Misty Skaggs’ Debut Chapbook: Biscuits and Blisters

If you want some fresh new poetry, Misty Skaggs’ first ever chapbook Biscuits and Blisters serves it up right. From her collection:

Country Eggs

The fear grips me
as I crack speckled
country eggs
on the brim
of my favorite mixing bowl.
The fear
of fertilization.
Sheer and sudden terror,
at the thought
of what I might find
beyond the thin shell.
The fear of a half-formed
fetal chick
plopping out
to land with a sickening splash
in my cake batter.


Here’s what people who know what’s what have to say about the work.

At one time, proper manners said that you never eat with your elbows on the table. However, Biscuits and Blisters said to hell with manners. This collection is a meal that doesn’t try to tell you how to eat. The poems of  Misty Skaggs are honest in their seasoning. Generous with her stories. And trust me. You will have no problem finishing your plate and asking for seconds. She’s that good on the page.

Jude McPherson , author of I Hate Crowds

I have known Misty Skaggs since she was a girl, and I’m here to tell you she is bone-true to the woman you’ll meet in these pages. She loves what the rest of us would do away with: weeds, peach trees without harvest, lard, the back road, our grandmothers.  In Biscuits and Blisters we have the first work of what will surely turn out to be a lifetime of beloved and wrought poetry from Skaggs. I look so forward to her next book and her next.  

Rebecca Gayle Howell, author of American Purgatory 



Misty Skaggs is an author, artist, activist and three time college drop out.  She was born and raised in the backwoods of Eastern Kentucky, where she still resides out at the end of a gravel road in Elliott County. She currently serves as Appalachian Features Editor at Rabble Lit, a working class journal for the arts. Skaggs’ roots  show through in nearly every sentence and her poetry and prose have been featured in literary journals across the Appalachian region for well over a decade. When she isn’t writing, the poet enjoys hitting up musty thrift stores, drinking too much coffee and growing a kickass garden. You can find more of  her work online at rabblelit.com or at her blog, lipstickhick.tumblr.com

The Importance of Poetry in Difficult Times


“The white fathers told us: I think, therefore I am. The Black mother within each of us — the poet — whispers in our dreams: I feel, therefore I can be free. Poetry coins the language to express and charter this revolutionary demand, the implementation of that freedom.”

– Audre Lorde, “Poetry is Not a Luxury”


If you’re like me, you don’t remember the first time you read or heard a poem. Poetry was just there — as essential to the fabric of your life as eating breakfast, going to school, developing a crush or filling the car with gas. If you’re also like me, poetry’s reliable thereness has allowed you to catalogue thousands of experiences with poems across the course of your life, experiences where a poem (where a poet) managed to vibrate that secret string inside you, the one that sings out: I am alive. I am here. I am a feeling, throbbing thing.

Good poems have a magic to them. They help us feel what agitates for recognition beneath our consciousness. They reveal truth in places we would never have thought to look. They create connections — to language, to others, to ourselves, to the past. They invite us to take courage and action when hardship abounds.

And hardship abounds. It can be difficult for a poet to justify the painstaking work of crafting a poem when more than 500 children remain separated from their parents for the crime of legally seeking asylum at our Southern border. It can feel facile to fret for days over a line when the Arctic’s oldest and thickest sea ice has melted — for the first time in recorded history. It can seem escapist to turn to poems about love or owls or cinnamon when racial injustice rages like wildfire outside our windows.

In her essay, “Poetry is Not a Luxury,” Audre Lorde makes the bold claim that poetry, when wielded well — especially by women and others facing systemic oppression — can create the conditions for revolution. She is careful to lay out what she means and what she does not mean. For her, poetry is not the “sterile word play that, too often, the white fathers distorted the word poetry to mean” but the “revelation or distillation of experience … ” Poetry is both path and destination, able to tell us what is real, what is true and also how we might get free.

In other words, the small and quiet work of crafting a poem, so long as we are aiming at the revelation of feeling and true experience, can never be at odds with revolution. Rather, it is precisely the work and artifacts of poetry that can summon the language, the fervor, the shape and texture, the community, the clarity we need to bring about the change so many in our culture are crying out for.

At Workhorse, we believe in poets and poetry. It’s why we offer support, infrastructure, community, outlets for publishing and an audience. From Lexington Poetry Month to The Gauntlet to feedback, we work hard to make it easier for poets to write, improve, build an audience and publish their work.

That we live in difficult times is not news to any of us. That we need to embrace, promote and practice poetry to survive, maneuver and transform the difficulty of these times shouldn’t be either. If you are a poet, embrace the page. We need it. If you are a reader, a fan, a lover of words, embrace the page. It needs you.

Find out more about how we support poets, or join us in the work by contributing here.  

(To read Audre Lorde’s essay in full, click here, or order a copy of Sister, Outsider (it’s one of many excellent essays in that collection). 


