetry book to your left. Waiting for the Wood Thrush is currently available for presale at Finishing Line Press.

Advance sales help the author and the publisher, and I’d be so very grateful if you ordered early. Click here to order Waiting for the Wood Thrush online. 

Waiting for the Wood Thrush includes 23 poems united by the themes of love and longing, through the lens of nature.

A handful of the poems have been previously published through the years, and they’re happily united under one cover with many new ones, including “Eulogy of the Northern Red Oak,” a long-form poem that was named a finalist by the N.C. Poetry Society earlier in the year, along with “Lost and Found of the Dead,” which offers a surrealistic journey through the intangible things we often leave behind.

“Memory’s poems are fully human, and therefore fully real; they are moral poems, in that they lift the reader to a higher level of appreciation for the human world and the world of nature.”

Joyce S. Brown, author of the poetry collection Vital Signs, Orchard Street Press and former instructor, Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars

“Ashley Memory’s poems take matters of the soul and make them breathable. She does what a poet must—she takes what hurts in life and makes us laugh, sigh, think, then turn the page. The hurting, of course, doesn’t go away, but Waiting for the Wood Thrush reminds us of the whole brilliant spectrum of emotion that poetry brings us.” – Matt Swain, Co-founder and Poetry Editor of Turnpike Magazine

“Witty, wise, overflowing with life and color, grace, and the goodness in our lives.  You go from the natural world, to how to see a ghost to an antiques fair to sin town. What joy! What word pleasure! Read and remember, then read again.” – Ruth Moose, Pushcart Prize-winning author of two novels, four collections of short stories and six collections of poetry, including Tea and The Librarian.

Waiting for the Wood Thrush is available for pre-order through September 13, with publication on November 8, 2019. My pressrun (the number of copies printed) is determined by advance sales, and it would help me tremendously if purchases are made during this time.  Thank you so very much for your support!

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Hello July: Berries, Weeds…and a Lunar Eclipse!

blackberrySummer is here. No question. The dog days of August arrived early this year. Trust me. With two canines lying flat on their sides on the cool concrete of the porch, too enervated to even wag their tails at me, I know it’s true.

I can’t complain too much. After all, July is my birthday month (the 6th!) AND our anniversary month (the 7th!) and…. the month of berries and freestone peaches. Hurray! July also brings back that cherished, although awkward, memory of the lunar eclipse of 1982. Anybody else remember that? I boiled down that long-ago experience into an ultrashort flash essay that Mental Papercuts just kindly published in their Issue 1.5, Weird Summer Vibes. If you’re hankering for wildly creative, off-the-wall summer stories that may bring back memories of your own, please check it out.

Three poems of mine also appeared today, more writing inspired by the summer. “What the Weeds in My Yard Taught Me About Social Justice” and “September Raspberry” bloomed in the Summer 2019 issue of Gyroscope Review. And “Pulling Up the Wild Blackberry Bushes” just unfurled in the July issues of the gorgeous O.Henry and Pinestraw magazines, both of which are distributed in locations across the state.

As a reminder to all my writer friends, July also marks the halfway point for what we hope will be a productive year of writing. Now’s the time to start penning, gulp, other seasonal pieces (think: Halloween and Christmas) and most importantly, setting goals to improve.

Chinese fortune cookies are fun, not always prescient, but they can be surprisingly profound. Here’s one just for you. Of all our human resources, the most precious is our desire to improve.

So what are you doing to get better? For me, it means leading two workshops this summer at The Joyful Jewel because I learn as much, if not more, from my fellow workshop participants as they do from me! It also means taking a memoir class led by Dorit Sasson through Women on Writing, my favorite space for online writing classes.

I’m a little nervous because I’m new to the field of memoir (and a beginner in the world of creative nonfiction) but the good news is that I’ve got lots to learn. This means I’ll never be bored!

Stay cool, eat your berries, and set your own improvement goals!

Ashley

 

 

Happy National Camera Day, Etc!

cravengraveIt’s June 29, and the National Day Calendar tells me it’s National Camera Day, National Almond Buttercrunch Day, and National Waffle Iron Day!

So how did we celebrate such momentous occasions? First, we took a little field trip  to scenic Concord Cemetery in Coleridge, N.C. This site has been on my history bucket list for some time, as I’m a descendant (through my mother, Margaret Jane Craven) of Peter Craven, one of the early settlers of Randolph County. He settled here in 1750, back when our county was still part of Orange County, and well before our nation’s independence.

Peter had six sons and his descendants are now scattered across the U.S., but many of the original family members, including my great-great-great-great-great grandfather Thomas Craven, Esquire, Peter Craven’s eldest son, are buried here. Both Peter and Thomas served in the Revolutionary War and became renowned for their pottery.  The bright sunshine, verdant hills, and blue sky made today a perfect day for snapping pictures, such as the one above memorializing our patriarch.

