Tag Archives: poetry

Book Spotlight & Author Q&A: Flowers Grow on Broken Walls by Farena Bajwa

Hello everyone! Welcome to a special post today, where I am lucky enough to share with you the upcoming book from author Farena Bajwa, Flowers Grow on Broken Walls, a beautiful collection of poetry about healing and finding out who we are in the world. I hope you’ll enjoy this special spotlight, including a fantastic Q&A with the author. 

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Synopsis:

Flowers Grow on Broken Walls is a unique collection of poems and prose that talks about healing and finding yourself in a world that constantly tells you that’s who you shouldn’t be.

The poems, which tell a story, go over our everyday human emotions; from being heartbroken and questioning our self-worth in a world of judgment and scrutinizing social media, to finding ourselves and appreciating those really important in our lives – especially our inner, true selves. 

The collection displays a raw and honest portrayal of an artist who cannot help but create something beautiful in the midst of the ugliness she has been put through, and who continues to hope against all odds, as she lets go of what she has been told is important and finds herself in one truly is.

The story that starts with heartache ends with healing, it starts with rejection from someone but ends with self-acceptance, which is the only way for true healing.

Author Bio:

Farena Bajwa is a talented poet, storyteller, actor, filmmaker, and voice-over artist. Even though she studied Marketing Management, her creativity comes from her heart. Whether it’s filmmaking, voice-over, or acting, she owes it to her life philosophy: ‘’learning by doing’’. ‘’Flowers Grow on Broken Walls’’ is Farena’s first written collection of poetry that speaks about the journey to self-healing after experiencing the loss of someone, but mostly, the loss of yourself. She wants to inspire her readers using her power of words to make them feel less alone and to let them know that no matter what they go through, healing is just around the corner, already cheering for you.

Website: https://farenabajwa.com

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

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Author Q&A

On writing:

Where do you get inspiration for your stories?

I am primarily inspired by my own experiences, but I love to hear and to learn about other people’s experiences too. I am also inspired by situations going on in the world.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been journaling my whole life. But I only started writing poems when I started writing Flowers Grow on Broken Walls. The interesting thing is, I’ve always had thoughts running through my head formed in a poetic way. When I didn’t understand, when something happened, I would think those thoughts in small poems. I thought art would be able to lift off the weight from unpleasant situations I was dealing with right away. And oftentimes, it turned out to be true. 

Do you ever get writer’s block? What helps you overcome it?

Yes, constantly. But I don’t get intimidated by it. Whenever I have a writer’s block I just feel like: “Oh, I am probably not meant to be writing right now. So let’s see what I can do to take are of myself/have fun/get some other work done etc. And eventually the block ends and I am inspired again. The key? Letting go.

What is your next project?

All I know is that I am currently writing poems. One poem after another. I don’t have a specific theme, I guess I’ll find out when the time comes.

What genre do you write and why?

I write poetry because poems are able to give my feelings a voice. They help me understand what I am feeling and also how I can deal with these emotions.

What is the last great book you’ve read?

The invisible life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab. A magnificent piece of work dancing between different timelines, magic, and blood cold reality that we often think boring. But truthfully, it is our reality that is more enchanting than magic if you stop taking friendly gestures of strangers, or new shortcuts you discovered etc. for granted.  

What is a favorite compliment you have received on your writing?

A reviewer wrote:

I loved reading Shakespeare and feel that this author could certainly be a modern day version of him. The disappointments, loss, love, and other happenstances of life are well within these poems.”

Just reading the name Shakespeare connected to my book gave me all the right chills- and I am so grateful for it😊

What were the biggest rewards and challenges with writing your book?

The biggest challenge was having to go back to these intense negative feelings that I was experiencing. I had to recall every emotion and I was scared I would be pulled back into the dark. The biggest reward was knowing that I had overcome these feelings. While I was writing the pages for the first few chapters that cover those lower feelings, I realized how much I had changed and how it didn’t affect me as I thought it would.

