Until All You See Is Sky by George Choundas EastOver Press, February 2023
This collection of essays by George Choundas is a report from the front lines of a first-generation American life: growing up as the outsider, parenting without a clue, and persevering in plague times. Choundas’s award-winning writing has appeared in over 75 publications. His story collection, The Making Sense of Things (FC2), won the Ronald Sukenick Innovative Fiction Prize. He is a former FBI agent who worked public corruption in the Bureau’s New York Office. His mother, born in Cuba, was a flyer at Macy’s Manhattan flagship until she saved enough to travel Europe for a year. His father, born in Greece, was a tanker captain who, aboard a passenger ship transporting him to his next command, met an engaging American tourist with a Cuban accent.
Homesick for Nowhere is retired field biologist Richard LeBlond’s first collection of essays and was selected as a winner of the 2022 EastOver Prize for Nonfiction. LeBlond has faced down a bear in Newfoundland, chased an insufficiently amorous spadefoot toad through the soaking undergrowth, shilled for an auction house run by men he called Laurel and Hardy, choked down home-preserved seal-ribs in Labrador, encountered the Dark Tickle Streaker on his midnight run, and witnessed a rare performance by the leading rake and scrape band of Andros Island in the Bahamas. In short, LeBlond has had quite a life, and he’s written about it here with wit and compassion for the foibles and blessings of his fellow humans. He’s also thought quite a bit about what it means to grow older and how the writing life has helped him as he ages into his eighth decade.
In Exquisite by September, Shayla Hawkins chronicles the zeitgeist of the early 21st century United States and her place in it as an American Black woman, navigating and maintaining her sanity in a nation fraught with racism, pestilence, misogyny, and political upheaval. By turns humorous, melancholy, and sensual, this collection is a poetic museum through which Hawkins, as curator and guide, shares glimpses into different facets or “galleries” of her being. A poet from Detroit, Michigan, Hawkins is the author of Carambola. She is a winner of The Caribbean Writer Canute A. Brodhurst Prize for Short Fiction and The John Edgar Wideman Microstory Contest. Her collection of poems Exquisite by September was a 2020 runner up for the Cave Canem/Northwestern University Press Poetry Prize.
Intimacies in Borrowed Light Poetry by Darius Stewart EastOver Press, July 2022
Intimacies in Borrowed Light is Stewart’s first book-length collection of poems, bringing together works from his three previous chapbooks—The Terribly Beautiful, Sotto Voce, and The Ghost the Night Becomes—in addition to new poems. The result is a book that is more than the sum of its parts, but one that coalesces around themes of love, addiction, violence, sexual identity, and the corporeal body to betray the intimate moments that illuminate, especially, Black gay male experiences. Stewart received an MFA in poetry from the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas at Austin (2007) and an MFA from the Nonfiction Writing Program at the University of Iowa (2020). In 2021, the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame honored him with the inaugural Emerging Writer Award. He is currently a Lulu “Merle” Johnson Doctoral Fellow in English Literary Studies at the University of Iowa.
The premise of Susannah Q. Pratt’s collection of essays is in her subtitle: Essays from a Year of No Buying. After becoming overwhelmed by how much she and her family owned, she convinced her husband and three teenage boys—through her use of a PowerPoint—to go one year without buying anything other than what was necessary. Her project raises questions about what is necessary, what we actually need to live meaningful lives in the twenty-first century, and the importance we attach to what we buy, both in healthy and unhealthy ways. At her best, Pratt’s essays explore important questions of gender, class, and privilege, examining the ways aspects of our identities impact what we’re able to buy and own. While Pratt credits an essay by Ann Patchett in 2017 on a similar subject, I was surprised she didn’t mention Judith Levine’s 2007 book Not Buying It, in which Levine takes on the same project. Pratt’s essays are a solid update to Levine, given how the world has changed in fifteen years, especially as the rise of online shopping has made buying unnecessary items even easier, but interacting with one who came before would make her work even stronger.
Reviewer bio: Kevin Brown has published three books of poetry: Liturgical Calendar: Poems (Wipf and Stock); A Lexicon of Lost Words (winner of the Violet Reed Haas Prize for Poetry, Snake Nation Press); and Exit Lines (Plain View Press). He also has a memoir, Another Way: Finding Faith, Then Finding It Again, and a book of scholarship, They Love to Tell the Stories: Five Contemporary Novelists Take on the Gospels. Twitter @kevinbrownwrite or kevinbrownwrites.weebly.com/.
All the Rivers Flow Into the Sea and Other Stories Fiction by Khanh Ha EastOver Press, June 2022
From Vietnam to America, Khanh Ha’s All the Rivers Flow Into the Sea is a story collection that brings readers a unique sense of love and passion alongside tragedy and darker themes of peril. The titular story features a love affair between an unlikely duo pushing against barely surmountable cultural barriers. In “The Yin-Yang Market,” magical realism and the beauty of innocence abound in deep dark places, teeming with life and danger. “A Mute Girl’s Yarn” tells a magical coming-of-age story like sketches in a child’s fairy book. Bringing together the damned, the unfit, the brave who succumb to the call of fate, All the Rivers Flow Into the Sea is a great journey where redemption and human goodness arise out of violence and beauty to become part of an essential mercy. All the Rivers Flow into the Sea was selected as a winner of the 2021 EastOver Prize for Fiction.
More or Less: Essays from a Year of No Buying Creative Nonfiction by Susannah Q. Pratt EastOver Press, February 2022
In 2018, Pratt and her family decided to buy nothing for a year: “We undertook a 365-day moratorium on the purchase of new clothes, toys, games, books, electronics, gear, furniture, housewares, and other things that fall in the general category of ‘stuff.’ For twelve months we purchased only essentials – food, toiletries, light bulbs, and a few pairs of shoes for my growing boys. We stayed out of stores and off of online shopping sites. We fixed things. We made things. We went without.” Winner of the 2021 EastOver Prize for Nonfiction, the essays in More or Less explore the degree to which we are defined, and confined, by what we own.
Crow Funeral is the end result of intention and design gone off-script. What began as a fascination with a phenomenon of crows congregating in overwhelming numbers around one of their fallen, eventually became a collection that merges an interest in the neurological wiring of birds with a mother’s battle with postpartum depression and anxiety.
This World is Not Your Home Essays by Matthew Vollmer EastOver Press, March 2022
Winner of the 2021 Eastover Prize for Nonfiction, This World Is Not Your Home includes essays ranging from third-person accounts to notes, instructions, and extended meditations, representing many of the possibilities available to the writer of creative nonfiction. The title essay, written in the second person, tells of Vollmer’s growing up in rural North Carolina and catalogs the psychological pressures exerted by a little-known religion. Written using a variety of forms and points of view, these essays show Vollmer’s dexterity of the form.
Cutleaf is an online journal published twice monthly. It’ a project of EastOver Press, an independent literary press specializing in collections of short stories, essays, and poetry. The first issue officially launched in February 2021 with “How Gretel Gets Her Groove Back” by Lauren K. Alleyne, “Sliders” by Wesley Browne, and “Eat Before You Go” by E.C. Salibian.
They feature fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and cross-genre work by both new and established writers. Issue 10 published in June 2021 features poetry by George Ella Lyon, fiction by Kevin Fitton, and nonfiction by Matt Muilenberg.
They will reopen to submissions in September 2021. Until then, browse their current issue and their back issues for an idea of what they are looking for.