Seeing Things: An Anthology of Poetry

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The volume includes poems by both well known and newly published authors David Bachner, Robert Bensen, Rana Bitar, Diane Bliss, Jesse Hilson, Liz Huntington, Lynne Kemen, Annie Kuhn, Karen Miritello, Cicada Musselman, M. W. Piercy, Bertha Rogers, Liz Rosenberg, Pam Strother, Julie Suarez, Lexington Swartwood, Mary van Valkenburg, Julene Waffle, Vicki Whicker, Teresa Winchester, and Lisa Wujnovich.

The 135-page book features rural photographs by Vicki Whicker as well as voices as diverse as the many Upstate communities that the poets come from: Franklin, Walton, Schenevus, Delhi, Binghamton, Niskayuna, Middletown, Bovina Center, Hobart, Laurens, Burlington Flats, Otego, Hancock, Laurens and Oneonta.

The Seeing Things poetry workshop met at Bright Hill Literary Center in Treadwell from March 2019 until the pandemic forced the group online, where it meets weekly. The Seeing Things anthology is edited by Robert Bensen, with type design by David Hayes, and is published by Woodland Arts Editions, Oneonta.
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David Bachner’s poetry and prose center on place, primarily his experiences growing up on the New Jersey Shore and his years living and working in other cultures. He studied in Japan and travelled throughout Asia as an undergraduate before receiving his degree in philosophy from Bates College. After his own Peace Corps service in Korea, David worked at the University of Hawaii preparing volunteers for Peace Corps assignments throughout Asia and the Pacific. He then completed a Ph.D. in organizational behavior at Case Western Reserve University and devoted his career to international education as vice president of Youth For Understanding (YFU) International Exchange, dean of Global Studies at Hartwick College, and scholar-in-residence in International Communication at American University’s School of International Service. David has authored and co-authored three books and a number of articles on study abroad and intergroup relations. He lives in Washington, DC and is a frequent visitor to Oneonta, NY.


Rana Bitar is a physician in the fields of hematology and oncology. She is a native of Damascus, Syria, and writes in both English and Arabic. A doctor by day and writer by night, Rana earned her MFA in English and Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University (2017).  Her poetry has appeared in The Deadly Writers Patrol Journal, DoveTales, Earthen Lamp JournalPittsburgh Poetry ReviewMagnolia Review, El Portal, Art Over Covid, Pacific Review, Black Coffee Review, The Phoenix, The Charleston Anvil, Sextant Review, International Human Rights Festival, and The Dewdrop. Her essay, “The Sliding Door,” was published in The Pharos (Winter 2020). Her chapbook A Loaf of Bread was published by Unsolicited Press (2019). A Loaf Of Bread was a finalist in the Concrete Wolf Chapbook Competition (2017) and won an honorable mention in The 2017 Louis Award for Poetry. She has written a memoir of growing up in Syria and of coming to the U.S. to complete medical training and begin her family life in Upstate New York. She has also completed translating (with Robert Bensen) Love and Resistance, a volume of poems by the Syrian poet Nizar Qabbani (1923-1998).


Diane Bliss is professor emerita recently retired from Orange County Community College, where she taught English and philosophy courses and was recipient of the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Faculty Service. At Orange, she was the organizer of the English Department’s annual National Poetry Month celebration and events. She is enthralled by the natural world and loves birding and long walks in the woods. Most recently her poems appeared in Voices from Here 2, an anthology edited by Jean LeBlanc for the Paulinskill Poetry Project. She has authored two limited print chapbooks, Eagles and Quiet Walking and co-edited the anthology Leaf and Branch. She won Hartwick College’s Anna Sonder Poetry Prize of the Academy of American Poets. The winning poem was published in New Voices 1979-1983, edited by May Swenson. Her poems have appeared in American Collegiate Poets anthology, Yankee Magazine, Wordsmith, and other literary journals. She is one of the DAMD Poets, a group of four poets based in Orange County, NY. She is a graduate of SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry, Hartwick College and Binghamton University. 


