The Works of Jayne Pupek

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Richmond, VA, United States
Jayne Pupek is the author of the novel "Tomato Girl" (Algonquin Books, 2008) and a book of poems titled "Forms of Intercession" (Mayapple Press, 2008). Her writing has appeared in numerous literary journals. In addition to her own writing, Jayne freelances as a ghostwriter, editor and mentor. A Virginia native, Jayne has spent most of her professional life working in the field of mental health.

Contact Jayne

To contact Jayne, email


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Happy Holidays!

A Child Plays Among the Snowmen Made at the Arbat
A Child Plays Among the Snowmen Made at the Arbat

I want to wish everyone--old friends and new ones--a lovely holiday.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Bloggers Review Tomato Girl

TOMATO GIRL is reviewed at Bobbi's Book Nook. There is also a review at 1More Chapter.

Dark Time in the Delta

Read my review of Hillary Jordan's debut novel, MUDBOUND, in this month's issue of Gently Read Literature. And watch the book trailer, too!


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The tyranny of the to-read pile

A stack of good intentions ... The dreaded to-read pile. Photograph: Roger Tooth

The Tyranny of the To-read Pile: a post by Sam Jordison in the Guardian

Over recent months I've read plenty of articles about the impact the credit crunch will have on publishing, and the general consensus appears to be that while it will doubtless be affected like every other industry, the impact will likely be gentler than elsewhere. The industry is used to struggling already, so it's less likely to be panicked by narrowing profit margins than those skittish coke-fiends in the city. What's more, recessions generally don't seem to stop people buying books. Punters may have less money to throw away on extravagant food-porn absurdities such as The Big Fat Duck Cookbook, but this is balanced out by the sad fact that plenty of people suddenly find themselves with a lot more time to read.

I'm prepared to go along with that theory, but an article I just came across on has led me to question the premise slightly....Read the rest of the post here.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

“Dreams (from The Blackbird Series)”

My poem “Dreams (from The Blackbird Series)” appears in Caketrain Issue 06.

Forthcoming December 2008

First printing, 300 copies

5 3/8 w × 8 5/16 h × 264 pages of sixty-pound acid-free off-white text stock, perfect-bound with a ten-point glossy cover stock. Preorder yours here.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


Read a recent review of Tomato Girl on Peeking Between the Pages. Thanks so much, Dar!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. I ate way too much pumpkin cheesecake.

Now that the holiday shopping has begun in earnest, I'm urging everyone I know to buy books as gifts. Skip the big televisions, ugly scarves, and plastic toys. Buy books!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Q&A and Readersville Essay

Gayle invited me to participate in a Q&A at her blog, Every Day I Write the Book. I hope you enjoy the post!

I have a post up today on Readerville where I list and describe some of my favorite books about mental illness.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Review and Guest Post at Booking Mama

Cup Cakes by Howard Shooter
Cup Cakes

I'd like to thank Julie at Booking Mama for her wonderful review of Tomato Girl.

From Julie's review:

Well, TOMATO GIRL was a very good book and I really enjoyed reading it; but I admit that I hesitate to use the word "enjoy" when talking about this novel -- it is one of the saddest stories that I've ever read. But don't let that deter you from reading this beautiful novel because I think you will ultimately end up loving it. It is a wonderful story about a very special (and resilient) young girl. In fact, I actually felt uplifted and very hopeful when I finished this novel.

Julie invited me back to share some of my favorite holiday recipes.

From my guest post:

Folks who know me would characterize me as a CNN junkie, but I also tune into the Food Network when I have the chance. The following recipes are among my fall favorites. The first is a Rachel Ray recipe, "Pasta with Pumpkin and Sausage." This dish is so easy to make and tastes amazing. Since I don't eat pork or beef, I use a soy-based "fake" sausage and substitute the chicken stock with vegetable stock. The "Spinach Salad with Apple and Red Onion" is the perfect accompaniment. I like to serve red wine with this meal.

