Check it out!

Poets vs. the Pandemic Poetry Reading is now up on Youtube!  Click the link to hear my reading at about 19:30, and be sure and listen to the wonderful work of  Miles David Moore and Lucinda Marshall.

Peter Bruun, artist and friend, is Little Patuxent Review’s featured artist for the Summer 2021 issue. Get your copy of the issue at LPR’s website.

Upcoming Events

October, 2021: I’ll be launching my new poetry collection based on my volunteer work in three Maryland prisons, Once You’re Inside, in September!  Stay tuned for cover reveal and details on launch readings.

Here’s a lovely blurb from Dr. Laura Bates, English professor at Indiana State University and author of Shakespeare Saved My Life:

“Ann Bracken’s poetry collection, Once You’re Inside, is jammed with meaningful vignettes about people in prison. Without being the least bit sentimental, she gives the reader insight into the minds and feelings of a wide range of incarcerated people—real people we can almost know from her poems. Each poem stands well alone, but read the entire book for a truthful portrayal of what life in prison is like.”

Recent Events

Taught a class for the Justice Arts Coalition tonight on “Exploring History and Culture Through the Lens of Poetry.” Can’t wait to connect with everyone!  Check out the fabulous artwork created by incarcerated people on the Galleries page. You’ll be inspired.

Reading at  The Writer’s Center from the anthology Singing in the Dark: A Global Anthology of Poetry Under Lockdown,” Jan. 31st, 3pm. Celebrate with Grace Cavalieri and poets from around the world.

Presenting at the 2021 Bay to Ocean Conference on “How Reading, Hosting, or Starting Your Own Literary Reading Series Can Boost Your Career” with Wilde Readings co-hosts Linda Joy Burke, Faye McRay,  and Laura Shovan. March 20, 2021.

New Publication!

My newest poem, “The Broken Trophy” was published in the Pendemics Journal, Touch Issue May 17th. Here’s a link to this beautiful journal–the artwork and poetry are amazing!

Evening Street Review, 2021  I’m so pleased to have my poem “Paint Chips of Memory” published by this lovely journal.

“Interview with Grace Cavalieri” available now in Little Patuxent Review’s Winter 2021 issue.  Catch Grace reading some of her poems on the linked page and order a copy of the journal for yourself!

Hope Collected published my poem “Freshman’s Lament” in their special collection called “Creative Transformation 2020”

Awakenings Review published my essay about overmedication with opioids and psychiatric drugs in their 2020 issue. The essay is entitled: “From Pollyanna to Polypharmacy: A Story of Overmedication and Recovery.” In this essay, I explore the incident that made me question the use of up to eight drugs to treat me for depression and a migraine headache and explore the research that warns of the danger of using so many drugs at once.

Poet and friend Hiram Larew is part of the PoetryXHunger Project that has posted my poem “American Madonna” on its website.

Peter Bruun’s new blog from Maine, Yarrow and Cleat, features an essay I wrote about maintaining hope in these times of upheaval and necessary change. I took the title from a line in Seamus Heaney’s poem “The Cure at Troy”–When Hope and History Rhyme. Hope you enjoy the piece and all of the other fine writing in the blog.

The Currere Exchange Journal  will publish my article entitled “Poetry as Inquiry: Using Poetry to Explore the Currere of the Prison Experience” in the Summer 2020 issue due out in late May of 2020. I’ll post a link to the article when it goes live online. I’m super excited to share this work about the value of poetry for research.

Liz Bobo interviewed me for her show broadcast from Howard Community College. Take a listen to “The Healing Powers of Writing.” 

Mad in America just published one of my poems: “The Hopkins Doctor Diagnoses Me”  Important background: research has shown that many antidepressants can move someone from unipolar to bipolar states. Know the side effects of your meds before accepting any diagnosis.

Mad in America, a website dedicated to changing the narrative around psychiatric issues and treatments,  recently published my essay entitled “Learning to Speak the Subtle Language of Pain.” I hope that by sharing my story, someone will find both comfort and hope.

