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Mud Cakes


Julie Luongo Novelist

Margaret Ingraham Poet

Taije Silverman Poet

Daniel Nester Author & Poet

Daniel Tobin Poet

Heather Thomas Poet

Jerry Spinelli Young Adult Author


VCCA International Retreat for Visual Artists, Writers, and Composers

Ragdale Retreat for Visual Artists, Writers, and Composers

Oberpfalzer Kunstlerhaus German retreat

Mud Cakes by Jason Schossler

About Mud Cakes | Reviews/Blurbs | Reading Dates | Audio FIles | Trailer

The winner of the first Melissa Lanitis Gregory Poetry Prize, Mud Cakes is a deep and heartfelt examination of growing up in Middle America at a time when spiritual guidance comes from Luke Skywalker and KISS. Pop culture has replaced religion for a young boy in Ohio, and this collection of poems shows us how he uses modern mythologies to navigate the deterioration of his family.

Poet Jason Schossler conjures images of childhood that evoke both the resilience of youth and its vulnerabilities.


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What Others Are Saying

“[Jason Schossler] writes movingly of life in Middle America… a lovely connection in many, many ways.”

─ Dee Perry, National Public Radio

“Seal it in a time capsule. This is--and forever will be--the boy on Amelia Avenue. Mud Cakes is a masterpiece.”

— Jerry Spinelli, Newbery Award-winning author of Maniac Magee and Stargirl

“In richly detailed poem-stories about a small-town Ohio childhood, Jason Schossler enacts the vertigo of individual experience inside collective memory: Star Wars games, car parts, Anglophilia among the Cocoa Puffs, a mother’s mouth ‘forming the zeros of loss,’ a neighbor whose ‘eyes shone like glass bottles out of the sea’ in his fervor for Jesus. Mud Cakes is alert and detail-rich, charming and estranging in just the right proportion. Reading it, we learn more about what it means to grow up American.”

— Daisy Fried, Puschcart Prize-winning author of She Didn’t Mean to Do it and My Brother is Getting Arrested Again

“Move over, Walt. Jason Schossler has arrived. This first volume sings with an unmistakable voice, as Schossler celebrates his Ohio boyhood, his journey through adolescence and his infatuation with pop culture. The poems are stunningly sharp, sometimes at once comic and melancholic, consistently attentive to detail and always comfortably and unabashedly American. Mud Cakes just may be the Leaves of Grass of this century.”

— Margaret Ingraham, author of This Holy Alphabet and Proper Words for Birds

“In Travels with Charley, John Steinbeck calls Route 90 through Ashtabula County, Ohio, a ‘wide eventless way’ as he drives on in search of America. In his brilliant poem, ‘Steinbeck's Route,’ and throughout Mud Cakes, Jason Schossler conjures the vital lives and vibrantly gimcracked landscape of an America Steinbeck would have missed. Here is a poet unafraid to name names--Jo Jo Simrak, Chucky Strong, Lickey's Ice Cream, Eddie's Grille, not to mention Chewbacca, Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Jesus, and St. Anthony. In these wildly populated poems Schossler announces himself a master of narrative collage. From Space Yo-Yos to Bubble Yum to Underroos (with equal homage paid to a convert's eyes shining ‘like glass bottles / out of the sea’ and a host dry on the tongue ‘like a scrap of white cloth’) this poet somehow transfigures the consumerist clutter of America into the necessity and urgency of art. Stanley Kunitz encouraged poets ‘to live in the layers not in the litter.’ Jason Schossler discovers the layers in the litter, and from the litter, amazingly, he makes literature. The Force is with him.”

— Daniel Tobin, Guggenheim fellow, and author of Narrows and Second Things

"Jason Schossler’s poems touch the sky, buy drywall, and contemplate backyard mysteries. They tell stories. They spit ketchup to be like Gene Simmons. Their porches fall under the weight of sadness. They call us home to pay attention to objects that can’t help but accumulate our pragmatic, hopeful lives."

— Daniel Nester, author of How to Be Inappropriate and God Save My Queen: A Tribute

“In his first poetry collection, Mud Cakes, Jason Schossler tells perfectly formed tales with a brave boy hero who was paying attention as he grew up in the 70s and 80s. If you’ve forgotten about sitting two inches from the TV to turn the knob by hand, the smell of cap gun smoke, the singe of sparkler embers on your forearm, it’s OK, because Schossler remembers for us. Add to it the calamine lotion, Quisp cereal, fossils, cracked robin’s egg, and mud cakes. This book will break your heart. If not, somewhere along the line—amidst the nostalgia and cravings for comfort food— your heart will break for your own childhood.”

