Growing Teeth on the Inside—Vagina Dentata and Other Prompts for the Strong Stomached

For the first prompt, use the picture of the ovarian teratoma to write a poem or short story from the perspective of a tissue that has grown teeth and sentience inside another’s body. Does your narrator feel safe and content within the other, or does the narrator want to chew its way out of its prison? How much does the narrator understand of its world and its own limitations?

For more information on this dermoid cysts and teratomas and its possible relation to the myth of vagina dentata, click here.


For the second prompt, write a variation of a vagina dentata poem. Think of the movie Teeth but with less assault and more bite (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun). For inspiration, here is a poem by the amazing Arminé Iknadossian.


Btw, this poem was published in Moon Tide Press’s Dark Ink: A Poetry Anthology Inspired by Horror. Come out to Goldenest Diner (13030 Goldenwest, Westminster) on October 17th at 7 p.m. to hear more poems from this anthology. Don’t forget to wear your dark side on the outside to compete in the costume contest!

For the final prompt—muhhahahahahaha—make a list of five iconic objects/image of a famous horror or suspense movie and write from that object’s or image’s perspective. What does Freddy’s blade-embedded glove help him keep track of? To-do lists, to-kill lists, multiplication tables? What does the elevator want to carry in its belly in The Shining? Does the elevator see itself as a protector or a villain?


October 17th—Dark Ink Anthology Reading and Costume Contest: Be There and Be Scared!

Join me for the reading and Halloween costume contest on October 17th at the Goldenwest Diner in Westminster where I and others will be reading poems from Moon Tide Press’s horror-inspired anthology.

Frankenstein’s monster, Zombies, TWO vagina dentata poems, monsters GalORE—how could you possibly escape this fright night! Bring your mummy or a date!


This Wednesday, September 4th, at the Ugly Mug—Poetry Reading and Fundraiser for RAICES!

Poets HanaLena Fennel and Ra Avis will offer their powerful voices and unique insights to support the critical work of RAICES this Wednesday for the Two Idiots Peddling Poetry reading series at the Ugly Mug. Proceeds from the purchase of their poetry books as well as poetry collections donated by Moon Tide Press and artwork by local artists will be donated to RAICES.

The reading starts at 8:00. Open mic signup begins at 7:45. The Ugly Mug is located at 261 N. Glassell St in Orange. Parking is available on nearby side streets and parking lots. The $3 cover charge reimburses the venue for the reading.

Below is the press release for the poetry feature and open mic event. Click here for event and author links.

HanaLena Fennel (left) and Ra Avis (right)

HanaLena Fennel (left) and Ra Avis (right)

Prompts + Poetry Event: A Celebration of 30 poems in 30 days

Tomorrow night at the Ugly Mug in Orange, HanaLena Fennel and I will be reading prompts and poets will be sharing their prompt-inspired poems to celebrate April’s 30/30 challenge! 

The reading starts 8:00 (or more like 8:15). Be sure to sign up for the open mic (3 poems/5 minutes, whichever comes first) and share your 30/30 poems or a new one or your favorite poem.

Don’t forget to bring $3 for the cover, or Phil will collect an organ of his choice!


Full disclosure: I only wrote 20 and did not write an ode to my socks, a sestina, nor even a limerick....

Event and Prompt: This Wednesday at the Ugly Mug—Dark Ink Anthology Reading! Be there and be scared (of me apparently)

Mermaids, monsters, 50-ft. women, oh, my! Join us at 8 p.m. at the Ugly Mug in Orange for your favorite creature feature and Moon Tide’s publisher Eric Morago whom I blackmail into publishing me because I keep his darkest secret in an empty Kleenex box on my bedside table. I haven’t ever seen it—it is a dark secret and avoids the light, duh—but I feed it pumpkin seeds, so I know it is still there. Buy the book and free his secret or his soul—both probably cost the same.

And now for the first prompt: write a poem or story about taking a mermaid for a lover or an enemy. For inspiration, read Jan Stinchcomb’s “The Lorelei Project.” Just remember, not all hearts beat warm. 


 (This is the mermaid I created out of rocks, seaweed, and shells a few years ago.)

And here is a picture of me looking very intense (or my attempt at frightening at the Dark Ink anthology launch:

(Photo by Alexis Rhone Fancher)

(Photo by Alexis Rhone Fancher)

And here is my mermaid poem in the anthology...but you have to buy the book to read the ending of “Mermaid: The Ending.”


Thank you, Adrian Ernesto Cepeda, for the photo and for the plug on Twitter!

Dark Ink Anthology—Adrian Ernesto Cepeda

This post is a month overdue...I had technical issues with some of the photos, so I had to scrap my initial plan and instead individually feature poets from the Dark Ink anthology launch.

