Friday, September 26, 2014

Muse 14 Is Almost Here!

We are happy to announce the arrival of The Healing Muse 14. The launch will occur on Wednesday, October 22 from 4-5 pm at the Medical Alumni Auditorium in Weiskotten Hall (766 Irving Ave, Syracuse NY). We will hear from some of our writers and artists who are able to appear in person; copies will be available at the ever-reasonable $10 price, and there will be cake served immediately after the readings. Come join us as we celebrate; we think this issue is exceptionally strong and can't wait to hear your reactions to it.

 Cover photo: "Comforting a Friend" by Lynne Feldman

Date Change for Wells College Reading. We will "hit the road" on Thursday, November 13 and head to Wells College in Aurora, NY for our traditional post-publication party reading at MacMillan Hall at 7 pm. If you are in that vicinity, please join us. The Wells College and Aurora communities always spark lively discussions with our writers.

And to all our friends, if there is a venue that you think would welcome a reading, please let us know and we'll try to set one up. Part of the great pleasure of working on The Healing Muse is introducing new people to its richness.

Hope to see you at the Launch Party.

Deirdre Neilen

Monday, September 8, 2014

The end of summer...still

by Lauren Wetterhahn

Early September in the Northeast is a time set apart from the usual, predictable progress of the seasons: combining both elements of summer and fall, it spans a number of typically hot and sunny weeks while offering subtle hints of the approaching return to earlier sunsets and frosty mornings. Perhaps because of its association with the end of childhood summer vacations and the return to school, there is a palpable sense of excitement, expectation, and anxiety, as though we must rush to enjoy every last piece of ripe summer fruit or sun-drenched afternoon. How to fit it all in while still savoring each moment as it passes? How to navigate the line between relaxation and fear of missing out and that pesky passage of time?

Inside the Center for Bioethics and Humanities here at Upstate Medical University, the staff of The Healing Muse finds itself similarly caught in suspended animation as we wait for various drafts of the upcoming issue HM14 to change hands for a final round of proofing. It's a sensation reinforced by a string of hot, sticky days of pounding sun that makes daily life appear to progress as though slogging its way through honey. There is a sense here, too, of anticipation and perhaps a little nervousness as we watch the number of days until the October 22nd launch tick closer and closer to zero. This year's publication will contain even more high-quality color pages, highlighting the considerable talents of our visual art contributors and increasing the aesthetic appeal of the entire publication.

Change is in the air for me, as well, as this will be my last Healing Muse Cafe blog post as the editorial assistant for The Healing Muse before I move on to a new position. I've never been much of a blogger or literary type before, but my time on The Healing Muse team (however brief) and reading many, many wonderful HM submissions has inspired me. I will remain a loyal friend of The Muse and just maybe one day I'll try my hand at some fiction writing. I will still be attending the launch party, to be held on Wednesday, October 22, 2014 from 4-5 pm in the Medical Alumni Auditorium of Weiskotten Hall at Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, NY (click here for directions) and hope to meet some of you there.

The good news of our past and present Muse contributors' achievements keeps on coming. Elaine Mansfield's forthcoming book, Leaning into Love: A Spiritual Journey through Grief, from which an excerpt will appear in this fall's HM14, is already gathering laudatory reviews. From the Kirkus review: "Her descriptions of her bereavement and slow recovery are honest and moving, rendered in subtly poetic language" and her "perspective on her husband's death is refreshingly curious and unflinching." Congratulations, Elaine!

Mona de Vestel, of HM5&10, announces the recent publication of her new book, Love in a Time of War: The Writings of Edryon, available now from Amazon. She is busily working on its promotion while launching her manuscript editing and proofreading business, Condor Books. You can contact her at

Local readers of The Healing Muse Cafe may be interested in an upcoming reading by Tish Pearlman, of HM10-14, on Thursday, September 25th at 7pm in the Trumansburg Ulysses Philomathic Library (74 East Main St., Trumansburg, NY). She will be reading from her new collection, "Afterlife" (Foothills Publishers, May 2014) along with her friend, the novelist Jeanne Mackin. What a wonderful way to spend an early autumn evening!

