New Poetry Chapbook – Prayer Gardening

I’m pleased to announce the release of my newest poetry book, the chapbook Prayer Gardening, co-authored with poet Kathleen Cassen Mickelson. We’ve worked together for years, first as co-founders of Gyroscope Review poetry magazine, then exchanging poems for critiques. Our work covered similar interests and themes, and this collection grew organically out of our poetic conversations.

Prayer Gardening speaks of the way we connect to each other, nature, and the world around us. It takes a deep dive into what makes us human, and how we forge relationships. The chapbook alternates between two voices that explore connections and discover our similarities more than our differences.

Collaboration Discussion and Reading by the authors.

In this video we discuss how we came to collaborate, and the joys and pitfalls of working with another author toward a common goal.

Please enjoy the sample reading below of two of the poems from Prayer Gardening, one from me, and the other from my co-author, Kathleen Cassen Mickelson.

Morning Worship” by Constance Brewer

Night Poem # 1 by Kathleen Cassen Mickelson

Prayer Gardening is available from Kelsay Books:

Prayer Gardening

Prayer Gardening is also available on Amazon:

Prayer GardeningAmazon

Or available from the author

constance (dot) brewer (at) gmail (dot) com, or through this website’s contact form.

Prayer Gardening by Brewer & Mickelson

Praise for Prayer Gardening:

Constance Brewer writes in Prayer Gardening, “my eyes adjust to nuance,” and my eyes do too, as a reader of this evocative chapbook that explores daily life with fresh eyes. These are poems of gratitude, in Kathleen Cassen Mickelson’s words, for the landscape “in which I love everything/the traffic, the gas pumps/the bus bench, the library…,” while also acknowledging “the hunger beneath every song.” The interplay between the two poets immerses us in family relationships, encounters with the natural world, and most of all, a mature understanding of the contradictions in all of our lives, for “What is love but a failed picture of the moon.”

–Joanne Durham, author of To Drink from a Wider Bowl and On Shifting Shoals

The earth-toned poems in Prayer Gardening by Constance Brewer and Kathleen Cassen Mickelson burble along the riverbank, lace themselves among the trees, tease us through seasons, give us glimpses of dreams, the yeasty smell of bread rising, the moon, angels, and even origami. And, oh, the birds—glorious, full-throated, “each voice as one small part of a choir,” (KCM) “light arrowing down/ to anoint… with purpose”(CB). Though there are two distinct voices here, one cannot help but deduce they are both channeling the same dazzling earth-centric deity.

-Kari Gunter-Seymour, Ohio Poet Laureate, author of Alone in the House of My Heart

Prayer Gardening sparkles with birds, stars, and snowflakes. In these pages we feel touch “sweep my soul/back into my body” and “hear the hunger beneath every song.” Constance Brewer and Kathleen Cassen Mickelson’s words call us to “whisper thanks for this breath,” reminding us to fully inhabit our lives—as the best poetry always does.  

– Laura Grace Weldon, 2019 Ohio Poet of the Year, author of Portals  

My previous book, Piccola Poesie: A Nibble of Short Form Poems is also available on Amazon.

Piccola Poesie is a collection of different versions of short form poems, haiku, senryu, tanka, and American sentences. The book explores the possibilities of each for the modern poet.

Piccola PoesiePaperback Piccola PoesieKindle

Piccola Poesie - poems by Constance Brewer

Link to my books

Link to other poetry books from Gyroscope Press

Book Review – Project Hail Mary

A kinda-sorta Book Review of Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir.

I’m not as big a fan of Sci-Fi as I am of Fantasy novels but sometimes one drags me in and won’t let go. I loved Andy Weir’s The Martian. I was ecstatic when they made it into a movie with Matt Damon. He was the perfect Mark Watney. I’ve read the book 3 times, unusual for me. I seldom reread a book or series. My exceptions are the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Dune, and the Recluse Saga by L.E. Modesitt, Jr. The Recluse series are the books that put me firmly into the Fantasy camp. A lot of character development, which is what I really love. And now The Martian, which made me fall in love with Sci-Fi again. 

With The Martian, I was rooting for Mark Watney all the way, something that seldom happens for me with a book. Maybe I’m overly critical with other books, but the character development in The Martian was wonderful. The humor in it was an added attraction that I think they got right in the movie, a self-deprecating character who is not going to let his situation get him down. I picked up Andy Weir’s next book, Artemis. I enjoyed it and its female protagonist. It was a different story, set on a colonized moon. I was fascinated by the science in it, as I was with The Martian. The science explanations in both books were just right for a non-scientist science buff and pushed me to look up things and find out more. A bonus! 

Shiny Object

When I heard Andy had a new book coming out, Project Hail Mary, I was all over it. This is the Amazon Blurb for it. 

Ryland Grace is the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission—and if he fails, humanity and the earth itself will perish. Except that right now, he doesn’t know that. He can’t even remember his own name, let alone the nature of his assignment or how to complete it. All he knows is that he’s been asleep for a very, very long time. And he’s just been awakened to find himself millions of miles from home, with nothing but two corpses for company. His crewmates dead, his memories fuzzily returning, Ryland realizes that an impossible task now confronts him. Hurtling through space on this tiny ship, it’s up to him to puzzle out an impossible scientific mystery—and conquer an extinction-level threat to our species. And with the clock ticking down and the nearest human being light-years away, he’s got to do it all alone. Or does he?

