Friday, September 28, 2018


I’ve been so busy with my Cloud of Witnesses book launch that I’ve had very little time to create.

As the day draws nigh I’ve been working on a book trailer which I will preview here in a bit. What’s truly wonderful is finding someone else’s work that resonates. While working on the book trailer (okay, I’m not a videographer or film editor, my friend Juan Carlos Garcon is the one working the magic) I felt like we needed some images that represented the region. It’s hard enough for kids to imagine life in the 1979/1980, let alone what things looked like in Athens County. Anyway, I stumbled onto a group of photographers and a project called “Looking at Appalachia

There were many pics that worked well with the book and the scenes I wanted to highlight, but had no idea of how to contact the photographers. We wanted to have the project done in time for the book launch. Alan Pittman’s photographs of West Virginia were just great. He had images of little country churches, hilltops shrouded in mist, a Ferris wheel, abandoned cars half buried in leaves, rural roads seemingly going nowhere. So I contacted him.

For the music I knew I needed someone willing to loan me their song. There’s a song Mama sings, “I’ll Fly Away,” but, even though that’s public domain (meaning free to use), it still didn’t fit. I wanted something younger, livelier, fun and engaging. At the Festival of Faith & Writing at Calvin College I was introduced to a young singer/songwriter Sorrow Estate. Actually we broke bread together. Myself and a friend were invited for breakfast, the most amazing sourdough bread ever, and Laura was there as a guest. This is all via the couchsurfing network I’m a part of. It was the worst spring weather ever. Outside there was literally ice falling from the sky. We sat in the dining room eating warm bread with spreads and drinking coffee and tea, talking about art. Afterwards Laura sang for us. We had nowhere to go because the roads were mostly impassable.

Her songs were magical. We bought a CD and arrange for her to do a house show in Chicago. Her song “Elsewhere” complete with whistling accompanies the video. A book trailer which is only a little over 60 seconds.

So stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

2018 Events

2018 Events:

Book Launch Party
Friday, Sept. 28 7 PM
--Chicago, IL

Book Releases
Sunday, Sept. 30

Illinois Reading Council
Friday, Oct. 5, 2:30 – 3:30 PM
--Peoria, IL

2018 Kentucky Book Festival
Saturday, November 17, 9 am to 4 pm
--Alltech Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky

OCWW, Off Campus Writers Workshop
Thursday, Dec. 20, 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
--Winnetka, IL

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Launching my author website

Young Jane Hertenstein

I've launched an author website in support of my new book

Monday, September 17, 2018

Dream Delivery Service

Image result for dream delivery service

You are a slightly graying slightly paunchy poet on a bicycle in the hours before dawn, riding the city streets under arc lights, steering around potholes, in varying weather. Sometimes coyotes run beside you until they weary or veer off. This isn’t a dream.

You began out of an existential desperation to find meaning, or maybe to lose weight, or to vie for fame in the treacherous academic world: publish or perish. It’s hard to stand out.

So you drop out and climb aboard an ’85 bicycle with a frame size too big for you. Everything, and I mean everything, you might possibly need for the next 30 days goes into a pair of panniers and a seal line bag.

You cannot escape your depression or pedal fast enough to leave yourself behind.

But once in a new town you set up shop. For ten hours a day you compose dreams—an annoying woman at the Poetry Foundation called you out, saying they were in fact poems—you cycle out dreams as if they were miles and then in the early hours of morning you deliver them, 40 – 50 miles per day, every day, because not for one second do your subscribers stop dreaming. Then it’s back to the coffee shop and the keyboard and the sombiescent experience of channeling the dreams of others.

When do you sleep, oh Poet Dreamer?

Check out the work of Mathias Svalina of the Dream Delivery Service. I heard him speak at the Poetry Foundation: Off the Shelf, where he inspired poets and cyclists.

Follow him n Instagram and Twitter—because you literally will exhaust yourself following him

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Wisconsin, state of grace

Memoirous is about memories and using memories to tell stories.

Memories are also unreliable. We unintentionally leave things out or embellish. Sometimes the more accurate memories have the ring of truth to them. What seems to resonate the most are universal experiences where readers can exclaim: Hey! The same thing happened to me!

Sometimes we end up just giving life and words to the mundane and everyday.