On rituals:

Where do you write?

Primarily in Cafés. The smell of coffee, the cozy ambience and the gentle, faint talking of people inspires and energizes me. 

Do you write every day?

No, only when I am inspired. I can’t write if I don’t feel the words I am writing. If a word only feels like a word to me and not like an emotion, I can’t write because it doesn’t seem truthful to me. Afterall, poetry is all about a feeling wanting to take shape, so it can be released.

What is your writing schedule?

I don’t set specific timeframes to write, nor do I schedule specific days. I write when I feel like I have something to say, when something is bothering me, when I need to put my feelings into written words. I can write for a whole week and create 3 poems a day or I won’t write for weeks. I can write and pretend but I can’t lie about how I feel. Also, readers are not stupid, they know instantly if someone is being authentic in their words or not.

In today’s tech savvy world, most writers use a computer or laptop. Have you ever written parts of your book on paper?

I almost only write my poems on paper. Flowers Grow on Broken Walls was entirely handwritten. I bought a notebook with colorful flowers on the cover when I started writing my book. I saw that notebook and it just called out to me. I didn’t know then, “Flowers” would become the main message in my book😊 

Fun stuff:

Favorite dessert?

Cake. In any shape or form. I love cake. I would die for cake.

What TV series are you currently binge watching?

Killing Eve and Peaky Blinders. My two favorite series I’ve already watched a thousand times. Both series are brilliant. Amazing writing, amazing acting, fast paced, dramatic with moments of fun and ease in between and – I just love these kinds of series!

What song is currently playing on a loop in your head?

There are actually two songs:

Love wave by The 1-800

Ebb tide by The Platters

What is your go-to breakfast item?

Coffee. Always and forever coffee. 

Who was your childhood celebrity crush?

Ash Ketchum of Pokémon…I mean come on. How can you not find that drive and that determination that boy had attractive? He wanted to become the Pokémon master and he was GOING for it. Damn.

One thing no one would expect from you.

I have a deep love for dinosaurs. I am fascinated by the thought that there’ve been huge reptiles walking on our earth once. I used to collect dinosaur figures, read books and watch documentaries (and of course Jurassic Park). I wanted to become a paleontologist when I was a child because I always hoped to find a living dinosaur one day. It is my dream to see a real-life sized skeleton of a dinosaur someday. I never had the opportunity to see one.

Really? What is your favorite dinosaur?

A Brachiosaurus. You’ve got to love this teeny tiny head on this big fat body. The fact that it weighed more than 28 tons but only eat plants, it belonged to one of the tallest dinosaurs and could easily crush another dinosaur with a slight step – but still was one of the friendliest and more peaceful reptiles is just ridiculous- and so cute. 

Interview with Judy Croome 

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

I was born in Zimbabwe and now live in South Africa. I could never find my working niche, but the one constant in my life was my love of reading. From when I was a teenager, I’d always wanted to write but lacked confidence and discipline. In my late-30s I decided to finally write! My first novel took ten arduous years, but once I wrote The End, I knew I was doing what I wanted to do.

What inspired you to write your book?

The fear and panic that swept the world when the covid pandemic began made me consider that the modern generation has such mental, emotional and spiritual pressure in a world that is so uncertain and dangerous. I wanted to explore how the pandemic deepened these challenges.

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

To inspire the belief that, no matter how bleak or dark life seems, the human spirit can face —and overcome — anything if we hold onto hope.

What drew you into this particular genre?

Poetry became my primary genre by accident. Like most authors, with ever-increasing daily demands on my time, I constantly struggled to find long periods of unfractured time to write. Wanting to write every day to keep my creative juices flowing, I discovered that I could write a poem a day until I had enough for a whole volume. 

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

Leaving book reviews on Goodreads. Keeping active on Facebook and Twitter.

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

Write every day –once you’ve started a new writing project, never miss a day of writing even if you only write 100 words a day. 

Be authentic. Try to avoid writing what you think will sell, what people say you must write. Whether you’re writing an entertaining genre novel or a literary masterpiece, leave your soul on the page.

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

Currently working on a collection of short stories, predominantly magical realism, although some of the stories have no magical realism element. Barring any unforeseen delays (like writer’s block!) that book should hit the shelves in the South African summer 2022. After that I’m toying with the idea of another volume of poetry before tackling a long-held dream of mine – a trilogy of novels starting with the Anglo-Boer War, then the South African Border War and the final book will be set in post-1994 democratic South Africa.

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About the Author

Judy Croome lives and writes in Johannesburg, South Africa. Shortlisted in the African Writing Flash Fiction 2011 competition, Judy’s short stories, poems and articles have appeared in various magazines, anthologies and newspapers, such as The Sunday Times, The Huffington Post (USA) and the University of the Witwatersrand’s Itch Magazine. In 2021 and 2016, Judy was the poetry judge for Writers2000’s Annual Writing Competition. In 2021, Judy presented an hour long workshop to Writers 2000 called “The Gift of Poetry”

Judy loves her family, cats, exploring the meaning of life, chocolate, cats, rainy days, ancient churches with their ancient graveyards, cats, meditation and solitude. Oh, and cats. Judy loves cats (who already appear to have discovered the meaning of life.)

Her fiction and poetry books ‘the dust of hope: rune poems” (2021); “Drop by Drop: poems of loss” (2020); “a stranger in a strange land” (2015),”The Weight of a Feather & Other Stories” (2013), “a Lamp at Midday” (2012) and “Dancing in the Shadows of Love” (2011) are available from Aztar Press.

“Street Smart Taxpayers: A practical guide to your rights in South Africa” (Juta Law, 2017) was co-authored with her late husband Dr. Beric Croome (1960 – 2019). Follow her on GoodReadsFacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Blog Tour Schedule:

Jan. 27: The Book Lover’s Boudoir (review)

Feb. 3: Anthony Avina Blog (review)

Feb. 8: Wall-to-Wall Books (review)

Feb. 9: Little Miss Star (review)

Feb. 17: Necromancy Never Pays (review)

Feb. 22: Review Tales by Jeyran Main (review)

March 2: Anthony Avina Blog (Interview)

March 8: True Book Addict (review)

March 17: Pages for Sanity (review)

March 22: the bookworm (review)

Follow the blog tour with the hashtag #dustofhope and @judy_croome

Songs for the Cleveland Avenue Warriors by Gary E. Moore 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 Gary E. Moore use his experience living in Chicago’s South Side and as an inner-city school teacher and father to deliver a collection of poetry that dispels the trope of the “angry black man” and instead paints a realistic yet emotionally-driven image of vulnerability in his book, “Songs for the Cleveland Avenue Warriors”. 

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The Synopsis

Some poets spend their lives within the cloistered walls of colleges and universities.Gary E. Moore has spent his life dedicated to education-but not behind cloisteredwalls. In over fi ve decades on Earth, he’s been educated by the streets of Chicago’ssouth side, by a system designed to deal out law and order disproportionately, andby a culture which rejects the idea of the nurturing, gentle black man. In his poeticdebut, Moore draws on his experience as an inner city schoolteacher, as a father, and as a former child himself to paint an emotional landscape which is alternatelypoignant, shocking, witty, and furious.

In “Songs for the Cleveland Avenue Warrior,” Moore breaks the strangling troupeof the angry black man with the vulnerability of his message, the melody of hislanguage, and the passion for nurturing which is woven throughout the work.Written in three sections, in honor of ancestral gemetric wisdom, “Songs” is a timemachine, a critique on the present, and a piercing ray of hope which illuminates ourcollective humanity. 

