Flash Fiction–Savannah’s Solution

Savannah’s Solution

Both moon and stars are dependable touchstones, glittering night sky jewels, delivering the sweet startle of childhood awe for Savannah, nascent astronomer, precocious three year old. One night, after the new moon, Savannah and her grandmother begin their ritual sky watch. As the sliver lunar crescent eases above the horizon, thin as a curved potato chip standing on its side, Savannah, surprised by the moon’s shape gasps, “Grandma, the moon is broken! What happened to the other part?” Then, before grandma can explain moon phases, Savannah pats her hand whispering, “Don’t worry Grandma, my daddy can fix it!”

Lynn M. Hansen
Modesto Branch, CA


Flash Fiction–Serial Killer


The punk behind the register snorted when Dave dropped his grocery bag.
Dave picked it up and then looked the chain-wearing youth in the eye. “What’s your name?” he asked.
“Rick Stone,” the kid sneered. “Why?”
Dave left the store without replying.
That night, Dave wrote a graphic short story about the murder and dismemberment of a teenaged punk named Rick Stone.
On Thursday evening, he read it to his writers’ group. The newest member was the first to comment. “Sounds like you’re struggling with some adolescent angst,” she said.
“What’s your name?” Dave asked.

Kathleen Powers-Vermaelen
Suffolk County Branch, NY

Flash Fiction–Chance Meeting

Flash Fiction October is here! Need I say more?

Chance Meeting

Elizabeth and Bob shared good years together until he reveled in his success as a plastic surgeon. Then he developed an inflated ego that affected their marriage.
When she turned fifty, Bob began a series of affairs that led to an eventual divorce.
Six months later, Elizabeth saw him in Starbucks. Bob’s dewy-eyed companion looked half his age. After looking her over, Elizabeth strode to their table to make the kill!
“Bob, I see you’ve switched your practice to pediatrics.”
He was definitely not amused, but revenge is sweet. Elizabeth felt better than she had in ages.

Marlene Klotz
Boca Raton Branch, FL


Poem of the Week–Atlas



The first one I actually saw was
In bronze standing in front of Rockefeller Center
The others are pictures in books – flat and one dimensional
Of course, they are all men
Brawny, muscle bound men
Usually holding the world on their backs or shoulders
Usually looking down, weary
Ready to be done with their burden
Ready to drop us
At any minute
But I believe
Is a woman
Who stands tall and lithe
With balanced baskets of fruit or produce
kindling or water for her family
As she walks home from the marketplace, field or well
Proudly with grace
Eyes looking straight ahead as she takes each confident step
Into the future.
With the world truly on her head.

Susan Bassler Pickford
Member-at-large, ME

Poem of the Week–Mere Things, & Helen Holt service

Memorial Service for Helen Holt
Sat, August 15, 11am – 2pm
The National Presbyterian Church, 4101 Nebraska Avenue Northwest, Washington, DC 20016

Mere Things

Mere things don’t matter,
or so we’d like to think;

but on the brink
of forgetting,

of letting

some mere thing
turns us

to remembering.

by Cathmar Shaw Prange
Iowa City Branch, IA

Ethics: a visual tool

From Treanor Baring:

Many who know me in the NLAPW know that I have recently worked with a project analyzing ethical behavior in corporate settings at the University of St. Thomas here in Houston (Enron’s home town). I was privy to results from research on how ethical groups behave and on the warning signs that ethics are going off the rails.

With that background and based on that unpublished research (credited on the form), I devised this evaluation to help individuals understand ethical issues at stake. I designed it with self-evaluation in mind. It puts choices in visual terms with unethical behavior on the left and ethical behavior on the right (no political meaning attached). Several Pen Women asked that I post it on the blog. Click here for a PDF of my ethics evaluation form. One choice that wasn’t included on the form since it wasn’t a part of the business setting, but would certainly apply to us as Pen Women, would be the choice between “Hostility” vs “Kindness.” Please share your comments, keeping that in mind!

I believe strongly in the Pen Women, our mission, our sisterhood, and of course in what the magazine, the website and the Pen Woman Press have brought to the table in the last five years. I’m excited about our upcoming projects and the service we bring both to our members and the Arts. I’m proud to be a Pen Woman with the likes of Helen Holt and the others mentioned in the recent blog post by Siggy Buckley on our history. All for one!

