Tag Archives: poetry chapbook

Underground Singing by Harry Humes – A book review for Father’s Day, 2014

Humes-Underground-Singing-coverPublished: December 21, 2007 [125 copies]

Seven Kitchens Press

Second printing: July, 2008 [100 copies]

19 pages, 4.625 x 6.75 inches

ISBN: 978-0-9820372-0-1



Reviewed by Diane Sahms-Guarnieri 

UNDERGROUND SINGING (Winner of the 2007 Keystone Chapbook Prize) contains seventeen detailed narrative poems framed within Girardville, Pennsylvania, an eastern coal town setting.  These poems are mined together into the larger scope of a story.
Harry Humes’s pieces of memories are stitched together into one reflective whole, where the center holds.  It’s inspiring to read for its honesty and brilliant attentiveness to metaphoric detail.  There’s not a word left dangling, rather a crystal clear recollection – like an underground spring sparkling in discovery, as underground consciousness streams its way into conscious realism, through his words, through his poems, through his singing of childhood memories. Breath breathed from coal dust – into life – and then returning once again to dust.
This collection begins with “Man With a Yellow Pail.” The man is walking somewhere… up the hill / toward a house, maybe his own house. Planned or unplanned, what a great way to start a small collection, the arduous climb upward – life’s many hills and then the sound of the pail squeaking.  The reader is drawn in to this first poem by sensory perception: visual, auditory, and tactile.  The continuation of visual description plays on as Time has passed, It was late March, and a naturalistic setting with mallards or wood frogs quaking on the vernal pond.  An enigma pursues as the contents inside the pail are unknown, dandelions or forsythia beautiful springtime yellows, these harbingers of spring juxtaposed with or fish worms?  Yes, it’s fishing season and sure it could be worms.  And then Humes adds his own personal adaptation (something that I as a reader had no former knowledge of, something uniquely Humes to his familial upbringing) – maybe animal guts for some cheerless readingIn addition, to adding the sensation of smell, that is, scent of flowers and stink of worms and animal guts, the reader may ask – Who reads animal guts? (The poet answers this question, with a different twist, his father a reader of pigeon bones in lieu of animal guts in “The Bone Reader,” which will be addressed later).  For now, the reader is freed from that question, because in the next lines the man in Humes’s poem is raising  …his free arm / into the sky, palm and fingers tilted upwards, / as if expecting something to land there.  Again the reader questions – What would land there?
Then, the unanswered question, followed by rain as cleansing, rain as an breathed in, an olfactory sensation:  The air smelled like rain pocking dusty weeds,/ and the moon floated low in the west, and the careful and perfect placement of the last line –
everything on edge, waiting to spill.
This is a hook of an opener, to a chapbook of poems loaded with detailed sensory perception, a lived-narrative of life in a rural setting.  Another poem “Polka for Three Dancing Elephants” is about Polish women dancing together “The Beer Barrel Polka” or “The Pennsylvania Polka” …at wedding receptions / at Ranger’s Fire House or St. Vincent’s Hall.  This is a throwback to receptions once held in fire halls, and there is no political correctness here, as there wasn’t any then.  Just life for life’s sake, the way it was growing up in “Ash Alley,” Humes a survivor of those by-gone days, destined to sing its underground music of the days of freedom and despair, from “Ash Alley:”
 … I know there was always coughing / and wasn’t there always someone calling our name.
to “Slush Dam:
 …You’ve been at that sulfur-stinking place, haven’t you, haven’t you? our mother would shout.  If you sink in it, we’ll never find you.  Mummies is what you’ll be. Do you hear me?…
            There’s this romantic nostalgia of looking back in Time and realizing what kind of place it really was, while growing up, and that you lived through those days to come back years later in your mind and write about it, for others to understand where you have come from – the beautiful and the ugly, the pain and the joy, and that special something that was rather unique to you and your family, community.  “The Bone Reader” (is the poem I referred to earlier) of which, the entire first stanza cannot be spared here for that reason:
                        Down in the cobwebbed dirt cellar
                        With coal bin, buckets of nails, crosscut saws,
                        Down there was a shoe box filled with pigeon bones
                        That my father would spill out on the kitchen floor
                        And read things in the tangle
                        Of breast bones, ribs wing bones, skulls
And then the final stanza:
                        But not a hint or click of movement,
                        and me remembering that moment my father
                        turned to us and asked if we had heard
                        and we said yes.
Why lie, because Humes understood in innocence, in childhood wisdom, that his father’s dangerous and long hours of hard work, underground, in the darkness was one of life’s worst occupations,  and because Humes respected his father,  …and because he(Humes’s father) was a man skilled with darkness, / an underground man effortlessly finding his way / through coal veins…. His father told them…Oh yes, / I hear things down there / in creaking and drop of water, / we believed him. 
That’s why; because this underground singing is a childhood memory and yes, Harry Humes lived on to read the bones of his father’s death with a beautifully sad innocence – with love – never sparing life’s darkness, never sparing America of its dirty coal dust lung: a sound of singing and/or coughing?  This is “American Realism” …down there in the muck, / down there steadily finding its way. 
The last four lines of the last poem in Humes’s prized chapbook, “My Ravine,” …putting my hand against the cool walls / for a kind of direction, maybe asking / one last dumb question, and eating / a little dirt so I would never forget.
UNDERGROUND SINGING, a written testament of a life, of a time, he remembers.