And for dessert, what could beat Paula Deen's "Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting?" As a girl, I looked forward to Christmas dinner at my Grandma Arbutus' house where the red velvet cake was my favorite. Cupcakes make a nice alternative and are easier to make, I think. Paula Deen is the queen of Southern Cuisine. I gave my mother one of her cookbooks last year for Christmas.
Find the recipes here.


Cafes by Joan Miro

My poem, Letter to Eli, has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. This poem first appeared in Stirring
My deepest thanks to editor, Erin Elizabeth Smith, and the rest of the Stirring staff. This is my third Pushcart nomination.


In last night's dream, you were a crumpled paper
in my hands, your asymmetrical wings

unfolding as you took to the sky,
a small wounded bird unable to fly

a straight line. The sun illuminated your body,
and I saw for the first time

the bullet hole, dark and round, barely missing
your heart. Then I understood

your incessant need for sex, for prayer,
for uncooked food. The fields

surrounding my house went vacant for years.
Nowadays I inhabit all the places you dwell.

Sometimes I lean my ear to the ground
and hear your voice cajoling black

ants to finish tasks they've begun.
I spend my days hunched over

the kitchen table, making paper boats
that might carry me across the river.

I long for the land of lost ghosts
and incomplete shadows. Surely you know,

I write our names on each boat.
Inside crayon hearts, Eli, we are still in love.

Jayne Pupek

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Review Up at Every Day I Write the Book Blog.

Gayle Weiswasser reviewed Tomato Girl on her blog, Every Day I Write the Book Blog. Gayle is also hosting a book giveaway and will soon be posting a Q&A session with me. Check her blog for updates. Good luck to everyone who enters to win an autographed copy of Tomato Girl.


Frenzy: Sixty Stories of Sudden Sex, edited by Alison Tyler, is now available from Cleis Press. I'm delighted to be included in this spicy collection of short erotic tales.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Barack Obama still has time for a little poetry

Three days after winning the presidential election, Barack Obama was spotted in Chicago carrying a book of poems by Derek Walcott, the West Indies Nobel laureate.

The Illinois senator was photographed holding the new-looking book, perhaps a gift he had just received, and reading a letter as he headed to his car with his wife, Michelle.

The 500-page volume, Collected Poems 1948-1984, is one of 20 collections by the poet, theatre director and playwright, who has also written more than 20 plays.

Read the rest of Catherine Elsworth's article in The Telegraph (U.K.)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Reader's Guide

The Reader's Guide for Tomato Girl is now available online. Download it here to use in your book discussion groups.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Monday, November 3, 2008

2 Reviews, Guest Post, and a Reminder to Vote!

CL Bledsoe reviewed Tomato Girl in the current issue of Ghoti. CL is a wonderful poet whose first full length collection, Anthem, is forthcoming from Cervena Barva Press in 2008. A chapbook, _____(want/need) was just published by Plan B Press.

Lisa Evans also reviewed Tomato Girl on her blog, Books and Cooks. Lisa, an awesome Southern gal with good taste in books and food, invited me to guest post as well. Read my post here.

I also want to remind everyone to get to the polls tomorrow to vote!! The lines might be long and it may be cold and raining, but this is too important to neglect. I have already mailed in my ballot and bought champagne for the celebration to come! My prediction: Barack Obama will win 52 per cent of the popular vote and 350 electoral votes. And I will drink the whole bottle of champagne!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Largehearted Boy

I had the great privilege to write an essay and music playlist for Largehearted Boy, a music blog featuring daily free and legal music downloads as well as news from the worlds of music, literature, and pop culture.

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that is in some way relevant to their recently published books. Read my essay here.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Defining Moment

Bundles of Letters Including A, V and Epsilon

I'm thrilled to receive my copy of this wonderful book by poets Arlene Ang and Valerie Fox. I've written a review which I will post a link to as soon as it is available.