The Review

I absolutely loved this book. The collection brought such a harmonious tone to both the emotions each of these poems conveys with the narrative style of poetry the collection took on. Exploring life and the adversities he faced over his life, the poems did an amazing job of putting the reader into the author’s world and visualizing the experiences and accompanying emotions that came with those experiences. 

The themes and representation that the author included in this book were perfect. The examination of race, class, and family set against the backdrop of the Chicago South Side was an inspired and heartfelt choice. The examination of our nation’s broken system and how it impacts various communities, in particular the Black Community, was perfectly represented here. Yet it was the way the author’s poems contradicted and erased the stereotypes often thrust upon the Black Community, especially young black men, that was so captivating and emotional to read. 

The Verdict

A beautiful, thoughtful, and highly creative collection of poems, author Gary E. Moore’s “Songs For the Cleveland Avenue Warriors” is a must-read book. The imagery and honesty the author conveys in these poems and the way not only his own personal experiences impacted the narrative style poetry found within but how readers will be able to read into these poems was truly awe-inspiring. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

the dust of hope: rune poems by Judy Croome 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 Judy Croome takes readers on an emotional and calming journey through the modern-day anxieties we all face through a return to the meanings and power behind ancient Nordic runes and poetry in her collection, “the dust of hope: rune poems”.

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The Synopsis

Judy Croome’s latest collection of poetry returns to the ancient ways of the Nordic runes, to shine a light of hope and healing as we navigate through the wilderness of anxiety permeating these early years of the twenty-first century.

The simple verses console the reader with a calm acceptance that, even during a global pandemic, everyday life ebbs and flows with the natural rhythms of the timeless oceans.

Here are poems that invite us to stop, to breathe, and to see the world around us from a new perspective birthed within the centre of our souls.

The Review

This was such an intriguing and captivating book of poetry. As someone who has been fascinated with mythology, ancient history and cultures, and the study of ancient belief systems, this book really spoke to me. The idea that each of the author’s poems represented an individual rune was so unique and was amazing to see connect with the author’s message and themes. The way the author was able to captured personal experiences and emotions they had been going through and tie them into the overall narrative of this collection was a brilliant sign of the author’s ability to invoke imagery and tone within her poems.

The balance the author struck between the representation of the ancient runes with the modern-day struggles both internally and externally we all face was perfectly captured. The eloquent yet powerful way the author captured the isolation and pain that the quarantine and COVID-19 Pandemic has caused over the last couple of years was not only relevant but emotionally hard-hitting and gave voice to an emotion we all have felt at one time or another over the last couple of years.

The Verdict

Heartfelt, beautifully written, and thoughtful in its approach, author Judy Croome’s “the dust of hope: rune poems” is a must-read book of poetry. The woven way the author brings together the personal experiences and emotions they hold with the magic and healing nature of the runes and their history made this such a calming and intuitive experience, and a wonderful read overall. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Judy Croome lives and writes in Johannesburg, South Africa. Shortlisted in the African Writing Flash Fiction 2011 competition, Judy’s short stories, poems and articles have appeared in various magazines, anthologies and newspapers, such as The Sunday Times, The Huffington Post (USA) and the University of the Witwatersrand’s Itch Magazine. In 2021 and 2016, Judy was the poetry judge for Writers2000’s Annual Writing Competition. In 2021, Judy presented an hour long workshop to Writers 2000 called “The Gift of Poetry”

Judy loves her family, cats, exploring the meaning of life, chocolate, cats, rainy days, ancient churches with their ancient graveyards, cats, meditation and solitude. Oh, and cats. Judy loves cats (who already appear to have discovered the meaning of life.)

Her fiction and poetry books ‘the dust of hope: rune poems” (2021); “Drop by Drop: poems of loss” (2020); “a stranger in a strange land” (2015),”The Weight of a Feather & Other Stories” (2013), “a Lamp at Midday” (2012) and “Dancing in the Shadows of Love” (2011) are available from Aztar Press.