You can find the book here: http://sevenkitchenspress.com/our-authors/harry-humes/

Diane Sahms-Guarnieri-Diane Sahms-Guarnieri is the Poetry Editor of The Fox Chase Review and Publisher of The Fox Chase Review Broadside Series.



These Hands of Mine by Adrian Manning – Special Edition


A special edition of These Hands of Mine by Adrian Manning is now available in a limited run of 50 signed copies.

“a stunning meditation on those hands, featuring the usual elegant and terse style one associates with Manning’s work, along with the power and the eye for detail his readers have come to expect.” – Bill Shute, editor of Kendra Steiner Editions

Alongside the previously published version is “These Hands In Dub” – a stripped down version of the poem suite. Also it has a hand painted cover and a unique hand written broadside containing lines from the poem suite – each copy will be unique. Prices are £4 in the UK and $8 outside the UK.  An example is pictured in the attached photo.

Contact  adrian@concretemeatpress.co.uk  or adrianmanning@yahoo.co.uk  for further details or order enquiries.

Adrian Manning in The Fox Chase Reviewhttp://www.foxchasereview.org/11WS/AdrianManning.html http://www.foxchasereview.org/13AW/Manning.html

Zoo Poetry by Steve Delia

Zoo Poetry is a new release from Philadelphia Poet Steve Delia. You can order copies directly from the poet via email at Strawbs4steve@aol.com .  

To read the poetry of Steve Delia in The Fox Chase Review please visit: http://www.foxchasereview.org/2008/01-SteveDelia.html

Landscapes of Light by B.E. Kahn

Poet B.E. Kahn’s latest chapbook release can be had at http://pwpbooks.blogspot.com/2010/11/hot-off-press-landscapes-of-light.html  You can read the poetry of B.E. Kahn in The Fox Chase Review at this link: http://www.foxchasereview.org/10AW/BEKahn.html

Never Trust A Man Wearing Purple Shoes

Poet J.J. Campbell whose work was featured in the 2009 Winter/Spring issue of The fox chase review  has a new chapbook  NEVER TRUST A MAN WEARING PURPLE SHOES by J.J. Campbell  Have a look and support this fine poet.

Seven Kitchens Press 3rd Annual Keystone Chapbook Prize

SEVEN KITCHENS PRESS sponsors the third annual Keystone Chapbook Prize for an original, unpublished poetry manuscript in English by a Pennsylvania writer*.