Bundles of Letters Including A, V and Epsilon
poems by Arlene Ang and Valerie Fox

available from Texture Press

Cover art: Kindred Spirits by Pamela Hill

Valerie Fox and Arlene Ang are latter-day surrealists, playing wantonly with words, charming us out of and into the everyday. There's no predicting where they will take off (Lake Como, the Joyce Kilmer Rest Stop on the New Jersey Turnpike) or where they will land (a wishbone, a rainbow hanging from a noose). Their poems buzz like inspired flies. Emily Dickinson would take delight in them.
—Paula Cohen

ISBN-13: 978-0-9797573-1-0
ISBN-10: 0-9797573-1-2

105 pages
Excerpts (with mp3) at Adroitly Placed Word.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Interview at Lit*Chick

A recent interview is up at Lit*Chick. Mel, a devoted blogger and book lover I met at GoodReads, asked great questions. I hope you enjoy the interview! Mel previously reviewed Tomato Girl and hosted a book giveaway as well!

Powells Bookstore in Portland

Poet and friend, Bebe Cook, recently traveled to Portland. While there, Bebe (see photo 2) and Sharon Hurlbut(another poet friend who writes under the pen name Ann Walters. Photo 3) went to Powells Bookstore, where they saw Tomato Girl. Bebe sent me these photos. How neat!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Recorded Books and More Reviews

Tomato Girl is now available on CD and Casette through Recorded Books' Southern Voices Imprint.

Zinta Aistars wrote a wonderful review of Tomato Girl in the current issue of The Smoking Poet. Read Zinta's review here.

A review is also up at Bibliolatry, which is a blog I only recently discovered, but is quickly becoming a favorite.

Fleegan compares Tomato Girl to the classic To Kill a Mockingbird, but with a dysfucntional twist. I'd say that's about right. Read her review here.

Book blogger, Caribou's Mom, read Tomato Girl as part of a 24 hour Read-a-thon. She posted a lovely and thoughtful review of the book today at her blog.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Two New Reviews--

A new review is up at Educating Petunia

There is also a new review up at Rhonda's Corner of the World.

Tomato Girl Video

Palin's Wolf-Killing Program Results in 14 Wolf Pup Deaths

Appomattox Regional Library

I attended a reading and discussion group last night at the Appomattox Regional Library in Hopewell, Virginia. What a lovely library and even lovelier group of people. Everyone was lively and engaged. They asked great questions and showed so much enthusiasm for Tomato Girl. The folks at Appomattox Regional only confirmed what I've always believed: book lovers are some of the nicest and most interesting people around.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Review at Weave Magazine

Margaret Bashaar reviewed Forms of Intercession for Weave Magazine. Read the review here.

Interview at Eclectica

Elixabeth Glixman interviewed me for Eclectica Magazine. Read her review here.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read!

Banned Books Week is the only national celebration of the freedom to read. It was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. More than a thousand books have been challenged since 1982. The challenges have occurred in every state and in hundreds of communities. People challenge books that they say are too sexual or too violent. They object to profanity and slang, and protest against offensive portrayals of racial or religious groups--or positive portrayals of homosexuals. Their targets range from books that explore the latest problems to classic and beloved works of American literature.

Read more here.

What a Neat Story

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Friday, September 26, 2008

Obama 240--McCain 200

CNN updated its electoral map. Read the article here.

Interview at Emma Larkins

Emma Larkins interviewed me today on her blog. Read the interview here.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Review at Pajiba

Tomato Girl was reviewed by Jennifer McKeown at Pajiba

Interview and Book Giveaway

Check out today's Interview and Book Giveaway at Cindy's Love of Books. Cindy also recently reviewed Tomato Girl. Read her review here.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Obama on the Economy

Interview and Book Giveaway

Read a recent interview at Breaking the Spine, and while you're there, enter to win an autographed copy of Tomato Girl!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Jill Pinheiro recently reviewed Tomato Girl for A'nE Vibe. Jill has also asked to interview me on her blog, Breaking The Spine. I'll post details when we have them.

