Manuscript Consultation Program Alum: Nicole Tallman

In 2020, Nicole Tallman decided to participate in the Black Lawrence Press Manuscript Consultation Program and worked with Amelia Martens. We were delighted when Nicole emailed to let us know that she went on to publish her manuscript with Southern Collective Experience. “Amelia offered valuable guidance and helpful tips for publishing individual poems,” Nicole told us. “It was a great experience.”

We wanted to know more about Nicole’s book, Something Kindred, and her publishing journey. Here’s our interview…

Black Lawrence Press: Please give our readers a brief description of your book Something Kindred.

Nicole Tallman: Something Kindred, is a testament to the power of the mother-daughter bond. In spare prose and poetry, a grieving daughter seeks to continue communication with her dead mother beyond space and time—detailing the most intimate details of dying and the ensuing separation process. It is a handbook of sorts for a non-linear grieving process, a quest to find joy in living after the death of a loved one.

BLP: Your book is composed of both prose and poetry. How do you decide if a piece of writing should come into the world as a poem or piece of prose?

NT: It wasn’t a conscious choice at first. I put the words on paper and then I decided which pieces felt more lyrical and best served in poem format, and which felt more narrative, and would be best served in prose format. Of course, there are prose poems in the book too, which I think serves to bridge the gap.

BLP: In addition to being a writer, you are also an editor. How does this work inform your writing practice? And how does it shape your view of the literary landscape?

NT: Editing makes me a better writer and makes me realize just how much talent is out there. It makes me work harder on my own poetry and makes me home in on what makes me say yes to a poem. It also reminds me how subjective the whole submission process can be. I try not to take declines too personally, and I hope that the people who submit to the journals I edit do the same.


Amelia Martens

BLP: You worked with Amelia Martens on Something Kindred. Can you talk a bit about that experience?


NT: I submitted a very early version of my debut manuscript to Amelia in 2020 and she gave me constructive, encouraging feedback on the manuscript as a whole (reordering suggestions, what felt ready and what needed a bit more work) as well as feedback on individual poems and where to submit them and reading recommendations. This helped me to focus my efforts more as a novice who had not previously sent poems out for publication. It’s important to note that I subsequently asked a few other writers for feedback and ended up reworking the manuscript into something focused less on the pandemic and more on grief overall. The collective feedback was necessary to me because I like to hear multiple perspectives.

BLP: You’ve now published two books with Southern Collective Experience. Tell us about SCE and your experience working with them.

NT: The Southern Collective Experience Press is a small independent press based in Georgia. Cliff Brooks, the founder of the Southern Collective Experience and Press, published my first two books (Something Kindred and Poems for the People). I am eternally grateful to him for seeing my potential and for giving me complete creative freedom over my content and cover designs. Not all publishers are willing to do that and it was a relief. I also had a similar experience with my third book, FERSACE, which launched on November 11th via  ELJ Editions. Ariana Den Bleyker was an absolute pleasure to work with as well. 

BLP: What advice do you have for authors who are looking to publish hybrid or multi-genre manuscripts like yours?

NT: Stay true to your vision and find a publisher who is open to experimentation.

BLP: What is your favorite place to write?

JH: This is going to sound Proustian, but I do most of my best creative writing in my bed—either early in the morning or late at night. I love writing at home and also in hotel rooms, in a new city, or in a wooded area. I prefer to be completely alone when I write, and I need relative silence. I don’t write to music or in bustling cafes. The ultimate soundtrack for me is a crackling fireplace, but these are not common in Miami, so I often resort to a candle with a crackling wick.


Interested in participating in our manuscript consultation program?

Learn about this month’s consultants right here.



Selections from Something Kindred




I think you would laugh if I told you,

your urn exploded somewhere

during my flight back to Miami.


And when I got home, I found you spilled

your ashes all over the inside of my luggage.

Actually, it was your luggage—


the Liz Claiborne zebra print carry-on

with the dragon fruit interior.

The flight was oversold, so I was forced      


to check you in your luggage.

What kind of monster
makes a grieving daughter check her own mother?



  For Frieda Hughes


 It’s hard to look at this picture of Frieda and not feel something tragic—

mother, father, brother dead,

one by oven, one by cancer, one by hanging.


It’s hard just to look at this picture of Frieda, with her menagerie

of pets, poems, and paintings.

Yes, I mean the Frieda with an e,


not Frida Kahlo.

Frieda Hughes, I want to buy one of your paintings


a green one

representing the joy of being able to work on my poetry

or something other creative.


Frieda Hughes, I want to eat all of your mother’s poems

and all of your paintings.


It’s hard not to look at Frieda and feel

something kindred—

us daughters of dead mothers.


It’s hard to look at Frieda and feel

something so protective,

to say to us through our mothers


There, there. You made it.





Every night I sleep on your old pillow

even though it’s yellowed with time.

It’s not an ugly yellow.

It’s yellow like the crocuses

and the daffodils I’d pick for you

because you’d refuse store-bought flowers.


You know yellow used to be my least favorite color—

the color of teeth tinged with age,

the color of fingers stained with nicotine,

the color of infection and fangled sunflowers.

Did you know there’s a word for fear of sunflowers?

It’s helianthophobia.


But now there’s a nostalgia I feel with certain shades of yellow—

the dandelion yellow of your failed liver,

the canary yellow of the beanie you wore on your balding, dying head,

the mustard yellow of the last purse you bought,

the marigold in the memory of your small yellow hand,

I held it until you said, You’ve got to stop touching me so much.



Nicole Tallman is the author of three books: Something Kindred, Poems for the People, and FERSACE. She lives in Miami and serves as the official Poetry Ambassador for Miami-Dade County, Editor of Redacted Books, and Poetry and Interviews Editor for The Blue Mountain Review and South Florida Poetry Journal. Find her on social media @natallman and at