Later, at home, I remembered that it was also Almond Buttercrunch Day. Luckily, I happened to some chocolate-covered toffee cookies stowed away in the freezer.

cookie

Okay, the flavor wasn’t quite almond buttercrunch, but I figured it was close enough, right?

The only thing left to commemorate is National Waffle Iron Day, but I have to tell you that after just two cookies, I’m already full. I love waffles, so maybe I’ll get out the waffle iron later. These long summer days make anything possible.

By the way, the National Day Calendar is a terrific resource for writers (and anybody else who just wants another reason to be happy!).

So have a little fun, and I hope you celebrate your favorite special day with style…..

 

Bring back the hand mixer….and the thank you!

mixerI recently inherited a host of kitchen gadgets from my beloved Grandma Wilma. They seemed like virtual antiques–a box grater, handheld lemon juicer, and, of all things, her First National Bank apron! But what surprises me is how often I end up using these “old” things and how practical they seem now.

Like my hand mixer. I love my pricey stand mixer with the planetary action as much as anybody, and I count myself very fortunate to have it. But when I need to mix up just a simple batch of mashed potatoes, I’m much more likely to use this old standby. It’s so convenient and far more lightweight.

A meditation on kitchen gadgets led to me muse on the other things that we should bring back. Next on my list: the common courtesy of a ‘thank you.’

Earlier today I retweeted a killer essay, Dating After Divorce, Which One Would You Choose? (Rebellious Magazine) by good friend Joy Wright. Although I didn’t expect it, she immediately thanked me, and I was touched. You see, and I know I’m not alone, but I’ve done much more for other people and received far less. Not even an acknowledgment. Seriously.

Yeah, yeah, I know people are busy, busy, busy. I’ve pledged that excuse myself. And I’m sure that I’m past due on a few sincere thank yous myself. Guilty! So whaddya say? Could we bring back the simple thank you? Maybe even a handwritten note sent by mail (perish the thought!).

The time has never been better. Study after study shows that in spite of the many connections we make on social media, and the whirl of activities in our lives, people in modern society are lonelier than ever.

So let’s bring back not just the hand mixer, but the thank you note, phone calls, and the act of leaving actual messages and returning them! Maybe even the potluck and the sock hop. Okay, maybe not the sock hop. (I’m showing my age, and even I’m not ready for another dose of that awkward adolescence.)

Lest I forget, I do THANK YOU for reading this.

Gratefully yours,
Ashley

 

Be a Shape Shifter!

little puss

What do you see in the magical coat of Little Puss? Evil snowman or smiling panda bear? This tricky feline is a shape shifter!

What’s your favorite genre, someone recently asked me. Poetry, fiction, nonfiction, plays? My answer: All of them!

The longer I write, the more I’ve learned that the various writing genres are not mutually exclusive. The same solid idea that sparked a short story could easily morph into an essay or a poem. Especially if you still have curiosity about the topic. So why limit yourself to just one form? Be like Little Puss, a shape shifter!

Case in point. Shirley Jackson. This renowned writer didn’t just pen short stories and novels; she also wrote essays and even drew cartoons! Here’s another:  Vladimir Nabokov. He wrote stories, novels, poetry and his nonfiction memoir, Speak Memory, is a model for any writer in terms of craft. Dorothy Parker: poetry, stories, book reviews. And Tennessee Williams wrote much of the above and even took playwriting to another level by tackling screenplays.

Shakespeare was also a notorious shape shifter, excelling in every form available at the time. If he lived today, in addition to the plays and poetry, he’d probably dash out a sitcom or two, don’t you think?

Shape shifting is also more efficient. In my case, my essay “Eulogy of a Northern Red Oak” eventually turned into a poem. It’s essentially a condensed form of the same essay but with unusual line breaks and intentional omissions, the sadness of the topic–the loss of our natural habitat–is exacerbated. The poem was named a finalist in the 2019 Poet Laureate Competition and will be published in “Waiting for the Wood Thrush,” my first poetry collection by Finishing Line Press in November.

As I plunder through my old writing projects, I’m continuing to “shift shapes.” Or is it “shape shift” ? Maybe I’ll breathe new life into an old essay and turn it into a short story. And I think I have a poem or two that might work as a short story….humm….let the magic begin!

 

Cat in a Wheelbarrow! Interview on the Muffin

cat in a wheelbarrowToday I’m honored to be interviewed on “The Muffin,” the daily blog of the award-winning Women on Writing site.

Here I discuss the inspiration behind my “onion” essay, my forthcoming poetry collection (“Waiting for the Wood Thrush”) from Finishing Line Press, and my favorite writing tip.

For more and to find out the story behind the picture of the cat in a wheelbarrow, read it here.