Writers in Real Life

Writers in Real Life: Jessica Gregg

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Jessica Gregg is the Yellow Arrow writer-in-residence for the Highlandtown First Friday Art Walk during the months of July, August and September. Jessica grew up in the Baltimore area, listening to her family’s stories of the city’s street car days. She and her children lived in Bozeman, Montana, before returning to Baltimore more than a decade ago.

Most of her career since then has been spent in education, and much of her poetry has been informed by the time she spent working at Sisters Academy of Baltimore, a middle school for girls from Southwest Baltimore. Three years ago, she left education and returned to her first career, journalism, and currently oversees three magazines, one of which is Baltimore Style.

In the fall of 2017, she decided to take a prose poetry class through Johns Hopkins University’s Odyssey program as a way to keep writing after spending work days editing. After the class, she entered a contest for women poets that was sponsored by Finishing Line Press. She did not win the contest, but the press chose to publish her manuscript News from This Lonesome City, which will be released this summer.

Poetry is Jessica’s way of documenting the moments and stories in life that are most meaningful to her. It’s also a chance to play with words in a way that the day job doesn’t always provide.

Jessica hopes to use her residency to work on a new collection of poems and to teach a workshop or two for the community.

Jessica will be giving a reading in addition to a book signing at Literary Night on August 2nd. Find her circulating the art walk in July, August and September.

Writers in Real Life: Kerry Graham

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We are happy to welcome Kerry as our first Writer-in-Residence. You can find Kerry at the Highlandtown First Friday Art Walk in April, May, and June and hear her read her work at Yellow Arrow's August 2nd reading.

Kerry spent the first few years of her life in Baltimore, but was raised in Baltimore County. After going to college in Southern Maryland, attending grad school in England, and being a full-time volunteer in Nigeria, she moved to Baltimore in 2009. She lived in Pigtown for two years, but has been in the Patterson Park area since then. Almost three years ago, she bought a house in Highlandtown/Patterson Park, and couldn't be happier about being part of this neighborhood. 

About her experience in Baltimore, she writes, "Sometimes, I describe myself as being hopefully devoted to Baltimore. My entire professional career, I’ve served some of Baltimore’s most marginalized populations: the HIV+, homeless, and its youth. While I have the fortune of being able to enjoy much of Baltimore’s charm, I care about hundreds of people who have been traumatized by Baltimore. I recognize that to be in this position–someone who gets to experience some of the best of Baltimore, but also understands the depths of its worst–is relatively uncommon, which is why I am committed to writing, and story sharing, and using language as a way to unite those who might otherwise never have found one another. I believe I would have been a writer regardless of where I live, but Baltimore has made my writing meaningful."

Kerry’s vignettes have appeared, or are forthcoming, in borrowed solaceThe Citron ReviewCrack the Spine, and Gravel. She is a regular contributor to Role Reboot, and runs a collaborative weekly newsletter called In This Together.  

from gravelmag.com

Promise Him Pencils

Kerry Graham

I cannot tell which day I mark him absent, again, is the one I know he will not be back. He stops coming to class—mine, and apparently algebra, and biology—but still comes to school. In the halls, he holds his back straighter than he ever did in my room; his eyes shine brighter. Here, it does not matter that he never has paper. Pencils. Whenever we pass each other by the stairwell, he stops laughing long enough to vow, “Ima be there tomorrow!” The next day, I tell myself: he meant it at the time.

Soon, he stops coming to school, but I still see him sometimes. Now, instead of by the stairs, I pass him on the street, wondering how far he is from home. The sun shines on him here.

In my car, even with just glimpses of him, I am reminded of how he would look in the hallway. ­­­Every time I see him, it is at the same corner, too far—and too late—for me to promise him pencils. Driving past, I know all the reasons he will not realize I am there. I shout anyway.

This morning, the streets only trickle with traffic, and I can tell that today is the one he will see me. Again, I shout his name. Watching him grin at me as he lifts his hand above his head to wave, I want to press the brakes on my car. On time.

Writers in Real Life: Ariele Sieling

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Yellow Arrow Publishing friend and board member Ariele Sieling has a book launch coming up on March 28, so we wanted to introduce her and her work to you. Ariele is a prolific author of science fiction, kids books, and urban fantasy (13 books so far), and has short stories published in a number of journals, anthologies, and magazines. She has become a go-to expert in self-publishing and uses Patreon to help readers find her and support her work.

We sat down with her and asked a couple of questions of local interest, starting with: what do you like most about Baltimore so far?

She replied: “We moved here about two years ago. I think my favorite part of Baltimore so far is honestly the people. Of all the places I've lived, the people we've met here have been the most friendly, welcoming, and helpful, which makes it much easier to make such a significant adjustment from a small New England town to a large city.”

How did you get involved with Yellow Arrow Publishing, and what has that been like for you?

