Crackling Birchwood gave me the title for my book

Love is a Fireplace is a collection of twenty-four stories and vignettes that I’ve been writing for forty years. A c.d. of crackling Birchwood gave me the title for my book, and my sisters helped me set the scene for the cover. We built a roaring fire in Dinnie’s stone fireplace, above which hangs one of her recent paintings of our mother, Helen. She was sixteen, standing in front of her Daddy’s new Buick when they lived in the Fairfield house. Dinnie, Elizabeth and I arranged the set to include a kerosene lamp from when we were growing up, a broom which our daddy, Gerald, made, a torn love letter, falling petals from a vase of red flowers, a turned-over wine bottle and glass. Forty years of stories—a patchwork of incidents—imagined, seen, heard about, read, or experienced, and threaded until it’s total fiction describing how love is a fireplace.
I will read at the Nelson County Library’s main branch in Bardstown on Friday, May 4th, from 1 to 3. My book is available at Carmichael’s Books in Louisville, and on

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

May 4 – Reading at Carmichael’s Bookstore, Frankfort Avenue

Announcement of a reading at Carmichael’s 2720 Frankfort Ave.
Thursday, May 4th, 7 pm
I am delighted to be reading from my forty year collection of short stories, Love is a Fireplace. The first story, Sorghum, began in my first Creative Writing class in 1977.
Finished in 2017. Here is an excerpt: It happened like this. I looked up when I heard the hiss of the Greyhound air brakes out front and saw him step off the bus. His hair looked dark brown—not mousy like mine—until he stepped out of the shadows. Then the late afternoon sun turned his hair into a dark red fireball, the color of sorghum molasses poured out of a jar onto hot buttered biscuits. I watched him turn to the bus driver and wave a sweeping semi-circle with his free hand. Under his other arm he carried a torn, cardboard box like he didn’t care if anything spilled out or not. He wore his jeans low, and strolled toward the store in scuffed-up boots, with confident, long steps.

A big thank you! to Marian McClure Taylor who wrote the following review for I love it!
Love is a Fireplace — A gold mine of love tales
Mary Popham’s new book of fiction offers vignettes and stories that delightfully explore the foibles, fidelities and fantasies of love. The author herself may well be the fireplace in the “Love is a Fireplace” title, because with characteristic humor her tales warmly embrace a wide range of human situations. We see men and women deal with teenage passions, families and priests who oppose their choices, betrayals, workplace romances, and very often, a patient determination to care for and rescue each other.
Popham ably uses vivid images to invoke the heart of a story. In “Three Secrets,” the protagonist who harbors abortion secrets is hand-washing a red blouse because otherwise it “bleeds onto everything.” In “The Barn Painting Job,” two painters can’t get their bearings from road signs just before entering a home situation that is just as confusing. And in “Last Day in Paris” a woman holding a book about Marcel Proust finds that a cinnamon aroma powerfully reminds her of the man who ended their engagement just before the wedding.
Many of the “Love is a Fireplace” tales feature one or another employee or veteran of Gold Plate Catering. That company’s name mainly serves to alert us, however, to the symbol of gold-platedness that appears throughout. Gold plates appear in a professor’s lecture about the British upper class and help stoke a student’s fantasy about him. A gold-plated rose is the wedding gift that a stable provider gives to the sleep-walking wife he is determined to protect. A trucker is worried about giving a woman a ride until she starts telling him about fishing with a “Silver Buddy lure with a reflective gold plated blade.” A poor woman who has given birth only to sons feels she’ll have no one to whom to bequeath the gold plate she inherited. A nouveau riche woman sees her gold-plated flatware in much the same utilitarian way she sees men. A gold plated Communion paten symbolizes the community that a young woman will be fatally denied when she marries a Protestant boy. The gold-plated mirror at a wedding frames the parents of the bride as the caterer watches and wonders which are the men who are tender-hearted and faithful.
All readers know that “not all that glitters is gold.” But underneath the glow of Mary Popham’s gold obsession one finds successive layers of wealth she has mined for us from life well understood. -Marian McClure, Shelbyville, Kentucky

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

♪G-L-O-R-I-A♪ (Steinem, that is)

Thought-provoking and needed essay by Kelly Morris.