─ Julie Luongo, author of The Hard Way

"The modern adult was raised on a diet of plenty of pulpy pop culture. 'Mud Cakes' is a collection of poetry from Jason Schossler, who shows that the mythology and legend of the modern era tells a tale of life just as well as Zeus and Dickens. With plenty of humor that hides a very profound message, 'Mud Cakes' is a choice pick, not to be overlooked."

─ The Midwest Book Review

"Winner of the 2010 Melissa Lanitis Gregory Poetry Prize, this quietly powerful autobiographical collection chronicles a Midwestern Gen-X boyhood, where exciting dreams of Star Wars and movie monsters give way to the more drab and painful struggles of his parents’ divorce, and the losing battle of his Catholic conscience against teenage lust. Schossler narrates the essential facts of a moment that stands in for an entire relationship, allowing the reader to make the connections that his childhood self couldn’t see."

─ Jendi Reiter,

"Mud Cakes entertains with brilliant realizations and child-like thoughts.... This book of poetry can be read, enjoyed and related to by boys of all ages."

- Lehigh Valley Style

"Schossler’s poems offer harshly honest recollections of his childhood with vivid realism that makes you clench his lines in your teeth until you feel tension radiate your jaws. Anyone who has experienced intense familial conflict, divorce, or rocky financial realities growing up will connect with many of Schossler's poems."

- Ben Arnold, LeRue Review Poetry Editor

Author Readings and Book Signings

October 6, 2011
Wooster High School
1331 East Plumb Lane
Reno, NV 89502
Contact: Ben Arnold (

October 7, 2011
South Lake Tahoe High School
1735 Lake Tahoe Blvd.
South Lake Tahoe, CA  96150 

Lake Tahoe Community College
1 College Drive, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150
Contact: Suzanne Robert (

December 1, 2011
University of Southern Georgia
Georgia Southern University
1332 Southern Drive
Statesboro, GA 30458
Contact: John Harvey (

February 13, 2012
University of Tennessee-Knoxville
Knoxville, TN 37996
Contact: Dr. Marilyn Kallet (

February 29, 2012
Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, 7:00 pm
P.O. Box 730
Kutztown, PA 19530
Contact: Dr. Heather Thomas (

March 11, 2012
2:00 pm
The Writer’s Center
4508 Walsh Street
Bethesda MD 20815

March 20, 2012
Cobalt Café
2047 Sherman Way
Canoga Park, CA 91303
Contact: Rick Lupert (

April 2, 2012
6-8 pm
BardFest 2012
T.E.A. Factory Co.
580 Willow Street
Reading, PA 19601

April 14, 2012
3:00 pm
Baldwin’s Book Barn
865 Lenape Road
Rte. 52
West Chester, PA 19380
Contact: Kenneth Hines (

April 21, 2012
Mac's Backs ─ Books on Coventry
1820 Coventry Rd.
Cleveland Heights, Ohio  44118

May 4, 2012
College of Southern Nevada
3200 E. Cheyenne Ave.
North Las Vegas, NV 89030
Contact: Todd Moffett (

May 18, 2012

Freedom High School
3149 Chester Avenue
Bethlehem, PA 18020

April 6, 2013

Poetry Center
Distinguished Poets Series
Passaic County Community College
Hamilton Club Building
32 Church Street
Paterson, N.J. 07544


Mud Cakes Trailer

About the Trailer

Mud Cakes: A Poet's Journey
Written and Produced by Jason Schossler
Directed by Ryan Beacher

"Alive and Sky High"
Performed by Poppy's Primates;
Vocals: Kristy Wechsler Huff; whistles and claps: Brad Huff; guitars: Jason Schossler; bass: Eric Wechsler; dums: Jared Steckel; written by Brad Huff and Jason Schossler; recorded and produced by Brad Huff and Jared Steckel at Tentacle Six Studioes in Palmer, Pa.

* For more information about Tentacle Six Studios, check out

A special thanks to Dr. Jim Nechas, Eileen Nechas, Julie Luongo, Priscilla Schwenk, Dale Schossler, Nicole Banas, Diego Maugeri, Donna Moore, Kim Wyatt, Erin Bechtol, Bona Fide Books, and the folks at Eddie's Grille in Ashtabula, Ohio, for assisting in the production of this book trailer.

Production Photos

Click photo for larger view.