Tiana’s Book Spotlight for the Thirteenth

by Tiana Coven


Review: 5/5

“untreated pain/ is a cancer of the soul/ that can kill you”

Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson (TW- sexual assault)

This book is the memoir told in verse of the author of Speak– an amazing novel that has been so important in educating teens about sexual assault. In her memoir, Laurie speaks about her own experience as a survivor, how she coped/ refused to cope, her father’s physical and emotional abuse, what she has learned as an advocate for sexual assault prevention, and so much more about her incredible life. Laurie has been such an active voice in the fight against sexual violence and is obviously such an inspiration in many different fields. I first read Speak when I was in eighth grade and I have never forgotten the story of Melinda. That book has done so much for so many survivors worldwide and I definitely foresee this memoir achieving the same! Any poetry lover should pick this one up.


Review 5/5

“No one wants to be infected by obesity, largely because people know how they see and treat and think about fat people and don’t want such a fate to befall them.”

Hunger by Roxane Gay (TW sexual assault, fatphobia)

This is the first memoir I’ve read as an adult and it was so insightful. I actually listened to the audiobook for this one and hearing Roxane’s words about her experience with sexual assault, weight gain, family and societal pressure to lose weight, and her thoughts on how society equates being thin with being healthy were so important for me to hear. It’s easy to fall in line with society and abide by the fatphobia that runs rampant within it. As someone who is not overweight, it’s easy for me to forget how systematic fatphobia is. In the memoir, Roxane dedicates a whole chapter on weight loss commercials and what they tell the viewer. The intelligent way she picked apart the subject truly resonated with me and I would recommend every person who isn’t overweight give this book a read.

The Commitment

Review: 5/5

“The Bible is only as good and decent as the person reading it.”

The Commitment by Dan Savage

I listened to this book on audio and I loved it so much. The Commitment is a non-fiction book about Dan’s life, though it’s not quite a memoir as it’s not necessarily about his entire life, or memorializing it. In the book, he speaks about his family- his husband and son mostly and their experiences as a family unit. He talks in depth about raising his son, gender roles, marriage, and true to much of his writing- sex. He really explores what it means to be married and how exploring his relationship with an open mind and a willingness to change has strengthened his relationship with his husband and enhanced their intimacy. I really loved this book and definitely subscribed to Dan Savage’s podcast, Savage Lovecast, right after finishing it because I wanted more of Dan’s thoughts! I will definitely listen to his other books as soon as I can!

Welcome Peter Ramos and Desmond White to the masthead!

Coffin Bell is beyond excited to announce that we have added two more editors to the masthead! Dr. Peter Ramos joins us as our new Poetry Editor, and Desmond White joins us as an Assistant Editor. We look forward to working with them both!


Peter Ramos’s poems have appeared in The Cincinnati Review, Colorado Review, Puerto del Sol, Painted Bride Quarterly, Verse, Fugue, Indiana Review, Poet Lore, Mississippi Review (online), and other journals.  Nominated five times for a Pushcart Prize, Peter is the author of one book of poetry, Please Do Not Feed the Ghost (BlazeVox Books, 2008), and three shorter collections: Television Snow (Back Pages Books 2015), Watching Late-Night Hitchcock & Other Poems (handwritten press 2004), and Short Waves (White Eagle Coffee Store Press 2003). Peter has also published criticism on Kate Chopin, William Faulkner and Toni Morrison, Walt Whitman, Pablo Neruda and Langston Hughes, James Wright and César Vallejo, modern and contemporary Latin American poetry, and William Carlos Williams.  He has been invited as a poetry fellow to the following artist colonies: the CoLab Residency at St. Mary’s College of Maryland; the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (VCCA), and the Constance Saltonstall Foundation.  He holds graduate degrees from George Mason University and the State University of New York at Buffalo. An associate professor of English at Buffalo State College, Peter teaches courses in nineteenth- and twentieth-century American literature.



Desmond White teaches rhetoric and writes when his students aren’t looking. His speculative fiction has appeared in HeartWood, Kasma, The Tishman Review, Literally Stories, Rue Scribe, Ghost Parachute, and Z Publishing’s America’s Emerging Writers. Be wary of his blog www.desmondwrite.com and steer away from mindless tweets @desmondwrite.

New Feedback Option coming 4/1

Starting on April 1, 2019, there will be a new paid feedback option for submitters. Each submitter in this category will receive feedback from three Coffin Bell editors for each piece submitted, whether or not it is chosen for publication.

We have had a lot of requests for feedback, and plan to use the revenue created by this new option to fund the printing and production of our second print anthology, Coffin Bell TWO. We look forward to sharing our feedback with you!

Welcome McKenzie Lemhouse to the Masthead!

We at Coffin Bell are thrilled to announce the addition of McKenzie Lemhouse to our masthead as our new Nonfiction Editor!

Headshot 2019

McKenzie Miller Lemhouse hails from South Carolina, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Language at Winthrop University. She is currently pursuing her Master of Library and Information Science at the University of South Carolina. Her career is in archives and libraries, but she has had a lifelong love of stories. She is an avid reader, and loves finding the personal, gritty, and sometimes inspiring stories hidden in the collections that she works to preserve and share with others. When she is not researching, writing, or roaming the stacks, she enjoys finding creative ways to make her husband, Zach, laugh. The pair have one dog, June, and two cats, Archer and Wolfie.


We are thrilled to have McKenzie on board and look forward to her contributions!

REVIEW: Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn (5/5)

by Tiana Coven

“The black seeps into her, masking any sentiments, mangling any desire to forgive, hardening the weak pulp of a muscle beating inside her chest.” -Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn


tw: sexual assault/homophobia

It’s not often that I come across a novel that is so raw and honest as Here Comes the Sun. The story follows four women in Montego Bay, Jamaica: Margot, a woman who has been sexually exploited by her mother as a result of homophobia and poverty, and has learned how to sell her sexuality to make ends meet, Delores (Margot’s mother) who runs a tourist shop and faces the trials of raising two daughters while facing poverty, Thandi (Margot’s younger sister, who struggles with colorism, which runs rampant in Jamaica, and Verdene [Margot’s lover], a woman who is regarded as a witch because she is openly gay.) This book touches on heavy subjects such as sexual assault, colorism, fetishization, homophobia, and how tourism negatively affects the native community in Jamaica. Overall, this book truly reflects the harsh reality of life as a woman in Jamaica within its fictional pages.


You can read more of Tiana’s reviews and recommendations on her book blog, Tiana Reads LGBT.