Presbyterian Cookies by Penelope Moffet (HOW TO Series)

Silver Birch Press

still-life-with-cookies john stuart ingle
Presbyterian Cookies
by Penelope Moffet

First be born into
a Presbyterian family
or be born again
or just find yourself
a red-jacketed cookbook
printed 60 years ago.
Turn to page 60.
You do not need to be 60
or prone to finding
meaning in numbers
or Julia Child.
You may be a child
or a teen or a surly
young woman or
doddering saint.
Little depends on this.
Little depends on having
all the ingredients
or following instructions
as they are written but
don’t skimp on butter or sugar
or you will regret it
the rest of your days
which may be few
or many
or none at all,
your mouth full of sawdust.

PAINTING:Still Life with Cookies by John Stuart Ingle (late 20th century).

recipe 1

cookbook 1

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: During my high school and college years, my family lived in Placentia, California, where both of my parents were very…

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How to Make Friends (and leave a trail of crumbs) by Julia Klatt Singer (HOW TO Series)

Silver Birch Press

dali 1926 the-basket-of-bread.jpg!LargeHow to Make Friends (and leave a trail of crumbs)
by Julia Klatt Singer

Start with a bag of all-purpose flour, some kosher salt, room temperature water.
Mix these with a whisk on your desk, then add the sourdough starter your mother
sent with you back to college. To this college you transferred to, after a year in one
you loved, but so much farther away. Where you were before the pandemic.
Where making friends was as easy as opening your dorm room door, despite
being in Iowa and a tiny college, in a tinier town.

Let the dough rise overnight. Then carry it to the kitchen in the lidded pan
that was your great-grandmother’s. The one she gave to your mother when
she moved into her first apartment. The dough now shaped, it rises again
in a steamy oven. Say hello to the woman you pass in the hall…

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How to submit a piece of prose by Maria Nestorides (HOW TO Series)

Silver Birch Press

untitled-1982How to submit a piece of prose
by Maria Nestorides

Submissions are open.

Great news. This is going to be your best submission yet. You rub your hands in glee and crack your knuckles in anticipation.

Double-check the submission date.

Excellent. You have plenty of time, and all sorts of wonderful ideas swimming around in your head that you’d love to write about. You’ve got this.

Settle on one idea.

Yes, that’s the one. You can hear the words in your head. They flow perfectly, one word connecting with the next in a colourful necklace of thoughts and experiences. Quickly! Get it onto paper before you forget. Start typing, fast.

Surely, that’s not how it went?
Start deleting.

Try again.
No, no, no! That’s not at all what you wanted to say. It just doesn’t seem to flow, and it doesn’t feel right in your bones.

In your mind’s eye…

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How to Write a Poem in 2021 by Carol A. Stephen (HOW TO Series)

Silver Birch Press

writing-2005How to Write a Poem in 2021
by Carol A. Stephen

Ten a.m. Sit at your desk, assemble writing tools.
Start computer. Don’t write yet. First,
check fourteen emails and five unrelated subject links.

Time for coffee, tea if you prefer.
Sit at your desk. Play two computer games.
Make it three. Oh, just one more for luck.

Search computer for a prompt. Send an email
telling your friend how you have writer’s block.
Bathroom break. Sit at your desk.

Make a list of words to include in a poem.
Ten words. Strike out five. Add another ten.
Lunch break.

Sit at your desk. Read through other poets’ poems
for inspiration. Gaze out the window, check the weather.
Write a line.

Aha! We’re getting somewhere! But— it’s now 5 p.m.
Spend 15 minutes writing. Sign your poem.
Done for today.

PAINTING: Writing by Zhang Xiaogang (2005).


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Art by Kelley White (HOW TO Series)

Silver Birch Press

by Kelley White

There is an art of confronting
a family with child abuse, to bend
sincerely to the child and to keep
the level of concerned sincerity
in your eyes as you face the parent

When I see a burn like this (in the shape of an iron,
complete with steam holes)
When I see bruises (in the shape of a hand)
When I see this type of fracture (spiral humerus)
This type of bleeding (anal tear)

I have to be concerned
for the safety of the child
I have to be concerned for safety
I have to be concerned for the child
I have to be concerned

and they weep with me
and wait quietly for the treatment
the hospital admission
the call to social service

IMAGE:No. 121 (Woodblock print, 2002) by Funasaka Yoshisuke.

