Illustration for Kazim Ali’s story collection

UncleSharif1Summer 2015 was a busy one in terms of new visual projects, including a poetry portrait series for Fjords Review and this new wraparound cover I illustrated for poet Kazim Ali’s new book of short stories, UNCLE SHARIF’S LIFE IN MUSIC. @KazimAliPoet #KazimAli @SRP_Bryan

The wraparound cover features images of the nephew and uncle from the title story as well as tarot cards and allusions to other stories in the collection. Pen and ink and watercolor. You can order the book here:

Here’s the cover with the title added by the boys at Sibling Rivalry Press:

Uncle Sharif’s Life in Music
Stories by Kazim Ali

Uncle_Sharif's_Life_in_Music_Front_CoverAbout the Book: On the eve of war, a group of artists try to stage a performance. An ill-thought-through deception to protect a friend threatens to unravel several relationships in a circle. A young man wakes up in a church graveyard with complete amnesia except for scraps of memories that appear to be from several different peoples’ lives. Two friends, haunted by the ghost of failed intimacy and the shadow of disease, wander the rainy streets of Paris. A musician makes a clumsy last-ditch effort at seducing a lost love. At Niagara Falls a neglected boy discovers his relationship to God. In a contemporary re-telling of the Majnoon and Laila myth, an astronomer falls in love with the sky. These six stories and novella from the author of the novels Quinn’s Passage, The Disappearance of Seth and Wind Instrument intertwine their concerns for the artistic life and the importance of the creative impulse with their belief in timelessness and the universal need for human empathy. Kazim Ali brings a poet’s attention to language, a musician’s sense of structure and a choreographer’s sense of character and movement to these dynamic and genre-blurring pieces which range in form from coming-of-age story, speculative fiction, ekphrasis, epistolary fiction and tarot deck.



The Queer South nominated for a Lambda Book Award

THE QUEER SOUTH anthology keeps getting accolades. Today it garnered a Lambda Book Award nomination, and earlier this year it made the American Library Association’s top ten LGBT Over the Rainbow titles. My two poems in that anthology, “Brave” and “Spirit Animal Chant”, deal with the trouble of reconciling multiple identities while growing up in West Virginia. Douglas Ray, the editor, deserves a big shout of praise for assembling this Sibling Rivalry Press collection, which features Dorothy Allison, Richard Blanco, and many others. Congtatulations, Douglas!


What’s the big deal about The Queer South?

This morning I learned that THE QUEER SOUTH anthology made the American Library Association’s top ten LGBT Over the Rainbow titles. I have two poems in that anthology, edited by Douglas Ray. (It features the likes of Dorothy Allison and Richard Blanco.)  In celebration, I think I’ll add those poems to my Monday Poets reading tonight at the Free Library with Amy Small-McKinney. Details here:

Sibling Rivalry Press did an outstanding job overall this year with the ALA and full-length books by their talented poets. SRP’s editor notes the other titles in the message below:

“Sibling Rivalry Press featured (again and again—6 more times!) in the American Library Association’s Over the Rainbow list of recommended LGBT literature.

THE QUEER SOUTH (ed. Douglas Ray) made the TOP 10.
THE EROTIC POSTULATE (Matthew Hittinger)
GOD OF LONGING (Brent Calderwood)
PRIME ( Darrel Alejandro Holnes, Saeed Jones, Rickey Laurentiis, Phillip B. Williams, and L. Lamar Wilson)
JOY EXHAUSTIBLE – ASSARACUS #14 (eds. Bryan Borland and Seth Pennington).

We couldn’t be more proud.” — SRP

Read the entire list:

The Queer South

An anthology that I have two poems in is out now! THE QUEER SOUTH debuts officially Sept. 17th, and has essays, poems and stories that put a face on queer southernly concerns for the 21st century. I’m happy to be sharing space with the likes of Dorothy Allison, Richard Blanco, Brad Richard, Seth Pennington, D. Gilson, Stephen Mills, Jeff Mann, Matthew Hittinger, Shane Allison, Ed Madden, and the crazy Del Shores. Not to mention a bunch of other wonderful people. My poems are about the problematic reconciliation of queer, Euro and Native American identities. Included are “Spirit Animal Chant” and “Brave”.QS_Cover

Big shout out to editor Douglas Ray and the masterminds at Sibling Rivalry Press for making this book come true.

VELVET RODEO Book Tour – Spring 2014

Announcing the VELVET RODEO Book Tour!
Scroll down for dates. #VelvetRodeo #Poetry

VELVET RODEO is the recent winner of the Bloom Chapbook Prize, judged by poet C. Dale Young, who wrote of it: “‘The tongue I try to master / is a sticky one, forked and full of tricks,’ is the opening of a poem in Velvet Rodeo, and it becomes a point of return for the collection. These poems understand that to tell the truth, one must lie, play tricks, and even dare to say the unbelievable. Careful and exacting, these poems exact a price from a reader. They linger with you long after you have finished reading them.”



Order at:


March 28, 2014. Friday, 6 pm. SIBLING RIVALRY PRESS Group Reading. Kelly McQuain’s first reading in NYC! The New York debut of Velvet Rodeo! Celebrating the Rainbow Book Fair at Cornelia Street Cafe, 29 Cornelia Street. With Sibling Rivalry Press authors. Hosted by Bryan Borland and Seth Pennington.

March 29, 2014. Saturday afternoon. Rainbow Book Fair Reading at the Midtown Holiday Inn, New York City. Noon.


April 4, 2014. Friday, 7 pm. VELVET RODEO — the Philly Book Launch!!! Tattooed Mom’s bar, South Street, Philadelphia. McQuain reads with Laura Spagnoli and Pittsburgh poets Bob Walicki and Angele Ellis.

April 12, 2014. Saturday. PHILADELPHIA POETRY DAY!
3 pm: Reading at the Philadelphia Sketch Club. On April 12, 2014, poetry will bloom in Philadelphia. Poetry Everywhere! Here at the Sketch Club in the Exhibition Gallery surrounded by the works of the Small Oils Exhibition, a poetry reading by four area poets is scheduled from 3:00 to 4:30 pm. Juditha Dowd, Kelly McQuain, Helen Mirkil and Wendy Steginsky!

May 13, 2014. Tuesday, 7 pm. PAINTED BRIDE QUARTERLY Featured Reading at Black Sheep Pub, 247 S. 17th St., Philadelphia. Also featuring poet Teresa Leo, author of Bloom in Reverse.

May, 2014. Saints and Sinners Literary Festival — TBA.

June 11. Wednesday. 7 pm. MOONSTONE READING SERIES. Fergie’s Pub. Reading with Teresa Leo. Open mic to follow, hosted by Charles Carr.

If you’d like a sneak peak at one of the poems in the collection, here’s one that appeared in Bloom:

Another of the poems, “Lent”, is scheduled to be republished in The Philadelphia Inquirer on April 30th.



Assaracus #10

Nine of my poems came out in the April 2013 issue of Assaracus, their tenth issue. It’s a great journal out of Arkansas from Sibling Rivalry Press. Bryan Borland, their publisher extraordinaire, and his husband Seth Pennington do a fine job keeping it all going, especially by advertising their catalog via frequent car trips to various book festivals. I’m amazed at how much they do, and was happy to finally meet them in person this past February at the AWP Conference in Boston.


New poetry books atop my reading pile…


My poetry pile has some great new additions by Bryan Borland, Nate Kostar and Phillip B. Williams, I’m happy to say. And what are YOU reading out there in cyber-land?