Literary Labors (and the Occasional Cheese Dip)

I’m fascinated by how people’s lives either echo or repudiate their parents’ lives… We can repeat our parent’s mistakes or we can bend over backwards not to repeat them and end up making mistakes of contrariness, but either way, we’re still under their influence. – Anne Tyler

I’ve been known to half-jokingly say that I received an informal crash course in child psychology, sexual politics, and gender studies from staying home with my children for ten years. It’s no surprise, then, that these were the themes that cropped up in my earlier short stories. My story “The Favor,” published in the current issue of Epiphany Magazine, centers around a woman who might have accidentally orchestrated the kidnapping of her child as a way to teach her ex-husband a lesson; “At the Zoo,” published in the November 2015 issue of Gravel, centers around a twenty-year-old women’s studies major trying…

View original post 667 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

My Spalding MFA World Travels with Katy and Friends

Kathleen, this is sensational!

Spalding MFA

By Kathleen Driskell
Spalding MFA Associate Program Director

I’m delighted to be leading our Spalding MFA summer abroad residency in Edinburgh, July 12-24, with Katy Yocom, Associate Program Director, and Ellyn Lichvar, Administrative Assistant. With our distinguished summer 2017 MFA faculty Silas House, Shane McCrae, Dianne Aprile, Leslea Newman, Charlie Schulman, and Helena Kriel, we are planning a bonnie curriculum for our students and alumni, along with exciting cultural experiences for them and their family members and guests who come along for this great Scottish adventure.

View original post 1,060 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Where I’m From – Nelson County

Where I’m From by Mary Popham, Nelson County

I am from the knobs of Nelson County,

from Catholics, bourbon, corn and tobacco.

I am from a country store,  the Monks Road, the Beech Fork River,

the old pike, the public school taught by nuns.

I am from a mama who sewed and  sang, a daddy, the fiddler, who built our  house.

I am from the weeping willow, the  landmark of our home.
I’m from roses, garden vegetables, a  milk cow,

From backyard chickens and  purple martin boxes.

From the poison tree, fried  squirrel and biscuits.

I’m from singing Latin in the church  choir and pig-Latin and the book mobile.
I’m from letters saved and journals kept,

From Landing Run Creek and stories the  aunts told.

From the May March and First  Communion veils.
I’m from the Sears Roebuck catalog and  Elvis pin-ups.

From the wonder of  listening to the blues station on the radio at night,

then standing at the windowsill  dreaming of my future husband.


As published on Kentucky Arts Council website established by Kentucky Poet Laureate, George Ella Lyon – Where I’m From

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Coming soon from Barbizon Hall Press: Short fiction, Love is a Fireplace

Featuring stories of Rosalee who, while working at her dad’s rural store during the summer of 1952, falls in love with a young red-headed man when he steps down from the Greyhound bus; and of a middle-aged woman named Jenny who, employed by Gold Plate Catering, while serving a wedding reception at Historic Gardencourt in Louisville, reflects on the love life involving previous owners, the Norton sisters, as well as her own failed marriage.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Speed Family Heritage Recipes

Speed Family Heritage Recipes — I love cookbooks! As a member of the Corn Island Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, I am especially proud of the work done by committee to produce Speed Family Heritage Recipes. I can taste the brandy and ice-cream in “Jane Cochran Speed’s Eggnog,” the mushrooms and peppers in “Aunt Aurilla Bowman’s Chicken ala King,” and the sweetness of “Aunt Bell Quigley’s Sugar Pie.” With an opportunity to use donated recipes collected by Hattie Speed Ream Nickell, volunteers set up meetings to produce the book as a fundraiser for Corn Island’s designated historical preservation project, the Farmington Historical Plantation, originally the home of the Speed family. What sets this cookbook apart are the historical notes about the original cooks, and the story of Farmington. The flavor of the times is imparted as thoroughly as the measurement of ingredients and instructions which were converted into 21st century terms. Peggy Grimes, Martha Tomazic, Terry Pyles, editor Susan E. Lindsey, and publisher Cheri Powell pulled together the book from recipes donated by Miles McDonnell, who owned the family’s collection. Diane Young, executive director at Farmington, served as liaison between the board and cookbook committee. With monumental help from testers, tasters, and other volunteered services, the book is now available for sale at David Domine, writer and local historian wrote in the foreword, “Fond of art and music, the Speeds placed great value on education and they loved good food.” Tom Owen, historian and archivist, says in the afterword, “My wish for you is that these tried-and-true recipes will attract good fellowship to your table where more voices will be heard than those of the people sitting right near you.”

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment