Here, There and Everywhere

Archive for the ‘poetry’ Category

An Exquisite Essence

51YvQiYIkfLProspect Hill: A Romantic Short Story by Bibiana Krall. Reviewed by Gabriel Constans.

I could write a short story about this exquisite short story, but for brevity, simply say that Prospect Hill is one of the best stories I’ve read in a long time. I’m not sure if there are enough accolades for this occasion, but here are a few. The prose is not only fitting, and well-crafted, but also languid and lyrical, with a sense of poetry in motion. Though its intention is not erotic, it feels very sensual. The words drift through space and hit the heart like a lonely spirit.

Merely is a bodiless spirit, who is imprisoned in a cask by a witch, and falls in love with a human named Nino, when she is released. Her original name was Ayanna Dovet Blackwell, who was buried alive. Here is a glimpse of Ms. Krall’s writing. I hovered like a dragonfly next to my Nino, wishing to offer comfort. Then from the shifting melancholy of my imprisonment, I was called to sing once more. Murmurs of life and light, golden moments that remain hidden away from a place like this.”

The tale moves between the seen and unseen world with ease. Everything is real, and can be sensed, or felt, by the disembodied and the bodied. Their mutual awareness makes Nino feel uneasy and scared, and Nino’s presence creates long forgotten memories, and sensations in Merely. This interaction, and of others that enter and leave, are all told brilliantly from Merely’s perspective and experience. Though she cannot be seen by those living, she herself feels liberated and renewed.

There is subtle beauty and grace in the language, thoughts and feelings that overtake Merely, and they are described with great eloquence. If you have not yet absorbed, or understood, my adulation for Ms. Krall’s Prospect Hill, the following lines will surely take you over the edge. “Essence of night Jasmine, tea rose and salt escaped from my brilliant spiral. With one last desire my hands reached across time. Caressing Nino’s cheek lovingly from the other side, my fingertips dissolved into raindrops and fell away.”

 

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To Be or Not To Be

41SUqh9JdSLNobody In the Box – A Poem by Soodabeh Saeidnia. Illustrated by Seyedeh Masoumeh Hosseini. Reviewed by Gabriel Constans.

Nobody In the Box is completely outside the box (in English and Farsi). In fact, it is neither in nor out, of any sense of containment. The illustrations, by Ms. Hosseini, which accompany each section of the poem, brilliantly and beautifully compliment the words, and stand on their own as exquisite works of art. Ms. Saeidnia writes about emptiness within emptiness, and the friction between being and not being, with just a whiff of Persian poets Hafiz and Rumi’s insight into being something greater than ourselves, yet also completely within us.

Expecting no assistance
From the ocean, the sky, and the earth,
Even from the box itself,
I can only turn into an invisible Wish
Waiting for a special event,
A phenomenan, a moment,
In which “nothing” may turn into “something”

Reading this poetry is like hearing a melody, and reminds us that everything is nothing and nobody, until we give it (or them) labels and meaning. Dr. Saeidnia’s work in various countries around the world, with pharmacology and an array of compounds, informs her understanding of how interdependent things (and people) are and how they can appear and disappear.

The box’s sigh penetrated space,
Bent the contours of time,
Surged forward and touched the nothingness
Nobody heard the box’s sigh,
Felt the pain of missing,
And for the first time Nobody wished:
“I wish I was somebody”

Nobody In the Box brings attention to desire, wishes, moments – all temporary and which may, or may not arise; and if so, from where, who and/or what? What is our reality? Are our bodies and minds like a box, wanting to be acknowledged, labeled, noticed, or have “something” happen? Are we the same as everybody else, with nothing to distinguish us from others? What is the essence of matter, and does it matter?

One of the Best

51yHPujzv6LVersions of the Self by Christy Birmingham
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans

I’ve been very lucky to have come across a number of poetry collections lately that are very good, and this is one of the best. Versions of the Self wonderfully combines emotion, and self-awareness, with actions, objects, and the environment. It is an inner journey revealed externally, with strong ties between both.