First of all, I want to start with Adrian Ernesto Cepeda. I was so stoked getting to meet him in person at the Dark Ink launch after following him on Twitter for so long. And his poem was fantastic! Buy the anthology from Moon Tide Press, so that you can read it and all the other fantastic poems!


Full disclosure: I stole this photo from his post on Facebook. Below is a selfie of the two of us. 


And look down here for some members of the audience!


Dark Ink Launch—Dare to Be There

Join ussssss for a sometimes scary (but not necessarily scary) reading of poems from Dark Ink: A Poetry Anthology Inspired from Horror published by Moon Tide Press. Horror fans (and pansies like myself) will be sure to enjoy a night of poems about favorite slasher films, mythological creatures, classic monsters, current politics (the most frightening subject of all), and more.


 Directly from Moon Tide’s editor, Eric Morago (because I am lazy, as you know): We hope you will join us for the official launch reading and party of Dark Ink: A Poetry Anthology Inspired by Horror on Saturday, November 3rd at The Whittier Museum in Whittier, CA.

Poets from the anthology will be reading and you will have an opportunity to purchase the book, along with other Moon Tide titles. There will be complimentary food and drink (including wine), a fun raffle, and other spooky surprises.

The event will start at 7 PM, but arrive a little early to get your copy of the book, a treat, and to check out the museum's awesome Halloween decorations.

Poets reading the night of the event are TBA, but some of the confirmed poets are: Ron Koertge, Alexis Rhone Fancher, Armine Iknadossian, Daniel McGinn, Sonia Greenfield, and Mariano Zaro.

We will update the full list of poets as the date draws closer. You can stay up to date by checking the Facebook event page here.

The Whittier Museum is located at: 6755 Newlin Ave. Whittier, CA 90601.

We are SO proud of this anthology and cannot wait to share it with you. Please mark your calendars; we hope you will join us in celebrating this book and the poets who make it so special!

And don't forget...this reading is absolutely FREE and open to the public.

NaNoWriMo NOW—First Day to 50,000 Words

Hi all, I meant to give prior notice, but procrastinating and petting my cat Pebbles took usual. This month is National Novel Writing Month—a don’t-fuss-just-write writing challenge. The goal is to write 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days. The goal is not to write 50,000 perfect and polished words (if you do, then awesome!), but just to write. After November, you have the start of a novel to then complete the story, revise, edit, revise some more, edit, edit, edit... 

Ideally, you should have a plot outline and some characters thought out. I don’t have either. Let’s just jump in and start swimming. I have however signed up at the site. This organization really does provide a lot of support, including writing events and writing buddies, and fun rewards. [It also encourages younger writers in K-12 schools and gives resources and materials to libraries.]

What kind of prizes can you get for completing the challenge—other than bragging rights, of course? The T-shirt. Really, it is all about the T-shirt—a self-congratulation to wear on your chest and a pat on your back for your back. I did complete the challenge in 2013. OMG, I did not realize it has really been five years.... Regardless, I still wear the shirt and will until it disintegrates into fine layer of lint. (yes, yes, yes, the date is on the shirt, and I still didn’t realize how long ago, but I don’t stare at my shirt unless I spill food on myself). 

So go to the site, sign in, and start in. Good luck!  


I Get to Feature with Awesome Poets! Yay!!!

Hey, everybody, I snuck into a feature with Marcus Omari, Daniel McGinn, Alexis Rhone Fancher, and Julissa Cardenas! Quality control is slacking! Woohoo!!!

Truly, I am so grateful to be asked to read with such amazing poets at a great reading. Nancy Lynée Woo and Michael Gravagno host the quarterly Poetry on the Rocks reading series that combines powerful poetry with serious fun. Come watch my on-the-fly haiku after drinking a shot and discover (along with me) if the Smurf theme song takes over my brain—again.



I am so excited to be included in Moon Tide Press’s forthcoming horror-inspired anthology, Dark Ink!!!

Here is the anthology’s description from Moon Tide’s editor, Eric Morago: 

This collection is a celebration of the fun and fright for everything that goes bump in the night...we have poetic takes on Frankenstein's monster and his bride, musings on zombies, Lovecraft-ian (is that a word?) love letters, metaphorical monsters (and Munsters), vampiric verses, and much, much more. If you are a fan of poetry or horror or BOTH, this is a book for you!

