Digital Book Tour: New Books by Dayna Patterson, Jenny Molberg

Fam, times are weird—so many of us have to figure out new ways of doing old things. Book launches, an established feature of our wonderful community of writers, have been particularly hard hit, and we’d love to make room for authors to share their work with the world. Our limited Digital Book Tour series will serve that end! Today, we’re sharing excerpts and interviews from Dayna Patterson’s If Mother Braids a Waterfall and Jenny Molberg’s Refusal.


An Excerpt from Dayna Patterson’s If Mother Braids a Waterfall

On What the Reader Will Walk Away With

Dayna Patterson: For anyone who’s ever felt like an exile from a beloved community, I would like you to feel like you’re not alone. When I was in the process of leaving Mormon orthodoxy behind, I found it immensely cathartic to read and listen to other people’s stories and faith journeys. It gave me hope that there was life beyond the life I had always known.


On What the Writer Walked Away With

Dayna Patterson: I wrote If Mother Braids A Waterfall over the span of ten years, as I was coming to terms with a fraught heritage. Mormonism labels homosexual behavior as a sin; in my late twenties, my mother told me that her best friend was more than a friend. I felt like I was faced with a choice: faith or family. I chose family and eventually separated myself from Mormonism. (That sentence makes it sound like an easy choice; it wasn’t. Mormonism is my spiritual home, and leaving was like surgically removing a limb.) Writing was a lifeline for me during a time of radically reorienting my ways of being in the world.


On The Book’s Biography

Dayna Patterson: On my bookshelf is a heavy tome called Charles Ramsden Bailey: His Life and Families. Charles is my three-greats grandfather on my mother’s side, a polygamist who married three women with rhyming names: Johannah, Susannah, and Hannah. It’s one of those “truth is stranger than fiction” situations. I believe the first poem I wrote in this collection is the letter poem “Dear Charles.” What I really wanted was to travel back in time and ask him why. Why did he convert to Mormonism? Why did he decide to become a polygamist? Was it confusing to be married to women whose names were so close?

The last poem I wrote for the book, “Still Mormon,” is also the last poem in the book. Throughout the collection, I’m reevaluating what it means to be Mormon. For the first 30 years of my life I identified as Mormon, and it wasn’t/isn’t easy to figure out how to define myself after. I wanted to leave readers with that complexity, that messy on-goingness.


On The Book’s Family of Support

Dayna Patterson: I used to look at the “thank you” sections of books and marvel that so many people were singled out as crucial to the book’s existence. What does it mean for an author to have her name on the cover if so many people helped? Now, after my first collection has entered the world, I get it. Every piece in the book has been handled, molded, polished by the care of multiple writers, mentors, and editors I admire deeply. If Mother Braids A Waterfall has a lengthy list of thank yous. (Maybe it’s not lengthy enough? Whose name did I accidentally omit?) Mostly, this book exists because of my mother. I can’t thank her enough for her bravery and expansive love.



Dayna Patterson is the author of Titania in Yellow (Porkbelly Press, 2019) and If Mother Braids a Waterfall (Signature Books, 2020). Her creative work has appeared recently in Gulf Coast, POETRY, Ruminate, Sugar House Review, Thrush, and Tupelo Quarterly. She is the founding editor-in-chief of Psaltery & Lyre and a co-editor of Dove Song: Heavenly Mother in Mormon Poetry. She was a co-winner of the 2019 #DignityNotDetention Poetry Prize judged by Ilya Kaminsky, and she has been a Sustainable Arts Fellow at Mineral School Artists Residency.

Learn more about the work here.


An Excerpt from Jenny Molberg’s Refusal

Epistle from the Hospital for Text Messaging
            to T.B.
I have made of myself a rabbit.
I can no longer speak. Language

is only the click click click of my heart
ticking faster now.

I stepped out of my dress.
I autofilled myself. I slipped

the gray skins over my head.
I know you love to watch the animal

of me, my fast-pounding brain.
How I enter the garden

to pluck berries with my teeth,
then the (…) (…) (…) of my leaving.

I know you love to watch the end
of me. I vanish beyond the field

whose borders I built
with your thousand barbed unsaids.

I vanish into the sky.
I vanish into the moon,

this lemon slice of dead volcano.
Here I wait, my fingerless ears

poised as satellites, projecting my rabbit-
shaped silence on space’s blank walls.

Something I don’t understand about myself
makes people want to hurt me.

On What the Reader Will Walk Away With

Jenny Molberg: I want my reader to walk away with the feeling and understanding that Refusal, in its many definitions, is an empowering word. Our refusals to subject ourselves to abuse and gaslighting, to let societal norms dictate our behaviors, and to allow past transgressions to destroy future healthy relationships with friends and family are ways of redefining and empowering ourselves. I want my reader to see that the self, through language, is mutable and capable of growing out of toxic situations.


On What the Writer Walked Away With

Jenny Molberg: Writing these poems was healing for me. For the first time in my life, I allowed myself to be angry, and to let poetry bear the burden of that anger for me. Writing the persona poems in the book allowed me to reclaim my life in ways that that first person, in writing and in life, had not.


On The Book’s Biography

Jenny Molberg: I began work on this book in 2016, in the midst of a poisonous relationship and on the heels of a traumatizing divorce. I was writing connected poems, but didn’t yet see a throughline, until I had the incredible opportunity to spend time at Vermont Studio Center, where I was able to furiously fill in gaps in the book, and see the poems on a larger scale. I was reading Adrienne Rich’s essays when I was there, and recognized that she was using the word “refusal” in ways similar to my explorations in poetry, and it clicked. I was finished with the collection when I completed the narrative arc of my Ophelia and Demogorgon poems, and realized that I was crafting a kind of epic battle, wherein Ophelia had to save herself by destroying the toxic masculine forces dictating her narrative.


On The Book’s Family of Support

Jenny Molberg: My friends and my mother. My relationship with my mom is very important—the second section of the book addresses our experiences as she struggled with alcoholism during my childhood, and the beautiful, close relationship that has emerged after her thirteen years of sobriety. To honor our precious bond and the anonymity of AA, I have not and will not ever read that section of the book aloud. There is a series in the book of epistolary poems from hospitals I invented for invisible ailments, and they are all dedicated to my friends. They pulled me out of some really toxic situations, and were steadfast when I needed to ask for help, which is hard for me to do. I also have a wonderful circle of poet friends who are my best readers, who helped me shape and hone the collection.



Jenny Molberg is the author of two poetry collections: Marvels of the Invisible (winner of the Berkshire Prize, Tupelo Press) and Refusal (LSU Press). She has received fellowships and scholarships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Sewanee Writers Conference, Vermont Studio Center, and the Longleaf Writers Conference. Her work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Ploughshares, Gulf Coast, Tupelo Quarterly, The Missouri Review, West Branch, and other publications. She is Associate Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Central Missouri, where she directs Pleiades Press and co-edits Pleiades magazine. Find her online at

Learn more about the work here.





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