For more information about Mad in America, here’s information and a link to a recent article by the founder, Robert Whitaker:

“What our society needs to do is create a new narrative regarding this domain of our lives, one born—I believe—from a mix of science, philosophy, and mutual caring for each other.

Thus, I think our mission at MIA is two-fold. One is to help usher out the false narrative, and the second is to help usher in a new one.”

So pleased to have Fourth River publish my poem “Dress Code for the Women’s Prison” on their site. I discovered this rule while volunteering in a writing group for imprisoned women in Maryland. The poem is featured in my new collection of work related to volunteering in the prisons, The Prisons on Constitution Street. 

I’ve long admired Robert Whitaker’s blog Mad in America. I’m honored to have my post  featured there, and  I hope you’ll take the time to read ” The Answers in the Attic: A Mother-Daughter Story of Overmedication and Recovery.” 

I’m so pleased the Every Writer decided to publish my poem “The Code,” a poem about suspending judgement in a writing group for incarcerated men and women.

I’m honored to have my poem about the incarcerated women who work as CalFire firefighters posted today at New Verse News. The poem is a persona poem–in the voice of one of the incarcerated women–and tells her story. The title of the poem is “$1 a day to Fight the Largest Fire in CA History,” and is based on a story that I heard on Democracy Now.

No Barking in the Hallways

No Barking in the Hallways offers a rare glimpse into the lives of teachers and students in America’s public schools. I have worked as a special education teacher and college professor since 1974 and have taught many unforgettable students. Unfortunately, the voices of students and teachers are rarely heard in any meaningful way, especially when it comes to discussing the state of American public education. Poetry offers people who have no voice a way to enter the debate—the teachers and students who fill America’s classrooms, attempting to teach and to learn, to be both ethical and successful in a system that often thwarts those efforts.

Praise for No Barking in the Hallways 

“With poignant and sometimes painful imagery, Bracken creates moments in which we could easily be standing alongside her in the classroom, bearing witness to each moment as it unfolds. Collectively, the poems in No Barking in the Hallways are a window into a system that is more damaged than the circumstances faced by of some of the children the system claims to serve. Yet the language is always equally as beautiful as the children for whom these poems are written.   For anyone who has ever worked in schools and with children, or for those who appreciate how language can transform lives, this collection of poems is for you.”

~Morna McDermott McNulty, Associate Professor, College of Education, Towson University

“In Bracken’s hands, poetry becomes a peculiarly effective way to convey the reality of the classroom. Individual poems are intensely focused on a single person, giving a voice to those whose voices are rarely heard. Together these poems create an unforgettable mosaic of the experience of teaching students, whether they are learning disabled, emotionally disturbed, or stressed in other ways.”

~B. Morrison, author of Innocent: Confessions of a Welfare Mother, Here at Least, and Terrarium

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The Altar of Innocence

The Altar of InnocenceEveryone has secrets….

Mine involved alcoholism and depression and their effects on the young girl who witnessed the roller-coaster ride of mental illness and self-medication.  I explore  the issues of my parents’ unspoken lessons by writing through three lenses: conjectures of what my mother may have felt, recollections of key childhood events and my own journey to overcome depression. Find out what I learned in The Altar of Innocence, available January 30, 2015.

I offer my story as a glimpse into the secret worlds that so many still inhabit. We are never as alone as we think.

Praise for The Altar of Innocence

“Ann Bracken creates a vibrant dialogue with her reader. Her emotional vocabulary is wholeheartedly offered to us like a gift to the world. Bracken’s strength comes from an equilibrium between idea and performance—interior and exterior lives, smartly drawn. With a strong voice, vitally engaged, she presents characters and behavior without judgment. Poetry is the vehicle that makes us laugh and cry at her Altar of Innocence.”
~ Grace Cavalieri, poet and producer of the radio show “The Poet and the Poem” from the Library of Congress”

The Altar of Innocence offers readers a rare and compassionate look at depression. By telling her mother’s story and sharing her own, Ann Bracken takes us on an intimate journey through two generations of mental illness and ultimate healing. Readers will find hope in her journey.”
~ Laura Shovan, author of Mountain, Log, Salt, and Stone, and winner of the Harriss Poetry Prize.

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