“Street Smart Taxpayers: A practical guide to your rights in South Africa” (Juta Law, 2017) was co-authored with her late husband Dr. Beric Croome (1960 – 2019). Follow her on GoodReadsFacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Blog Tour Schedule:

Jan. 27: The Book Lover’s Boudoir (review)

Feb. 3: Anthony Avina Blog (review)

Feb. 8: Wall-to-Wall Books (review)

Feb. 9: Little Miss Star (review)

Feb. 17: Necromancy Never Pays (review)

Feb. 22: Review Tales by Jeyran Main (review)

March 2: Anthony Avina Blog (Interview)

March 8: True Book Addict (review)

March 17: Pages for Sanity (review)

March 22: the bookworm (review)

Follow the blog tour with the hashtag #dustofhope and @judy_croome

Your Words, Your World by Louise Belanger Review

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

A beautiful collection of poetry with an equally stunning pairing of photographs brings poet and author Louise Belanger’s poems of faith, love, and trust to life in the collection, “Your Words, Your World”.

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The Synopsis

Poetry For Your Soul – Stunning Photographs

Zoom to Heaven

The most beautiful love poem

Where God is not there

Promises…

A handful of cloud

Clowns…

During the night

These are some of the titles of the poetry you will read in this beautiful, inspiring collection complemented by captivating nature photographs.

Read poems about God and having a relationship with Him. Poems about trust, missing a loved one, childhood memories, Christmas, Heaven, Easter…

Other poems are lovely stories, the length of a page.

The poetry is easy to understand. It is for everyone whether poetry is your genre or not, you will enjoy it. 

The Review

This was a heartfelt and emotional blend of poetry and photography, bringing the warmth and heart of nature into the creative landscape the author created with each and every poem. The balance of storytelling with artistic imagery each poem evoked within the reader was great to read and stirred within us all the emotions that really resonated so strongly.

Now while I personally am not religious, I thought the author found a way of blending the underlying theme of faith in the poems with the more open-ended interpretations that others could gather from these poems, and made the narrative of these poems really shine brightly. Of course, those who are religious will absolutely love the call to faith and God that she brings to life, and the artistry with which her words flow is just brilliant to read. 

The Verdict

Mesmerizing, hauntingly beautiful, and thoughtful, author and poet Louise Belanger’s “Your Words, Your World” is a must-read book of poetry. The imagery and narrative-style poems will inspire and allow reflection for those who read them, and those who turn to faith will feel such a strong connection to this read. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

I am a Canadian poet and the author of Your Words and my new release: Your Words Your World.

Both books are beautiful and inspiring poems complemented by nature photographs.

I started writing poetry in the spring of 2020. Pouring my emotions on paper, describing beautiful scenery and stories that came to life in my head was quite new to me. With the encouragement and help from many friends, my dream became a reality.

I invite you to visit my website at https://www.louisebelangerauthor.com/

Guest Blog Post with Author and Poet Louise Bélanger

I am so happy to share this heartfelt guest post from author and poet Louise Bélanger for her poetry book tour, Your Words Your World, available now. I hope you will enjoy this post and be sure to grab your copy of the book today.


Let me start by thanking you, Anthony Avina, for being part of Your Words Your World ’s blog tour. And a big round of applause for Serena at Poetic Book Tours who organized such a brilliant one, a wonderful opportunity for me and my new poetry book.

Your Words Your World is a beautiful inspiring collection of poems with nature photographs.

You will read poems about God, having a relationship with Him, various life subjects, and lovely stories.

What inspires me? What triggers the writing? 

Each poem is an idea or a story I want to tell, a point I want to make, an emotion I want to pour on paper. It can come from something I just read or heard. Something from my past or something that just happened. Other times, it’s the result of the thought process where one thought makes room for another, and so on, till it lands on something clever. Lastly, it can be an image that only “lives” in my imagination that I want to describe.