Jesse Hilson is a freelance newspaper reporter and comic artist who grew up near Syracuse, NY, and is now living in the western Catskills on a compound something like Kennebunkport or perhaps Waco. He has written two and a half crime novels about blackmail and murder as well as short stories, poems, and self-published comics. His writing has appeared or is forthcoming in AZURE, Maudlin House, Déraciné Magazine, Pink Plastic House, Rejection Letters, the Bright Hill Press anthology Like Light, and elsewhere. He has a daughter. He has the same handle for both Instagram and his Twitter: @platelet60


Liz Huntington graduated from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor of Arts with concentrations in English and Religious Studies. She earned a Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Counseling from SUNY Oneonta. Liz is the mother of two wonderful young people and is part-owner and partly owned by two big dogs. She is married to her best friend, Sandy Huntington, a Professor of Religious Studies at Hartwick College. Currently Liz works for SUNY Oneonta in the Student Learning Center as a Learning Specialist, providing one-on-one academic coaching to students and teaching courses. Liz has published poems in I Stay Home, The Perigraph, Silverfish Review and was a winner of Lane Literary Guild’s “Writers at the Hult” award for her poem “Candles.”


Lynne Kemen writes: “I was born in Bath, NY, then lived in Hartwick, NY, Rutland, VT, Crawfordsville IN, then came to Ithaca in 1960, as my father’s government job required. My mother refused to unpack many boxes of books. After they died there, I donated the books to the local library. I lived in Ithaca thru grad school in 1975, but I was afraid to own it. Franklin and Meridale, where I spent every weekend with my failing grandparents, were always my rocks. I think I was imprinted on the hills as a child. After completing a MA in theater at Cornell, where I also married, I worked in theater in Princeton and New York City, later as General Manager of the Phoenix. Then I established the Center for Dance Medicine and managed a medical clinic for 26 years. I went back to school and got a PhD in biopsychology from Hunter College, which led to a teaching career as well as being department advisor for 3000 students. Back in 1978, we started visiting a friend at her place in upstate NY that we would never have heard of: Franklin, NY. We spent every summer and every Christmas Eve with her from that year forward. I always felt at home in Delaware County, so we bought a house here in 2004. My mother told my aunt, who said that the house we bought had been her aunt’s house. So many coincidences! I retired from Hunter in 2016 with a husband and three cats. I have always felt that this was home.”


Annie Kuhn is a writer and artist from Minnesota. Writing poetry is her way to dive below the surface of her thoughts and find bits and pieces of something meaningful while reacting to the tiny and tremendous happenings in the world. Annie teaches writing and literature classes at SUNY Oneonta. She also teaches art to children in summers, works as a freelance editor, and runs a local Writers Salon at the Community Arts Network of Oneonta (CANO) to provide a place for writers to share their work and find a supportive community. Her articles and reviews appear in Chicken Soup for the Soul, Publisher’s Weekly, and elsewhere. She lives in Treadwell, New York.


Karen Miritellonée Wilde, was born, raised and currently lives in Oneonta, New York. She graduated from the University of Albany with a bachelor’s degree in psychology but considers herself a lifelong student of the universe. She loves all forms of creative expression and dabbles in many of them (including writing). Her current interests include learning to play the drums, laying a brick patio in her yard, canoeing NY waterways and dreaming about all the places she will go when travel life resumes, post-quarantine. Her teenage boys, musician husband and running the family jewelry store keep her busy day to day. Poems find their place in the moments in between.


Cicada (aka Kelly Marie) Musselman is a farmer living in an intentional community in upstate New York where she is in charge of celebrations. She was born and raised on the Front Range in Colorado. She was the summer program director of the Beyond Academia Free Skool Summer Poetry Camp for two years and co-edited Boar Hog Press’s Love Shovel Review #6. Two of her poems are forthcoming in Buddhist Poetry Review, another in South Broadway Press’s Thought for Food. She has also published poems in editions of Love Shovel Review, in Punch Drunk Press Anthology 2018, among others.


