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Kate Branagh, vocalist and guitarist of Stevie and the Lion, recently sat down with Augury to talk about the band’s upcoming EP, their Indiegogo campaign, their Taylor Swift parody that recently blew up online, and songwriting in general.

Augury Books: Tell us a little bit about your upcoming project, The Perpetual Emotion Machine EP. What can your fans and followers expect?

Kate Branagh of Stevie and the Lion: The Perpetual Emotion Machine EP is Stevie and the Lion’s recording debut. These are true and personal stories sung by big expressive voices. The songs selected for this album balance artful sincerity and intimate, straight-up, unashamed pop. A vocal duo accompanied by guitar, accordion, and clarinet, Stevie and the Lion delivers a stand-out sound with an untraditional framework to support strong pop sensibility and poignant lyrics. These songs are as thought-provoking and emotionally stirring as they are fun and easy to listen to.

A: How did you start songwriting? How has your process changed or evolved since you started?

K: I have been songwriting and performing as a solo artist since I was 15 years old. I went through a Joni phase. And then an Ani phase. And then with my solo album “Minutia” I finally accepted that I was INDEED a writer of pop music. Dan Testa, with a musical theater background, started experimenting with songwriting in college, collaborating and performing with a band and lending his amazing sense of harmony as a backup singer to many of us in the NYC music scene. In 2009 we became roommates and started to collaborate naturally around the house, at first just with Dan adding harmony over whatever I was working on. But soon he started bringing his own lyrics and melodic ideas to the table. Over the past few years of writing with Dan, I have seen him develop into a thoughtful and mature songwriter. On my end, learning to collaborate with Dan has made me a much more focused and prolific songwriter. We regularly schedule songwriting sessions and are continually talking about editing whatever ideas we’ve been chewing over. It’s an amazing connection to have with a person! We make each other better artists.

A: What is the history of Stevie and the Lion? What about the meaning behind the name?

K: Stevie and the Lion was formed by Dan and myself in 2010—the year before I developed vocal nodes that ended up altering my sound and limiting my range. As I started to teach myself to sing again, Dan and I started collaborating. Eventually our casual writing sessions turned into something more serious. We developed our writing style and sound over the next year, and then in 2011, Carolyn joined the band after seeing us perform live.

The name Stevie and the Lion took us a year to come up with. We like to leave the source a mystery but what I CAN tell you is that it involves Ebay and a T-shirt made by some hippy witch from the Midwest. That’s all you get!

A: What encouraged you to do an Indiegogo campaign?

K: The music industry is an ever-changing beast. Albums used to be funded and produced by record labels. Today musicians and artists need to be directly connected with the audience. Through crowd-funding sites like Indiegogo, fans get to impact the industry by ensuring the music that they love gets made! We subscribe to this notion as fans of music, and so it was an easy decision when it came to raising money for our own EP.

A: Your recent parody, “5 Taylor Swift Songs that Are Actually About Sandwiches,” has really blown up. What inspired this song? Do you frequently incorporate comedy in your music, or was this a departure for the band?

K: Ya know … we are just a funny bunch of kids! When we’re together we’re constantly making up fake songs about random nonsense and/or inappropriate subject matter. Dan’s endless well of creativity and comedic timing is a near miracle. Despite the serious subject matter of our songs, our Internet presence and onstage banter tends to be sweetly inappropriate and always hilarious. The idea for the song came from our friend Armand Valdes at Mashable. Dan and I lived with Armand for a time and so he knew that we were the perfect group to tackle this challenge. Dan Testa also happens to know every Taylor Swift song in existence, so we had that business pounded out in about 20 minutes! We had a blast doing it and look forward to working on other parodies!

Purchase the full digital download of Stevie and the Lion’s “The Perpetual Emotion EP” and help support their campaign for six more days! Go on—it’s the holidays!

A Poem from Ruth Danon

A photo from “Landscape and marine views of Norway,” courtesy of the Public Domain Review


Craters of ash,
Lost nouns naming and
Renaming themselves,
Unwinding the black ribbon
Around your lonely neck.
You had one finger to the wind.
You had shoes without laces.
You boiled away tea water
Until the pot scorched
Craters into unfathomable
Ash. You stuck your hand
In it. You stuck your fist in.
You scooped something out,
Something hollowed out now,
And unfathomable.