Mary Jo Balistreri of HM8, 10, & 13 has a new chapbook, Best Brothers, that was recently released by Tiger's Eye Press. Here is what Danielle Blau, poet author of Mere Eye and Poetry Society of America winner, wrote: "[i]n Balistreri's skillful hands, 'something shifts' without us knowing how or when, and tragedy not only takes on a 'livable shape,' but becomes larger, more mysterious and more beautiful than itself, as sudden and transcendent as a song."

That's all for now. Save the date for our launch, Oct. 22, 4-5 pm.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Dog Days of August

by Deirdre Neilen.

August in Syracuse has been mostly wonderful with abundant sunshine and cool breezes for easy sleeping at night. The Muse staff has been very busy proofing our soon-to-be published fourteenth volume. For our area readers, writers, and artists, please reserve Wednesday October 22 (4-5 pm) for our launch. This volume is truly outstanding; we can't wait to share it with you.

I want to give some room here to our artists and writers who have also been busy this summer. If you are in the Hamilton, NY area, visit the Broad Street Gallery and see an exciting exhibition of new work by Muse artist Karen J. Burns. These landscapes are gorgeous and evocative as Burns plays with notions of realism and abstraction. The opening is Saturday, August 23 from 6-8 pm and the exhibit runs until September 22. Hamilton is a beautiful place to visit so add the gallery to your list of activities for August and September. Congratulations, Karen.

Judith Hannan has an essay coming out in the forthcoming anthology Motherhood, Mental Illness, and Recovery (Springer International Press). She recently had an essay published on The Huffington Post about empty nest syndrome. In addition, Judith is running writing workshops and speaking on a variety of topics which you can explore on her website

 Kathleen McClung's crown of sonnets Lighter than Her Lace, appears online in Unsplendid's special double issue on women and form.  Her poems celebrate women painters over more than five centuries. Unsplendid features audio recordings of many contributors reading their work. Kathleen also has three poems online in Festival Writer's July 2014 sestinas issue.  
Beverly Boyd has joined forces with three other poets, Carol Alma McPhee, Joann Rusch, and Bonnie Young, to create a collection of poems, Where Our Palms Rest (Coalesce Press, 2013). Celebrating the grace and courage gained through aging, the poems focus on love, loss, illness, care-giving, and nature, among other subjects. The poetry ranges in tone from wry to raw, thoughtful to fearless, as it protrays life's joys, griefs, and gifts in an attempt to bring order to chaos, insight to confusion, and glimpses of the great mystery that lies ahead. The book's title borrows, though alters, a line from McPhee's poem Covenant. (Cover photo and black and white photos by R. David Bowlus.)  

Exciting news for Theresa Wyatt from Derby, NY. Her first collection of poems titled Arrowheads Everywhere debut at the recent Buffalo Small Press Book Fair. She dedicated the book to her father who passed away last year and her poem Dementia from volume 13 of the Muse is included in it. The book is available through independent booksellers: Talking Leaves in Buffalo, and Bobs Olde Books in Lewiston, NY, or contact her directly at or PO Box 716, Derby, NY 14047. 

Poet Veneta Masson will appear in Muse 14; she had a poem in this week's JAMA which you can find via your library or perhaps at your physician's office. The poem is entitled "Fast" and it is in Vol. 312, No. 6, August 13, 2014. 

It is wonderful to see our family of writers and artists appearing in other venues. Let's continue to support each other wherever we can. Happy August. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Catching our collective breath

By Lauren Wetterhahn, Lois Dorschel, and Deirdre Neilen

The two-month hiatus since our last blog post has been time filled with activity here at The Healing Muse as we inch closer to the October launch of Volume 14. The manuscript is now in the capable hands of our Design and Graphics Editor, Nancy "Fern" Schreher. After we do another round of proofing, the manuscript will head off to Sheridan Press, our wonder printers, before the big launch on October 22 (save the date!).  We are happy to announce that our time frame has progressed ahead of schedule compared to past years and are enjoying this brief break in the action to see to other responsibilities . . . like this blog.

