Contributors Issue 9

Summer 2016 Issue 9

Theme: The heat is on.

To our contributors, we asked: Tell The Sigh Press about a situation when the heat was on but you kept your cool.


Elena Secci was born in Florence where she attended the Accademia delle Arti del Disegno. She currently lives in the countryside between Pisa and Livorno. Her paintings can be found in many private collections in Italy, Germany, and United States.


The heat was on when The Sigh Press asked this very question. Presently, I am in the middle of grading papers, writing student reports, and holding parent-teacher conferences, but I have to keep my cool and grin.


Ann Lettick is from Connecticut but has spent most of her life in Italy with stints in France and Mexico. She is a long-time lecturer of English language and American culture at the University of Florence. A writer of short stories and poetry, Lettick’s poems are largely based on her autistic brother. Her work appeared in the US in Exquisite Corpse.

The heat was on years back when I walked into a classroom of about 50 immigrants in a Los Angeles night school to teach them English as a second language. Had never taught such a big group before, felt like I was up on stage… Turned out to be my best job, with dedicated, grateful students. A point of pride was that I learned all their names.


Richard James Allen’s ten books of poetry, fiction and performance texts include Fixing the Broken Nightingale (Flying Island Books), The Kamikaze Mind (Brandl & Schlesinger) and Thursday’s Fictions (Five Islands Press), shortlisted for the Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry. Australian-born Allen won the Chancellor’s Award for most outstanding PhD thesis at the University of Technology, Sydney. Widely published in anthologies, journals and online for over thirty years, Allen has been the recipient of numerous awards, nominations, and grants, and has enjoyed unique opportunities during his international career as an acclaimed writer, director, choreographer, and performer.

Physical TV
Fixing the Broken Nightingale
Richard James Allen

The “heat is on” for anyone trying to live the life of an artist in the 21st century.  Competing claims argue for your time and attention, challenge your sense of value and the worthwhileness of what you have dedicated your life to, fight to pull the development of your work off its coherent trajectory.  I keep my “cool” through the practice of yoga, which clears the pathways of the mind and body and allows the chaos of the world’s demands for attention to become a pattern, a dance of being, from which I write.

KB Ballentine’s work appears in River of Earth and Sky: Poems for the Twenty-first Century (2015), Southern Poetry Anthology, Volume VI:  Tennessee (2013) and Southern Light: Twelve Contemporary Southern Poets (2011). Her third collection, What Comes of Waiting, won the 2013 Blue Light Press Book Award.

KB Ballentine

I teach high school theatre and we had our first dress rehearsal for Peter Pan. I run it just like the show, without interrupting or helping. During the set changes, it was taking them too long to move. I sat (im)patiently during the first two scenes, sweating them out, and finally helped move set pieces without saying anything. It was not a good rehearsal, but it was an excellent production (finally).


Jennifer Rieger is a writer and teacher in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She holds a BA in English, an MA in Literature, and is currently finishing her MFA with a concentration in poetry and creative nonfiction. When not revising, grading, or chaperoning high school events, Jennifer enjoys loving the hell out of the beautiful people in her life.

A blank page is daunting. It’s the writer’s crux of hope and anxiety. We analyze, we ponder, we stare at blank walls, and open countless bottles of wine—anything to invoke the muse that saves us from ourselves. But in the end, my advanced degree in procrastination pulls through, and I’m whole again.


Cary Tennis, prior to his role as advice columnist for’s “Since You Asked,” was a journalist, spoken-word performer, and musician. He studied English Literature at the University of Miami and Creative Writing at San Francisco State. With his wife, Norma, he now lives 90 kilometers south of Florence in Castiglion Fiorentino where he writes, in addition to holding writing workshops around the world. Tennis’ book, Finishing School: The Happy Ending to that Writing Project You Can’t Seem to Get Done, co-written with Danelle Morton, will be published later this year by Penguin/Tarcher.


Cary Tennis

When I was a longhaired hippie in Florida, I was driving across the state in my Volkswagen bug. I had some marijuana in the pocket of a jacket in the back seat. When a Highway Patrol dude pulled me over and asked if he could search the car, I said OK, as I knew he would anyway. As he leaned in to the back seat, I casually picked up my jacket, as if to reveal what was underneath, when the real prize was in the pocket. Escaped getting busted. Kept my cool. Stayed out of jail.

Ampersand Interview with author Laura Fraser

Author Laura Fraser

Welcome to the first of our Ampersand series: interviews with writers from all over the world who have a connection to Tuscany.

These interviews will post throughout the year, midway between issues. Our aim is to understand a little of what makes each interviewee tick, both through the questions we ask and the piece of writing they share.

First up is Laura Fraser, the US best-selling author of An Italian AffairAll over the Map and Losing Itas well as countless essays featured in publications such as The New York Times. In addition, she leads writing workshops all over the world and teaches at the San Francesco Writing Grotto. Fraser is co-founder of Shebooks.
Click on the photo below to read the interview.
Author Laura Fraser

To read other interviews, go to Ampersand.

