Tag Archives: poetry

The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes by Raven Howell Review

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

Author Raven Howell invites young readers and parents alike to delight in the magic and wonder that is poetry in the book “The 20 Little Poems For 20 Little Gnomes”.

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The Synopsis

Discover the magic in simple moments when a child peers in the mirror to unintentionally come upon his smile, where kittens nap in boots, fairy hugs feel good, mice delight in reading books, and January snowflakes taste yummy.

Twenty whimsical poems warm the heart and inspire cheer; a collection enticing both the young and seasoned reader to explore the enchantment of the wonderful world of poetry.

The Review

This was a light-hearted and delightful read. The author did an incredible job of finding just the right balance between fun, educational, and emotional writing that will resonate with young readers just learning poetry’s magical wonder. The short length of each poem and the almost airy quality of the poems themselves helped to create that atmosphere that allows a book to be read over and over again.

The warmth of the illustrations really lent itself to the heart of these poems. The author was able to showcase both fun and thoughtful poems on everything from food to a child’s reflection, to more complex things like the emotions of sadness and joy and how we can cope. The heart and compassion for which the author wrote these poems were felt on every page.

The Verdict

Thoughtful, memorable, and engaging, author Raven Howell’s “The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes” is a must-read children’s book that meets the book of poetry. The lighthearted and whimsical nature of the poems and the warmth of the imagery blend together to create a reading experience parents and children alike will delight in sharing together. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Raven Howell writes stories and poetry for children. Having published several award-winning picture books, she enjoys sharing her love of literature by visiting classrooms and libraries. Raven is Creative & Publishing Advisor for Red Clover Reader, served as Poetry Director for Monster Magnificent, and writes The Book Bug column for Story Monsters Ink magazine. Her poems are found in children’s magazines such as Ladybug, Spider, Highlights for Children, Humpty Dumpty, and Hello Magazine. She’s an editor, and collaborating author for Reading is Fundamental SoCal.

When not writing, Raven enjoys sunshine and the beach, spending time with her family, hiking, laughing, reading, goofing around with artwork, and inventing new recipes.

You can find her on: 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/atpearthkeeper

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/atpearthkeeper/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RavenHowellAuthorandPoetPage/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/pickward/_saved/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/raven-howell-5a813015b/

TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@ravenhowell22

Purchase a copy of The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, or Bookshop.org. You can also add this to your GoodReads reading list.

Blog Tour Calendar

— Blog Tour Calendar

December 26th @ The Muffin

Join us at our WOW! blog today, The Muffin, for the blog tour launch of The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes by Raven Howell. You can read an interview with the author and have a chance to win a copy of the book for yourself.

https://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com/

December 28th @ Strength 4 Spouses

Join Wendi as she reviews The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes by Raven Howell.

December 28th @ Reading Girl Reviews

Gina reviews Raven Howell’s book The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes

https://www.instagram.com/readinggirlreviews/

December 29th @ The Faerie Review

Visit Lisa as she reviews The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes by Raven Howell.

https://www.thefaeriereview.com

December 30th @ Anthony Avina’s Blog

Join Anthony as he features a guest post by author Raven Howell featuring a beginner’s guide to writing poetry.

https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/category/blog-tours/

January 1st @ Page Peeks

Visit Jeanne’s book review column as she reviews The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes.

January 2nd @ Mother Daughter Book Club

Join Cindy as she reviews The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes.

January 4th @ AJ Kormon’s Blog

Join AJ as she reviews The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes.

https://www.ajkormon.com/blog

January 6th @ Knotty Needle

Visit Judy as she shares her insights into Raven Howell’s book The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes.

http://knottyneedle.blogspot.com/

January 8th @ Shoe’s Seeds & Stories

Join Linda as she features a guest post by author Ravne Howell about why we love gnomes so much.

https://lschuelerca.wordpress.com/

January 10th @ Mother Daughter Book Club

Visit Cindy’s blog again for a guest post by Raven Howell about arts and crafts, making fun gnomes for all ages.

January 12th @ Anthony Avina’s Blog

Visit Anthony’s blog as he reviews The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes by Raven Howell. 

https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/category/blog-tours/

January 12th @ The Mommies Reviews

Visit Glenda’s blog today to read her review of The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes by Raven Howell. You’ll also have a chance to win a book copy too!

https://themommiesreviews.com/

January 16th @ Word Magic

Visit Fiona’s blog as she shares author Raven Howell’s insights about the impact on children through author visits to schools or libraries.

http://fionaingramauthor.blogspot.com/

January 15th @ Shoe’s Seeds & Stories

Linda treats us to her review of The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes by Raven Howell.

https://lschuelerca.wordpress.com/

January 17th @ Lisa Haselton’s Reviews and Interviews

Lisa interviews Raven Howell about her book The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes.

