Category Archives: #Poetry


Poetry, Cake and Hyperbull “is on the way” with my vivacious co-hostess Amy Zoellers and this will be the six-month anniversary of doing this show. We’ve been getting together once a month doing poetry on Instagram for much longer… almost two years! Thank you to everyone who has humored us with our meandering, off-beat conversations about mostly poetry.

And here’s 5 reasons you don’t want to miss this one:

  1. I’m giving away a signed copy of Tortured Willows. To win, enter the words “Poetry is on the way” in the chat ON YOUTUBE. The comment must be left on the YouTube chat for the contest bot to pick it up. Just go here to enter while we are live:
  2. I’ll be reading my poem from the recently published Shadow Atlas: Dark Landscapes of the Americas and showing off this gorgeous book.
  3. I’ll be announcing the Pushcart Prize nominations from Space & Time magazine and Yuriko Publishing. One nomination is our own Pete Kelly!
  4. I’ll be showing off my shisa project and taking suggestions on how to find homes for all of them. Don’t worry, they feed off kind deeds.
  5. As I write this, I haven’t written my poem yet and I can’t remember what form we chose… so there is the potential for high drama. Can Angela pull a poem out of thin air? Stay tuned and find out…

All this and more can be yours today at noon CST.


It all started in 2020 when Amy Zoellers asked me to do a poetry event with her live on Instagram. I was a little terrified, but we survived it and it turned out to be fun. So we kept at it.

After about a year of those I said I wanted to branch off and do a similar event, but stream to YouTube. Thus Poetry, Cake & Hyperbull began. The shows have been spread across three YouTube channels, mostly because I didn’t know what I was doing. FYI: I still don’t, but we’re having fun.

At some point I was talking to Maxwell I. Gold about his book launch for Oblivion in Flux and the lack of open venues. How do you do a book launch party when everything is closed due to the pandemic? I offered to do a launch show and that began a whole series of author interviews, launch panels, readings, a convention and a literary news show.

Up until now these things shows have been spread across an old channel I didn’t know I had, Space & Time’s channel and the channel I was supposed to be sharing to. Now that I have a minute, I’m downloading and consolidating all the videos on to one channel.

Coming up this Saturday will be a Lit Up interview with Alicia Hilton, an author, law professor, arbitrator, actor, and former FBI Special Agent. I’ll be doing two readings next week from recent anthologies I have work in, and the next PC&H will be Saturday, Dec. 4 at noon. We still do the poetry live on Instagram every 3rd Sunday on Amy’s hipness_&_outrage channel.

If you want to catch some of this or see what I’ve been up to, consider subscribing to the channel so you get updates whenever I post a new video. Here’s how to find it:

Magic link to my YouTube channel here.


A poetry book review by Renata Pavrey

Elizabeth Kirkby-McLeod is a New Zealand author whose poetry and writing have appeared in a range of New Zealand journals, online publications, and in the public art installation, In Our Words in downtown Auckland.

Elizabeth’s father took his own life in 2012. Unable to find words of her own to write about what had happened, she took them from Twelve Angry Men and the New Zealand government’s Fact Sheet 4 – Suicide and Self-Harm. Family Instructions Upon Release was her first poetry collection that released in 2019 from Cuba Press.

The blurb prepared me for what to expect in these verses. The collection is based on the poet’s grief when her father committed suicide and the cathartic effect of coming to terms with his death through poetry. I knew I was in for a heart-wrenching read, but Elizabeth’s writing is so beautiful, it truly reflects the catharsis as she looks for silver linings through her mourning.

Family Instructions Upon Release is set around the play Twelve Angry Men by Reginald Rose, which the poet had attended with her father, and forms part of her earliest and fondest memories with him. Elizabeth has also included the New Zealand government’s fact sheet for suicide and self-harm, to create a collection that’s both educative and sorrowful – merging personal experience with public information. The format and content are brilliant! Even the cover has its own story.

The book is written as a play, with exhibits, tickets, three acts, an explanation between acts, before, after, front stage, backstage, casting calls and critics’ reviews. The father and daughter are prominent characters in the play of life, and are moved around and guided and called forth or sent backstage by the Director. Through this literary enactment in verse, Elizabeth revisits her father’s battle with depression (that ultimately led to him taking his own life), and her own struggles with conception and miscarriages (which finally succeeded in the birth of a boy). The duality of wanting to end life and wanting to begin life, through the poet’s inner turmoil about her father and son, pierces through her verses.

Some of my favorite pieces are the titular poem, Miscarriage, Placing Blame, Antenatal Class, Birth, and Daughter Gets a Casting Call. This was a difficult book to read and review, and the poet’s anguish comes through in her writing. The subjects are sensitive and personal to even warrant a review, and I hope more readers pick up this book. It’s too beautifully written to miss reading.

Everyone’s response to grief and loss is different – the way we process deaths of those we’ve known all our lives and the unborn never met. Family Instructions Upon Release is a piece of art in itself – for the topics it addresses, the creativity in unfolding the collection, and the striking power of limited words. It’s a book to be treasured in the collection, and read many times over.

