Category Archives: Literary News

Olivia Bochicchio

Olivia Bochicchio (our Little Lady of Lexicon) was born in Oklahoma in 1998 and currently lives in Illinois. Some of her favorite activities are photography, tending to animals and watching the sun set over Lake Decatur. She also has quite a talent for predicting and explaining the weather and will soon be off to college (major undecided). Mini~Musings is her first collection of poetry.

Middle Island Press chapbooks by Olivia Bochicchio:

Mini~Musings (2010)
by Olivia Bochicchio
(This title is available via

This chapbook contains seven gems that were written by the young poetess at a mere ten years of age. Her work is a charming return to the innocence of childhood, and that innocence mingles with a noteworthy dose of precociousness.

(A browse upon page 10…)

“The Garden”

Corn rising high,
Cabbage growing low,
Peas on the vine
And beets underground,

Tomatoes, basil,
Rosemary and catnip,
Cauliflower and more–
Just look around.

Leeks, broccoli,
Strawberries, too.
Look in the garden–
You may see a few.

It may seem
Like it’s just a garden,
But to us,
It’s much, much more.


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Posted by on May 24, 2017 in Literary News


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Robert Epstein

Robert Epstein, a licensed psychologist, haiku poet and anthologist, lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is the author of two books of haiku: A Walk Around Spring Lake: Haiku; Checkout Time is Noon: Death Awareness Haiku; and a chapbook, What My Niece Said in My Head.


Robert Epstein - Every Chicken, Cow, Fish and FrogEvery Chicken, Cow, Fish and Frog (2016)
Edited by Robert Epstein and Miriam Wald
ISBN: 978-0-9980732-2-4

From the back cover:

All life is precious; thus proclaimed Albert Schweitzer, the 20th century humanitarian. Yet, humans around the globe continue to daily mistreat and murder countless numbers of animals, fish, fowl and insects with reckless abandon. This must come to an end. Collectively, the contributors in this anthology, from Croatia to Indonesia, speak out poetically and passionately on behalf of ending nonhuman suffering. Join them in bringing more compassion, kindness and appreciation to our fundamental relationship with nonhuman beings, who deserve to live free of fear, enslavement, torture, violence and slaughter. Perhaps a newfound reverence for all life will become your lasting message to the world, just as Mahatma Gandhi’s embodiment of nonviolence became his.

crimson dusk–
the cowbells tinkling along
their last journey

~ Shrikaanth Krishnamurthy

a caged chimpanzee
injected with hepatitis
signs hello

~ Allan Burns

Every Chicken, Cow, Fish, and Frog is a special compilation tribute to animals. The magical place where human and non-human animals briefly connect, and share an understanding, is here, in this powerful book.”

~ Hope Bohanec, Executive Director of Compassionate Living, Projects Manager of United Poultry Concerns, and author, The Ultimate Betrayal: Is There Happy Meat?

Every Chicken, Cow, Fish, and Frog presents us with a unique, engrossing and deeply thought-provoking anthology of poetry and haiku from a global authorship for the animal- and planet-conscious reader. The subtle power of this word art will inspire many to think with greater clarity, vision and focus about some of the greatest challenges we face today.”

~ Robert Grillo, Executive Director of Free from Harm, and author, From Farm to Fable: The Fictions of Our Animal-Consuming Culture

Robert Epstein, a licensed psychotherapist, haiku poet and anthologist, has been a vegan for ethical and spiritual reasons since 1975. He lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area. His latest book is, Turkey Heaven: Animal Rights Haiku.

Miriam Wald, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist, is an animal rights activist who cares for rescued chickens, goats and other companion animals on her mini-sanctuary in Sonoma County, California.

Every Chicken, Cow, Fish and Frog: Animal Rights Haiku is a 218-page anthology that is available via and elsewhere online.