https://lisahaselton.com/blog/

January 18th @ Bev A Baird’s Blog

Join Bev as she features a guest post by author Raven Howell about her lifelong journey as a poet and how she made it happen. 

https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com/

January 20th @ Bev A Baird’s Blog

Come by Bev’s blog again as she reviews The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes. A must-read children’s book you’ll love!

https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com/

January 20th @ Editor 911

Margo treats us to her review of The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes.

https://editor-911.com/

January 22nd @ World of My Imagination

Nicole shares her thoughts about The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes.

https://worldofmyimagination.com/

January 23rd @ A Storybook World

Visit Deirdra’s blog and read a guest post by Raven Howell about gnome fashion and how the fairy realm influences fashion today.

http://www.astorybookworld.com/

January 25th @ Carole Writes

Visit Carole’s blog for her review of The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes.

https://carolemertz.com/

January 27th @ Editor 911

Come by Margo’s blog again and read Raven Howell’s guest post featuring yummy treats with a gnome theme.

https://editor-911.com/

January 28th @ Lisa’s Reading

Join Lisa as she reviews The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes. You also have the chance to win a copy of the book too!

https://lisasreading.com/

January 29th @ Jill Sheets’ Blog

Visit Jill’s blog as she interviews author Raven Howell about her writing journey and her experience as an author.

http://jillsheets.blogspot.com/

Guest Blog Post: A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO WRITING POETRY by Raven Howell

“I’m a poet and don’t even know it!” At some point, you’ve probably said something in an unintentional rhyme. Poetry? Sure, maybe those two seemingly silly sentences you shared with your spouse or with a parent were a little poetic:

Every year an ornament cracks

And there’s the cat – his smile is back!

The main obstacle with those considering writing poetry or getting into reading it, is that they assume it has to be serious, Shakespearean, and therefore, a little irrelevant and bland. But poetry can be found everywhere and in everything. 

During one school visit, I asked the students to consider an ordinary object right there in the classroom to write their poem about. After several minutes passed, a flummoxed child asked, “Miss Raven, all the ‘good’ regular items are already being written about. How can I write a verse about a staple remover?”

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I asked her what those metal clamps reminded her of. Oh! Metal teeth! Suddenly she saw the staple remover as a metal-mouthed gnasher with only one goal: gnawing and twisting those tin soldier staples from a paper battlefield. How’s that for finding a little poetry in something ordinary?

Tell me, what happened today? Were you frustrated that the wind blew away your scarf or hat? Think there’s no poetry in that? Try a haiku to get yourself going. The pattern is simple (traditional haiku: 3 lines, 5/7/5 syllables per line).

Wind stole my red scarf

Old man winter craves color

Scarlet for snow’s white.

This is just a quick idea off the top of my head, but the point is, attempt to add a little wonder and mindfulness somewhere in your words. Here, the ivory white canvas of winter is unintentionally decorated with the red scarf you lost.

You can look up the various formats of poems and their history online or research in the library, but my goal is to stir up some inspiration because that spark will begin your poetry journey. And – it’s not as hard as you may think.

I’ve found even those who don’t think they’d have any interest in poetry, find themselves with a smile or a tear in their eyes when they hear or read a good poem. 

My new children’s poetry book, The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes explores the world around us from the whimsical child’s perspective. Because I’ve been a full-time writer now for decades, and somehow naturally end up composing a verse or idea daily, it wasn’t too difficult for me to pick out 20 poems from my files for the compilation. 

I already had the title of the book. Not much rhymes with “poems” and my manuscript was originally being submitted to a publisher called Gnome Publishing, so I put together that title – The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes, thinking it sounded cute and was appropriate. Although the publishing house I signed with is a different one, the book title was already etched in my brain and I believed in the verse I imagined a group of magical gnomes or elves would enjoy reading while enjoying tea and honey biscuits perched under a mushroom cap. And so it came to be! 

I hope that reading the poems in my book, and viewing the playful artwork illustrator Naz Tarcan provided, may provide a good place for you to jump start your own love of poetry – and your own way of expressing or enjoying it!

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Book Summary

Discover the magic in simple moments when a child peers in the mirror to unintentionally come upon his smile, where kittens nap in boots, fairy hugs feel good, mice delight in reading books, and January snowflakes taste yummy.

Twenty whimsical poems warm the heart and inspire cheer; a collection enticing both the young and seasoned reader to explore the enchantment of the wonderful world of poetry.

Publisher: Handersen Publishing

ASIN: B0BJNT69WG

ISBN: 1647030757

ISBN-13: 978-1647030759

Print Pages: 28 Pages

Purchase a copy of The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, or Bookshop.org. You can also add this to your GoodReads reading list.