Although we will not be open for submissions until September, Managing Editor Lois Dorschel asked our Editor-in-Chief what she'll be looking for when we reopen. Deirdre says, "we look for stories that give us a little jolt; sometimes it's one of recognition--'oh, yes, that's exactly what I imagine it is like'--and sometimes it's one of real shock. We are sent into an unfamiliar world and made to experience how it is to live there. All our writers and artists share this gift; they make us look anew, not away. They make us glad we stopped for a while and visited; they make us read some lines aloud to a friend or look up an artist on the web to see what else they have done."

We also want to remind you that Upstate Medical University has a radio show, Health Link on Air, that airs on the local radio station on Sunday nights; at the end of each show, Deirdre is invited to read a poem or an excerpt from The Muse. We are getting good feedback from listeners of the show, bringing us an additional audience for our writers, and we want to assure you that your words do affect people in the most wonderful of ways. Our new Muse Media webpage compiles all of the broadcasted readings into one convenient location for your listening pleasure.

Poetry Reading at Buffalo Street Books 

The April Healing Muse reading at Buffalo Street Books, in Ithaca, NY, once again demonstrated why independent bookstores are so wonderful. We had a small but appreciative audience and afterward, as the photos demonstrate, there was time for the poets to talk and share ideas. What a great group of people. Thank you, Buffalo Street Books!

Finally, it always delights us to receive updates from Muse contributors about their newly-published work and awards. Tish Pearlman's new collection Afterlife will be officially released on May 7th from Foothills Publishers. The release party will occur at Tompkins County Public Library (101 E. Green St. Ithaca, NY) on July 17th at 6 pm. Signed copies of the book will be available and you can congratulate Tish in person. Well done, Tish!

Mary Gardner received the 1st and 2nd place awards at the 2014 Biennial Competition for Free Verse of the National League of American Pen Women in Atlanta for her poem "Last Conversation." She and author Phillip Memmer will participate in a free, public reading at St. Peter's Church on Mill Street in Cazenovia, NY on July 12th at 3 pm as part of the annual COUNTERPOINT festival of contemporary music, art, and literature. More details about the reading and other events can be found at the website of the Society for New Music, festival sponsor. Congratulations, Mary!

Happy Summer Solstice to all; keep writing and keep us informed.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Poetry Month

by Deirdre Neilen. The weather in Syracuse suddenly screams spring, possibility, April NOT the cruelest month after all!

We lead off with a picture of our Design Editor, Nancy Schreher, posing with our now famous gum ball machine, Howard. (To find out how he got his name, you must ask Muse Associate Editor Kathy Faber-Langendoen; it's a good story.) This year Howard is full of haikus written by folks who study and/or work and teach here at Upstate. For two bits, you can read a haiku and think about how even a very short poem can enter your consciousness and make you laugh, think, and feel. Not a bad bargain.

We celebrated Howard's reappearance at the Dearing Writing Awards here at Upstate. You will be able to read the winning entries in Muse 14 which will be published in October. We had a good turnout and all enjoyed hearing stories, poems, and some of the haikus.

Poetry Reading at the Inns of Aurora

Poets Kathleen Kramer and Mary Gardner

We had a wonderful reading at the Inns of Aurora on March 31. Anyone looking for a beautiful venue is encouraged to contact Emily Ambrose ( to find information. We were downstairs this year in a room overlooking the lake, sun was setting as we were reading. I took some pictures, but as you can see photography is not my forte. I'm hoping you can at least appreciate the murals that surrounded us and the joyful poets we had reading.

Joyce Holmes McAllister, and behind her are poets
Eric Machan Howd and Katharyn Howd Machan talking to a student

Deirdre Neilen (foreground). Poets Bruce Bennett and
Tish Pearlman are deep in conversation (background).