A few years back I picked up a small “poetry” book by Kyle White. It isn’t exactly poetry but more a hybrid of observations, comments, essays, criticisms, and poetry. There is line variation. This book is monumental in its scope: Wisconsin.

I know, that line made me laugh too.

It is about bundling up in snowsuits. Walking home with your cheeks stinging. Snot crusting inside your muffler. It is about the horror of returning to a normal schedule after Christmas break.

Kyle White employs everyday memories in crafting Wisconsin: river of grace. Coming from the sister state of Illinois and maybe from just being a kid, I can relate to the book, Hey! The same thing happened to me!

A young boy in his bed, the dark cold mornings, having to get up for school. You feel like you are at a dead end. No hope. Then! You remember the next school holiday: Casimir Pulaski Day!

I also enjoyed the piece about the number of times the writer had been run over—either by bikes or cars, by his family and friends, or taken out back behind the stands and beaten up by a bully. We are left with the writer’s memories as well as our own.

The stuff of life.

Image result for kyle white wisconsin

Monday, September 10, 2018

How to craft a simple, mundane flash by making a list

An example of how to craft a simple, mundane flash, make a list

Little-Known Facts about People

          Did you know that Kenneth Koch's wife Janice used to be
an airplane pilot? Once she had to make an emergency landing
on a highway.

          When Kenward Elmslie was a kid he wanted to be a tap
dancer. Did you know that Kenward's grandfather was Joseph

         Kenward once told me that Jane Russell is a dyke.

         Andy Warhol wanted to be a tap dancer when he was a
kid too.

         D. D. Ryan wanted to be a ballerina.           

         Did you know that Pat Padgett was Ted Berrigan's girlfriend
for years before she married Ron?

         Ron Padgett and I were in the same 1st grade class together
in school in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

         Ron's father, Wayne, was a notorious bootlegger in Tulsa
until Oklahoma went wet.

          A few years ago Ron's father got divorced and married a
beautiful Las Vegas showgirl younger than Ron's wife Pat.

          Did you know that Bill Berkson was once bat boy for the

          Ted Berrigan married his wife Sandy after having only
known her for five days.

          Did you know that the first poems John Ashbery ever had
published were published in Poetry magazine under the name of
Joel Symington?

          Did you know that Bill Berkson was on the "1oo Best
Dressed Men" list of 1967?

          Rudy Burckhardt once dated Miss Vermont of 1938.

          Donald Droll is in some way related to Daniel Boone.

          Frank O'Hara once told me that what he really wanted to
be was a concert pianist.

          Did you know that Harry Mathews started out to be a com-
poser? He studied at the Juilliard School of Music.

          Edwin Denby was born in China.

          Anne Waldman's father wrote a book called Rapid Reading 
Made Simple.

          Tom Veitch's father writes Christmas card verse.

           When I was a kid I wanted to be a fashion designer, a
minister, and an artist.

            Peter Schjeldahl's father is very famous in the plastic area.
He discovered the new lightweight plastic used in Bufferin bottles.
Soon he hopes to open a contraceptive factory in Red China.

           Did you know that Bill Berkson was once on I Remember

           D. D. Ryan went to see The Boys in the Band with Jackie
Kennedy just a week before she married Onassis.

          John Ashbery was a quiz kid.

         Kenneth Koch once won the Glasscock Award.

         Did you know that Ron Padgett has blebs on his lung
which may explode at any moment? They have exploded twice

         Tina Louise once sang "I'm in the Mood for Love" to Bill
Berkson over London broils at P. J. Clarke's.

         Did you know that Ted Berrigan did his thesis at Tulsa
University on George Bernard Shaw?

         Did you know that the Katz Tumor is named after Ada
Katz who discovered it?

         Edwin Denby once performed in Berlin's "Wintergarten"
billed as "Der Amerikanische Grotesktaenzer Dumby."

         Yvonne Burckhardt was the backstroke swimming cham-
pion of Connecticut for one week.

         When I lived in Boston I used to panhandle on the street
where all of the art galleries were, and I got my cigarette butts
from the urns in front of the Museum of Fine Arts.

         Did you know that Ted Berrigan's first book of poems, 
Lily for My Love, was published by the Lenox Bar in Providence,
Rd. Island?

         Greta Garbo once called Bill Berkson her ice cream man.

         I once went to a "come as your favorite person" party as
Marilyn Monroe.

