Tag Archives: poet

Guest Blog Post: Poetry and Image by Anne Leigh Parrish

Hello everyone! Author Anthony Avina here. I am happy to be sharing with you all this amazing guest post from author and poet Anne Leigh Parrish, where she discusses poetry and the utilization of visual representation in poetry. I hope you all will enjoy this stop in association with the Poetic Book Tours. Look for my review of the author’s upcoming book on November 4th. 


Poetry is a visual expression, even when it’s about politics, or feminism, or how nasty people can be. In poems, words evoke both what we feel and see. This is important to me, I’d say even crucial. Since leaving the urban mess of Seattle four years ago and coming to the quiet of a Northwest forest outside of Olympia, I find nature supplies a great deal of visual stimulation to write about.

Many poems begin with an image—something I notice and want to capture. Moss hanging from a branch; the darting of a jay; how a gust of wind gives a suddenness to how trees move.

Once the image is expressed in words, I delve into what those words mean. If moss drapes a branch, what else drapes, when, and why? A ring drapes a finger, for instance, but that draping is intentional, not the result of a natural process – or is it? This is where poetry gets really fun, because the ring on the finger could, in fact, result from an expression of love, man to woman, or man to man, and love is a recognized natural process. 

I also like to underscore differences among things and explore commonly held ideas and expectations, quite often about women. Returning to moss as a poetic subject, looking at it you might think it feels soft and silky, but it doesn’t. It’s rough and scratchy. Its appearance is deceptive, and in one poem I say moss evolved, went one way / then another which improved its chances / like a woman / nice to be reminded things / aren’t always as they seem, even if / truth at first disappoints

How many women feel the weight of the world’s expectations on them, particularly about how they look?

Using an image to shift the poetic drive or narrative into an unexpected direction is another way I craft my work. Violence against women is a theme I return to again and again, usually to raise awareness of the issue in general, but sometimes as a vehicle to open another door and prompt another discussion. This is where poetry and philosophy tend to blend and lose their boundaries. What if a woman finds herself needing the help of a man who then destroys her, and the poem reveals that it wasn’t because she was weak, or vulnerable, too trusting, or naïve, but because she had been distracted by something beautiful and thus let her guard down? She then reflects wryly from the afterlife that beauty gets her every time. 

Sometimes I like to start with a metaphor and build a world around it that stands on its own logic, even if what it’s depicting has no logic. I see this as another way poetry can bend reality. In my poem “even the trees went under” a couple’s home is gradually falling apart from heavy rain. Obviously, the story represents how bad things have gotten between them, and as the water rises and they climb higher in the home, the woman turns into a mermaid and is faced with a life or death decision: will she save the man, or leave him alone to drown?

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The title piece from my new collection explores the idea of objectivity in the face of turmoil. Two souls are held together by their not entirely healthy need for one another. They realize they’re really one monster, twirling before the sky / laughing at stars/ daring the moon to cut us apart. But the moon won’t be dared . . . how we love her joyous remove / up there alone. Again, nature as a force and backdrop comes into play, now as something uninvolved, coolly reflecting the occasional absurdity of the human condition.

On my last trip to Arizona, an elderly couple walked across the parking lot toward the restaurant where I was having dinner. They were backlit by a gorgeous Southwestern sunset. Their manner suggested years of life together, and for some reason, these images came down to the idea of a needle and the work that needles can do, in particular holding things together. This couple walked like looped stitches/ in the slanted evening light and through their many years they have/sewn, pulled apart / frayed / and dropped the needle’s thread / but now they rest and / gather up their loosened strands/ bound together / always.

I’ve been married for decades, and this fact too no doubt informed that piece.