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About the Author

Raven Howell writes stories and poetry for children. Having published several award-winning picture books, she enjoys sharing her love of literature by visiting classrooms and libraries. Raven is Creative & Publishing Advisor for Red Clover Reader, served as Poetry Director for Monster Magnificent, and writes The Book Bug column for Story Monsters Ink magazine. Her poems are found in children’s magazines such as Ladybug, Spider, Highlights for Children, Humpty Dumpty, and Hello Magazine. She’s an editor, and collaborating author for Reading is Fundamental SoCal.

When not writing, Raven enjoys sunshine and the beach, spending time with her family, hiking, laughing, reading, goofing around with artwork, and inventing new recipes.

You can find her on: 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/atpearthkeeper

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/atpearthkeeper/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RavenHowellAuthorandPoetPage/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/pickward/_saved/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/raven-howell-5a813015b/

TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@ravenhowell22

Blog Tour Calendar

— Blog Tour Calendar

December 26th @ The Muffin

Join us at our WOW! blog today, The Muffin, for the blog tour launch of The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes by Raven Howell. You can read an interview with the author and have a chance to win a copy of the book for yourself.

https://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com/

December 28th @ Strength 4 Spouses

Join Wendi as she reviews The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes by Raven Howell.

December 28th @ Reading Girl Reviews

Gina reviews Raven Howell’s book The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes

https://www.instagram.com/readinggirlreviews/

December 29th @ The Faerie Review

Visit Lily as she reviews The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes by Raven Howell.

https://www.thefaeriereview.com

December 30th @ Anthony Avina’s Blog

Join Anthony as he features a guest post by author Raven Howell featuring a beginner’s guide to writing poetry.

https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/category/blog-tours/

January 1st @ Page Peeks

Visit Jeanne’s book review column as she reviews The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes.

January 2nd @ Mother Daughter Book Club

Join Cindy as she reviews The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes.

January 4th @ AJ Kormon’s Blog

Join AJ as she reviews The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes.

https://www.ajkormon.com/blog

January 6th @ Knotty Needle

Visit Judy as she shares her insights into Raven Howell’s book The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes.

http://knottyneedle.blogspot.com/

January 8th @ Shoe’s Seeds & Stories

Join Linda as she features a guest post by author Ravne Howell about why we love gnomes so much.

https://lschuelerca.wordpress.com/

January 10th @ Mother Daughter Book Club

Visit Cindy’s blog again for a guest post by Raven Howell about arts and crafts, making fun gnomes for all ages.

January 12th @ Anthony Avina’s Blog

Visit Anthony’s blog as he reviews The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes by Raven Howell. 

https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/category/blog-tours/

January 12th @ The Mommies Reviews

Visit Glenda’s blog today to read her review of The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes by Raven Howell. You’ll also have a chance to win a book copy too!

https://themommiesreviews.com/

January 16th @ Word Magic

Visit Fiona’s blog as she shares author Raven Howell’s insights about the impact on children through author visits to schools or libraries.

http://fionaingramauthor.blogspot.com/

January 15th @ Shoe’s Seeds & Stories

Linda treats us to her review of The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes by Raven Howell.

https://lschuelerca.wordpress.com/

January 17th @ Lisa Haselton’s Reviews and Interviews

Lisa interviews Raven Howell about her book The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes.

https://lisahaselton.com/blog/

January 18th @ Bev A Baird’s Blog

Join Bev as she features a guest post by author Raven Howell about her lifelong journey as a poet and how she made it happen. 

https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com/

January 20th @ Bev A Baird’s Blog

Come by Bev’s blog again as she reviews The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes. A must-read children’s book you’ll love!

https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com/

January 20th @ Editor 911

Margo treats us to her review of The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes.

https://editor-911.com/

January 22nd @ World of My Imagination

Nicole shares her thoughts about The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes.

https://worldofmyimagination.com/

January 23rd @ A Storybook World

Visit Deirdra’s blog and read a guest post by Raven Howell about gnome fashion and how the fairy realm influences fashion today.

http://www.astorybookworld.com/

January 25th @ Carole Writes

Visit Carole’s blog for her review of The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes.

https://carolemertz.com/

January 27th @ Editor 911

Come by Margo’s blog again and read Raven Howell’s guest post featuring yummy treats with a gnome theme.

https://editor-911.com/

January 28th @ Lisa’s Reading

Join Lisa as she reviews The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes. You also have the chance to win a copy of the book too!

https://lisasreading.com/

January 29th @ Jill Sheets’ Blog

Visit Jill’s blog as she interviews author Raven Howell about her writing journey and her experience as an author.

http://jillsheets.blogspot.com/

Damnation and Cotton Candy by Alan S. Kessler 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 Alan S. Kessler take readers on a journey of beauty and melancholy in his book “Damnation and Cotton Candy”.

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The Synopsis

A book of poetry from Alan S. Kessler, the award-winning author of the 2022 Eric Hoffer Finalist Ghost Dancer, and other books. These are poems best served with hot cocoa, melancholy, and a sharp knife.

