Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘collection’

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.

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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.

 

A Compassionate Challenge

51xULqwkGaL._SX260_.jpgMaximum Axioms for mental acuity: 100 simple sayings for intellectual inspiration (Vol. 1) by Faydra D. Fields. Reviewed by Gabriel Constans.

Though the title may sound complicated, or high falutting, it is anything but. Right from the get go, Ms. Fields explains that the axioms are not new thoughts, but are said in her own words. They are simple, yet profound.

“Life would be so much more straightforward if it came with directions, but it would also be less flexible.”

There are no flowery, or unrealistic statements in this collection of screenshot ready comments.

“Help others feel better, and they will survive. Help others be better, and they will thrive.”

Some of the words are challenging, yet compassionately so.

“Life is lived in the midst of your storms, not after they have passed you by.”

Others find the humor in living and self-reflection.

“Don’t depend on others to toot your horn, especially since you don’t even know where their mouths have been.”

“Do all you can to keep the game of life from becoming a trivial pursuit.”

Maximum Axioms for Mental Acuity hits the spot – the sweet spot of being honest with one’s self, taking care in what you say and do, and reminders about what is, and is not, important. Am looking forward to the next volume in this collection.

Like A Begger by Ellen Bass

LikeaBeggar200pxLike A Begger by Ellen Bass
from EllenBass.com
Copper Canyon Press

Listen to Pulitzer Prize winner and former Poet Laureate Philip Levine discuss with Paul Muldoon Ellen Bass’s “What Did I Love” from Like a Beggar on the New Yorker podcast. “There is such a sense of ritual and such a clarity of purpose. . . . I found it so powerful and complex . . . and it was so exquisitely done. . . . She is a poet with terrific power.”—Philip Levine

About the Book

If, as Rilke writes, the poet’s work is to praise, to praise even those “dark, deadly, devastating ways,” then Ellen Bass is doing her job.

Like a Beggar is the work of a mature poet grappling with the most essential question—how do we go on? In the face of sorrow and suffering, with the ever-present awareness of our mortality and the increasing threat of environmental devastation, how do we find the courage to fully inhabit the moments of our lives? Mixing revelation and humor, despair and awe, whimsy and intelligence, Bass holds a mirror of unflinching compassion in which we see our flawed and exquisitely beautiful selves.

As in her previous books, Bass vividly describes the ordinary moments of our lives in ways that allow us to see through the crack in the everyday into the divine. Her poems are a microscope through which the commonplace is revealed in its exquisite detail and, like Blake, we see a world in a grain of sand, eternity in an hour.

Bass’s poems are approachable. More, they reach out to you and draw you in with their disarming clarity, their startling intimacy. Bass speaks to us through unforgettable images, striking metaphors, and surprising associations. Like a Beggar is rich in the music of the human voice—one voice calling to another across the miles and across the years, telling the life of the heart.

These poems will disturb you, comfort you, charm and delight you. They will break you open with their fierce insistence on joy. They are poems that make you want to call up a friend and say, “Listen to this.” These are unforgettable poems.

Tour of the Breath Gallery

9780896727946Tour of the Breath Gallery
by Sarah Pemberton Strong
Reviewed by Arielle Yarwood

Lambda Literary 6 November 2013

Read Tour of the Breath Gallery with a blanket and a stormy day, read it surrounded by strangers on the bus, read it in the sterile confines of a hospital room – wherever you happen to be, Sarah Pemberton Strong’s vivid lines of poetry will quiet and sharpen the life around you.

A Walt McDonald First Book winner, Tour of the Breath Gallery focuses on “the details / of duller things: a space / of silence, an opened window, / the moon-shaped crack / on the edge of this blue plate.” Strong’s book praises silence, and in doing so, allows the reader to hear what she has learned by listening.

The collection is divided into three parts, beginning with the heart and moving outward. The first section deals with the lessons learned in silence, that “sometimes the metaphor for suffering / turns out to be the suffering itself,” and that “if you want the world / to be less burdened with cruelty / and indifference, this moment you / are standing in would be the ideal / fulcrum from which to lift a finger.”

It advocates for the value of the physical, the tangible, and the self, particularly in womanhood. Strong’s version of the Biblical Delilah tells her daughter to “win / your own heart first, cherish every cell / of yourself,” and the contemplation of a teacup leads to the revelation that “you do not have to be clean, or whole, / you do not have, even, to be loved / to be radiant.” A sense of wonder and wholeness permeates this section, and the revaluation of self enables the persona to spread her awareness and compassion externally, toward child and community. Throughout the book and particularly in the beginning, a sense of interconnectedness binds not only the poems, but also the persona to her world.

The second section deals with the act of learning what was imparted in the first section; in essence, it reveals the beauty in the act of living. Several love poems are included in this section – “Nest,” the most striking and gracious, a missive to her trans lover, sings for “the slim green branches / and pale unopened buds / of the girl who / inside, you are.” Although there is always “the burden of our folded wings,” at its root, this is an utterly optimistic book, showing “that when / there is no light, our eyes open anyway: / searching for it, then for each other.” The second section concludes with the persona transformed into a goddess in steel-toed boots and overalls, gaining her power from learning the plumbing trade, using her hands to build and create and fix, imbued with the elements of the earth she inhabits.

Finally, the third section extends back to the past, to family and heritage, and looks at the ramifications of inheritance and death on life, the “breaking down / then subsequent repairing of the world.” Her relationships with father, mother, and friend are examined, revealing bonds that are fragile and yet resilient, like spider webs on grass “whose strength is that of steel, / yet can be torn like that / and then repaired;” bonds that extend behind and ahead, leaving traces of history, like a trail of footsteps in the snow or the fingerprints of the deceased that “still mark the doorknobs and teaspoons / of the living.”

Read entire review and other articles at Lambda Literary.

The Big Dipper

Luscious-Choc-SmoothiesFrom Luscious Chocolate Smoothies: An Irresisitible Collection of Healthy Cocoa Delights.
By Gabriel Constans

A healthy and delicious recipe from my book of chocolate smoothies.

The Big Dipper

Yields 6 Cups

  • 2 cups plain soy milk
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 12-ounce package soft silken tofu
  • 2 banans, in chunks
  • 1/2 cup mango slices
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons chocolate syrup
  • 1/2 tablespoon honey

1. Place all ingredients in a blender and mix on medium for 2 minutes.

2. Pour into tall clear glasses and never go without.

per cup: Calories 175; Protein 7 g; Total Fat 4 g; Saturated Fat 1 g; Carbohydrate29 g; Cholesterol 0 mg

Find more recipes, humor, chocolate facts and stories at Luscious Chocolate Smoothies.
Read one of the many reviews at Five Healthy Recipes.

Loving Audrey

Luscious-Choc-SmoothiesFrom Luscious Chocolate Smoothies: An Irresisitible Collection of Healthy Cocoa Delights.
By Gabriel Constans

A recipe for my love.

Audrey’s Amore

Yields 5 Cups

  • 3 cups chocolate soy, rice or low-fat dairy
  • 10 large ripe strawberries (fresh or thawed frozen)
  • 2 small bananas, in chunks
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint

1. Place all ingredients in a blender and mix on medium for 1 minute.

2. Chill for 5 minutes, pour into tal glasses and serve naked.

per cup: Calories 147; Protein 6 g; Total Fat 2 g; Saturated Fat 1 g; Carbohydrate 28 g; Cholesterol 4 mg

Find more recipes, humor, chocolate facts and stories at Luscious Chocolate Smoothies.
Read one of the many reviews at Five Healthy Recipes.

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