PUBLICATION HISTORY: “Art” previously appeared in Mad Poets Review, the anthology When…

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How to teach family policy by Dorotho O Rombo (HOW TO Series)

Silver Birch Press

fuy2-112How to teach family policy
by Dorotho O Rombo

To teach family policy is
To show that even if you are not interested in politics, politics is interested in you
To know ideologies, their roots and values
To debate both sides and even more
To question and understand underlying assumptions
To identify the stakeholders

To teach family policy is
To explain dominance in the construction of knowledge
To show the association between family theories and policy
To determine the negative unintended consequences
To connect functions and cause

To teach family policy is
To politicize problems and how they are solved
To show that it is a cultural expression, not science per se
To debunk the myth of neutrality
To appreciate the skills of persuasion, mediation, collaboration and confrontation

In the end, to teach family policy is
To center families
To ask how they are impacted
To ask how they can…

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Instructions for painting a bird in six steps by Fokkina McDonnell (HOW TO Series)

Silver Birch Press

ohara koson 1945Instructions for painting a bird in six steps
by Fokkina McDonnell

Let your shadow be present. Someone needs to interpret their dreams.
First paint or draw a circle, as many claw prints as your years. Soot is fine. Work clockwise.
Call, chirrup, caw, chirp, chatter – wake your inner aviary.
Black ink is needed and tears. It cannot be rushed.
Use one hand. You may change hands when your fingers are cramped, like a talon.
Hunger. Fatigue. This is their life – hunting on the wing for insects, grub, the odd vole.

PAINTING:Geese at full moon (detail) by Ohara Koson (1945).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Doing a writing course The Avian Eye, I’ve become obsessed with birds, researching online: migration, the behaviour of cuckoo, the cleverness of crows.

McDonnellABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dutch-born Fokkina McDonnell has two poetry collections (Another life, Oversteps Books Ltd, 2016; Nothing serious, nothing…

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Acrylic Pour at the Art Center by Lindsey Martin-Bowen (HOW TO Series)

Silver Birch Press

Acrylic Pour Four Lindsey April 2019Acrylic Pour at the Art Center
by Lindsey Martin-Bowen
for Theresa Henderson

This method scares me—no brushes,
no palate knives. We pour paint—
mostly white—into a Dixie cup,
three other cups hold one color
apiece: turquoise, navy, or pink.

We fold Floetrol, water, and three
drops of silicone into each.
Then we pour Dixies one at-a-time,
holding them high, into a plastic custard
cup we flip onto canvas. We wait,

then slide, tilt, and roll the paint.
I worry I cannot create the shiny
abstract scenes filled with “cells”
that form eyes on a glossy canvas.
I still don’t know if I can make it:

The key, I’m told, is giving up control.

PAINTING:In Bloom by Lindsey Martin-Bowen.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: When I was much younger, beginning in high school, I was a visual artist, painting mainly with oils and acrylics. Often I worked in a surreal style…

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How the Poet Learns from Snowbound by Tricia Knoll (HOW TO Series)

Silver Birch Press

How the Poet Learns from Snowbound
by Tricia Knoll

Every sentence has potential to sparkle. If not, let it lie silent on other flakes
and look for a footstep or a pawprint to suggest a new path.

An icicle glints in the sunbeam, a prism. And in moonlight, its glassy
twist lights the theater of tragedy or midnight romance.

A bit of thaw, one day at a time, and the ice dam drips. Short minutes
at noon, words may drip if they cannot gush.

The bird feeder witnesses to winter’s hunger. The insatiable
desire for nurturing, nutrition. Needed feeding

to keep wings beating. Thesaurus on the table. Anthologies
on the night stand. Pecks of haiku. Suet of sonnets.

Fear lumpy sidewalk ice? Strap on traction cleats and imagine skating.
Welcome glides. Wind in your hair. Escape. Free verse.

PAINTING:La Pie (The Magpie) by Claude Monet (1868-1869).


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How to Identify a Bird by Laurel Benjamin (HOW TO Series)

Silver Birch Press

a-black-bird-with-snow-covered-red-hills.jpg!LargeHow to Identify a Bird
by Laurel Benjamin

Focus on the orange beak, a crusher,
take your time, turn the nobs
oriented left to right—
see the racing stripe head, a bullet,
puff of white black white
flight action.
Zoom out from the golden
morning tree among white corollas
to bird frock a holiday suit,
dive and land.
I’ve studied the dynasty of devotion
among bird families,
a queenship of no solitary taste.
Now look from the side,
narrow as a finger, almost
disconsolate, almost tearful,
like a bride without like flesh,
without sugar breath.
From the front, view the open eyes,
too dilated, streaked neck,
hints of wing stripes, tan breast
no one can contest.
Or are there too many details
like a Victorian instruction book?
I set my eyes forward
to meet the bird’s as if
I the mother
eggs underneath, a little boudoir
with a dainty chair…

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