Julie McGuire reviewed Tomato Girl at The Internet Review of Books. I was also delighted to review the novel, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, for this month's issue. Read my review here.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Poem at Thieves Jargon

My poem, "Elegy for Leo," appears in the new issue of Thieves Jargon. Read the peom here.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Book Giveaway

Meg Waite Clayton, author of the moving and delightful novel, The Wednesday Sisters, is hosting a book giveaway on her 1st Books blog. The winner will receive an autographed copy of my novel, Tomato Girl, and an autographed copy of Matrimony by Joshua Henkin, just released in paperback. To find out how to enter--and how to also win a copy of Meg's book-- see her blog.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Faster than Kudzu: 3 Questions

I'm absolutely delighted to be a guest at Faster than Kudzu, the blog of bestselling novelist and fellow Southerner, Joshilyn Jackson. I admire Joshilyn's work and have her latest novel, The Girl Who Stopped Swimming, on my bedside table, which I plan to read as soon as I finish the draft of my novel. Read my answers to Joshilyn's questions here.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Wordy Birds

Wordy Birds

A Weekly Radio Discussion About Books & Ideas Hosted by Liz Humes on 97.3 FM WRIR.

Liz Humes interviewed me for her weekly program, Wordy Birds. Liz and I met at Stir Crazy to record the interview. She is a delightful woman and made the experience so much fun. The interview is scheduled to air soon. Will update.


Come join me to discuss my debut novel, Tomato Girl! I'm available from September 3-17th on both GoodReads and LibraryThing. I'm happy to answer questions about my novel, or about writing in general. I hope to see you there!

Monday, September 1, 2008


Valerie Fox interviews me for PRESS1.

We Dream Colors:
An Interview with Jayne Pupek

We dream colors
while sleeping in the curl
of an egg.
—from “Myth” (Forms of Intercession)

Blues tend to fade without dissolving.

—from “Withholding” (Forms of Intercession)

Jayne Pupek has published two books in 2008. Tomato Girl, a novel, is just out from Algonquin Books. Forms of Intercession, poems, was published this year by Mayapple Press. Both her poems and the novel tell stories that possess the strange inevitabilities of dreams and myths.

Tomato Girl begins with a prologue in which the narrator recalls a time long past, and the macabre image of a dead infant. From this riveting and dramatic start, the novel proceeded to engage and to move us. In the remarks that follow, Pupek shares with us insights into the characters in Tomato Girl, her writing process, the impact of her career as therapist, and other fascinating subjects.

Valerie Fox: The short, titled chapters/sections in Tomato Girl work well to highlight imagery and to establish the trajectory of story. How and why did you decide on this style?

Jayne Pupek: I began writing Tomato Girl more or less on a whim. Until then, I had written very little fiction other than short pieces, or “flash fiction,” which were often more like prose poems than actual short stories. My writing focus has always been poetry, and I think the need to title each chapter is purely reflective of that. Typically, each poem in a collection is titled, so when I began writing Tomato Girl, the chapters just seemed incomplete to me without a title.

Read the complete interview here.


My poem, "Before She Dusts" appears in the new issue of Kaleidowhirl. This is my first appearance at Kaleidowhirl, and I'm thrilled to be included there!

Thieves Jargon has accepted my poem, "Elegy for Leo." I'll post a link when the poem appears. This is one of my favorite lit 'zines, and I'm honored to have work accepted there again.


Kate Evans reviewed Tomato Girl in Quarterly Conversation.

From the beginning of Jayne Pupek’s Tomato Girl, we are plunged into a dark world. In the first few pages of the novel, 11-year-old narrator Ellie Sanders reveals that she is living in the aftermath of abandonment. Her father has been gone for some time, leaving her with a mother whose “nerves are wound tight as a watch.” This is a self-destructive mother who digs at her wrist with a pencil until it bleeds, a mentally ill mother who, in a detail that makes the skin crawl and keeps the pages turning, “keeps Baby Tom in a jar.” The understated way Ellie offers up such ghastly details reveals that she has become acclimated to a horrific world, and this acclimation’s toll is central to the book.

Tomato Girl—with its brutal violence, mental disease, incest, grotesqueries, degeneration, and supernatural elements—is well-rooted in the Southern Gothic tradition. Like Carson McCullers, Pupek features a girl as witness to the madness around her. The madness is not only personal but social—like any good Southern Gothic novel, this book incorporates a critique of the madness of society. One of society’s madnesses dealt with here is racial bigotry. Clara, a “colored woman,” is Ellie’s friend, even though Ellie is warned not to enter Clara’s neighborhood. Especially revealing is that Ellie’s friend, Mary, is the most vocal arbiter of the racial divide. When Mary says that a “white girl isn’t safe in a neighborhood full of colored boys,” we can hear the voice of a child who has been carefully taught racism. Ellie’s internal response (”Mary doesn’t understand that when you need somebody the way I need Clara, you don’t care two sticks what color skin they live in”) sets up one of the novel’s many layers of conflict.

Read the entire review here.

Sunday, August 31, 2008


Kathy at BermundaOnion is hosting a book giveaway. To learn how to enter to win an autographed copy of Tomato Girl, please visit her site.

Saturday, August 30, 2008


Who is Sarah Palin? Here's some basic background:

She was elected Alaska's governor a little over a year and a half ago. Her previous office was mayor of Wasilla, a small town outside Anchorage. She has no foreign policy experience.

Palin is strongly anti-choice, opposing abortion even in the case of rape or incest.

She supported right-wing extremist Pat Buchanan for president in 2000.

Palin thinks creationism should be taught in public schools.

She's doesn't think humans are the cause of climate change.

She's solidly in line with John McCain's "Big Oil first" energy policy. She's pushed hard for more oil drilling and says renewables won't be ready for years. She also sued the Bush administration for listing polar bears as an endangered species—she was worried it would interfere with more oil drilling in Alaska.
How closely did John McCain vet this choice? He met Sarah Palin once at a meeting. They spoke a second time, last Sunday, when he called her about being vice-president. Then he offered her the position.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Review at The Pedestal Magazine

Review at The Pedestal Magazine

Reviewer: Alice Osborn

Jayne Pupek's Tomato Girl is ostensibly one more novel about a Southern girl growing up in a dysfunctional family, but it's so much more than another Secret Life of Bees or Ellen Foster. Creating a novel that is well-paced and authentic with vulnerable and memorable characters, Pupek throws the proverbial rocks up a tree at her protagonist, eleven year-old Ellie Sanders. Ellie lives with her mentally unstable mother, Julia, and her doting but adulterous father, Rupert, in racially-divided Granby, Virginia (a fictional town), in 1969. Throughout the book, Ellie's troubles never seem to relent, except when she lets the river take them away at the end.

Read the complete review here.

Barack Obama's DNC Speech

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

On Becoming a Novelist

On Becoming a Novelist
August 27th, 2008 by me
Jayne Pupek’s first novel, Tomato Girl (Algonquin Books, 2008) just released yesterday—and has the most delicious cover to go with its delcicious title! Her book of poetry, Forms of Intercession, was published by Mayapple Press in January. We should all have such a great year! - Meg

Everyone’s heard the story of the karaoke singer who gets discovered in a bar. How I became a novelist sounds a little like that story. At least on the surface.

After a career in mental health, I found myself at home full-time with my children. I had more time on my hands than ever before, particularly once my trio started school. While I turned much of my attention to my menagerie of animal companions, I also absorbed myself in my lifelong love of books and writing. I enrolled in a writing workshop and online groups for poets. I had no real thoughts to publish, although I gradually began to send out a few poems. Some were accepted. Most were not. I kept at it and improved. Some days I even thought of myself as a poet.

Fiction was another matter.

Read the rest of the essay on Meg Waite Clayton's 1st Books Blog

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Obama Picks Biden as VP

M. Spencer Green, AP

Joe Biden is one of the good guys. I'm thrilled that Obama has chosen him for the ticket.

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