And what of life overall? The gradual passing of time? How to express the understanding of one’s mortality? You have to have reached a certain age for these questions to be relevant, even poignant and yes, I’m there. I remember my mother saying to grow old was to become increasingly detached, and this idea became the basis for the poem I quote here, in its entirety (it’s brief) and logically entitled “time.”

let’s call it a study in detachment / gradual drift from passion to prayer / then even that loses strength / we grow quiet, soft, and slow/joyous in the face of this timely withdrawal / we’ve given  so much, we’re ready now to hold a little back from / this riot of shifting light we know / as life

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About the Author/Poet

Anne’s first fiction publication appeared in the Autumn 1995 issue of The Virginia Quarterly Review. That story, “A Painful Shade of Blue,” served as the basis for more fiction describing the divorce of her parents when she was still quite young. Her later stories focused on women struggling to find identity and voice in a world that was often hostile to the female experience.

In 2002, Anne won first place in a small contest sponsored by Clark County Community College in Vancouver, Washington. In 2003 she won the Willamette Award from Clackamas Community College in Oregon; in 2007 she took first place in highly esteemed American Short Fiction annual prize; and in 2008 she again won first place in the annual contest held by the literary review, The Pinch.

The story appearing in American Short Fiction“All The Roads that Lead From Home” became the title story in her debut collection, published in 2011 by Press 53. The book won a coveted Silver Medal in the 2012 Independent Publisher Book Awards. Two years later, a collection of linked stories about the Dugan family in Upstate New York, Our Love Could Light The World, was published by She Writes Press.

Her debut novel, What Is Found, What Is Lost appeared in 2014. This multi-generational tale speculates on the nature of religious faith and family ties, and was inspired by her own grandparents who emigrated to the United States in 1920.

A third collection of short stories appeared in 2017 from Unsolicited Press. By The Wayside uses magical realism and ordinary home life to portray women in absurd, difficult situations.

Women Within, her second novel, was published in September 2017 by Black Rose Writing. Another multi-generational story, it weaves together three lives at the Lindell Retirement home, using themes of care-giving, women’s rights, and female identity.

Her third novel, The Amendment, was released in June 2018 by Unsolicited Press. Lavinia Dugan Starkhurst, who first appeared in Our Love Could Light The World, is suddenly widowed and takes herself on a cross-country road trip in search of something to give her new life meaning.

Maggie’s Ruse, novel number four, appears October 2019 from Unsolicited Press, and continues with the Dugan family, this time focusing on identical twins, Maggie and Marta.

What Nell Dreams, came out in November 2020 from Unsolicited. This collection of sixteen short stories also features a novella, Mavis Muldoon.

The next installment in the Dugan families series, A Winter Night, was released in March 2021 from Unsolicited Press. Anne’s fifth novel focuses on eldest Dugan Angie and her frustrations as a thirty-four-year-old social worker in a retirement home.

Anne has been married for many years to her fine, wise, and witty husband John Christiansen. They have two adult children in their twenties, John Jr., and Lauren.

About Lydia Selk 

Lydia Selk is an artist who resides in the pacic northwest with her sweet husband. She has been creating  analog collages for several years. Lydia can often be found in her studio with scalpel in hand, cat sleeping on her  lap, and a layer of paper confetti at her feet. You can see more of her work on instagram.com/lydiafairymakesart

Passages: Death, Dementia, and Everything in Between by H.M. Gooden Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

The subtle notes of pain and joy and everything in between that we as a people experience in life are explored through poetry and prose in author H.M. Gooden’s “Passages: Death, Dementia, and Everything In Between”.

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The Synopsis

Life is full of surprises;

full of laughter, love, and losses.

This collection explores the transitions between highs and lows through poetry and prose.

May you find the words on these pages as much a balm to guide you through rocky seas as they have been for me.

The Review

This was such an emotionally driven and heartfelt read. The author and poet does an incredible job of bringing life’s most simple and beautiful (and sad) moments to life, and capturing the raw emotions that go through us all in those personal moments. The balance the author found between the moments of reflection on personal moments and experiences with the actual poetry that acted as snippets of moments in time was expertly crafted in this collection.

The heart of this book was the depth of emotion the author dived head-first into and brought to the surface for readers to experience. The way the author was able to relay such personal experiences and the memories of her life and somehow write it in a way that felt personal to the reader as well brilliantly allowed the reader to feel the very real connection we all as a people share with one another. 