Featuring poems:

Robin Axworthy, Devon Balwit, Laurel Ann Bogen, Amanda J. Bradley, Derek D. Brown, Cathleen Calbert, Michael Cantin, Adrian Ernesto Cepeda, Sarah ChristianSher, Nicole Connolly, Scott Noon Creley, Alexis Rhone Fancher, Brian Fanelli, HanaLena Fennel, Michael C. Ford, Jerry Garcia, Michael Gravagno, Sonia Greenfield, Seth Halbeisen, LeAnne Hunt, Armine Iknadossian, Victor Infante, Jeanette Kelly, Ron Koertge, Elmast Kozloyan, Martin Ott, Pat M. Kuras, Zachary Locklin, Rick Lupert, Anthony Magistrale, Jennifer Martelli, Carrie McCay, Lincoln McElwee, Daniel McGinn, Ally McGreggor, Ryan McMasters, José Enrique Medina, R.S. Mengert, Ryan Meyer, Bill Mohr, Eric Morago, Elieen Murphy, Ashley Naftule, Robbi Nester,  Martina Newberry, Terri Niccum, Andrew November, Jaimes Palacio, Alan Passman, Steve Ramirez, Lee Rossi, Jennifer Lee Rossman, Beth Ruscio, Jason Schneiderman, E.J. Schoenborn, Noel Sloboda, Rob Sturma, Richard Suplee, Ben Trigg, Alexandra Umlas, Charles Harper Webb, Ellen Webre, Aruni Wijesinghe, Nancy Lynée Woo, Jonothan Yungkans, Marinao Zaro

The official book launch is scheduled for Saturday, November 3rd at the Whittier Museum in Whittier, CA. We will have a horde of readers from the anthology share their poems and the work of others in the book. Copies will be available. Complimentary refreshments and food will be provided. It will be a good 'ole Monster Mash. SAVE THE DATE!

But, if you want to ensure yourself a copy and perhaps get it a little earlier once it's hot off the printing press in October and enjoy FREE shipping. You can pre-order the book by clicking on the link below:

Dark Ink: A Poetry Anthology Inspired by Horror Pre-Order with FREE SHIPPING

Also, please check our Facebook page and blog frequently for updates, sneak peaks at some of the poems, future scheduled readings, and release information!

We are very proud of this collection and are "dying" for you to see it!

Image from Moon Tide Press blog

Image from Moon Tide Press blog

Book update

From the box set promotional event last Saturday.  (L-R, Steve Ramirez, me, Andrea Ring, and Kurt Bensworth). My co-author Kristin Beckley and Peter Jessup, who has two books is in the e-book box set, were both unable to attend. Thank you, everyone, who was able to make it.

From the box set promotional event last Saturday.  (L-R, Steve Ramirez, me, Andrea Ring, and Kurt Bensworth). My co-author Kristin Beckley and Peter Jessup, who has two books is in the e-book box set, were both unable to attend. Thank you, everyone, who was able to make it.

Woohoo! I finished the manuscript for The Abecedarian of Lab Accidents: Killing Your Coworkers with Chemistry for final layout editing so that it can be included in the forthcoming e-book box set, Strange Impulses. Stay tuned. I will let you know when the the box set will be available for pre-order. Will be soon!

Strange Impulses Book Event This Saturday in Downtown Tustin

If you are in the downtown Tustin area this Saturday, please join me at the Sip & Stroll where some of the other authors in the e-book box set Strange Impulses will be available to sell their published books (because they are not slackers and have other books). The event starts at 1:00, and we will be set up at Kelly's Irish Gifts (located in the back lot next to Morning Lavender, 330 El Camino).

The Sip & Stroll in downtown Tustin offers a walking taste tour of delicious food and wine, cocktails, craft beer and other beverages and live music. All ages welcome. Wine and chili will be available at our location with purchase of an armband. Save $10 with pre-sale tickets. Here is the  link  to learn more about the entire Sip & Stroll event and to buy tickets.

The Sip & Stroll in downtown Tustin offers a walking taste tour of delicious food and wine, cocktails, craft beer and other beverages and live music. All ages welcome. Wine and chili will be available at our location with purchase of an armband. Save $10 with pre-sale tickets. Here is the link to learn more about the entire Sip & Stroll event and to buy tickets.


Come meet the authors:

Kurt Bensworth, award-winning author of two novels, What Love Looks Like and Blurred Edges

Andrea Ring, New York Times Best Seller author with 22 books under her belt (yes, I am in awe)

Steve Ramirez, a published author and host of the weekly reading series "Two Idiots Peddling Poetry"

My co-author Kristin won't be able to make it, nor will Peter Jessup whom Texas stole from us. Peter writes sci fi, fantasy, horror and humor.