Animal Rights Haiku: a Middle Island Press title by Robert EpsteinTurkey Heaven: Animal Rights Haiku (2016)
ISBN 978-1535070829
by Robert Epstein

(From the back cover…)

“Growing up, I relished hamburgers, chicken, steak, fish as well as dairy, and never gave any of it a momentʼs thought. Everyone I knew were avid meat-eaters. It seemed un-American to not eat meat. Then, one day, a young woman confronted me with an obvious question, as I was stir-frying ground beef for dinner: “What are you eating tonight, cow?” I was struck as if by lightning; the question cracked my consciousness wide open. Within a monthʼs time I vowed to become vegan: I gave up meat, fish, fowl, and all animal by-products, forever. Family members poked fun at me; my beloved grandmother predicted that the meatless diet I adopted was nothing more than a fad. I have lived that so-called fad for more than 40 years. Why? Because I love animals, and take seriously Dr. Albert Schweitzerʼs clarion call to embrace a reverence for life––all life. We are all related––no exceptions––human and nonhuman alike. Will you dare to take the bold step of embodying a reverence for life in your own daily living? On your deathbed, you may breathe your last with a quiet dignity and peace for having extended love and compassion to all living beings.” This book is 137 pages of mental wheel-spinning persuasion combined with the interior and cover artwork of Ed Markowski.

is that what youʼd call
your dead uncle

(Turkey Heaven: Animal Rights Haiku is available via and other online sources.)

Beyond the Grave: Contemporary Afterlife Haiku (2015)
ISBN 978-006925-4767-0
Anthology, ed. Robert Epstein

How much thought have you given to whether there is life after death? Some religions, like Christianity and Hinduism, posit the existence of heaven and reincarnation, while others are silent on the question. Those not guided by faith are inclined to relegate this haunting mystery to the outermost margins of their lives. In these pages, contributors from around the world have trained their poetic eye on this all-important quest. Relying on the power of intuition and creative imagination, the poets in this collection give us a glimpse into the great mystery of life after death. Suspend your skeptical mind and accompany the poets here on the adventure into the afterlife; you may not only be surprised, but forever changed.

fragrant wind
my mother’s voice calls
from beyond

~ Roberta Beary

a deceased friend
taps me on the shoulder –
plum blossoms falling

~ Chen-ou Liu

In this collection, poets share brilliant and moving glimpses of immortality and continuous renewal. To read these poems, therefore, is to accept death as the watermark on every one of life’s pages. It is to feel at home in the vastness of existence.

~ Sheila Bender, Author of A New Theology: Turning to Poetry in a Time of Grief, and Founder of

Epstein’s collection is a treasure pot of tiny jewels. Because haiku conveys experiences of the ineffable, it is perhaps the best vehicle for transmitting the impact of encounters with the mysteries that lie beyond the grave.

~ Julia Assante, Author of The Last Frontier: Exploring the Afterlife and Transforming Our Fear of Death

248 pages. Cover art by Ron C. Moss.

(Beyond the Grave is available via and direct through our printer.)

Haiku Edge: New and Selected Poems (2015)
ISBN 978-0-6924-7693-2
by Robert Epstein

Most of us are taught from an early age to look on the bright side and to maintain a “positive” attitude toward life. For those who are cheerful and upbeat by nature, this Pollyannaish perspective is easy to come by. For others, perhaps with a darker temperament, the happy-clappy approach takes strenuous effort to sustain, especially given the daily exposure to violence, crime, natural disaster and economic calamity that permeates the media today.

In this unblinking collection of haiku, Robert Epstein drops the scales from his eyes and stares straight into the dark side of life. From a certain angle, reality is harsh, tragic, cruel. . . even ruthless. The tragic side of life needs to be faced and if there is any truth to be distilled, let it be revealed through the lens of poetry–the haiku edge. The result is often poignant, sometimes light-hearted, truth about the absurd world we are thrown into and manage to survive, despite. Remember that the truth, however difficult to bear, strengthens, even ennobles, the soul. You may be surprised to find yourself leaning into life with a little more courage, even compassion.

the phantom
limb of believing
war is over

135 pages. Cover art and interior art provided by Ed Markowski.

(Haiku Edge and other titles by Robert Epstein are available via and elsewhere online.)

Haiku Forest Afterlife by Robert EpsteinHaiku Forest Afterlife (2014)
ISBN 978-0-6922-2170-9
by Robert Epstein

(Haiku Forest Afterlife is available via and the CreateSpace e-store.)

