Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘poetry’

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.

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.

I Am the Lover’s Eyes

From The Treasured Writings of Kahlil Gibran. Translated by Anthony Rizcallah Ferris and edited by Martin L. Wolf (1951).

images-2

Song of Love by Kahlil Gibran.

I am the lover’s eyes, and the spirit’s
Wine, and the heart’s nourishment.
I am a rose. My heart opens at dawn and
The virgin kisses me and places me
Upon her breast.

I am the house of true fortune, and the
Origin of pleasure, and the beginning
Of peace and tranquility. I am the gentle
Smile upon the lips of beauty. When youth
Overtakes me he forgets his toil, and his
Whole life becomes reality of sweet dreams.

I am the poet’s elation,
And the artist’s revelation,
And the musician’s inspiration.

I am a sacred shrine in the heart of a
Child, adored by a merciful mother.

I appear to a heart’s cry; I shun a demand;
My fullness pursues the heart’s desire;
It shuns the empty claim of the voice.

I appeared to Adam through Eve
And exile was his lost;
Yet I revealed myself to Solomon, and
He drew wisdom from my presence.

I smiled at Helena and she destroyed Tarwada;
Yet I crowned Cleopatra and peace dominated
The Valley of the Nile.

I am like the ages – building today
And destroying tomorrow;
I am like a god, who creates and ruins;
I am sweeter than a violet’s sigh;
I am more violent than a raging tempest.

Gifts alone do not entice me;
Parting does not discourage me;
Poverty does not chase me;
Jealousy does not prove my awareness;
Madness does not evidence my presence.

Oh seekers, I am Truth, beseeching Truth;
And your Truth in seeking and receiving
And protecting me shall determine my
Behaviour.

A Wonderful Touch

The divine poet, Jerilyn Elise Miripol, says The Last Conception is…

80447_cover_frontAn intriguing book. I loved all the characters, especially Savarna and her mysterious grandmother. The discovery of the ancient robe and the golden ring is a wonderful touch. An insightful book that I could not put down.
— Jerilyn Elise Miripol, author of A Complete Mute Light.

The story of The Last Conception:

Passionate embryologist, Savarna Sikand, is in a complicated relationship, with two different women, when she is told that she MUST have a baby. Her conservative East Indian American parents are desperate for her to conceive, in spite of her “not being married”. They insist that she is the last in line of a great spiritual lineage. In the process of choosing her lover and having doubts about her ability, or desire to conceive, Savarna begins to question the necessity of biology and lineage within her parents’ beliefs and becomes forever fascinated with the process of conception and the definition of family. Threads of Dan Brown (DaVinci Code), Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni (Sister of My Heart) and the film The Kids Are All Right, are tied together in this colorful tale of awakening, romance and mystery.

Available at: Melange Books and Amazon.

LastConception-Cover

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.

LGBT Writers In Schools

WritersInSchools-Logo1-500x140

 

 

LGBT WRITERS IN SCHOOLS connects authors with classrooms via free Skype or in-class visits to discuss the author’s work and LGBT issues. Designed for teachers of high school classes, universities and colleges, and student organizations, the LGBT Writers in Schools program is an opportunity for writers to discuss their work openly with students and to encourage diversity not only in the students’ reading and writing lives, but also in society at large. This initiative will broaden the foundation of experience for students of Literature, Creative Writing, English, and Secondary Education.

OUR GOALS

To bring LGBT writers into high schools, colleges and universities to share their knowledge and experience in order to promote diversity and encourage understanding of the LGBT community.

To enrich the high school, college and university English curriculum by incorporating and teaching LGBT texts in the classroom which will acknowledge LGBT writers’ contributions to literature.

To foster an open environment to discuss LGBT issues and their impact on society and the individual through LGBT texts in a vibrant and moderated classroom atmosphere.

Giving a voice to those who have long been silenced.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

The teacher will state which type of author she would like in one of four genres: Adult Fiction, YA Fiction, Poetry and Nonfiction/Memoir. Once the information is gathered from the teacher, we contact an author who would be a good fit. If they request a specific author, we try to contact that author.

WHAT HAPPENS ONCE AN AUTHOR IS CHOSEN FOR THE TEACHER’S CLASS?

Once the author has agreed to do the visit, then an introduction is made between the author and the teacher via LGBT Writers in Schools. After the introduction is made, it is the responsibility of the teacher to work out the specifics of the visit (ie: date of visit, length of visit, in person or via Skype, etc).

WHAT HAPPENS DURING THE VISIT?

Teachers would assign the work of the author and once the class has read it, the author would do a twenty minute (or longer) Skype session with the class. Depending upon what the teacher and author discussed, the session can be as general or as specific as each would like. It is supposed to be fun, lively and educational.

WHY SHOULD I PARTICIPATE?

This is a really exciting venture for Lambda Literary Foundation and for the Gay Straight Educators Alliance. LGBT literature should be represented as one voice among the many in any contemporary curriculum. The way to help counter prejudice and bullying is through educating others and it is vital to support any efforts that would help achieve this goal. Opening up channels of communication definitely begins with understanding and what better way to understand the LGBT community than through literature.

HOW DO I SIGN UP?

Contact Monica Carter (mcarter@lambdaliterary.org), Program Coordinator, LGBT Writers in Schools Program

Lambda Literary Foundation

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.

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