“I met Gwen at a craft fair and she asked me if I would like to help her run a reading series. I had been thinking about getting involved in doing volunteer work again, so I figured it was a good opportunity and perfect timing. We ran the reading series together last year and it was extremely successful, and then we started a workshop series. Now I'm the vice president of the board, and super excited about watching the organization grow!”

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Tell us about your book. How did you come up with idea?

“My most recent book, being released on March 28th, is called Tentacles and Teeth. It is a post-apocalyptic sci-fi filled with monsters. I’ve always been intrigued by apocalyptic stories—specifically the idea of an empty world mixed with the desperate need for survival—and I’ve always wanted to write one. But I felt that a lot of post-apocalyptic stories have already been told and told again—zombies, flood, nuclear war, environmental collapse, aliens. I wanted to write something a little different. So after mulling it over in the back of my mind for quite a while, I realized I hadn’t ever read or watched something with monsters. And that’s where I started.”

What the day-to-day writing life look like for you?

“I am a full time writer. I split my time 50/50 between doing freelance writing (mostly web copy, copy editing, and independent publishing consulting) and writing and marketing my own work. On an average day, I get up and work out or go for a walk, then sit down and do three or four hours for my clients, have lunch, and then switch over to my own stuff and spend another three or four hours writing or marketing. And of course, I fit in all of my volunteer work for Yellow Arrow too!”

What do you think is the best thing about being an author?

“I love telling stories. I’ve always indulged in stories, reading, making them up, imaginary friends—and now I love the fact that I get to tell them all day every day.”

We love telling stories, too—and sharing stories and supporting women telling their own stories. Thank you so much, Ariele, for your time. We are looking forward to checking out your work, and we appreciate all the hard work you do for Yellow Arrow!

We’re so happy to have Ariele as part of the Yellow Arrow team. Click here to order a copy of her newest book, Tentacles and Teeth! You can also visit her website to learn more about all the work she’s doing.

The book will be live on March 28th, and Ariele will be going live on Facebook that night on her author page at: https://www.facebook.com/arielejsieling/

Other ways to find Ariele online:

Writers in Real Life: Jessica Cappelluti and Edele Morgan

Student and Teacher Writers

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Here at Yellow Arrow, we live for moments like these. Meet Jessica and Edele. Both of these poets were published in the latest issue of our literary journal. Edele's poem "Good," leads the journal as we explore the theme of Doubt. This talented high schooler informed us (well after the publication was under way) that her teacher and mentor Jessica Cappelluti also had a poem accepted in the same issue of our journal. Talk about serendipity.

Ms. Morgan shared these thoughts about her teacher:

"Ms. Cappelluti is my English teacher this year and she has had a great influence on me as a writer and a person. I'm lucky to not only have her as a teacher but as a caring and supportive role model in my life. I have her class last period every day so as soon as I get there I tell her all about what's going on, good or bad. She always listens and reassures me if anything has gone wrong and praises my achievements and celebrates with me when things go right. Every class we start with journaling. Ms. Cappelluti is the first teacher I've had to ever give her students time to write about ourselves or things we care about and give us the choice to share or just keep it to ourselves. She has also encouraged us to try to write poetry and actually gave me an extra journal that is now my poetry book. When Ms. Cappelluti first told me about Yellow Arrow Journal I was so excited at the thought of us doing this together and myself possibly getting published for the first time. I started to brainstorm right away and sent in three of my poems. I got the email saying that one of my poems was chosen during my sixth period U.S. history class and immediately called my mom. For the rest of the day I was bubbling with anticipation to tell Ms. Cappelluti and when I finally got to tell her I found out that she got chosen too. We talked about it almost everyday and couldn't wait to get our copies of the journal. I'm so grateful for Ms. Cappelluti and everything she has done for me because without her I would likely not have the passion for writing and for life that I have today."

Ms. Cappelluti shared these thoughts about her student:

"It was definitely synchronous that we were both accepted.  It is funny how it worked out, because my mom has always been my support; she's the one who taught me how to write and helped me to cultivate my voice.  When I was in high school, I wrote at least one poem a day, and my mother was the only person who I would allow to read it.  I've been writing poetry my whole life, but I never thought to submit one for publication. My mom told me about the Yellow Arrow Journal, and urged me to send something.  When I discovered that it was for women, I knew I had to tell Edele.  Edele is a very special young woman.  She is gifted and philosophical and deep.  I begin all of my classes with 5 minutes of journaling, and Edele usually has trouble stopping at 5 minutes.  Thankfully, she is in my last period class, so she will often stay late to continue writing, and then show me her journal.  She comes in to school and tells me that she wrote multiple poems over the weekend, or over a school vacation.  I knew she needed to submit a poem, and I'm so glad she did."

We are so grateful that these women shared this special story with us. We hope you keep writing forever and ever.