Most religious traditions have some fundamental belief about what happens to us after we die. Heaven and reincarnation are just two such notions with regards to the soul that offer comfort to those who fear death or have lost a loved one. In truth, we, the living, cannot say what happens to us after we die because, by definition, we are not dead yet; what happens after death remains the great mystery. At the same time, the human imagination is capable of venturing out into uncharted territory–the landscape of posthumous consciousness. In this book, Robert Epstein explores this landscape through the poetic lens of haiku. Suspend your rational, scientific mind and join him in contemplating the afterlife where the invisible and unknowable take poetic form. If time stops, what then?


136 pages; cover art provided by Ron C. Moss (

What My Niece Said in My Head by Robert Epstein (a Middle Island Press Chapbook)

What My Niece Said in My Head (2014)
by Robert Epstein

(Contact Christina at to purchase copies.)

This book is a collection of fifty poems (haiku & senryu) from Robert Epstein to his niece for her tenth birthday. Beyond personal value, each page contains wisdom, humor, or both in a priceless marriage of pragmatism and wonder to serve as a guide as one treads through life. It serves also as a reminder that there is no harm in the inevitable; that there is beauty to be found in all aspects of life. Practical yet delightful for readers of all ages. 50 pages.

(Some examples…)

my niece wants to know
if the sun loses patience
waiting to go down

in my dream
I saw the tooth-fairy
she’s toothless too!

my young niece asks
where we go when we die…
right here

I don’t mind spills
I think that’s how God
made the stars

(From the inside back cover…)

Nobody understands life better than little girls and boys under the age of ten. For them, the world consists of one revelation after another. After ten, we forget what we know in order to get along and to fit in. The door to mystery and wonder is sealed and papered over with one too many norms, expectations, and disappointments.

If we’re lucky, the miracle of love throws the door wide open again, if only for a fleeting moment. Don’t wait for romantic love–colored as it is by infatuation–which can be readily blown out by a single gust of wind to a flame. Preserve your wild mind that is the birthright of our human incarnation. That’s what my niece–in all her fresh enthusiasm–represents for me. She is an artist, naturalist, and magician all rolled into one, as are we all.

Robert Epstein’s Middle Island Press titles are available via and other Internet locations.

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Posted by on May 24, 2017 in Literary News


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Laken Brooks

Laken Ocean Brooks is a stubborn Appalachian writer interested in metaphors and apple peelings. Much of her work centers around focusing a natural lens on the human experience to symbolize conflicts and resolutions in the human realm.


Inside the Dark Room (2015)
ISBN 978-0-6925-5205-6
by Laken Brooks

Inside the Dark Room (poetry on the beautiful and destructive perceptions of women) is a perfect-bound chapbook of free verse: primarily haiku-style. Brooks’ insights as a woman permeate her writing of Inside the Dark Room, encouraging her to hold a mirror to the cultural standards of health, beauty, domesticity, and criticism of females in contemporary society.

(From page 24…)

In the post is a
Refund from the matchmaker:
Enough to buy a heifer

(Inside the Dark Room is available via with free Prime shipping.)

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Posted by on May 24, 2017 in Literary News


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Hjemkomst by Rodney Nelson

The first Middle Island Press release of the year 2017: Hjemkomst (ISBN 978-0-9980732-6-2) by Rodney Nelson reads as a glimpse into the perceptions of a poet who has lived enough years to witness the perennial coming and going of the seasons with an understanding that the ways of the landscape are undying in contrast with human mortality. This is Nelson’s seventh title published by Middle Island Press, and it’s one of my personal favorites. We wish him many more!

(Readers can browse the interior and purchase copies of Hjemkomst at

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Posted by on March 31, 2017 in Literary News


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Book Review: In Perpetuity by Mark Andrew Heathcote

(Reviewed by Christina Anne Taylor)

I received my copy of In Perpetuity, the first poetry collection of Mark Andrew Heathcote, a literary friend from the UK, and enjoyed reading it over coffee this morning. I’d call it a chapbook at 58 pages, but it’s perfect-bound with a beautiful, simple cover design of which the book’s preface is printed on the back and serves as an adequate summary from the poet to the reader:

“These poems are a snapshot of twenty-five years of poetry in the making. My words have given form to a living, breathing diary of one man’s life. Come take my hand and travel with me through moments of disparity, passion, and joy in my first collection of poetry [ . . . ] I give you my words, forever leaving you a piece of me.”