Reva Russell English is a writer, musician and activist. She lives on Lexington, Kentucky’s Northside with her partner and child where they operate a small, urban farm called North Farm.

Dan Howell’s Newest Collection: Whatever Light Used to Be

We are excited to announce the release of Dan Howell’s collection: Whatever Light Used to Be


Dan Howell’s collection of poems, Lost Country (Massachusetts), was the runner-up in 1994 for the Norma Farber First Book Award of the Poetry Society of America, and short-listed for the 1994 Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Poetry.  Other awards include a Writing Fellowship (Poetry) at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the Tom McAfee Discovery Award (Missouri Review), and a citation for Notable Essay in Best American Essays 1993.   


Dan Howell’s voice rises elegant and calm through the carved surfaces of these poems. Regarding the strangeness of everyday moments with wonder, these amazing poems remind us that the broken world still lives.

Cynthia Huntington, author of Heavenly Bodies

The marvelous poems in Whatever Light Used To Bemove against the gravity of time and corrosion toward moments of ecstasy that are all the more convincing and ecstatic for their refusal to forget the gravity they momentarily overcome. These are seasoned poems, tough, disquieting and beautiful, impossible to forget.

Alan Shaprio, author of Reel to Reel



Her wattled fingers can’t
stroke the keys with much
grace or assurance anymore,
and the tempo is always
rubato, halting, but still
that sound—notes quivering
and clear in their singularity,
filing down the hallway—
aches with pure intention, the
melody somehow prettier
as a remnant than
whatever it used to be.

2017 Gauntlet Participant: Audrey Rooney


A well-seen, well-heard life, both wry and sweet, the occasional abyss no longer off-limits.  An invitation to seek out beginnings and endings, with the possible discovery that, at long last, there aren’t any. 


First Death

       Child, drowned by an alligator at Disney World, August 2016.

          after Dylan Thomas

My fail-safe psalm

fails. No shepherd there

beside still waters.  Only

baby steps, bliss

of wet sand, small hands

busy at scoop and pail

in tall reeds where

hinged daggers glide,

lunge, stretch open wide

slam shut.


Audrey Rooney, three times a Kentucky dweller, now living in Lexington, recalls a life filled with words.  Her mother was a published poet in Cleveland, where Audrey was born in 1938.  

As a journalist she has published in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware and Kentucky.  She is a trained soprano, still sings, and her watercolors and drawings hang in collections here and abroad.

Undergraduate philosophy studies, two postgraduate forays (MA in art history, doctorate in history), a long marriage, a daughter and a son, their daughter and sons, clusters of wondrous friends – all tinctured with loss and discovery – inform her poems. In 2016 Accents Press published her collection, Fountains for Orpheus.

Workhorse Writers Chapbook Books Series Selections

The following manuscripts were selected by a passionate team of readers for the inaugural Workhorse Writers Chapbook Series. Each author will receive 75 copies of their book and $150 dollars. These books will be available to order in the coming months. 


Biscuits and Blisters by Misty Skaggs


what if desire is a hungry thing | stories of broken teeth by Hannah LeGris


Whatever Light Used to Be by Dan Howell


You can have all three books (and a copy of each year’s Lexington Poetry Month anthology) delivered to you and support our mission to provide opportunities for working writers to share their work and grow in their craft by clicking on this link: Support Workhorse.

Workhorse Writers Chapbook Series

Our first chapbook reading period is open from December 1st to the 31st!

The Basics

We are looking to publish 3 poetry chapbooks by working writers, which we define loosely as anyone who does not make a living from writing alone. The manuscript should be 14-26 pages of poetry that has not previously been published as a whole. We aren’t considering translation at this time.

How We Choose What to Publish

Workhorse’s mission is to provide opportunity and access to writers at all stages of their practice. We incorporate writers/readers from our community to discuss the manuscripts and come to a final decision on what to publish. We hope to publish local writers and writers who we would like to introduce to our community. If you want to know more about us before submitting visit www.workhorsewriters.com.

What Authors Receive upon Publication

We want to provide an opportunity for a zero cost publication for our authors. Along with no reading fee to submit, author’s receive 75 copies of their book (from a print run of 150), $150 dollars toward travel expenses for readings they may give, and, if local, a featured reading at the Wild Fig to celebrate their release.

Help Us Sustain and Expand This Opportunity

This reading series is possible thanks to the generous support of people in our community of writers. If you would like to become one of those people, click this link to checkout ways to get involved. And join us on Facebook and Instagram!

Thank you. We can’t wait to read your work!

The Details

  • Manuscripts should be 14-26 pages.
  • We cannot publish previously published collections.
  • Only submit one collection.
  • Simultaneous submissions are fine.
  • We do not need a cover sheet.
  • One poem per page, multi-page poems are good.
  • Use a standard, 12-point font  Times New Roman.
  • We cannot allow revisions once a manuscript has been submitted.
  • Decisions will be made by February 15th, 2018.

Click to Submit to the Workhorse Writers Chapbook Series