Monthly Archives: December 2016

Good 2017 to you!

Looking for some good luck in 2017?

Try this Italian food tradition for New Year’s Day meal.


Song from my Poem…/shortest-day-video-solstice-sho…/

You can reach the video of Juliet performing the song she wrote that was inspired by my poem–what an honor! My poem was also read at the festival and will be read at other engagements Cherry Potts, the wonderful editor of Arachne arranges
Happy New Year to all, and Blessed Christmas eve when the light of heaven came onto earth

Form in Poetry-small note

The new issue of The Ghazal Page is up and thanks to Holly Jensen and Gene Doty, my poem, Sunrise at the Beach is included in this issue which covers place. I feel honored to be among so many talented practitioners of this lovely old form of poetry and so glad it is experiencing a revival, The rhythms of this form are demanding but they also give back by stimulating new ways of expressing ideas,

A Review of my Poetry Book!

This issue of Righter Quarterly, Winter 2016 carries a review of my soon-to-be published poetry chap book, Languid .. with Lemon from Finishing Line Press”


Here is the review, but please do check out the entire magazine–you can purchase it on Amazon. It contains many wonderful articles, recipes, and poems (some by me!)



Languid Luciousness With Lemon.

By Joan Leotta

Reviewed by Elizabeth Silance Ballard

I must admit that I have never read a great deal of poetry. I believe it has something to do with the requirement during my junior year of high school to memorize a minimum of 100 lines of poetry. I chose to memorize some of the works of Emily Dickinson and Edna St. Vincent Millay and loudly declared to anyone who would listen that they were my“favorite poets.” However, when that year was over and the memorization requirement met, I rarely looked at a poem.

When I received Joan Leotta’s latest book of poetry and was asked to review it, I thought of umpteen reasons why almost anyone on the planet was more qualified to review this volume than I but I turned to the first poem anyway. I was hooked. I could not put the book down.

In poetry, there is no story line, no plot, to keep us interested and turning the pages. The poet has to be a master with words, with imagery, with alliteration so that the reader is, at once,captivated with feelings, emotions, and/or memories. Joan Leotta is such a master. Her poems

are of few words but each word is carefully chosen and evokes such nostalgia, such a longing for the simpler times. Yet, she is showing that we can still enjoy and appreciate the simple things in our own lives.

With my first reading of the poem, “Languid Luciousness With Lemon,” I smiled. I,

too, love farmers markets. The food is always so fresh and the combined smells of all the fruits and vegetables make me want to grab a big basket and start filling it to the brim. The poet,however, is in no such rush as she imagines slicing the peaches and how they will look on a pretty plate at home. With this and all her poems in this volume, she pulls us into an appreciation of the simple pleasures of life. I was reminded of my junior literature class and of Mrs. Sandlin telling us that poets look at life differently. “They focus and their work can help us focus and examine the various aspects of life. We don’t have to run helter skelter trying to do so much all the time. Sometimes we can learn more just by focusing.”

Reading this book many decades later, I realize now what Mrs. Sandlin was trying to teach us back then. All of Joan’s poems are about the simple, yet so important, aspects of our lives.In “Apples at Nonna’s,” we can identify her childhood eagerness and anticipation of a family outing, the comfort of family traditions, the joys of possibilities. I believe one of my very favorites is “Back Porch Morning.” For a few minutes, I was sitting on my own grandmother’s back porch basking in the joy of just being with her. This is what good poetry does, I believe. It brings up feelings and memories and helps us to see and feel them in other ways, too.

Much of Joan’s work centers on the family such as in “Sampling Oysters” in which she tells of going to Prince Edward Island with her daughter and sampling oysters in various places.She recognizes in the poem that the real pearl gained from the oyster outing was their togetherness.

Likewise, she speaks of her son who, during spring break of his senior year, they went to Kill Devil Hills on the outer banks of North Carolina where he made his first solo flight in a hang glider. The poem reflects her wistfulness in the realization that this son was making only the first of many solo adventures in his life and would soon be moving into true adulthood, out of the safety of family.

On a humorous note, anyone who grew up with biscuits on the table will readily identifywith the poem, “In Rhapsodic Praise of Biscuits.” Oh, the sheer near-ecstasy of a hot biscuitwith soft butter, or jelly or honey! She brought back the memory of my own mother’s biscuits—hard, crusty and perfectly brown on the outside with a warm softness on the inside—and Daddy’s frequent comment, “Good eatin’, Honeybunch!”

No doubt, this little book of poetry will arouse memories of your own special moments inlife and will be on our bookshelves for a long time to come.

Bits of Good News for December

Ghazal Page is publishing Sunrise at the Beach this month
Cargo Literary is publishing two of my poems, Bursa Ipek and Cat Scarf this month
and Paw Prints in Verse has obtained permission to reprint Cat Scarf in their March Anthology!
–Righter Publications has printed a wonderful review of my forthcoming Poetry chapbook, Languid Lusciousness with Lemon and several poems of mine including a humorous one, Count to Ten.
Moo-ving a pastoral parody has been published on a British Humor website, The Short Humour Site and my flash mystery, Trading Up will see the light of day in July on The Story Shack

Good Week

A good week for writing! Cargo Lit took two of my poems–Cat Scarf and Bursa Ipek, both inspired by our trip to Turkey
and Story Shack will use my flash fiction piece “Trading up,”but they are not publishing it until July-

Then, today, sweet happened. I wrote a piece about my Grandmother (nonna in Italian) and won a tray of cookies!!!!! Thank you, Mia Bella, cookie company!img_2124

School Visits

I’m booking school visits now for 2017!

Contact me at to book

If you are in Brunswick County, NC one visit is free

I’m a professional presenter and performer as well as a writer and offer several programs for writing
based on sharing my personal book writing experience (and experience as a journalist, poet and playwright) with the students
Imagine That—Writing a Picture book that will be given to someone else to illustrate—thinking about who will
read the book and what it will look like as you write and tracing the steps of how I write
We will discuss concept of beginning, middle and end
Picture Book example—One of my four   Whoosh! Summer in a Bowl, Rosa and the Red Apron or Rosa’s Shell
Activity: Students will be “paired” (in groups) of writers and illustrators. Writers will put down a three or four sentence story or beginning of a story
and the other group will illustrate.
I will have a drawing/coloring activity for the opposite group to do while the others are working on the craft.
Reading my Poetry at Barbee Library
Middle and High School
From Idea to Publication
Using my book of short stories, Simply a Smile, the students will learn how I constructed my short stories(and still do!)
and how I choose a contest or publication to send to—work on following guidelines as well as story
Each student will construct a bookmark story—up to fifty words
we will read some in the class if the class is a regular size
If the class is a small workshop, we will workshop all (up to ten students)
Outside of Brunswick County, I offer reasonable rates—$250 plus travel expenses for two presentations of either middle
or high school and elementary or one each.

Anthology Week

This could be called Anthology week for me! I received three anthologies in the mail, all three contain poems of mine! One is from Poeming Pigeons, their Music Anthology–thank you , Shawn! One is from Arachne Press in England. It is their solstice anthology–Thank you Cherry Potts , and the third is an anthology of poetry for children from Brick Street Poetry–thank you Barry Harris!img_2116Arachne Press in England. It is their solstice anthology–Thank you Cherry Potts , and the third is an anthology of poetry for children from Brick Street Poetry–thank you Barry Harris!

One more thing! Silver Birch’s Nancy Drew anthology–thank you Melanie for including my poem–asked us all to photograph the anthology in our home territory. I took a photo of mine on top of my new Brunswick jacket.

Image may contain: one or more people