Contrary to a novel, per example, where, I would think, the author decides beforehand the main lines of the story, for me, I search for each topic. No, that is the wrong word, I focus my mind to be aware, to find ideas. Ideas worth writing about. I never know in advance what my next poem’s topic will be.

Let’s visit a few.

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I was always a bit reserve as a child as far as clowns where concern. Something false about them. They have a painted smile on their face but maybe they feel something else inside. This became part of a poem, simply call Clowns…it takes the reader…well, let’s not spoil it. I will let you discover the meaning when you have the pleasure of reading it.

My faith-based poetry is inspired by my relationship with God, my experience with Him, the books I read and teachings I listen to. On a particular Sunday, a Bible passage was brought to my attention. That became the base for More than just…as music shares the stage.

A storm was raging one Saturday morning, a fierce wind against my window and I surprised myself thinking, wow, sounds like the wind is banging on the window: “Let me in, I don’t want to be outside in this nasty weather.” Oh! That is so good. That afternoon, A war erupted made its appearance on the page.

And my photos? They are from places I visited or traveled to. I photograph the beauty I see, what catches my attention. It’s everywhere, from my neighborhood where I take walks, to cities across the country, even further, from previous travel destinations. 

All my writing is done first, then, I look through my large collection of photographs to choose the ones that would complement the poetry. The selection is not random, there is always a connection between the poem and the photograph next to it, I hope you will see it. 

Most of them were taken before I became a poet, an author with already two poetry books and a third one on the way. I never thought the photos I was taking would end up in beautiful books, books written by myself. That makes me smile, a huge smile.

So here you have it, my inspiration comes from many places. Each poem is unique, same for the photographs. 

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Thank you for your time, thank you for reading my poetry. I invite you to visit my author’s website: Louise Bélanger – Author (louisebelangerauthor.com) . I hope you will enjoy Your Words Your World and will find a favorite poem or two or more. 

Louise Bélanger 

January 12, 2021

Winter at a Summer House by Mary Beth Hines 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 Mary Beth Hines takes readers on an emotional journey through the highs and lows in everyone’s lives in the collection, “Winter at a Summer House”.

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The Synopsis

In Winter at a Summer House, Mary Beth Hines’s poems speak to the sublime and risks in every middle-class home, small city neighborhood, seaside retreat, or suburban backyard. Vivid, tactile imagery suffuses the collection, which follows the arc of a life from birth/first words to death/last words. Together, these poems create a sometimes heartbreaking, but often humorous and joyous, narrative that speaks to all readers.

The Review

Such a brilliant and beautiful collection of poetry! The author did such an incredible job of pulling in all of the raw emotions and subtle feelings that life can bring on any given day, and somehow creating a thoughtful poem that paints an image in the reader’s minds that reflects those moments in all of our lives. From a child’s first words to days spent at home during a winter storm and the loss of a loved one, the author captured all of these moments with the same vigor and artistry that the world around us naturally brings to our lives during these moments. 

What played so well here was the vast amount of imagery the author utilized with their writing. The poetry was not only emotional but so moving that it became almost cinematic in its delivery, creating the perfect balance between narrative-style poetry and the more in-depth emotional connection not only between the author and the words, but the poetry and the readers as well. 

The Verdict

A meaningful, engaging, and breathtakingly beautiful collection, author Mary Beth Hines’s “Winter at a Summer House” is a must-read poetry book! The journey of life itself and the hauntingly beautiful yet truly relatable way the author was able to connect their own experiences to the overall themes explored within this collection will keep fans of poetry hanging off of the author’s every word. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Mary Beth Hines grew up in Massachusetts where she spent Saturday afternoons ditching ballet to pursue stories and poems deep in the stacks of the Waltham Public Library. She earned a bachelor of arts in English from The College of the Holy Cross, and studied for a year at Durham University in England. She began a regular creative writing practice following a career in public service (Volpe Center, Cambridge, Massachusetts), leading award-winning national outreach, communications, and workforce programs. Her poetry, short fiction, and non-fiction appear in dozens of literary journals and anthologies both nationally and abroad. Winter at a Summer House is her first poetry collection. When not reading or writing, she swims, walks in the woods, plays with friends, travels with her husband, and enjoys life with their family, including their two beloved grandchildren. Visit her online at www.marybethhines.com.