MWPiercy writes, “It took many years to get to the point of discovering what it means to be serious about art and writing. Finding it has a lot to do with one’s personality, living and experiencing the world as only you can; your eyes, ears, sensation. What is important is once it happens that you believe there is depth and purpose. Movements come out of you, somewhere from deep inside. There is a seeded commitment to the work’s authenticity, how it came to be a distinctive imprint, reflecting abstractions of value.”


Bertha Rogers’s poems appear in literary journals and in her poetry collections, including Wild, Again (Salmon Poetry, Ireland); Heart Turned Back (Salmon Poetry, Ireland); and Sleeper, You Wake (Mellen Press, NY), as well as several chapbooks. Her translation of the Anglo-Saxon epic, Beowulf, was published by Birch Brook Press, Delhi, NY) in 2000, and her translation of the Anglo-Saxon Riddle-Poems from the Exeter Book, Uncommon Creatures, was published in 2019 (Six Swans Artist Editions, Delhi, NY). With her late husband, Ernest M. Fishman, she founded Bright Hill Press & Literary Center in 1992 (in their home) and began, among other programs, the Word Thursdays Reading Series, Bright Hill Book Publishing (publishing more than 100 poetry and anthology collections; she still serves as editor in chief), the Word & Image Gallery program, and the Bright Hill Literary Workshops for Kids. Working with the Bright Hill Board of directors, she and Fishman led the drive to move the organization to a permanent home in Treadwell and, later, to build the Bright Hill Community Library. As a teaching artist, she has taught poetry in New York City and state schools and edited more than 150 anthologies of student work. She is Delaware County’s Poet Laureate.


Liz Rosenberg, a children’s book author and novelist, attended Bennington College and earned a PhD from SUNY Binghamton. Her collections of poetry include The Fire Music (1986), winner of the Agnes Lynch Starret Prize; Children of Paradise: Poems (1994); These Happy Eyes (2001); The Lily Poems (2008), a chapbook; and Demon Love (2008). Rosenberg has edited a number of anthologies of poetry for young readers, among them The Invisible Ladder: An Anthology of Contemporary American Poems for Young Readers (1996); Earth-Shattering Poems (1998), winner of the Claudia Lewis Award for Poetry and New York Public Library Best Book for the Teen Age; Light-Gathering Poems (2000), winner of the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Prize; and I Just Hope It’s Lethal: Poems of Madness, Sadness, and Joy (2005). Rosenberg has received the Paterson Prize and the Center for the Book Prize. She teaches creative writing at SUNY Binghamton.


Julie Suarez, a native of the Garden State, lives in Oneonta, New York, with her husband, David Hayes. She recently retired from Hartwick College, where for thirty-four years she taught American Literature, Composition, Journal Writing, Creative Writing, and The Anatomy of English, and for eighteen of those years she coordinated the College Writing Center.  In her small but exuberant garden she grows lilies taller than herself and finds the seeds of many of her poems.  Bright Hill Press published her chapbook It Does Not in 2006. At the New York State Summer Writers Institute, she studied with Robert Pinsky, Frank Bidart, and Rosanna Warren.  Poet Matthew Zapruder selected her poem “There Was a Great Want of Civility” from The Traveler’s Vade Mecum, edited by Helen Ross, for The New York Times Magazine for February 5, 2017. Poems have appeared in Salmagundi, La Presa, Phoebe, Pine Song/Pine Lake, and in other journals and anthologies.


Lexington Swartwood lives in Oneonta, New York, and is currently working as an Employment Specialist for the ARC of Otsego. She has a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in Psychology from the State University of New York College at Oneonta. She spends her free time taking writing workshops and reading magic-ridden novels.


