Poet Spotlight: Rebecca Hart Olander on the Flaws and Snags of Love

dressing the wounds-rebecca hart olandera

Rebecca Hart Olander’s poetry has appeared recently in Crab Creek Review, The Massachusetts Review, and Tinderbox Poetry Journal, among others. Collaborative work made with Elizabeth Paul has been published in multiple venues online and in They Said: A Multi-Genre Anthology of Contemporary Collaborative Writing (Black Lawrence Press). Rebecca is a Women’s National Book Association poetry contest winner and a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee. Her chapbook, Dressing the Wounds, was published by dancing girl press in 2019, and her debut full-length collection, Uncertain Acrobats, is forthcoming from CavanKerry Press in 2021. Rebecca teaches writing at Westfield State University and is editor/director of Perugia Press. Find her at rebeccahartolander.com and @rholanderpoet.

dressing the wounds-rebecca hart olanderYour new collection of poetry is Dressing the Wounds. Tell us about the project and how it came into being. 

The new collection is also my first collection, and it came into being in kind of an unusual way, at least for me. In sum, I created it with a specific press in mind, and I didn’t get feedback on the manuscript as a whole before submitting it for consideration. To explain further, in the summer of 2018, I was feeling pretty discouraged by the lack of success I was having placing my full-length manuscript. I had finished my MFA program three years prior, and each year I was having a steady incline in individual subs being accepted, but lots of rejections (and a nice bunch of semi-finalist/finalist nods) for the book. I felt like it was high time I had a book in the world, and it began to seem silly that I hadn’t even had a chapbook out yet. Even students of mine were publishing chaps, and I was feeling like I’d skipped a step trying to go from individual publications to placing a full-length manuscript. 

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A Bit of Good News

Twelve: Poems Inspired by the Brothers Grimm Fairy Tale

Days pass strangely of late. I move through the rooms of my house in all the normal ways — eat food, watch TV, work, read, or clean — and yet there’s an oddness in every peripheral.

Time passes — quick, quick, slow.

Nothing is normal — and it’s hard to know how to feel when nothing is normal.

Today, I get to announce the wonderful news that Twelve, my chapbook of prose poems based on “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” will be published by Interstellar Flight Press later this year.

I’m delighted — of course I’m delighted. Though some small part of me wonders if, considering everything that’s going on in the world, all the stress and doubt and fear, whether I should be subdued in my excitement, more respectful of those who are struggling right now.

But here’s the thing, I think the world needs good news. It needs victories great and small. It needs celebration in whatever small spades that life can offer.

So, I’m thrilled and excited and overjoyed to announce that I have a chapbook coming out this year. The cover is beautiful with art by Yana Germann and the layout is stunning. In fact, when I first saw the combination of fonts and illustrations combined together with the words I wrote, it was so beautiful I started to cry. It feels like a “real” book. And I’m so grateful for the amazing work that Holly Lyn Walrath and her team has done to make Twelve into the best possible book it can be.

I’m also overjoyed that folks whom I respect in the poetry community have also said lovely things about Twelve.

“Andrea Blythe’s collection of the retold (and often feminist) Brothers Grimm fairytale, ‘The Twelve Dancing Princesses,’ is a breath of air at the bottom of the ocean. It’s not only fresh, but it’s so different and unique that it deserves multiple reads. One of my favorite lines in the book is also something we should all ask ourselves, ‘Do you mean it?’” — Joanna C. Valente, author of Marys of the Sea and editor of A Shadow Map: Writing by Survivors of Sexual Assault

“Hearkening back to when Grimms’ tales were less fairy, more formidable, Andrea Blythe offers a rhythmic, alliterative retelling of traditional stories that reveal a stark imbalance between genders. An engaging and eerie tribute to the young girls and women who read, dance, and keep things clean, Twelve does exactly what her storyteller suggests of her characters: it ‘see[s] the truth beneath the pretty surface.’” — Christina M. Rau, author of the Elgin Award winning Liberating The Astronauts

Twelve will be published on September 7th. Pre-orders for Twelve will open up around June.

For those interested in receiving a digital review copy of Twelve for review, the chapbook is now available at Net Galley.

I have no idea what the world is going to looks like a year from now, a month, a week, tomorrow — but I do know this: I have a collection poetry forthcoming. It’s a collection I’m proud of, and I’m elated to be able to share it with the world.

Do you have any victories to share? Any good news big or small? I would love to hear about it and join you in the celebration.


This was first published in A Seed to Hatch, my newsletter on the writing life and things writers might find interesting. If you enjoyed reading this, please check it out and subscribe.

Elgin Award Winners Announced — and Poetry Giveaway!

The Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association (SFPA) hosts the annual  Elgin Awards — named for SFPA founder Suzette Haden Elgin — which honor the best poetry books (49+ pages) and chapbooks (10–39 pages) of speculative poetry from the past two years.

The 2019 winners for book length collection are:

  • Winner: War: Dark Poems by Marge Simon & Alessandro Manzetti (Crystal Lake Publishing, 2018)
  • Second Place: Artifacts by Bruce Boston (Independent Legions, 2018)
  • Third Place: Witch Wife by Kiki Petrosino (Sarabande Books, 2017)

The 2019 winners for chapbook length collection are:

That’s right! My collaborative chapbook written with the amazing Lauren Madeline Wiseman has placed third in the Elgin Awards. We are so phenomenally honored to be included among such amazing works of poetry.

And I’m so stoked that I’m hosting a poetry giveaway on my Instagram — featuring copies of the two winners and a copy of my collaborative chapbook.

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Elgin Award Giveaway! The prize is a stack of award-winning speculative poetry books: WAR by Marge Simon & Alessandro Manzetti (first place book), GLIMMERGLASS GIRL by Holly Lyn Walrath (first place chapbook), and EVERY GIRL BECOMES THE WOLF by Laura Madeline Wiseman and myself (third place chapbook) — all because I’m so honored to have our work included among these amazing poets. ––––– How to enter: 1. Like this post and follow @andreablythe, if you’re not already. 2. Tag three friends who might also want a chance a winning some poetry. 3. BONUS: Join my newsletter list at: tinyletter.com/andreablythe –––– (U.S. residents only. Giveaway is in no way endorsed or sponsored by Instagram, the SFPA, or my fellow poets. Just wanted to share the joy. Giveaway ends at 11:59 PST on 10/20/2019. Winner will be selected using a random number generator. Good luck!)

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New Poetry in the World

I’ve had two new poems published over the past couple of months, each appearing in two journals that I respect and admire. “Belatedly, The Refusal” appears in Glass: A Journal of Poetry and “A Little Background Information” in Cotton Xenomorph.

Both of these poems are part of The Poeming project, in which over 50 poets were assigned one of Stephen King’s books and tasked with writing 31 found poems pulled from its pages. I was assigned The Plant, which I’ve continued working with of and on ever since. A number of the poems from this project have since been published and I’m starting to see the shape of a manuscript coming together.

Check out other poetry I’ve published here.


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