The Verdict

An emotional roller-coaster that takes readers on a journey of life’s darkest and brightest experiences, author H.M. Gooden’s “Passages” is a must-read poetry collection of 2021. The engaging way the author relayed their own experiences to the reader and made it feel personal to everyone who read it was fascinating and heartfelt to see unfold, and the artistic way the poems were delivered really created a stark visual in the reader’s minds that is not to be missed. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

H. M. Gooden has been scribbling on everything since she first learned how to hold a pencil. While often told that her handwriting was atrocious, she persisted, and upon discovering computers and learning how to type, she realized that she was no longer limited by her (admittedly) messy writing.

Unfortunately, life, work, and family have conspired to make it only possible to write in the wee hours or at coffee shops, so most of her love of reading and writing are indulged at times when only vampires and insomniacs abound.

In October of 2017, her love of writing and the characters in the world she created burst into public view in her first book, Dream of Darkness, which follows the adventures of a group of girls fighting evil with abilities that H. M. Gooden would love to have.

When not writing fantasy, H. M. Gooden writes non-fiction pieces exploring the emotions and situations that arise in her day job as a rural family doc. As a result, 4 am has never been busier, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.

Sign up to H. M. Gooden’s newsletter for information on upcoming releases and other random musings at

https://www.subscribepage.com/hmgooden

Palm Lines by Jonathan Koven Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Author and poet Jonathan Koven explores the transformative journey that is life in his short book of poetry, “Palm Lines”.

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The Synopsis

These heartfelt poems speak to a transformative journey “to rediscover love as both a question and an answer.” Seeking hope, honoring family, finding love, accepting time’s passage, and understanding gratitude are all major themes explored in this dreamlike collection. 

The Review

This was quite a powerful and emotionally-driven collection of poetry. The author and poet has done an amazing job of balancing the imagery used to conjure up memories of the past, present, and things yet to come with the more in-depth and personal emotional journey that is embedded into those memories. The way the author utilizes a more metaphysical narrative to explore the emotions of these poems really stood out from the rest of the other poetry books I’ve read, splitting up each section of the book into the Heart, Head, and Life Lines that goes typically into reading palms. 

The poems themselves came across beautifully, perfectly capturing the raw emotions that the author poured into each verse. The poetry often read like a haunting melody or song, captivating the reader to live these memories for themselves and take on the feelings that they often invoked, as well as bringing to mind the shared experiences that people could relate with within this narrative, metaphysical poetry.

Amazon Music: Six Months of Disney+

The Verdict

A breathtaking, heartfelt, and memorable read, author and poet Jonathan Koven’s “Palm Lines” is a must-read book of poetry. The way the author blends nature and metaphysical themes into the more personal narratives of the poems themselves really stood out in a positive way, making this book shine. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Jonathan Koven grew up on Long Island, NY, embraced by tree-speak, tide’s rush, and the love and support of his family. He holds a BA in English and Creative Writing from American University, works as a technical writer, and is Toho Journal’s head fiction editor and workshop coordinator. He lives in Philadelphia with his best friend and future wife Delana, and cats Peanut Butter and Keebler. Read Jonathan’s debut chapbook Palm Lines, now available from Toho Publishing. His award-winning novella Below Torrential Hill is expected winter 2021 from Electric Eclectic. Find more of his short fiction and poetry in:

• American Literary [2012; spring 2013]

• Toho Journal [vol. 1, issue 2]

• Cathexis Northwest [May 2020]

• The Lindenwood Review [issue 10]

• Pub House Books’ Gravitas [vol. 19, issue 1]

• 25 Servings of SOOP [vol.1]

• Paragon Press’ Echo [issue 8]

• Night Picnic Press [June 2020]

• Assure Press’ Iris Literary [fall 2020]

• Black Mountain Press’ Halcyone Literary [vol. 3, issue 3]

• The Dewdrop [April 2021]

• The Dillydoun Review [April 2021]

• 300 Days of Sun [summer 2021]

• Grattan Street Press [fall 2021]

• Head & The Hand Press’ Hindsight is 2020 [fall 2021] 

https://jonathanadamkoven.wixsite.com/portfolio

Passiflora by Kathy Davis Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Author and Poet Kathy Davis shares a collection of poetry that highlights life’s everyday struggles and some of life’s toughest battles in her poetry collection, “Passiflora”.