         Did you know that John Ashbery once worked in a cherry
canning factory?
Joe Brainard, "Little-Known Facts about People" from The Collected Writings of Joe Brainard. Copyright © 2012 by Joe Brainard.  Reprinted by permission of The Library of America.
Source: The Collected Writings of Joe Brainard. (Library of America, 2012)

Image result for joe brainard and bill berkson

Friday, September 7, 2018

Cloud of Witnesses--ready for pre-order NOW

Book cover Cloud of Witnesses by Jane Hertenstein preorder now on sale September 2018

“The stars and black sky closed over me. I was not Pip with the hope of great expectations, just an eighth grader looking for a lucky break.”

Roland Tanner is looking for a benefactor, someone to rescue him from his family, the sorriest characters he’s ever met: a sister who works at the Curl Up and Dye salon, a brother who takes motors apart in their front yard, a grandmother who flashes him the evil eye from her ragged vinyl armchair, and a father who keeps him at arm’s length. Tested as gifted, Roland gets bused from his poor, rural home to the middle school in town, where his new classmates only see him as a hillbilly.
He is desperate to reach out beyond the power lines that crisscross the hills surrounding the family’s trailer in southeastern Ohio. Yet he’s afraid to step outside of himself to ask Patty to the dance, to stand up for his Muslim friend Hassan, to see that his father loves him. It’s only when he realizes he’s in charge of his destiny that Roland accepts the cloud of witnesses—the saints and sinners all around him—that his future is whatever he makes it.
Age range: 10-13
Grade level: 5-8
234 pages
Fall 2018 publication | $8.99
ISBN 978-1-7320276-2-6 print
ISBN 978-1-7320276-3-3 ebook

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

What I remember most

What I remember most about my Scanlandia bike ride from earlier this summer:

Crossing the mountains
Crossing fjords on ferries
Impossibly high bridges
Moose meat stroganoff
Long, slanty light
The sun
Wishing for the sun to come out
Wishing for the sun to go down
Winding down on switchbacks, thinking
      this could be the last day of my life

Mostly what I remember is the fear
            a knife-edge, precipice-inducing fear
            the awful feeling you get
                        when lost
                        when there are no maps
                        when no one knows your name

and you speak an entirely different language

the fear that drives you to make a way when there is no way,
            a fear that numbs you into submission, to accept
that things might not go right, but no matter what you have to keep going

the kind of fear that creates

that makes life exciting

Monday, September 3, 2018

Holiday at Home

Holiday @ Home Parade

It’s that time of year—back to school—when I recall the Holiday @ Home Parade in Kettering, Ohio.

Here is a flashback post:

from an earlier post:

Holiday at Home Parade
Labor Day weekend. School was right around the corner. Which meant autumn was coming, falling leaves, and change.

But things would never be different.

Freshman year I was a nerd. As a sophomore I was a more experienced nerd. Junior year I entered school thinking halfway done, only 2 more years of being an ostracized nerd. Finally as a senior, I knew it was my last year. I'd never be popular but forever a nerd. But at least a nerd on her way out.

The only good thing about Labor Day weekend was the Holiday at Home Parade. I looked forward to getting there early and finding a seat along the curb. Friends of my parents lived close to the parade route, so I rode up to their house and parked my bike in their garage. The Centerville Elks marching band and Coed Drill team would be in the parade along with both Fairmont high schools, East and West. Schools from as far as West Carrollton and even ones from Dayton, the big city, might show up. There were the floats and people I had no idea of who they were in convertibles, waving. The Shriners, clowns in miniature cars came by tooting their horns and tossing candy into the crowds. The Shriners also had a bagpipe corp. I often wondered if the guys minded wearing kilts. In fact, the Shriners took up a large section of the parade.

Somewhere in the procession came the mounted police and after the mounted police came the street cleaners!

Several cars carried the Holiday at Home parade court with the Queen and several princesses. I never once knew anyone elected. Or were you born royalty. That's something else I thought about.

I can't recall a time that the parade was cancelled or rained out. In my memory it is always sunny, the parade going on forever, until at last people filed into the street carrying lawn chairs and pulling coolers. Time to go home, turn on the Jerry Lewis telethon, and prepare for the next day. The first day of school.

for the history of the Holiday at Home Parade go HERE.