The Review

This was such a profound and captivating collection of poetry. The author’s ability to weave macabre imagery and atmosphere into the poetry while offering commentary on life itself was so engaging for a reader to behold. The natural way the author is able to weave dark tones with profound emotions was truly inspiring to behold.

Yet to me, it was the way the imagery blended with the deep-seated themes of this narrative. From politics and warfare to hollow niceties between strangers and corporations as a whole, the message of finding hope is not in the materialism of our current world but in the philosophy and spirituality that exists just on the fringes of our society as a whole. 

The Verdict

Mesmerizing, haunting, and emotionally driven, author Alan S. Kessler’s “Damnation and Cotton Candy” is a must-read book of poetry. The imagery and atmosphere do a great job of portraying the capitalist machine of our world with the truly dark and macabre aspects of life, and readers will be hard-pressed to put this creative, artistic, and chilling book down. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Alan Kessler grew up in Columbus, Ohio. He says, “Childhood shapes us. Mine was, ironically, a gift. The sadism of my mother and the violence of my father, a murderer who died in prison, created within me a countervailing force, the ability to write empathetically about characters who, as Faulkner said, not merely endure but prevail.”

“Resilience isn’t an achievement, it exists as a matter of luck. I was lucky. I have a wonderful wife and four caring, intelligent children–even a dog,” according to Kessler. “I am blessed.”

https://www.alanskessler.com/

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0B9NZV8NB/ref=x_gr_w_glide_sin?caller=Goodreads&callerLink=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.goodreads.com%2Fbook%2Fshow%2F61425691-damnation-and-cotton-candy%3Fac%3D1%26from_search%3Dtrue%26qid%3DozDQcx97Lh%26rank%3D1&tag=x_gr_w_glide_sin-20

Guest Post: Paw Prints by Tom Pearson

The creative process is mysterious. For me, it often consists of accumulation/distillation/accumulation, sifting ideas through different iterations and genres (art, poetry, performance). Micro-expressions of a central idea frequently become distinct projects and parts of a larger constellation of work. Along the way, much is gained, but also, sometimes, lost.

There are two stanzas from an early draft of Still, the Sky that aren’t found in the published work; although, traces of them remain. They were composed of an image that volunteered itself, left its mark, and vanished:

   After the first of seven was plucked for the

Feast, the others would set up camp

Around the twists and turns of the pathways,

            Chastity-in-residence,

   And they would plot to meet and spoil themselves,

To love the murder away, but they were kept

Apart, running from the gaze of the creature

            Whose shadow you cast.

   They would meet us from time to time,

Casual encounters, sometimes taking the time

To say what they thought, or how they felt,

            What their days had been.

   One even found a pet, an orange kitten

Who would disappear for days and then follow

As we made rounds, both intimate and mundane;

            She would outlive him.

The first two stanzas remain. The second two are gone, all that mentioned the unnamed victim and the kitten that survived. 

IG story post by @talktheatretome

Still, the Sky is the result of a long process of iterative works over the past few years, different expressions of the characters, themes, and ideas which had their genesis during a theater residency/fellowship in the spring of 2019 with the Bogliasco Foundation in Italy.

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Courtesy of The Bogliasco Foundation; Photo by Laura Bianchi

Before I arrived to the residency, I received a commission from La Jolla Playhouse in California to create a site-specific work for their biennial Without Walls Festival, and so I already knew I would be working with themes of sky and sea, flight and nautical culture. My site in San Diego was a desert labyrinth just beyond the tarmac of the San Diego airport (beneath the flight path, divided by a narrow waterway) and on the grounds of Liberty Station, a formal naval training base. 

Pictured, Andrew Broaddus in Ikaros by Tom Pearson; Photo by Jim Carmody

I also brought to the residency outtakes from The Sandpiper’s Spell (my first published volume) as another set of ideas. Most of the writings were coming-of-age themed or more recent explorations that didn’t have anywhere to go yet. In the first few weeks, I wrote something to bind them structurally and then put them aside for later—but as I began to storyboard ideas for the commission, filling up the walls with my Post-It Notes and columns of associations, I started to see a mythology unfolding through archetypes that would benefit from the specificity of personal experience.

The next series of developments happened over summer, in New York, where I worked with performers. We experimented with choreography, film, and art to find the characters and describe the textures and themes, all in an exhibition at the Ace Hotel New York gallery. Then in October, we premiered the site-specific Ikaros in San Diego. After that, I continued to experiment with performance and material culture, mixing these with virtual reality. These explorations took me into early 2020 as I worked with students and faculty at the Olin College of Engineering where I was in-residence.