Tonight!!! Poetry Lab workshop: The Wisdom of Fear and Prompts

235 E Broadway, Fl 8th, Long Beach, California 90802

Because I am a slacker who believes in leaving perfection well enough alone, I took this directly from its source:

Elizabeth Gilbert writes:
“I can’t tell you how many people said to me during those years, “How are you ever going to top that?” They’d speak of my great good fortune as though it were a curse, not a blessing, and would speculate about how terrified I must feel at the prospect of not being able to reach such phenomenal heights again. 

But such thinking assumes there is a “top”—and that reaching that top (and staying there) is the only motive one has to create…Such thinking assumes that you must be constantly victorious—not only against your peers, but also against an earlier version of your own poor self. Most dangerously of all, such thinking assumes that if you cannot win, then you must not continue to play. 

But…What does any of that have to do with the quiet glory of making things, and then sharing those things with an open heart and no expectations?”

Madisyn Taylor writes:
“Fear has a way of throwing us off balance, making us feel uncertain and insecure, but it is not meant to discourage us. Its purpose is to notify us that we are at the edge of our comfort zone, poised in between the old life and a new one.”

Can we ever become comfortable with our fear? The answer may be that the minute we are comfortable with our fear a new and better fear arises, or the distance to conquering that fear moves further off. But fears can be a guide as much as a hindrance. When we feel we’re on the edge of a break through, when we know we’re making something on the boundary of who we once were and who we’re going to be—that fear propels us forward, deeper, stronger, through. 

Jericho Brown writes: 
“We went into this agreement declaring to always have an exciting relationship to difficulty. No, not just the difficulty we find in opacity or that which is hermetic or elliptical or subtle…

When I say difficulty, I mean how hard it is to manipulate into stylized language even that which we avoid. How much do you avoid? How long have you avoided it? Is there anything that made you decide that poetry itself is somehow better than that which wracks your brain? If it has found a home in your head and yours is the head of a poet, doesn’t that mean poetry wants it? You want me to ask you these questions for the rest of your life.”
Everyone is welcome
$3 donation requested

Today at 7:30 PM - 10 PM

The Poetry Lab

 Join us tonight for the Poetry Lab Workshop coordinated by the fabulous Danielle Mitchell.


Tonight at The Poetry Lab we will ask the questions:
What is your fear?
What does it have to do with vocation?
What does it have to do with the pursuit of love?
What does it have to do with your strange communion?
What does it have to do with magic?
How much do you avoid?
How much do you dive head-long into?
What does it teach you?
Where does it end?
Where does it begin again?

and then we will WRITE. 


If you cannot make tonight's workshop, use the questions above as a starting off point. Or use this prompt: 

Take an embarrassing childhood fear, the sillier the better, and laugh at it or give that fear a hug and a cookie to make it feel better or empower that fear to be the One Fear to rule them all.

I was terrified of Mary Poppins. Full disclosure: I may still be.

Reading Tomorrow Night at the Ugly Mug for Incandescent Mind: Selfish Work!!!

Just a reminder, I get the chance to read with the amazing Jennifer Martindale and the evil (but brilliant) Steve Ramirez at tomorrow night’s feature for the anthology Incandescent Mind: Selfish Work.

The reading begins 8-ish at the Ugly Mug (261 N Glassell St., Orange). Don’t forget to bring $3 in cash to give Phil, or he may harvest a body part!

Incandescenct Mind: Selfish Work is published by Sadie Girl Press. I am grateful to Sarah Thursday for this opportunity and for all of the work she does for poetry community.


Neil Aitken Reading This Wednesday at the Ugly Mug!!!

Come hear the incredible Neil Aitken feature at the Two Idiots Peddling Poetry at the Ugly Mug on November 29th. Neil's poetry is insightful and inspiring in its weaving of history, technology, the human mind and soul.

The Ugly Mug is located at 261 N Glassell St. in downtown Orange, CA. Free parking is usually available after 7:30 near the corner of E Maple and N Orange St. The reading begins at 8 (or whenever everyone stops chatting for Ben to start hosting). Bring $3 cash to avoid Phil's wrath. 

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For more about Neil's accomplishments and general brilliance, read his bio and weep (as copied from the Ugly Mug's event page because I am lazy):

"Neil Aitken is the author of two books of poetry, The Lost Country of Sight (Anhinga 2008), which won the Philip Levine Prize, and Babbage’s Dream (Sundress 2017), as well as a chapbook of poetry, Leviathan (Hyacinth Girl Press 2016). He is the founding editor of Boxcar Poetry Review and his own poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Adroit Journal, American Literary Review, The Collagist, Crab Orchard Review, Ninth Letter, Southern Poetry Review, and many other literary journals.