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The Synopsis

Passiflora is a collection of poems about our day-to-day struggles with loss, raising children, relationships, aging and creating art, and how the nature that surrounds us informs how we view these challenges and sometimes serves as a source of solace.

The Review

A beautifully written and emotional narrative unfolds across this amazing collection. The author has a wonderful way of marrying the imagery of nature with the emotional core of life and the events that often define us. From the book’s very first poems, readers are treated to a unique perspective on life in general, comparing the care for a garden to the care one must show for ourselves physically and mentally, not leaving grief or sorrow to fester or grow on its own in the poem HOW TO GROW WILD.

The author manages to pack a lot of heart and soul into a short read. Readers can truly feel the passion radiating off of the page, exploring the simplest to the most complex and emotionally-driven events life has to offer us all. The author’s words are layered and do a great job of getting the reader to read and re-read the book over and over again to gain new insight into what each poem is bringing forth to the reader’s mind.

The Verdict

A masterful, artful, and mesmerizing book of poetry, author and Poet Kathy Davis’s “Passiflora” is a must-read. A truly heartfelt and emotional journey that readers won’t want to put down, be sure to grab your copies today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Kathy Davis is a poet and nonfiction writer who received her MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University. Her poetry manuscript, Passiflora, won the 2019 Cider Press Review Book Award and was released in February 2021. She is also the author of the chapbook Holding for the Farrier(Finishing Line Press). Her work has appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Barrow Street, Blackbird, Diode, The Hudson Review, Nashville Review, Oxford American, The Southern Review, story South and other journals. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and been a finalist for Best of the Net and the Conger Beasley Jr. Award for Nonfiction. After raising their two boys, she and her husband moved to an old farmhouse outside of Richmond, Va., where she tends a wildflower meadow when not writing.

https://kathydaviswrites.com/

MY NORTH STAR: AN ORIGINAL POEM BY ANTHONY AVINA

In honor of Mother’s Day, I’d like to share this poem I wrote for my own mother, Christina Avina. She has been a constant source of love, support and strength in my life, and is one of my best friends in the whole world. We are co-founders of our own paranormal podcast and investigative group known as Phenomenon Paranormal, and she has been a huge source of inspiration not only for my work in this field but in my writing career as well. Mom, I love you with all my heart. Thank you for everything you’ve done for me in my life, and for giving me the strength to move forward each and every day in the face of all that has been thrown in our path. I am fortunate to have had you in my life, and I look forward to what our future will bring us. I love you mucho mucho, to the moon and back.

Love,

Anthony

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My North Star

Through gnarled branches and scarred trees,

Past the edges of the growing forest and raging wind,

I see your light shining against the breeze, 

My North Star.


Over looming hills and under thrashing seas,

Across an ocean in search of me,

You find me with your smile of warmth,

My North Star.


Against all odds from childhood and beyond,

From nights of terror to pain from within,

You have guided the ship that is my life,

My North Star.


A piercing sword in the dark,

Repelling all that would wound my body and soul,

You clash against the crushing weight of negativity,

My North Star.


The embodiment of hope and love in a world of sadness,

You become the messenger of forgotten gods and missing heroes,

A towering warrior and loving mother sharing one body,

My North Star.


Facing the future by shedding the past,

Becoming the symbol of light against the dark,

You hold me in your motherly arms with love and heart,

My North Star. 

Anything That Happens by Cheryl Wilder Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Author and Poet Cheryl Wilder shares an intimate and personal look into a time of tragedy and pain and showcases the path towards a second chance at life in the book, “Anything That Happens”.

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The Synopsis

At the age of twenty, Cheryl Wilder got behind the wheel when she was too drunk to drive. She emerged from the car physically whole. Her passenger, a close friend, woke up from a coma four months later with a life-changing brain injury. Anything That Happens follows her journey from a young adult consumed by shame and self-hatred to a woman she can live with… and even respect. Along the way, Wilder marries, has a son, divorces, and cares for her dying mother. Anything That Happens examines what it takes to reconcile a past marked by a grave mistake, a present as caregiver to many, and a future that stretches into one long second chance.