Interview with Author Lee Fearnside

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

I’ve also been interested in stories, although until a few years ago most of my storytelling was done visually. I believe stories are a great way to understand other people – their experiences, their perspectives on the world – and so developing an anthology as a collection of people’s stories seemed a natural fit.

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2) What inspired you to write your book?

Let’s be honest – 2020 sucked. It pretty much sucked for everyone. We were all affected by a pandemic the likes of which our world hadn’t seen in 100 years, America was increasingly polarized, there was a tidal wave of protests against racial injustice, we had a tumultuous presidential election, and it feels like the list goes on and on. Developing this anthology and making the portraits of public figures who died was both obsession (I made a lino cut portrait every week, and I think I gave myself carpel tunnel) and balm. I wanted to try to make sense of my own grief by understanding others’ grief.

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

My hope is that even amidst despair we can find hope in our collective experience. That even though 2020 sucked, the way through was together. That somehow by mourning these people, these celebrities and public figures and our complicated relationships with them, we could find connection.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

In many ways this book is an extension of an anthology I edited and illustrated with my brother, published in 2018, that mourned celebrities who died in 2016. Perhaps these books serve as bookends to each other.

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

Instagram is a way that I connect with other artists, and have been able to share work in progress from this and other projects.

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

Just keep making. If you have a story to tell, you’ll find your audience. Yes, it’s a lot of work but your story is important, so keep using your voice.

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

I’m working on a project about community. I’ve been interviewing people from all over the country and in all different fields about how they define community and how they work to create change. To date, the participants include a political candidate and Trump accuser, an urban planner, a human trafficking victims advocate, an immigration lawyer, a poet, a Franciscan nun, and more. Collectively the book creates a portrait of a community in America today. I hope to finish the book sometime later this year. 

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About the Author

Lee Fearnside is an artist and curator. Her photographic work has been exhibited in galleries and museums  in New England, the Midwest and in national juried shows, including the Toledo Museum of Art, the Reece Museum and the New York Hall of Science. She published O! Relentless Death: Celebrity, Loss and Mourning with her brother in 2018, and the book won the Independent Voice Award gold medal from the Independent Publishers Book Awards and was a finalist in American Book Fest. She has curated group exhibitions around themes of sustainability, diversity, food systems and art from Ohio prisons, funded in part by grants from the Ohio Arts Council and the Ohio Humanities Council. Fearnside earned a BA from Smith College, a M.F.A in Photography from the Rhode Island School of Design, and a M.S. in Arts Administration from Drexel University.

https://www.chimeraprojects.art/current-project-death-never-dies

Guest Blog Post: When a House is More Than a House by Mary Beth Hines

It’s December as I write this, a season when gift and gratitude are top of mind, yet also when loss and grief feel particularly acute. That continual interplay—darkness encroaching on the light; light suffusing shadows—provides the backdrop for the poems in my debut collection “Winter at a Summer House”. 

A reader recently asked me if the summer house in the title poem was real. I said yes—and no. Both are true. There was a real house, but it grew, through time and memory, into something different—turreted, and towered—more haunted castle than summer cottage.

The real house belonged to my parents who retired to South Yarmouth, Massachusetts in the early 1990s after the last of their children left home. As kids, we’d often vacationed on Cape Cod, and for a few years, my parents had owned a small cottage there. But it was their rambling, retirement home—a house with enough room for all of us—that became the hub of my, and my adult siblings’, and our families’ summer lives. 