Born in Vancouver, BC, Neil grew up in Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, and various parts of western United States and Canada. His first book explores the themes of home, exile, and return through the lens of memory and forgetting. The poems in his second book draw heavily on the history of the computer, the life of 19th-century mathematician Charles Babbage, various AIs from film and literature, the lyric nature of programming language, and his own experiences as a computer programmer. These topics also figure prominently in both the creative and critical parts of his dissertation on 19th-century literary and popular representations of artificial intelligence.

Neil holds a PhD in Literature & Creative Writing from the University of Southern California and an MFA in Creative Writing from UC Riverside, as well as a BS in Computer Science with Mathematics minor from Brigham Young University. He has collaborated with a number of talented music composers, including Juhi Bansal, Brandon Scott Rumsey, Jeffrey Parola, and Daniel Gall.

As a Chinese-English translator, Neil has worked with poet-translator Ming Di to translate The Book of Cranes: Selected Poems of Zang Di (Vagabond 2015) as well as many of Ming Di’s own first selected poems, which were published as The River Merchant’s Wife. His co-translations of Jiang Hao, Jiang Li, Jiang Tao, Lü De’an, Lü Yue, Sun Wenbo, and Zang Di are also prominently featured in New Cathay: Contemporary Chinese Poetry, 1990-2012 (Tupelo 2013). He was awarded the DJS Translation Prize in 2011 and serves as a contributing editor and board member of Poetry East West."

Incandescent Mind: Selfish Works Reading Next Wednesday at Ugly Mug!!!

Please join Jennifer MartindaleSteve Ramirez and me December 6th as we read from Incandescent Minds: Selfish Works for Steve and Ben's Two Idiots Peddling Poetry reading at the Ugly Mug. Yay!!!!

The reading begins at 8 (ish). Don't forget to pay Phil the $3 cover, or he will take an organ of his choosing with dull cutlery. The address is 261 N Glassell St., Orange. Public parking is usually available after 7:30 near the corner of E Maple and N Orange St.

Incandescent Mind is published by Sarah Thursday's Sadie Girl Press. Sarah's description and spelling are much better than mine:

"Incandescent Mind: Selfish Work is a full-color, 8.5 x 11″ journal of poetry, prose, art, and photography addressed to the self. 78 authors and artists contribute to this 90 page collection. Layout, design, and editing by Sarah Thursday with additional editing and selection by Terry Ann Wright, G. Murray Thomas, Marianne Stewart, Keayva Mitchell, and Alyssa Matuchniak."

"Much like popular “selfies”, contributors turn the focus of their work on themselves. Beyond the sake of vanity, these selfies are intimate snapshots of a contributor’s personhood. They address the self of the present, past, future, alternate versions, or physical parts in letters, postcards, warnings, reminders, lists, and loving tributes. Available at the Sadie Girl Bookstore."

"Selfish Work includes contributions from: Alex Diffin, Alexis Rhone Fancher, Allegra Forman, Alyssa J Wynne, Amanda Martin, Amanda Mathews, Amy Bassin, Ana Jovanovska, Angela Topping, Anney Ryan, Armine Iknadossian, Ashley Elizabeth, Avalon Graves, Bailey Share Aizic, Boris Ingles, Brenda Matea, Carolyn Agee, Christine Stoddard, Cindy Rinne, Clifton Snider, D S Chapman, Daniel McGinn, Daniela Voicu, Danielle Mitchell, Don Kingfisher Campbell, Donna Hilbert, E R Zhang, Ed Baines, Edward Distor, Erika Ayon, Fernando Gallegos, G. Murray Thomas, Jenni Belotserkovsky, Jennifer Takahashi, Jettie Krantz, jill emery, Jim Coke, JL Martindale, Jonathan Yungkans, Joy Shannon, Kelsey Bryan-Zwick, Kimberly Cobian, Kimberly Esslinger, Kimmy Alan, Kit Courter, LaLa Deville, Larry Colker, LeAnne Hunt, Linda Singer, Mahssa Hosseini, Marc Cid, Marcela Marquez, Marianne Peel, Matt Rouse, Michael Cantin, Michele Vavonese, Nancy Lynee Woo, Natalie Hirt, Nicole Connolly, Odilia Galván Rodríguez, Rachel Kann, RaeAnn Crunk Yinger, Raundi Moore Kondo, Ricki Mandeville, Robin Axworthy, Sarah Thursday, Sharon Elliott, Shelby Pendergast, Stephanie Harper, Steve Ramirez, Steven Lossing, Sukyi Naing, Tamara Hattis, Taylor Xavier, Terri Niccum, Tobi Alfier, Victor Ladd, and Wynne Henry."

Thank you, Sarah!!!!

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