The Review

A truly emotional and deep read, author and poet Cheryl Wilder does a fantastic job of conveying the raw emotions that swirled around her in those painful moments during and after the fateful car crash that changed her and her friend’s lives forever. The author’s words cut deep, exploring the light and darkness of her life and in essence the light and dark that we all face at one point or another in our own lives. 

Slipped I, II, and III were definitely the most gut-punching and visceral poems of the collection, highlighting the traumatic experience the car accident took on the two friends that night. The author also explores the present and the future in this collection, from her years taking care of her dying mother to the rise and fall of her own family and looking ahead, and finding peace and redemption in life. 

The jumble of pain, memories, and yearning in the face of great loss is not only felt in the author’s powerful writing but resonates with so many, including this author, who watched his own mother have to say goodbye to his grandmother in much the same way just two short years ago. Great writing such as this does a great job of connecting readers with the author’s emotions, and this book does just that.

The Verdict

A heartbreaking walk into the past and written in a beautiful symphony of emotions and memories, author Cheryl Wilder’s “Anything That Happens” is a must-read poetry book. A truly honest and memorable collection of poetry that touches the soul and tugs at the heartstrings as readers feel the author’s raw feelings pour out onto the page, readers will not want to miss this incredible journey for themselves. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Cheryl Wilder is the author of Anything That Happens, a Tom Lombardo Poetry Selection (Press 53, 2021), a collection that examines how to reconcile a past grave mistake and a future that stretches into one long second chance. Her chapbook, What Binds Us (Finishing Line Press, 2017), explores the frailty and necessity of human connection. 

A founder and editor of Waterwheel Review, Cheryl earned her BFA from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and her MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Guest Blog Post: Inspiration and the Cabinet of Curiosities by Poet Kathy Davis

I am proud to share this amazing guest blog post from author and poet Kathy Davis for her upcoming blog tour for her book, “Passiflora”, which I will be reviewing on May 10th. Please enjoy this wonderful post the poet shared with us all.


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Inspiration and the Cabinet of Curiosities

Imagine a stash of foreign objects that people inhaled or swallowed—by accident or on purpose—and had to have surgically removed from their throat, esophagus or lungs. Buttons, hatpins, bones, nuts, nails, screws, a doll’s eye, dentures, a Christmas ornament, keys, opera glasses, a crucifix and more. You can spend hours exploring a collection of 2,374 of them in the Chevalier Jackson Collection at the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia, many neatly displayed in drawers whose contents you are welcome to examine. 

Jackson was an otolaryngologist in the late 19th and early 20th centuries who developed methods for removing obstructions from airways and food passages. He saved and cataloged everything he removed (and the stories behind them)—a quirky obsession (his middle name after all was Quixote). But don’t writers do something similar? I have an equally weird collection of oddities stored in my journals—unusual objects, places or stories I was drawn to record, some of which emerge in my writing, including a few of the poems in Passiflora.

My father inherited a shoebox of photographs taken at a family graveside funeral during the Roaring Twenties, picture after picture of people lined up behind a casket mounded with flowers. But someone had snipped off the top half of each one so that the family and friends gathered were only shown from the waist down and couldn’t be identified. Who was it that the scissor-wielder was trying to hide? Years later, I described the photos in a piece for a fiction-writing class. “That’s so creative!” the instructor said. “Who would take pictures at a funeral?!” I was too embarrassed to say that, well, actually my family did, and tucked the idea away out of shame until a variation of it emerged in the poem “Starlings”: Her own mother careful/to cut faces from the photographs.

“Ruins, Trophies, Palms” was inspired by a warning a friend received from her neighbor that a wolf had been seen just off their country road. “Don’t go outside,” the neighbor said. “It’s too dangerous!” A practical, yet intrepid, person, my friend was skeptical. We don’t have wolves in Virginia. Venturing out, she did find a wolf, but one that a hunter had preserved through taxidermy and was using for target practice. It was full of bullet holes—an image just itching to find its way into a poem.