But then the pandemic hit, and we were sent into lock down. At that time, I circled back to revise the manuscript further, adding the artwork to the pages. At this stage, the three-dimensionality of the world revealed itself. The many previous micro-expressions of the project had rendered complex characters and rich environments—and reflecting upon the spaces in which I had worked, other elements emerged—for instance, the seagulls in Italy, nesting in the cliffs below my studio. Their mating rituals and fierce protection of their nests, their daily patterns, and the endlessness of sky and sea became dominant images of the main plot. And, in San Diego, an orange kitten also left her mark, shaping the timbre of a subplot.

Throughout the grounds of Liberty Station in San Diego, there was a population who made residence, whether temporarily passing through or on a more semi-permanent basis, in tents or lean-tos. As we were making Ikaros, we were careful not to displace, to be mindful, respectful, and in communication with the denizens of the space. Early on, one of the park residents came through rehearsals to chat with us about the work, the mythology, his observations of us in the site. He carried an orange kitten with him. Later, the kitten would come to rehearsals on her own and sometimes participate. 

There was a particular section with a long spindle of fabric which was unfurled to make the footprint of a labyrinth, and the kitten would stand threateningly at the edge of the rosemary bushes watching this giant ball of string, little shivers rippling along her spine—adding another layer of drama. 

We began to expect her. She started to show up consistently to rehearsals, but by the time we got to performance, she had gone elsewhere, only later to appear in another scene she’d never rehearsed, under full lights and in front of a paying audience. 

We rolled with it, but she stole the scene. She even got some social media coverage.

When the performances were finished, I went back to the poetry, and I took her image with me, writing her into the manuscript. In fact, I took the whole of the experience, the denizens of the space, the rosemary, the sounds, the smells, textures, animals, insects, birds, weather, and flight patterns all into consideration. The specificities of the lived experience were folded into the creative mix to further shape the world of the book.

By the time I arrived at a final draft, the overt mention of the kitten was gone, but her paw prints were all over it in subtle and invisible ways within the text and artwork (“a predator moving in right cycles, leaving us unharmed… treachery in the tall grass…”).

Reflecting later on The Sandpiper’s Spell, I realized the image of a pet outliving a companion was already a seed planted in the poem “Day Dreams.” The idea had carried forward, woven itself into the new work, then out again. Perhaps it will return and make more of itself in whatever I create next. 

I have begun to meditate on what these little threads mean over time, how a body of work forms from the scraps of previous work, how material moves forward and themes reiterate, or ideas sift and fold back together again to create specificity. It becomes a pattern for world building, one iteration at a time. It makes the work larger through the micro-expressions along the way—allowing for volunteer images that might invisibly imprint upon the eventual narrative. 

Little paw prints. 

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Author Tom Pearson Reads Paw Prints

About the Author

Tom Pearson is an artist and poet who works in dance, theater, film, visual art, and multi-media. He is known for his original works for theater, including the long-running, off-Broadway immersive hits THEN SHE FELL and THE GRAND PARADISE and as a founder and co-artistic director of the New York City-based Third Rail Projects and Global Performance Studio.

He is the author of two books, THE SANDPIPER’S SPELL and STILL, THE SKY. More information available at his website and on social media at: tompearsonnyc.com and @tompearsonnyc.

https://tompearsonnyc.com/

Guest Post: The Story Behind The Poem “Unacknowledged” by Author Chelsea DeVries

On March 10, 2020, I sat down and wrote “Unacknowledged,” but before I ever sat down and wrote that poem, I already had so many poems I wrote while working in the toxic workplace.

I began working there as an administrative assistant after Thanksgiving 2018. I recognized that the place was dark and dimly lit and seemed to be full of problems. After the interview, I realized how much I truly did not want to take that job but felt like maybe the difference I made at my last job by being a force for good by choosing kindness and mercy would be something I could extend to this place.

Everyone I know was happy for me as I finally would be working full time following college, but not everything that glitters is actually gold. 

To cope with the harassment and abuse, I would write poems, but a lot of my poems started hinting at something I never saw coming. I was definitely falling in love fast and hard with the young man I had befriended there. 

It was therapeutic to work eight hours a day there and try to do whatever good I could while also have this secret love that no one knew about.

Which was how “Unacknowledged” came to be. I had all these feelings that were basically suppressed instead of expressed, which I understood was the key to my healing. 

Once I sat down and wrote that poem on March 10, 2020, I knew it was time to let this poetry collection pour out of me. 

“Unacknowledged” was 35 stanzas and 738 words. And what came out when I sat down to write this poem is the same poem you read in the collection. I present to you “Unacknowledged.”

Unacknowledged

I shouldn’t be writing this

A psychic told me that

“Nothing would come from this situation.”

A counselor told me not to feed you

With my thoughts or mental energy

I keep thinking about when I put a novel out

Should I acknowledge you and your seasonal

Part in my story?

It’s this persistent picture that

keeps playing in my head.

I see your nickname on the page

Where you dedicate a book to someone.

How do you dedicate a book to someone who blocked you on Facebook?

Ignores your texts?