Treanor Baring
Website Content Editor
Poetry Editor

Helen Holt and Historical Perspective on our Legacy

From the editor:

I have two posts to share with you that speak to the same topic: our legacy as Pen Women. One is an obituary for Helen Holt, whose biography by Patricia Daly-Lipe was published this year by the Pen Women Press, and whose life story is an inspiration. As April Myers, Pen Woman Magazine editor put it, “We should have a national day of mourning” for this remarkable Pen Woman. The second post is an extensively researched article by Jacksonville Pen Woman Siggy Buckley on the NLAPW’s history. Quoting from a 1970s special centennial issue of the Pen Woman magazine, Siggy paints a beautiful portrait of some of the women who overcame adversity to give future generations (that would be US now!) a reason to be Pen Women. –Treanor Baring

Helen Holt, 1913-2015

“When it comes to doing things for others,
some people stop at nothing.”

These words are not just a frequent aphorism of Helen Holt. They are a true reflection of her 23 dedicated years as a public servant. Helen’s list of accolades is nothing less than remarkable. Yet the 101-year-old icon and first woman to hold a statewide-office in West Virginia was not at all shy to admit she became “a professional woman by necessity.”
Helen Holt unwittingly became a trailblazer for women in the political arena. The real irony is that she never gave politics a second thought until she married the youngest U.S. senator (1935-1941) from West Virginia, Rush D. Holt, Jr. in 1941. Helen was immediately involved in her husband’s work, and Rush was quick to teach Helen “how to work with men and to feel comfortable working with them,” since she was a lone woman in a man’s world. Sadly, Rush was only 49 at the time of his death. But, despite no income (unlike today’s members of Congress), Helen was able to provide for her family when she took over Rush’s position in the West Virginia House of Delegates. Two years later, Helen was sworn in as the first female Secretary of State of West Virginia. In 1960, President Eisenhower commissioned Helen with “the task of creating a program to fix the nation’s ailing network of nursing homes” because, as Helen wrote, “they had to get a woman—no man was sufficiently interested.” Tirelessly, she carried out this job under seven consecutive United States Presidents.

–Patricia Daly-Lipe
District of Columbia Branch

The Legacy of Pen Women

The National League of American Pen Women, Inc. is a professional organization of women in creative fields to support and promote creative excellence and professional standards in the Arts. The League reaches back for almost 120 years with a rich history of outstanding members and a colorful tapestry of talents in the fields of writing, art and music.

It was founded by five adventurous and ambitious writers in 1897 because the literary world they wanted to conquer as journalists was exclusively a male domain. Barred from the all-male Press Club, their indignation about such discrimination led them to act. Now there are branches all over the United States with distinguished programs such as competitions for young artists and writers to fulfill our nonprofit mission to promote the arts.

With the League’s membership expanding, it appointed a Music Committee in 1916.
Pen Women have made history since their founding days: “Pen Woman Anna Kelton Wiley went to jail in 1917 with 98 other women in an attempt to convince President Woodrow Wilson of the need for Women’s Suffrage.”

25 years after its inception/foundation, the League’s artistic membership had sufficiently grown to warrant a League Art Show. One of its art members was young Vinnie Ream, the sculptor of the statue of President Abraham Lincoln still admired in the Rotunda of the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.
It took until 1971, however, for women to be approved for membership in the National Press Club. “On February 22, 1971, 24 newswomen were approved for membership in the National Press Club, ending the all-male member’s tradition,” Mary Manning writes in her contribution to the Centennial Celebration Pen Woman magazine. This small version of the magazine is a priceless testimonial to the many accomplishments of the League; it gives a detailed overview of the Pen Women’s renowned history and endeavors.

In 1950, a mansion was purchased in Washington D.C which became the splendid Pen Arts Building. Within walking distance of the White House, art museums, and just down the street from the National Geographic Society, its location has a historic designation. Members are encouraged to visit it and its art collections, library and archives. Currently, there is an initiative to raise funds for needed building repairs.

The Pen Women are proud to have many famous artists of international renown like Pearl Buck and Dorothy Parker among their ranks as well as several First Ladies like Florence Kling Harding, Eleanor Roosevelt and Hillary Rodham Clinton who are Honorary Members.

Once a Pen Woman – always a Pen Woman. Paula Harding, journalist and author, one of our own members here in Jacksonville, FL was a distinguished member for over 50 years. She held every office except that of the Treasurer, “because she had no talent for that.” She met personally with Honorary Member Pearl Buck when she visited Jacksonville. She is the perfect example extending her hand into the community well beyond her retirement writing a newsletter for the community she lived in until, sadly, she passed away in 2013.

“It’s a good feeling to belong to an organization as established (78 years!), as large as 5,800 talented women!), and as prestigious as the League…not just the honor of being associated with some of the most talented creators.., not just the thrill of recognizing so many famous bylines…There is a delight…such a glow of admiration and affection that makes me proud to be able to say, “I am a Pen Woman” (Elizabeth Shafer, 1975).