Not looking where I was going, I collided with a stranger one evening in the French Quarter in New Orleans. When I turned to apologize, I was startled to see a woman who had painted her hair and body white and was naked except for two white ceramic fig leaves glued over her breasts and a white drape from the waist down. She frowned and quickly moved on while I gaped. Later, I saw her posing as a Greek statue in Jackson Square, dollar bills collecting in her cardboard box. Her image emerged in “At the Boundary of Desire.”

The Gospel Chicken House in “Revelations” operated for over 35 years in the county where I live. The owners equipped the long low structure of an old poultry barn with the sound equipment, seating and concession stands needed to hold a Saturday night music ministry for several hundred attendees, most of whom considered it their church. I visited once before it closed to listen to that night’s band and enjoy a hotdog and some pie. Much of the evening’s experience made it into the poem: Welcome to Saturday night live/at the chicken house. Yep, that’s how they opened the show.

There are other little oddities from my “collection” scattered about in Passiflora. The number on the ambulance I followed in “Battle City” was, as described, the unlucky 13. (Who thought that was a good idea?) And Sarah Cannon in “Mrs. Cannon Passes the Parthenon on Her Way Home from Work” truly was a hillbilly comedian on stage and an elegant pillar of Nashville society in real life, a duality that still fascinates me. I don’t have my curiosities stored tidily in drawers like Jackson—they’re jotted down haphazardly in a mismatched assortment of notebooks—but I value them no less. And they help make writing fun. 

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Author Bio


Kathy Davis is a poet and nonfiction writer who received her MFA from Virginia Commonwealth
University. Her poetry manuscript, Passiflora, won the 2019 Cider Press Review Book Award and was released in February 2021. She is also the author of the chapbook Holding for the Farrier(Finishing Line Press). Her work has appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Barrow Street, Blackbird, Diode, The Hudson Review, Nashville Review, Oxford American, The Southern Review, story South and other journals. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and been a finalist for Best of the Net and the Conger Beasley Jr. Award for Nonfiction. After raising their two boys, she and her husband moved to an old farmhouse outside of Richmond, Va., where she tends a wildflower meadow when not writing.

https://kathydaviswrites.com/

Guest Blog Post by Author/Poet Elizabeth Hazen

I am honored to share with you a fantastic guest blog post from author and poet Elizabeth Hazen, as part of the wonderful blog tour for “Girls Like Us”.

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For Christmas, which seems like three lifetimes ago, my parents gave my husband a book of interesting words from around the world*. An engineer who has a soft spot for spoonerisms, puns, and wordplay in every form, he found instant delight in this book. Did you know that Germans have a word for the weight we gain from stress-eating? Kummerspeck. Or that the Scots have a word for that awkward pause when you’ve forgotten the name of the person you’re introducing? Tartle. Among my favorites are the whimsical Swedish smultronställe, a place of wild strawberries; the romantic Italian dormiveglia, the space between sleeping and waking; and the essential Japanese tsundoku, that pile of unread books on my bedside table that grows with each passing month. 

Needless to say, I took that book of words from my husband, adding one more to my stack.

Getting through my tsundoku – or at least managing it – is one of my goals for this summer. I am a teacher, and the summer brings with it the beautiful freedom of longer days and fewer responsibilities, but the lack of structure –ironically, frustratingly, and inevitably – invites bad habits and a gradual decline into despair over the time I fear I am wasting. As a result, I know I need to impose some kind of schedule – a routine that will keep me on track. Part of that routine, I have decided, will include reading more poetry. 

One of the lessons I most love to teach to my seventh-grade students involves defining poetry. We examine a range of definitions – the top of our heads being blown off, the best words in the best order, language at its most distilled and most powerful. We can debate the specifics, note our preferences, but that words are the poet’s medium is indisputable. Imperfect, delicious, malleable, living, breathing words. It is my love of words that I always return to during the darkest moments, and boy are these days dark. 