Ruth Danon lives and writes in New York City where she directs Creative and Expository Writing for NYU’s McGhee Division, the undergraduate college for non-traditional students. She is the author of Living With the Fireman (a chapbook), Triangulation from a Known Point (published by Barney Rosset’s North Star Line), and Work in the English Novel. She has published in numerous magazines in the US and abroad, including Mead, Versal, Grey Sparrow Journal, BOMB, Fence, 3rd Bed, The Paris Review, Spazio Humana, and others. A new chapbook, The Echoes, will be published by Traffic Street Press in 2015. Her work appeared in Best American Poetry 2002, edited by Robert Creeley.

Image from Shin-Bijutsukai, courtesy of The Public Domain Review

Image from Shin-Bijutsukai, courtesy of The Public Domain Review

Maureen Alsop’s Mantic (Augury Books, 2013) has recently been reviewed in the University of Salzburg’s biannual Poetry Salzburg Review, based in Austria. British-American poet Robert Peake calls Alsop’s collection a “bewitching book of divinations.” Though the magazine is only available in print, subscriptions and individual issues, including issue 26, are available for purchase over at PSR’s site.


An image from "The Flowers Personified" by J.J Grandville, courtesy of The Public Domain Review

An image from “The Flowers Personified” by J.J Grandville, courtesy of The Public Domain Review

Poet Carey McHugh was recently published in Tin House’s latest issue. Her poem, “Diagram of Select Cuts,” is featured amongst poets such as Dorothea Lasky, Richard Siken, and Deborah Landau. McHugh will be publishing her new manuscript, American Gramophone, with Augury in the spring.

For more information on Tin House’s latest issue, head over to their site!


An image from "Flowers and  Pictures of the Holy Land" by Boulos Meo, courtesy of The Public Domain Review

An image from “Flowers and Pictures of the Holy Land” by Boulos Meo, courtesy of The Public Domain Review


We are excited to acknowledge the recent review of Frances Justine Post (BEAST, Augury Books, 2014) on Sabotage Review. The review, written by Cecelia Bennet, discusses the ‘multifaceted self,’ focusing on the sense of danger and power struggles within BEAST.

“These features are integral to the collection as a whole, and serve only to emphasise the wildly fragmented self that it portrays. In Beast, Frances Justine Post’s poems tell a story from every conceivable angle. To do this, she presents us with a series of surprising self-portraits: ‘Self-Portrait as a Witch’ exists alongside ‘Self-Portrait as Maelstorm’, ‘Self-Portrait in the Shadow of a Volcano’, ‘Self-Portrait in the Body of a Whale’, and even ‘Self-Portrait as the Crumbs You Dropped’. The face of the narrative changes constantly. Read together the poems create a sense of a wider story of torn hearts, conflicting reactions, bitter struggle. In this sense, the collection is very well put together: by encouraging us to fill in the gaps and interact with the book as a whole, Post draws her readers through an intensely intimate journey.”
Read the whole review here.
More on BEAST

Find it new from seller Augury Books



Photo by Dave Bledsoe, FreeVerse Photography


An unfortunate loss has recently occurred in the literary community. Allan Kornblum, the founding publisher of Coffee House Press, passed away on November 23rd. In honor of his generous legacy, the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses is dedicating an entire issue of their newsletter, Fresh Pressed, to remembering his work. Because CLMP is sending out their newsletter first thing next week, they ask that contributions (a paragraph or a few lines) be sent in by Sunday night to info@clmp.org with the subject line “Allan.”

Again, we are sorry for the loss of those close with Allan. We know his influence will live on.

Read more about Allan’s life and work at the Star Tribune.

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How good it is to be fat! How good to be a member of the corpulent class, smelling just baked rolls and fried blood sausages wafting from the open windows on Park Avenue, and not one of the whip thin hoards confined to lower Manhattan with the stench of raw sewage always in the nose.

Except, they aren’t confined down there. Who do you think is doubling all those Park Avenue chins? Each brownstone has an alien busy at its center. Sleeves rolled up on meaty foreign arms, foreign palms pressing into the family dough. You see that house there, the one with the gay yellow curtains fluttering at the kitchen window? Little does that gloriously tubby family know that along with the rich smells of breakfast, that’s typhoid smeared all over the curtains, typhoid glazing those yeasty rolls.

