Updated: Sep 2, 2022
By Annie Newcomer:
The Flapper Press Poetry Café features the work of poets from around the world. This week, we highlight the work of Anna Gall.
Anna Gall lives in historic St. Charles, Missouri, with her husband. A retired human resources professional, she is now fully engaged in writing, reading, antiquing, gardening, cooking, and per-diem culinary instruction at the local college. A blogger for 10 years, her writings are also found in eMerge, an online publication with The Writer’s Colony at Dairy Hollow. Anna Gall’s poem “Seashells” is included in the anthology book Dairy Hollow Echo, August 2021 edition. She has contributed to Flapper Press’s 2021 Gratitude Contest and 2022 Blackout Valentine Poem Contest. She is currently working on a collection of culinary-themed short stories.
Meet Anna Gall!
AN: Anna, we are excited to welcome you back into the Flapper Press Poetry Café. Thank you for using our contests and writing opportunities to broaden the audience for your poetry. Might you share for other writers who are considering submitting poetry for the first time how preparing a poem for publication actually strengthens one's work?
AG: Writing has been a part of my life most of my adult years. I have journaled to get through some difficult days in motherhood and womanhood. It is my therapy. I write about new discoveries from my children’s and now grandchildren’s eyes, the overwhelming feelings as a woman, surviving sexual assault, living with an alcoholic and emotionally abusive husband, divorce, sickness, death of loved ones, new love, new marriage, dreams, nature, recipes, business ideas, prayers, holy scriptures, and quotes. I write my life. My desire to share my writings grew stronger over the years.
Over 11 years ago, I started with a WordPress blog about organic gardening and later another blog on women’s wholeness. I kept tabs with TWC [The Writers' Colony] at Dairy Hollow over the years after reading about them online. One day I mustered up the courage, and I decided it was time to submit some of my poems and recipes to e-Merge. This publication encourages new writers and makes it easy to submit. Not only did they accept what I sent, but the editor liked "Seashells" enough to include it in their first anthology, Dairy Hollow Echo. Each time I submit, I get more excited to keep writing and sharing. This woman has something to say, I suppose much to say. And there are people who need to read my shared words. Since my first submission, I have submitted over 30 poems, short stories, or recipes to various publications. Almost a year ago, I retired from a full-time human resources/employee wellness profession to pursue my passions for writing and culinary instructing. An unexpected inheritance thwarted this early retirement opportunity.
AN: What are some of your writing goals going forward? Who best supports these goals for you?
AG: I will continue journaling; that is a must for me. I want to continue submitting poems, short stories, and recipes to various publications. I want to finish a book of short stories with a culinary theme I started while at TWC at Dairy Hollow last summer. I have a couple more stories to finish; then will reach out to an editor with a culinary background. More culinary-themed books are in my mind. Maybe in my future is a memoir about myself and finding balance and wholeness as a woman. My loving husband, family, friends, The Writers' Colony at Dairy Hollow, and fellow writers have been my supports.
AN: Your submission reached me just as I am in residency at one of my most favorite places, The Writers' Colony at Dairy Hollow in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. What a delightful coincidence. May I ask you to share a little about your experience at The Writers' Colony and why spaces like TWC are food for the poetic soul?
AG: I first learned of the Dairy Hollow House and Crescent Dragonwagon many years ago when reading an article in a women’s magazine. I was interested in the recipes shared and how the inn was decorated. I kept tabs with Dairy Hollow and learned it became a writing colony. I subscribed to their online newsletter. With my upcoming retirement, I wanted to spend a week of residency there for recipe testing and the start of my first culinary book. Michelle found an available week for me to stay in the Culinary Suite. It was wonderful! The accommodations, bedroom, kitchen, workspace, library of books, and oh, the meals by Jana! I enjoyed meeting the other writers, scenic walks through town, and the summer readings at the Carnegie Library. The whole ambiance of Eureka Springs and the colony is one of openness. Time and space is devoted to the creatives, new and seasoned. TWC provides ongoing educational opportunities, in person and online. A working relationship continues with them. I want to visit other writing places and retreats, but I find TWC to be very special.
AN: I am impressed with the eclectic nature of your poetry, as you write on many different subjects. When reading in Kansas City this month, Joy Harjo said, in jest, that she has a favorite poem, but she tries not to let her other poems know so they won't get jealous. I started to ask myself if I had a favorite poem. Do you? Why or why not?