Poetry Reading at Buffalo Street Books

The Muse hits the road again this Sunday, April 13. We'll be at Buffalo Street Books in Ithaca (Dewitt Mall, between Cayuga and Tioga Streets) at 3 pm for an hour's reading. We hope to see those of you who live in that area. It's a great opportunity to support a book cooperative and hear some wonderful prose and poetry.

Poets Bruce Bennett and Katharyn Howd Machan will have copies of their newest books for sale too.  Bruce's Swimming in a Watering Can  celebrates his recent announcement to retire from Wells College, and Katharyn's manuscript H won the Gribble Press Chapbook Contest 2013.

I will try to take better pictures in Ithaca, promise! See you there. Happy Poetry Month.

Monday, March 3, 2014


by Deirdre Neilen and Lauren Wetterhahn

Our Associate Editor, Dr. Kathy Faber-Langendoen, is an oncologist and the director of our hospital ethics consult service. In her various roles here at the university and in the hospital, she has witnessed and been a part of many stories of illness and healing. She thought our readers might enjoy a recent New York Times column about the responsibility of the writer to his or her subject when that subject is vulnerable or compromised. What happens to family members when there is no requirement for confidentiality about family secrets? We ask all our health professional writers to remember that the "privacy of patients and clients of health care practitioners should be protected." However, no such caveat exists for non-health care professionals. In his column, Jay Neugeboren describes how he involved his brother in the writing of the book which was about both of them, but he is also honest enough to say that he intended to write that book "with or without his approval." The writing of this story helped Neugeboren revisit and reclaim his childhood and young adulthood; writing we know can be therapeutic and life-affirming. But especially when we write non-fiction about others and illness, we walk on fragile ground and may need to consider whose story we are claiming.

Turning to our contributors and their latest triumphs, we begin with a note from poet Tish Pearlman. Tish was recently re-nominated for a second term as poet laureate of Tompkins County. She'll be giving a reading followed by a Q&A session on Wednesday March 26th from 11:30 am-12:30 pm at Elmira College in Tripp Lecture Hall of the Gannett-Tripp Library. This is part of Elmira College's Arts Alive! week and will be an excellent chance to hear Tish read her newest work.

From Melissa F. Pheterson comes the good news that her book of short stories, Under His Nose, is now available for Kindle on Amazon. Muse 13 readers of her witty essay "Future Grandma: Green is Grief" will not be surprised to hear critic Mark Spencer say the short stories in Under His Nose are "driven by vivid characters evoked with vibrant narrative voices, pithy dialogue, and rich description. Update Philip Roth's characters by 50 years and with a female perspective, and you have Under His Nose."

 We were excited to receive a copy of Fracas & Asylum, a third collection of poems by Zara Raab. Described as a "journey through inner and outer landscapes characterized by alternating moods of storm, seclusion and reverie," readers will recognize the poem "Grieving" from Muse 13 among sixty-four other poems in the collection. Fracas & Asylum was published last year by David Robert Books and is available from Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

Anya Krugovoy Silver has a new collection of poems, I watched you diasappear, published by Louisiana State University Press this month.  Described as "meditations on sickness but also celebrations of art, motherhood, and family," the collection further explores Silver's cancer diagnosis and treatment that also formed the premise for her two poems published in Muse 8. It is available directly from the publisher as well as in paper and digital forms from the following  retailers: Barnes & Noble, Amazon, eBooks, and Google Play.

Congratulations to all of these contributors on their recent accomplishments -- we are always happy to share your good news here on the Healing Muse Cafe blog, so please feel free to email us updates. 

To wrap up this first blog post of March, we are happy to announce the preliminary line-up for two Spring Muse readings in Central New York. On March 31st at 7 pm, The Inns of Aurora in Aurora, New York, will host the first reading of the Spring with readings by Bruce Bennett, Cindy Day, Mary L. Gardner, Laura Glenn, Katharyn Howd Machan, Kathleen Kramer, Eric Machan Howd, Joyce Holmes McAllister, and Tish Pearlman.

