San Fedele Press: The Second Ice Cream Social | reviewed by Jennifer Bryce

Most of us here in Australia were sipping coffee rather than eating ice cream when we logged into the Ice Cream Social at 7.30 am Eastern Australian Daylight Time on Sunday 31st October – it was 4.30 pm Saturday in New Jersey. Patricia A. Florio, the founding publisher of American Writers Review, was a most welcoming convenor.

This was a celebration of the huge achievement of putting together the 2021 edition of American Writers Review, an anthology titled Turmoil and Recovery in recognition of the exceptionally difficult year everyone has faced. The first reader was Andrea Rabaduex, winner of the 2021 AWR contest judged by Jean Colonomos, Richard Key, Lenore Hart, Patrick O’Neil, Holly Tappen and our very own Elwood Writers member, Margaret McCaffrey. Andrea’s poem, ‘Requiem for Believers’, was written when her husband was serving in Afghanistan. Phrases I found particularly poignant were, ‘the sun still shone somewhere that day’ and ‘This is how to exhale God – quietly / into the humid space before dawn’s clouds / meet pale mourning.’

Then our own members read their pieces that had been selected for publication in the anthology. First was Barry Lee Thompson, who read his short story ‘Glassy’. Barry was complimented on his beautiful reading. There was opportunity for questions, but, as with the poem, people were quite stunned by the beauty of the writing. A woman walking by a river sees an empty green wine bottle and there is communication between her and the bottle: ‘… a vibration. High pitched and faint, like a tuning fork … A confidential whispering of its glass body.’

Helen McDonald firstly read her poem ‘Restoration’:  ‘I wish I had a broom and could climb / mini-sized into your beautiful brain / to scrub and clean punctured vessels …’ This prompted discussion with an audience member on the themes and inspiration for the poem. Helen then read ‘COVID Lockout’, explaining that a haibun is a short piece of prose followed by a haiku that resonates with the prose. She was congratulated for her beautiful writing.

The next reader, Shelly Gill Murray read her Covid-inspired short story ‘Meeting Grandma at the Window’, a moving account of visiting her 98-year-old grandma who was in isolation in a facility. Their meeting was inevitably diminished by having to meet looking through the barrier of a window and having to talk through a phone. In the end each put their hands up to the pane of glass, but they couldn’t actually touch. Members of the audience said that Shelly’s story touched their hearts and reminded them of attempts to meet their mothers and other vulnerable people during these hard times.

Anita S. Pulier joked about her transfer from legal writing to being a poet. She started by reading a love poem she’d written during lockdown, ‘Memo’. It was about the love of older people who have loved each other for a long time: ‘what once was morphing to what is’. She then read an extraordinary poem on a similar theme: ‘IF (Barbie discovers that Ken is a Proud Boy)’.

The next piece to be read was by Ana M. Fores Tamayo: ‘New Day Dawn/El Amanecer’. Donna Ferrara (editor of AWR) read what was described as an interpretation rather than a translation from the Spanish – you cannot literally translate poetry. It was a poem of stunning imagery: ‘The wolf dog sniffed the stillborn air’ … ‘yet soon the sun would break its silent inkwell’.

Co-winner of the 2021 contest was Anne Casey, a Sydney-based Irish poet. Her poem, ‘Our Prime Minister Says the Vaccine is Not a Silver Bullet’, was read by Patricia Florio. It expresses the anguish during lockdown of hoping to have a reunion with her father in Dublin; the poem moves between Australian scenes of a kookaburra in ‘the flagging liquidambar’ and ‘icy sleet / piercing the winter’, where her father is in Ireland.

The anthology is beautifully illustrated, particularly with artwork by Holly Tappen and Carol MacAlister. After the reading of Anne’s poem, Carol passed on thanks and congratulations to Donna and Patricia for the fine publication and all of the work that had gone into judging the pieces and producing the anthology.

American Writers Review 2021: Turmoil and Recovery (San Fedele Press)

We in Australia cherished this ‘hands across the ocean experience’ – how wonderful to be able to participate in this event as it happened in New Jersey! Very few good things have come from the last two years dominated by pandemic, but although international borders have been closed, we have become more adept at using technologies which enable us to be with groups such as the Jersey Shore Writers and have the privilege of experiencing their welcoming hospitality.

If you’d like to read and appreciate more of the writing and artwork in this anthology, American Writers Review 2021 can be purchased from the link here.

Don’t touch that dial

A reminder to stay tuned to 94.9 MAINfm today to hear Elwood Writers’ Helen McDonald read from the group’s anthology, Every Second Tuesday.

Helen will be on The Quiet Carriage with Paul J Laverty from 1:00pm. You can listen on the radio, or online from anywhere in the world.

For listening info, go here.