Never offered an explanation

About why he no longer wanted to be friends with you?

Were you scared that I would beg you to love me?

I am sorry that I left without telling you

Why 

That I would never blame you for the

Bad and evil things I witnessed and experienced

at the hands of someone

with envy in their heart

and greed stuck

between their tongue

and their teeth.

I didn’t know what to say to you

I didn’t know if you would 

Tell me to stay or

be angry With me

Because

I saw them

For who they are

Instead of just pretending

I was dumb, deaf, and blind.

Gone is your musical laugh and the sparkle in your eyes

As you would smirk at me  

With this synchronicity

You thought it was

All a ringless circus too.

The guy in the top hat

The Greatest Showman

No Hugh Jackman

He couldn’t juggle,

Tell jokes,

Or tame a caged lion.

Spitting fire was his one and only talent

As the master of Ceremonies,

The elephant he rode

Would spray water from her trunk

Killing dreams, Hopes, and new ideas

Left and right

Unlike Dumbo,

She was angry because her ringmaster clipped

Her wings and convinced her she couldn’t fly.

Fly she could but he kept her chained.

Chained and dependent on him

for bread, water, and a place to rest her head. 

Yet, he would demean her

Keep her feeling small

So she always had to

Validate herself 

In his eyes only…

It was a dark and dreary

Tim Burton movie

We were a part of

But like Zac Efron and Zendaya

In the Greatest Showman,

The characters we played

Were not convinced

Their love was enough

To make it.

Were you mad that I cared about you

Or were you mad because

there was nothing we could do about it?

Were you mad that I had the courage

And open door to grasp my freedom

Before they hung me

Like the witch they believed me to be?

I did care about you.

I was so thankful for you.

I think you are a beautiful person.

So ordinary but extraordinary all in one person.

So complex

Such an enigma.

To me, you will always be a mystery.

Our timing was neither wrong nor right.

You were good to me.

I encouraged you.

You made me feel heard.

You didn’t look at me

For my body or physique.

Yet, whenever I looked at you

I felt ok to be me.

And for that,

I can’t regret

How I fell for you

With no real

Motive or reason.

I just loved you.

I still love you.

But you won’t talk to me.

So I guess I will write you the dedication

After all.

Because it feels better to acknowledge you

Than pretend you didn’t matter to me.

That you still matter to me.

That I don’t think of you when I listen to Billie Eillish

And remember how I made you laugh because I said she may be a Satanist.

She’s not.

Yet, just the notion of that didn’t make you

Flinch or judge me, and you never forget

Someone like that.

Someone who runs towards you and your outlandishness

Instead of away from it.

Someone who makes you repeat what you said

Even if you mumbled it because it deserved to be

Heard.

Someone who always helped me, talked to me,

And believed in me until you didn’t.

Someone who I miss

Someone who I pray for every single day

Someone like YOU

You have to acknowledge someone like that.

Even if it was only a series of moments

they made an ordinary boring job and 

made it

memorable.

Just the thought of you makes me look back

At those months of my life and smile.

Even with tears in my eyes.

I’ve let you go

 but I just had to let you know  

that I acknowledge

all you were to me and

all I hope you become.

Mr. Suncoast,

This is for you

About the Author

Chelsea DeVries wanted to be a writer at the age of 7. Her first publishing credit came at the age of 14 with a poem in a student anthology. She then wrote nonstop while doing IB classes in high school. She published two YA novels while still in high school which after over 10 years she rewrote as a NA romance that she looks to put out as her next publication. She is a seeker of justice and uses her words to free this world’s outcasted, peculiar, and underdogs from the chains that bind them. When not writing she runs and does PR for authors and musicians with her bookish brand The Smart Cookie Philes. Though she’s Florida born and raised, she has New Jersey in her veins. She currently lives in Port Richey, FL with her squad of two dogs. In October 2020, DeVries was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome which is a form of Autism.

Still, The Sky by Tom Pearson 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 Tom Pearson take readers on a coming-of-age journey using classic mythological tales and poetry to paint a picture of love and loss in the book “Still, the Sky”.

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The Synopsis

Still, the Sky is a speculative mythology rendered through poetry and art that combines the tales of Icarus and the Minotaur and creates for them a shared coming-of-age through a correspondence of written fragments, artifacts, ecofacts, and ephemera. This metaphoric framework conjures a labyrinth of fragmented memories, confessions, and tributes, all mixing in fever dreams and reflections on innocence and experience, flight and failure, love and loss.

The Review

I absolutely loved this collection of poetry. The immersive style of writing the author displayed brought the iconic and classic Greek myths and legends that people have come to know and love to live in a visceral way. The blend of poetry with mythology, as well as installation artwork and artifacts, made the collection feel vibrant and captivating.  The themes the author explores through these myths were quite profound, from the pursuit of glory and the realization of failure to the profound sense of love and loss. 

