All posts by Angele


Review: The Lucky Hat

Review: The Lucky Hat, a children’s picture book by a local Flagstaff writer
Reviewed by Angelé Sionna


The latest children’s book by Flagstaff writer Matthew Henry Hall is also the latest release from the Grand Canyon Association.

The Lucky Hat is a local story that connects people through place and time. It takes readers along on the journey of a boy named Michael who loses the cherished hand-made hat his grandmother gave him in the Grand Canyon. He returns season after season in search of the hat with no luck. He eventually finds friendship and his future wife on the journey. The two share the love for hiking the canyon with their daughter while they continue the decade-long search.

Along the way, readers move through layers of the canyon on the different trails the characters search for the hat and get to see some of the creatures who live there, all beautifully illustrated by Utah artist Jim Madsen.

The story is a work of fiction, but reads like it could be a nonfiction tale. Hall says his idea came during a hike he and his best friend took on the Tanner Trail where they speculated about hats lost to the canyon’s flora and fauna.

As a mom of three elementary-aged children, I appreciated the lessons in this heart-warming picture book. It inspired us to talk about how we might have favorite “lucky” things but it’s really each other and doing things together that makes us feel loved and lucky in life. We also talked about all the animals in the canyon who become guardians of the hat through the years, so they learned a little something too. And of course, they asked to go back to the canyon again.

The Lucky Hat is Hall’s second picture book. His first, Phoebe and Chub, was a finalist for a Western Writer of America Storyteller award. Hall also has collaborated with Flagstaff-based artist Joe Sorren on two books.

Proceeds from the sale of The Lucky Hat directly support Grand Canyon National Park. It is available on their website as well as Starlight Books and Barefoot Cowgirl Books.

You can’t really buy a more local for a holiday present for your children – a story that takes place in Northern Arizona, written by a Flagstaff writer who got his MA in creative writing from NAU and is the artist in residence this year at Flagstaff Junior Academy published by a local nonprofit and sold currently only in locally-owned bookstores.

Unzip Me

Unzip Me by Hannah Baggott

Production by Gabriel Max Starner, Heather Hayden, and Joel Lain. After Samuel Beckett.

Hannah Baggott holds MFA from Oregon State University and is now a Lecturer of English at UNC Pembroke. She is a regular contributor with PDXX Collective and winner of the 2015 Jan and Marcia Vilcek Prize in Poetry from Bellevue Literary Review and the Joyce Carol Oates Commencement Award. Her work can be found or forthcoming in Passages North, PANK, Ninth Letter, HOBART, and through her website You can find her on Twitter @hannahbaggott
Gabriel Max Starner is a photo and video artist living in Nashville, TN. He’s currently pursuing his masters in marriage and family therapy, and he’s a weekly contributor to the Honest Liars Podcast. He’s on Tumblr at

Vintage Binoculars

Vintage Binoculars by Leah Browning
Danny found them on a shelf at the back of the shop.  The thin leather strap was worn to a string on one side, and missing its snap, but someone had looped it through and tied it in a knot.  They were otherwise in good condition, for their age.
He took them to school the day of the class picnic.  His mother rubbed sunscreen on his nose and the back of his neck.  She was wearing a skirt even though they were going on a short hike before lunch.
At the top of the hill, Danny turned back.  He lifted the binoculars to his face and adjusted the knobs.  He could see Greg’s dad, walking alongside his mother.  As they walked, Greg’s dad placed his hand on the small of her back.
Wildflowers were growing along the trail.  Some other boys started a game of tag, and Danny ran after them, holding the binoculars to keep them from knocking against his chest.


Leah Browning is the author of three nonfiction books for teens and pre-teens and three chapbooks. Her fiction and poetry have recently appeared in Chagrin River Review, Fiction Southeast, Toad, The Blue Hour Magazine, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, Mud Season Review, and Glassworks Magazine.

The Reason I Read: Or Seven Synchronicities I’ve Had With Books Lately

The Reason I Read: Or Seven Synchronicities I’ve Had With Books Lately by Elizabeth Hellstern

Carl Jung coined the term synchronicity, saying that events are “meaningful coincidences” if they occur with no causal relationship, yet seem to be related. For me, synchronicities mean that I’m on the right path. They give validation to my muses, to my imagination, to my direction. I’ve often had social synchronicities, but recently I’ve started having literary synchronicities. Thoughts I’ve had coalesce and are reflected in the books and magazines I’m reading. The authors take my words to the next level or give me the perfect information I need for my next idea. This makes reading so fun! I have to pay attention to find the clues for my next step in life.