The Serenade

I arose from within the crisp blue sheets and
I realized –
This is but one moment, in one day, in the
Midst of a path called alive.
I chose to serenade myself in a
Dance that swung me to center state, and
I shivered with fear as much as with
Contemplation, as thoughts gathered in a
Semi-circle to discuss the way my toes would
Look as I neared the end of the field.
I realized –
This is a chosen moment and that
The grass could be watered, and
I took one step, couled with one breath, in
The midst of a life I began to call my own.

The words move with perfectly weighted verbs, adjectives, and metaphors. Reading these poems feels like dancing, and exploring life and space, toe to toe with their creator. Here is another of Ms. Birmingham’s brilliant creations.

Gliding under Water

I am diving into the calm waters after the
Hurricane of your arms pulling at my feet,
And my toes are happy to move on their own now.

I am gliding under the waters, and my vision is
Remarkably clear, while my body washes with
Liquids that contain no mixture of you.

I am touching the pool’s bottom with my hand,
Happy for the cold feel of the cement,
Reassured by its stability and the lack of critical words.

I am lacking for nothing, I am drenched with relief,
I am swimming to the surface, and
Today is a celebration of freedom for my limbs.

The verses in Versions of the Self  are perfectly separated into different areas, such as, “The Self: I”, “Take Me There”, and “Other Self Loves”. Each section holds its own, and every poem in this collection is worthy of the space within which they have their being, and before the eyes of those of us privileged to read them.

Happy, Sad, Sane or Mad

31NGjf3JUDL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Clearer by Mark Shackleton
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans

I don’t pick up too many poetry collections, but am glad I did this time. Clearer is formatted to throw you off the usual reading pattern, with sentences split, separated, and spaced all over the page. It jars you into paying attention.

This short work by Mr. Schakleton supplies a cornucopia of opportunities to look at the dramas, roles, illusions, and so-called existence, we all share, with a different view. There is no denying the darkness, the “hellish” aspects of living, the depressing events that take place, but there is also something within which it is all contained.

Here is the one that touched me the most and helped me remember to not get caught in my own play. To pay attention to the script I’m writing, and realize it is all coming and going, and holding onto anything is impossible. Better to give it away moment to moment.

Don’t Buy It

Don’t buy into your own publicity,
everything is passing.
This thing you’ve found is not yours to keep,
it was given to be given away.

GET UP!

You may not be here tomorrow but tomorrow is another day.
You will never get away until you give it away.
You will never know the stars if you’re afraid to lose your way.

WAKE UP!

Don’t believe your own publicity.
Whether good or bad,
happy or sad,
sane or mad,
from start to finish it was someone else’s idea.

Afflicted With Vision

41GnYDgDNIL._SY346_Twisted by Uvi Poznansky
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans

Six tales told with words and pictures. The first being I Am What I Am, which follows Job’s wife after death to hell and a very interesting discussion with the devil. Other Twisted stories include a woman opening her diary for the first time since her husband’s death (The Hollow); a slab of clay speaking about her creator (sculptress) and her awareness of herself and the creator’s other work (I, Woman); a poem with “He” and “She” speaking to one another poetically (Dust); two photos of clay sculpted dancers, called The Art of Dust I and The Art of Dust II; and the final short with a cat talking to their caretaker, as if she understands what she is saying (The One Who Never Leaves).

Other than the beginning of the first story, none of these writings are really horrific, or in the horror genre, but instead exude a sense of realism, and fantasy, with inanimate objects becoming the main characters, and/or people, and pets, speaking from uncommon perspectives. The author’s writing is very accomplished and precise. Questions, dialogue, inferences, fears, hopes, and dreams, are presented with clarity, and complex situations, emotions and/or issues, are understandable. For example, these words from clay that is becoming aware of itself and surrounds, “For now that I am afflicted with vision, I appreciate how obscure things really are. The sharper the perception – the more complex the interpretation.”