In a review of my recent collection, Girls Like Us, Nandini Bhattacharya defines the poem as “ineffable interrogator, ethicist and chronicler of human history.” Indeed, I certainly have found more accuracy and truth in poems than in the newspaper, more solace in poems than in meditation or exercise, more freedom in poems than in the endless walks I take to escape the confines of quarantine. As when I was in the thick of adolescent depression, poems come to rescue me, to remind me that the legacy of human sadness and loss and pain is infinite, but so is our legacy of resilience and power and change. 

Perhaps poems allow us to do what the Dutch call uitwaaien: “to take a break and walk away from the demands of life to clear one’s head.” Or maybe life demands poems, and it is precisely in these moments of trauma and fear and violence that we must dive in head-first. Whatever they do, I am grateful for them. Here are several recent collections by women that I highly recommend. Each, in its own way, has given me what the Icelandic call radljóst: enough light to find my way.

Difficult Fruit by Lauren K. Alleyne, Peepal Tree, 2014

Thrust by Heather Derr-Smith, Persea Books, 2017

American Samizdat by Jehanne Dubrow, Diode Editions, 2019

The Miracles by Amy Lemmon, C&R Press, 2018

Voyage of the Sable Venus by Robin Coste Lewis, Knopf, 2016

Code by Charlotte Pence, Black Lawrence Press, 2020

How to Exterminate the Black Woman by Monica Prince, [Pank Books], 2019

American Lyric Trilogy by Claudia Rankine, Graywolf, 2004, 2014, 2020

The State She’s In by Lesley Wheeler, Tinderbox Editions, 2020

*The book of words I refer to is Other Wordly: Words Both Strange and Lovely from Around the World by Yee-Lum Yak with illustrations by Kelsey Garrity-Riley

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About the Author:

Elizabeth Hazen is a poet, essayist, and teacher. A Maryland native, she came of age in a suburb of Washington, D.C. in the pre-internet, grunge-tinted 1990s, when women were riding the third wave of feminism and fighting the accompanying backlash. She began writing poems when she was in middle school, after a kind-hearted librarian handed her Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s A Coney Island of the Mind. She has been reading and writing poems ever since.

Hazen’s work explores issues of addiction, mental health, and sexual trauma, as well as the restorative power of love and forgiveness. Her poems have appeared in Best American Poetry, American Literary Review, Shenandoah, Southwest Review, The Threepenny Review, The Normal School, and other journals. Alan Squire Publishing released her first book, Chaos Theories, in 2016. Girls Like Us is her second collection. She lives in Baltimore with her family.

GoodReads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/50162841-girls-like-us

Amazon Link: https://amzn.to/2U4wdtg

Alan Squire Publishing (also available is a SoundCloud Audio reading from her first collection): https://alansquirepublishing.com/book-authors/elizabeth-hazen/

Schedule for Blog Tour:

May 4: Musings of a Bookish Kitty (Review)

May 15: Allie Reads (Review)

May 19: the bookworm (Guest Post)

May 26: The Book Lover’s Boudoir (Review)

May 28: Impressions in Ink (Review)

June 2: Vidhya Thakkar (Review)

June 9: Everything Distils Into Reading (Review)

June 11: Read, Write and Life Around It (Review)

June 15: Readaholic Zone (Review)

June 16: Read, Write and Life Around It (Interview – tentative)

June 24: Anthony Avina Blog (Review)

June 26: Anthony Avina Blog (Guest Post)

June 30: Review Tales by Jeyran Main (Review)

July 9: The Book Connection (Review)

July 22: Diary of an Eccentric (Review)

July 7: CelticLady’s Reviews (Spotlight/video)

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The Colors of Me by Maya and Jello Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

It is a true honor to share with you all a rare treat, a review of an outstanding audiobook from Maya and Jello of the book of poetry, “The Colors of Me”. 

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The Synopsis

A Collection of Poems Welcome to The Colors of Me, a collection of poems based on inspirations gained from my life experiences. Read and enjoy. Then read again. Read and share the experience with your friends and loved ones. It is a journey you will not soon forget.