Here are some I’ve had recently:

1. I was thinking about starting my own library that was open to the public. That same day, I’m reading Ander Monson’s Letter to a Future Lover, and BAM! Suddenly Ander is talking about it too, telling me how to do it!

He says “Take the books that mean the most to you and set them on an empty shelf. Now label it. Add a note about who you are and what you’re here for if the books you choose do not reveal enough. Then leave it, hope it will become a home to someone searching for reminder that our intelligence is good for something besides depression.”

2. In a reverse case of synchronicity, my son brings up feminism and shows us a cartoon that illustrates what he thinks feminism should be:


WAZAA! Turns out I’m reading Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay and get to talk to him about it. “I believe in equal opportunities for women and men,” she writes. “I believe in women having reproductive freedom and affordable and unfettered access to the health care they need. I believe women should be paid as much as men for doing the same work.”

3. I’m writing a piece about an artist with telekinetic powers who can feel the energy of the material she is working with. I’m wondering how to convey her experience and do a “tarot reading” on the book The Reenchantment of Art by Suzi Gablik. The “tarot reading” game I thought I made up is actually called bibliomancy—where one can foretell the future or answer a question by interpreting a randomly chosen passage from a book. Gablik’s synchronistically opened page reads “The ability to enter into another’s emotions, or to share another’s plight, to make their conditions our own, characterizes art in the partnership mode. You cannot exactly define it as self-expression—it is more like relational dynamics. Once relationship is given greater priority, art embodies more aliveness and collaboration, a dimension excluded from the solitary, essentially logocentric discourses of modernity. Partnership demands a willingness to conceive of art in more living terms.” WOOOHHHH!

4. In a case of pure object synchronicity, I visit the thrift store and see player piano scrolls. OOOH! I haven’t seen these in ages! They’re cool, and bring back memories, those punched dots that played notes, and I realize I haven’t thought about player pianos in quite a while. Where did they go? Just that afternoon, I KID YOU NOT, I read Ander Monson’s essay in Letter to a Future Lover, and he says “Those piano—pianola—rolls were manufactured until the first Thursday of 2009, when QRS Music Technologies of Buffalo stopped the assembly line grind for the last time and everything was silent for a moment, then stayed that way.” Question answered.

5. I’m wondering if anyone else gets excited about these meaningful bits of information dropped into one’s day like pieces of magic gold. YES! I read that the ecofeminist writer Gloria Finam Orenstin calls it “the methodology of the marvelous”—the inexplicable synchronistic processes by which one attracts, as if by magnetism, the next piece of vital information.

6. I’ve been working on a public art installation for a few months. It’s called the Telepoem Booth and invites the public to enter a 70s rectangular aluminum phone booth, look up a poet in the Telepoem Directory, and dial that number listing to hear the poem through the earpiece. SHAZAAM! I’m reading an interview that poet Albert Goldbarth gave—he’s talking about conserving poetry, words and telephone booths in the same breath.

He says “A lot of my own private life is devoted to a sense of conservancy…I conserve objects and ideas in my life. In fact, it hurts me when I see public telephone booths and post office drop-boxes disappearing from the American landscape. Some of my poetry implicitly asks to be a body that freezes some of those objects and the sensibilities they stand for in time. In fact, any poem, whether one wants it to be or not, is necessarily a block of language that to some extent holds firm a group of words and maybe the ideas those groups of words are meant to represent against the depredations of time. To that extent, I think almost any writer is a conservator.”

7. My friend sends me the great poem “The Laughing Heart” by Charles Bukowski. I’m putting the whole thing here below. The italics are mine, and although they are obvious they illustrate my AHA moment.

The Laughing Heart

your life is your life

don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.

be on the watch.

there are ways out.

there is a light somewhere.

it may not be much light but

it beats the darkness.

be on the watch.

the gods will offer you chances.

know them.

take them.

you can’t beat death but

you can beat death in life, sometimes.

and the more often you learn to do it,

the more light there will be.

your life is your life.

know it while you have it.

you are marvelous

the gods wait to delight

in you.

All of the synchronicities that my books are giving me lately make me think that this life is my life—and everyone else’s too.