Quotes Podcast reading of The Vain Elephant

We love to hear our contributors read their work. Here is a reading of The Vain Elephant by JJ Piglet & John Gerard Sapodilla from our Spring 2016 issue.

The Vain Elephant by JJ Piglet & John Gerard Sapodilla – Spring 2016

For other podcasts, go to Quotes.

Spring 2016 Issue 8

The Spring Issue 2016 of The Journal is now online.

It’s a hive of activity in The Sigh Press offices (virtual as they are!) and we certainly feel the resurgence of spring in the many ideas and plans in the pipeline since the start of 2016: another Open Mic Poetry Night, a Publishing Day and a new series of interviews, to name but a few. Check out our Notes in The Journal to see more or our Facebook page for all events and other tidbits.

This issue explores love, music appreciation and ponders the difficulty of making a risotto, all accompanied by the artwork of Lillian Rodriguez.

Click on the photos below to read the interview.

Spring 2016 – Issue 8

To read other issues, go to The Journal.

Poet Elisa Biagini

Contributor to our first issue, poet Elisa Biagini, has been busy. Busier than usual. In addition to teaching creative writing and art history courses at US universities in Florence and hosting a longstanding poetry workshop for dedicated Italian poets and coordinating an ambitious poetry festival in Florence called Voci Lontane Voci Sorelle, Elisa was invited to Australia in August to participate in the Queensland Poetry Festival. Next, she’ll be flying to Japan for more poetry, and some Teaching.

This photo of Elisa was taken at the Cartavetra gallery opening where she currently has a conceptual piece (the cutlery seen here) in the collective exhibition entitled “Ruvidezze.” There will be a closing event, open to the public, for this exhibition on Dec 5 with drink and music, and a panel conversation with some of the artists.

Christobel Kent – The Loving Husband. 

Former contributor Christobel Kent (Issue 3 Winter 2014) is currently finishing edits on her new novel, a psychological thriller, The Loving Husband, which will be out in spring 2016.

The novel is set in the bleak Fenland landscape north-east of Cambridge: place of black soil, drainage ditches, and a wide empty horizon where Fran Hall, the mother of small children and living in a remote farmhouse on the edge of the Fens, wakes in the night to find the bed beside her empty and her husband Nathan gone. When she leaves the house to search for him, she makes a terrible discovery, and as the narrative progresses we begin to understand not only that Nathan may not have been the loving husband Fran needed him to be, but that there is also a great deal we do not know about Fran either.

Next up from Christobel: the 6th thrilling installment (possibly the final one) of her series set in Florence with detective Sandro Cellini on the case…

Who is John Snellinberg?

Three filmmakers from Poggio a Caiano traveled to Charlottesville VA this weekend to show their quirky, wonderful film Sogni di Gloria (“Daydreaming”) at the Virginia Film Festival.

The filmmakers, Lorenzo Orlandini (Screenwriter), Patrizio Gioffredi (Director), and Duccio Burberi (Director of Photography), are part of the ten-member Tuscan filmmaking collective John Snellinberg (an invented “person” behind the group’s productions). They represented Poggio a Caiano, Charlottesville’s Sister City, before a packed theatre and followed the film with a lively Q & A.

Check out the trailer.



A review: Where My Heart Used To Beat by Sebastian Faulks. 

To many of us, the name of Sebastian Faulks is heavily associated with the conflicts of the past century. His famous trilogy, made up of Charlotte Gray, The Girl at the Lion d’Or and the infamous Birdsong – which has sold over 5 million copies in the UK alone – has cemented his formidable reputation as one of our finest living novelists, with a rare ability to combine genuine popular appeal with serious literary acclaim. It’s unsurprising, then, that Where My Heart Used to Beat, his highly enjoyable thirteenth novel, looks back toward the wars once again. After his father died in the First World War, which allows Faulks to explore its effect, the protagonist, Robert, is catapulted into the Anzio Landings of WWII in southern Italy.
This passage alone is decisive proof that Faulks is a master of his craft, as the focus on the small details, combined with jittery sentence structures that carefully mimic the chaos around Robert, is one of the most profoundly moving passages of prose written in the last twenty years – most probably since Faulks placed Stephen Wraysford in the battlefield at the Somme.

To read more of this review from former TSP contributor Nicholas Chapman, please check out the full article on The Bubble.

Contributor News – Elizabeth Logan Harris

Past Sigh Press contributor, Elizabeth Logan Harris (Summer 2014, Issue 1), is announcing a double-feature benefit at BAM of the documentary films about New York’s Rockaway Bungalows:

The Bungalows of Rockaway chronicles the rise of Rockaway as a working-class resort from the early 20th Century through post WWII.

Everything is Different Now tells the compelling story of Rockaway’s continuing recovery from Superstorm Sandy.

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