AG: As explained earlier, I write my life. I have many interests, experiences, and relationships that influence me. I love Joy Harjo and her wisdom. I have several favorite poets. My father is my most favorite poet. Later in life, Martin Bates self-published a short book of poetry called The Wonders of Life. Funny thing is, my father was very stoic, not showing emotion often, and he never let us know that he wrote. He presented this book to my mother, siblings, and I about 2 years before he died from an aggressive form of brain cancer. Of known published authors, Robert Frost’s poem "Mending Wall" is probably my favorite. It speaks of relationship dynamics and setting boundaries, an idea I have learned as a late-bloomer. The dilemma: “Before I built a wall I’d ask to know what I was walling in or walling out, and to whom I was like to give offense. Something there is that doesn’t love a wall, that wants it down” versus “Good fences make good neighbors.” I wish I had learned the latter sooner, but then my negative as well as positive experiences have made me who I am, and my life is rich because of all those life experiences.
This poem is about a family that was having furnace issues this cold winter. I bought hoodies for each of the family members for extra warmth while their furnace was being pieced back together again. I helped pay for the furnace repair as well. It is not just the homeless but those disabled or marginalized that we need to watch over as well.
Warm Will I Keep You
Warm will I keep you these winter days
Cozy around your heart snug
Fleece on your arms like two bugs in a rug
Bound to keep the top halves of your hands warm anyway.
Baggy am I so curl your cold fingers into a ball
Tuck them tight inside me well into the long night
I become an extra blanket until morning light
And warm will I keep you the whole day haul.
This poem is about a painting of a beautiful woman posed so the painter and audience has a rear view only. This poem finishes with the thought into what the woman may see from her perspective, “the rawness of life,” possibly much like her exposure to the elements and others?
Rawness of Life
Bountiful breasts partially hidden behind slender arms,
a frontal tease to those who want to see more.
The vertebras gently curved between the blades
leading to that special sweet spot, two eyes staring from behind.
Shoulders broad enough to match her perfectly round rump,
her frame beautifully proportioned in every view.
The roundness of her hair bun resembles her globular buttocks
like triplets with a dimple in the center of each cheek.
Wispy ringlets lie on her neck untouchable
by the breath or the kiss of her lover.
Surrounded by the colors and textures of modesty
this bare woman gazes onto the rawness of life.
When the news came out about the Russians attacking Ukraine, it seemed like I heard this news not that long ago. In my Russian culture class, I learned authors and poets wrote about this type of calamity before. All so familiar, and here it goes again. Democracy and freedom are worth fighting for all over again. Maybe the enemy will be squashed this time? This poet is hopeful.
“Not again”, the people say, the poet writes.
Calamity Again. Yes, sadly once again.
Demeans, demands, threatens, tyrannic, autocratic, kleptocratic
Czarism, KGBism, Putinism, Communism, authoritarianism, bullyism.
Whatever people want to call it, it is insanity and slavery
To be invaded, bombed, bound up in chains, oppressed by others,
Triggered by evil, elitist, prejudge, accusatory, discriminatory thoughts.
That is living Hell on earth.
But to our Creator of All, You are His and You matter.
You are an ideological threat to the narcissistic oppressor,
Who doesn’t like Your independence and uniqueness.
Do not assimilate the “isms”, instead show Your Ukrainianness.
Fight for Your democracy, a fairer and freer country.
Protect Yourself and Your loved ones as You have in the past,
And wear Your vyshyvanka proudly once again.
Déjà Vu, the poet writes.
Annie Newcomer teaches poetry classes at the University of Kansas Medical Center's Turning Point—a place for hope and healing for people suffering with chronic health problems. Her North Stars series shares interviews with poets and writers and Annie's own experiences through writing.
Annie is also helms the Flapper Press Poetry Café—dedicated to celebrating poets from around the world and to encouraging everyone to write poetry!
FlapperPress launches the Flapper Press Poetry Café.
Presenting a wide range of poetry with a mission to promote a love and understanding of poetry for all. We welcome submissions for compelling poetry and look forward to publishing and supporting your creative endeavors. Submissions may also be considered for the Pushcart Prize.
1. Share at least three (3) poems
2. Include a short bio of 50–100 words, written in the third person.
(Plus any website and links.)
3. Share a brief backstory on each submitted poem
4. Submit an Author's photo and any images you want to include with the poems
5. Send all submissions and questions to: email@example.com