Mary van Valkenburg is retired from the workforce, finally free from capitalist enslavement, and thrilled to be writing poetry, making music, studying German, practicing yoga., and gardening obsessively. This comes after a long career in finance, first as an investment analyst on Wall Street, ending after 16 years as Director of Finance at The Nation magazine, interrupted by a 15-year career as an impecunious opera singer. Along the way she married actor/poet Rick van Valkenburg and raised a fabulous daughter, Sophia. She and Rick moved recently to the Catskills after nearly 50 years in NYC and couldn’t be happier in this new country life. A long time ago she earned an MA in Linguistics and a BA in Classics from New York University; and, as a fish completely out of water, an MBA from Harvard. She also received a diploma in Vocal Performance from the University of Siena in Italy, and an English Language teaching certification from Cambridge University. Now she likes to sit and watch the rain.


Julene Waffle is a teacher in Morris Central School, in a rural Upstate New York community. She has been an adjunct lecturer in Education at SUNY Oneonta and Hartwick College. At Morris, she advises several clubs and coaches the varsity softball team. She’s active in her church and local scouting unit. She co-owns Colonial Ridge Golf Course in Laurens, NY, with husband Jeff Waffle and mother-in-law Mona Waffle. She is a mother of three sons, three cats, two dogs, and a fish; and she’d probably mother more, if she had room. She earned a BA in English with emphases in American Literature, Writing, and Education, as well as a Religious Studies Minor at Hartwick College, Oneonta, NY. In addition, she earned her MS in English Education from Binghamton University. Her work has appeared in The Daily Star, The English Record; River, Blood, and Corn: Literary Journal, A Community of Voices, and an anthology of poems entitled Planet in Crisis (FootHills Publishing, 2020). She deeply hopes her work speaks to others it has spoken to her.


Vicki Whicker has been published in literary magazines and anthologies including Literary Mama, Twelve Los Angeles Poets, Big City Mantra, Mo+Th Magazine as editor, and a monthly column on the Boryana Books website, “Dunga Brook Diary.” Her chapbooks include Crazy Girl, Chinese Business Journal, Life Rocks On, Requiem for the May Queen, and Terra Firma and Other Lies. She has performed readings on both U.S. coasts. Her iphoneography has been the focus of several solo shows in New York and Los Angeles. After a career on the West Coast specializing in footwear design, she moved east in 2011 to renovate an 1820’s farmhouse she bought sight unseen from a post on Facebook. Downtime finds her exploring the backroads with Pico, her golden pup. She’s also an Otsego/Delaware County real estate agent with Lake Lady Properties, Cooperstown.


Teresa Winchester, originally from North Carolina, moved to Upstate New York in 1987 to teach French at Hartwick College. She later served as director of the Otsego County Conservation Association from 1994 to 2010. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in several Bright Hill Press publications: the first and second Word Thursdays anthologies, Out of the Catskills and Beyond, and Like Light: Twenty-five Years of Poetry and Prose. Other poems have been published in Phoebe (1994 and 1996) and Kaatskill Life. She has also written many freelance articles for The Daily Star (Oneonta) and other regional newspapers. From 2010 to 2014, she was active in a grassroots movement which succeeded in halting fracking in New York State.  She lives the Town of Butternuts, Otsego County, in a one-room schoolhouse built in 1840.


Lisa Wujnovich is a poet and farmer at Mountain Dell Farm. She has two published poetry works, a chapbook, Fieldwork (Finishing Line Press, 2012) and This Place Called Us (Stockport Flats Press, 2008) a collaborative poetry book with photos by Mark Dunau. Lisa’s poems have appeared in several anthologies and publications, including one she co-edited: The Lake Rises, poems to and for our bodies of water (Stockport Flats Press, 2013), and most recently in Planet in Crisis (FootHills Publishing, 2020) and Ghost Fishing: An Eco-Justice Poetry Anthology (University of Georgia Press, 2018). Her poems also appear in Snapdragon: A Journal of Art and Healing, The Wide Shore, New York Organic News, Earth’s Daughters, 5am, Canary Press, Naugatuck River Review, Adanna Journal and Poet Warrior.  Her one and only translation was published in Poetry International. Lisa has a BA in drama from Antioch College and an MFA in poetry from Drew University. She has mentored many interns on her farm over a thirty-year period. She is a follower of the moon, holding a new-moon women’s sauna outdoors every month in a reclaimed cypress barrel.

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