The Review

Beautifully narrated, the poems are written and read with conviction and heart, telling a story of growth, empowerment and hope. While some of the poetry does stem into some religious paths (something that is not my strong suit), the overall tone and power for which the poems were delivered made this a must listen/read book.

Themes of self-worth, the beauty of the world and finding hope in seemingly hopeless situations all play a role in the poetry of the author. The audiobook elicits great emotion and warmth within the reader/listener, giving the audience a voice to the emotions the author hoped to stir in them. 

The Verdict

A beautifully read, well narrated and incredibly written book of poetry, Maya and Jello’s “The Colors of Me” is a must listen audiobook everyone should hear for themselves. In an age when audiobooks are becoming more and more prevalent, this is a prime example of the beauty and emotion that this format can bring out in the wonderful words written by the author. Be sure to grab your own copies today!

Rating: 8/10

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Audiobook Blog Tour: The Colors of Me by Maya and Jello

Author: Maya and Jello

Narrator: Maya and Jello

Length: 53 minutes

Publisher: M&J Literary Works Inc.

Released: Jan. 28, 2020

Genre: Poetry

A collection of poems. The critics are raving four/four stars. The Colors of Me is a collection of beautiful poems. The author’s creativity is amazing. It’s bold, sexy, spiritual, yet intriguing. Welcome to The Colors of Me. Each poem was written based on inspirations gained from my life experiences. Listen and enjoy. Then listen again. Listen and share the experience with your friends and loved ones. It is a journey you will not soon forget.
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the Colors of Me is available for review from the Adopt-An-Audiobook program! Click here to claim your copy.
  Maya and Jello was born and raised on the beautiful island of Trinidad, the sister island of Tobago in the West Indies. She migrated to the United States as a young teenager. Her main objective was to obtain a great education in the hopes of affording a better life for herself, her family, and to be a blessing to those around her. This quest led her to attain a Doctorate in medicine. But she never let go of her passion for writing poetry. Her works have been published in various school publications under various pen names. During medical school she wrote a segment in the College newspaper under the pen name Sparkie. The poems in this collection were written over a span of 30 years. She hopes that you enjoy reading them, as much as she enjoyed writing them for you.   I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Maya and Jello. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it. Guest Post
Maya and Jello on why readers who love poetry will appreciate this the Colors of Me
If you possess a true appreciation for the art of poetry whether it be pros, verse, lines, or sonnets. Whatever format, whatever flavor. There is something in The Colors of Me written just for you. Each poem embodies the entirety of and experience. And all of the experiences are different. The poems are designed to open up like a flower in bloom and then if needs be fall apart petal by petal. It is in this that I’m able to take the hand of the listener and lead them down a path; meandering through the darkened corners of emotions that we so often hide. Each poem is chock-full of imagery. Who doesn’t have that Mother or Grandmother, Teacher or Preacher who made such a difference in their lives? Who hasn’t experience the wind being knocked out of their sails by betrayal or a lost love? If you’ve ever felt something, ….anything. Then you’ll certainly appreciate The Colors of Me. A good poet can make you cry but I pride myself in making you laugh, and moreover at yourself. The heartfelt romantic pieces are a melee of unbridled emotion. They would ignite the passions in your soul and rekindle what you have, take you back to a time or make you long for that perfect love. You’ll rise to the triumphs and sink in the squalor of inexplicable pain. But just as you think you are about to break, you’ll hear a poem, a message, seemingly straight from the heart of God himself that would lift your spirits, that would mend your heart. It would rekindle your passion for life and living. You’d feel empowered to dust yourself off and rise to the occasion. You’ll gain the strength to embrace your past and forge forward to bigger and better things. And who knows, with faith in your left pocket and hope in your right, you may even venture to love again.

Unstoppable– Koryn Hawthorne

It’s The God in Me– Mary Mary

Closer– Marvin Sapp

Not Lucky I’m Loved– Jonathan Reynolds

The Nearness of You– Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong

One Look In Your Eyes– Luther Vandross

A Song for You– Donny Hathaway

That’s Life– Frank Sinatra

Keep Your Head Up– 2Pac

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