To me, the author’s ability to not only take these iconic myths and transport the reader into them through poetry but to give a more in-depth analysis and approach to these iconic figures was so mesmerizing and heartfelt. The depth of character development and heart that these poems brought to life was so invigorating, and the imagery used in the author’s writing and the art itself really captured the magic and power that ancient mythology tends to hold.

The Verdict

Heartfelt, emotional, and thoughtful, author Tom Pearson’s “Still, The Sky” was a marvelous and moving work of art that fans of poetry and mythology will not be able to put down. The natural fusion of imagery and poetry in this book brought the heart and passion that these classic mythological characters needed. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Tom Pearson is an artist and poet who works in dance, theater, film, visual art, and multi-media. He is known for his original works for theater, including the long-running, off-Broadway immersive hits THEN SHE FELL and THE GRAND PARADISE and as a founder and co-artistic director of the New York City-based Third Rail Projects and Global Performance Studio.

He is the author of two books, THE SANDPIPER’S SPELL and STILL, THE SKY. More information available at his website and on social media at: tompearsonnyc.com and @tompearsonnyc.

https://tompearsonnyc.com/

Sticks and Stones: Full Story Edition by Chelsea DeVries 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 Chelsea DeVries take readers on a journey of finding the strength to rise above the toxicity in life in the book “Sticks and Stones:  Full Story Edition”.

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The Synopsis

In Sticks and Stones, DeVries paints a poetic picture of rising above toxicity, love found and love lost, and delves into what it means to find strength in the human spirit. Through poetry, the reader finds a voice of strength and the rebuilding of one’s heart a home with all the sticks and stones thrown upon it. Newly expanded with more full color photos, 41 new poems, and a rewrite of Drowning in An Ocean of No Tomorrows, DeVries shows a full poetic picture of turning pain into poetry in order so you can rise above whatever is pulling you under.

The Review

This was a brilliant and heartfelt collection of poetry. The author did an incredible job of creating poems that evoked strong emotional responses within the reader while also speaking to the reader on a multitude of levels. The imagery and tone the poems struck were particularly powerful, as the poems crafted their own narratives in the reader’s minds that evoked the raw feelings that the author was able to put onto paper.

For me, the themes the author explores in these poems made them feel that much more compelling. The ways in which the author brings important topics to life,  such as mental health, workplace harassment and harassment in general, toxic behavior, and the prospect and loss of love, made this collection feel truly engaging and mesmerizing.

The Verdict

Haunting, emotional, and thoughtful, author Chelsea DeVries’s “Sticks and Stones: Full Story Edition”, brings hope in the face of adversity through powerful poetry in this must-read collection. The personal and thought-provoking experiences the author shares with readers at the beginning of this book keep the reader invested in the author’s journey, and speak to the hope and strength that they drew upon to face down those adversities to become the person they are today. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Chelsea DeVries wanted to be a writer at the age of 7. Her first publishing credit came at the age of 14 with a poem in a student anthology. She then wrote nonstop while doing IB classes in high school. She published two YA novels while still in high school which after over 10 years she rewrote as a NA romance that she looks to put out as her next publication. She is a seeker of justice and uses her words to free this world’s outcasted, peculiar, and underdogs from the chains that bind them. When not writing she runs and does PR for authors and musicians with her bookish brand The Smart Cookie Philes. Though she’s Florida born and raised, she has New Jersey in her veins. She currently lives in Port Richey, FL with her squad of two dogs. In October 2020, DeVries was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome which is a form of Autism.

Interview with Author Luanne Castle

Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

Sometimes it seems as if I was always a writer. When I was a baby, I used to love magazines and would rip out each page and wad it up. Maybe I was being a critic, but I like to think that I loved the paper, ink, and pictures—not to mention the sound of the crumpling paper. I have always loved books, reading, and writing. However, I don’t think I was ready to begin to write in earnest until I was in my late twenties, when I had enough life experiences.

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What inspired you to write your book?

Rooted and Winged came about from the experiences I had throughout the writing of the poems and the memories that came to light during that period. The book took about five years to write as I began it after my chapbook Kin Types was published. Then, after COVID surfaced, I finished the final poems. These pandemic poems can be found in Section IV. Death, loss, aging, and terminal illness inhabit the final part of the book along with the lonely surreal feel of living in the first few months of a pandemic. “Hearing Aids” describes how my mother bought her first hearing aids during these scary months when we were both trapped within our homes almost two thousand miles apart, feeling isolated yet united:

“She pours tea there / and I pour mine here. Our spouts speak the same.” 

What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I hope readers draw what they personally glean from the poems, drawing upon their own perspectives and experiences. Writing poetry is a discovery process for the poet. I don’t know what I am going to learn until I complete a poem. From this collection, I found that the images of flight are meaningful to me as both a spiritual site and as a source of great power. But without roots to tie me to earth and its human and animal inhabitants, I would lose the balance that guides the power.