It was a sunny, lively house presided over by my parents during a mostly healthy and contented period of their lives. Of course, we all went through a myriad of ups and downs during those years, as people do, but in retrospect, the sun shone and shone then, year after year, until the day our seemingly spry and vigorous mother died of a sudden heart attack. We were devasted. Mother’s death precipitated our father’s decline. Once hale, hearty, and brilliantly competent, he faded overnight. 

When the world collapsed, my youngest child had just left for college, and I had recently started a new job. My sister was busy with family, art, and work. Despite these obstacles, she, and I, both of whom lived two hours away, each began to stay with our father a few days each week. Our brother who lived further away used his vacation time to relieve us. We continued this for several years. While challenging, it was bearable, and often pleasant in the spring, fall, and summer. The winter was different. 

The wind blows hard on Cape Cod in the winter. The shutters on Dad’s house banged. Windows and chimneys rattled. December and January days were gloomy, with darkness falling by mid-afternoon. Sometimes, I caught a glimpse of Mother coming around a corner then she’d vanish. I listened for her voice amidst the house’s rumblings. Having been an English major in college, I found the house, in winter, eerily reminiscent of Ramsay’s house in Virginia Woolf’s “To the Lighthouse,” particularly in the “Time Passes” section. Wind invaded. Moss, mold, and spiders set up camp. One could scrub, dust, and polish all day just to make way for a new crop of marauders. And though our summer house wasn’t on the ocean as the Ramsay’s was, I had walked and jumped off enough jetties to imagine one there, and thus its prime billing in “Winter at a Summer House.”

Early on, when people asked me what the book was about, I described it as a narrative, not focusing on the house, the water imagery, or associated metaphors. However, a recent Kirkus review highlighted the prominent place of the ocean, water, and the passage of time, and this caused me to consider it from a new angle. That review began: “Hines grew up in Massachusetts, adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean, and the poems in this debut collection are filled with richly detailed imagery evoking the sea—of characters swimming, bathing, diving as if time were an unpredictable element, and living, a process of navigating unexpected currents…” 

I had not set out to write a narrative, nor a collection of water-themed poems. I wrote one poem at a time, and only later ordered them so that they could “talk” to each other and tell a story. And since I’m a lifelong, year-round swimmer, I evoked the water imagery naturally. Writing this post has prompted me to explore these thoughts more deeply, and to consider, alongside them, the role of the house in the book. 

An author friend recently told me he believes that every book someone writes is a miracle. I understand more clearly, each day that goes by, what he meant, and I welcome opportunities to contemplate my small miracle from new vantage points, and to share my thoughts. So today, I thank author Anthony Avina for generously hosting me on this blog. It’s the first time I deliberately explored the role the summer house plays in this collection, and I hope readers enjoyed taking the journey with me. Happily, by the time others read this, we’ll be past the winter solstice and our short days will already be lengthening.

In closing, I want to thank Kelsay Books for publishing “Winter at a Summer House;” Poetic Book Tours for coordinating this tour; and all of you, Anthony Avina’s readers, who have taken a few minutes to commune with me here. I truly appreciate your time and attention, and if you read the book, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it! You can find me at www.marybethhines.com.

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About the Author

Mary Beth Hines grew up in Massachusetts where she spent Saturday afternoons ditching ballet to pursue stories and poems deep in the stacks of the Waltham Public Library. She earned a bachelor of arts in English from The College of the Holy Cross, and studied for a year at Durham University in England. She began a regular creative writing practice following a career in public service (Volpe Center, Cambridge, Massachusetts), leading award-winning national outreach, communications, and workforce programs. Her poetry, short fiction, and non-fiction appear in dozens of literary journals and anthologies both nationally and abroad. Winter at a Summer House is her first poetry collection. When not reading or writing, she swims, walks in the woods, plays with friends, travels with her husband, and enjoys life with their family, including their two beloved grandchildren. Visit her online at www.marybethhines.com.

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