Project Hail Mary is one of those rare books that sucked me in and I had to read ‘just one more chapter’. Outer Space and science and survival and astronomy. The perfect mix. There is a twist a third of the way through I didn’t see coming, and a twist at the end I didn’t know I wanted until I read it. No spoilers here. I’m not giving anything away because it’s one of those books you have to jump in blind to fully appreciate. The book has humor and pathos, and a hopeful outlook. I can say without reservations I liked this better than The Martian. Something I didn’t think was possible. 

On My Wishlist

This has to be a movie. With today’s special effects it could be outstanding. Bring back Matt Damon to play Ryland Grace. He’d be perfect. They could do what they did in The Martian and cut out some of the admittedly excessive engineering problems – although they appealed to my inner science nerd. Anytime you can enjoy a novel and learn something at the same time is a positive for me. I know I haven’t ‘reviewed’ the novel but there is no way to talk about the fantastic bits without spoiling them. If you’re the least bit interested in Sci-Fi and the future of mankind, this is the book for you. If you’re uncertain, wait for the movie. Because I can’t see this not being a kick-ass movie. Now I’m off to read Project Hail Mary for the third time. It’s that good. 

Mentioned Books

Project Hail Mary

The Saga of Recluse (21 books)

The Lord of the Rings


Other Essays on Reading

The Kindle Dilemma

Genre Reading and Writing: Arithmetic Free

Reading: An Opinionated Overview

The Kindle Dilemma

My bookshelves are crowded. Really crowded. They have been for years so when Kindle became a thing, I got one. It didn’t stop me from buying books. I just became more judicious about my paper choices. Most non-fiction is a hardcopy purchase. Almost all fiction is a Kindle purchase, unless I know I’m going to reread it over and over, like LOTR and Dune. Poetry is hardcopy because poetry often doesn’t transfer well to Kindle. When I formatted Piccola Poesie for Kindle, I spent an inordinate amount of time making sure the poems looked right in the electronic version.

Kindle has become my bookshelf in more ways than one. Now I have so many books on it I can’t find things if I want to reread them. It doesn’t happen often. Usually, I read then delete off the Kindle to save space. It stays on my Amazon account if I need to download it again. By the last check, I have over 900 books available in my account for my Kindle. Gulp. Then I went and signed up for Kindle Unlimited so I have even more books to choose from. I may have a problem.

Can You See Me Now?

I know people practically get in fistfights over paper vs. electronic. I like both. I read a lot more on the Kindle than I do paper. It’s hell to get old and not be able to read the tiny print in a paperback very easily. My appearances at used book stores have dwindled because of that. On the electronic reader, I can up the type for my crappy old eyes.

Another advantage is when I put the Kindle app on my iPad and phone I can have my book available almost anytime, anywhere. It helps me read a lot. 2-4 books a week (fiction). It’s not as many as it sounds, I also read really fast and always have. I read at dinner. Read at lunch. I read in downtime waiting for appointments. Books are easier to do that with than knitting, although I have been known to carry an in-progress sock around to kill time when I have to think about MY writing.

I recently swiped my way back through the Kindle carousel. And swiped, and swiped. There are a lot of partially read books on there. 37%, 52%, some even abandoned at the 89% mark. I buy books and I download a lot of free books. I quit worrying about it and if the book doesn’t live up to my expectations of a good story, I abandon it. Even at 89%. If it’s lost my interest, it’s lost my interest.

My biggest pet peeve is the character, told not to do something, immediately does what she was told not to do. Surely there is a better way to move your plot forward? Willful stupidity makes me toss the book. Used to be when I bought a physical book I felt obligated to see it through to the end. That feeling is going away.


Time is short. Not just because of the workday but because life itself is careening to a close. (Damn birthdays for making me feel that.) So much to read and enjoy. The mountain of books getting published every year is daunting. But I’m doing my best to make a dent in the To Be Read pile. If it topples over and buries me (physically or electronically) I’ll die happy.

How do you tackle your reading material? Physical, electronic, cuneiform?

New Book Release – Piccola Poesie

My new poetry book, Piccola Poesie, A Nibble of 100 Short Form Poems, is now available! 

Piccola Poesie contains a variety of Haiku, Senryu, Tanka, and American Sentences that explore human relationships, our relationship with nature, and with everyday objects around us. The poems wheel through the seasons and incorporate observations and commentary in appreciation of everyday life. These short, easily digestible poems permit the reader to find answers to important questions like, ‘What’s up with cats, anyhow?’ and why winter causes poets to rush outdoors to witness the season. Like macarons, the reader can enjoy these poems as daily treats, or they can be gobbled down by the handful. 100 small-bite poems for a fast-moving world.

You can find it in print form on Amazon or as an ebook on Amazon.

(If you purchase, please consider leaving a review. The karma squirrels will smile on you.)

Happy Reading!

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