Some quotes:

-…one whose perfect love often seems imperfect, and the other whose imperfect love felt
so perfect.

-The parent, she’s born painfully, pushing out of her childish whims.

-Antenatal class. She’s pleased there are evenings set aside to keeping a child alive. Sad,
though, isn’t it, that there wasn’t a course on keeping a depressed person alive.

-He was my father. He killed my father.

-She’s locked in the brokenness he left behind.

-All stand on stage now Death has come.

-Why couldn’t Father be the same, at the end, as in the beginning?

-Life was undelivered. Did a postman mishandle it? Life went missing. Did it fall out a
hole in her pocket?

-Home is an assignment. Wellness is an accomplishment.

-She thinks about getting life, he thinks about getting rid of life.

-Lighting Manager dims the lights, as if he controls all darkness.

My rating: 5/5

About the author:

Renata Pavrey is a nutritionist and Pilates teacher. She reads across genres and languages, from writers around the world. Her short stories, essays, poetry and artwork have featured in magazines, journals, zines and books. She’s the founder of Tomes and Tales – a book blog dedicated to reviews, interviews, features, and all things book-related, including cooking and sketching inspired from literature. She can be reached at Tomes and Tales ( and @tomes_and_tales on Instagram.


Amy Zoellers and I are back with another Cake & Hyperbull discussion that covers life, morality and who you would want to be trapped in a haunted castle with. Disclaimer: Can be quite silly…


What a crazy month it’s been. Tortured Willows earned Amazon Bestseller Status and the reviews have come in so think I can’t even keep up with them all. I can’t give details yet, but we are getting ready to sign a contract for a third follow-up in this series to continue the conversation. Thank you to everyone for your incredible support for this little book of poetry. We never imagined the response would be so unquiet. We feel heard.

Here are just a few of the reviews gathered in one place.

As of this post, Tortured Willows has a 4.84 star rating on Goodreads from 14 reviews and 19 ratings. You can read the Goodreads reviews here.

Tortured Willows, Skydiving, and the Magic of Poetry. Geneve Flynn guest posts for Stephanie Wytovich’s blog Join Me in the Madhouse.

The Horror Tree Blog Tour
Lee Murray — Cheongsam
Geneve Flynn –When The Girls Began to Fall
Christina Sng — Midnight Wake
Angela Yuriko Smith — Four Willows

Horror Addicts: Chilling Chat – Naching Kassa in conversation with with Gene Flynn

An Interview with the Willow Sisters by Alyssa Vorobey for the Horror Writers Association

Epeolatry Book Reviews: Tortured Willows: Bent. Bowed. Unbroken

Tortured Willows: Book Review by Vanessa Fogg on It’s a Jumble

Tortured Willows: Book Review by Steve Stred on Kendall Reviews


Halloween is drawing near
& the poetry page deadline is nearly here!
Submit your poem now or wait ’til next year.
Now’s your chance to spread good, cheery fear!

We have 27 poems so far… can we make it to 30 by midnight tonight? Submit your spooky themed audio recording. Open to Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association members but with memberships starting at $15, what are you waiting for? Details on membership here.

See what’s already posted on the 2021 Halloween Poetry page here:

Win a copy of MONSTRUM POETICA by Jezzy Wolfe with a signed bookplate. Winner will be drawn live on Halloween and posted here. To enter, simply leave a comment for Jezzy here.


Looking for some dark edification? Look no further than MONSTRUM POETICA by Jezzy Wolfe. Published from Raw Dog Screaming Press, this is a poetic primer about monsters across cultures. Jezzy takes the reader on a well-researched tour of some of the creepiest and most horrifying things to crawl across the page. It’s poetry, read to be savored but I was also educated by learning about some myths I’d never heard of.

Black-eyed children is one of my favorite sections. A relatively new monster, this is my first introduction to them. Melon heads are another new-to-me creature with plenty to learn about. Classic monsters such as vampires and werewolves are explored alongside American continent nightmares like the mothman.

This is a poetry collection you will want to dip into repeatedly. Aside from the impressive collection of monsters to explore, there is the poetry. I feel like the forms must have been picked to reflect the subject. A good example of this is “Road Hazard,” a chain of linked haiku that explores yokai. In the concrete/shape poem “Dog Deadly,” Jezzy mimics the loping run of a hunting canine across the page, heightening the reader’s experience.

A beautiful collection in every way from the quality of the poems to the stunning presentation from Raw Dog, this is a book I will return to when I need something to savor. I highly recommend MONSTRUM POETICA, and I look forward to seeing more from this poet.

You can find MONSTRUM POETICA on Amazon here or see if you are the lucky winner of a copy with a bookplate signed by Jezzy Wolfe. Just leave a comment on this post and I’ll draw a name randomly next Halloween and get this book sent to you. With all the shipping issues, I am going to limit this one to the Continental US so it will actually arrive.

Want to hear Jezzy read from MONSTRUM POETICA? She was on LIT UP a few weeks ago, so wish granted.