Never fear, the porcine peace will be restored. Into this monied hush chugs and wahoogahs a new twentieth century ambulance automobile. Three police officers clatter behind on horseback in their long blue coats and soufflé-shaped helmets. They pull up to the curb in front of the Park Avenue brownstone with the yellow curtains. Out of the ambulance pops Dr. S. Josephine Baker.

Dr. Jo! A new woman! Fashionably plump, dressed in a man-tailored outfit of her own design, fitted jacket, white stiff-collared shirtwaist dress and tie, jaunty boater with a navy ribbon to top it off. She is the first woman doctor in the new hygiene bureau!

The possibly infected Irish cook in question has already refused to be tested for typhus, but this time Dr. Jo is determined to get a hold of a bit of her urine and blood, come hell or high water. The glass jar and the syringe jostle at the ready in her black leather doctor’s bag. The five, white coated, mustachioed interns, all in black pants creased and cuffed, wait by the ambulance, arms crossed, black boots scuffling and stamping, chatting in low voices amongst themselves. Dr. Jo posts one of the police officers at the front door, one at the back. Then, with the burliest officer by her side, she raps smartly, one-two-three, on the servants’ entrance at the side of the house. They wait, Jo tapping her own black-booted foot impatiently. It annoys her that the police officer, who is stippled with small pox scars on his forehead and cheeks, hums cheerfully under his breath, as if this isn’t an errand of grave importance. She goes to knock again.

The door jolts opens with such force it bangs against the side of the house. Dr. Jo jumps back a step. The cook leaps out on the landing, her cheeks aflame, brandishing a long cooking fork. Dr. Jo glances to the officer for help, but he’s lost his chin in his effort to lean away. “Don’t be foolish,” Dr. Jo says to the cook. “We only want—“

The cook stabs at Dr. Jo with the fork.

Dr. Jo and the policeman rear backwards, then topple together in a heavy tangle on the stone walkway below. The cook slams the door shut.

“Sorry, Doc.” The police officer removes his leg from her chest. “But, say, ain’t that a woman!”

Dr. Jo refuses his offer of help, wrestles herself to her feet. She can feel her own face boiling now. “Onward!” she shouts. They rush in after the cook. Breakfast is still on the stove—white fish in furious boil, stewed apricots and cereal and sausages starting to burn. The police officer stops to remove the pots. “That’s all potential poison,” Dr. Jo says. “Knuckle down, now.”

The lady of the house and her two daughters weep in the parlor. One of the girls is already complaining of a headache from hunger. “What shall we eat?” the girl whimpers. The other servants make their faces as featureless as rising dough, claim to have no idea where the cook is. No use to explain germ theory to them here and now. All they can see is the heavy, dark hair piled high on the back of cook’s head, her well-fed form, her food rich with butter and lard. They cannot imagine what stews inside Mary Mallon.

“Let’s get methodical,” Dr. Jo says. They start at the top of the house, the tidy, nearly empty fourth floor attic where Mary sleeps, and move room by room, floor by floor. But it seems she has disappeared.

Back at the kitchen, the police officer says, “Well, that’s that then,” and looks longingly at the food cooling in the kitchen.

Dr. Jo heaves up the pots and upends them one by one into the garbage bin that sits in the back hallway of the kitchen. She says, “This is a matter of life and death. What are we over-looking?”

And just then, at the end of that hallway, behind several piled up ash cans, Dr. Jo spies a small wedge of blue calico wagging from a closet door. Dr. Jo and the officer drag away the ash cans, evidence of class solidarity, and turn the black doorknob.

Micah Perks is the author of a novel, We Are Gathered Here, and a memoir, Pagan Time. Her short stories and essays have appeared in Epoch, Zyzzyva, Tin House, The Toast and The Rumpus, amongst many journals and anthologies. Her short memoir, Alone In The Woods: Cheryl Strayed, My Daughter and Me, came out from Shebooks in 2013. She has won an NEA, four Pushcart Prize nominations, and the New Guard Machigonne 2014 Fiction Prize. She lives with her family in Santa Cruz and co-directs the creative writing program at UCSC. More info and work at micahperks.com


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