The Centennial magazine revealed another true gem, the term Penguin and Penguin Parade referring to the husbands of the Pen Women. When attending one of their famous dinners in evening gear, what should one call the attending spouses appropriately? Liboria Romano who was president of the Manhattan branch at the time, in 1949, came up with the idea to call them Pen-guins.

So much has changed since the first communication bulletin was printed and distributed in 1916 and the first quarterly magazine was issued in 1920. (These magazines can be read in the Pen Arts archives!) These days the League has fully embraced the digital era with a wonderful, informative national website (www.NLAPW.org). Most local branches have their own websites, e.g., JaxPenwomen.com.

“In an age where striving for excellence is a rare thing, what a privilege it is to belong to THE NATIONAL LEAGUE OF AMERICAN PEN WOMEN. TO THE FUTURE!” (from the Sacramento branch according to the Centennial magazine). This still holds true today. One for all and all for one, is after all, our motto.

–Siggy Buckley
Jacksonville Branch, FL

Art of the Week–new member Ava Cosey

Ava Cosey is a new art member and the first vice president of the recently formed Bayou City Branch (Houston, TX). Active in the visual arts scene in Houston and througout Texas, she was nominated this year for Texas State Artist by the Texas Commission on the Arts. She attended Art Advocacy Day – Texas for the Arts in Austin, Texas and the Texas Commission on the Arts Conference, visited the Capitol during the 84th Legislation and met with State Senators.

Her works are a part of permanent collections and galleries, and can be seen at her website http://www.acoseyart.com/. Scroll down for a few works featured here as the Art of the Week.

In her own words:

In 1997, I experienced an epiphany that catapulted my creative, remarkable talent.

Art rejuvenates the soul. I experience infinite inspiration and I am fascinated by the mystery of visualization and its startling effect. I am dedicated to my gift and my passion is to share my God given talents.

I work in all mediums. I use oil, acrylic, pastels, ink and mixed media. I also work with the process of monoprints, silkscreens, etchings, sculpting and fiber arts. I use vivid colors, majestic characters and universal themes in my work. I love painting meaningful images, places and things.

My goal is to capture the interest of the viewer by creating a visual story that will intrigue and invoke emotions which relates to their experiences.

Abstract Warriors Oil Painting Ava Cosey Bayou City Branch, TX

Abstract Warriors
Oil Painting
Ava Cosey
Bayou City Branch, TX

My Mind Ain't on These Beads Oil Painting Ava Cosey Bayou City Branch, TX

My Mind Ain’t on These Beads
Oil Painting
Ava Cosey
Bayou City Branch, TX

Determined Oil Painting Ava Cosey Bayou City Branch, TX

Oil Painting
Ava Cosey
Bayou City Branch, TX

Her painting, “Ancestor’s Torch” was unveiled at the Houston Community College – San Jacinto Auditorium for the nationally acclaimed Kinsey Collection, and traveled to Mississippi State University this spring as part of the Kinsey Treasures Collection. It can be seen here in the background behind speaker Morgan Freeman.

Ava Cosey's work, Ancestor's Torch with the Kinsey Treasures Collection

Ava Cosey’s work, Ancestor’s Torch with the Kinsey Treasures Collection

Memorial Day Poem

Rest Peacefully

Once they floated in mothers’ wombs
Now interred
In well aligned tombs
Though much life
Meant still to live
Their lives
For our country
They did give
They lie beneath
Our sacred soil
Because man can’t live
Minus knife and foil
Now cannons and rifles
Rattle the calm
And horrific bombs

Rest peacefully
Under flowers
And flags
And long after
Due to the weather sags
They who died
For their blessed land
Are held tightly
By the good Lord’s hands
Happy Memorial Day
For all those who died for the USA
Barb Whitmarsh

Editor’s note: This poem was due to go up on Monday, May 25, but as many of you may know, I live in Houston and Monday and Tuesday were not ordinary days here. Prayers for all those affected by the storms and floods. We are fine and our hearts go out to those still recovering from losses.–Treanor Baring

Click here to visit our competitions page to learn more about our Vinnie Ream Medal competition, postmark deadline June 1, 2015!

Art of the Week–Pink Pearl

Happy spring, everyone!

3rd Place, Pink Pearl, Valerie Lecklikner, Ft. Lauderdale, FL

3rd Place, Pink Pearl, Valerie Lecklikner, Ft. Lauderdale, FL

News: Poems of the Super Moon copies are back from the printer! If you’ve pre-ordered, expect your copy to arrive as soon as we can get the mailings processed. If you haven’t pre-ordered, order now to reserve your copy! Click here to visit our bookstore.