Better Than Starbucks
Poetry and Fiction Journal
. . . if you love diversity and creative writing in any and every form, then you’re in the right place . . .
Vol VII No IV
February, May, August,
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A Life Lived Differently
by Kathryn Jacobs and Rachel Jacobs
A5 (5.83 x 8.27 inches)
Perfect Bound Paperback
A poignant portrait of autism in verse and prose.
Chris Bonello's (Autistic Not Weird) recommendation of A Life Lived Differently on Facebook.
When Correlation is Causation
and other poems by Heikki Huotari
6x9. Perfect Bound Paperback.
105 Pages. $15 USD
This collection of 80 experimental poems frequently looks through a prism of terms and concepts taken from mathematics and physics. The words dance to an otherworldly melody, and when the music ends one is left with questions and observations about life which are often startling. Heikki Huotari’s poems follow no drummer. A thrilling adventure for lovers of experimental poetry.
Heikki Huotari’s poems oscillate between intense moments of scientific clarity and absurdist pirouettes that remind us that, while the world may be a dance of entropic chaos screened by a thin veneer of rational apology, the universe is “largely laughing matter.” His work is absolute proof that Surrealism is not dead.
It seems that Heikki Huotari’s poetry knows no boundaries. I come across poems that remind me of those old Rube Goldberg contraptions. Others have a keen intimacy with nature like the illustrations in Sibley’s bird guides. A poem of Huotari’s can seem to lead me on a wild goose chase with no purpose other than to confuse me, then, pow, a line slams into my heart and puts me deeply in touch with myself and my place in the universe, whether either exists or not. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Descartes!
—Stefanie Marlis, author of Slow Joy.
Knives on a Table
poems by Peter Mladinic
A collection of intensely atmospheric poems.
In this richly varied collection, Peter Mladinic’s myriad voices reveal his extraordinary gift for lyric storytelling. The speakers in his fresh and unexpected dramatic monologues populate a universe of recognizably American experience, telling of joys and horrors, childhood memories, murders committed, lovers desired and lost, lives fractured, heartbreak endured and survived (or not). An always believable surrealism of the everyday sometimes takes us into the dream life of families, births and deaths, moments full of illumination and love, sorrow and exhilaration. Mladinic’s poems are all about the inescapable reality of others whom he fully imagines in all their unforgettable poignance and irrepressible vitality. His disciplined, energetic, highly pressured free verse and brilliant attention to local detail celebrate life — its tragedy, its comedy, its romance and abundance — all the while taking into account, with the deepest compassion, the relentless passage of time.
— Elizabeth Frank, Pulitzer Prize winner in 1986 for her biography Louise Bogan: A Portrait.
A richly varied collection of 62 poems by Peter Mladinic
Cover art by Paul Klee, 6” x 9” 99 pages, $18.00 USD
Reviews: compulsive reader
Law of the Jungle
a novella by Christina Hoag
The secrets of the South American jungle are worth millions to the right person. Christina Hoag’s riveting, atmospheric narrative reveals a twisty tale of betrayal reminding us where the seeds of greed are sown, revenge grows. A thrilling, captivating read.
— James L’Etoile, author of Black Label, At What Cost, and Bury the Past.
A sweet tale of revenge, set in the jungle, and served up like a tropical drink. Rowena Aldus is everything you could want in a heroine — smart, bold, and coming into her own. Readers will root for her as she takes on start-ups, junk science, and a villain slimier than an Amazonian slug.
— Jenny Milchman, Mary Higgins Clark award winning author of Cover of Snow and The Second Mother.
A brilliant, flawed protagonist, exotic locations, and a compelling plotline, Law of the Jungle will crawl under your skin and set up camp until an ending that you won’t see coming.
— Elena Taylor, author of All We Buried and the Eddie Shoes Mystery Series.
Print $12 (click on the cover above to purchase)
Review: The Big Thrill Just Reviews
Ten Seconds In-Between
by Doug Hoekstra
Click on the cover to order. $20.
A delightful literary collection of 24 stories, in a mix of short and flash fiction. 111 pages.
Ten Seconds In-Between is a collection about connection. There’s something elusive yet immediate about the characters in these tales; as a line in “Performance Art” goes, “You remember reading somewhere that psychologists say when people meet, they decide within 7 and 17 seconds whether or not they will like each other. You wonder about the 10 seconds in between.” The pieces herein range from flash to extended, mirroring ephemeral transactions and relationships; as with life, the hope is that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
— Doug Hoekstra 2021
First Place Winner for Collection of Short Stories in the 2021 Royal Dragonfly Book Awards.
Short Story Collection Finalist for 2022 Next Generation Indie Book Awards.
Read “Essence”, from the collection, here. (Chapter 16)
Listen to the author read “Silently”, from the collection, here
and "Essence" here.
Interviews with Doug about his new album and also about Ten Seconds In-Between:
Read about Doug's new music release, The Day Deserved, here.
poems by Susan Sheppard
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A collection of vividly haunting poems by Susan Sheppard.
When I first read the poems of a young woman from Appalachia, thirty years ago, I knew she was one of the best poets I’d ever met. I never forgot the brooding witchcraft, the mystery and magic in her work. There’s no writer like Susan Sheppard. She writes like a woman who has nothing to lose and I place her at the top of poetry’s canon. It is the world’s fault that a Sheppard poetry book is not in our libraries. Every page of Glamoury is rich, resolving to bring truth to life with language smoldering, ready to burst into flame. I read this book and feel lucky to know a poet who keeps poetry alive. This is the book of the year.
—Grace Cavalieri, Maryland Poet Laureate
Mist in Their Eyes
by William Doreski
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Everything is alive in Doreski’s delightful poems. They take the time to see the small things of the world, and they do it beautifully. I also love how he’s not afraid to poke the people around him with wry social needling. You’ll read this book and feel like you walked through your hometown wearing some kind of special glasses that let you see what’s always being going on.
— Matthew Rohrer, Hopwood Award-winning poet and Pushcart Prize recipient.
Read a review on Amazon here.
Better Than Starbucks Haiku Anthology 2020
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Hardcover $25 available here.
In this anthology, Kevin presents 132 haikuists and 455 of their haiku. He has chosen 307 haiku from BTS issues 2016-2020. 125 of the haiku are new and not previously published. There are also ten of Kevin’s haiku included in his chapter introductions, and well as the one on the back cover, and six bonus haiku on the hardcover dustjacket.
This is a wonderful collection Kevin! I find your parenthetical comments insightful. As an undergraduate many years ago at SUNY Oswego, I studied with the formalist poet Lewis Turco. I read and wrote poems following the structure of many forms, including haiku. This anthology has inspired me to write more haiku. I like how you remind readers in your foreword to not "speed-read haiku. Savor the verse. Be open to the possibility that the haiku may present unexpected gifts." Well, this anthology is an unexpected gift!
— Steven M. Smith