The Quiet Carriage is MAINfm’s dedicated literature show all about books and authors, hosted by Paul J Laverty. MAINfm comes out of Castlemaine in Victoria.

Happy listening!

Tonight’s stories

Tonight on Cover to Cover:

Jennifer’s ‘Teleférico’;
Helen’s ‘The Lake’, poems ‘In deep blue’ and ‘New’, and haiku inspired by Japan and Australia;
Margaret’s ‘The White Woman’ and ‘Home and Away’;
Barry’s ‘The Longstanding Arrangement’ and ‘Tongue’.

Thanks again to Alison Davies and Tim McQueen for reading the pieces, and to Tim for producing the program.

For all the information you’ll need to listen to the stories, click here.

Out and About

Every Second Tuesday in Readings, St Kilda

Our new anthology was spotted over the weekend hanging out in the new releases section of the St Kilda Readings bookshop. It looks at home and in good company. If you’re passing the store, why not pop in and pick up a copy to take home. Alternatively, you could have it delivered. If you’re in Australia you can order your copy here.

If you’re overseas, there’s a number of options. One option that offers free worldwide delivery can be found here (change the currency from the drop-down at the top of the page).

If ebooks are your preferred way to read, then simply visit your favourite online bookseller.

And don’t forget you’re invited to the online launch of Every Second Tuesday on Wednesday 9 December at 6.30PM AEST. It’s online, so location is no barrier. And it’s free. Though you must book in order to receive the event link on the day. If you’re concerned about a time difference, book a ticket anyway and you’ll receive a recording of the event whether you attend on the evening or not. Find more information here, and the booking page here.

In the meantime, happy reading!

Elwood Writers

Every Second Tuesday, update

The publication of Every Second Tuesday, an anthology of our writing from over the last ten years, is being held back until early November. By that time we anticipate seeing a little more stability in the literary landscape as new and exciting models of delivery are embraced.

In the meantime, here’s a peek at the book’s back cover:

And before the anthology arrives, we have the release of Barry’s collection of fiction to look forward to. Broken Rules and Other Stories is coming out on 1 September. More information is available at the Transit Lounge website, here.

So please stay tuned – there’s a lot happening this year, and we’ll be providing plenty more updates along the way.

Happy reading and writing.

Winter on the Wireless

There’s another chance to hear last night’s special edition of Cover to Cover on Vision Australia Radio tomorrow at 1:30PM (AEST). You can listen live from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. Just follow the links on the VAR website, here.

This program was first broadcast in winter 2019, and was chosen for rebroadcasting. It features fiction, memoir, and poetry written by, and in some cases read on air by, Elwood Writers.

The Vision Australia Radio Network incorporates ten community radio stations across Victoria, southern New South Wales, Adelaide and Perth. There are also five digital radio services available in the three metropolitan areas as VAR, VA Radio and IRIS.

‘Every Second Tuesday’ is coming

We may have been in lockdown for a few months but Elwood Writers has been busily putting the finishing touches to a project we’ve been working on over the past two years. We’re currently checking printed proof copies of Every Second Tuesday, an anthology of our writing drawn from over the last ten years.

Now we’re excited to share news of the anthology’s forthcoming publication in both paperback and ebook forms. We’ll keep you posted …


Here in the room, the fire crackles, and in the distance, the clatter of the roller-coaster.

So This Is Winter, Jennifer Bryce

In our corner of the southern hemisphere the weather is turning colder and the nights are drawing in. And so, a year on from its first broadcast, our special wintry edition of Cover to Cover has been scheduled to hit the Vision Australia Radio airwaves again on 10 & 12 July.

We hope you’ll be able to join us, wherever you are, and whatever your season. We’ll provide listening information closer to the broadcast date. In the meantime, stay safe and sound.

Vision Australia Radio update

Vision Australia Radio COVID-19 update: we’re here and on air.

As part of VAR’s current programming, past editions of Cover to Cover are being broadcast every weekday at 1PM. There’s a reasonable chance of one of the Elwood Writers specials being among those repeats. So to find out, why not tune in and enjoy some lunchtime storytelling every day. If you’re not in Australia, you can always listen to Vision Australia Radio online.

Please see the full Vision Australia Radio services update here.

For information on Vision Australia’s response to COVID-19, click here.

Back to School

Go back to school this week as Vision Australia Radio repeats a favourite episode of its weekly literary program Cover to Cover from January 2018, featuring stories written and in some cases read on air by Elwood Writers. You can hear the show in Melbourne at 8:00pm this Friday, repeated Sunday at 1:30pm. For timings in other cities and locations around Australia, check the VAR website. And as usual the show can be heard online from anywhere in the world by using the ‘listen live’ feature on the VAR website:

Happy listening!