Join us for the Thin Air-hosted NonfictioNow 2015 reception

You’re invited!

Join us for the Thin Air Magazine-hosted NonfictioNow 2015 reception

When: Wednesday, October 28, 2015 6-7pm

Where: NAU’s Liberal Arts building (18), in the main first floor lobby (outside room 120) (MAP)

Cost: Free

There will be light snacks and lots of good conversation.

Open to everyone interested in nonfiction writing, even if you’re not registered for the conference.

After the reception, be sure to stay for the NonfictioNOW Eve Event with Joni Tevis and Alison Hawthorne Deming (Liberal Arts Building, Room 120), sponsored by Milkweed Editions.

At the event and the conference, be sure to tag us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use the conference hashtag #NFNOW15.

See the full conference schedule HERE.

Free writerly events in Flagstaff related to the NonfictioNow conference

Check out all of these free, awesome nonfiction events open to everyone in conjunction with the NonfictioNow conference here in Flagstaff this week…

Thursday 29 October
The Dimensional Essay: A Reading and Performance of Multiform Nonfiction

8.15pm Weatherford Hotel

This reading will take place in the ballroom and bar of the Weatherford following Maggie Nelson’s Keynote talk. The event will feature a group of writers invited to deliver a reading in any form they choose. Participants will be invited to use anything from sound, to images, objects, other bodies, etc to demonstrate a text that engages readers through elements that work in addition to or alongside language. The event will act as an opportunity to question the formal conventions of a literary reading, and allow other makers the opportunity to stretch out.

30 Years of Essays from the Iowa Nonfiction Writing Program

9pm Fire Creek Coffee House and Bar

Elena Passarello, Michele Morano, John Price, Bonnie J. Rough, and Inara Verzemnieks, hosted by Robin Hemley and Hope Edelman.

Friday 30 October
The Normal School Reading

5.30pm Fire Creek Coffee House and Bar The Normal Schoolreading, hosted by Steven Church will host readings from JJ Anselmi, Carole Firstman, Liz Scheid, and Sarah Fawn Montgomery

Hotel Amerika Reading

9pm Fire Creek Coffee House and Bar

Hotel Amerika and David Lazar host readings from Danielle Deulen, Aaron Gilbreath, Angela Pelster-Wiebe and Joseph Harrington.

Saturday 31 October

5:30 pm Fire Creek Coffee House and Bar
From the Sonoran Desert to the Salt River to the Coconino National Forest, Arizona offers three distinct Master of Fine Arts programs in creative writing. Since their inception — University of Arizona in 1972, Arizona State University in 1985, and most recently, Northern Arizona University in 2012 — all three programs have shaped their respective literary communities. Collectively, they have expanded the state of Arizona’s artistic profile.
The Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) MFA Reading in Creative Nonfiction will be the first event to showcase all three MFA programs on the same stage. Over the course of one hour, six readers of creative nonfiction will perform at Firecreek Coffee on Saturday, October 31, at 5:30 PM.

Aphasia: Text and Image


“Aphasia:  Neurological Disease in Text and Image,” is a new exhibit on display at NAU. It features micro-essays by Dr. Jane Armstrong and paintings by Christopher Kane Taylor.

Read an article on the exhibit and collaboration in the Arizona Daily Sun.

The exhibit will run until April 29, 2016.  It is available for viewing Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. in the Riles (Bldg. 15) second floor lobby. (MAP)IMG_3109_2

(Images by Angele’ Sionna Anderfuren)

New chapbook contest

Eggtooth Editions is holding its first chapbook contest, in conjunction with the Northern Arizona Book Festival and Narrow Chimney Press.

The contest is open to any writer working in English who has not previously published a full-length book (defined as a solely authored work of more than 50 pages, self-publishing included).

They are accepting “original, previously unpublished manuscripts in any genre—including hybrid work, plays, graphic novels, or texts outside the realms of traditional genres—that are 15-50 pages in length.”

Submissions are accepted until December 15, 2015. For complete details read the  contest guidelines.

Literally Spooktacular – A Halloween lit event in Flagstaff

This Thursday, October 22, 2015 from 7-8pm, join us for “Literally Spooktacular” at Fire Creek Coffee Company.

This fun and free literary event features an open mic where you can share your own spooky stories (of fiction or CNF) and poems or read a favorite classic tale. There will be a costume contest and spooktacular prizes. See you there, if you dare!