Ms. Poznansky is a master storyteller, and artist, who is able to combine insight, nuance, place, and time, with abstract ideas, situations, and characters. To say her stories are “one of a kind” would be a disservice, as they are really “one of no other kind”. Twisted is unique, yet strangely approachable and identifiable, even though the context may be within a setting unknown, or not previously pictured, by the reader. I was somewhat wary of this collection, believing it might be filled with esoteric, or philosophical ramblings. Much to my surprise, and benefit, I was instead taken inside the creative mind of a brilliant author, and sculptor, of beautifully twisted views of the self, others, and the world within which we live.

 

From the Depths

51+ATsTqTWL._UY250_She’s Gone: Broken, Battered and Bruised
by JAnn Bowers. Reviewed by Gabriel Constans

You wouldn’t think  that poems awash in sadness, heartbreak, loneliness, and darkness, would be interesting to read, but this collection is. The poet, JAnn Bowers, has used this form of writing as a catharsis, without any filter, or concern, for sharing her deepest hurt and pain.

She’s Gone is not for the faint of heart, or someone who wants to read happy, lyrical poetry filled with flowers, love, and sweetness. Though there is nothing wrong with that poetry, this is different. Here’s her poem Such A Fool which speaks of friendship and loss with insight and clarity.

As I sit here wiping the tears from my eyes

Knowing that I have lost you as a friend

You meant the world to me

My heart breaks because I know I will miss you

But then I know it’s time to move on

To deal with this loss

And bury the hatchet

That broke us apart

As I say my goodbyes

With tears in my eyes

I will walk away with my head up high

For I know you will always be there in the back of my mind.

And in my heart

For I know you are

Fighting it to

So take care, my friend

I will always cherish you.

Ms. Bowers states in the book that she has moved on and found some solace and breaks, from episodes of depression and hopelessness, but felt that the poems in She’s Gone were needed, for her, at the time they were written. Readers can identify with times in there lives when they too may have touched the edges, or were inundated, with such feelings of despair and pain themselves.

Pleasure or Pain?

LastConception-CoverDoes writing give you pleasure, or is it a pain? Are you struggling through every line, wishing it would end, or enjoying the process word by word? Do you write out of necessity, or as a hobby, or pleasant pastime? Writers’ have argued through the centuries about whether writing should be, or is, a process of hard labor, or whether it is a joyous exercise in reflecting oneself and the world in which we live.

Some writers’ say they cannot live without writing something every day. Others tells us they write in spurts, when moved to do so, or have long periods of inactivity and/or creative ideas. And a few cannot stop writing once they get started and write manically, without pause or respite.

I’ve been told that writing involves a high degree of masochistic tendencies if you are not writing solely for pleasure, but to have what you’ve written read and accepted by others. There is a lot of truth in this, as so few writers ever receive any recognition, let alone financial rewards, for there many hours of plotting, research, editing, characterization, and marketing.

From my experience, writing can be both pleasurable and painful, whether it is for personal or public consumption. Scribbling, or typing, refried storylines again and again, is easy, but artistically boring. Writing something that has never been put together in quite the same way, can take hours of painstaking thought, and pleasurable results. Then again, the results may be painful to see, and not as joyous as the process.

So, this may sound weird, but unless it is a wee bit difficult, or challenging, I do not enjoy writing. That doesn’t mean I prefer an extremely intimidating project, but one that calls me out to do my best, improve my skills, and look at an issue, or story, with fresh eyes. Writing something I’ve written a thousand times before, though perhaps monetarily rewarding, is more painful than a new challenge.

What’s your hit? What’s it like for you? Do you cringe at the thought of a deadline, having to think of an idea, or putting an idea on paper? Or, do you get excited each time the words in your head come out on the screen as you envisioned? Pleasure and pain are somewhat subjective, but are also very real. I guess the real question is whether pleasure or pain is the driving force behind your writing, or any aspect of why you write at all.

Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba, The Last Conception, and Loving Annalise, are some of Gabriel’s most recent works of fiction. They were pleasurably painful to write.

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