‘Behind the Poem’ With Raegen Pietrucha

Raegen Pietrucha is the author of An Animal I Can’t Name, winner of the 2015 Two of Cups Press Poetry Chapbook Contest. She lives right here in Las Vegas, where she writes, edits, and consults on professional and creative bases. She received her M.F.A. from Bowling Green State University, where she served on the staff of Mid-American Review. In addition to An Animal I Can’t Name, Pietrucha’s creative work has been published in Puerto del Sol, Sakura Review, and other literary magazines.

We asked Raegen for the back story on one of the poems from her chapbook collection. Here’s what she had to say about “the spring before leaving Father,” which appears on pgs. 11-12:

This poem is one of the oldest in the collection and one that I’m still really fond of. One of the reasons for that is because I was informed that the wonderful poet Ai—who at the time was senior poetry editor for Cimarron Review, where this poem first appeared—personally selected it for publication. Ai’s poetry was and is so important to me as an artist; I learned a lot about persona work by reading hers, and I admired the serious subjects she took on in her poems as well. She accepted “the spring before leaving Father” less than a year before she passed.

I also have fond memories of Martha Collins when I think about this poem. In a single graduate workshop she attended as a guest, she provided me with the key to finishing this piece. I knew there was a problem with my draft, that it wasn’t finished quite yet. I even knew where the problem was: the third section. But I just couldn’t seem to get it right. Martha pointed out that the father either interacted with or was inside the speaker’s head in every section but the third one, at the time. It was such a simple thread—one I should’ve been able to pick up on—and yet because that “head” aspect of the poem was actually created entirely from my subconscious at the time, I couldn’t see it until she pointed it out. So thanks, Martha!

Raegen will be reading her work at BooksOrBooks later this year. In the meantime, you can connect with her at http://raegenmp.wordpress.com.

the spring before leaving Father



Our Favorite Bookmarks of April

Here at BooksOrBooks we find some rather peculiar things in  the books left in our care. Here are a few of our favorites:

What a wonderful thank you card!


If this is your family please comeback for your photo.

And our current favorite:


This sweet dog’s business card.

Please stop by BooksOrBooks to find your own unique bookmark. They are a great addition to any book you are giving as a gift.

Bard Day celebration offers much to read about

What more can be said…read on.

Mark Allen Editorial

It’s Shakespeare’s 450th birthday, more or less, and all of Twitter is a stage for stories about the immortal one.

There is no time for me to read of Shakespeare morning until night, so I created a list of links pulled from Twitter today for your leisurely reading enjoyment, The first one is my own, so I may be a poor jurist. But all the others I have read or intend to read.

Shakespeare’s plays: Timeless, or full of anachronisms?


The Shakespeare sentence that changed my writing – and can change yours


If Shakespeare had written Star Wars


13 everyday phrases that came from Shakespeare


45 everyday phrases that Shakespeare coined


William Shakespeare’s 450th birthday: 50 everyday phrases that came from the Bard


20 great Shakespearean insults


6 words from Shakespeare for 2014


Was Shakespeare aware of the scientific discoveries of his…

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Genres – Part II

I decided to start my genre documentation with philosophy because we needed a place to shelve Ayn Rand and I wanted to find out what else to include in this section. Once I started my research on philosophical books, I quickly changed my mind. We could open a “philosophy bookstore” with the number of subjects and books that this genre covers. Deciding what to put in the philosophy section will take me awhile to decide, so in the meantime I thought that I would begin with a section titled Short Stories.

Again too tough. Short Stories, do we include essays in this section? How about poetry? Short stories from an author already shelved somewhere else in the store? Age groups – just adults or a section for short stories for all ages?

Biographies. We were going to have a section for biographies, then we weren’t, and now we are going to have a section for biographies. Reasoning: I have books piling up on the corner of my desk that need a home.

Whittaker Chambers – Military History?

Carl Sandburg – Poetry?

Steven Spielberg – Film?

David Carradine – Martial Arts?

Reading any of these books, you soon find that these life stories could fit in the genres that I have suggested, but they could fit in other places too. Ask any five people and they will give you at least two other suggestions of where to shelve these four biographies.

Next week I will post my first genre synopsis – “Biographies”…according to my interpretation.


Figuring out where to shelve books has been a challenge.  Children’s books, young adult books, and don’t forget the ‘tweeners. Books that cross the boundaries of genres. For example where do you put James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl? The story starts with James Henry Trotter who is four years old. The book is a chapter book. Many adults who read the book as a youngster have fond memories of the story and the illustrations…where do we shelve this book so that the customers can find it and more importantly so that we can find it?

In order to figure out what goes where and how to remember and find where books have been shelved I am starting a new blog on genres. The blog will cover what is in each genre and how I determined the classifications.

Follow along and if you don’t agree – send me an email at booksorbooks@gmail.com and let me know why you disagree…maybe you can change my mind.

The Dream

For as far back as I can remember, my dream was to own a bookstore. I love to read and more than reading I love to be surrounded by books. Characters, adventures, and lots of words, each with a story.

My best friends have often heard me yearn for my bookstore, the one that I would open when I retired. One day I woke up and realized that someday should be soon or else that day may never come.

On May 26, 2012, while hiking to Wildrose Peak in Death Valley I made a vow and set a deadline…to open a bookstore within two years. Countless steps that day…to the peak and since then to the bookstore. I will take you along the path to BooksOrBooks; around the obstacles, over the bumps, and along the path to the bookstore.

Day five at the bookstore…living the dream.

The Flood

I stayed late at the bookstore on day three. Lots to do. Customers to serve, books to price, and shelves to organize; at 7:15 p.m. with the last customer gone, while shelving books I noticed water on the carpet around the conference table at the rear of the store. Panicked, I ran to the back room. I opened the door and water splashed out onto my boots. I stepped into two inches of water and looked around at floating boxes, stacks of boxes collapsing, and utter chaos. Running into the bathroom I saw water flowing from the bottom of the toilet tank.  Dropping to my knees in the cold water, I frantically turned knobs, lifted lids – all in an attempt to stop the flowing water. Finally the water stopped running. I am not sure what I did to stop it…but the running water had stopped.

“What do I do next?”

“How do I get all this water out of here?”

“How many of my precious books were ruined?”

“Which books were destroyed?”

First, get the water out. I opened the back door to the alley, picked up the broom, and started sweeping. With the deepest of the water outside it was time to move the books out of the floodwaters. I moved over 100 boxes into the store. Some dry boxes, several wet boxes, and a number of drenched boxes…all into the aisles of the store…all of which would need to be removed by 11 a.m. the next day.

A long night and an early morning – day four the front door was unlocked at 11 a.m. sharp, with customers waiting to come in.