What drew you into this particular genre?

I have loved poetry since I was a child. I still love to read poetry, but I also enjoy memoirs and mysteries. I tend to write in short bursts of time regularly, which is very conducive to writing poetry. To write a novel, I would need large blocks of time. Also, I love the imagery and succinct quality of poetry.

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What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

Definitely my blog, Writersite.org. I started it ten years ago and have made wonderful friends through blogging. My readers are so supportive of my writing and me personally. Facebook is an excellent way to share my writing with friends from different parts of my life and with other writers. I like Twitter because I can keep up with what is going on with other writers. Instagram is fun, but I use it more for my art journaling since it is a visual social media.

What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Read, read, read in several genres, especially in the genre you want to write in. And take every in-person or online workshop or writing class that you can. Many free or low-cost ones become available, so watch for them. Don’t publish too soon. Even if you are planning a novel or full-length memoir, start with smaller projects and submit stories and poems to literary journals. Finally, don’t publish a book that hasn’t been adequately edited. 

What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I just completed my memoir in flash nonfiction “scraps.” Fittingly, it’s called Scrap: Salvaging a Family. I’ve also been assembling a chapbook of poems based on Little Red Riding Hood stories.

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About the Poet

Luanne Castle’s Kin Types (Finishing Line Press), a chapbook of poetry and flash nonfiction, was a finalist for the 2018 Eric Hoffer Award.  Her first poetry collection, Doll God, winner of the 2015 New Mexico-Arizona Book Award, was published by Aldrich Press. A Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee, she studied at the University of California, Riverside (PhD); Western Michigan University (MFA); and Stanford University.  Her writing has appeared in Copper Nickel, TAB, The American Journal of Poetry, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Verse Daily, Saranac Review, Lunch Ticket, River Teeth, and other journals. An avid blogger, she can be found at luannecastle.com.  She divides her time between California and Arizona, where she shares land with a bobcat. Her heart belongs to her rescue cats.

Luanne blogs at Writer Site and The Family Kalamazoo.

https://www.luannecastle.com/

Phases: Poetry by Belinda Betker Review

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

Author Belinda Betker takes readers on a journey of confusion, identity, and acceptance through powerful and moving poetry in the book “Phases”. 

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The Synopsis

In Phases, Belinda Betker deftly captures what it is like for those who don’t fit within rigid notions of what it means to be a “boy” or a “girl”. Capturing different phases in a life, with power and nuance she takes readers on a luminous journey of a young girl’s coming-of-age, her burgeoning sexuality (and the confusion and disorientation therein), the pitfalls of an unhappy marriage, the triumphant release of coming out, and the liberating power of drag.

In these poems, readers will find a celestial and transcendent re-discovering of the self, an unraveling of society’s expectations of gender roles, love, and desire and how these falsehoods threaten to eclipse our truth. Phases slides through time, summoning profound memories of the loss of childhood innocence through each gendered ritual, yet the resilient heart of a tomboy who stands up to bullies and can “tie a tie better than anyone” is too powerful to suppress. Betker then takes us into adulthood–an experience cut sharp by the “dark side of the moon” with a health crisis and surgery–and the victorious recovery and unearthing of buried desire and resplendent sensuality. is mercurial and unpredictable, a celebration of the non-conformist in each of us.

The Review

This was such a moving and captivating LGBTQ-Driven collection of poetry. The author’s ability to capture the raw emotions and thoughts of confusion, as well as the search for one’s identity and the promise of acceptance both for yourself and from others, is well captured in these creative yet memorable poems. The vulnerability and heart in which the author dives into these very personal memories and experiences highlight not only their journey but the difficulties and hurdles so many people in the LGBTQ community have to face.

Yet it was the imagery and the themes that really played so well with this reader. The poems did an excellent job of capturing the heart and detail of these memories of the author, and yet also found inspired and creative notes of contrast between harsh moments and beautiful realizations. The themes of accepting one’s identity, both gender and sexual identities, and the journey one go on to discover this for themselves, as well as the fight to have people accept this part of yourself, including one’s own family, were represented well. One thing that really spoke to me was the author’s ability to capture the gender “norms” that are expected of boys and girls, and how ridiculous it is that someone should be gendered or identified based on their interests on a more material or superficial level (i.e., whether a person likes makeup, clothes, cooking versus working out of the house, etc.).

The Verdict

Captivating, heartfelt, and emotional, author Belinda Betker’s “Phases” is a must-read collection of poetry for 2022 and an amazing LGBTQ Poetry read. The memoir-style writing structure and the narrative that played out across the author’s life speak volumes of their own life, as well as the experiences that so many LGBTQ readers are experiencing even to this day. The need to understand how one person’s gender and sexual identity is always something worth exploring, and that it is not always a settled thing, is something so important that should never be dismissed. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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