On April 13th at 3 pm, our second Spring reading at Buffalo Street Books in Ithaca, New York, will feature readings by many of the same authors joined by Robert W. Daly, Kailey McDonald, and Andrew Schep. If any other previous Muse contributors would like to participate in the readings, please email us A.S.A.P. -- the fliers can still be updated. The readings are free and open to the public. Hope to see many of you there!

meditations on sickness but also celebrations of art, motherhood, and family - See more at:
meditations on sickness but also celebrations of art, motherhood, and family - See more at:
meditations on sickness but also celebrations of art, motherhood, and family - See more at:

Friday, February 14, 2014

Call for visual artists

by Lauren Wetterhahn

Despite the utter lack of reprieve from the cold and snow up here in Upstate New York, the staff of The Healing Muse is gearing up for the big springtime push for publication for the next print issue, Muse 14. Submissions will be accepted until May 1, 2014 and we are very pleased with the volume and quality of what we have received so far. Keep the great work coming!

Visual art is essential to the mission and character of The Muse; I know I am not alone in my admiration of the stunning cover from Muse 13 and the emotional depth and artistic skill represented by the photography, paintings, and drawings within its pages. We are making a special call for submissions to our visual artist readers (and their friends among you): visual art submissions are welcomed by email ( as attachments -- please, no links to web pages -- on a continual basis until May 1.

Decisions about visual art submissions are completed after we finalize the literary content, since the thematic connections that emerge between the written works and visual pieces are only apparent once we assemble all of the pieces. If you heed our plea to submit visual art, please be aware that an answer about whether we will be able to use your submission will not be immediate. We beg your patience and hope that the prospect of a few-month delay in a firm answer will not deter you from sending in your work for consideration.

On the topic of visual artists, I made a regretful omission from the most recent Muse past-contributor Honor Roll: Karen Kozicki, whose photos have appeared in The Healing Muse 10-13, has a collection of black and white infrared photographs on exhibit in Crystal Glow, the current show at the Edgewood Gallery, 216 Tecumseh Road, Syracuse, NY.  The show runs until February 21st and can be viewed during gallery hours, Tuesday to Friday from 9:30am to 6:00pm and Saturday from 10:00am to 2:00pm. One of the featured photographs is presented in teaser proportions at left. Congratulations, Karen!

Chris Woods, whose photography appeared in Muse 13, authored an essay, "Happy," about taking his Great Pyrenees therapy dog to visit a hospice facility that was recently published on The Mindful Word, under the title "Lucky: 'Til Death Do Us Part." It will be reprinted in a new animal welfare anthology that seeks to raise awareness about dogs in shelters titled Write to Woof, from Grey Wolfe Publishing."The Picture Poem: Blend of Image with Words," his essay about picture poems and combining words with visual art, was just published in The Woven Tale Press online along with some truly arresting photographs. Bravo, Chris! 

Howard Stein of Muse 10, 11 & 13 is the author of a new book of poetry, Raisins and Almonds, from Finishing Line Press (his fifth!). We look forward to getting our hands on it. 

In a serendipitous turn of events, Muse 13 contributor Karen Donley-Hayes has an essay, "Buying the Farm, Part B" in the new Holy Cow! Press anthology The Heart of All That Is: Reflections on Home, edited by Jim Perlman, Deborah Cooper, Mara Hart, and Pamela Mittlefehld that we announced had published a poem by Claudia M. Reder (of Muse 11 & 13) in the last blog post. Karen's essay “Eleventh Hour” appeared in Pulse – Voices from the heart of medicine in January and her two-part fiction “The Bionic Lobster” appeared in The Saturday Evening Post online in January and February. accompanied by her own hand illustrations. All of this comes on the tail of her 2013 Pushcart Prize in nonfiction nominations by The Blue Lyra Review and The Quotable for her essays “Hens on a Porch,” and “Under Cover.” How exciting!
We take a great deal of satisfaction in hearing about the accomplishments and general goings-on of our Muse contributors. Nicely done, all, and keep in touch -- new updates should be sent attn: Lauren to The Healing Muse email address ( and I will endeavor to include them in the next post here on The Healing Muse Cafe. Until next time, take care.