  • Prize: $100 plus 25 copies.
  • Submission deadline: Postmarked between May 1 and July 15 of each year.
  • Eligibility: Open to all Pennsylvania writers. [*We consider a “Pennsylvania writer” as one who was born in, or has lived in, Pennsylvania, as well as any writer with a self-defined “Pennsylvania connection.”]
  • Please note the following change to this year’s competition: Two manuscripts will be selected as co-winners of the 2009 Keystone Chapbook Prize: one by a writer with no previous book or chapbook, and the other by a writer with previous book or chapbook publication.
  • Please read the guidelines carefully; the complete guidelines are posted on the Seven Kitchens site and we are not responsible for other versions of the guidelines that may be posted, in whole or in part, elsewhere.


  • Anyone who identifies as a Pennsylvania writer is eligible to submit to the Keystone Chapbook Prize.
  • The manuscript itself need not address Pennsylvania themes, though such work is welcome.
  • The final judge for this year’s series is Karen J. Weyant, of Jamestown, New York..
  • Submit a paginated manuscript of 16-24 pages (not including front matter).
  • Include two cover pages: one with the manuscript title, author name, address, e-mail and phone number; the second cover page should have the manuscript title only.
  • Include a table of contents page.
  • Include, if applicable, an acknowledgments page for work previously published.
  • Please include, on a separate page, a brief (100-150 words) biographical note, including a statement of any previous or pending book or chapbook publication.
  • The author’s name must not appear in the manuscript.
  • All manuscripts will be blind judged, meaning all identifying material will be separated from the manuscripts as they are logged in.
  • Manuscript titles and their log numbers will be posted on the web site [http:// sevenkitchens. blogspot. com] (remove spaces from URL) as they are received.
  • Simultaneous submissions are accepted, but please notify us promptly if your manuscript is accepted elsewhere.
  • Submissions must be posted between May 1 and July 15, 2009.
  • The winning manuscripts will be announced on or before October 15, 2009.
  • Manuscript finalists will also be announced, and may be eligible for publication.
  • Manuscripts will not be returned. E-mailed submission is preferred, but you may send via regular mail.
  • If you are sending by mail, do not staple or bind your manuscript; please use a binder clip and mail flat in an 8.5 x 11 envelope.
  • If you are sending by e-mail, please send one document in Microsoft Word format (.doc, .docx or .rtf files are ideal); you must include the words “Keystone Chapbook” in the subject line of your e-mail.
  • Include a $12 reading fee with each manuscript you submit (multiple submissions are welcome). Checks should be made payable to Ron Mohring, NOT to Seven Kitchens.  Online payment may be made via PayPal to sevenkitchens at yahoo dot com.
  • Each entrant will receive one copy of the winning chapbook, to be published by spring of 2010. Please let us know if you change your e-mail or mailing address!
  • Each co-winner will receive $100 and 25 copies of her or his chapbook. Additionally, the publisher will distribute ten review copies and will solicit online reviews of each chapbook.
  • Send your manuscript:
    ~by e-mail, as a Microsoft Word attachment, to: sevenkitchens at yahoo dot com; or
    ~by mail to Ron Mohring, Publisher; PO Box 668; Lewisburg PA 17837.

ABOUT THE SERIES: Initiated in 2007, this chapbook series honors the wide diversity of poetry found within–and inspired by–the state of Pennsylvania. Titles in this series include Underground Singing by Harry Humes (2007 winner), Still by Deborah Burnham (2007 runner-up); Long Corridor by Lisa Sewell (2008 winner); and Spring Melt by Katherine Bode-Lang (2008 runner-up). All titles are kept in print and are available for $7 each; please add $1 for shipping.

We also highly recommend the anthology Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania, edited by Marjorie Maddox and Jerry Wemple and published by Penn State University Press.

ABOUT THE JUDGE: Poet Karen J. Weyant was born and raised in rural Pennsylvania. She now lives in Western New York where she is an Assistant Professor of English at Jamestown Community College. Her most recent work can be seen in 5 AM, The Barn Owl Review, The Coal Hill Review, The Comstock Review and Slipstream. Her first chapbook, Stealing Dust, has just been published by Finishing Line Press (http://www.finishinglinepress.com/). She is a 2007 Fellow in Poetry from the New York Foundation for the Arts. She blogs at http://www.thescrapperpoet.wordpress.com/.