What strikes me about Heathcote’s work is how natural and honest he is through these 53 poems (“a living, breathing diary,” as he said), and I’d like to just quote some of my favorite parts of poems that struck a chord with me.

In “A Temporal Vision,” the poet begins with a tight “2/4 time” opening, then expands the lines briefly before lifting into a poetic flourish of inspiration:

Did I trace the wind backwards through its red iron clay root?
Trace it back to the core of a cavern in the mouth of a cave,
Back into them dank, dark smells of England’s thorn and fire,
Green-oaks tall as a bluebell’s spire,
English yews, soft scented, with a slow-growing desire.

In “Betel Leaves,” he gives us a more structured verse (many in his collection are melodic yet structured and with random rhyme). Lines 5-12:

And much like them tasty betel leaves
She folded in and around me, tucked me
Into her opium mouth, tucked me
Inside a secret sacred part of herself.

“Our eternity has no windows,” she said:
“Whatever direction you take yourself,
Be sure your heart has partaken and dined,
And your soul is well fed.”

Then placing an emerald leaf around my head,
She embellished me with a silken thread.
“Our eternity has no windows,” she said,
“But we too are butterflies jointly cocooned in a web.”

“Graced Am I,” lines 3-11:

Sunlight is our first brush with love
But moonlight, even when eclipsed
In its shadowy bloom
When it falls on our lips,
Is second to none:
It tugs at us in its ocean swell
It points us in ever unexpected new directions
It is the eye of a hurricane
It is the lily pads swaying…

In “How Wrong Was I,” we feel again what too many of us have felt at least once in life, and we empathize. The first half:

Once I came close to your Magnum Opus
I thought I was your inspiration
How wrong was I
Once I came close to your whispering soul
I thought I was its constellation
How wrong was I
Once I came close to the vortex of your heart
But I never entered; you didn’t want me there
Oh, how I drowned in deep despair.

And the first stanza of “Steps of Heaven”:

Morning glory must open
To seed the steps of heaven
And on her nap of cloud
Might yours be a halo, a crown
Opening the gates of heaven.

We see a common theme of the contemplations of a thoughtful, romantic soul who poured his human experience into this poetic heart-full collection. In Perpetuity serves to remind us that we are not alone in our struggles and our moments of joy through the beauty of the simple things. It’s available via and is also formatted for a free Kindle download, but of course I recommend a print copy.

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Posted by on January 12, 2017 in Literary News


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Chicken Train: Poems from the Arkansas Delta by Terry Minchow-Proffitt

Our latest Middle Island Press release, Chicken Train: Poems from the Arkansas Delta by Missouri poet Terry Minchow-Proffitt, is already selling like cookies at a bake sale. Unlike cookies, though, this title will always be available via  Terry is looking forward to a release party within the next few days. I wish I could be there!

His daughter, Hannah Minchow-Proffitt, did all of the design of Chicken Train and specializes in design for nonprofit organizations. She is also the choice of Middle Island Press if ever we have design needs that are beyond my capacity. It was a pleasure to work with both of them on this meticulous project with beautiful results.

Read more about Terry Minchow-Proffitt at the Middle Island Press website.


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Posted by on December 27, 2016 in Literary News


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Songs of the Mist by Loni Hoots

Middle Island Press just released its third title of poet Loni Hoots. Songs of the Mist (ISBN 978-0-9980732-3-1) is a collection of clear and concise poems in which the poet’s specialty, imagery, continues its starring role alongside personification in the forefront of fine poetic qualities. Loni is a young lady who understands the value of being One with nature for maintaining clarity of mind and heart.

hoots-songs-of-the-mist-cover-jpegFrom page 37, “Made from Nature”:

The sound of the water roaring fills my ears
As the sight of the fog devours the scenery.
The sweet smell from the air captivates my soul,
Making me yearn for it even more.

Although I am certainly lost,
I do not feel that way when I am trapped in the fog.
For the river is the blood I bleed,
The fog is the skin that covers every inch of me,
And the sweet delicious smell has created my heart, mind, and soul.

(Songs of the Mist is available now at the Middle Island Press website and will soon be available via

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Posted by on December 14, 2016 in Literary News


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