Finally! The long awaited day where the collection that has ripped my heart out is released to bring essential sorrow onto the rest of the world. Lee Murray, Geneve Flynn, K.P. Kulski, Rena Mason and I get together for this Launch Day event to celebrate not only Tortured Willows, but National Dark Poetry Day. Thank you everyone for all the amazing support and enthusiasm. I’ll post links to the book here when it’s available on Amazon.

While you wait, there’s already a bunch of reviews up on Goodreads and they are popping up all over the internet! Thank you so much for all of these! Here are a few links being sent to me:

Reed’s Literary Horror Review of ‘Tortured Willows’ by Christina Sng, Angela Yuriko Smith, Lee Murray, Geneve Flynn

Epeolatry Book Review: Tortured Willows by Lee Murray, Geneve Flynn, Christina Sng, & Angela Yuriko Smith


Happy National Poetry Day! In the US, this is the day we celebrate all forms of poetry—the perfect opportunity to share some of my recent favorites. All three are by Edward Hirsch, and I have the Cake & Hyperbull show to blame for that. Co-hostess Amy Zoellers and I have started a challenge each show where we pick a random form out what has become one of my favorites, but it’s $160 for the hardback and $17 for the Kindle version. I sprung for the ebook. So my number one favorite poetry craft book as of today is…

A Poet’s Glossary by Edward Hirsch And here’s why (from Amazon): “Hirsch has delved deeply into the poetic traditions of the world, returning with an inclusive, international compendium. Moving gracefully from the bards of ancient Greece to the revolutionaries of Latin America, from small formal elements to large mysteries, he provides thoughtful definitions for the most important lyrical vocabulary… shot through with the enthusiasm, authority, and sheer delight that made How to Read a Poem so beloved, A Poet’s Glossary is a new classic.” At $160 —$17 for an ebook—if you ever see this in a used bookshop, grab it. You can read more about it on Amazon here.

Which brings me to why this second book is a new favorite, even though I just ordered it. The Essential Poet’s Glossary by Edward Hirsch! Yes! When I went to Amazon today to drool over the expensive original, I found this new version published for a very affordable $9.99. Thank you, Mr. Hirsch—for the good of poetry-kind!

From Amazon: When Edward Hirsch’s A Poet’s Glossary was first published in 2014, it was hailed as “an instant classic that belongs on the bookshelf of every serious poet and literature student.” Now Hirsch selects the most important material from that extraordinary volume for The Essential Poet’s Glossary (The Washington Post)… knowing how a poem works is crucial to unlocking its meaning—entries will deepen readers’ relationships with their favorite poems and open greater levels of understanding in each new poem they encounter.” Read more about it on Amazon here.

And because I tend to go on tangents, my final favorite lately is also by Hirsch: How to Read a Poem: And Fall in Love with Poetry. I’ve been going through this one slowly with the intent to write a review for next National Poetry Month (April 2022). I bought it because I really wanted a hard copy of The Poet’s Glossary, but $160. This was my consolation book. I haven’t gotten far into it, but I can see why Hirsch can command high prices. I look forward to sharing the review.

From Amazon: “Read a poem to yourself in the middle of the night. Turn on a single lamp and read it while you’re alone in an otherwise dark room or while someone sleeps next to you. Say it over to yourself in a place where silence reigns and the din of culture—the constant buzzing noise that surrounds you—has momentarily stopped. This poem has come from a great distance to find you.” So begins this astonishing book… a masterful work by a master poet, this brilliant summation of poetry and human nature will speak to all readers who long to place poetry in their lives but don’t know how to read it.” Read more about it on Amazon here.

Those are the three poetry books I’ve been obsessed with lately. Have you read any books by Hirsch? I haven’t read any of his actual poetry books yet, but I think I need to. If him discussing poetry is this good, I can only imagine how fantastic his poetry is. I just hope they aren’t all $160. That would really Hirsch. 😂


Since it’s Cake & Hyperbull Poetry Lunchbreak, I’m doing a lite version of the usual post. To see my book mail, visit yesterday’s post here. For the rest, here’s all the lit news I’ve heard in the last week, plus anything that comes up during the show. You can visit my co-hostess Amy Zoellers at her Etsy shop here:

Today’s poetry challenge was to write a canzonet with the phrase “my beret is full of questions.” Here’s mine so you can read along if you like:

TEARS WONDERFUL—a haiku canzonet

My beret is full
of questions, falling like curls
like tears, wonderful
falling, silver pearls.
Give heart strings a pull—
risky tenderness.
Me, vulnerable—
no love? Life is valueless.

To be a human
born under duress
is to be a broken plan
falling short of “best.”
Unlawful, flaw-full—
to spite it all, I fall short.
Shattered, beautiful
all flesh and bloodsport.

A canzonet uses a ABABACAC DEDEAFAF rhyme scheme. You can read more about this poetry form at


This evening I’ll be joining fellow Giving the Devil His Due authors Jason Sanford and Rebecca Brewer for READ FOR PIXELS 2021: The Devil at Home – Writing about Domestic Violence in Speculative Fiction, a discussion of domestic violence in spec fiction and how we can approach these issues appropriately in our work. This goes live here at 8:30 pm EST/7:30 CST.

Win a booth for SPECFAIRe coming up on October 8! More details at